Always Zander

Always curious, Zander surreptitiously examined the camera before fastening it over his left ear.  Before Xidoun came to power, personal cameras were techno toys that people lined up to acquire.  Consequent to the takeover, these cameras, now called SecuriCams, were declared mandatory during waking hours to track each citizen’s activities and interactions.  Data from HealthWatches—also mandatory—reported sleep and wake times based on heart rate and breathing patterns.  Errors were possible, of course, and unjust prosecution difficult to fight.  Fooling a SecuriCam was possible too, Zander believed, but it wasn’t until his best friend was taken away that he put his theory to the test.

Gazing out the window at the forlorn streets one morning, Zander decided it was time.  Holding a book close to his face, he turned the pages at intervals as if he was reading.  Inching to the kitchen, he fumbled around for the tools he needed, never moving his eyes off the page.  Just as the tension threatened to trigger an increased-heartbeat warning on his HealthWatch, Zander shoved the tools in his bedside table drawer and pushed it shut.  Keeping his breathing steady to tame his racing heart, he put down the book as though tired of it and went back to the kitchen to forage for breakfast.  Later, he mechanically performed his assigned tasks while he mentally rehearsed how he would override the SecuriCam’s feed.

Moving through his routines the next day, Zander recorded everything with an old pre-Xidoun camera clipped to his right ear, out of sight of the live-feed SecuriCam on his left.  Next morning, controlling his breathing to mimic the slow and steady rhythm of sleep, he reached for the tools and soon had both cameras connected.  One camera would replay yesterday’s routine in a continuous loop and feed it to the other camera, which was transmitting the visuals to the monitoring station.  Pulling together a few essentials, he left the apartment with only a small bag, an umbrella, and his late friend’s dog on a leash.

Quite a few people were already on the streets but weather was on his side.  Rain pelted down, giving him a reason to shield his face—and his camera-less left ear—from other citizens’ cameras.  Soon reaching the park at the edge of town, he casually strolled on the grass as if merely walking the dog.  Then, sheltered by some trees, he slipped the HealthWatch off his wrist and buckled it around the dog’s neck.  Unleashing the dog and commanding him to go “home” marked Zander’s point of no return.  Very soon Xidoun agents would discover his evasion and come looking for him.

When he emerged from the woods to where the abandoned rail line skirted the edge of town, he headed east.  Xidoun’s reach did not extend beyond the mountains, barely discernible in the distance.  Yellow shafts of sunlight pierced the clouds, making the rain-wet corridor of iron gleam like a path of gold showing him the way.  Zander shifted the bag on his shoulder and, after one last glance behind him, headed east.

(An Acrostic story is one told in exactly twenty-six sentences, each of which begins with the letters of the alphabet, in order, from A to Z.)

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