The Voice, by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould

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                           - 16 -

But even with all this, control seemed to be slipping
away. Random acts of secular and religious violence were
becoming an epidemic and as a last resort, security forces
had been called out to patrol a city desperately trying to
maintain calm.

Apparently, it was none to soon. London was a city under
siege. Cobblestone streets that had once clamored with the
cries of "Victoria reigns" and the brass bands of victorious
armies now rang with the sound of ambulances and police
cars, as camouflaged soldiers guarded strategic streets.
Despite years of painstaking negotiations, a hardened core
of Irish Republicans was out to break the perception the
British government was still in control of anything. And
after eight hundred years of armed struggle they seemed to
be doing it.

In sixty years, the reality of an Empire that had once
stretched over a third of the world's surface had shrunk to
the province of Northern Ireland and the six square miles
bordered by the gates of Buckingham Palace and the banks of
the Thames.

Why the crown was so bent on holding onto its first and
last colony seemed counter to the reality of the day, but
without the Fleet street scandal-mongers holding the
public's attention, there would soon be no reality at all.

"May I see your ID.," said the unkempt young man guarding
the doors of Transitron, the latest and surely most powerful
of the new multimedia conglomerates that were rapidly
supplanting the power of nations.

"Will this do?" I said, pulling out a battered, old
Massachusetts license from my wallet. "It's all I have with
a picture on it."