maddie_icon.gif mayes_icon.gif

Scene Title Reverse
Synopsis One altruistic reporter has some questions regarding the future as designed by the Department of Evolved Affairs.
Date July 20, 2010

Roosevelt Island

Summer Meadows and Roosevelt Island— the very names are those of ill repute these days among the Evolved, thanks to the difficult, trying winter and its raids on festivities and safehouses alike. These days, the spin is that it's to be the new sanctuary, a refuge where the Evolved can live in harmony and peace, thanks to the new safeguards being placed by the Department of Evolved Affairs. Whispers of required Registration of all residents, Non-Evolved and Evolved, have made their way to the ears of Madeleine Hart, Evolved Affairs reporter for The New York Times.

Maddie's spent some time trying to track down these rumors, put in many calls to the offices at the DoEA and her various sources. Gossip usually has an element of truth, and this rumor gives her a sort of uneasy feeling. After all, didn't they tell the Jewish people that they were putting them in ghettos, then concentration camps, for their "own good?" Weren't the Japanese-Americans of the 1940s told it would be "safer" for them in the desert wastelands than on the coasts they'd made their homes? Ironically, the speeches that were telling the public this was all for their own safety alluded to such events in history, using the same instances to benefit the DoEA's propaganda.

Maddie Hart, altruistic reporter, is skeptical.

She steps out of her vehicle, dressed for the interview in her summer "reporter" best — a pale gray sheath dress and kitten heels, her hair up in loose bun, tortoise-shell non-prescription glasses perched on her nose in an attempt to look less "young." Her pale eyes skim the building for the main office as she shuts the car door, hiking her purse over her shoulder.

Mayes does not need to make an effort to look less young — her silver hair flags her maturity, combed within an inch of its life to hang above her shoulders, lines at her eyes shadowed by her sixty-something years of age. One hand clutches a cigarette between her fingers, up near the knuckle, with the other holding a cellphone to her ear, an object of a similar black and white as the professional but summery dress she herself wears, geometric shapes forcing her to stand out where she loiters out front the offices on Roosevelt Island.

"I don't give a fuck who he consults for," is what she happens to be saying, articulate English that only makes cusswords sound a little dirtier. "Or who he answers to. If he's going to contact any vendors, he'll be doing it after he talks to me. Tell him I don't care who he has martinis with on Fridays, and— yes of course I know that, Howard, but you have to actually do your job, don't you?"

A break in conversation on the other side of line has Georgia Mayes taking the opportunity to breathe in a lungful of air, turning on a heel in time to see Maddie's approach. A brilliant smile crosses over her features, and she waves her cigarette wielding hand. "Alright, the press is here, so I'll talk to you later. If you have to staple his bollocks to my desk to make sure he doesn't do a single thing before I get back, then fucking do it."

Click, and she snaps the phone closed. "And you're Maddie Hart, aren't you?"

The petite blonde reporter smirks a touch at the familiar swears leaking out of the woman's mouth, but she glances down to give the woman some visual privacy as she finishes her phone call. When the phone snaps up, Maddie's eyes dart up likewise, offering a bright smile of her own to the woman she's hear to speak with. Hurrying forward, she reaches out, offering a handshake.

"Ms. Mayes," Maddie says, her Australian accent coloring the words. "Thank you so much for meeting with me. I hope I'm not interrupting you from pressing matters?" she says politely — the woman ended the phone call herself, but Maddie plans to start at least by being polite.

"You most certainly are," Mayes assures her, with a polite, warm handshake, perfect fingernails flashing in sunlight when she retracts her hand again. For all that her dress is statement-making, most other things about her are subtle, from makeup to perfume to her smile. "And thank God for that. I can't even take my smoke outside without this awful little device vibrating out of my purse. Are you able to walk and talk or shall I put this out and introduce you to the trenches?"

A tip of her head towards the converted apartment building is a clue and invitation both, redbrick a little worn over by the ambient abuse of city living, but there's something to be said, about Roosevelt Island. It's clean.

"Whatever works best for you. You can finish your cigarette, by all means. And I know what that's like — some days I can't even take a shower without being interrupted by an editor with some mad question on something that was perfectly clear to any monkey with a brain," Maddie babbles cheerfully, pulling her reporter's notebook out of her purse. "I can walk and talk and you can tell me about the changes to the Island, or we can go sit down, whatever's easiest for you."

Maddie's eyes do sweep the building, looking for hints as to how many people call this place home; after the winter's events, one would think they'd stay away. But then, cheap housing and a clean neighborhood are hard to come by, and many Evolved don't have anything to fear.
She gestures. "How many people are living here now, in the various government-funded complexes?"

Mayes takes a last glance up the face of the apartment building, before making her decision and starting off at a stroll down the sidewalk that people not taken to meandering are accustomed to doing. A little brisk, a little needlessly authorative in the clip clop of her heels on the concrete, but she's careful not to take on too much speed. The smoke of her cigarette trails like a ribbon from its smoldering end, dispersing into vague clouds as it frays.

