The Pink Bolly by Justin Tuijl
There was something quite wrong. For some weird reason my brolly was now pink. I was sure when I’d set out it was black, just like all the other people with umbrellas. As I walked along the street, I became more and more disturbed that the thing above me was definitely turning pink. People passing me with their black umbrellas were starting to take notice, but not enough to stare; they just looked down and scurried away. Something was very definitely amiss. I had left the Ministry of Culture about ten minutes before, it had not been a good meeting.
The President of Culture had greeted me in his office. It was on floor 101 of the Ministry, the top floor. The big windows looked out over the rain soaked city that spread as far as the eye could see. I had been waiting in his waiting room for what seemed like hours. President Jangle stood by the window. There were no chairs. I stood in the middle of the room holding my pen and notebook.
“Call be Bob.”
I already felt off guard, no chairs, no table and he had asked me to be familiar by using his Christian name. I knew this was likely, as everyone used his Christian name in the general public, but I hadn’t expected him to ask me to use it. I guessed it was, in truth, to make me fell exactly how I was feeling: worried.
“I’ve been sent to report, to ask questions.”
“I see. Questions are fine.”
“I represent others…”
“Since we left the union of states and became the country of culture, we have become the poorest country. Food shortages, medicine shortages…”
The president just watched me, expressionless, it was unnerving.
“What’s your name?”
“Come now Archie, the people voted to leave the union. Trade’s up with the non-union countries.”
I could not deny that, but the shortages spoke for themselves. “But what about this culture? Anyone who speaks up is marked.”
“My friends are in key positions in the ministry, we have you worked out, we know how to stop the rebels being removed. Soon your number is going to be up.”
“By all means, go forth and do your worst.”
I had left the ministry of culture. The rain was pouring as usual. And now the brolly was going pink, I knew the missile strike was coming. I was a pink marker in a sea of black brollies. People were giving me a wide berth. They all knew. It looked like my friends in the ministry had let me down.