Sunday

Just an ordinary Sunday. I wrote this:

They were refugees, and for that reason potential carriers, undocumented and assumed infected. If they’d come across the desert, it might just be to die here, Jer thought, waiting to be processed outside the city gates while their symptoms started to show or their supply of water and food ran out. There were stocks of food inside the city, as well as medkits and cure-alls, replenished by the Corps every forty or fifty days, but Jer and the rest of the guard were under strict orders to share none of this with the new arrivals, to interact with them only insofar as was absolutely necessary. Let the bots do the processing, they were told; let the bots take the blood, take the risks, herd the refugees into the makeshift camps that continued to spring up along the city’s edge. The city’s resources were limited and precious and costly, and there was nothing to be gained by wasting those resources on men and women who were very likely to die.

“Lead-lined clouds surround stars,” Cole, his immediate supervisor had said, and if his meaning was at first obscured by the metaphor, it was underlined by Jer’s knowledge of what had happened to guardsmen who in the early days had disobeyed this directive. Men who had been taught to learn first-hand how the refugees lived. The city guard, Jer knew, was the cloud; the city was the star; they surrounded it in darkness so that it might hold in more closely its light. If that meant that some would die in the cold shadows that they cast…

Jer watched these two: a man and a woman, perhaps only a few years older than himself, although it was difficult to tell from their dark and heavy garb. Both of them were wearing face masks as a ward against infection — not that that was a guarantee of anything. They could be carriers and not know it, or they could succumb after a few nights of life in the camp. They had the look of northeners, Jer thought, which would serve them well in the camp — everyone feared the dark whispers of the north — but might make their passage into the city difficult for the very same reason.

And that’s about it, really, but don’t think I’m complaining!

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