Social Engineering

Anthony weaved and bobbed in and out of traffic on his single speed bike wearing that idiotic plaid fedora. It was the best way to escape the culling. Subscribers weren’t allowed to harm civilians. Unless there was a former Force Recon sniper out there, he’d probably be safe. Most of those guys didn’t have the ten grand to get a subscription. Hit a civilian by mistake and the departed’ family was granted open season on you for a year. And they didn’t have to wear an orange vest or abide by the 5 block rule.

No worries about anyone not wearing a subscriber vest (beyond the usual dangers of urban living). The penalties for poaching had gotten real steep. Only the most unrepentant sociopaths dared. And most of them had already been culled.

It was really very simple. The subscriber’s bright orange vest sent an RF code that matched the ones given off by his or her bullets. A subscription bought you 5 bullets, the use of the vest, and a Day-Glo orange lever action 30-30. You weren’t allowed to wear camo or use a bipod. That was deemed unsporting and had been rejected by the courts. Nor were you allowed to shoot a runner within 5 blocks of their home. African safari’s might still make big bucks staking out a watering hole so some rich douche could shoot a thirsty lion, but the US lotto system insisted on a reasonable degree of fairness. Five grand got you a pump 12 gauge with 5 shells.

If you scored a kill, the RF tag in the runner’s vest sent an alert to the county assessor’s office matching your RF tag to the kill. That locked the bolt on your weapon and froze the firing pin. It also alerted the local disposal service to the location for retrieval. No trophies were allowed except for a photo of you over the kill which cost you an extra grand. The subscriber had 2 business days to turn in his or her gear, or else they went to the top of the target list. If you used your 5 rounds without a kill, well too damn bad. The subscription also expired after 3 days. Five more rounds cost you 10 grand, but you had to wait six months to reapply. After all, there was a huge waiting list.

You had to be 18 or older but kids above 10 could get a subscription to taze. Obviously, the runner was allowed a 20 minute grace period from definitive culling after each taze. After all, Americans weren’t barbarians.

Local governments made a killing off the fees. In a big city, you might have a thousand runners and a hundred subscribers on a given day. You’d think all those culled bodies would have negatively affected the tax rolls but as it turned out most of them didn’t pay much in taxes anyway. The remaining workers at coffee houses and boutiques had to move a lot faster and most french restaurants had closed, but society considered it a small price to pay. If you lasted 6 months on the culling list, your account was reset to zero and you got to start over. Most ended up on the list again within 2 years. It was just their nature.

Anthony (his histrionic insistence on being called Anthony while wearing that fedora everywhere had been one of the things that had first brought him to the attention of the culling service) was sure this was all a horribly unfair mistake. Most who had met him, disagreed. Anthony was one of those people who just felt things more deeply than anyone else could. Just ask him and he would tell you. Along with other equally strong opinions about a wide range of topics generally outside his education or experience. In short, Anthony was an insufferable twit. The kind of person that used to populate many large cities adding to the unpleasantness of urban living. He was one of those guys who had absolutely no insight into the clueless nature of his self-absorbed behaviors but was instantly on the ass of anyone who violated his hair trigger sensibilities or his cause du jour. Now his primary cause was pretty basic. Live another day. Oh well, it kept is nose clean.


Michael Lockridge said...

Well done. My idea was more one of arenas, since open sport risked higher levels of collateral damage. On the whole, a very nice design. Elegant.

Of course, it is a system which would unfairly target the poor. After all, once the culling of undesirables was fairly well on its way, what would be more natural but to allow poor people to pad their incomes by offering themselves as runners?

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

Got it covered. Poor people are usually too busy to worry about the kinds of issues that make people insufferable twits. Therefore, few runners would be poor.

GearHedEd said...

You should give us a list of thing that would get you on the "cull list".

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

Oh that's one of the flaws in this short story Ed - that and all the killing - the definition of an insufferable twit is so personal.