Superior didn’t walk from place to place very fast, and it certainly showed. It seemed as if she was always looking for something, but she was never looking for it very hard. It was infuriating. Her slow pace meant that by the time we got to wherever she was staying, it would be very late. I would have to sleep poorly once again.
Superior walked, and walked, and walked. Her pace never broke past a vague meander. The sun was beginning its descent into the horizon, and yet I still had no clue how near to her house I was. We were still in the poor district, so there were no street lights to turn on.
On the bright side, that meant I could stay hidden easier. On the other hand, that also meant that she would likely get home even slower in the dark of the night.
I followed her for another few minutes. We weren’t getting anywhere. By the time the sun was beginning to set, she had just sat down onto a park bench, and didn’t do anything for at least half an hour. She was either acutely aware of her follower, or she was blatantly unaware. Either way, an amount of time was wasted.
She stared off at the sunset. I imagine she sighed often while thinking of some lover who dumped her for someone younger.
Eventually, the sun fell and the stars rose. I stood up, expecting her to do the same now that the sunset was over. Yet, she didn’t. She simply tilted her head upward and stared at the sky. There wasn’t very much that was worth staring at, so I decided that I was going to wait out her blank staring.
However, she continued to sit and stare. One minute passed. Then it grew into five minutes. Ten minutes began to bud. Twenty minutes had flowered. There was full bloom after thirty minutes. I stood up from my spot, and took my pistol out of my pants.
I would have shot her from where I stood, but she was poorly illuminated. I couldn’t make out her details well enough to take a solid shot. As any hunter knows, you have one shot before your prey is made aware of your presence.
I took a calculated step toward Superior. I took another. She was still about fifteen meters away. I took another few steps, careful to ensure my silence. I was not going to be discovered.
I inched toward Superior, as silent as I possibly could be.
Five meters away from her, I stopped. Her head was tilted as far back as it possibly could. I stopped where I was. There wasn’t any way she couldn’t have seen me at this point. I had lifted the pistol up to my waist when she spoke.
“Fifteen. How wonderful to see you. I’ve heard stories about you. People call you many things, including the elaborate ‘psychotic whore’ and the simpler ‘madman.’ Please, have a seat with me.”
I pointed my gun at her head.
“Yes, you plan to kill me. I shouldn’t expect anything less. I’ll gladly let you kill me. That will mean I don’t have to serve this fucking shit-storm of a country anymore. But please, grant an old woman one more request. Sit with me.” She pat the spot on the bench next to her.
I put the gun away. “You intrigue me, Superior. I’ll sit with you for a while.” I took the spot she had offered, and looked at her.
“I used to be stationed in this city, Fifteen. That was before I became a Superior myself, and I was stationed elsewhere. My superior was executed for treason a few weeks after he retired and I became his replacement Superior. I even worked in your police station before all of that. I had to become incredibly strict on the rules in order to get my Controller off of my back. It took me months of ruthless execution and enforcing the law harsher than is really necessary. Now, the police thinks that I’m their most trustworthy Superior. I might have been promoted to Controller myself, but for some reason they decided that I wouldn’t fit in with the rest.” She sighed and stared in silence for a moment.
I kept looking at her for a moment. “Is that all you wanted to say?” She shook her head. “No. I actually wanted to talk about the sky. Did you know that only fifty years ago you couldn’t see the stars here in this city? There were so many lights on all of the time. Once the government decided that we didn’t need to spend money on poor people, the lights were turned off in most areas. It’s the only good thing that has ever come from… from everything. Just look at the sky.”
I did as she asked. It was the same night sky I had been looking at for the past seven years that I had been graduated from the police academy. The only spectacular thing I saw was the light allowing me to see every night.
“I don’t know what you mean, Superior.” I kept staring at the sky, but I wasn’t really looking at anything.
“My name is Miranda, Fifteen.” She grabbed my hand. “Your name has power, you know. It means something more than the police tells you. Your name is what makes you special. It means that you are a person, and that you have a reason to be. What is your name?”
I shook her hand off. “My name doesn’t matter. Miranda, Superior, it doesn’t matter what I call you. Fifteen, Officer, Renegade, my name doesn’t matter either. It doesn’t hold any power. It’s just a word. My name was lost to the world long ago, and that’s how it will stay.”
Miranda sighed. “That’s what my first commander told me. He told me that my name didn’t matter to the citizens. That’s not true. Without a name, I’m not a person to them. I’m just a job and a title, and a feared one at that. Names create safety for people. Don’t you want that? Why did you join the police.” Miranda looked at me, desperate.
Desperate. She was desperate. However, I could tell that she wasn’t desperate for life anymore. She was ready to die, and- in fact- embraced death. No, she was desperate for… For an experience? She wanted to share something with someone. That was it! She didn’t want an experience, she wanted to give an experience. She hoped that I would change my view after talking with her.
She was a dreamer, too. She bought into the American Dream herself. She also craved to have her legacy go down in history. It’s too bad.
I stood up, and pulled my gun on her again. “You’ve said enough. I’m tired of listening. Miranda, you have one more sentence before I shoot you.” Miranda stared at my feet for a moment.
Suddenly her eyes shot up once more, with confidence prevalent in her starlit pupils. “You want me dead, so that must mean that you are the arsonist.”
I held the gun tightly. “Great analysis.”
“I want in!” She stood up and exclaimed. Her exclamation wasn’t loud, but that didn’t mean that it wasn’t forceful.
“Are you saying that to avoid your own demise? Appeal to your assassin, and mercy will come?”
She shook her head. “I don’t care if you kill me. I want to do something that might make a difference out here.”
I still held the gun straight. Having a superior in the resistance group could be very beneficial to them. If I brought Miranda straight to Famine, that would build even more respect for me.
I lowered the gun. “Okay, Miranda. You can come with me. I’ll show you where to go. You’ll make a difference before tonight ends.”
She nodded. “That doesn’t sound like a bad idea.”
I put the gun away, and motioned for Miranda to follow me.