"Oh yes, all part of the new regime of open and honest government apparently. The people first and all that."
Hannah smirked. "We'll see."
"Indeed. Are you going to listen in to the broadcast?"
Hannah shook her head. "No, not interested. Not anymore."
Scott unclipped her seat belt.
"Thanks for taking me."
"No problem, I enjoyed the swim."
"It was nice to get away for a few hours. Dad, loved it there."
Scott squeezed her hand. "So... now that it's all over, we won't be seeing each other as much, I guess."
"No, I don't suppose we will." Hannah said, trying not to sound as sad as she felt.
"Well, I'm free on Saturday, if you are. Maybe we could take a drive and go for a nice walk somewhere, have some lunch?" he asked tentatively.
Hannah got out of the car outside their new house. She wasn't ready to call it home, didn't think she ever would. She turned. "I'd really like that."
"Okay, I'll pick you up at eleven then. Bye, Hannah." He smiled at her.
"Bye." She closed the door and watched him drive off.
The door, had swollen from the rain the day before and stuck a little as she opened it requiring a small shove to open it.
"Hannah, is that you?"
Lynne appeared from the kitchen door, taking off her apron.
"And how was Scott?" she asked with a smirk.
"Fine. As he always is."
Her mother tutted and placed a shawl over her shoulders. "Is Tucker coming?"
"Mum, don't push it. He's still not ready."
"But, Hannah. He has to at some stage. It's not good him hiding away like this."
"Don't you think I've tried telling him?"
"That lad has nothing to feel shame for. Your father was wonderful, yet stubborn to the core. He would never have let them take Tucker and Nathan without a fight. How is Nathan doing?"
"Tucker said they were releasing him later this week. He's still not got any feeling back below the waist, but he's in a better frame of mind. Better than Tucker, that's for sure."
"Well you tell that boy, I not happy with him and that he needs to get round here so I can tell him so in person."
Hannah snickered. "I will. Now we'd better go."
The door behind her opened with a dramatic swing.
"Ah, Edward, I was wondering where you'd got too. We're now leaving." She picked up the wicker basket holding the bouquets from the floor. All three of them.
"I'm not coming," was his terse reply.
"Oh yes you are, young man. Now put that bag down and turnaround. Come on, off we go."
Hannah braved a small sympathetic smile to Edward. He sighed, dropping his bag at his feet and turned around and went back out the door.
"We have progress," Lynne whispered to Hannah.
Hannah rolled her eyes.
Edward had been living with them for the last five months. With Scott's help, they'd found him preferring to live in a disused warehouse, dirty and utterly broken, than live with his father. And just like she did, nearly nineteen years ago, Lynne took another mother's child into her home and began to love him as her own. She told Hannah that they owed it to Diana and that was the only persuasion Hannah needed.
They walked the two miles to the cemetery slowly, the mid afternoon heat, baking everything it touched. Hannah and Lynne were used to going everywhere on foot, Edward still rued to loss of his sports car and grumbled a little on the way. But Hannah seemed to think he quite liked the simple lifestyle they were now living, but knew he'd never admit to it.
They entered through the ornate entrance that was once forbidden to them and made their way to the rear of the cemetery, or the 'cheaper seats' as her father used to call them. They came to Shane's empty grave first. His parents had decided to have a headstone put up for him, even though he was actually buried in one of the larger, mass graves nearby. For Hannah, the headstone gave her somewhere to place her flowers and a place where she could come and chat to him. The flowers already on the grave had dried and wilted under the sun, so she removed them and threaded the long stalks of her bouquet into the holes of the vase. She kissed her fingertips and touched the top of the headstone and they moved on.
Diana had been buried next to Dan, after her John had said he wanted nothing to do with it. Lynne had insisted, saying that Diana, like Edward was part of their family now. It gave Hannah comfort knowing they were together. Hannah watched as Edward refreshed the flowers for Diana, while Lynne tended to Dan's.
"It will get easier," Lynne said quietly, for her sake as much as Hannah and Edwards. "We just need some time and ..."
A squeal of tyres, interrupted her. Another squeal and the roar of an engine followed. Coming closer, a black saloon car, flew under the arch, mounting the grassy verge and hurtled towards them.
"Hannah, is that Scott?"
Hannah shielded her eyes for the glare of the sun. "It is."
"That young man is always in a hurry, but driving that fast, is sheer madness."
The car rounded the final bend, gravel thrown high into the air as the wheels spun and stopped with a lurch the car. Scott jumped out of the car and opened the back seat.
"Hannah, get in. Lynne, Edward, you too. We haven't much time."
She recognised that look in his eyes and under that baking sun, she shivered.
"What...is... wrong?" She asked again, more forcefully.
Scott's chest rose and fell quickly as the breaths came through his nose.
"He lied, he damn well lied to us."
"Bill," Scott spat.
Hannah eyes went wide. "But how...why?"
"He's just announced it, on the bloody radio. From midnight tonight, all those with an SPR of above 80 will be turned out of their homes, their jobs... Hannah the list goes on."
"But... but... he can't... he wouldn't...why?"
"He said and I quote, Parity can only be achieved when everyone has lived as a Flawed and only then will this society be fair and equal."
"But that's the ridiculous, he's only just been voted in."
"Yes and who voted for him, Hannah? The majority...the Flawed."
Lynne looked a little unsteady on her feet and Edward helped her walk over and sit on a near-by wooden bench.
"Can you just get in the car?" asked Scott, becoming exasperated.
"Because you're their flaming poster girl. He's called for your immediate arrest, to set an example."
A red admiral butterfly, flitted across the top of the car, over Scott's head, aloft on the light summer, breeze. Hannah carried on watching till it landed on a flowering bush. It briefly suckled up the sweet nectar, before flying off again. The butterfly was entirely free. And she was not.
YOU ARE READING
The NumberedScience Fiction
Imagine the second you're born, a consultant removes you from your mother's grasp and runs a battery of genetic and physiological tests on you. Thirty minutes later they give you a score out of one hundred which denotes your level of perfection. If...