“History repeats itself.” We’ve all heard that phrase at least a hundred times. Sometimes it appears to be true; sometimes not. Let us hope that one particular time period in our history will NOT repeat itself. That is the period depicted in this flash fiction
about the future.
Deja Vu: Dallas, 2050
The first person I wanted to see when I got back was my old buddy, John. His wife, Brandi, had a smile that could brighten the sun. The woman who cracked the door was not smiling. She peered out at me, uncertain. “David?” she finally said.
“I just got back last night,” I said. “I wanted to see you guys first. John here?”
Brandi unchained and opened the door slowly. Her grey complexion nearly matched the odd flowing robe. She had always been a jeans and jersey person, rosy cheeks, laughing eyes.
“He’s dead,” she said, her voice flat and dull. “It happened two years ago.”
“Dead?” I said, shocked. She closed and locked the door behind me. We sat on a grey vinyl sofa. “What happened?”
Brandi produced a small hand remote and pointed it toward a wide screen fastened to the wall. I stared at her.
“Everything is different now,” she said. She gestured toward the screen.
A high def image blossomed and I immediately recognized my old college roommate. He was walking hand in hand with Brandi; the child was beside them. Around them on the sidewalk flowed an endless stream of people.
There was no sound with the image but John was talking and waving his arms. He looked older, but why not? Five earth-years had gone by since I left. But he still had that wide toothy grin.
When the family passed beyond the view of the first sidewalk camera, it was picked up by another camera, and then another as the family continued walking.
I could see some sort of a large logo on John’s jacket. It was very white and looked like an “S.”
I glanced at Brandi. “What’s that on his back?”
A fist to her mouth, her dark eyes wide, she shook her head. “Watch.”
A man wearing some kind of green work clothes suddenly stepped out of a doorway, directly in front of them. He pulled a hand weapon from his clothes and aimed it at John’s face.
There was a puff of smoke. Sections of John’s head blew backwards and his body collapsed like a boneless scarecrow, face down on the sidewalk. As Brandi and the child dropped to their knees, horrified, an Enforcement officer in a black uniform approached on a two-wheeled personal unit.
As he rode by, he glanced at the body, and at the sobbing woman and child. He continued on without a pause. The river of people also continued to flow around the body, and around the sobbing woman and child, as though nothing had happened.
As the screen went black, Brandi struggled to her feet. “You must go now. Quickly.”
“But this is crazy,” I said. “Why didn’t that officer stop?”
Brandi pulled me to my feet, her eyes filled with fear. “Please, don’t ask any questions. They’ll come after us if you do.”
“What do you mean? Who’ll come after you?”
She yanked the door open and pushed me out into the hallway. “You must go away. And don’t come back. Please,” she begged.
“Brandi, wait!” I shouted as she closed the door in my face. I could hear the lock and chain.
All night, I thought about her warning, and about what I’d seen on the screen. But I couldn’t let this go. Something had to be done.
The bloated, red-faced officer sitting behind the Enforcement desk was wearing the same kind of black uniform I’d seen on Brandi’s wall screen. He looked at my clothing and then at me. He pointed to a small metallic device on his desk. “Swipe your card.”
“Card? What card?”
Through narrowed eyes he looked at my clothing again. “Where you from?”
“I was born here,” I explained. “Right down the street. At St. Jude. I’ve been on one of our government’s Exploratory Missions.”
The man waved a chubby hand. “Everyone has to have a card now. Come back when you have yours.”
“All I want is some information,” I insisted. “About a murder. It happened less than two blocks from here. You must have a file on it.”
The eyes turned into marble slits. “You are mistaken. There hasn’t been a murder in this city in three years. Murder is illegal.”
“I know it’s illegal. But this one was captured on film. The man’s wife and child were with him when it happened. One of your officers was there, too, but he didn’t even stop.”
The voice got louder. “You are mistaken, I said. There are no murders. Not anymore.”
The Department of Statistical Compilations was on the third floor of a gleaming new glass tower. The smiling, uniformed receptionist guided me to the History section. The uniformed man behind the counter was also smiling until I told him about the murder.
His lips became a thin gash. “You are mistaken. There hasn’t been a murder in years. Not since the change.”
I told him about the video. “The Enforcement guy ignored the whole thing,” I said angrily. “Like it didn’t happen.”
“I’m sure he had his reasons,” the man said. “What is this person’s name? The one you claim was murdered.”
“Smith. His name was John Smith. You must have some kind of record. Of him and his family.”
The thin gash twisted. “That’s impossible. There are no records of Smiths. Because there are no Smiths.”
“What are you talking about?”
His laugh was more like a snort. “You have been away for a long time, haven’t you? So I’ll say it again. There are no Smiths of any kind. Not here. Not anywhere. Not anymore. You see, they have all been neutralized since the change. After all, that’s what the change was all about, wasn’t it?”
He looked me up and down again. “You say there’s a wife and child?”