The Fail Safes of Father Island

By Dylan Holcomb

Alex Jefferson sat at his breakfast table with his wife Mary. Alex was a thin, tall man in his mid thirties, with short black hair and dull green eyes. Mary was forty three years old, with a fit body, brown hair and blue eyes. Alex was concerned about her. Not terribly concerned, as she didn't seem too upset- but still a bit concerned. Mary ate her usual breakfast of bran and grapefruit juice, as did Alex. After breakfast the two had their usual post-meal FIC smoke. The two of them sat in silence for a bit, listening to the wood in their small apartment creek. Finally, Alex spoke up.

"So, how long did they put you on leave?"

"A whole thirty days. It's really unnecessary, I feel fine. I felt fine the day after-"

"You need your rest." Interrupted Alex.

The couple sat in silence for longer until they had finished their breakfast.

"Want me to put these away for you?" Asked Mary

"No thanks, I can get it."

Alex and Mary both went to the sink, and begin washing their only dishes. Two bowls, two cups. Alex stared out the window at the uniformly tall gray buildings- made orange by the morning sun. Past the flat-blocks he could see the one building taller than the rest, the Father Island Central Government and Air Supply tower. That's the official name, most citizens of Father Island call it "The Father of Father Island".

As he stared at the skyscraper, the old television set in his living room buzzed on.

"Hello, and good morning! It's a great morning to wake up on Father Island, and it's a great morning to watch 'The Father Island News'!"

"Morning program on?" said Alex.

"Yup, better get ready or you're going to be late." replied Mary.

Alex went to the closet and pulled out a dress shirt and tie pulling it on he paused for a moment to hear the weather report.

"Now with the weather, looks like sun, sun, and more sun this week, with a high of seventy but a wind chill factor which should make everything perfect for outdoor events. Pollen's still extremely high, so make sure your filters are clean, and that you're wearing your GAGM's"

"That reminds me" said Mary, "On your way back home could you get some more mask filters?"

"Sure thing, sweetheart, I love you." Alex said.

"I love you too."

On the way out Alex grabbed his Government Approved Gas Mask, a small white turtle-shell looking device with a small cylinder of air scrubbing chemicals on the inside. After closing the door behind him he walked down five flights of stairs, past the main desk, and out the doors of Flat-block A-7. Alex put on his GAGM and looked left at the garbage bins, where they had put the crib. Alex looked back up at his apartment window and saw that Mary was watching him. He looked away quickly and began walking to work.

The Father Island Tobacco Company looked like any other flat-block building on the outside, except the small sign on the door with the company's name. On the inside it was office cubicle after office cubicle for at least half a mile. Alex's friend Louis greeted him at the door.

"Late like always, eh, Alex?" said Louis

Louis was an older gentleman in his mid 60's, he had well kept, (although thinning) white hair, and an almost Santa Clause like face. he had been working with Alex for ten years in accounting at the FITC.

"You're one to talk old bastard. You took three smoke breaks yesterday."

Louis laughed, "Well, look where we work! I should be getting paid to test the product!"

Alex smiled "Yeah, you and the rest of the island."

"Look at us. I'm doing some testing and you've taken up advertising."

The two walked into their cubicles next to each other. Alex could sometimes feel like he remembered not liking Louis some long time ago- but he couldn't quite reach that far.

"So how's the misses?" Said Louis

"She's fine... As always, just fine." replied Alex.

"Good, that's good to hear. What she went through was very tough." said Louis.

"Yeah... The doctors really tried, they just couldn't get the medicine to take. The imu-"

"UAAAAAAAAGHHUUGH" A scream belted from a few cubicles away.

Alex looked at Louis.

"It's Arnold... He's been like that since they shut down his vent for repairs a few days ago, while you were at the hospital" said Louis. "Must be the heat getting to him."

"THE NUMBERS ARE WRONG!" screamed Arnold.

Then silence for what felt like thirty minutes. Then they could hear a loud thudding of Arnold stomping around the office. Arnold stopped stomping in front of Louis' desk.

"YOU!"said Arnold

"Yes?" replied Louis

"YOU HANDLED THE HELPER ACCOUNT, DIDN'T YOU?"

"Y...yes?" said Louis.

Arnold and Louis stared at each other for awhile. Suddenly, Alex hears the wet thud and grunt of Arnold punching Louis. Alex goes to Louis' cubicle and watches Arnold pound his friend over and over again. Alex didn't feel like intervening or calling for help, he just wanted to watch. After about five minutes, armed guards came into the office and arrested Arnold and Louis. While being dragged away, Louis stared at Alex as if he had suddenly realized something he wanted to tell Alex, but couldn't find the words to tell him.

After work Alex went to flat-block A-2, to get the new filters for his and Mary's GAGMs. Walking to the general store he was stopped by a man sitting on a doorstoop.
"Hey kid, got time for a smoke break with your old man?"

It was Alex's father, Mansfield Jefferson. Mansfield was about seventy five, he was bald and wore an old brown button up shirt and gray trousers.

"Hey pop! Long time, no see."

"You're tellin' me!" said Mansfield "What brings you over to A-2?"

"I was hoping to get some new filters for our masks, pollen's supposed to be really bad this year."

"Pollen's always really bad, son." replied his father. "Got a FIC you could loan me?"

"Sure thing."

Alex handed Mansfield a cigarette. The two of them lowered their masks and started smoking.

"So how's Mary since her miscarriage?" asked Mansfield.

"She's alright. Oddly enough." replied Alex.

"What's odd about it?"

"Oh..." Alex thought very hard "I'm not sure...I guess nothing."

"She's just ready to move on, son." said Mansfield reassuringly.

"Suppose so..." said Alex.

As they were smoking they could hear a car coming from about a mile away. It's loud engine roaring, echoing through the mostly empty streets.

"Wonder who that is drivin' so fast this time of day on this street." said Mansfield.

The engine's roar became louder and louder. Suddenly they could see the car. An old beat up model from at least twenty years ago. As it got closer and closer they could see the driver swerving more and more.

"Are they drunk or somethin'?" asked Mansfield.

Alex remained silent, his eyes fixed on the swerving vehicle coming closer, and closer to him.

"Are they drunk or somethin'?" repeated Mansfield.

Then it happened. The car swerved too far right and slammed against a flat-block wall. It started to climb it a bit before flipping over and landing in the middle of the street in front of them. Alex stood shocked and didn't know what to do. Alex continued smoking, as did Mansfield.

"Help, Ough God Help me!" cried the motorist.

Alex just kept watching.

"AAHHH please help me! Call an ambulance!"

"Are they drunk or somethin'?" asked Mansfield a third time.

"I think so" replied Alex in a whisper.

Then a fire started outside the car. Gasoline dripped into the interior, allowing the fire to leak in with it.

"HELP ME SOMEONE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE HELP ME!" belted the motorist.

As the motorist was burned alive inside his car, Alex tried his best to think of what was wrong here, what isn't okay with this? But it seemed like the weather was perfect. It felt like he could breathe, and anything resembling a bad thought was shrouded in smoke.