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First pages

A policewoman stepped forward and signalled pedestrians not to cross the road. Jill Hately, along with three other women, obeyed her directions and waited on the sidewalk. The traffic had stopped, Jill noted, although on the other side of the road, a work party of seven orange jump-suited males, accompanied by an armed guard, continued to sweep the gutter in front of the government buildings. Jill and the others waited. Then the reason for being stopped came into view. Two police riders on powerful Chinese-made motorcycles, girls wearing the latest mauve uniforms of the Metropolitan Police, preceded a large black limousine, and two more motorcyclists brought up the rear. As the big car went past, Jill peered at the rear windows of the limousine trying to figure out who was in the vehicle, but the windows were darkened and she could not see.

The policewoman lowered her arm and stepped to one side, but now the traffic the VIP’s car had held up had started passing by. About a dozen trabbies, each of them pulling their funny little trailers, made crossing the road temporarily impossible. Jill and the others waited. The traffic thinned and they walked forward towards her destination on the other side of Whitehall: the Ministry of Wants.

She studied the place thoughtfully as she approached it. She’d heard a lot about it, but had never been invited to it before. It was the place where dreams were made real, she’d been told; the place every woman wanted to be called to. Every woman’s wish is our command, this ministry claimed, and now it was Jill’s turn to command. Her heart beat a little faster as she approached the building. She stepped onto the pavement and threaded her way through some pedestrians. Then she went up the steps, through the open double doors, and into the foyer.

All visitors please report here! a sign above a large desk said. Jill walked over to the desk. The girl sitting behind it looked up and smiled. “Can I help you?” she asked.

“I have come to collect my honour,” Jill said, looking down at the receptionist. The girl, about twenty years of age, with the short hair and spectacles that most young government juniors seemed to sport these days, smiled once more. “Oh, you’re on the summer honours list are you?”

“Yes,” Jill said, proudly.

“Congratulations.”

“Thank you.”

“Do you have your appointment card?” the girl asked.

Jill already had it in her hand. She handed the card to the girl who studied it and then consulted her computer screen.

“Jill Hately,” she said, more or less to herself. “Ah, yes. Your appointment is at ten.”

“Yes.”

“And you’re just two minutes late.”

“I was held up by the police,” Jill said. “They stopped the traffic and also stopped me crossing.”

“Very well. No problem.” The girl handed the card back to Jill. “If you take the lift up to the first floor, you’ll see directions to the minister’s office. Please follow the directions and report to her secretary. The minister will probably see you right away.”

“Thanks,” Jill said, turning and heading for the lift.

She entered and pressed for the first floor. The lift door closed and she felt the car ascend. The doors of the car were mirrored, perhaps to allow visitors to check their appearance before they met the minister, Jill thought. Or, perhaps not. Anyway, the young woman who looked back at Jill was a young looking thirty-one year old, five-foot nine-inch blonde, who was slim and immaculate in the latest fashions. London born, Oxford educated, with a degree in English, she had worked for private industry until her present job. Moments later, the door opened and Jill found herself facing a sign on the opposite wall of the corridor. The Minister of Wants, the sign read. An arrow pointed to the left. Jill turned and followed the arrow, passing one girl carrying a sheaf of papers and another carrying a coffee cup. She came to an open door. The Minster of Wants, a sign on the door read. Jill went in. To one side was a settee, at the other a large desk occupied by a girl who might have been a twin of the girl at the desk in the foyer. Jill went to her, card in hand, holding it out. “I have an appointment with the minister,” she said.

This girl seemed much less welcoming than the girl down below. “Ms Hately,” she said, glumly taking the card and studying it. She handed the card back to Jill. “Yes, the minister will see you in a moment. Please sit down.”

Jill walked to the large leather settee at the side of the room and sat down and looked around. The walls were decorated with portraits of famous women in a variety of settings, some of them contemporary, others quite obviously historical. One woman wearing a dated flying outfit posed before a huge dirigible airship, and another dressed as the captain of a ship before a splendid-looking sailing vessel. On another wall, facing the settee, a large screen television showed the state news channel with the sound turned off. Jill wished she had a television like that. The volume of her own television, like every other one she knew, could only be turned down, not completely off. Which was not ideal sometimes. Outside, the sun had come out and the tower blocks of the City of London, which had been largely empty since the finance industries had moved to the Far East several decades before, reflected the sun dazzlingly.

