"Red Card" by S.L. Gilbow
This story comes from the "Brave New Worlds" edited by John Joseph Adams.
This story had an interesting concept. A government program in Merry Valley gives anonymous and random red cards to some of the residents. A government issued revolver is also given along with the red card. These red cards entitle the carrier of the card to become what is known as an "enforcer."
An enforcer gets to kill one person of their choosing for any reason. They can kill with impunity, but must follow the laws and guidelines of the program to not get in trouble. As long as the guidelines are followed there are no repercussions for the killing.
The story follows a woman named Linda who is a red card carrying battered wife. can see where this is going. Linda ends up shooting her husband. From there the story follows what a red card carrier would go through after a legitimate enforcement.
This was a really good story. As dark as the story was there were actually a couple parts that made me laugh. The author did a great job with setting and character. The main character seemed very well developed given the short amount of time the story was taking place. The secondary characters I feel helped round out the main character and give some dimension, but the rest of the characters in the story were really just placeholders to carry out some dialogue and create the setting.
Overall this was a well written and executed story. It made me stop and consider what the world would be like if this was an actual program in my community. What would change in society? Would it get would it become a better place to live? If I knew that someone could legally just kill me on a whim would I be a better person, or the same? These are just some of the thought provoking questions that this story presents.