Sunday 7 June 2020

GREEN STORIES: ‘Notice of Violation’ by Summer G. Baker

This piece is part of our Green Stories series, showcasing the winners of Green Stories' first flash fiction competition in which writers are challenged to envision what a sustainable future might look like. You can read more about the background to this project in our introduction to this series.

Highly Commended, 2020 Green Stories Competition

Notice of Violation
by Summer G. Baker

The  nice  thing about  bureaucracy  was  how long it took  city  governments  to do something about  anything they  didn't  like. Like following through on warnings  to tear up front  yard  vegetable  gardens. Or get rid of farm animals living in backyards. Or pull down all those  wires  attached  to the  power lines. Or dismantle that miniature  solar plant. Or shoo off all those birds.

Failure  to  comply with  this notice  of violation... blah  .

Martha  held  a  stack  of  these  warnings  in  a  fist propped  up on one  ample hip, standing at the  mouth  of  her neighborhood  before  a  handful  of  parked  police  cars  and  one  city representative. A  suit-clad  white  man with  a  head  shaved  clean and  a  dimple in his  chin. Jared  Miller, she  knew, because  his  name  appeared  at  the  bottom of most of  those notices. And  also on the  city's website  under the  listing for City  Manager.

Through a  megaphone,  City  Manager Jared  Miller called  out, "Everyone  in this neighborhood  must  vacate  their homes  or face  several  fines  as  well  as  severance  of  gas, water, and  power  sources. As  none  of  you..."  his  voice  trailed  a  little  in bafflement, "have paid  for any  of  these  utilities  in some  time."  He lowered  the  megaphone.

 At  Martha's  back, a  screen of  greenery  shielded  the  neighborhood from the  outside, thick trees  blocking view  of  the  haven within. Crops, animals,  plant  and  solar power, and  rising above  it  all, a  small, handmade water tower. People  living a  sustainable  life. The  tower itself  was  painted  blue  with  the  words Good  Vibes in enormous  white  letters. Though Martha  didn't  always  understand  the  behavior of  the  younger folks,  she  knew they  had  the  spirit. Her neighbors. Her  dream. This  was  a  small  start, but  still something.

As  evening  set  in, house  lights  began to flicker  on. But  only  the  necessary  ones.

 "We all  own our properties,"  Martha  called  back, voice  loud  enough  without  a microphone. She  flapped  a  hand  at  the  City  Manager. "And  y'all  don't  maintain our roads  worth  a  damn. So go right  ahead!"

Miller nodded  at  a  nearby  cop, who mumbled  something into his  shoulder mic. In  a moment, a  loud  buzz  echoed  through the  still  evening as  some  tech  somewhere  cut power to twenty two blocks of  land  in the  poorest district  of  the  city.

Everyone  kept  looking around, waiting for darkness  to descend,  yet  the  lights  stayed  on.

Martha raised her eyebrows and couldn't help the shit-eating grin as she shrugged at the City Manager. "Guess we don't need your infrastructure no more." She turned around and headed for home.

 "Hey... you can't..." Miller blustered. He continued in a shout, "I'll bring a warrant for your arrest!”

 Before disappearing behind the trees, Martha waved an unfriendly wave at him. "Mm hmm... and bring some of those Notices of Violation with you. We can always use the recycling."

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