The camera panned back and forth. The riot was in full swing. No one was manning the camera posts. There didn’t seem much point

***

The first year the shock lasted for 6 months.

Had they been forgotten. Was it the collapse that had kept them away?

Then the rumour started: The reason they didn’t come back is because we weren’t good enough.

***

The camera panned left and right, picking out a policeman going dowin in a hail of punches, closely followed by a group or rioters going down in a hail of bullets.

Plastic, of course.

Mostly non-leathal…

A small child huddled in the corner.

A molotov cocktail sailed past.

***

The second year they didn’t come the shock lasted less long. The second rumour held, though. The gov-corps were sending the presents – not some alien race from some dumb star system. And they stopped because they didn’t care.

The third year the riots started on Shopmas Eve and lasted until new year.

After that, the Shopmas Riots became a tradition. They happened every year, for five years.

Every year people came out into the street, full of hope. Maybe this year things would be back to normal. Maybe this year they had been good enough.

Every year the riots started when it was clear that they hadn’t.

***

Back again, a water cannon had been deployed, and was making its way down the street, slowly clearing all in its path.

A small child huddled in the corner.

A squad of riot police followed the water cannon.

***

On that fifth year no one even bothered waiting.

The practice dwindled as years went on and people realised that it was, finally, over.

***

He stood at one of the landing sights. He remembered being here as a child. He remembered the hope. He closed his eyes and prayed to the God of Shopmas – who sent his only Son for a present – that they had been good. That he had been good. He had wanted them to come so much.

But they hadn’t cared.

He had been good for 3 years straight after that. He braved the Fifth Year alone. He was the only one who went expecting something good to happen.

He was 7.

He stood there, staring at the camera, broken and weed covered. Just as he stared at it 30 years ago.

He crouched back in the corner, and huddled. Just as he did 30 years ago.

No one came then.

He twitched.

But they’ll come now.