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Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Nightmares and Fresh Fruit


The ATT-771 prowled noiselessly 10 centimeters above the potholed surface of the street, its drivers scanning pedestrians for concealed weapons and or outstanding warrants. I dodged into the alley, scaled a broken fire-escape ladder, and darted across an apartment roof where a Chinese family tended an urban rice patty. They screamed curses and obscenities at me as I ran, at least I assume they obscenities and curses. I still only speak a little Mandarin and that, badly. I didn’t stop to ask for a translation.

An automated tympano-cortical signal alerted me that the radio broadcast had begun. I tuned in to listen. It’s not as I had a choice; attendance to the Leader’s weekly addresses was mandatory, either in person at the Sportplatz or by electronic media. I listened as I continued to run, and leap, and scramble from roof-top to roof-top, avoiding cellular antennas and protectobot security animals.

“My fellow Americans…,” the Leader began; this was how he began each of his weekly addresses. “This is an appeal of the Right Government™ to all true American citizens. Since the Days of Treachery under the previous administration, the Almighty has withdrawn his providential blessing from our once great nation. The removal of his omnipotent hand has led to national collapse, and national collapse has opened the door to communistic madness.”

‘Strange,’ I thought. ‘He sounds…tired. Dull.’ His speech wasn’t his regular firebrand oration.’ He continued-and if his voice was lackluster this afternoon, his rhetoric was not.

“The years of treachery opened a Pandora’s box of communist poison that has weakened and undermined our national vitality, polluted the purity of our essence. We were contaminated and infected by the germ and virus of socialist thought. Nothing during those long, winter years was spared the pernicious, infectious ruination of communist influence. Our families, our culture, our honor, our economy, all spoiled like curdled milk. Withered to the roots.”

Now this was typical Leader speak–his metaphors accumulating like a 15 car pile-up on the freeway.

“Eight years of Marxist, Islamist, Antichristian government all but ruined our America. Nothing works anymore; everything is broken. But now, in these glorious days, the Right Government™ has restored national unity, restored national morale, restored national pride, and restored the national family! The long night of spiritual, political, cultural nihilism is over! And true American citizens have taken up arms to oppose and end the tyranny of Bolshevism…”

It was here that I slipped and fell as I slid down a rusting drain pipe. I fell into an open rubbish bin-one of those locally known as a “Trumpster.” The bags of garbage broke my fall, but I lost radio signal. This lapse would be noted on my automatically and regularly updated police record. An ordinary citizen, a “true American citizen” could, conceivably, explain a dropped signal to the propaganda police and escape with nothing more than a small fine and a few hours of compulsory public Leader veneration. But for someone with a record like mine, failure to give attendance to the Leader’s remarks would be taken as treason and punished with public execution. Oh well. The speech was boring anyway-all the boilerplate topics with none of his usual intensity. I wondered if perhaps he was ill. We could only hope.

I sloughed off the worst of the wet, slobbery rubbish and waved away the buzzing flies. Peeking cautiously over the rim of the Trumpster, I scanned the area for roving ATT-771s and other police vehicles. They’re notoriously silent and can approach without detection if one isn’t constantly aware. But there were none, at least for now. I hadn’t been detected during my incursion into the city.

Chances are, I’ll be one of the disappeared-and soon-like my sister, and my father before her, like thousands of nameless others. But I was safe, for the moment. Undetected. I would have another day of sleep and bad dreams, of shopping for new nightmares and fresh fruit.

Across the street I could see my destination: Finnegan’s Rake-a lawn and garden shop operated by one of ours, one of the Knives. But I couldn’t approach, not directly, not during daylight. I would have to wait until dark. Three hours. That’s not so long, right? Not so long if one isn’t breathing in the smell of rot and corruption and continually brushing flies out of one’s eyelashes.





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