On the soily grains of sand, dulled by the overcast atmosphere, the black water lapped with a peculiar rhythm. No matter how long Jonathon Forbes stared at the water it still came lapping up once every five seconds. None of the people on the beach were swimming and Jonathon could understand why. The water resembled oil and just the thought of immersing himself in the liquid made him shudder. His Father, who had been fishing, was wiping away the water that clung to the line with an already dirty cloth. "Come join me," his Father called out noticing his son's gaze. "No thanks Dad," Jon said, "it's not like you're going to catch anything." His Father grinned boyishly in the way that made Jon think they were more friends than Father and Son. "Well I can at least try," his Father said. Jon leaned back on his elbows, resting on the towel he had layed out earlier as the first specks of rain began to fall. Out of the corner of his eye something caught his attention and he turned his head. At first he noticed the perfectly tanned breasts, accentuated by the yellow bikini. He nudged his sunglasses down on the bridge of his nose and he shifted his gaze lower. Between her shapely thighs he noticed the matching bikini brief, small tufts of her pubic hair jutted out the side. Jon felt an alarming warmth in his groin. "Do you like what you see?" she asked in a strangely alluring voice. Jon's mouth went dry and his throat constricted. He tried to speak intelligibly but his voice was gone. Without waiting for a reply she spoke again, "I'm Kazise of Costa Del Havana. Who are you?" Now Jon realised why she was so perfect. She was an Opulent, a citizen of extraordinary wealth who could afford to live at the resort while his family saved for a lifetime to spend a holiday sleeping on the beach; and she was talking to him. "I'm Jonathon," he said, finding his voice. "So Jonathon," she paused, "or should I call you sexy?" "Sexy would be great," he replied grinning. "So sexy, where are you from?" Jon's mind raced, what could he say? He couldn't tell her that he lived at an Off-World slum where he worked for 16 hours a day only to have people like her dump their waste on top of his town. Before he could think of anything his Father interrupted from the beach. "Hey Son, who's your friend?" Jon grimaced as he saw the look of disgust firmly etch itself on Kazise's face. "That's your Dad," she spat, "He's not even enhanced. You're… You're a Pov." And with that she walked away. "What was that all about," his Dad called, "she was kind of cute." "Nothing Dad," Jonathon called back as his Father struggled with a tangle in his fishing line, "we were just too good for her."
#Later that evening the Forbes family sat on the beach in front of an open fire, cooking up a delicious feast of pig, sheep and potatoes. Jon's Mother was slowly teaching the fine art of knitting to his sister. Frustration was clearly etched upon his sisters' face. "Damn it," she said, the words sounding strange in an eight-year-olds mouth. "Hush now Jessica," his Mother said, "there's no need to swear. You'll learn in time." "But I don't want to learn," Jessica declared standing up, her voice rising in anger, "I don't want to be a Pov and knit. I want to be an opulent. I want to be rich." "Jessica, sit down!" Jon's Father growled. Jessica burst into tears, then ran up the beach. Manufactured rain began to fall from the beams that rise high above the space colony. Although science had many marvels it still couldn't replicate the environmental factors needed for rain in the artificial atmosphere of Costa del Havana. "Damn it," Jon's Father cursed, "I'll go get here." "Greg no," Jon's mother said, "I'll go. I think there's some things we should have told her a long time ago. Do you remember, you told Jon when he was only five?" "Yeah Mary, I remember, damn near broke the kid," he said then looked at his son, "Didn't it champ?" Jon stared into the fire, not saying anything. He hated his life. He hated the mere fact that he was a Pov and there was nothing more in his life that he could strive for except menial labour.
#Jessica sat on a large rock on the headland, fifty metres into 'Opulent only' territory. "See mum," she yelled out defiantly, "I can be an Opulent as well. It's just as easy as crossing that line." "Jessica, come here now," her Mother begged. "No Mum, I'm happy here." "Jessica, you don't understand you have to come here now." "UNREGISTERED HUMAN LIFE-FORM IN RESTRICTED TERRITORY" A robotic voice sounded from the hidden surveillance speakers that were posted throughout the colony. "Jessica come here!" her Mother shrieked. "No!" "YOU HAVE 3…2…1…EXTERMINATION PROCEDURE ACTIVATED" Mary ran into the Opulent zone at the same instant that a crack of automatic gunfire was aimed at the part of the beach that Jessica sat. In the distance she noted the Opulent checkpoint, with faces peering out at them, at the same time that bullets sliced through both mother and daughter. They were dead long before the bullets stopped firing, reducing the bodies to indistinguishable lumps of red flesh.
#"I still don't understand it all Dad, why can't we be like them." Jonathon said. "We just can't, it's been a long time coming. To them we are nothing more than cattle, to be used and abused, to do the jobs that no-one else wants to do and to be given enough just to survive and if we really struggle we get just a taste of what they have every day." "But how did it get this way?" "It started with an idea son. An idea that changed the world." "Capitalism?" Jon's Father nodded his head. "There never used to be such a big distinction between the Opulents' and Pov's, or the rich and the middle class, as it used to be called but there used to be a saying, even before humans left Earth to the murderers, rapists and thieves." "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer," Jon said, "I can remember you telling me that. We really have no way of becoming Opulent do we?" "In the old times we may have had a chance but now Opulents' get registered from birth and enhanced as their beauty detracts. I'm sorry son, we will never be anything other than workers or soldiers and that's the way it's always going to be." Jonathon Forbes looked in the direction that his sister and mother had run off in. "I'm glad we have each other Dad. Without family I don't think life would be worth it." Jon's father smiled. "I hope they get back soon," Jonathon said.
x x x