The Integrated Future

September 9, 2013
Maizie woke up to the sound of loud talking and even louder sirens in the streets below her. She rushed around her small bedroom to her dirty windows and pulled the blinds up quickly. Almost as soon as the blinds were up, they were falling back down again. Outside, there were tall and aggressive Townies, the kind that made Maizie avert her eyes, tussling with some enforcement droids and their attendees. Maizie backed herself into the farthest corner of the room, pulled her legs to her chest, and kneaded her eyes with the heels of her hands. She dreaded the crime that had recently taken residence among the Vale, a slang term for uptown Integrated Future. The commotion made Maizie even more anxious than usual, so she found herself late for work at the library that day. She ran up to the old gray building and wiped her sweaty palms on her dress. She ran her slim wrist under the reader and pushed herself into the cold and damp room that was the Integrated Future's local library. She took her place at a the circular desk, and jumped in to the rhythm of work. Then, Maizie was startled from her mindless daze of filing when a small crash came from the back room of the library. She got up from her sitting place and went to check on what she thought was the small kitten that frequently loitered around the library.

She scampered to the back room of the library and switched on a small light. A face was suddenly illuminated within the mist of dust and dirt kicked up, presumably by this new and unnamed person. Maizie’s internal alarms started shrieking with unease. A stranger, who wore a sleek black mask, stood in the haze of grime. She was flooded with fright at the idea of danger being so near to her.

“A burglar!” she screamed in an odd and clumsy way, still staring at the darkly clothed man.

“No no no no no! I’m not here to steal your books!” The stranger explained holding out his gloved hands and stepping closer, in an attempt to make peace with the terrified librarian.

“Get back! Get back, away from me! Ahhh!” Maizie stuttered out, all the while backing into the wall and hurling various small objects at the lean stranger.

“Please just calm down! Can we just talk this out, please?”

“NO! No, we can not! Get out of my library, right now you-you-you-you criminal!”

Maizie shouted out in a hurry, frantic with the need to be removed from this situation. She grabbed at a broom that sat in the corner and started poking the delinquent saying, “Out, Out, Out!”

“Please stop! Sto-Stop that! I was just sleeping back here! Hey, stop!” the man pleaded.

“Sleeping!” Maizie cried, appalled at his explanation. “In my library? I don’t think so!” Her broom was put down and instead an angry expression replaced it. The delinquent thought to himself that the look on her face now, was more frightening than the broom, she once poked him with, ever was. Maizie stood with her hand on her hip and her foot tapping the ground. “Now, what makes you think, sir, that sleeping in my library was a good idea?”

“I just needed somewhere to stay for the night and no harm came to the library, I
promise,” the stranger replied tiredly, wiping the sleep from his eyes.

“Well,” Maizie said stubbornly, with her chin up in the air. “It won’t be happening again, will it?” she asked, feeling a little sorry for the way she acted towards him.

“No, it won’t,” he lied, because the next morning Maizie found him lying atop the work bench that sat in the children’s section.

“You again?” she asked only slightly frustrated with the man.

“Uh, yeah,” the intruder replied sleepily. Maizie noticed that the man, this time, dozed without the thin black mask he sported yesterday. It was only now that she noticed how odd he looked, like no one she’d ever seen before. He wore baggy pocketed pants and a thin black t shirt smudged with dirt and grime. His hair was shaved on two sides and seemed to be colored the darkest shade of black. Black eye makeup, streaked around two electric green eyes, stared down at her.

The man in black lazily explained that he had nowhere to stay and figured that Maizie "seemed nice enough."

"Nice? I poked you with a broom stick! That hardly means 'please stay another night!'" Maizie all but screamed at him.

"Listen, I've got somewhere to be. I'll try not to sleep here, again."

"No! No, you won't! Wait, hold on, You're just going to leave this mess here?" Maizie enquired, gesturing to the books and toys that once rested on the children's counter, but now had been discarded onto the carpet. She thought of her other coworkers, who had taken early vacations because of the sudden crime outbreak. Maizie would have to clean this up, all by herself, on top of the other mountains of work that mocked her.
Her head spun just thinking about it. The man in black looked up helplessly and sighed. Then, he bent his tall body down and started to stack the books at one end of the long table. Maizie learnt that his name was Abram and he was a vigilante, protecting the Vale in his spare time. She felt so proud and brave when she thought that she was harboring a self made superhero in her own library. "How neat." She mumbled to herself. She wasn't very scared of him anymore. Though he looked mean, he acted just the opposite. He might've been a tad grouchy, but besides that, Maizie actually started to like him. He told Maizie that he didn't have permanent residency or any friends really, and that's why he stayed in her library. Maizie started to feel so sad for him and before she knew it, there were little drops falling down her cheeks. She stopped working and plopped herself into a beanbag chair. She dropped the books she was holding and sobbed out pitifully, "I'm sor-sor-sorry I was so mean to you. I didn't know."

"Hey, Hey I- uh I'm fine," he said looking uncomfortable and slightly concerned. "Just stop crying, okay."

"I just... was thinking about, how you have nowhere to stay? And I just thought... that you could stay here. You can stay here as long as you want. I'll even bring you food and water. You can help me with the books too, when you're not fighting crime," Maizie said hopefully. She felt so bad for him and thought the extra help would be nice.

"Um, I guess that would be okay?" He said unsure of what he was getting himself into. Abram wasn't about to turn down an opportunity for food and shelter.

