For Sunday scribblings 132 -
not exactlty history...but one day...?
THE FOURTH MILLENNIUM
2 Permission Granted
Blizzard conditions; ice and snow, heralded the dawn of the fourth millennium. Temperatures had remained below freezing overnight, and bitter cold had prevailed during the hours of daylight; such as it was, for over a month, before it began snowing, just prior to X-mas.
‘They’ say that X-mas was called Christmas, at one time, long ago. No-one could explain, or even hazard a guess, as to why; or why, indeed, the name of the holiday had been changed; if it ever really had been.
Peace reigned on Earth throughout the festive season, as it had done for over a century.
All wars and conflicts had been multi-laterally abandoned, abruptly during the ‘General Armistice’ of the late twenty ninth century; the ‘Purges’; yet another thing ‘they’ say.
A universal amnesty was declared, in which all hostilities, of any nature, worldwide, were ‘advised’ to cease; a situation that had been accelerated by the development of ‘Ideocide’; a computer generated philosophy; in fact a weapon of ideological adjustment. The hardware with which it could be administered, nicknamed ‘The Persuader’, combined with the very real threat of its deployment was, in no small measure accountable for the fact that Peace on Earth, actually came about. This was, perhaps, the solitary meaningful achievement of an otherwise indifferent world order that was neither concerned with, nor advocated, humanitarian compassion.
Ever since the time of the ‘Purges’, the global authorities had devoted, dedicated virtually all their efforts to ensuring that the truth behind the ‘Armistice’, may never be revealed.
“Of course, this theory that ‘they’ are responsible for spreading, is merely conjecture, as far as anybody really knows, or cares.
Most people are content to accept the way things are, and would prefer to remain ignorant, than know for sure.
As far as the general population is concerned, it is all a myth.
It is neither mentioned nor denied; the subject is never even raised, in ‘official’ circles.
It is considered, by sceptics, to be no more than just a dangerous rumour; yet it is as brutally oppressed, by the ‘authorities’ as any of the freedoms that are no longer considered appropriate, or ‘politically correct’.
But someone, somewhere, always has to know exactly what it is that someone else doesn’t want the rest of the world to know about.
The only trouble is; ‘they’; the ones who do know, and would be able to tell, have to live secretly; isolated from the world at large.
‘They’ are outlaws, and as such, are the one group, to whom the death penalty; also a universal thing of the past, still applies.”
Starling, and also his loyal confidant, Nightingale, were well aware of the severity of the penalties for even so much as listening to these preposterous, unsubstantiated items of gossip; hearsay. They were also aware that this was as close as the ‘authorities’ ever came, to acknowledging that the ‘stories’ even existed.
Despite this, they were in no way intimidated by the prospect of flouting the law, and discovering the truth; if that was any different to the official line of propaganda.
This year, 2999, Starling had decided, would be the year that his quest would begin in earnest. Nightingale was in complete agreement. It had been both men’s personal discipline that had kept their hopes; their dream, alive for so many years. Now, perhaps, they were about to realise their ambition.
They didn’t have much time left, to make their initial move. It was already December 30th, but this would, in fact, be the day that was to change the lives of both men; potentially, the lives of all people, forever.
Starling had risen early, on December 30th, as was his daily habit, despite the bone-gnawing grip of this year’s extraordinarily severe winter, and the luxurious warmth and comfort of his bed. His sense of well-being did not desert him on confronting the arctic chill. He had much to do, and was hoping, beyond hope that his good friend, Nightingale, was with him; that he was as able to walk as he was to talk.
To claim to know something, is one thing; quite another to be fully conversant with a subject, and a different kettle of fish altogether, to have actual, practical experience of a situation. This was even more of a potential obstacle in the case of Starling and Nightingale, now that so many restrictions had been placed on even the most basic of functions requiring the use of transport. Journeys to destinations outside the borders of a particular district were, in theory at least, especially subject to intense scrutiny, and viewed with intense suspicion. The only exception to this official stance was if the journey was being made in order to carry out an official government function.
