"10. You are a part of the United, which brought you out of ignorance. Your first allegiance is the government which set you free."
The cry and puke instinct was coming back again. I was physically retching in my stomach and would have cried my eyes out if I hadn't cried enough already to be tired of it. The retching finally forced me to the ground where I lay half-whimpering and half-moaning. It was so disgusting.
I had always imagined the Outside as a place filled with debauchery and crime, where people did as they pleased. I had seen it as a place where all did what was right in their own eyes and there was no king. Where everyone suffered for their own and each other's actions. But that wasn't true at all.
The Outside was just like our camp, just with a larger acreage. People were shut in by walls of glass and concrete and steel, with locks on doors and guns in their hands. No one was free out here. Somewhere up in the top of the United might be someone who could do as he pleased, but even he, if he existed, had to keep the people in line and was bound to do that.
There were fewer regulations for the Unaccepted than for those seeking acceptance. Why anyone wanted to live out here I could not imagine, when all their lives were directed from a capital that resided invisible, ruling its people with guns and night raids into their homes.
I thought about those things until I fell asleep again, and didn't wake until Stanyard woke me with his voice. "Hey, Phil."
I opened my eyes to see him standing there in a goofy appearing outfit, until I realized it was his cooking apron. "Yes?"
"Just wanted to let you know I brought down food. Your favorite kind of pizza, unless it's changed."
I sat up. "Oh, why thank you. Thank you much."
He turned to go, but I whispered after him, "You got a little time?"
He looked back, "A little. On paper I am delivering the pizza I just brought you, so I have a few minutes. Why"?"
I didn't know how to ask, so I just said it how it was in my head, "Can you tell me what, what life is like here in the Outside?"
He smiled. "I see you found the manual for RIUNs? Made good bedtime material I trust."
I rolled my eyes and turned to the side as though I was going to puke, but there wasn't anything to come out. He laughed quietly.
"Well, it put me to sleep at least."
"I bet it would. Seems your friend Caesar managed to fall asleep alright, even if she did kick off her blankets."
He nodded his head at my cell mate. I responded, "Oh, you mean..."
He covered his ears and hissed as loudly as he could without his voice traveling up a floor, "No, I mean Caesar. No real names around here, Phil. None. Her name is Caesar. You should find one for yourself. And my name is Augustine."
"But that sounds nothing like you."
"Perfect. Glad to know I came up with a good one."
"But... Augustine. About life out here?"
He shrugged. "It's life. It has problems and it has good days. Everyone lives the same life, Phil. Some people's problems are 'bigger' but once they get used to them they might as well be as big as yours. Of course, you have some pretty big ones, but that's another conversation. By now I should be back with that pizza, so I need to get back upstairs."
"What do you mean? The pizza is right here and you haven't gone anywhere."
Stanyard sighed. "Here's a thing about life on the Outside. The United knows everything. Some of what they know isn't true. As the operator of a pizza business, they know how many and what pizzas I sell. They know where I deliver and when, and expect it to take approximately the right amount of time. So, on paper, I just sold a pizza and delivered it a few blocks away on foot, and that info goes through the internet to some database. Hopefully they won't check the street cameras or they will know I never left. Then they might begin to suspect something, and at the very least they could put me in prison for business fraud."
"For that? What kind of prison? How long?"
"For that. Whatever prison they want. As long as they feel like. Welcome to the Outside. Hopefully you never have to live in it."
The next post is Crook Q: Part 34