Everyday from then on, Abram came to wait outside Maizie's apartment building. Abram would escort Maizie to work and keep all the scary looking Townies away, while they ate little cakes and drank out of her thermos of chocolate tea. Maizie thought it was quite funny when the lavender icing of a pastry, smeared across Abram's face and often giggled, quietly to herself. He wore his mask when they walked out on the streets, but took it off once they arrived at the library, to reveal the black eye makeup that was caked across both of his eyes and the bridge of his nose. The black looked like it was a part of his skin; it looked almost natural. Abram stacked books with Maizie and occasionally stepped out to do whatever Abram did. The crime was still consistent in the next two weeks and in the third, crime was rampant in the Vale.

Abram and Maizie were shuffling through an old pile of books when the sound of shattering glass startled them out of their literature induced comas. Maizie immediately froze up. Abram cast a glance back at her and pushed himself up from the floor. He hid behind a bookshelf and watched as noisy Townies flooded the library, laughing and talking boisterously. Abram crawled back towards Maizie and herded her small, quivering frame underneath a desk. Abram knew all too much about Maizie's nervous tendencies. He scoped out the whole ruckus and decided to take action. Abram jumped into the middle of the crowd. He almost felt irresponsible, thinking he could take on this many Townies. Then, the fight broke out. Abram punched, kicked, and dodged. The fight was hardly fair, seven on one, but Abram was bigger than any of them and did this kind of thing on a regular basis. The fight raged on for another ten minutes, when the fight was interrupted by a couple of enforcement droids and their attendees. The Townies looked up and started to run from the scene, when one, brightly colored male, bent down close to Abram and punched him hard in the gut. Abram let out an 'oof' and fell to the ground, incapacitated. His thoughts strayed to Maizie, who was probably having a conniption fit under that small desk. Without warning, he was pulled up from the ground and cold, metal cuffs were slapped onto his wrists. Abram tried explaining, tried persuading, but the enforcement wasn't fazed. They simply dragged him through the shelves and out the library. Under that tiny desk, Maizie sat waiting, too scared to move. Then, When all the commotion stopped, Maizie peaked out of her hiding place. Far away, she saw Abram being dragged out the library.

Maizie was panicking now. Pacing back and forth, thinking she had to rescue Abram. After all, they were friends and they cared for each other, right? She started picturing herself furtively sneaking into the downtown's jail, getting caught, put on trial, and eventually sent to her death. Maizie thought she must be stupid with love to try something so out of her comfort zone. She thought of the odds, there were tons of escapees from the prison. While the droids were good at enforcing, they hardly took care of keeping prisoners in. They probably wouldn't even remember Abram, within the short time he'd been there. To someone else it might seem like a piece of cake, but to Maizie this was a whole barrel of anxiety.

Maizie was strapping on black clothes and any tools she would need. She was officially setting out on a mission to break Abram out of jail. She felt guilty when she researched the method for overriding a padlock, but she reassured herself that it was necessary. Mazie finished preparing and set off. On her way there, she shook with nervous jitters and imagined scenarios of her eventual demise. Then, Maizie arrived at the prison. It was relatively small and like any other penitentiary, gray and gloomy. There was a barbed wire fence that Maizie had anticipated and surprisingly, no guards waiting outside. What kind of prison is this? Maizie thought. Not a very good one, she concluded. She scaled the fence and when she got to the top she took a long strip of thick carpet she had packed and layered it over the barbed wire. Before anyone noticed, she was on the other side of the fence. Maizie approached the building and gathered up tons of courage. She practically walked into the place, to find that this prison wasn't a strict as it might have seemed. They let prisoners, in orange jumpsuits, walk around completely unattended. She walked down long halls, and so far had only spotted one enforcement droid that she'd managed to avoid. Maizie thought herself some kind of top secret spy. She figured the government as hypocrites. Preaching their maximum punishment prisons, when security was so sparse here. She came upon rows of small, temporary looking cells. "Perfect," she mumbled. She walked down endless hallways, prisoners sneering at her, until she spotted Abram. There he was, sat in a corner with his legs crossed, staring at the other man he shared a cell with. It seemed too easy. Abram looked at the figure that approached his cell. It was his tiny anxiety ball, Maizie, dressed all in black. The sight was comical. Whatever Abram was expecting, it certainly wasn't this. Maizie easily recalled the directions, she had previously researched, on how to override the kind of automated lock that sat on Abram's cell. She dug in her pocket for the things she needed and shakily broke into the beige cell. She hoped the other man in the cell wasn't too dangerous, because she wasn't clever enough to sneak only Abram out. Abram was at the cell door before Maizie was even finished unlocking it. He held her shaking hands and guided her through the task. The bars slid open and Maizie's arms were thrown around him before he even had a chance to blink. They both breathed out a sigh of relief and left the cell quickly. They both hadn't anticipated how attached they would get to each other in the short time they knew each other, but being apart had bothered both of them too much. Maizie took Abram's hand and ran through the winding corridors. Behind them, the other prisoner, though completely surprised, was happy to get out of the holding cell. Like the cell mate, Abram hadn't even been processed yet and lacked the tracking chip that was holding the rest of the criminals in. They both fled the prison hurriedly and ran back to Maizie's apartment. There they just stared wide eyed at each other, not really registering what had just happened.

"They would've let me out in three days," Abram laughed a little. Maizie only rolled her eyes and buried her head in his big sweatshirt.

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