stories

The Last of The Smoker - Chapter 2 - page 5

Our comrades fell one by one until there were only the two of us left. Finally, after being chased to the top of the National Diet Building, we sat smoking all the cigarettes that we had left, when Kusakabe asked "You and I experienced all the horrors of the War, but as the world grew more and more affluent, laws and restrictions multiplied, discrimination increased, and somehow we lost our freedom. Why did this happen? Does it mean that humans actually enjoy this sort of thing?"

"I suppose it does," I answered. "It seems that the only way to stop them is to wage war."

At that moment, Kusakabe was hit in the head by a canister of tear gas fired from one of the helicopters above. He fell silently to his death. The swarming crowd on the ground below, many of them drinking sak as if they were at a flower-viewing afternoon, gave a loud cry, then jeered in unison:

"Only one left! Only one left!"

A very long two hours later I was still clinging to the top of the Diet, which was quite a feat by my standards. I didn't mind using up all my strength, since I knew that I was going to die whatever happened.

Suddenly it seemed that the ground below had become completely silent. The helicopters had vanished. Someone was speaking through a microphone, and I could faintly hear the words:

".....would be the result. By then it will be too late for regrets. This would be a great loss. He is now a valuable artefact of the Smoking Age. He should be designated as a precious natural asset and a Nati onal Human Treasure. He must be preserved. We implore you. We repeat: This is the Society for the Protection of Smokers...."

I shuddered. No way was I going to be protected. That would only be a new sort of abuse. Everyone knows that whenever people start trying to protect animals the species immediately becomes extinct. They are exhibited to have their photographs taken, they are given injections, put in isolation, their bodies are messed about with and their sperm collected. In the end, they just wither away and die. As if that weren't enough, they are then stuffed and put on display. I wasn't going to die like that. Quickly, I decided to jump.

But it was already too late. A safety net had been secured on the ground below. From the distant sky, two helicopters with a net spread between them slowly descended and moved towards me.

Andrew RANKIN

Graduate student in Department of Literature, Tokyo University.