Jill looked up at the television screen. A government minister was being interviewed, and Jill could guess more or less what the minister was saying. She was saying that her department had met – and almost certainly exceeded - the targets Big Sister had set them for the previous year, which, of course, was nothing new. Jill looked away and stared out of the window once again. Every single one of the government’s departments matched or exceeded the targets Big Sister had set them. Year in, year out, without fail. But then, the level of feminine achievement and ability and the sort of extremely able administrators the universities now churned out meant the government found it easy to find good people.

“You can change the channel if you wish,” the girl at the reception desk called out. “The control unit is on the table at the end of the settee.”

“I didn’t know you could change channels at this time of the day,” Jill said.

“We are a government department,” the girl called. “So yes, you can change the channel if you wish.”

Jill reached across and picked up the remote. She selected Channel 4 and the Shoe Channel came up on the screen. She put the remote down and looked up at the screen. She needed two more pairs of shoes to get ahead of her friend Michaela. Michaela had eighty-four pairs of shoes, but she had only eighty-three – so far. Now, as the presenter showed a pair of gold-spangled, high-heeled specimens, which Jill liked, and finally revealed the price, which Jill also liked, Jill memorized the code for the shoes and decided they would be her next purchase.

A door across the room opened and a tall woman of about forty-five emerged. She looked in Jill’s direction and smiled. Slightly. Jill got to her feet and walked across the room. The woman stepped to one side to let her into her office. She followed Jill inside and closed the door. She pointed to a chair in front of her desk and Jill sat down. She walked around her desk and sat down herself.

“I’m Jane Davidson,” the woman said. “And I’m the Minister of Wants,” she added, unnecessarily.

Jill nodded. She had heard a lot of Davidson. The woman was one of Whitehall’s most capable operators. It was said she was destined for the very top. The top position below Big Sister, that is. A graduate of both Harvard and Oxford, and fluent in four languages, and a holder of no fewer than ten degrees in Women’s Studies, Davidson had previously been Deputy Minister of Enlightenment. She wore owl glasses, a very large government insignia of some kind, pearl earrings, a silk blouse, and a business suit of very high quality cloth. Jill felt Davidson’s eyes drill into her.

“The first thing I need to do, is congratulate you on being selected for inclusion in the summer honours list,” Davidson said.

“Thanks,” Jill said.

“You certainly deserve the award,” Davidson went on, “from what I’ve read. The work you have done for the Department of Education has been outstanding. You’ve spotted issues other top editors have simply missed. And we were unanimous in selecting you to be one of the ten women to be honoured in 2089.”

“Thank you,” Jill said.

“So, the first thing I need to do is present you with your certificate,” Davidson said, picking up said certificate from her desk and pressing a button. Moments later the door opened and the secretary came in camera in hand. Davidson walked around the desk as Jill got to her feet and put out a hand. Jill shook the hand as Davidson handed the certificate to her and both of them looked towards the camera and simultaneously smiled.

The camera flashed, and Davidson said, “I’ll get this certificate framed and sent to you together with a signed copy of that photograph.” As the girl went back out of the office, Davidson returned to the chair behind her desk, sat down, and placed the certificate in a folder.

“Okay,” she said. “Now we come to the good bit. It’s time for me to ask you which celebratory gift you have selected.”

“I...” Jill began.

“Before you tell me what you have decided on,” Davidson interrupted, “I’ll tell you what some of your fellow award winners have chosen.”

“Okay,” Jill said, curious to find out whether any of them had asked for what she was about to ask for herself.

“One has chosen a lifetime’s spa treatment,” Davidson went on smiling, and looking as if that was the award she herself would choose, “and another has chosen the Mammoth Shoe Collection. I suppose you’ve heard of it. That’s her personal choice of three hundred pairs of shoes from all available catalogues.”

“That’s interesting,” Jill said.

“And the third has asked for a meeting...” Davidson began.

“I’ve actually made my mind up,” Jill said, impatiently.

“Very well,” Davidson said. “What is it you want?”

“I can ask for anything, I believe,” Jill said.

“Yes, indeed,” Davidson said. “We are here to make your dream come true. And award winners at your level of achievement can ask for anything that’s reasonably possible.”

“I should like a male partner,” Jill said. “A human one. A real one. An old style one. A man. That’s what I want.”

Davidson seemed taken aback.

“May I ask why?” she asked.

“I have been watching some old movies, with researchers in the ministry. That was a couple of weeks ago. And I thought I would like to have an old-style relationship. One of those was featured in one of the films.”

