Jeb and Ned spent the evening fishing and lifting their spirits– as any good mountie does. The air that night was cold and the stars plastered the sky from horizon to horizon. Jeb liked to look at them from the heated comfort of the small wooden guard shack atop the great wall of Canada–Proudly built in 2046 to maintain Canada’s integrity.
Ned upended his canadian blend and belched. “Say, got any 6’s?”
Jeb wiped his long face and smiled behind his fanned cards. “Nope. Go fish.”
“Bahh,” Ned groaned as he slapped a great calloused paw onto the pile of playing cards.
A loud buzz sounded from the corner desk in the shack. Ned and Jeb froze and turned, unsmiling to the intercom. Ned rose unsteadily from his chair and lumbered over to the desk. His index finger missed at first, but the second hit the “talk” button.
“Hello.” He husked into the metal intercom. “State your business.” He turned back to Jeb and rolled his eyes. Jeb laughed and mouthed “Americans” and rolled his eyes in kind.
A ragged voice answered. A man, out of breath and shivering by the sound of it. “H-hi, yes. I’m L-l-lee, Lee Fitzpatrick. My family and I seek asylum in Ca-canada. Or, er, humanitarian assistance. P-please, let us through.”
Ned leaned against the wall and nearly kissed the intercom. “Yeah, you and everyone else, eh. I’m,” sigh, “I’m sorry to inform you mister Litpatrick, but the great nation of Can-uh-da is currently at capacity and we’re not letting anyone in at this time. Now please leave.”
There was a pause. Across the shack, Jeb poured himself another whiskey and set to picking his nails. Ned watched and tapped his foot against the hardwood floor while he waited for an answer.
The man on the other end, Lee, pressed the button once again. He was sobbing into the intercom. “P-p-please sir. Superstorm Omega has been flattening ever-r-rything on the coast. We’re going to d-die. You’ve got to let us in.”
Ned looked down at his shoes and took in the man’s request. Turning him away would mean death, his’s– maybe. Letting him in on the other hand would mean jail time for defying a direct order. Jeb still picked away and watched Ned out of the corner of his eye.
“Sorry. Like I said sir. Canada is at capacity. We have no more room for refugees at this time. You and your family cannot come in, but I wish you godspeed.” Ned felt a heaviness in his words and in his shoulders.
The response this time was angry– vindictive, even. “Omega will be h-here soon. I hope y-you f-fuck’s die too. Where’s y-your h-humanity?”
Ned stepped back from the intercom and leaned into the wall of the shack. It died with the rest of the planet, he thought. He felt much drunker now. The whiskey had gone to his head and settled behind his eyes. He felt like sleeping, but there were two more hours on his shift. He rejoined Jeb back at the table.
“I’ll, eh, take the next one okay?” Jeb said studying the tumbler at his fingertips.
Ned sunk his head into his hands and nodded. “Say Jeb?”
“You got a double?”
It took a second to don on Jeb, but he nodded wordlessly and grabbed the bottle. The glass clinked as Jeb poured three fingers worth into Ned’s tumbler.
“Thanks bud.” Ned said behind his hands.