CITY IN SIGHT by Thad DeVassie
ACQUISITION by Ian Macartney
I was a secretary then. I received the offer one exact mile in the sky, clouds rising from car exhausts, smothering the afternoon sunlight. There was pale sand on the desk, credit-card-smashed. I could not refuse (no, really). I remember the lift, how it gaped open, how it expelled the inhabitants. Think a mouth of blinding light, pinstriped words shifting out. I thought that box was boreal wood, at first, until I looked closer, and saw it was pure metal. Every motion inside was reflected, converse to the interior. The committee members moved out, swift and silent, like missiles, and I knew this was it. That I had made it. But to business. There was one crumbling capital, what used to be a massive sandstone palace. Ozymandias etcetera. I broke the walls, hugged the flank, squeezed the poor out. Replaced the mess with a sheet of tarmac, dimensions perfect, four sides on exact track. Then I built a series of consecutive grey cubes that formed one monolithic grid. I deemed pipelines an inconvenient purchase so imported cola. The few cultural centres left (museums, galleries, theatres) gained new priorities. How could they express my new system? This was a question for the content creators. All landlocked enterprises congealed under Global Development. Agricultural zones were extended; I stacked a hundred fields in multi-storey installations. The land-saltwater ratio was adjusted, for oil. Fast food restaurants sprouted like painted cacti (we were disappointed to hear some were concerned at the lack of halal, kosher and proteinic meat). I didn’t consider the people, much. I had greater ambitions than the necessary. There were still organisations dribbling over UN legislation during this quarter – Amnesty, crackpot libertarians, mush-headed socialists, you know the kinds. Some natives felt betrayed. They threw tantrums and shoes. I remember landing in, first day on the new job, rifle shots ricocheting off the tinted window. Typical. But that was then and I am making the Now, now. I took a long, hard glance at the workforce and deeply regretted to inform swathes of scum they were no longer eligible for accommodation, employment and/or biological subsidies (breath and blood, specifically, but other privileges were implied). Things quietened after that. To think I was once a history student! Every night me and the boys negotiate with the wandering coke-gangs. While we gurgle on the rewards, I look out a giant window. My reflections is warped in the thickness. I take a deep breath. There’s clouds under my nose. Since I was offered this mind-muddying opportunity, since they made me choose the right path, it feels surreal. It feels good. How did I, a mere secretary, become CEO of this fine nation? I nodded, said the right things, then executed my orders.
Ian Macartney is a writer. He has been published in [Untitled] Falkirk, Suma Lima, Meanwhile, Grass, Icarus, The Attic, Re-Analogue, Scoot Around, Leopard Arts, Tenebrae, Little Stone Journal, Ex/Post, unicorn, The Gaudie, The Scotsman and The Guardian. His work has been collected in anthologies like Time and Tide (Arachne Press), The Centenary Collection (Speculative Books) and #UntitledThree (Polygon). He can be found at https://www.ianmacartney.scot
Thad DeVassie‘s flash fiction, CNF and poems have appeared in numerous journals including recent pieces in Spelk, FEED, Ghost CIty Review, (mac)ro(mic), 50-Word Stories and Sublunary Review. He renewed an interest in painting during the recent shutdown and is now sharing his paintings that were once quarantined to his studio. A lifelong Ohioan, he creates stories with pen and paint from the outskirts of Columbus.