Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Peace to you. My name is Rhia Malone, I'm 25 years old, and I'm an official runner for Northwest District 6. I've been doing this job for about three years now, ever since the government set up the regional trades. Basically, I collect food, cloth, lumber, and other goods from three neighborhoods along my route and ferry them with my boat, Betty, to the trade every other week. I use those goods to get creds from the trade to buy other food, medicine... whatever my towns need... and bring it all back to distribute. I've lived my whole life on a boat, so I really love my job. The feel of the waves below me, the way Betty rocks me to sleep at night, the sound of the rigging ringing in the wind... I feel alive out on my boat. I feel strong and independent. And I'm proud that I get to help out my friends in the towns, too.
I don't know. Yes, I guess it gets lonely sometimes, but it's important work. And I'd rather be out on my boat, free from all the restrictions, free to do and say whatever I want, rather than live in a neighborhood.
I mean, not that it's bad to live in the neighborhoods. The new government has been doing a lot to help people out after the Last War. And things are getting better -- even for the men. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not trying to be subversive, or anything. I fully support the New Way Forward, just like you. Just like everyone. It's just, there is always room for improvement, right? Look, I think most people would agree that the matriarchy may have gone too far in the beginning -- that the restrictions put on men may have been extreme -- but, yes, of course I understand the reasoning for it. Of course I don't want to go back to the way it was before the war. I just wonder sometimes if things would be easier for us all if everyone had an equal say in the way things run.
What is your role in the story?
I'm just trying to do my job. I just want to help my towns and my friends. Yes, I've heard the rumors about the re-education centers, the torture and brainwashing there, but how am I to know what's really going on? The men who come out of the centers never say anything. They just parrot all the slogans and phrases we all hear, "Grow More, Use Less", "New men know how to love", "Women are the peacemakers"... I don't know anybody personally who's been sent to a center. I don't really know what's going on there. And if the government says the centers are doing the right thing, who am I to argue? Besides, I'm just one person. I can't do anything to change it.
Look, if I go digging into the rumors, and start making waves, they'll come after me. I haven't done anything wrong. In fact, I'm doing everything I can to help out. I'm helping my towns. I'm doing my best.
What is your favorite hobby?
Well, that's an easy one. If I had my way, I'd just sail all day. It's wonderful being out on the water. I eat the fish I catch, I tinker with Betty to keep her running smoothly, I get to read whenever I want. When my dad was alive, we'd play chess, and cards, and talk... He had the best stories! I remember one time he was telling me about when he and my mother met -- this was way before the Family Focus Acts started taking away women's rights and banning them from driving, and jobs, and everything. She was a solar engineer at a C7 station and he was re-manning the com link from her section to the main port. Well, he thinks she's the most beautiful woman he's ever seen -- dark olive skin, big green eyes, and she wore her jet black hair really short. So, he starts trying to talk her up, telling her about this little sail boat he wants to buy and how great it's going to be, throwing out nautical terms and trying to really impress her. Well, my mother finally turns to him and says, "I used to work on a 765 foot Mobile Landing Platform ship that displaced 34,500 tons of water with a flexible platform that provided capability for large-scale logistics movements."
Can you imagine his face? Oh my god. He was in love with her from that moment on.
My dad used to tell such great stories. I really miss him.
What is the challenge you’re trying to overcome during the story?
Well, I don't want to give to much away, but let's just say I get thrown into a really bad situation and have to figure out how to survive it. Those re-education centers I was telling you about? Yeah. Turns out they are even worse than the rumors suggested. I have to come to grips with the idea that I've been ignoring all the stories because they didn't touch me directly. I chose to think that the people in the centers must be there because they somehow deserve to be, and that we're all better off because the government is looking out for what's best for us.
I don't want to face this. I don't want to have to deal with this. Maybe if I can just survive this, I'll be able to get back to my boat and get on with my life. But, how can you ever forget what you've seen? How can you close your eyes again and pretend the people you met, and cared about, and could have even loved, never existed? Sometimes it's easier to not know. But now that I do, what am I going to do about it?
If you could make one wish, what would it be?
We were promised peace. We were promised equality. After the Last War, we were all just trying to survive, and I think we were willing to believe that the women taking over were, finally, really going to do it right. Now I don't know if peace and equality are even possible. Will we always have to find someone to pick on, someone to be better than, someone to put down to prop ourselves up? I wish race, color, religion, gender, power, and money didn't exist. I wish we could live in peace. But, we're human. So I guess that's an empty wish. I wish it wasn't.
Title: RUN Ragged
Author: Kari Aguila
Genre: Suspense / Science-Fiction / Women’s Fiction
Would anything change if women ruled the world?
In a devastated country, those in charge rule by fear, inequality, and oppression. Rhia, a strong and independent sea captain, just wants to keep her head down and do her job, unitl she finds herself trapped in a re-education facility designed to help people fit into the rules of the New Way Forward. The warden claims to be guiding those in her care, but Rhia quickly sees the cracks in the system. As she is faced with torture and brainwashing, those cracks become gaping holes that threaten to pull her down into the depths of despair. Can Rhia resist the slow subversion of re-education and become the reluctant hero the new world needs?
RUN Ragged is the thrilling second story by the award-winning author of Women’s Work. This brilliantly imagined novel is both a scathing satire and a profoundly poignant look at the price we are willing to pay for peace and what we are willing to ignore to keep our conscience clear.
Kari Aguila was the recipient of an IndieReader Discovery Award for her first novel, Women’s Work. Her stories are gripping and thought-provoking looks at gender stereotypes and relationships set in a dystopic future. She is also an avid gardener, geologist, outdoor enthusiast and mother of three. Aguila lives in Seattle with her family. RUN Ragged is her second novel.
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