After this announcement, we were all made to re-watch a short film about the origins of the Reformation. I cried as I watched the old clips of how backwards and hate-filled our country had once been. I wept for the ghosts of the past, and how they had been mistreated and abused. I thanked God that we were now a much more civilised nation.
After school, I unplugged myself from the computer and went back into the kitchen. My dad had prepared afternoon tea for the whole family. Sausage, mash, carrots, peas, and gravy. It looked delicious. Almost as good as the real thing. Mum told us that she had heard some very upsetting news. Apparently, Hate is on the rise in our country, urged on by southern political agitators. I thought back to the short and I felt fat tears welling up in the corners of my eyes. Mum shook her head.
“I hate the south,” she snarled. “They’re a bunch of savages. Completely regressive. Utterly backwards in their politics. I don’t know why the First Minister doesn’t just put them out of their own misery. Nuke them all, that’s what I say.”
I told mum that I agreed with her. The Monitor let out a menacing, high-pitched beep. My dad very quickly put his hand on the back of mum’s wrist and looked deep into her eyes.
“Darling,” he said. “You know it’s wrong to talk about violence like that. What you must remember is that our southern neighbours haven’t gone through the Reformation like us. They don’t know any better. You should pity them, not hate them. Hatred is wrong, after all. It’s the source of all bad things in the world.”
Mum dabbed at her eyes with the back of her hands.
“You’re right, sweetheart,” said mum, “I really should know better.”
Dad nodded, full of sympathy. The Monitor beeped, satisfied, and bobbed back a few inches, almost apologetic. I asked dad if I could go outside to play. Dad said I could if I was back by eight. I said I would be.
The mist had cleared by the time I left the house. The sun was hanging low on the horizon, casting long, spindly shadows that wavered across the road. Men and women said hello to me as I passed them, and I said hello in turn. My collar flickered and beeped in response to every greeting. My family’s Monitor was clearly impressed by my social skills.
I eventually found my friends sitting in a neat circle in our town’s park, in the shadow of a giant tree that had stopped producing leaves decades ago. The trees jagged branches waggled at the darkening sky as I knelt beside my friends.
Marcus was feeling sad. His uncle had been arrested the previous week for the Possession of Hateful Materials with the Intent of Dissemination. Apparently, he had contacts down south. Our Educator had encouraged us all to stay friends with Marcus. It would be wrong, after all, to punish him for the crimes of his uncle. Our country was far too civilised to ostracise the innocent for the wrongdoings of the guilty. Even so, Marcus’ whimpering and self-pity was starting to wear a bit thin on the rest of the group.
We all took out our Pods and started hunting for Holo-Beasts. I caught two. Jamie, my best friend, caught seven. He always knows the best place to look for Holo-Beasts. He’s a level twenty-seven. Marcus didn’t catch anything.
After a while, we all decided to get something to eat. We left the park and trudged over to the town’s outskirts. There is a Fast-Food shop that we have all come to love, that sits just inside the town’s border. It is owned by a very jolly man called McLaren. He makes the best burgers and always gives the local children discounts.