Throttling

“And we can’t wait to hear the answer,” the presenter told the viewers, “but it’ll have to be after this the commercial break.” He offered up a pearly white smile by way of an apology.

The camera panned across to the contestant who shifted uneasily in his chair.

“Great.” Yevy stood up from where he had been slumped on the sofa. He glanced at Akdov who was still staring at the screen hung on the wall opposite. “You might as well turn that thing off. We’re not going to know if he wins until the morning.”

Akdov stirred from his trance. “Why bother, it’ll shut itself down in,” he glanced at the time on his phone, “three … two … one.”

The room went dark as the adverts vanished.

“Well, I’m off to bed,” Yevy told his friend. “I might as well do what the government wants.” He opened the door and light flooded in from the hallway. “You got any lectures to go to tomorrow?”

“Yep, and I need to get some notes typed up before that.”

Yevy gave a short laugh. “Dude! Still the nerd, eh, no matter how much drink and drugs I ply you with.”

“One of us has to get a qualification.”

“I’ll do fine. It’s not like I need to be top of the class.” He shut the door as he left and the lounge was plunged into darkness again.

Akdov pulled across one of the small tables. He placed the half empty beer cans on the floor and laid out his phone. After a couple of presses a display of the screen was hanging in the air in front of him. On the surface of the table the glowing image of a keyboard appeared. He let out a sigh of resignation as he looked at the length of the essay he had to deal with; proofing was not his favourite task.

Thirty minutes later and he was reaching for one of the beers when he heard a knock at the front door. He froze, and his stomach turned over. A second rap drove him into motion. His hands danced on the screen of the phone as he checked it was off-line. Relief washed over him when he realised there was nothing to worry about, but it did not quell the feeling of unease. He grabbed the handset and headed out of the room.

The smell of spring flowers wafted into the hall as he pulled open the front door and his heart stopped again when he saw the two officers.

The woman gave him a hard stare. “Akdov Bolva?”

“Er, yes.”

“We have been notified that a device at this property has been connected to the net, breaching section 10.1 of the media access statute.”

“There’s been a mistake. I was using my phone but it’s not been streaming anything.” Akdov offered up his handset.

The woman took it from him and began flicking through the device’s logs. Her male colleague checked details on his own screen. Akdov could hear the pounding of his heart.

After a moment both of the officers looked up.

“This seems to be fine, but our records are clear; there is still a violation.” The woman’s expression was stern. “I believe there is a Yevy Demrey registered at this property? Is he in?”

Akdov took his phone back. “Yes, but he went to bed when the curfew cut in. I can go see if he’s …”

“That’s fine, we’ll find him. We need to check the house anyway.” She stepped forward pushing Akdov aside.

“Hey, you can’t just come in here.”

The male officer placed a hand on Akdov’s shoulder. “We can. A suspected infringement gives us the right to check all connected devices in the property. Would you like me to show you a copy the legal directive?”

Up close it became obvious how big the man was; his broad frame filled the hallway.

“No. Err … That’s okay.” Akdov stepped backwards and out of the man’s grasp. “I’ll show you where everything is.”

“We’d like to see Mr Demrey first.” The woman’s tone was still curt and formal.

“Sure. Okay.”

When they reached Yevy’s room Akdov raised a hand to knock. Before he could complete the manoeuvre the male officer’s had pulled him back and woman pushed by.

Yevy was sprawled on the bed, one arm propping up his head as he watched the screen his phone was projecting.

“I’ve said before you …” Realisation flooded across the face of the young man. “Shit!” He sat up and at the same time flipped the phone onto its face cancelling the projection of the game show.

The female officer stepped up to the edge of the bed. “Mr Demrey, we believe you have been watching a broadcast during the hours of curfew. I need to check your phone.”

Yevy glanced past the officer to where Akdov stood in the doorway. “Couldn’t you have stopped them?”

The male officer’s hand on Akdov’s shoulder felt like a vice closing in. He wanted to back away, to hide, but his legs would not respond.

—————

20 August 2010
A report in the UK has shown that media consumption has increased and television watching risen yet again. Some commentators are taking the now tried and tested line that such a growth will lead to a worse society.

In Russian another attempt is being made to reduce the amount of vodka that its population is consuming. This time sale of the drink has been made illegal between the hours of 10pm and 10am, a law that closes a previous loophole in the city.

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