By Chris Bunton

Sarah and her friends exited the city bus, and walked the short half block along the clean streets to the Metro Station.

The young girls were dressed to the nines and were excited to get to the concert. They laughed, chatted, giggled and checked their phones, taking selfies. It was a beautiful evening in the city. Everything was perfect.

The electric bus pulled away and joined the other buses going back and forth on the wide street, lined with trees and buildings. There were very few cars, and all of them were new.

The girls entered the Metro Station and scanned their phones on a pay pad at the turn stiles as they entered. Each received a green light, as they giggled and ran past the security station, where armed men watched cameras, and body scan machines as the girls went through.

They stood on the platform with dozens of other people waiting on the train to arrive. Everyone stared down at their phones, scrolling with a finger, texting or talking through a Bluetooth.

“I can’t wait!” Sarah said.

“I know, but I wish Tracy was here.” Kelly answered.

“She had some kind of violation” Alicia said.

“What?” Sarah asked.

“She didn’t say. I think it was something she did at work. She can’t leave the house.” Amber explained.

The train arrived and the girls boarded. They sat down and started scrolling through their phones.

“Did you see what Tanya posted?” Kelly said.

“Yes, she needs to get over Chuck. It’s ridiculous.” Amber said.

“Yeah!” Alicia agreed. “It’s over. Move on.”

They all laughed as the new train rolled along.

Sarah stood up to adjust her tight short red dress. She glanced out the glass slit, which allowed natural light to enter the car.

Spread out below her, as the train zipped past was “Tent City”.

She knew about it, but she never saw it from this angle and only on videos from drones posted online.

It was massive. Cook fires, and smoke rose into the setting sun, with lanterns burning among the thousands of tents. They were all sizes and colors. It was amazing.

She sat down and scrolled through her phone again. She stopped to read, then scrolled again. All the people on the train scrolled and read. Scrolled and read. Everyone was dressed perfectly and had places to go. There was nothing and no one out of place or causing a dirty little scene.

As the train neared the station, the girls stood and waited, prepared to exit when the train stopped.

“How’s your dad?”  Amber asked Sarah.

“He’s fine. He’s happy now. All his student debt got cancelled when he finally got cleared.” Sarah answered.

“Why did it take him so long” Amber asked.

“He thinks it’s a government plot.” Sarah said.

They all laughed.

“What made him get it done?” Alicia asked.

“Mom refused to let him use her phone or number for anything anymore. He couldn’t take the bus or train. He couldn’t get his money from the bank. He couldn’t buy anything. He just rode that old bike he found to work, till it got stolen. My Mom told him to go get cleared or they were through. She would find someone who wasn’t living in the past.” Sarah explained.

Amber shook her head.

“It took my parents a while too. I had to go get it done myself.” Amber said.

“My mom took me. Then, she put me on the Pill the same day.” Alicia laughed.

The girls exited the train and climbed the steps to the convention center, after scanning their phones at security.

They got in line at the door to the concert hall, and watched all the people in front of them scanning their phones, one after another, and then entering the building.

Amber scanned her phone at the security station and ran inside.

Sarah scanned hers and the machine made a loud “Beep” with a red flashing light.

“Scan it again, please.” The security guard said.

She scanned it.

“Beep” and red light.

“Miss, step aside please.” The guard said.

Sarah looked at her friends, who were all stunned, and the line was waiting. She was panicked.

“Please!” Sarah pleaded. “I don’t understand. I just got off the train and it was fine.”

The guard looked at the computer screen.

“It says you have a violation. You will need to get cleared again at Central.” He said.

“But, I got all my shots, I keep all my appointments, I pay my bills, I do my job. I’ve done nothing wrong.” She protested.

“Then you have nothing to worry about.” The guard said. “Step aside please.”

Her friends looked at her like she had just been diagnosed with some awful disease, as they scanned and went past her into the concert.

“Maybe someone accused you of something.” Alicia said, smiling as she swiped her phone and went past Sarah.

“Miss, please step back 6 feet and cover your face. You have not been cleared.” The guard said,

Sarah backed off. She pulled a cloth mask from her purse and covered her nose and mouth. She was bewildered and was about to cry.

What did I do?” She thought. “Did someone report me for something?”  “How will I get home?” “What will happen to me?” 

All these thoughts ran through her mind as she envisioned the filthy tent city, and those forced to live there.

Bio: Chris Bunton is a Writer, Poet, and Blogger from Southern Illinois.

His dystopian stories on The Yard include: “For Your Protection” “Clear” “The Prisoner” “Power Hour” “Last Train to St. Louis” “The Rant

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Publishing Editor for The Yard: Crime Blog.

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