Competition 2020 – 2nd place 18+ short story


2nd place

18+ short story category


The Exercise Police

Jerry Bignell


I did a secret run this morning.

I left early.

Did all the usual checks.

But they caught me.

It was the tall one with the dark glasses who stopped me first.

“Can I see your gym membership papers, please, Sir? I’m afraid this expired 4 years ago. You’re contravening Exercise guideline 3.25”

“Can’t you just let me go, just this once?”

“’Afraid not, Sir. If we let you go out and exercise, they’ll all be out. Then where would we be. We already have officers failing the “Gentle stroll or Exercise” test.

“But I’m putting on weight, I’ve watched every Box Set ever released. What will I do?”

“If you won’t go home, Sir, we will have to take you to one of our indoor self-isolation centres.

“You mean prison?”

“No, Sir. These are retraining centres. You will get the best possible instruction on how to keep your mind active. There are specialist Sudoku players to teach you. Macrame and Monopoly Ninjas. All sorts. You could start with a simple Snap class and graduate to Poker. Or for something less active how about 5k to Couch Potato, that could be a great start. Our Sedentary Education programme is simply world class”

“But it isn’t for me, don’t you understand I used to be quite an athlete. Two years running I won the Dad’s race at my son’s school. I want to join The Allowed Outs”.

“I’m sure you do, Sir. But that’s not possible.”

“Why not, I can look the part. Dayglo top, lycra shorts. I’m sure I’ve also got some wrap around shades somewhere”

“I’m afraid not, Sir. You would have had to have done your 10 stage application to the Department for Exercise first. They aren’t considering applications for this year.”

“Well, I’m going to apply anyway”

“I wish you luck, Sir. My colleague and I have checked the National Exercise Computer and your Exercise Record, it really isn’t good. You only walked your dog 8 times in the last 2 years. You have purchased 3 skipping ropes, a Slendertone machine, 3 pairs of Speedos and an exercise bike all of which are now out of guarantee. You’re a repeat offender. You simply wouldn’t stand a chance in the Exercise Office Court. You might want to think carefully before applying.

“Well, when I get back, I’m going to call my Exercise Lawyer. He’s worked for many Insiders over the years. I have every faith he will get me out. This can’t be fair!”

“As you know, Sir, the Department of Isolation have the best lawyers on the planet. You might be wasting your exile payments”

“Don’t worry about that, I have a private income. I am prepared to fight. One thing I need to know though how did you know to stop me?”

“Well, when you’ve been doing this as long as I have, Sir, you spot the signs. Ungainly running style, Status Quo t-shirt, clean trainers. Stopping for a cigarette. Too many signs”


2 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. Jane Pugh

    A really witty dystopian short story. Made me chuckle dryly throughout. Gorgeous details, the National Exercise Computer, the Status Quo t-shirt. Genius.

    May 27, 2020 @ 5:53 pm

  2. Jerry Bignell

    Thank you, Jane
    Much appreciated.
    I enjoyed writing this. A bit out of date now that we have a little more freedom !
    Thanks again.

    May 31, 2020 @ 11:34 am