Nacho tried to act cool. He was cool, cool as fuck, but there was sweat dripping down his nose and he kept looking around him. What if the policia spotted him?
Then again, that was the gig, right?
He turned his head straight and tried to look like any other respectful citizen. He thumbed the trigger inside his sleeve, feeling the button’s roundness. It was just a button from those electronics shops, it simply done its job reliably.
All he needed to do, was position himself at the proper time and the proper place as soon as the motorcade passed before the Parliament. Politicians riding black limousines armoured, sitting low, policia on bikes armed to the teeth, and people unable to protest because they would be fined.
Such ridiculous laws.
They called it the Citizen Safety Law, but it was really the Gag Law. It allowed them to fine you 600 euro just for disrespecting officers, which meant standing in their way in the street that was rightfully yours and holding up a placard, and further 30.000 euro if you dared to film or photograph them to show their behaviour online. And the organisers of such protests could be fined up to 600.000 euro, which meant they ended up straight in prison.
And in short, they couldn’t protest outside government buildings.
So, they really gave people like Nacho no choice.
He kissed his girlfriend goodbye before putting on the vest. This was not a gig where you came back from. She cried, she begged, she slapped him. She was the only one calling him ‘Ignacio’ instead of his stupid nickname that always made her hungry, as she said.
But Nacho needed to do this. He started explaining to her for the thousandth time how the politicians were sold off to the corps. She said she didn’t care, she said he should let someone else do it.
He said he had do.
So he put on the vest. It was a DIY thing, made of electronics and wires that came out from every angle and spun right up inside. It was heavy, since it was built for quite an impact.
Oh, yes. He was gonna light up the parliament tonight.
He kept on sweating. He remembered the tech guy telling him not to sweat too much or he might short circuit the vest and make it go off early. He didn’t want that, he didn’t wanna waste his one chance at this.
Sure, he’d sacrifice himself, but he didn’t wanna be remembered as the guy who botched their entire operation.
He took a pastry from a bakery across the parliament. He needed to stay cool, stop sweating, and frankly, this was probably the last pastry he’d ever have. He might as well savour it. He dug his teeth into the sweet cream, enjoyed the sugary taste, let it take his mind elsewhere for a minute. To a place where the government wasn’t controlled by corps, to a time when Madrid was the pride of its citizens, and to an age where you didn’t get treated as a second-rate citizen if you didn’t have a corporate job.
Of course, he was too young to have known all that. But their organisation had enough old people that talked about these things, about times when you could walk down the street without 300 cameras tracking your face, when you could pick up a sign and protest something that was killing your children without policia breaking your bones.
Nacho checked the clock and pumped himself up.
This was it.
The motorcade was planned to get at that corner in exactly four minutes. The streets got blocked off, citizens got being pushed aside, policia patrolled up and down. He felt the chill on his face now, it was biting cold. He had been sweating so much he hadn’t even noticed. He stuck his hands in his pockets and moved in closer. He needed to be pretty close, the range on his vest wasn’t that long. He had maybe ten or fifteen meters, and he needed to make an impact.
To ignite it all.
The politician was gonna pass a bill that assured the slow deaths of over forty thousand citizens, and he was gonna do it in three minutes.
Nacho had to make sure that did not happen.
The motorcade appeared. Nacho stepped closer, pushing between the crowds gathered there. Of course, not one placard in sight, not one person protesting. Sure, you could risk the smaller fines, but why?
So you could get thrown in jail? People had families to take care of, problems of their own. And the rat-race didn’t even leave them enough time to breathe and evaluate their bonds.
The limo came close. It was now or never. Nacho wouldn’t disappoint the others. He thumbed the trigger softly, it was ready. He was ready.
The motorcade went by him, and the target limo was nearly there.
Nacho pressed the button on his vest.
His jacked got ripped to shreds, exposing the electronics underneath. Light beams shot out of him in every direction. The people around him gasped and got startled. What was happening, their faces said.
Nacho opened his arms and looked up at the sky, watching the drones circle around him.
The holograms appeared. They held placards, they held signs. They waved them around in the typical protest’s rhythm. The holograms were people, and they each protested the bill. Two thousand protesters, not one of them there, not one of them breaking the law. Only Nacho was breaking it, and he was going to get arrested for it. The instigator. The protest organiser. Upwards of 600.000 euro fine.
He could never pay that off.
The policia surrounded him as the holograms walked around, protesting peacefully, as was a Citizen’s right. As it should be.
The politician looked at the protest from his protected limousine. He saw the people that told him not to sign.
Would it change his mind? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
But at least, the people had been heard.