The advert imposed itself on the wall of the Jepson’s modest apartment.
As much time as you want to borrow! With zero interest fees for the first six months!
“That sounds good love, zero interest fees for the first six months,” Gill Jepson said, a rather over-weight figure, in her 30’s, with scraggly blonde hair.
“Yeh that’s what the loan we have said when we first got it, now look at us, up to our eyes in debt, with too much time to pay back which we haven’t got!” Graham Jepson said, a tall, lean figure.
He was the same age as Gill, but he looked much older; he had lost most of his hair and had dark rings under his eyes, the result of worry and too many hours at work.
“But we need to borrow more time, why don’t we get this one for the first six months and pay off the loan we already have?”
“It doesn’t work like that you know that, we won’t be able to pay it off in six months and we’ll be in even more debt. The only answer is to cut down the time we use now and then we will be able to pay off this loan, otherwise it’s just a vicious circle.”
“But we need more time, everything we do now, just going to work, or even just sitting at home, we use so much of it!”
The Jepson’s were typical of young couples in the Capital. They both had demanding jobs, and had a young child. They had to juggle their time very carefully and tried to keep within their budget, but like most couples they just didn’t have enough time and would have to borrow from unscrupulous time lenders that had exorbitant rates of interest.
The time lending industry was now huge. Everywhere people went there would be ad’s claiming the best deal with the lowest interest rate. They were projected on to sides of skyscrapers, on public transporters and the very irritating ad’s that were projected on to people’s walls. This was part of the contract that Aerial TV had with the time lenders that they would pay huge amounts of money to have their ad’s screened. And Aerial TV had complete monopoly of terrestrial and extra-terrestrial TV, so part of the contract was that if people wanted to watch TV then they had to sign up for free ad’s that would appear 24/7 in people’s homes whether they had the TV on or not.
Aerial TV even controlled the internet, portable phones, Tablets, you name it, so there was no way of avoiding these adverts unless you lived in a cave! Which, oddly, more and more people were now doing – completely opting out of society and living time-less paupers in caves all around the coast of the UK.
Gill and Graham were determined to give their young child the best start in life but they needed more time to be able to take her to interactive education and to the many young student corps which every young citizen had to attend if they wanted to succeed in life; there just wasn’t enough of time to do all of these things. Gill had recently started a course in the evenings which she hoped would get her a better job with a higher time allowance, and at least then they could pay off their debt and afford to acquire time out right like a lot of better off people did. People who owned their own time rented it out to other people. They could double, sometimes treble their time by doing this.
Graham had recently restored a skimmer that someone from the more prosperous neighbourhood had dumped, they obviously didn’t need to save time as they probably had loads of it, and he had repaired the jet engine. He now saves himself half an hour a day going to work on the skimmer as opposed to the overcrowded transporters that used to take him an hour.
They both used to go out for drinks after work when they were both single, but that has now stopped, now they both come home, collect the child from the child-minder, and then spend some time with her, before putting her to bed at 7pm. They then have a couple of hours to themselves, before they too go to bed at 9pm, so that they can save time. The Government decreed that sleep does not count in the weekly time allowance; each couple with a child received 3 hours a week. They had to give a little leverage as people were starting to get restless and there had been a lot of social unrest. However, sleep does count during the day or people’s normal routine.
The problem for Gill and Graham is that when their young child wakes at night, which is an everyday occurrence, then they have to eat into their depleting stocks of time.
Graham had built a sound-proof room where the one who is not on “shift” that night can get a good night’s sleep so that they are not using up double the time.
The plight for the average person in the Capital was getting worse. Young professional women were selling their bodies on street corners in order to get time credit notes from the men who were rich in time. The women desperately needed time for them and their families. Professional men in the Capital were now entering “Last Man Standing” competitions where men fought one another over the course of an evening using clubs and metal poles and the aim was to disable your opponent invariably by breaking his legs. The last man standing won a life time supply of time. The consequence of this was that there were many homeless men in the capital who could not work because they were disabled and they would always be walking with a stick.
