On Unclipped Wings
It was hot. Damnably hot. Frank Crow glanced at his watch uneasily, out of habit. It was a useless gesture, he wouldn't be going home today, or any day, for that matter. No bars held him, no laws obstructed him, he was here of his own volition. "The greatest prison in the world is one's mind," he mused to himself.
There were others like him. Many others. Lured by the promises of a ticket to the great seastead of Libertalia, they had come to the FreePort. Long ago, people would hitch their fortunes to a boat and sail off towards the great rigs. Unfortunately, the surrounding waters had become quite dangerous due to piracy from both outside and inside Libertalia. In fact, all communication from Libertalia suggested that it was better to arrive without a boat. Truly, the best way to enter Libertalia was with an open mind and sturdy body unburdened by worldly possessions. Of course, such a thing could easily be achieved with air travel!
Unfortunately, the corrupt powers that ruled this great nation forbade air travel to Libertalia! It was only natural that they, the opponents of freedom, would exert their influence over the aerospace industry in order to prevent their slaves from escaping. But there was a way out! Hidden on the outskirts of Nuevo New Los Angeles Primavera was the FreePort of Bitcoin--an airport whose sole purpose was to ferry the desperate to Libertalia. No normal pilot could evade the gangs of roving lupine air pirates that surrounded Libertalia. It took a Captain of skill, courage, and a little bit of luck to reach the airdrop point, and the corrupt laws of this country would only impede them. No slavedriver would clip the wings of these birds!
And so, hundreds of would-be-pilots arrived at the FreePort every morning. Frank had seen them all: some completely blind, some missing arms, and others covered in burns from head to toe. Their planes would often be rusted or missing windows. Instinctually, he'd warn passengers who wanted to charter a flight about these obvious problems. It wasn't his job, it was something you'd expect anyone to do for another! There were others who shared his passion; a man in a business suit with a badge, and a giant brightly colored tropical bird.
A young man, no older than 20, walked by Frank shouting for passengers. "Who are you? Do you even have a plane? You remind me of that Rando fellow!" asked Frank.
"Just let him go, Frank! He ain't done you no wrong. Give him a chance instead of giving him the third degree. Stop pretending to be the Bitcoin Police!"
Frank sighed. There was nothing he could do anyway. An elderly couple followed the pilot through the gates to the runway. In the blink of an eye the "pilot" had taken their money and their lives. He had seen this scene hundreds of times, every time as painful as the first. The actors might have been different, but the plot was always the same.
The lights flickered just a little. It was no secret that the Bitcoin FreePort was in disrepair. Their only income came from people paying to enter the FreePort, though fewer and fewer people were entering each day. One of the most entertaining pilots, Rando Fatt, had left in a hurry the previous night, and everyone was in a sour mood as a result. Rando's schtick was mostly harmless. He'd fill his plane up with passengers and sit on the tarmac for hours. Everyone in the airport would laugh at him and his clients until he kicked everyone out of his plane and locked the door behind him. His clients would go home, never to return, and he'd walk right back in the gates with a shoddy new disguise. Kind of like a libertarian Team Rocket, with slightly worse plans.
The businessman, Watt, turned to the parrot. "Hey man, want to watch some kung-fu movies on my phone?"
"Gently caress you, I'm female and there aren't any crackers left in the poo poo vending machine. I'm out. Toxx me on it."
The parrot flew off into the sunset, on unclipped wings.
(To be continued)