The world in 2050 is a world that has changed dramatically to people born before the governments “new plan.” The plan is called The Complete Freedom Act. It isn’t a national act but a global one made by the U.N. Its name literally describes what it means. The plan entails that people would eventually work together and authority would not be needed. This act is a response to a nuclear world war between communist and democratic nations. Complete freedom does not mean people can do anything they want, but most people living under this act try to live by the old moral standards. There are still things such as traffic lights and air traffic control but there are no police, no bosses at work, and no justice system. People can sell property that doesn’t belong to them with out any contracts. There is a license for all property that is supposed to morally entitle you to it but in urban areas, it doesn’t mean anything. The only way to really keep property is by force and violence. Government removed guns from the market when making the act, but they still get around. There are knives, bats, metal bars and other dangerous weapons. When this plan was made in 2022, the government expected years of chaos in the beginning but that gradually, things would work the way they had planned. 2050 is a year of chaos. The streets and outdoors are dangerous; most people look out for each other but a good percent are criminals. For a man like Cory Michaels who remembers the old days, it is a confusing, scary, and dark world. Many people were around in the time before 2022 but most of them have been brain washed by the new system. It seems that they don’t see anything wrong with it.
* * *
Cory was a fifty-eight year old man living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. A cynical man whose mid-life crisis never seemed to end. Scared and lonely in the world around him he seemed to take out most of his problems by drinking. His wife, Barbara was a jolly, unintelligent, yet beautiful woman about two years younger than Cory. She was scared and knew that something was wrong with the world but was not as moved by it as her husband was. Perhaps she was too oblivious to really understand the true instability of her setting.
“Honey, I’m going’ to O’Brian’s,” he called into the other room of their one bedroom apartment.
“Ok. Will you be back for dinner?”
“Who knows?” he said, half to himself but it was loud enough for Barbara to hear.
* * *
O’Brian’s was a run down dirty mess of a bar on 78th and 14th avenue, it was the first bar on the Upper West Side landfill of 2018. Its 2020 style of hovering bar stools made it look even worse and very outdated. He saw Dave, his bar buddy of six or seven years. Dave was quite similar to Cory, but he had a positive aspect of his personality that was unthinkable to Cory. He was the only person to ever tell Cory not to worry and to “live and let live.” Cory took his daily walk to his daily seat and made his daily phone call to his son, Timothy.
“Hey dad,” Tim said, in a soft reluctant voice. His face showed up on Cory’s videophone. He was sweaty and looked tired.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Is this a bad time?”
“No dad. Never. It’s just that I’m working on something pretty big hear.” It upset Tim to see his dad in O’Brian’s. Even though most times he called Tim he was there.
“Another one of your scams I assume?” Cory knew of his sons work as a con man but he couldn’t resist his patriarchal instinct to love Tim. Countless times he had tried to tell him to stop, he’d tell Tim that it wasn’t helping “the cause.” It wasn’t because it was morally bad that it upset Cory, but because it was a dangerous business. All Tim would say in return was, “It’s just my way.” Cory couldn’t argue with him; not because he agreed with his son or because he didn’t have an argument in return, which he had plenty of, but he just didn’t like arguing with him. Being that Timothy was always on the run after he’d scam somebody, he and his father never got to see each other. He could be in Boston one week and then Japan the next.
“Dad, I’m not ‘breaking the law’ or anything, I’m just making a business for myself. It isn’t like nobody else does this.”
“You’re right, I’m sorry. So what are you doing?” Cory was monotonous.
“Well I’m in Helena, Montana of all places and there’s this rancher over here that wants to buy a huge plot of land in Wyoming. It’s about 600 acres and I had a few drinks with him and he completely trusts me.” Most of Tim’s scams were out in rural places like that.
“So how are you gonna sell it to him?”
“Well I got a flawless fake copy of the license to the land. I know this guy in Columbia who is a master at these things. Anyway I’m going to give him the license, He’ll give me the $6,000,000 down payment and I’ll be off to the south of France. My flight leaves at four in the afternoon.”
“Bulletproof.” Cory was sarcastic.
“Dad! Stop trying to dispute this. I’ve worked it out. Plus I know who I’m dealing with, the guy’s nothing. He’s just some old rich rancher trying to get some more land.”
“Ok, I believe you it’s just that I don’t want you to get hurt. What if this guy wants to track you down?”
“He won’t,” said Timothy, confidently; so confidently that Cory could not say anything. He was speechless. Not because he was shocked but because he realized that trying to convince his son that what he was doing was not only wrong, but also dangerous, was a pointless battle. Now there was a silence.
“Ok. Send my love to mom.”
“Bye.” Timothy hung up. “I love you.”
The bar tender brought Cory and Dave a jug of beer each and a bowl of cashews. They didn’t need to ask.
“How is he?” Dave asked after taking a big gulp from his jug.
“Eh,” Cory let out a sort of sigh. “Getting himself into another hornet’s nest.”
* * *
The next day Cory awoke from a very short night of sleep. He had stayed up thinking about why Tim was doing all this scamming. First he thought about what he had done as a father but within a moment he jumped to the conclusion that he always came to and blamed the school system. Children weren’t free until they were eighteen. Before that they were in extremely strict schools with the hope that they would grow up learning to behave. In Tim’s case, like many others, the second he got out of school he went riotous.
He looked at the clock. It was just before noon. He quickly got dressed and made a call to his son. Every time he knew Tim was in a scam, he got very nervous. The phone rang but no one answered. He tried two more times but it was just the machine. Then he checked his cell phone. There was a video message from someone, not Tim. He opened it.
At first it was just a video of a man who didn’t seem to know that the camera was recording. He was fat with a mustache and a cowboy hat. He had a humorous demeanor but Cory could tell that he was enraged. This face sent chills down Cory’s spine. The man began to speak.
“Hello Cory,” his tone of voice was serious and dry. “My name is James Watson. I live just outside Helena, and I’m here with your son,” he said in a thick western accent. The phone’s camera then zoomed out and revealed Timothy on his knees behind the man, bloodied, with his head down. Only his eyes were raised to the camera. There was a man holding Timothy’s shirt while putting a gun against his head. James continued, “Your son hear likes to play games, he’s a trickster! Don’t get me wrong, I love games, but this is no a game.” His voice went from humorous to complete fury. “We found him on his way to the airport, just when he thought he had won. Poor guy didn’t have a chance in hell.” A rage began to build in Cory’s mind. The phone almost slid from his sweaty palm. He could feel his heart beat rising and his temperature boiling. Then the man in the background pulled the trigger and Timothy’s body dropped to the ground. The phone dropped. Then all of the sudden his raging heart beat seemed to stop and the boiling room seemed to turn to a freezer.
“You’re son is dead. What are you gonna do about it?”
The world seemed to slow down. Cory didn’t know where he was anymore. He fell to the floor, his eyes closed.