He pushed himself away from the desk, the chair rolling back jerkily across the carpeted floor. The force of his push sent the middle monitor toppling. His hands were at his head grappling with the pain he couldn’t reach and the chair slid from beneath him. He wasn’t aware how soft the carpet was or how the sound outside his apartment which had crescendoed like his music. In the streets there were a series of bangs, accompanied by bright white flashes. The sound of the crowed turned to screams of pain, like the pain that coursed through his body but mostly screamed inside his head.
The windows above his bed lit up, their translucent white blocking the scene at large, but not the sound or the white floodlights that illuminated the slum.
“YOU ARE IN VIOLATION OF THE CONGREGATION ACT OF 2112, RETURN TO YOUR HOMES OR YOU WILL BE PROSECUTED.”
The pain moved from his head down to his eyes, still closed, ached, the burned down his spine. A hot liquid that spread to his fingers and toes. The pain built again at his extremities. He opened his eyes, he could hear the yelling in the streets, the bangs and the flashes. He was faintly aware of a sulfurous smell in the room. But his fingers, his toes throbbed as if swollen with blood. He rolled onto his back staring at his hand. There was no outward sign of damage there, but it felt as though his fingers might bust, like the overripe figs merchants sold at market in the summer. He groaned and flexed his fingers, his hands. Something shattered behind him and suddenly the acrid smell of sulfur was all about him. Light streamed into his small studio apartment and the screams of the poor registered over the pain–the pain that seemed to be seeping from under his fingernails, toenails.
He rolled to his knees, then up climbed to his feet. A large stone had been thrown through the window. Shattered glass littered his bed, the floor near it. He breathed deeply, breathed smoothly. He went to the broken window and looked out. Flood lights still illuminated the narrow street, the buildings that rose high into the sky. Even the neon red, blue, orange lights of the storefronts and advertisements were dimmed by the flood lights of the Authority. The control trucks blocked off one end of the street and he could see Enforcers with their bulbous black helmets and hit sticks and dash shields herding the crowd into an incarcerator. He saw the logo sun logo of NewHorizon. Some of the crowd was still trying to resist. Some threw their bodies against the Enforces, but were pushed back easily by the dash shields the armored men carried. For a moment it looked as though one of the mob members had broke through, but then the hit sticks flashed bright in the already bright light. From his position he couldn’t hear the scream, but he knew what a hit stick felt like, he’d screamed every time he’d felt it, and he imagined the scream, even from his vantage point.