The Mayflower Eviction
You'd think with Russia and Argentina on the brink of war, Sam would've been more careful about joking about the destruction of the Kremlin. Then again, Sam always acts like a fool when we're outside of the New Mayflower. Having to fight a guy five inches taller than me with twice the muscle wasn't on my to-do list today. But I like to think I gave as good as I got in that fight.
Sam wiped his bloody nose on his sweater cuff and said, "If we had Louie with us, we would've beaten those fracasados."
"Like Louie would've wanted to fight five guys. And stop using slang from El Nuevo Barrio, you're not even half-Hispanic origin."
"He would've stuck in with us, thrown some hard lefts and all that."
I responded with, "Sure, if you say so. I hope you've got some blue mist because Alissa said she wouldn't heal you for free after last time and we both know you're sharped."
Sam remarked, "Alissa isn't the doctor she thinks she is and I'm not as skint as she thinks."
I chuckled and said, "You won't be saying that when she asks you to empty your pockets."
We were still five klicks from the New Mayflower and neither of us had enough credits for a speed cab so we walked a little faster. I had a job at a streaming port store but the pay wasn't great for a starting worker. But at least I had a job. Louie stopped searching three months ago and applied for living grants and Sam never even bothered trying.
Sam stated, "We're lucky laundry doesn't cost any credits. This weather sucks."
I replied, "Be lucky half the world's countries signed onto that climate act a few centuries back. Otherwise, we'd be soaked in sweat."
"That's why you should've signed up for a collegiate port, Edmund. You keep track of dumb stuff like that."
I responded, "It's not dumb stuff, just facts. Besides, the nearest collegiate that I'd have a shot at is Redmond-Rutgers and their station port is forty or fifty klicks from here. I can't afford to stay in one of those off-land ports around central Jersey."
Sam asked, "Yeah but you're smart. Couldn't you apply for some living grants and hope for a full collegiate grant?"
I shook my head and answered, "Living grants don't always transfer between ports, remember? Besides, the only one of us who could actually get in is Louie and after his interview for Columbia II, he didn't think about it."
"With those black suits glaring down at us for being from the compounds, I can't blame him for not wanting to be at a collegiate. I wouldn't want to be," Sam replied.
Being at a collegiate port would've been nice but it's not cheap. Even ones like Redmond-Rutgers ran up four thousand credits a term for local residents, nevermind those from outside the region. That's part of why Louie scrapped the idea of going to Columbia II. The other part is the selective admission process. Why let in some New Mayflower kids who used to live in on-land compounds with the riff raff and all that?
An hour later, we strode towards the New Mayflower port. First, we had to go through ID check-in. Sam put his registry card up to the scanner and was let in after five seconds. Ten seconds later, it was my turn. We were on our way to Alissa's quarters when one of the dock leaders noticed how we looked.
"Don't tell me you lads got into a brawl with the Russians from Lincoln Beach."
Sam said, "I'm afraid so, Mick. But you should see how they look. I swear, one of them was missing two teeth and had a shiner by the time we were done."
"Just go and get yourselves patched up. We don't need the regiment asking questions."
We both nodded and continued to Alissa's quarters. If there was anyone who could take the role of "smartest person" on the New Mayflower, it was her hands down. She got full grades at her secondary port, and went on a science track for two years. Alissa even went to Tufts UC for a term but an incident happened and her collegiate grant got taken away.
Alissa opened her door and looked at us warily. She sighed at the sight of Sam's bloody nose.
"Dreyfus and Mason. What a surprise," Alissa said.
Sam replied, "Hey there, Alissa. Would you mind patching us up? We got into a bit of a scrap over on Broadway."
Alissa responded with, "You mean Broadview 3. Anyway, I'll need a few credits this time. Fixing both of your injuries will be using up some of my supplies that could go towards helping others."
I said, "Don't look at me, Sam."
Sam took out his registry card and gave it to Alissa, who put it up to her scanner. It took away five credits from his living grant account.
Sam remarked, "Five credits? Come on, Alissa, a lad has to have some credits at the end of the week."
Alissa replied, "Then you shouldn't be brawling with half the thugs in New York so that you keep needing to get patched up. Now hold still, I'll have to take care of your bloody nose first."
She wiped away the blood with a gauze pad before spraying the nose with green mist. After a minute, the blood slowly started to go away. She then took care of his cut lip. Then she turned to me, putting some of her healing cream on my bruised knuckles. It felt like new in only a few minutes.
Alissa said, "There you go, a good night's rest should aid the mists and creams in healing you both. Don't just go jumping headfirst into any more fights."
"Yeah, we know. Rule number five, don't get caught if you do," I responded.
She sighed and asked, "How are you both doing?"
Sam answered, "Fine besides that scrap. Edmund keeps encouraging me to get a job to supplement my living grants but nobody's hiring, especially once they look through my file."
I said, "You need to have a little more hope on that front. Dealing with the black suits might be tough but if you get through them, you'll get the job."
