The Working People

Entry by: Seaside Scribbler

10th March 2017
Airports haven't changed as much as the world around them has, Scarlet thinks, as a way to divert her thoughts from the terror they want to swirl down into; the fear that lies below her feet that could drag her down. If she thinks about what she's doing, the agony of this fear will take over her whole body and cause her to shake and cry and run - exactly what she musn't do.

She must appear normal, sane and slow, in a world gone crazy. It's like taking G-Tam, the rush that follows makes you feel like a fly, with you going faster and faster and the world going sllllloooooowwwwww as if the mechaism of life itself has unwound and is about to stop.

She stopped taking G-Tam when she got pregnant and it took her weeks to find the natural rhythm of life once more. Now when she sees people on it she smiles at them and the pull in her middle gets less as she remembers the come-downs, days of twisting in agony on sheets that trapped you. She doesn't miss it and she misses it every day.

She focuses again. the airport. It's bright, clinical, full of people with a destination - only the rich, now though; gone are the days of package deals and family holidays that Mum talked about. The rich in their fancy shoes and high class drugs which were legal, a puff on their K-pipes and they drift through the world. They drift now, the people with money, and she makes every effort to appear like them. She has the clothes and the shoes and the baggage, all shiny and expensive and all provided by her latest employer, but can she walk the walk? Can she talk the talk? Can she round off her vowels properly to disguise herself in front of the security guards?

She can feel the fear beginning to take hold again and she jerks herself back, as if she has a lead on her own neck, jerks herself back to the present and the airport and the men with guns. There's one difference between the old airports she's read and been told about and the new ones - everywhere there are firearms.

And they follow you, as you walk. Sometimes you can feel the heat of the lazer sight on your flesh. Scarlet imagines that heat now, on her neck, ready to blast her to pieces, as they realise she's a mule, for a richie, a working class mule not supposed to inhabit this world at all, not supposed to be in airports becasue they belong to the rich, as does everything that has any meaning, anything that's worth having.

We get left with the dregs, she whispers to herself. We are the dregs. She freezes, afraid people will see her mouth moving. Richies don't talk to themselves.

Taking a breath of chemically airport air, Scarlet reminds herself what she's doing. Why she's doing it. Tia and Neo are at home, waiting, waiting, a gun watching them, until she gets back and makes the men with guns go away as she gives them the drug. 'Insurance,' her employer had whispered, smiling at her children. She'd wanted to kill him. She'll be back to them soon and she'll have money and they'll eat good food for a while.

What do you want to be when you grow up, Scarlet? her mum used to ask her. And she would reply, I want to be a teacher.

She musn't think about her mum anymore. If she does, she'll collapse right there with pain.

Airports. Haven't changed that much. Look at all the meaningless crap you can buy. Look at all the suits, just like ones she's seen in pictures of businessmen years ago. Look at all the signs, everywhere. Do this, dont do this.

Her heart's beating faster as she sees, there in front of her, a checkpoint. She's been through two today already and she's glided through, but her will is fading; her doubts are taking over, she wants to run...

Tia and Neo. Waiting for her. If she runs, she'll be picked up on every camera down every street, supposing she even makes it out of the airport. Which she wouldn't. The cameras here are following her, as they follow everyone. They're like alien heads, turning as she passes, their round eyes shrinking and growing as they focus on her.

She arrives at the security scanner. She reminds herself, the stuff is inside you; it cannot be seen. She tells herself, you're safe. This is a safe job, that's why you're doing it. She thinks, nobody has ever been caught. She thinks, you need the money. More than anything, don't screw it up becasue you need the money.

If she's caught and oh god, her thoughts are going to go there even though she's forcing them away but no, she's going to have to think about it because she is trying too hard not to and so it's there, right there in her mind. If she's caught....

She's done the maths over and over again. It would take her a year to earn what she's going to make today, if she even had a job. She grits her teeth against the memory that comes of dragging her children around the backs of richie restuarants for thrown away meals; until Tia got sick from bad food. She's tried to get a job, over and over and over. There are no jobs there.

She doesn't think about the damage the drug can do. Hero2 is like heroin, but better. Apparently it's the ultimate hit, the best feeling, the highest high you'll ever get. In terms of addiction it's also the best and after just one try, you're hooked. Even trying to withdraw is so painful you never make it. It's the worst thing, and it costs the most and she tells herself over and over that the people she's carrying it for are already lost - this is to top up their own stocks, not create new users...

...she knows this is a lie. What she's carrying could create new addicts. Of course it could. But she needs the money. She needs to feed her children.

Mind racing, too many thoughts going on, she stands in the scanner.

A security guard with a gun trained on her stomach says, 'You're breathing a little fast. Why?'

'I ran a lot on holiday. Brought on my asthma.' It's the best she can come up with. Do people go running on richie holidays? She's no idea. But the guard smiles and says she should have been relaxing and off you go now, off you go.

Scarlet almost doesn't move, but kicks herself mentally and walks on, willing herself not to look back. But she does, because the more she thinks it, the more she can't help but turn around and...

... the guard is pointing at her.

Sweet hell, he's pointing at her.

She could run. She can see the door now, up ahead. EXIT in orange letters. There's another check point to get through but she could go fast and knock them out of the way and get to the door and-

She'd never make it.

Time stops. Just for a moment and then...

Someone taps her on the shoulder.