MY alarm rang. It was time to get up.
The heat pump had failed again. There was ice on the inside of the bedroom window.
The shift began at eight. My partner that day was Jordan. He used to be a bouncer at one of the rougher clubs in town.
Jordan always smells of sweat and stale beer. Since the gyms closed, his once taut frame has expanded as a consequence of his prolific intake of meat substitute pies and gluten-free tofu and chutney sandwiches. Every day he yearns for bacon and beef.
As a former pilot I had little in common with Jordan, and communicating through the medical grade masks was difficult; perhaps mercifully so.
Soon after I was made redundant, my wife Sasha left me for Andy, our former window cleaner. He is a distant relation of the Health Secretary, and won a contract to provide dialysis machines to the NHS. Sasha is now exempt from all curfews and I sometimes see her driving around town in one of Andy’s Teslas.
As Covid Marshals (Grade 2), Jordan and I have at least some standing in the Great Reset. We feel slightly superior to those allocated work as cleaners, drone operatives or surveillance support workers, and vastly superior to the majority of the unemployed, now renamed ‘consumers’.
Of course, we are nowhere near the heights of esteem enjoyed by the health workers, or ‘Our Glorious Health Workers’ as we are encouraged to call them, and we can never aspire to be even junior Reset Managers.
The biggest problems are boredom and keeping warm. The public are so subservient that it is quite exciting to spot someone who is not wearing the approved mask, or is standing too close to another person. Last week we reached our Covid fines quota, but I was not happy with Jordan’s loose interpretation of the newly enhanced Covid and Environmental Public Safety Regulations. I suppose I should be grateful, as I was given a Beef Token as a reward.
Yesterday an SD (Surveillance Drone) spotted two boys playing football with incorrectly fitted masks. Fortunately for them, I was first on the scene and they ran away when they saw my hi-vis yellow jacket. Jordan lumbers along like an elephant wading through wet concrete and when he arrived, panting like a steam engine, I could tell he was disappointed that the pair had fled. He had already drawn his truncheon and was ready for action.
In the afternoon we met our supervisor Ranjiv (Covid Marshal Grade 3). He relishes his work. He ordered Jordan to wipe pieces of pickle off his jacket and straighten his tie. Jordan is three times the size of Ranjiv and dislikes being told what to do, but he does not want a month’s duty at the Re-education and Personal Development Camps on Arran. He is terrified of being demoted to a Grade 1, which would mean the loss of his beer allowance.
It is best to stay in Ranjiv’s good books. I sometimes swap my Cheddar Tokens for his Beef Tokens.
Later we did our stint marshalling the queue at the Vaccination Centre at what was the Leisure Centre. Only two people collapsed while we were there. Some Glorious Health Workers were on hand to give them their injections where they lay on the frozen ground. They too have quotas to meet.
The shift finished at six. It was two hours before the Green Power Allocation for the district expired and the communal heat pump was still under repair.
The night was to be long, lonely and cold.