In order to ensure that he would not be made the subject of prying eyes, Starling took a precautionary glance around his house and its surroundings.
His parents were nowhere to be seen, having risen early and left the house, in order to participate in the final preparations for the official New Year’s Day Parade, which was to take place in just two days time.
Their role, in the Parade, was to act as standard bearers, and between them, carry the flags of both the Nation and the New World Order. The tasks were handed respectively to his mother, a forty nine year old, still physically attractive brunette, and child care assistant; and his father, a rapidly balding, former building maintenance supervisor. Starling senior; ID number 40149, was the elder of three brothers; now approaching sixty years old, he was already almost five years beyond the official retirement age of fifty five.
The family home, was a single-storey dwelling, comprising two compact bedrooms, a less than spacious, however, adequately sized living room-dining room combination, a basically installed, although fully functional kitchen, and a bathroom, or cleanroom that also served as the laundry area.
Like all modern buildings, it was constructed from ultra-slim, high density Carbocon; carbon-concrete panels. Delivered in standard, modular units, they were laid between carbon fibre, supporting columns. The roof was a single, folded sheet of corrugated Carbolite. As its brand name suggests, this is an exceptionally lightweight, carbon fibre material, designed specifically for this purpose. There was but one exterior door, situated at the front of the building. Like the three interior access openings, it was of traditional, timber composition, as were the door and window frames. The windows, manufactured locally, as all the building materials had been, were made from clear Aspex; a tough, virtually unbreakable substance that was, in fact, produced ‘naturally’, from the resin of the Aspex plant; a laboratory generated hybrid, similar to an oversized rhubarb stalk.
All of the building materials, including the genetically engineered hardwood, used for the doors and frames, had one property in common; they were all completely soundproof.
The Starling residence was very similar, although not identical, to virtually every other property in the district; in every district. Exceptions existed, naturally. Official government buildings were constructed on a much grander scale; places of work had to be of a size that would accommodate their workforce. Then, of course, there were the luxurious, spacious residences of the ‘authorities’; bound by impenetrable fences, and set in acres of beautifully landscaped, pristine grounds.
There was also a standard sized plot of land surrounding the Starling home, which measured, about the area of a football pitch.
A highway; the main route linking Sector 401, with Sector 400, to the south, and Sector 402, to the north, lay approximately two hundred and fifty metres to the west. It was a rare event, to see any traffic on this carriageway, but January 1st would be an exception, when it would be filled with the marchers and flotilla of the New Year Parade. Further to the west, Sector 301 was located, while to the east, lay Sector 501. The sectors were laid out logically, in a square grid, and were of approximately equal dimension.
With a calm, controlled sense of excitement, at the prospect of potential new discoveries, in his mind, Starling returned to his bedroom. Here, he retrieved from under his bunk, one of the small sheets of Carbolite that he had removed from his father’s store at the Department of Building Maintenance, in the district headquarters, some years earlier. Accompanying it, was a small length of carbon rod, that when applied to the Carbolite, made an indelible mark. In this way, Starling had managed to keep a ‘secret diary’.
As the written word had been abolished, a hundred years ago, or more, the art of writing, itself, had been lost. However, Starling had devised his own, unique, method of recording events, by utilising a kind of shorthand; part hieroglyphic, part alphabet. He was the only person who was able to understand, or decipher this secret code, or language, but even articles such as this, were highly irregular, and the discovery of it, by the ‘authorities’, would result in severe repercussions.
The ‘diary’ contained extracts from his own life, and those of others, as well as events of note that had transpired during the course of the previous half-dozen years. It was actually, not strictly a diary; notes were only entered at irregular intervals; such was the monotony of day-to-day existence. Nevertheless, it provided an incredibly compact, concise, yet comprehensive account of thirtieth century life, and described, in minute detail, Starlings surroundings, habits, and desires.
He reviewed the entire ‘document’, nodding and smiling; satisfied with its content, before entering his latest thoughts.
A typical day in the life of Starling 40157, unfolded before him:
To be continued
Copyright © Stanislaw Skibinski
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