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Tysyacha
05-26-2009, 03:57 PM
Tuesday, December 28, 12:00 AM

It’s midnight. I should be in bed, but Staff Carrie said I could stay up and write.

Senior Vremenist Kirae told us everything. She knows. Not only that, but—

I should start at the very beginning. Gavrila and I went to the Observatory, and—

She was there. We were going to go “stargazing” again, and she was there.

“Ah,” she smiled, almost whispering in the dim light. “Hello, Sierra. Hello, Gavrila.”

“Senior Vremenist?” I asked, afraid. “Is something wrong? You look a little—off.”

“Sit down, you two,” she said, “and I’ll tell you a story through the stars.” We did so, and she turned the “star ball” on—click. Our eyes slowly adjusted to the growing dark.

“Once upon a time,” she said, “there was a very beautiful and vain queen named Cassiopeia.” With a flick of a remote control, the “star ball” spun around to show us a constellation that looked like a W or an M, depending on how it was positioned near the pole. Senior Vremenist Kirae highlighted it with a laser pointer. “She bragged that she was more beautiful than some minor goddesses of the sea, called the Nereids. This made the sea god, Poseidon, very angry. He sent a sea monster to ravage the coast of the land, destroying homes and people. Distraught, Cassiopeia consulted an oracle. The oracle said that the only way the sea monster would go away was if Cassiopeia sacrificed her dear daughter, Andromeda, to the monster. So, the girl was chained to a rock near the sea. She was left naked, vulnerable, exposed to await her fate. She did so humbly, weeping.”

I felt a wrinkled hand take mine. “I can feel the chains on you, Andromeda.”

My breath caught in my throat. I swear that my pulse stopped for just a minute.

“Or, rather, I should say Sierra Andromeda! Your Lifegiver never knew the story behind the middle name she gave you in private. She just thought it was a galaxy, and no more. Rae used to love gazing at the stars in here when she was alive. I snuck her in.”

For the second time in two days, I could not believe what I was hearing. I froze up.

“As for you, Gavrila,” said Senior Vremenist Kirae in a wry tone, “see where I’m pointing with the laser? This is the constellation Perseus. This handsome hero used the head of another monster, Medusa, to turn the sea monster to stone and rescue Andromeda from her chains.” She sighed. “It’s not that Andromeda, or you, Sierra, for that matter, are helpless waifs. Rather, both of you girls are chained by the restrictions and prohibitions this Community has put on you—in the name of something terrible. Gavrila? It’s ironic that you want these fetters to be placed upon you. You sometimes act as if all you want to do is conform and fit in, but I know better. Your heart rebels against what your mind is telling you to be ‘the right thing to do.’ Who is right, I ask you? You could be a hero, a Perseus to all of us. If you’re not ready yet, then I’ll help you get ready.”

“This is outrageous, Senior Vremenist Kirae,” he said stiffly.

“Is it?” A pause. “Have you heard about your diagnosis yet?”

“Yes, CULP,” replied Gavrila. “Chronic Unclassified Limitations and Problems.”

“No. Your other one. The one you’ve had since you and your family moved here.”

I saw the dark shape of Gavrila’s head turn toward the dark shape of Kirae’s. “Huh?”

“Oppositional Defiant Disorder,” she said. “Also known as BD. Behavior Disorder.”

“How do you know this?” Gavrila’s voice roiled with anger. “On whose authority?”

“Your case file’s. Before your Acclimation, I had a look at it, and I was startled.”

Gavrila snatched my other hand, and his own was trembling like a leaf. “All right,” he said. “Say I have ODD, this Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Say you’re right. How can I be a hero, a Perseus to this Community? Does everyone have a diagnosis of a mental or physical illness? Is everyone here thought to be crazy, disabled, or abnormal, or—?”

“All of the above,” said Kirae. “I have three concurrent diagnoses: clinical depression, cyclothymic disorder, and your own—oppositional defiant disorder. This is a mental institution, not a Community as the rest of the world knows it. Certainly, we have Homes, but they are congregate care settings. We have stores—Community Sundry Stores and the like—but we are not really allowed a full range of choices in what we do and don’t buy. We have a Community Learning Center, but the rest of the world’s schools teach more than how to behave and to work correctly! Every minute of our day is controlled and scheduled, for good reason. All of us are thought to be ‘chronic patients’ of a sort…”

I was beyond horrified. “What is this Community?” I asked. “What’s it really called?”

“A PPRC,” she replied, “or a Permanent Psychosocial Rehabilitation Community.”

We all sat there in a silence that seemed like an eternity instead of a few minutes.

“So, how can I be a hero?” asked Gavrila. “How can Sierra and I both be heroes?”

“You must understand the ultimate why of why you’re here—and what the Leaders, all the despotic Leaders throughout the United States and human history, really want.”

“Please help us understand,” I said. “Please tell us what you know, Senior Vremenist.”

“Call me Kirae,” she replied softly. “I’m done with titles, rankings, and authority. I don’t want that kind of power anymore.” She sank back in her seat with a gentle sigh.

“What do you mean?” I asked. “Kirae?”