Davidson was unimpressed. “Those old-style movies are quite often fictions, fakes, and simply entertainment. They are not meant to be taken seriously. They need to be...interpreted. Real life was not like that. You do realize that, don’t you?”

“Yes, of course,” Jill said.

“What was the date of that movie?” Davidson asked. “Do you know?”

“It believe it was twenty-seventeen,” Jill said. “That was the date I remember.”

“There you are,” Davidson said. “That was a very grim period in history. That was why there had to be a revolution. You know that, don’t you?”

“Yes, of course,” Jill said.

“So, I have I talked you out of it?” Davidson asked, raising her eyebrows.

“I don’t think so. I’d...”

“And those old-style relationships can end rather messily,” Davidson said. “It would be much safer to make do with an MZ222.”

“I’ve tried the MZ222,” Jill said, “but I found it rather unsatisfying.”

Davidson stared blankly at Jill.

“Besides, didn’t Big Sister say it was government policy to give every woman whatever she wants?” Jill asked.

“Yes, but that should not be taken literally,” Davidson said. “It is government policy to make every woman’s wish come true, but often government policy is simply not practical. It’s an aim, but it may not be feasible...just yet.”

Jill stared back at Davidson.

“Why not go for the shoe collection?” Davidson asked. “It is absolutely fantastic. I chose one myself. Some of the craftsmanship... I almost fainted when it arrived.”

“I have a good selection of shoes,” Jill said, “and I really would like a human companion.”

“Why don’t you get one of your female friends to move in with you?” Davidson asked. “Most people I know have female partners. Bonds can develop over time, and sometimes relationships can turn into love affairs.”

“I’m not in the least bit gay,” Jill said.

Davidson looked disappointed.

“Well, why don’t you try the MZ223. It’s a huge improvement on the MZ222. Some women say it leaves the MZ222 standing. The Japanese have invested huge amounts in the development of the thing. I think you’ll find it is unbelievable. I mean, the orgasms will be mind blowing.”

“I really would like a human partner,” Jill said. “And a male partner, at that. I’ve thought about it a lot, and...well...I’ve set my heart on one.”

“I wouldn’t recommend it,” Davidson said.

“I believe the Minister of Education has a male partner,” Jill said.

“Yes, she has, but...”

“I’ve seen them together and they seem to get on rather well,” Jill said. “And there are safeguards, are there not?”

“Yes there are,” Davidson said. “But...wait a moment!” Davidson consulted her computer. “What would you say if I got you an AA1?”

“What is an AA1?” Jill asked.

“It’s the successor of the MZ223. They don’t officially exist as yet. It’s a new generation of equipment. The only one in the country is in the possession of the Minister of Pleasure. She told me she finds the thing absolutely amazing. So it’s only a matter of time before we ask the Japanese to start shipping them over in very large quantities, balance of payments permitting. This should happen as soon as several other ministers have tried...err...passed the equipment as safe for the general female population. But it won’t be for at least twelve months. Just think, you’ll have the second one in the land. You’ll be the envy of your friends. You’ll probably be interviewed by the women’s magazines.”

“I...”

“What if I threw in a Mammoth Shoe Collection as well? Just think of that!”

“No I don’t think so,” Jill said. “And government policy is...”

“Yes it is, but as I’ve said...”

“Then there’s your motto,” Jill said. “It won’t look very good if...”

“Oh, very well,” Davidson said, irritation showing in her voice. She got up. “Please follow me.”

Got you! Jill thought.

Davidson led the way across the room to a door and opened it. She went in, waited for Jill to follow then closed the door. In the centre of the smallish room stood a large image-creating suite of apparatus with a chair in the middle. Davidson gestured for Jill to sit down, picked up a remote control and handed it to Jill. “The instructions are self-explanatory,” she said, in a tone of voice that made it clear she was not very happy.

Jill studied the instructions on the screen for a few moments and then started to enter the criteria the form on the screen asked for. Male. Age: 29-41. Height: more than five-feet seven. Build: Medium. Hair colour: Unimportant. But some hair, please! Then she pressed the Enter key.

The result was almost instantaneous. A page of about forty mug shots came up on the screen.

Jill studied the photos as Davidson looked over her shoulder.

“There’s quite a selection here,” Jill said.

“Yes. Each of them has been vetted, examined, and passed as fit for normal life. Within certain limits, of course.”

