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Lucky or What?


Lucky or what?

‘I was born in a cellar during an air raid,’ I tried to sob a bit more believably, ‘with nitro bombs scorching the air every day. We had irradiation bursts most nights…’

I always put on the poor-me cowl when we get idiots coming to talk to us at the Womps Welfare Clinic. Makes them feel important or something, I suppose. They only surface twice a year, probably to tick their books off, saying we are still alive and deserving our Interstellar Credits. They don’t like to be seen down here in the radiation lands too often, eh? So I always roll the black-edge carpet out for them.

‘And we had Zygon fighters coming over every day, blast-bats destroying the buildings. Orbiting Xoltairs guiding their gas-ships, and poisoning us for days on end.’ I like to rub in the hardships we had back then. 'Stillgon troopers stomping through like a pack of giant Gilo-Bots... glimmer mines left lurking in the rubble...'

They’re always suspicious of my age. The war ended a hundred and eighty years ago, and I’m still claiming my widow’s allowance. They always reckon they have to audit us, or monitor us, or whatever, each year. I’m sure they harbour doubts about my veracity and authenticity. Even now, after all this time.

‘We had nothing to eat for wekks and wekks,’ I always tell them. ‘Foul water… no light.’

I like to put them on the back foot when they come down here, accusing, and looking at me sideways. I always turn the table and chairs on them; put the onus on them. Get them on the defensive, and say, ‘And you think I’m the poorest specimen of humanity you’ve ever seen? I’m about the luckiest person alive.’

I jab my fingers at them when I say that. ‘Only three of us came out alive; and the other two are gone now. I’m the best specimen you’ll ever see of anyone aged over two hundred years. My age? What about it?’

They always consult their papers and files, look at me again, check their miniscreens, DNAs and glycines, and stare at me even more. One or two of them bluster a bit, but they never have anything particularly nice to say. ‘All this paying out,’ they grumble.

‘We really don’t like to keep paying out.’

‘Seemingly forever,’ one complained.

‘It’ll have been something in the irrads, or the water,’ I tell them. ‘Or perhaps the rotted food did something to my virals or hormones or whatevers? How would I know? That cellar fungus did have a rich taste to it. We knew it was doing us good. Lived on it for wekk after wekk in those dark times towards the end of the war, we did.’

I gave them a big smile, despite their grumpy scowls in my direction. ‘I expect that’s why I have such a healthy glow.’ I patted my cheek in self-satisfaction.

‘Huh? What do mean? This sort of glow? What are you telling me? Pale blue isn’t healthy?’


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