Looking back

Master Richworthy was captured today. It’s all over the news. My old sparring partner. I doubt he’ll survive the trial. He looked unhinged: hair wild, grey stubble dirtying his scrawny neck. They’re coming for me now. That butch dyke, the one they call The Prosecutor, looked straight down the camera and spoke my name, the cunt. Helen was in the background but she gave no sign my name meant anything to her. Perhaps it doesn’t.

I should leave, I know. But I’m old and tired. And leaving would mean leaving Marco.

How did it come to this? Hunted like an animal. A criminal. They compare me to Himmler and Goebbels!

Marco tells me we should never have forced women to cover their bodies in public, that that was where it all started. How could that be true?

I wasn’t much older than he is now when the segregation started. Oppression he calls it, but that’s not how we saw it. The law was called the Rational and Efficient Use of Assets Act. It was common sense! How can you expect to achieve economic efficiency when one of the key inputs is of variable quality? Controlling the breeding was the only way to standardise, there was no evil intent. But history is written by the victors.

Richworthy and his ilk: that’s where we went wrong. The churches had too much power. God. Bah! Superstitious rot. Too many of those saps believed their own rhetoric. I peddled it along with the best of them, I know. All that fire and brimstone was just a convenient tool to control the masses as far as I was concerned. Bread and circuses and the threat of eternal damnation. Why can’t anyone see we were the Gods? I ruled empires. Held dominion over nations. Started wars. Ended wars. I did what was necessary, goddammit! Now it’s all about equality. As if men can ever be equal. As if the drones that live and die without ever making a mark on this world could do the things I have done, the things I had to do!

Marco mocks me when I try to explain. My shame: I am nothing more now than an old man in thrall to a beautiful youth who pities me. Who can blame him? My world has shrunk to these few rooms. He looks at me and sees a decrepit old fool. I’m a dinosaur to him, a relic. A relic with cash, though, and he’ll keep coming as long as the cash lasts. Capitalism is a dirty word to him but he does everything for cash. Even I don’t believe it is me he loves.

Everyone has conveniently forgotten that even women supported the policy back then. Oh, it was rushed and we didn’t think through the practicalities but no one objected. No one that mattered, anyway, just the usual wittering from the Left. Women’s rights! Our wives wanted it as much as we did, for god’s sake.

Helen surprised me. I knew our marriage was more than just good business to her but I underestimated her passion. Hell hath no fury, and all that. I wonder sometimes, if I had been a better husband, would she have been a better wife?

Twenty years. A generation. That’s all it took. We thought we’d engineered the perfect society, the perfect economic machine. Hubris all of it, it seems now.

I wonder how they’ll punish Richworthy, if he lives? There has been no mercy for the others. They stripped the President naked and marched him through the streets. The Over-Senate were put on labour crews and worked until they dropped where they stood. Everything was broadcast live and the images haunt me. Men I worked with, invited into my home, whose children I had played with, enslaved and destroyed. I tell myself they would have escaped too, given the chance, but my conscience pricks me.

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