Excerpt for Mundanities Issue 1 by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


The zine of mundane science fiction

Edited by J Alan Erwine

Published by Nomadic Delirium Press at Smashwords

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Nomadic Delirium Press

Aurora, Colorado

Table of Contents

Flour Power by Eamonn Murphy

Last Man Driving by Mike Morgan

Face Value by WC Roberts

Breakaway by Lisa Timpf

Cranks and Bird Charmers by Benjamin Whitney Norris

Flour Power

By Eamonn Murphy

The Second American Revolution began with a tweet.

F.B.I. agent Hank Johnson, 190 lbs of divorced, lonely government agent, sat upright in an office chair diligently working through his reports. A mug of steaming coffee helped him get started on a long day’s work. It was just after 9-30 am. The reflection on his laptop screen told him he was getting older and jowly. He ignored it. There were more important things than how you looked.

Most of the reports were about the strike by farmers that would, it was said, bring the country to the brink of starvation in just a few months. Enrico Santini, leader of the farmer’s union, was the most militant occupant of that office for more than a century, and the most charismatic ever. Men followed him. The clever media had coined the phrase “flour power” to represent the authority he wielded against the government.

Hank’s station was an isolated F.B.I. office in the great state of Iowa, the heart of the grain industry and he expected trouble with Santini, probably sooner rather than later.

His assistant alerted him to the tweet. Barry Foster jumped to his feet. Long and lean, young and keen, he was fresh out of Yale Law School - class of 2033 - and so delighted to be a genuine G-Man he could barely contain his enthusiasm for the job. “New one from the President,” he said. Quickly he scanned his device. Tweets from the President occurred late at night when he was drunk but occasionally, as now, when he woke up hungover and annoyed about something. The Chief, as he liked to style himself, became even more irate if the relevant government departments didn’t respond to his war cries with sufficient alacrity. A system had now evolved whereby all government personnel immediately responded to the President’s latest gripe even before the orders had filtered down through the usual channels. He liked quick action.

Hank longed for the days when Congress and the Senate had been more than rubber stamps. At least when a law had to be dragged through both houses an agent had plenty of time to anticipate the trouble it would cause. Now you only had ten seconds notice of the latest decree from the top. Still, it was the top and as a true patriot, Hank respected the chain of command. If there was no order, there would be anarchy. Just as loyal soldiers marched to their death under damn fool generals, so loyal F.B.I. men should faithfully serve a damn fool President. Theirs not to reason why.

To maintain order, tweets had to be obeyed. Hank turned to Barry. “What does it say?”

“Flour power. Bad! Ruining our great country. Someone should arrest those guys now!”

Barry looked at Hank. “I guess he means the union bosses. I guess someone means us.”

“We’re the nearest Federal agents.” Hank was already tapping away at his device to find the current location of Santini. Weeks before, the Bureau had secreted several locator bugs on various items of his clothing in the interests of National Security.

“Isn’t this a local matter?”

Hank gave his number two a look of contempt. A good agent shouldn’t dodge responsibility. “The tweet came from the Chief Executive, kid.” A little dig there. He was twenty years older than Barry. “That makes it a Federal case.” He was already heading for the exit door.

It was a dry and dusty day on the great plains of America. The corn stood tall in the fields, almost ready for harvesting after a good growing season. There had been a drought for the last few years and it was sorely needed. This bountiful harvest hitting the free market meant the price would come down. It would come down so low as to ruin many farmers and they demanded that the government set a realistic price. The free market might work fine for financiers - the President’s best buddies - but not for farmers.

President Patterson didn’t give a flying fuck about farmers. His newspapers and television channels constantly reminded the public how rotten they were to want all that tax money and it was now clear that he was prepared to use the full power of the state to bring them to heel.

The electric ground car sent up plenty of dust as it careened down the highway but made almost no noise, just the buzzing sound required by law to alert blind or careless pedestrians.

“Santini’s at a farm co-operative out in the wilds,” said Barry looking at the map on his device. “There’s a meeting of all the local agriculturalists and he’s addressing them at ten o’clock.”

“Be there in fifteen minutes,” replied Hank.

“Should we though?”

Hank turned to stare at him. Barry was wearing the puzzled frown of a man who might have an attack of conscience.

“We should. It’s our job.”

“But...don’t you think the farmers have a point? Why should they work hard to produce a surplus, when the result is cheap food for everyone else and poverty for them?”

“Not our concern, G-Man.” Hank knew that title flattered his partner.

“Maybe.” Barry suddenly sat straighter in his seat. His brow furrowed and his lips pursed in disapproval as he tapped the car window. “That’s who we should be arresting. Bloody hippies.”

Hank looked across his partner. There was a field to his right with vegetables growing in neat rows and some tall corn in one corner. Parked in the centre of it were several mobile homes. Some long-haired individuals were out in the field, bending down as they tended the crops. It was clearly an agricultural commune. There had been a revival of such things over the last few years due to static wages and the rising cost of food. In these circumstances, it seemed to him like the smart thing to do, but there were other issues with such people.

“If we catch them with drugs, we’ll bust them.”

The communists had painted their vehicles in the psychedelic fashion and clad themselves in the gaudy, bright apparel which harked back to the same era. Rainbow striped trousers and an assortment of hats in primary colours symbolized their rebellion against the Establishment, the Man and the very notion of getting a traditional job with a boss. On the other hand, jobs were thin on the ground unless you were a technician. Or a government man. Hank sighed and wondered for the umpteenth time how his country had gotten into such a mess.

Introspection wasn’t his bag - as the Sixties throwbacks might have said - so he was glad when they pulled up outside the target. It was a large barn, a single-story redbrick structure in the yard of a local farm. There was no one outside. Hank got out of the car, Foster following and made his way to the wooden double doors, wide enough to admit a large tractor. Inset into the left one was a smaller door for pedestrians.

When he pushed it open, he saw a big room with a dusty concrete floor. It was packed with men and women. Most of them wore T-shirts, jeans and work boots. There was an elevated makeshift stage at the end with an old-fashioned lectern. The microphone was hardly necessary as the man talking spoke in a strong, clear voice.

“Brothers and sisters, I am as much a patriot as the next man, or even the next billionaire defence contractor raking in the taxpayers” money; but we have to live. We have to eat. Our children have to eat. What’s the point of producing the nation’s food and starving yourself?”

There was an aisle left clear in the centre of the room and it led straight to the stage. A lesser man might have hesitated but Hank did his job, no matter what. With Barry warily following, he stalked up to the front of the hall and mounted the stage.

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