Jill clicked on one of the photos half way down the page simply because her eye rested on the face for some reason. The photo enlarged to fill a quarter of the screen and a range of bio details filled the rest of the screen. The guy’s name was John 3455667 and he was twenty-nine years of age. Jill read through his details as Davidson walked to the window and looked out over Whitehall. The details were very complete. They gave John’s physical measurements, his educational and medical history, his previous employment history, and a whole range of other personal information. Jill read through the lot, the process taking her nearly eight minutes, and then she pressed more buttons and a realistic three-dimensional image of the guy came up on the screen. Naked. Jill quickly pressed the button once again and another shot, in which John was fully clothed, came up. Jill was able to view the male from any angle. She did this for half a minute, and then said: “I’ll take him.”

Davidson walked back to join her and stood by her side. “Are you sure?” she asked. “Don’t you want to take a closer look at some of the others?”

“No. I’m happy with this guy,” Jill said. “I’ll take him. I’m certain.” She paused. “That’s if he’ll take me, of course.”

“He will, I am sure,” Davidson said. “I’ve never heard of a selected male turn down a selector yet. Let’s go back into my office.”

Jill sat down once more on chair in front of Davidson’s desk, and waited as Davidson sat down and worked at her computer for some moments.

“They will be bringing him up,” Davidson said. “It’ll take about an hour. You can wait in the outer office, if you wish. Or you can come back later.”

“I’ll come back later,” Jill said. “I’ll go out and get a cup of coffee in the meantime.”

*

Jill went outside and walked to the embankment. A cafe overlooked the river. Jill walked to a table, sat down, and looked at the menu. She ordered a coffee and a pastry from the male behind the counter as his burly female boss wearing a floral dress and slippers read Shoes Magazine in a corner of the room. Then she sensed somebody had come to stand beside her. She looked up. It was one of her fellow editors, a younger, taller bespectacled girl named Anne.

“Hi!” Jill immediately smiled.

“Mind if I join you?” Anne asked, smiling even more broadly that Jill herself.

“Be my guest!”

Anne sat down.

“Are you here in connection with your work?” Jill asked.

“Yes,” Anne said, pointing to the waiter, and indicating she also wanted a coffee and a pastry. “I’m working for the Ministry of Wants and I had to bring some work in to them. And you?”

“I am on the honours list,” Jill said.

“Oh no!”

“Yes.”

“That’s fantastic,” Anne said. “You must be the only winner in our line of business.”

“Yes, I believe I am,” Jill said, more than a little proudly.

“So what did you choose?” Anne asked.

“Guess,” Jill said.

“The Mammoth Shoe Collection!” Anne said, smiling and studying Jill’s face for a reaction. “That’s what I would have chosen.”

Jill simply smiled.

“Try again,” Jill said, smiling even more broadly.

Anne stared through the window. She looked back. “How about a new car in a custom colour of your choice?”

“Nope” Jill said. “I think I’d better tell you. You’re never going to get it otherwise.”

“Okay.” Anne fixed the whole of her attention on Jill.

“I’ve asked for...”

“For a what?” Anne asked impatiently.

“I’ve asked for a partner,” Jill said, smiling at the look of puzzlement that had appeared on her friend’s face.

“You’ve asked for a new robot partner?” Anne asked.

“No,” Jill said. “I’ve asked for a real live male partner...for a man of my own...like that guy over there.” She pointed to the male behind the counter.

“I didn’t know they were on the list,” Anne said.

“They’re not,” Jill said. “But I’d seen a paragraph at the bottom of the list which goes something like: ‘Any of the above, or anything else of equal value, and which is in the power of Big Sister’s government to supply.”

“And the minister agreed to your demand?” Anne asked. She looked disbelieving once again.

“Not without resistance,” Jill said. “But then I pointed out that the Minister of Education has a real life male partner and we’re, all of us, supposed to be equal. Apart from Big Sister, of course. And, finally, I also drew attention to their motto.”

“Well done,” Anne said. “I suppose a real live partner is roughly equal in value to a car, or the other prizes on the list. So, yes, it looks as if you had them over a barrel, there. And you’ve certainly put ideas into my head. Do you know if they’ll let women buy male partners with their earnings? ”

“No, they won’t. They say it’s to keep every citizen safe,” Jill said. “They’ll only allow small numbers of males into the community. Oh, and I’m going to have to sign an indemnity.”

“Damn!” Anne said. “Anyway, good luck.”

“Thanks. I’m picking him up, shortly,” Jill said.

“I’d like to meet him some time,” Anne said, “and to get your, views...”

“You shall,” Jill said. She got up. “Just give me a week or two. Oh, and wish me luck!”

