The Empty Chair

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The table for four held only the three. The coffee shop, bustling with students and office workers cautious and wary, settled into a grim silence as the police SUV drove slowly by. The handheld facial recognition device scanned the customers. Angry eyes from the brave ones, downcast from others hoping to get through another day.

The three friends spoke in hushed voices.

“Has anyone seen Omar?”

“No, not since he left our apartment.”

“I heard they forced him out of his job and put him on the list of undesirables.”

“Do you think they picked him up?”

“Do we ask the authorities or will that bring attention to us?”

“What a bunch of cowards we are.”

They became silent.

At the next table heated dialogue was starting from one, then, in a friendly way, another with a soft touch on the arm looked around and whispered, “Careful”.

In the kitchen, the dishwasher newly arrived, kept a watchful eye on the back door, ready to flee if need be.

The server, wearing the required flag pin, kept her sedition hidden inside and wondered how many empty chairs there would be tomorrow.

Darkness loomed and the beasts were on the loose.

The end.