Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

 

Chapter 1: A Tale of Two Donkeys

Why am I talking to you in the dark?

Well first of all, I have no choice about the dark; that's on you. You've kept me here for quite awhile now, exactly how long I don't know. You know how sometimes you take a nap and when you wake up you have no idea what time it is or how long you've slept? Well, that's how I live now. Not only has the dark robbed me of my of vision, but it has taken away time as well. I sit, I pace, I stand, I eat, I shit, and I sleep. I tried counting meals to keep track of the days, until I figured out that they were coming in random intervals. Or I just thought they were random because my time sense was already distorted. I can't even use my beard or fingernails to keep even rough track of months because every so often I wake up and have that feeling, you know the one, where you wake up after a big blowout and even though you can't remember what you did the night before, you're quite certain you're about to pay the price in full. And on those mornings (evenings, afternoons, late middle dusk, who knows?) after I puke, I find that my scalp has been shaved, my nails trimmed, and my body disinfected.

And I'm talking to you because if I was talking to myself, well then, I'd be crazy, right? And I'm not ready to be crazy yet, although I have been tempted from time to time. It would be really easy to lose it here in the darkness, to let some fantasy take hold and just go along for the ride. That is one thing the dark has given me; a very vivid imagination. I've spent hours pulling up memories of the past, straining to capture not just what happened, but how it looked, sounded, smelled, and tasted. And it's amazing how clearly you can remember something in the quiet dark, without the constant barrage of sensory input confusing the issue. A man can concentrate here in the dark.

He can also get lost. There's nothing holding me here but my body, and what is that? What can it do? I can't see anything; there's nothing to hear but the sound of my breathing. There's nothing to touch but the cold stone walls, the porcelain of the toilet, or the rough cotton of my bed. There's nothing here in the dark to hold onto, and my fantasy worlds offer everything that my cell does not. Color, warmth, sensation, sex, smells, tastes, everything that all adds up to the only thing.

Life. It's a lie, this life of the mind, but it is still more than the death of eternal darkness.

But if I was capable of choosing the comfortable lie, I wouldn't be here in the re-education cell, would I? Nope, like Adam and Eve, I chose to know truth, and that choice has cost me my life.

And so I'm talking to you in the dark, instead of letting myself go crazy. Besides, I know you are listening. You and your kind are always listening. Even though I'm safely locked in this cell, probably for the rest of my life, unable to infect others with my particular brand of heresy, you're still watching and listening.

That word, heresy, pisses you off, doesn't it?

Good. It's supposed to. If I call myself a heretic, then that means your little System of Service must be a religion, and a fairly pathetic one as religions go. You can't even promise eternal salvation since you don't admit the possibility of eternity. Or salvation for that matter. Did it ever occur to you that if you're right, your afterlife might be just like my life? An eternity alone in the dark?

Probably not.

But here I sit because I dared to question your world. I challenged the notion that your vision was the only one, and for that, I was stripped of my vision, and thrown down here into this cell with nothing to do but listen to the sound of my own voice, or go mad in silence.

And that's why I'm talking to you, even though you are the ones that put me here. Because by talking to you, I can hold on to myself. By remembering my past, I hold on to my present, and if I have a past and a present, then I just might have a future. So I'm going to keep on talking, even though I know you are listening, recording every word, probably every gesture as well, for further analysis of my character in order to determine the proper treatment for my illness.

That's what the re-education center does, right? That's what it said on the lovely brochure the guard handed me while I was waiting for transport. Funny, I looked through that entire thing on the ride over here, and I never saw anything about these dark cells. The ad people must have missed that bit. Of course, our media people seem to miss a lot of unpleasant things, don't they?

Yeah, I know, saying things like that is what landed me here in the first place. What are you going to do? Arrest me for talking in the dark? I'd laugh if I weren't worried that I wouldn't stop laughing.

So, what shall we talk about today? Well let's see, you want to know how I became a terrorist, right? What events in my life led me to take up arms against my country, stuff like that, right? Well too bad, because even if I told you about it, you wouldn't understand it. You don't have the background. Our modern educational system is set up to guide you from birth into being the model state subject, happy, productive, and uncomplaining. You remind me of an old story my great-grandfather told me, about two donkeys who met in an old west town. One of the donkeys was owned by a man who lived in town, and he had a small saddle on his back. The other belonged to a prospector, and was loaded down with tools and equipment, as well as a month's worth of food for the prospector. The town donkey looked over at the miner's donkey and said "Brother, that's a heavy load you're carrying there. I don't think I could walk three steps carrying all that on my back!" The miner's donkey looked at him and said, "What load?"

You don't get that story at all, do you? You're all horrified at the idea of people owning animals and making them work. It's too bad really, because that story says a lot of things that you need to know. It says that we can do more than we think we can. It says that work breeds competence. It says that muscles have to be used to be useful. Most importantly for you, it says that if you've been carrying a heavy, crushing load long enough, you don't notice how much it weighs you down until somebody points it out to you.

You still don't get it do you? Never mind. It just proves what I said earlier; I could explain it to you chapter and verse, and you still wouldn't understand it. And because you can't understand it, you can't treat it. I got to look at some of the sealed records before I was caught, and I know the success rate of these places. 99% of the people who come in never come back out again, and I strongly suspect that the other 1% aren't re-educated at all, but are just damn good liars.

So I tell you what. I'm not going to tell you why I tried to buck the system. I'm not going to try and tell you why the system desperately needs bucking. I'm going to tell you a story of growing up in the 20-teens. Now this story has nothing to do with the choices I made as an adult. I was still a couple of years away from Moby's pathetic little funeral, more years away from joining the Civilian Defense Corps, and even more years away from betraying the Corps. But Martha, Sally, Peter and I had already formed our little band, and what we did as kids surely shaped the adults we would become, just as sure as deep cuts become scars.

Just remember what I told you; you won't understand. You aren't equipped no matter how many computers you use or how much data you collect. There's this neat thing in physics called the three body problem. You see, when you have two astronomic bodies, say a planet and a moon, you can precisely calculate their orbital pattern based on the size of the two bodies, the distance between them, and their velocities. Each body acts on the other in a predictable way. But when you add a third body into the system, each one acts on the other two simultaneously, and it becomes impossible to model. Think about how much harder it will be for your computers to model not just three lifeless hunks of rock operating in strict accordance with immutable laws of nature, but four living breathing irrational human beings!

So let's talk. Let's talk about 4 kids in their first year of high school, during the unrest of the early 20-teens.
Posted by Rich
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I decided to play the game and join you on this futile endeavor. I figured that a little competition could make things fun for you. The person with the most words by the end of the month wins. What will the stakes be?

I started this evening so I am about three days behind. Anyway, if you want me to email you story updates, I will.
Posted by Isaac  on  11/03  at  11:34 PM

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