Julian James is a Grade C citizen in a world where the Archons, a reptilian race of aliens, control the planet. Most citizens are permitted one day off per week and it’s one such day that Julian meets Taal, a visitor on reconnaissance from another dimension.
This chance meeting fills Julian with feelings he’s never had before. He takes an instant liking to this handsome visitor and the attraction is mutual. He manages a few more meetings with Taal and the two men plot Julian’s escape to the beauty and freedom of Taal’s dimension.
But things rarely go to plan. Julian’s been smart, but has he been smart enough to outwit the all-seeing, all-powerful Archon overlords and their human puppets? There is no such thing as a small risk. Taal and Julian’s escape plan will either end in spectacular happiness or abysmal disaster. Many citizens wouldn’t even try it. But Julian isn’t just any citizen.
They didn’t feed him that first evening and after spending an uncomfortable night in the cell, he lost all knowledge of what part of the day or night it was. There was no window in his cell and only the constant brightness of the electric light from outside in the corridor to light his cell. The meals were delivered sporadically, slipped through a flap at the bottom of the door. He wasn’t given access to a shower nor was he able to brush his teeth.
Three times an officer, head to toe in black, entered his room to ask if he had anything he wanted to say. Three times he shook his head woefully and replied he didn’t. The officer left and Julian was alone again to contemplate a life in the notorious work camps, where he’d be working from sunup to sundown with only one small break for lunch. No days off and no holidays. The point of their existence was to wring out the last bit of usefulness from its inmates before they expired. As with all dead bodies his would be ground up to make fertilizer for the state parks and gardens; his life of service to the Archon overlords not over until he was literally pushing up daisies.
He used some of the time to meditate, although the guards would come in and interrupt him if they noticed him on their monitors. As days went by, as no doubt they were, whether Julian was aware of them or not, he began to come to terms with the fact he was never going to see Taal again. He was going to a work camp where he reckoned he’d be dead within the year. Two at the most. He didn’t have the will to survive, to struggle on because the state wanted him to. In fact, the more he pondered his fate, the more he convinced himself that if he was going to end his days in a work camp then his death would come sooner rather than later. Somehow, he’d find a way to end his suffering as soon after it had begun as he could.
He’d been in the cell for a least three days, maybe four, or at the very most five, when his thoughts were interrupted by the door sliding open. He looked up, depressed and defeated, as a guard in black entered the room.
“Come with me,” said the guard.
Julian took a few seconds to comprehend the command.
“Pardon?” he said, thinking that surely seven whole days hadn’t passed already.
“Come with me, now,” the guard said, more insistently.
Julian got up from the bed and followed the guard from the room.
“Keep walking,” said the guard, turning Julian towards a pair of metal doors at the end of the long corridor.
Julian, without an ounce of resistance, did as he was asked; his eyes and ears alert for any clue as to what was happening. Eventually he and the guard passed through the double metal doors into another corridor and kept walking until they came to a large kitchen. Inside there were people cutting and peeling, and pots of food boiling away on stoves. The whole room smelt good, better than any of the food he’d eaten during his time held captive. The guard pushed him onwards, towards a large door with a window in it.
When he got to it, the guard said, “Open it.”
Julian pushed through the door and came out into a covered space filled with vehicles and rubbish bins. It stank of rot and decay. He pinched his nose shut, but he’d breathed in enough of the stench for it to cause him to dry wretch three times on his way through to the open air.
They’d just stepped out from under the roof when another black-clad guard burst through the back door.
“Wait!” he said. “Where are you taking that man?”
Julian spun around in time to see the black guard at the door raise his gun. His heart began to pound. He looked around for a place to take cover as the guard escorting him raised his gun and fired at the guard at the door.
“Run!” said his escort, pulling something from inside his jacket. “Here put this on.”