FICTION SUNDAYEach week I will post a work of fiction. This is the beginning of something new. Today, I am starting off with my novel, Dateline 2032: The Life of JAC03225, a work-in-progress. I plan to post excerpts of Chapter 1: The Rights of the State, for the next eight weeks.
As always, I welcome your comments and thoughts.
Dateline 2032: The Life of JAC03225
Chapter 1: The Rights of the State
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
—Article 1, Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
United Nations, December 10, 1948
The State cares about the welfare of all its citizens. The State also cares about the security of all its citizens. The State has Rights & Responsibilities that far exceed that of its citizens. We expect everybody to obey the law, to ensure peaceful co-existence and harmony. Accordingly, dissent is not only counter-productive, in bad taste, but unlawful. We have zero tolerance for law-breakers.
—Article 1, New State Constitution, January 1, 2031
It was the middle of the night. He felt alone. The only sound was the dull humming of the security control panel, weakly casting its greenish-blue light around the room. All its lights were showing everything was clear. The central control switch, a small chrome-yellow disc, was in the position: On. No faults showing. The clock blinked 03:10 Universal Standard Time. The doorway to the bathroom was slightly ajar. The windows were shut. A glass of mineral water on his beside table, along with the book he was reading. Everything was as it was left last night. Nothing altered. Nothing out of place.
Yet, he felt strangely alone. No one else could understand what he was talking about. At times, he thought he was crazy, insane. Maybe his friends were right. How could it be that no one also understood the implications of what was happening? Cold sweat covered his broad brow, slightly moistening his brown hair, which he always kept in a neat part on the right side, even when asleep.
It was another nightmare, the third day in a row. The nightmares mixed in with memories of his father’s words, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow human.”
But hate has been outlawed. It was legislated out of existence after the last Great War. So, what does this mean, these words, full of strange meanings? Why was he even having these dreams invading his peace? Had he any reason to worry, any reason to fear?
He wasn’t sure. It was a nightmare, of course, and it interrupted the good feelings that he thought he ought to have. Most important, his work on his doctoral dissertation on ancient history of the Americas: 2000-2020. He had spent six years in post-graduate studies, and the prize was near. He wasn’t going to waste all that research effort because of some nagging thoughts, some crazy nightmares that involved his father. He wasn’t taking his State-Mandated medication, either. Trouble.
Why couldn’t he be obedient to the State, as all good citizens were, true patriots. As were his friends and students at the University. “A nice bunch of kids,” well brought up, polite, respectful and courteous,” he thought. “All from the right families, too.”
He walked over to the sink, and touched the control panel to switch on the lights and the mirror. He took a look at his reflection in the full-length mirror. JAC03225, as he was now called, was no mere boy now. He was 32, a strong man still full of ideals that his father had once taught him what seemed like many years ago. A different time and place. JAC03225 was actually handsome, especially if he didn't frown or crease his broad brow. He wore his chocolate-coloured hair short, clipped neatly, with the tips just above the collar of his Oxford shirt.
He stood of average height of six-foot-two and had the requisite proportional weight of two hundred pounds, in accordance with the scientific and cultural norms of the time. He learned in primary school that his symmetrical features, baritone voice and compliant mind would ensure that he was an ideal candidate for marriage and mating, which was to take place next year after he completed his studies at University. He had yet to find a suitable mate. But that would be arranged in time. A suitable time, no doubt.
Even so, that bothered him little. He knew that like his contemporaries he would, at a time that was suitable. He had other things on his mind. He wanted to do good in a world that everyone said was already perfect. The Great Leader himself, an example of perfection, said: "Become Perfect as I have Become Perfect." Yes, the state of perfection and control. It was all so. His apartment was well-controlled, including the temperature and climate. Poverty didn't exist; it was outlawed years ago. Everyone had a perfect climate-controlled place to live in, and the use of a climate-controlled vehicle on an as-need basis.
No doubt, he was a bit of an odd one. He carried with him old ideas and ideals like justice, fairness, equality, freedom, individual dignity and compassion. But the State had long discredited these ideas, say they were nonsense, old-wives’ tales that would cause civil unrest and civil disobedience, both crimes against humanity and the State. Work, honour and duty were the tickets to a well-meaning and productive life. To keep the peace and harmony, hard-fought for in the last war by valiant freedom fighters, the State had no choice but to remind the people of their duties in their daily briefing logs on BrainSheet, or BS for short.
Now, man, that was a great creation. Its founder, the son of the President, created the program two years ago, and it has caught on like an old-fashioned virus. Almost everyone still used the quaint expression, "Going Viral." Everybody was signed up on BS, as it was affectionately called. Five Billion Users, the entire population of the earth, now well-controlled using Malthusian software. There was enough food, work, and resources for everyone. “Hey, did you read that on BS,” everybody was posting.
Everybody appeared happy and obedient. They had purpose and pride in their State. Sure, there were the odd dissenters, and they were odd indeed, but they were troublemakers and deserved their punishment. Article 1 of the New State Constitution was clear. So said the media networks, and all the media appliances that every citizen was given at birth, a gift from the State.
Yet, JC03325 remembered something his father told him when he was young, before all the wars for freedom and democracy. Ideas like “Dissent is good for democracy,” and “Do not let others think for you.” And “War nearly always serves as an occasion for serious expansions of state power and the destruction of legal protections.”
Such were the things his father had taught him. But his father, PAJ4597 was taken away to a re-education camp in the Burlington Mall many years ago for corrupting the minds of the youth, and was sentenced for dissent and general trouble-making under Article 1 of Protecting the Homeland Act of 2020, an old man of 63. He was released after 10 years Camp, under the general amnesty agreement after the last war ended, in 2030. Father was now 75, living in an assisted living facility, medicated to the eyeballs. It was for his own good.
As the nurse manager on duty told him recently, “PAJ4597 is doing very well. We are well pleased with his progress. Very pleased.” The Pill Pusher on Duty, or PP-OD, said the same thing. “We are well pleased with his progress. Very pleased.”
To be continued next week (Part 2):
Copyright (c) Perry J. Greenbaum, 2010. All rights reserved.
Author's Note: This is a work of fiction. While the author might have been inspired by some true-life events, names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or locales is entirely coincidental.