Bromley adjusted his RebreathableX4™ before departing the ground floor flat. The mask chafed, the gas tank was cumbersome as a fucking whale, and all his techie friends insisted that the Aironautica® was a far superior oxygen supplier. Bromley didn’t give a shit. As far as he was concerned, what his model lacked in comfort and efficacy it more than made up for in robust intimidatory style. Put simply, it was a fucking impressive apparatus – the mask made him look like a cyborg, the canister made him look like a rocket man. When combined with Bromley’s piercing eyes, blood-red mohawk and all-round menacing demeanour, it made for a pretty jaw-dropping sight.
At heart, of course, Compliance Officer Nolbert Bromley was a complete kitten. Wouldn’t hurt a fly – if, of course, any still existed. The great Irritant Extinction Programmes of the 2120’s had all but eradicated mosquitoes, wasps, daddy long-legs, moths, and a whole host of other critters and creepy-crawlies deemed expendable from the global food chain. Now, it was doubtful that there were more than a thousand of the buzzing bastards worldwide. Naturally there were rumours… Always the same conspiratorial rumours… Of secret labs run by shady intelligence organisations, experimenting on the last of the flies, trying to perfect the perfect biological weapon delivery system. A cloud of disease-ridden bugs ready to unleash a pandemic, on the whim of some unhinged army General.
The thought of this made Bromley chuckle softly to himself, though the Rebreathable™ amplified this into a guffaw which made nearby Smog-huffers jump. Little brats. These days they could be found on every run-down street corner, sucking in the poisonous atmosphere with abundant relish, getting high off of the cocktail of noxious gases. They were always kids – Smog-huffers never made it to the age of twenty without becoming totally incapable of unassisted respiration. Most would be lucky to see fifteen. Fuck ’em – they shoulda known better. Bromley felt an unfamiliar twinge of sympathy: Still… Their parents coulda at least given ’em a fighting chance. He shrugged and moved on.
Lifting the mask from his face, Bromley took a deep inhalation…1…2…3…4. More than enough. He blew out and pulled the Rebreathable™ tight to his skin once more. Already he felt his head becoming lighter, his muscles relaxing, the stresses and pressures of the day easing noticeably. His stride slowed, and he began to feel pleasantly content. A close comrade, Aid Administrator Keeler Martroy, vigorously maintained that a single unfiltered breath of the Earth’s current atmosphere had the same effect as the fully five-minute long smoking of tobacco tubes which he claimed used to be enjoyed regularly centuries ago. This, Bromley suspected, was bollocks.
No way our forefathers would have been so stupid, he always reasoned. No way they would have wilfully and knowingly spent money to pump themselves full of death. No way they would have given up their money to give up their lives. No way they would have killed themselves, and paid for the privilege.
No fucking way.
Solidarity, brothers & sisters…Ⓐ