Friday, 9 May 2014

Short Story Month And A Friday Read: Free Speech

Today's story offering is some sci-fi, a tale I wrote a while back...

Free Speech

The university auditorium was full.  A large crowd had turned out to listen to Professor Astor, the head of the peace group Utopia Mission and controversial scholar of socio-economic culture.  I had settled into a good spot early to hear his speech; I wanted to avoid the throng and the omnipresent security.  I was never one for being hemmed in by the crowds.
The campus, hell the whole city, had been erupting with his supporters and the opposing protesters for weeks since the announcement of his coming.  That’s why the university had spared no expense to protect the professor from the radicals and the loonies.  They had motion eyes, laser grids and several squads of campus police.  They took those death threats seriously, I guess.
A hush fell as the Professor stepped up to the podium.  I studied him; he was a short man, grey hair, frail looking.  You would never imagine the hatred he incurred.
“Welcome everyone.  I am pleased you joined with me this afternoon to discuss the flawed direction in which our civilization is headed.”
The frail little man faded, as the fire of conviction filled him.  His deep voice resonated with passion and principle.
“As you may be aware, I lead the Utopia Mission, a group dedicated to peace.  Not, as some would portray us, a group seeking to dismantle our laws, but a group committed to the advance of our society, of our future, through co-operation and an open government.  Governments that are free of hidden agendas, of corruption, governments that are honest with their people.”
“Have not our leaders abused our trust with laws that rip away our freedoms under the guise of safety?  The Militant Seizure Law has seen hundreds of innocents imprisoned under the guise of defence of country!  Some have died, others went missing, their assets confiscated by greedy officials!  The Big Brother Statute was supposed to protect us in this digital age, but was misused by your government to gather information about law-abiding citizens!”
The professor paused for a moment as applause, cheers and murmurs, as well as quite a few jeers and boos, rose from the crowd.
“It is the latest and the worst of these abuses, the Border Shield, which needs immediate action.  Are we, as a decent people, going to permit that heinous law?  A shoot to kill order for any persons -citizen or illegal- that may be perceived as a threat!  How many blameless people have been murdered simply because they questioned the border patrols?  Is it not time to voice our concerns, to voice our outrage?  We must influence change, achieve a revolution of liberty!”
A cheer rose with his words, and I looked over the crowd.  The professor was inspiring them with his speech, his captivating presence.  He had a rapt audience; even his critics were silent.  I leaned over and picked up my briefcase. It was time to begin.
I ran a hand over the synth-leather; the new upgrades had been worth the money.  The case’s smart scramblers and holographic overrides manipulated the security scans without a problem and my forged ID gave me full access to the building.  It wasn't difficult to suss out this isolated vantage point after that.
I unpacked the laser rifle from the case, connected the sections, powered it and made the target adjustments in the digital scope.  With a little patience to line up the perfect angle and a squeeze of the trigger, I took the headshot.  Professor Astor went down, lifeless, just another radical dissident removed.  I slipped out unnoticed in the panicked confusion, to meet my government contact and receive the transfer of payment for the job.

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