*

Jill crossed the road, entered the ministry, took the lift up to the minister’s floor, and went into the secretary’s office. The secretary looked up as she entered the room and Jill walked over to her.

“The minister is expecting me, I think,” Jill said.

The girl nodded and pressed a button.

The minister answered immediately and the girl signalled Jill to go in. Jill did so, through the already open door. As she entered the room, Davidson got up from her chair, directed Jill to sit down on the chair in front of her desk, and then walked to a filing cabinet, took a form from it, and placed it in front of Jill.

Jill moved her chair closer to Davidson’s desk, and Davidson supplied a ballpoint pen. Jill leaned over and filled in the form. Her name, her address, her contact details, her occupation. She pushed the form back to Davidson and handed the ballpoint pen back too.

Davidson studied the form.

Then she got up, walked to a safe at a wall of the room, opened it, folded the form and placed the form inside a compartment in the safe. She closed the compartment and opened another further down. She took something from this, and then closed first the compartment, then the safe, and returned to her desk.

She held the object she had taken from the safe against the computer screen for a moment, and then held the object out to Jill. “I have to give you one of these,” she said.

Jill took the object and examined it. It looked like a television remote control. “What is it?” she asked.

“It’s a Male Person Control Unit,” Davidson said. “Or MPCU for short. You may need it.”

“How does it work?” Jill asked, studying the buttons.

“It activates the unit inside the male’s brain,” Davidson said, as if referring to an animal. “In this case, your male’s brain. I have just programmed it with your male’s personal code.”

“How exactly does it work?” Jill asked. “I’ve heard about this sort of thing, but thought it was merely a rumour.”

“Oh, they are real all right,” Davidson said. “Every male child is fitted with a chip soon after birth. They don’t know anything about it, of course, because it’s done under anaesthetic, when they’re very, very young. Some of them never know about it. The control unit works the chip. It’s designed to allow women and girls to defend themselves if they need to.”

Jill placed the control unit on Davidson’s desk. “I really don’t think I’m going to need this,” she said. “I find it rather distasteful, actually.”

Davidson pushed the remote control unit back to Jill. “You have to take it, I’m afraid,” she said. “It’s part of the legal agreement. No control unit, no male. That’s the law. Believe me, many women have thanked their lucky stars they had one of these things in their possession. Men, and indeed boys, can do a lot of damage. They can abuse, they can rape, and they can kill. This sort of device can come in very, very handy in those situations.”

“What does it do?” Jill asked, studying the keys on the device.

Davidson took the control unit from her. She held it up and pointed to the buttons.

“The first one...this one here...merely administers a sharp electric shock. The results are, well, like a severe migraine. It’s intended as a warning to the male, to make him mend his ways. Then, the buttons go up in stages of severity. This one here...” Davidson pointed to the next but one, “...delivers a knockout blow. It knocks the subject unconscious. It’s the one you want to use if you feel the male is threatening you.” She looked at Jill to see what her response was. Jill’s face was expressionless. “While this one here...” she pointed to the red button at the top of the device with a pull down cover, which Davidson flipped up, “...is what we in government call ‘the execution button’. The more common name for it – and more polite name for it, dare I say - is ‘the elimination button’. That sounds a lot nicer, don’t you think? The purpose of it is self-explanatory.”

“You mean it actually kills the male?” Jill asked in disbelief.

“Oh, yes,” Davidson said. “It fries the male’s brain.”

“Oh...”

“Yes, it’s not very pleasant, is it? But it’s often very necessary.”

“Are there any repercussions?” Jill asked. “I mean legal ones. For having actually killed another human being?”

“There would have to be a court case, naturally,” Davidson said. “But that would be a mere formality. Of course, we do not really recommend going that far, except as a last resort. Well before one gets to that stage, we would expect the male to have been permanently removed from the scene. We assume the police would have been called and the male would no longer be life-threatening.”

Davidson flipped the cover back over the red button and handed the control unit back to Jill. “You have to sign for that,” she said, “and you have to take it. It’s an important part of the package.”

Davidson opened a folder on her desk, took out a sheet of paper and handed it to Jill. “Please read that carefully,” she said. “You need to sign it before taking the male.”

As Jill started reading the paper, a phone on Davidson’s desk rang. Davidson answered it. She spoke to someone for a few moments, then turned back to Jill.

“The male you have chosen is ready,” she said. “But, as I’ve already said, you need to read that form carefully, agree to what it demands, and then to sign it, before I can hand him over.”

