Power and Chaos – Chapter 8 – Part 3

“Power and Chaos” is the new Tribe book. It is based on the Tribe and tells a pretribe story of Martin (Zoot) and Bray. Over the next few weeks we are going to put up a chapter of the book for you – a few pages at a time.

Power and Chaos by Paula Boock – Chapter 8 – Part 3

It was Saturday, the school dance was that evening, and Bray, I noticed, had decided to go. He had a couple of secretive phone calls and then started rummaging through the washing to find clothes to wear. Things like the washing had got out of hand since Mum had gone into hospital.

Troy rang me about seven. He said things at the shelter were unbearable  some guys had been drinking and decided to have an indoor barbeque which had set off all the sprinklers. They’d had to move all their stuff into one huge dormitory and now the little kids were running around in gangs bouncing on beds and stuff.

‘It’s chaos,’ said Troy. ‘Absolute chaos. I’ve got to get out of here.’ ‘Want to come round here?’
‘I thought you were going to the dance.’
I walked into my bedroom and shut the door so Bray couldn’t overhear. ‘No date,’ I told Troy.
‘So come with me.’
I waited to let that one sink in. ‘UmŠ’
‘You know what I mean. Just to hang out. Trudi’ll still be thereŠ’ he said in a sing-song voice, knowing that would tempt me.
‘Yeah, but with who?’
Troy made an exasperated noise. ‘No-one, from what I hear. Come on, Martin, stop being paranoid.’
‘Okay. But I might have to come home early. My parentsŠ’
‘Sure thing.’
Troy’s voice gave me confidence. He knew what was going on  he always did  but he also knew it was important to make the best of things, and he wasn’t a dweller. I liked that about him. He didn’t talk much about his Dad, or how bad it was living at the shelter with dozens of little kids and psychos, just put up with it until he couldn’t anymore, and then he’d ring and say, ‘Get me out’. So I did.
The shelter was not far from the school, but as I approached it I noticed road workers erecting huge signs and barriers at the end of the road. I read the signs.
Sector 16. Code 3.
No Entry without documentation.
Official personnel must scan.
It took some time to locate Troy. He was right  the shelter was chaos. A kid had stolen his jacket and while we tracked him down three girls followed us, flirting and giggling and asking for money. They were only about twelve or thirteen but the overbright look in their eyes gave away how stoned they were. I tried to ignore their advances, but it became obvious what it was they were offering in return for cash. Troy turned on them sternly and their flirting switched quickly to sneering before they flounced off. I shook my head in disbelief.
‘Is that normal?’ I asked Troy.
‘You don’t know the half of it,’ he muttered as he pushed me ahead of him through an outside door.
It was still light but cool as the sun disappeared behind the roofline of the surrounding buildings and the streets fell into shadow. I pointed out the workmen putting up signs. Troy nodded ‘There are more over on Adelaide Road. End of the bus run. They went up this afternoon.’ ‘So that’s the end of Wednesday afternoons at the beach,’ I said. ‘It’s the end of more than that, Martin.’

We walked on in silence. He was wearing the black armband around his blue shirt and carrying the jacket we’d wrestled off the shelter kid. As we passed the shops the Brotherhood brigade were out in force again, chanting and hallelujah-ing. Two women were playing drums and a group were dancing in the street to the beat. They waved to Troy, greeted him.
‘Hey, Troy. Wotcha up to?’ said a tall guy with braids pulled up into a topknot. He had feathers on his jacket and thick silver chains around his neck.
‘Going to the dance,’ said Troy.
‘Dancing here man. Real music.’
‘No, at the school.’
‘A school dance?’
‘Wrong crowd, man. Wrong tribe. Come with us.’
I looked at him. Tribe. That’s how he looked. Tribal, like an African dancer or something. Troy just grinned and slapped his hand and he spun away, ducking and diving into a groove with the drums. There was another, more vehement gathering at the school. They were bunched in a tight group outside the hall, chanting ‘You will be judged, you will be judged,’ and their leader was preaching hell fire and damnation to all who took the dance floor. A short stocky guy who I recognised as Callum from my human biology class was in a long white robe. He poked his placard right under my nose and shouted, ‘The devil is in you!’ I shoved his sign out of the way, and Troy led my by the arm towards the entrance.
‘They’re the brotherhood too?’ I asked him, raising an eyebrow. ‘It takes all types,’ he muttered, and shoved me ahead of him…