Hajime: The Desert
Hajime unholstered his gun and left it in the car, taking instead his old notepad and a pen. If the offender were here, he would not make an arrest. All he wanted were answers. He thought of Shawn for a moment, and then forced Shawn’s face out of his mind. This was not the time for this, not at all the time to feel guilty. He traced the horizon with his eyes, first catching site of seven flags hoisted at the far end of the shore. Each one was spaced evenly from the other, beckoning him to move forward and see their flitting shapes.
He could understand why the outskirts of Region Three were nicknamed The Desert. There was really nothing left. It was alarming in some ways, as all three regions were coastal, and any town so close to water was expected to be teeming with life. This was once a beautiful city, enviable to many in the other regions. What a waste, he thought.
From where he was standing, the dust and sand abruptly ended at the shoreline and the sea began. The divide was stark, almost neatly drawn into place as if divinely plotted. The blueness was fresh and inviting. Each wave that lapped against the next was a reminder of how dry the land next to it had become.
The sight was enough to make anyone cry, and he imagined he would have cried had it actually been the first time he had seen it. He stared out into the greatness of it all, not wanting to move.
In total, he had visited the area six times in his career. The first three were as a trainee. He had seen processing, seen the refugees from the neighboring islands and children from the outer villages. The fourth and fifth time, he had processed two offenders in this area. This was after the shift in Wit’s management. The sixth time was after the attack. Now he was here a seventh time. The sea failed to startle him.
He was fond of the nickname, The Desert, as this wasteland seemed to stretch infinitely behind him, pockmarked with the ruins of the old city, the processing area, and Wit Corporation’s former headquarters. In some ways, the whole area looked as he imagined ancient ruins looked – the dunes of sand and rock protruding from the horizon, fading signs of a formerly civilized area now taken by the wild. He wished it were so. An ancient city would fascinate him, thrill him even, but now he turned his mind towards the pressing matters of his employment. He would find no ancient cities here, just shadows of what Wit had once been.This was merely a former processing site, and the offender was rumored to be hiding here.
“Why?” he said to himself softly. “Why come here?”
The sun left the sand glistening and hot to the touch. Each aged building propped against the next, many in the same direction as if a force had knocked them all over in one blow. If the offender was here, he bet she was already dead. One small shack had even collapsed when he passed by – the wind, he supposed. In an area that was so fragile, how was it possible to find a place to sleep? To find a place to eat? He refused to believe the rumors that a resistance was forming again, especially here. What would be the point?
Hajime looked around, but he couldn’t see any cameras. The revelation shook him. There were camera’s everywhere in Region One and Two; they were inescapable. He was so sure that Wit, his employers, had kept some security feeds open in the area, but where were they? Part of him assumed that they were watching him now, but how?
Any feeds of this area and any processing facility would be marked as a need-to-know priority, with a higher clearance than Hajime was offered. He was used to this – almost raised this way. He thought of Shawn again and let the idea go in his own time. He crouched down in front of one of the buildings and touched where the sand had recently been wetted. Perhaps a wet shoe or clothing had made it. A water drop from a canteen?
As he looked up, something hard hit him in the back of the head. It took him a moment to understand. He tried to stand up, and then all went black.