True face by Nic Steven
I stepped away from the fabricator with my new mask in hand. As I pulled it over my head, I wondered if anyone would get the joke and whether my action would count as breaking the law. The mask was a perfect replica of my own face. For forgotten historical reasons it was illegal to leave one’s own residence without wearing a full head mask. It started centuries ago, as a way to give equality to people who were less attractive than most. At first, it was merely polite, a social more, but at some stage, it had passed into law. Breaches of this, ‘Offences Against Public Decency Act,’ were punishable by large fines and sometimes imprisonment.
The authorities had gotten over the problem of people being unable to identify each other by fabricating a small transmitter in each mask, near the ear. This broadcast your identity to everyone within a few yards and a small speaker announced the information into their ears. I wondered if I could get away with showing my actual face in the form of a mask. It should be fine. Nobody knew what I really looked like anyway.
There was no reaction from anyone I met, so I wore the same mask the next day. I made sure to print off a different mask to leave at home in case the printers were being monitored. This continued for several days. Then I grew more daring. I printed off a mask, as usual but walked out on the street bare faced. The day was slightly cool, and the air felt refreshing on my skin. Somehow, I felt freer than when I was masked.
This time, I noticed people looking at me oddly. Some stared at me for several seconds. I panicked, so turned and quickly headed for home. I had only taken a few steps when two police cars pulled up in front and behind me. Police in their official blue and white watchdog masks and jumpsuits surrounded me. Two held my arms while another felt my neck looking for a seam. His fingernails were digging into my neck. ‘Okay,’ I shouted. Then more quietly as a crowd was gathering. ‘I admit it, I’m not wearing a mask.’
‘Just as we thought. A Bareface,’ shouted the officer. There were gasps from the crowd followed by excited muttering.
‘How did you know?’
‘Forgot about the ID transmitter didn’t you, son?’ He handed me a loose, generic mask. ‘Here, put this on. You’ll make people feel sick.’
I sat in one of the cars on the way to the police station. What awaited me? A fine, definitely. Maybe prison. Then a mandatory period of wearing an official miscreant mask. I would certainly lose my job, and for what? A pointless gesture and a completely idiotic mistake.
The rest of the stories
<a href=”https://www.katharinagerlach.com/posts/themed-month-july-bloghop/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Rainbow Girl by Katharina Gerlach</a>
<a href=”https://sabrinarosenwriter.com/?p=152” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>A Brood of Harpies by Sabrina Rosen</a>
<a href=”http://billbushauthor.com/?p=898” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Crossing A Line by Bill Bush</a>
<a href=”http://nic-steven.com/2021/07/28/july-blog-hop/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>True Face by Nic Steven</a>
<a href=”https://www.jemmaweir.com/post/a-touch-of-summer-fire” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>A Touch of Summer Fire by Jemma Weir</a>
<a href=”https://barbaralund.com/blog/storytimebloghop/july2021/abigail” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Abigail by Barbara Lund</a>
<a href=”https://www.junetakey.com/storytime-blog-hop-july-28th/” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Storytime Blog Hop Juneta’s Website</a>