"The current population of Roosevelt Island is something like 4,900 residents," she says, losing the cursing but none of the swagger that would go with it. "Of those 4,900, almost half are residents living within government funded buildings in neighbourhoods such as Summer Meadows, and buildings like the Octagon. Evolved and their families, their partners. We do not predict Roosevelt Island to be the densely packed little island it once was," she adds, with a flick of ash from cigarette, "rather, we are looking into expansion and investigating other neighbourhoods in New York that might be suitable for this kind of model."

The younger woman moves along at Mayes' side, scribbling in some form of short hand the words and figures. She looks around and nods. "And it's to be… what would you call it? A gated community? Secure community? How many other neighborhoods do you plan to set up this sort of situation in — the lower-income housing, specifically aimed at Registered residents? Some might claim that is a form of," she pauses, the phrase on the tip of her tongue a touch too long before she voices it, "reverse discrimination, giving perks to a certain subset of society but not the rest. How would you respond to those criticisms?" Maddie murmurs, several questions, but asked in a conversational way rather than a direct question-answer session. That, and Mayes clearly has the intelligence to keep track of the queries.

"Some of the brochures use the term safe place," Mayes observes, smile becoming a little crooked with wryness. "Personally, I find that a little condescending — certainly not my PR strategy — but in practice, it's not off the mark for what it is. As for that claim, well — I would love to see them use the term 'reverse discrimination' in Raymond Praeger's office. You wouldn't be about to leave until he's done telling you exactly how that can't apply in any truly intellectual discourse."

Her phone abruptly sings out in shrill ringtone, which she ignores by levering it open and snapping it shut again. "But I would respond, first, with sympathy. But the Department of Evolved Affairs has been involved in plenty reconstruction efforts in New York City, not only Roosevelt Island, and that, much like this initiative, is for the ultimate benefit of all. The political climate is a chafing one, and offering protection to a very endangered group of people is one way we can resolve it.

"But of course, one will always receive a little criticism for helping the Evolved," she remarks, with a toss of silver hair. "It is a sorry state of affairs, Miss Hart."

"Reverse discrimination to some, fair reparations to others… everyone's entitled to their opinion, of course," says Maddie, her pen scurrying along even as she replies. "You speak of the benefit of all… do you, or does the Department of Evolved Affairs believe, as part of their mission, that it's safer and more beneficial to separate Evolved from the non-Evolved, into these little," she gestures, "neighborhoods — one might, even call them sort of enclaves, maybe? Little cities on a hill, a paradigm for the rest of the city, state, country?"

"For now, the Department of Evolved Affairs believes that the Evolved that inhabit New York City, as I don't need to tell you, have seen no end of disaster. From aggressive Humanis First movements through to Refrain and its apparent cause of suicidal tendencies in Evolved users, these neighbourhoods are designed to be something of a reprieve, and most importantly, an option," Mayes says, words coming out with little hesitation but obvious consideration as well, syllables falling into place with thought to their placement and delivery.

Around them, the setting itself rolls out before their gaze in the form of squat, renovated homes, a little emptiness, clean streets and the looming Queensboro Bridge, site of one of the larger "riots" to take place.

Pen scratches on paper, and Maddie nods, glancing at the peaceful street. It all sounds so good, so reasonable. "How many of the forty-nine hundred are non-Evolved, nor living with a Registered Evolved resident?" Maddie asks. "I know those who are in the funded homes are, but of the others? Have many moved out since the government sanctioned this as a 'safe place'?"

She shakes her head, mouth twisting a little in a frown. "We can't currently, accurately gauge the population of Non-Evolved unassociated with the resettlements," Mayes says, allowing her tone to take on one of regret. "The biggest inconsistency in the Registry system imposed so few years ago is that measures to account for those who do not Register are minimum at best. It's received as much criticism as the Registry has itself, but that is another initiative altogether.

"As for those who moved out, again, it is very difficult to say. But as of late 2009, Roosevelt Island's total population only barely scraped in at 2,500. We were looking at a largely abandoned piece of land, which I believe is what attracted the movement for volunteers and private organisations to begin— sprucing the place up a little. The expanding population tends to mask the missing pieces, but I haven't heard tale of a mass exodus, and I dare say you haven't either."

"Well, no, just trying to gauge the reactions of the residents in the area. It's a double-edged sword, in a way, isn't it? I mean, sure, the government's making things all spruced and all, but then you might have a terrakinetic living next door to you. It's enough to make some people consider moving. I'm not saying they're right, but there are people who obviously have problems with the Evolved, and might feel angry that this area, no matter how forsaken it might have been, has suddenly become Club Evo, yeah?" Maddie smiles at the last quip.

"But more seriously, you bring up the bigger issue, for most people, talking about the problems with Registration. When is mandatory registration as to Evolved status, positive or negative for SLC, going to begin? What age will it be mandatory for, or will all children be tested too?" So much for the humor.

