Vignette:Business as Usual

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Business as Usual

Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Alvastadt, Imperial State of Alva
June 2nd, 1976

dam’s walking pace is relaxed. He’s got plenty of time before his shift begins.

His morning routine is simple: he wakes up at six in the morning, showers and brushes his teeth not long after, and scarfs down his usual breakfast of cereal and milk by half-past six. He’s got half an hour to mess around in his little apartment before he has to get dressed in his “uniform”: a white button-up, tucked into khaki pants, covered by a tweed sport coat, and topped with a stone grey newsboy cap he bought from a friend almost a decade ago. He’s into his shoes by fifteen past seven when he steps out of his home.

He always remembers to grab the morning paper from the newsstand outside the station before entering; riding from his local station down in southern Alvastadt towards the city centre is quite the tedium, after all. His journey on the U-Bahn from Abendrothstraße to Baaderplatz takes half an hour at best, and forty-five minutes at worst. On the odd day, his supervisor can be seen stepping into his train carriage at Eisenwald. Unfortunately, this is not one of these days. Once he’s out of congested Baaderplatz, he spends whatever extra time he has left ordering his usual energy boost: a simple black coffee from the shop just across his office. He says hello to the soldiers standing by the intersection, walks inside, and clocks in to start his workday.

This day brings some surprises, though. There are a few more soldiers patrolling each station he passes by. There are loads of trucks hauling some big guns on the Autobahn. The train he’s on has a few police officers in the carriage ahead that weren’t there last week. The soldiers at the intersection have an armoured car accompanying them now. There’s a tank outside Baaderplatz. There are helicopters in the air above him.

Perhaps he doesn’t know. Perhaps he doesn’t recognize it. They’re all armed.

Perhaps it’s the student protests, he thought, standing quietly as he waited for the traffic lights to go red. He never thought himself to be a particularly political person, but he did wish all of this noise about Veikaia, Arbenz, and whatever foreign socialist shenanigans were a bit quieter.

He raises his coffee cup and politely smiles at the soldiers at the intersection sitting atop their armoured car. They wave back. As he walks across the street, he sees an unfamiliar sight inside the foyer of his office building: there’s a new group of soldiers conversing with each other, the occasional laugh coming from one of them.

He doesn’t think twice about it as he waves hello to Juliana at the front desk, smiling warmly.

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