Some people, however, were doing very well in the present climate. The head of Aerial TV earned huge amounts of time. It was estimated that he and his family had enough time that they all would have to live until they were five thousand years of age to use it all up. The average person only lived until two hundred because of the new “Super Pill” that everyone took, where as poor people who could not afford the super pill only reached one hundred and thirty on average. And didn’t this guy wallow in all this time. He would have exotic holidays to Mars and Pluto three or four times a year in his private space rocket and it was reported he owned twenty planets all over the universe.
One day Graham had some bad news. His boss called him into the office and said that he had to let him go as there was just not enough work. Gill had had to give up her college course as she did not have enough time to afford to do it. They were in a very bad predicament.
“What are we going to do!” Gill said.
“We will have to sell the house, there is no other way and the time we get for the house will at least give us leeway until I can find another job,” Graham said.
“But where can we go?”
“We’ll move out to the country, we’ll buy some cheap land and start again.”
So that’s what the Jepson family did, they moved a long way from the Capital, where the land was a bit cheaper and Graham set about building a house from loads of cheap wood that he managed to get hold of.
Life was actually good, they had so much more time at their disposal that they were able to spend it with their daughter. They decided to educate their daughter at home. They lived off the land – they grew vegetables, reared pigs, chickens and a goat, therefore, they had an abundant supply of milk, eggs and meat. They got rid of the television and generated their own energy so that they were not held to ransom by the exorbitant prices that Energy UK (the sole provider of energy) charged the citizens of the UK. They felt healthier, both physically and mentally. They ate their own food, which was free from Government additives. They read more, exercised more and generally had a much better quality of life. Their daughter flourished, excelling in her maths and English and becoming more aware of everything around her.
However, all this was to change. If the Jepson’s had a TV then they would be aware of the propaganda that the Government was peddling through Aerial TV that:
All people that did not work and contribute to society were scroungers living off the time of hard earned citizens that now had to work extra hard and longer hours to pay increased taxes to the Government. These taxes, of course, are vital to help the Government invest in the latest weaponry technology that would protect its citizens from malevolent beings from other planets. Therefore, all citizens that have deserted our wonderful society will be forcibly brought back to the Capital where there is adequate housing and work for them. They will then contribute, like everyone else, to the defence of this nation from terrorists from other planets that threatened our way of life.
Gill, Graham and their daughter Emily, were eating their dinner one evening.
“Daddy, who are all those men and women coming across the field towards our house.”
“I don’t know, wait their both of you, I will go and see what they want.”
Graham put on his jacket and went out to meet the group. They were very intimidating with their sticks and clubs. They were shouting that they have come to take them back to the Capital where they would be put into Government housing and made to work. It wasn’t fair that they were paying nearly all their hard earned time back to the Government in taxes and you people had all the time in the world.
“Ok, please just give me ten minutes to pack a few things and get my family together,” Graham said, he was shaking with fear.
“Ok! You have exactly ten minutes, if you and your family are not out here in ten minutes then we shall drag you out!” the large scruffy man snarled.
Graham went back indoors.
“What’s wrong love?” Gill asked.
“They have come to take us back to the Capital.”
“I don’t want to go back to the Capital, I want to stay here with my animals,” and with that Emily burst into tears.
“Quickly both of you come with me, we will hide in the cellar until they have gone,” Graham said.
They all scrambled down into the cellar and sat on the wooden boxes Graham had made for chairs.
“Listen, both of you be very quiet, I am quickly popping back upstairs for something,” Graham said, and with that he climbed back up into the main part of the house.
He rushed as fast as he could to his shed and picked up a long rubber pipe and then went quickly to the pig sty where he made gas from the methane produced by the pigs. He attached the long tube to the end of the canister and rushed back to the cellar and pushed the tip of the pipe into the opening and climbed back down, closing the hatch behind him. He went and sat back down and took hold of Gill’s and Emily’s hand. Gill looked at Graham and smiled and then took hold of her daughter’s hand.
“Are we staying Daddy, they’re not taking us away are they?”
“No sweetheart, we are going to stay here for ever.”
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