"The screen shows what a nice day it is and the street is utterly quiet. "

Alex recommends these online literary links.


__Mclintock disables the night alarm. The door slides away and he leaves their bedroom, crosses the landing, punches a few digits on the wall and goes downstairs. In the hall a camera follows him and he steps into the kitchen, puts on coffee and presses a switch to raise the aluminium shutters, letting in light. He glances up at the CC monitors and sees his yard, the street, the road out of the colony, the main highway into Binghamton.
__ It's seven o'clock and the kids buzz him. He lets them out and they screech on the landing, playing "D-Squad and Proles". The coffee is ready and he pours two mugs and goes upstairs to see Alice. She has the window open.
__ "The window is open," McLintock says.
__ "I know," Alice says. "But it's OK for five minutes. It's such a lovely day."
__ "Close it," McLintock says. "I brought you coffee."

__After breakfast, McLintock punches up the school bus number and confirms two for Binghamton High.
__"We'll ring you back."
__When the call comes back, he answers a question then shouts up to his kids, "Two minutes, frogs!" They bundle down the stairs and he checks their wrist and ankle tags. "Stay with your mother," he says, "while I back the PC out." And he goes through the kitchen door after tapping some numbers and into the garage.
__After he has gone through the lock gate, slid in through the car's rear and up into the seat, McLintock barks his ID, taps a key and glances out at the street. The screen shows what a nice day it is and the street is utterly quiet. He lowers the ramp, drives down, parks where he can see his children walk to the bus. He takes a sharp breath when he hears an engine but then he sees it's only the bus. He peeps the horn twice and watches the house-door slide back, the kids ready, still shooting.
__ "Walk!" he shouts, "and pay attention!"
__ The bus arrives, seven children already aboard. McLintock nods to the driver and the front and back shotguns. The front shotgun he knows, Geoff Hamilton, took a stress-early and pension, now does school-sidekick so he gets to carry a gun mornings and sleep in the confine.
__ Jack and Katie tap their numbers on the bus side, step into the closure, push their IDs under the glass, answer a question each, and step through. Once they are into the body of the bus he hears a faint shout of welcome from some of the other kids. The bus slides slowly away.
__ McLintock looks back at the house. The front door has slid shut and he sees the light of the alarm pip back on. He looks up and as he does so, Alice appears, looks out, tips her face to the sun, sighs, and pulls the window closed. Seconds later the blue light begins to flash as it should.
__ Alice needs to shop today, but it's tricky over in Bradman and McLintock has to go into the office. They have arranged that Alice will travel with him to the city closure, go to the Sears Centre, and after shopping she'll use the waiting room there until he dials up and gets her out. It's OK she says. There are plenty of other wives who have to wait for their husbands.
__ Alice hates wearing her tags but McLintock has said long ago that without her tags she stays in, there's nothing to discuss. So she wears her bespoke one. It looks like a necklace and can't be cut or ripped off. There's a strong market in bespokes and McLintock still bristles when he thinks how much it cost. The wrist and ankle tags are free to everybody with city closure access and go automatically to families.
__ At the gate, they are unlucky. They're a random turn-over and they have to exit the PC and strip, then dress and wait while the PC is searched. They are both allowed their phone call. McLintock tells his boss he'll be late. __ "Don't worry," Pearson says. "Joe Brown is held up over on Brightside."


__At Sears, McLintock backs up to the lock, latches on. Alice goes to the back of their PC, taps some numbers and waits. When the screen lights she smiles and gives her name, waits, types in another number. Then the lock door opens, she steps in, waves to McLintock and the doors slide closed. Mclintock relaxes, locks the PC. Taps in his route and ID, gets a go and sets off. He sees two D-Squad machines float past, waits for the statutory 100 metre gap then drops into the road. He gets to work.


__Brown doesn't show and Pearson's secretary can't raise him or locate his tag. Pearson pulls a favour and gets hold of DHQ but can't pull any news. When they call up INFO all that the screen says is "Brightside Travel Intermittent."
__ McLintock gets a little work done. At twelve Joe Brown still hasn't shown. McLintock decides to see if he can get hold of Alice.
__"Hon? How things? "
__ "Fine," Alice says. "There are books here."
__ "Hon, we got a no-show this morning and I might be locked in."
__ "Who?"
__ "Joe Brown."
__ "When will you know?"
__ "Coupla hours. I'll try to get through or do you want to book a bed now and know you have one?"
__ "Can we afford it?"
__ "Not really, but they won't let you out. If the DS come here I might not get away."
__ "I feel lucky," Alice says. "If I'm wrong they have a wait-lounge, it's not that bad and I can get a drink."
__ "Sorry, hon."
__ "It's not your fault, Tom, it's Joe Brown's."
__ "You don't know that, Alice."
__ "Yes, I do. He dropped a rule for long enough and he's a no-show."
__ "You opened a window this morning," McLintock says.
__ "That was different," Alice says.
__ "You dropped a rule," McLintock says.

Alex Keegan

Alex Keegan has published five "Caz Flood" crime novels, but says his true love is literary fiction, short-stories in particular. He has had widespread competition success including winning the UK's Lichfield Short Story Prize and runner up in the Bridport Prize and Rhys Davies Awards in 1998. In May, his "Ernie the Egg" was the inaugural story on Atlantic Monthly's Internet Magazine, "Unbound". One can find more of Alex's work online at the following websites: Blue Moon Review, Southern Ocean Review, The Alsop Review, Eclectica, Free Cuisenart, Myster & Manners. He writes a monthly column in >The Internet Writers Journal. His home page is located at: http://www.btinternet.com/~alex.keegan1

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