Saturday, July 18, 2015

Flash! Friday: The Fourth Reich & The Queue

by Michael Seese

A pretty good week for Flash! Friday, IMHO. This week, we were asked to incorporate elements of George Orwell's 1984 in a story of 200 - 225 words. Specifically:

* Conflict: man vs society (government)
* Character: historian
* Theme(s): Censorship and/or totalitarianism
* Setting: dystopia (near-future society ruled by an evil, oppressive government)

And we could use this picture. 

So first I came up with the (slightly) light-hearted "The Fourth Reich," which I pretty much wrote in the shower, with an extra 100 words for good measure. (Hello, red pen.)

The walk across the compound was brutal beneath the August sun. Even the razor wire seemed ready to melt under the oppressive heat. I breathed a sigh of cool relief once I stepped inside the commandant's plush office.

"How fortunate that we have you as our 'guest,' Herr Winston," he said.

"I didn't have much choice. I just happened to be lecturing here when the war broke out."

"Regardless, our Supreme Leader has requested that you assist us with a special project. We have seized control of Wikipedia. Our computer scientists are busy deleting the inaccuracies."

"Inaccuracies? Such as..."

"That the Americans were the first to land on the Moon. That Germany lost the Second World War. Minor details such as those. Our Leader has asked you to correct them."

"You want me to rewrite history?"

"What is that expression? 'History is written by the victors.' "

"You're forgetting one thing," I said. "Your side hasn't won yet."

"The war will be over soon enough."

The commandant was right about that. But he couldn't know that one of us had smuggled a tablet into the camp. That we had knowledge of the world outside. That at this moment, the Enola Gay II was streaking toward Berlin.

"Commandant, there's another quotation you're forgetting. 'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.' George Santayana." 

Then, in literally 10 minutes I wrote "The Queue," which allowed me to use one of my favorite words, abattoir

Their faces convey words more clearly than their voices ever did. That's why they are all here.

Standing in this queue.


I sit in the control room, my finger on the button, and try to imagine their stories.

The young flaxen haired girl, asleep over her mother's shoulder. She looks almost like a rag doll, an effect enhanced by her mother's youth. To her, joy is a foreign concept. She has spent her whole life knowing only want.

The tattooed street punk. Eyes down, he wavers from side to side. A stiff breeze would lay him flat. I'm sure he once was all bluster, arrogance, and attitude. The bruise on his cheek tells me the fight has been beaten out of him. Repeatedly.

The old man, hobbled by arthritis, barely able to stand with the aid of his cane and his equally wobbly wife. He probably remembers the days before The Regime, when freedom was more than a word in a dictionary.

Some days I think about taking pity on them. Praying for their souls. But in the world –– or better said, the country –– we now live, prayer is illegal.

And why should I cry for them? No one will shed tears for me when it is my turn to face the abattoir. And I know I will, someday.

We all will.

Thoughts good, bad, or otherwise? 

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