"The Registry system, as you know, is tiered," Mayes points out, "which implies a certain consideration for the intensity and control levels of a given Evolved. The Suresh Centre is but one example of a way that the government is offering some semblance of training and learning for those with volatile abilities, and as the Department really begins to stretch her legs, this sort of awareness will branch further and further. Or farther, is it? I was never one for writing. If this influx of Evolved is a worry to their non-Evolved neighbours, then they have our number."

She winks, once, coming to pause and settling her back against a streetlamp pole, studying her near burned down cigarette as summer wind ruffles at the stiff hem of her skirt.

"Birth," Mayes states, simply. "As a standard practice for all newborns in hospitals. Children will certainly be tested — once summer is over, we'll be implementing a program that will see nation-wide school encouragement for Evolved awareness and Registry acclimation. We're looking at August the 31st as the latest deadline for the equal Registry's implemention."

"Further, I think," Maddie murmurs thoughtfully, her brows knitting together as she considers the ramifications of the plan Mayes outlines. "Would their status be classified, or would everyone know, in the case of Evolved children? They might be labeled or treated differently, even without knowing what their powers will be or if they'll even manifest at all," she points out. "And you're saying, Joe Bloggs, non-Evolved, will have to have a blood test by August 31st? What are the consequences for non-compliance?"

Mayes seems ready to answer, mouth opening and everything, until she pauses to consider, then gives Maddie a thin smile. "Actually, I think you might do better with talking with someone from the ERB," she says, "with regards to Registration. If it's all the same to you, I'll stick with my area of expertise when talking to the media — but I can forward you a few press-friendly names who will answer any and all queries you have about the Registry — of course, they won't be the Evolved Registry Bureau for long.

"But I can say that you've got the basic idea, my dear, and that non-compliance will be met as non-compliance is met now. A fine, more than likely — I believe the minimum penalty is something like five hundred dollars. By yes. Joe Bloggs will be a card carrying Non-Evolved, if he considers himself to be lawful. As will you and I."

"That would be lovely, thank you," Maddie says with a nod to the offer of "press-friendly" names, though she frowns a little at her notes on her skinny reporter's notepad. "So, since this neighborhood seems to be a success, at least on paper, and it certainly looks nicer than it did a few months ago, what's next? You said you want more neighborhoods to be safe places. Do you have any particular neighborhoods in mind for upcoming projects?"

Her pale eyes search out the older woman's. "If so, where and when? And are you at all worried about, I donno, being compared to segregational actions of the past? I know that your agency says it's for the protection of all, but we've heard those words before from people most would consider to be dictators and oppressive leaders. Or so the civil rights lawyers are likely going to say."

Mayes tilts her head in some gesture of concession — conceding at least to the point that people will talk, as opposed to conceding to claims of segregation. "Perhaps they will, but we are a civil rights department," she notes. "That's Australian I hear in your voice, isn't it? I can see why someone such as yourself might be worried by drastic, social changes — your country and this country know these patterns too well to not pick up on them. What I would hope is that the end does justify the means, and that drastic, social change is only to reverse the reputational damage the Evolved took in their initial discovery, with the bomb of 2006. Our vision is equality."

Her hand splays, and she quotes her leader: "Plain and simple. We are also blessed to be headed by one of the better sociology minds of his generation, Secretary Praeger. As for other neighbourhoods, we are only in the investigatory stages at this time. I'm not yet at liberty to say."

The small reporter gives a nod of affirmation to the question of her native land. She scribbles down more notes, and she gives another nod, to confirm that her pen has caught up with Mayes' words. "I'm sure that's the goal," she says with a smile. Whether she believes it or not, despite claims of neutrality in journalism, most reporters know that sources are more likely to talk to the media if they feel the media wants to show their side. The reporter's innate altruism wants to believe Georgia Mayes' words, but history makes it difficult. Segregation, even for the sake of "safety," only causes more segregation, at least from what she has seen and studied.

"Well, I think that I've probably taken enough time of yours today, and I know you have at least two phone calls to get back to, unless there's anything else in particular you wanted to talk about. I'm sure you have a press kit on some of this information I can take with me?" Maddie says, clicking her pen to the "closed" position.

Click, click, Mayes heels connect with pavement as she moves passed Maddie to deposit burned out cigarette in a streetside trash can, flicking open her cellphone to see who she hung up on. "Oh, just my husband," she dismisses, with a smile tossed over her shoulder at Maddie. "And I do indeed have that sitting on my desk — shall we go collect it together, then?"

A hand gesture indicates Maddie to follow her, giving her little choice in the matter, and she takes off back the way she came with as much purpose as it took to get there.

Blond brows rise with some amusement at the fact she hung up on her husband. Maddie pulls off the glasses and slips them into her purse along with her notebook and pen. "That would be great. Also those contacts at the Registry, if you have them handy?" she reminds the woman, following her along. The wheels in her head are already turning, working on the words for the lead and thinking of people to call for reactions.

Whether it truly is for the good of all New Yorkers or not, one thing is for certain: August 31st is just around the corner, and the city will most likely be divided on their thoughts on the matter.

As Maddie follows Mayes into the building, she wonders idly how one becomes the Crossword Puzzle writer… this job is hard on her altruistic little heart.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License