Winter Wins

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Auxi frowned as she walked back to her house, from Waratia. The day had proven useless, and Auxi knew she couldn’t waste so much precious time. All she had managed was introducing her agenda to Lord Janei, and revealing everything to Vizas, if very abruptly. The grief of Bei’s death was weighing down on her. And the fact that it might just be murder, was something she couldn’t come to terms with. Could the Tower really kill someone, for a secret? A life, taken? How could they be the people’s government then? How was the Tower not a monarch then? How were they in the 31st century then, if their human ideas of dominance had just not died?

Auxi wondered what she could do… where she could go… who…

She wanted to go through Bei’s house but had seen the heavy surveillance around it. And the Tower had not even bothered to keep it down. Rounds of red rings floated halfway up the house, as warning for trespassers that that particular house was reserved for Tower work, for some time. And since Bei lived alone, with no one to call family, it was all very convenient too.

Auxi passed the house again, and the lifeless still building chilled her heart more so.This very building only recently housed a living heart, a noble heart made Auxi shiver despite the cloak wrapped around her tight. The red lines shone bold. Warning was clear.
Auxi knew entering would prove fatal.

Auxi reached her own house. The warm air that hit her as she entered made her breathe in relief. Finally. Auxi shed almost all her layers, and was surprised to find she could still go around in a single T-shirt and pants. That was strange. With three degrees outside and the Tower having to set up a heat machine, she was surprised she could afford her own heating.

Auxi went over to the study. She lifted the lid of her laptop, and pressed her fingers across the blue strip. The laptop sprung to life.

“You have, four messages pending.”

Auxi start scribbling an imaginary pencil against the white metal plate following the blue strip, and the strokes appeared on the screen.

“Lord Janei visited. Vizas told. Bei’s house still sealed.”

Then she swiped her thin fingers across the screen in moves practices through repetition and the Messages panel opened.

1. Officer Uid, Waratia Prison Facility; “You have made a first visit today to a prisoner. This has been recorded in the prison logbooks. According to the Prison Regulations you have already been briefed, every first visit is video-recorded, for security reasons. You have been notified.”

Auxi wondered if the last sentence was indeed ominous- You were told. You shoudn’t have.

2. Tower Message Center; “You have missed one day at the Message Room. Since your leave form had been turned down and you had been notified, this shall be recorded in your work sheet. Another miss without permission could lead to expulsion from the job.”

Auxi swore. She recollected how her leave application had come back with a ‘Not Suitable Grounds’ Rejection when she had reported the death of Bei.

3. Bei, Tower Control Room;

Auxi jumped when she saw who the message was from.

This is an electronically timed message. You have received this, because the sender created an event that has happened, and the message has been automatically sent.

Dear Auxi, if you get this message, I want you to know someone has been tampering with my personal laptop. It isn’t as safe as the Tower networks so I have stored this message here, right under their nose. I told you I felt a danger to my life at work. When those officers took me away, they led me to the Jury Centre. They said they knew I had been poking about. They knew I was digging up files from various sources for the S-Crisis. I had been to talk to all the families of the poeple on the Team, only one actual member was alive. They said they were stamping my record with Breach to Solidarity, something like betraying Tower ethics. I know it was just bullshit, they just wanted reason to poke around.

I am recording this message because if something really happens, I want you to start from what I already know, because I am sure you WILL start.

Auxi, I’m holding on to you. And Vizas, though I know he is angry.

Bei.”

Auxi let a tear sip away. Bei was murdered. She would get to the bottom of it, she was certain now more than ever. With a heavy heart, she turned to the last message.

4.  Auxi was shocked it was another message from Bei. It was from his personal laptop.

“Auxi, I know they are coming for me. I am sending you all my files, everything I could jot down, all the pictures I could collect. Get everything down to download, out of your laptop, they will breach it sooner or later. Clean it thoroughly Auxi. Tell Vizas I am sorry I could never come. But it was just this-”

And then it broke off. Auxi opened the files he attached right at the top. She couldn’t go through them just then, because a sharp knock on the door made her swipe the blue strip and lock the laptop.

“Tower Control Officers, ma’am. Please open the door.”

Their IDs scanned through the door, and Auxi went through them carefully before opening the door.

“What-” but the rest of the sentence muffled as she looked at a bright white light and slipped to the ground.

Forty five minutes later, when she woke, Auxi was still in her T-shirt and pants but cold, as she was bound to a tall vertical hold, she couldn’t yet understand what and the room was freezing. The rumble of an Air Cooler explained that the temperature was set low, on purpose.

Auxi gasped for fuller breaths and shivered.

 

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