FICTION SUNDAYIn Part 1, JAC03325 awakes from another nightmare, somewhat disoriented. His thoughts of his father distract him from focusing on completing his research towards his doctorate in ancient history.
Everybody else appeared happy. Very happy. And moved about this great prosperous city with purpose, intensity and zeal. There was much to be happy about. The series of wars have finally ended. The War on Drugs in 2015. The Holy War in 2020, and the Great Five-Year War for Freedom and Democracy in 2025.
All the insurgents, terrorists, resisters, freedom fighters and dissidents have seen the light, the errors of their ways, and have traded arms for cash, drugs and meaningful work, building a better society through hard work. They even came up with a catchy slogan. “Build Your Brand. Build the State.”
And that’s what matters now in in the final period of the Reconstruction Era. “The State needs your Help!!! Now!!!” It’s a continuing theme, on all flying banner on all the media appliances in resplendent colors of purple, green and blue:
"The history is worth retelling. The heroic forces of Good have finally overthrown the evil forces of Evil in a battle for," as the media giants put it so eloquently, “the hearts and minds of every man, woman, child and animal on this wonderful and glorious planet Earth.” It was a war of Us versus Them. But now the Thems have become like Us, and have become USes. Peace is here, what we have all worked for is finally here."No one had ever seen the Great Leader, though his voice was everywhere, notably on BS broadcasts. The Leader was also never seen in public, but when he broadcast his speeches, only the back of his head was in view, although in silhouette. When people spoke about it in private conversation, almost always face-to-face, they noted that the head seemed egg-shaped and unusually large. Conservative estimates from academics and leading scientists, unpublished, reported that it was the largest oval-shaped head they had ever seen. Or not seen.
Your good and hard work has made this happen. O glory be to the spirits of Science and Religion. It has come to pass. Such wonderful and glorious news. The Empire, under the Leader, had come to an agreement with the State, under the Great Leader, and now in the year 2032, they have merged their corporate interests under the banner and copyrighted brand of The State.
The Great Leader is Chief Operational Programmer, or COP, as he is affectionately called. His assistant and right-hand man, the Leader, is President of Operations & Programming, or POOP. POOP is full of it. It being the Right Stuff.
That was the way it was done, and no one objected, except to say that at times it was not easy to make out the Leader’s words, often sounding like incoherent slurs or hisses. Especially the consonants.
They made a good team. And no one complained about how much they have done for the economy and the weather. JAC03225 decided that on such a beautiful sunny day, it was foolish to feel so down. He left his apartment on the first floor, one scientifically designated for his DNA type, and decided to take a walk outside. The polished metal door to his unit shut automatically after he exited.
He stood in the lobby, wide and expansive with green potted leafy plants scattered tastefully around its rectangular perimeter. Between the green plants were prominently positioned Boston ferns, lucky bamboos and birds-of-paradises, their bright orange pointed petals and arrow-like blue tongues resembling a real-life bird-of-paradise. "Pretty," thought JAC03225, "especially the sun-colored orange of the petals."
When he was about to step outside, his jacket pocket chimed a message. He looked at the media device with some annoyance. It was from the Residence at 8:45: "Come after lunch to see your father. We are doing a procedure on him to calm his agitation." This was not unusual. Lately, it seemed that his father was becoming increasingly agitated, almost daily now. It was likely a combination of old age and his genetic make-up. He sat down on the dark-brown leather coach in the lobby, one of four, and sent a message to the Residence staff confirming that he would arrive shortly after lunch.
He usually visited his father at the Evergreen Residence in the mornings, after breakfast at 9:00 o'clock sharp, something that he did every single day, the faithful and dutiful son that he was. It was a short 10-minute mass transit ride from his building. He usually stayed for a couple of hours and then went to the University office or to the archives to do research on his doctoral thesis. But lately, his visits were after lunch, which meant that he had to rearrange his schedule. He did so, with mixed emotions, including resentment.
Evergreen was a pleasant facility, surrounded by flowers and evergreen trees, for which it got its name. The trees were planted years many ago, so it was surprising that many reached thirty to thirty-five feet in height, touching against the third-floor windows of his father’s room located in a secure unit.
His father had always liked trees, strong yet resilient. Often, he would look out the window and comment: “The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity . . . and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.”
It sounded like poetry from a faraway land, out of time and place, but his father never explained where he heard it. JAC03225 exited the building and stepped outside. It was a perfect 24 degrees outside, the same temperature as inside. He felt no difference. It was the same outside as inside.
He lived on one of the most prestigious residential areas of the city, on Park Avenue, which was lined with parks up and down the tree-lined boulevard, each bearing the name of a war hero. His building, which had an impressive stone-faced facade of marble and limestone, had two lions acting as guards on each side of its portico.
It was solid rectangular structure ten storeys in height, a large penthouse apartment on top, similar to all the buildings on this grand tree-lined street. What JAC03325 liked best was that the building was conveniently located minutes away from the central shuttle service, which could bring him anywhere he had to go. Everything was no more than fifteen minutes away.
Of greater consequence to his academic future, his career, was the prestige associated of living in this particular building. His academic advisor, a prominent historian with hundreds of publications to his name, lived on the fourth floor. He was scheduled to meet him in a few days to discuss the completion of his dissertation. He also intimated that he had some good news to convey.
The Dean lived on the seventh floor, and the University President on the penthouse unit. He met him once, quite by accident, in the lobby. They chit-chatted for a few minutes. The President was a distinguished man of seventy-two, with greying temples, a cheerful disposition and a hearty laugh. The opposite of what he had expected. "It was good to meet you, and please give my regards to your father" he said with great warmth, shook his hand, and lightly touched his elbow, before walking away with his security detail to his limousine.
As JAC03325 waited for the bus, due in a few minutes, he spied someone approaching with his hand outstretched.
To be continued next week (Part 3):
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.