Sam replied, "Easy for you to say. You just have to deal with blue and white suits at the streaming port store."
He had a fair point. Not a lot of businessmen wander into our store, which I'm grateful for. It'd be harder to make a guaranteed sale. Also, our uniform would turn them away: a black T-shirt and jeans.
Alissa said, "I think what Edmund is saying is to not give up hope."
"Yeah, well, I'll keep on trying but I won't expect to get anything," Sam replied.
We both left Alissa's quarters and went to find Louie. As it turned out, he found us first. He ran over to us, stopping at our healed appearances.
Louie said, "You went to Alissa?"
We nodded and Sam replied, "What's going down, Louie?"
Louie answered, "It looks like word of your brawl with the Russians on Broadview 3 reached the regiment. A regiment officer's coming to speak with you guys."
Sam said, "There's no way they'd send an officer to deal with a tiny scrap that nobody reported."
I replied, "Anyway, it's only been a couple of hours. How fast can word spread?"
We were interrupted by a shout. A regiment officer came in, his all-black uniform with its multiple badges and medals surprising the other residents. Louie gulped and Sam and I tried to look as normal as possible.
The officer said, "I'm looking for two residents around the age of eighteen years, one with light brown hair and the other with black hair. Names believed to be Dreyfus and Mason."
The other residents turned away while one of the dock leaders pointed to us. The regiment officer went over to us and glared at the three of us.
He said to Louie, "What's your name, boy?"
Louie answered, "Carticello, sir."
He said, "Run along, before you face the same fate as your friends."
Louie replied, "But sir, they-"
He took out three pairs of electronic handcuffs and responded with, "In that case, I'm taking all three of you into the custody of the New York Liberty Regiment, 21st Battalion."
Mick asked, "Excuse me, officer, but what are those boys being charged with?"
The officer answered, "Dreyfus and Mason with disorderly behavior and assault and this boy with disobeying an officer's commands."
We were put into a squad cab and taken to the 21st Battalion office. The ride was quiet and we couldn't even communicate through hand symbols since the electronic handcuffs were on and our hands were behind our backs. We were put into separate rooms, Sam first then Louie and finally me. I waited in this room for approximately two hours before the door opened. A regiment officer came in, not the same one as before.
He said, "Hello, I'm Corporal Detective McMullen. You must be Dyrefus."
I kept silent, waiting to see if he revealed anything else, about what was going to happen to Sam and Louie.
He continued, "I've been looking through your file. Five years at a secondary port in Brooklyn, one of them on a combined humanities-social sciences track. Relatively impressive, considering your previous occupancy at an on-land compound in Flatbush-Sheepshead."
I inwardly sighed. I should've known the regiment would be giving us a hard time about our past, spending time in the compounds before we managed to get into the New Mayflower. I wondered what the regiment officers were saying to Sam and Louie. Probably similar stuff, reading us our life stories as if we haven't already gone through them.
He went on, "You currently work at a streaming port store in the Bowery. That must be a long commute through the underground and speed cabs."
I said, "I make it work."
He replied, "What else do you make work? Fleecing your way onto a port ship like the New Mayflower? Getting into a brawl on Broadview 3 over an insensitive joke and then evading the authorities?"
I just stared right at him. I could've replied and denied it but if he knew about the joke that Sam made, he must've known the rest of the story. He probably got it from the Russians. My best option was to keep quiet unless to ask about the future steps the regiment would be taking.
He continued, "At minimum, you're looking at three months on probational duty. At worst, you could be looking at an E-3 charge, meaning revocation of your living grants and work status, eviction from your port ship and sentencing to two years in an on-land correctional camp."
I asked, "When is that decided?"
McMullen answered, "There'll be a hearing for you and your friends tomorrow where evidence will be given for your acts. Your sentencing or freedom will be determined then. In the meanwhile, you will remain in the custody of the 21st Battalion and be placed in a holding room for the night."
Damnit. Everybody in the New Mayflower will have heard of us getting picked up by the regiment officers before the night is over. And that isn't even the worst thing to be worrying about. If the stories I've heard are true, being stuck in an on-land correctional camp is hell. The officers are biased and can pin an offence on you just for not liking anything about you. The other campers could fight or attack you when you least expect it. The ex-campers that managed to find rooms in the New Mayflower usually seem to have something off about them. Nothing too big on the surface – lack of blinking here, a bit of twitching there – but you can suspect something deeper lurks within.
I really hope we don't get sent there. Even if we can maintain our sanity and personalities, the violence at those camps are high. Fights break out daily and deaths occurred at least weekly, from the stories I heard from a few of the ex-campers. But my fate, along with Sam and Louie's, would be decided tomorrow.
I'll be fully honest here. I didn't expect this tale to even be as sci-fi as it is (which probably isn't as much as some others, which is why I didn't put this in the sci-fi category primarily). I also didn't expect this story to become as long as it is and then I thought to make it several chapters. Maybe it could become a story I really enjoy writing.