The Department of Extinct Objects – Case Number 1985
The Department of Extinct Objects
-Case Number 1985
by Jessica Patient
There have been confirmed reports from the Department of Extinct Objects, that the last known book, a tatty, circa 1990s edition, of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which was being cared for by Beatrice Ingles, aged nine and three quarters, has gone missing. Her ‘carer’ duties were passed on from her Grandmother, a Librarian, now deceased.
Initial reports suggested Beatrice took the book to school for a show-n-tell lesson. Her Mother specifically asked her to take Barney, their pet Spider, to show her classmates, but Beatrice decided to take the book out of its perspex box and smuggled it in her backpack. She was able to sneak it through the security checkpoint at the school gates by bribing the Guards with candy. A group of eKids, children who live their life through an embedded Internet link, became irate at the display of an analogue object and started to throw their leftover lunch at Beatrice. The TeachBot, who was initially intrigued by the historic artefact, tried to calm matters, with threats of blocking their InterLink, but the chanting mob managed to knock the off-switch during the stampede.
Beatrice pleaded with her classmates but the book was clawed from her grip. She was pinned to the floor and made to watch the animalistic ritual, as they plucked the pages from the spine and then shredded each chapter. Sections of the book were either eaten or burned with the aid of a rogue cigarette lighter. One eKid gnawed on the front cover as if it was a French baguette.
Beatrice was only able to sneak the title page out of the school gates by having it taped to her vest. She has now been put into a witness protection plan. The title page is in a confidential location, to hinder the possibility of any future attacks.
–refers to the line in Mary Sheffield’s Memory Clinic story “There was no protracted waiting or suffering or even time to come to terms with the inevitable.”