Jill nodded. She had always been taught to read agreements very carefully, and that is what she did now. The form, referring every so often to bills and laws and government edicts, asked her to agree that she would be held responsible for any criminal act committed by the male she had asked to take control of. Everything he did, whilst under her control would be entirely her responsibility. She would have to compensate any third party, or indeed the state, for any damage the male did and she would also be responsible for his welfare. This last requirement, though, did make clear that the male’s ‘welfare’ was very secondary to the other requirements of the agreement and this interpretation was reinforced by a large section absolving Jill from responsibility for any “corrective” actions she thought were necessary for her own protection, or for the protection of any third parties in her ‘view’.

The requirements of the agreement almost made Jill decide to call the venture off, but a feeling that she would not let Davidson, or indeed any other person tell her how or how not to run her life, overcame this and, taking the pen that Davidson held out to her, she duly signed on the dotted line.

She handed the pen and the document back to Davidson, who took a careful look at Jill’s signature before putting the paper back into the folder and closing it.

“Good,” Davidson said. “I’ll ask them to bring the male up.”

She pressed a button, and said, “Bring the male up, will you?” She turned to Jill. “He’ll be here in a couple of minutes,” she said. “They’ll bring him up in that elevator over there.” She pointed to a door in the wall of her office.

They waited.

“So, what do you plan to do with him?” Davidson asked.

“I hope to have him help me with the cooking,” Jill said. “And, well, have him help me with the shopping. And...”

“You are aware, are you not, that males are banned from large areas of the city?”

“Yes, of course. But I don’t think that will be a problem. I hope to have some interesting conversations with him.”

“About what?”

“I don’t really know, as yet. But I’m sure we’ll think of something different,” Jill said.

“They’re not known for it,” Davidson said. “For conversing, I mean. In fact, they’re known to be very limited word-wise. Sport is one of the few things they’re known to be good at discussing. But what is the point of that?”

“I don’t know,” Jill said. “But it’ll be different.”

“I think you’re making a very big mistake,” Davidson said.

“And there’ll be sex,” Jill said quickly. “Now, that will be interesting.”

“And it’ll be very unhygienic too,” Davidson said.

Jill ignored her.

“I would stick to tried and tested methods when it comes to sex, if I were you,” Davidson said.”

You’re not me, Jill thought. So, please shut up!

Then the elevator door opened. John stood there wearing an orange jumpsuit and working boots. Jill looked him up and down and decided he was exactly what the file had suggested he would be. About six feet tall, of average build, with closely cropped dark brown hair, and a bit of an unshaved look, he looked, well, very attractive, to Jill. Two guards wearing the silver uniforms that identified them as white knights stood with him, one on either side. One of the guards tugged at John’s right arm and the three men walked out of the elevator car into the office.

Davidson got to her feet as one of the guards held out something for her to sign, then he and his companion turned and walked back to the elevator, and the doors closed.

“This is Jill Hately,” Davidson said to John. “She is taking you as a partner.”

Jill studied John’s face, but found it difficult to determine how pleased he was. He nodded, and she thought she detected a very brief and very faint smile. She got to her feet.

“You’ll be going to live with her at her apartment,” Davidson went on. “And you will be on probation the whole time you are with her. Any small failing on your part will mean that she will have the power to have you sent back to the work parties immediately. In any case, she is required to file monthly reports on your behaviour and we can decide to bring this arrangement to an immediate end if even one of us is not satisfied. It is in the interests of the country. Do you understand?”

“Yes, ma’am,” John said.

“Very well,” Davidson said, going back behind her desk. “You are free to go.”

Jill put out a hand and John shook it.

“We’ll send his personal belongings on,” Davidson said. “They usually consist of just a few basic items. Plus working clothes, which we shan’t include. You will be responsible for acquiring and purchasing any items you think essential during the time you have him with you. And you will be responsible for feeding him, of course.”

“Thank you,” Jill said, gesturing at the door to John, who led the way and opened it.

“My pleasure,” Davidson said, without sounding as if she meant it. “Helping women get whatever they want is what we are all about. Even if we don’t agree with their choices sometimes.”


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Hi! I live in Wales and like sailing, travelling, writing, and playing with my cats.

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
Orwell's 1984.
Q. Where can readers find out more about you?
A.
It's difficult. I'm a very shy person.
Q. What draws you to this genre?
A.
One is able to act like a god, creating entire worlds. 2089, and stories like it, should be regarded as entertainment, of course. I have no idea what the world is going to be like in 2089. This is just one possible outcome of certain present trends.

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