The star ball spun. “Travel back in time with me,” she said, “to the year 2025…”

Gavrila and I did not let go of each other’s hands as she began to speak.

“2025, as you know and have heard in your Citizenship class, was the year of the Great Collapse. It was similar to the Great Depression of the 1930’s, but far worse. The United States officially acknowledged itself as insolvent—it had no money left with which to pay its debts or to support its citizens. As soon as the announcement was made, the stock market plummeted to levels that no one in global history, let alone U.S. history, had ever seen. Hundreds of millions suddenly lost their jobs and became homeless. They took to the streets, striking and rallying, and dozens of millions were either killed or sent to prison by police. They’re still serving their sentences, mandatorily set at 50years.

“Crime and chaos reigned, and it still does in what we call ‘the Outer States’. Our only hope lay in our Community Leader Emeritus, who rose upon the scene as a new savior. A new messiah to lead us, who I thought to be the same as the false ones we’d had before.

“I never knew this one, this false messiah, would perhaps be the last we’d ever have.

“His name was Emmanuel Lewis, his first name meaning ‘God with us’! He was a psychiatrist by trade, a doctor before such a title was capitalized. He had…a solution.”

“Our Communities,” I grumbled, and Kirae murmured assent. “How convenient.”

“Why a doctor?” asked Gavrila. “Why didn’t the people follow a politician instead?”

“They had finally had enough,” replied Kirae, “of all forms of politics and their empty promises. Emmanuel Lewis and his proposed Communities seemed viable and real. They seemed like the answer to all of our woes. Lewis himself said he was loyal to no political party and followed no creed save that of his own profession. Lewis said that what we needed were some answers, but not only that, we needed…full recovery…most of all.”

“Recovery from the Great Collapse,” Gavrila said, “but, still—a psychiatrist?”

“No one ever told you about the suicides, did they?” I suddenly got the creeps.

“In the year 2025, and for years afterward, suicide became the number-one cause of death in the United States and around the globe. You see, when the stock market crashed, the whole world seemed to crash with it. People hanged themselves, drowned themselves in rivers and in lakes, threw themselves from buildings, put their heads in ovens, shot themselves, and sent themselves into oblivion through something as gentle as sleeping pills and alcohol. Statistics said that—three out of every ten people—!” She choked up.

“Something had to be done,” Kirae said. “Lewis proposed a course of treatment.”

“And that’s how we wound up here,” Gavrila hissed. “Our parents followed Lewis, and his henchmen called Leaders, and they had us. We’re being ‘treated’ as we speak!”

“If that’s true,” I said, my throat tight, “then why aren’t we taking medication?”

“It’s in our food and water,” Kirae said, “and in everything that we ingest. Trace amounts of psychiatric medications have been in our water supply since the early 21st century. They’ve kept us…stable…since before the Great Collapse. However, even these trace amounts of medication don’t ensure the amount of obedience and compliance the Leaders want. That is why the SafeChips were invented. Once everyone is implanted with them, they’ll no longer be able to think disobedient thoughts!” She paused for a moment. “These Communities are funded with subsidies from the federal government, but the federal government is itself being subsidized by corporations, especially medical and pharmaceutical ones. There is now no difference between what used to be called Big Business and Big Government. People outside of our Communities still use these terms.”

“Wait, wait,” I said. “The SafeChips. What are their ‘electrochemical stimuli’?”

“Concentrated doses of powerful psychiatric drugs,” she said. I fell into silent shock.

“Do you know what the worst part is?” asked Kirae. “When Emmanuel Lewis, Ph.D., extensively studied the rates and causes of suicide and decided what to do about them, do you know what he saw? He saw not a national tragedy and crisis, but an opportunity.”

I clenched my left hand into a fist and stuffed it into my mouth to keep from wailing.

“He saw an opportunity for profits, yes—massive ones that exceeded even those made by oil companies in the 2000’s—but he also saw an opportunity to lead this country, to be its unofficial President even though he was never elected. Everyone knew Lewis’ name, and what’s more, everyone worshipped it. Lewis became synonymous with Christ and Buddha, Allah and Krishna, every major god in human form! Little did we simple common folk know that by following his Permanent Psychosocial Rehabilitation Model, also known as our ‘Community Model’, we were paving our own path to hell.

“All we wanted was an end to the suicides and the misery, so we die a living death…”

“But why?” I cried. “There’s something more behind this. What did Lewis want?”

“The same things all tyrants want, and have wanted throughout human history. Power and control. It doesn’t matter if you can control things as much as you can control people. If you can make a man think he is free when he is really a slave, if you can control his mind, then it doesn’t matter if you put him in prison or not. The prisoners who rallied for their continued freedom and survival in 2025, those locked in cells, are more free than we are right now. We think we have our liberty, but we have lost it.” She paused. “No.”

“What?” I asked. “We haven’t lost our liberty? Our freedom?”

“We have given it away voluntarily. We have sacrificed it in the name of safety.”

This was more than I could bear. “It’s not true! You can’t be right! You’re lying!”

Kirae was silent for two minutes straight. Then she said, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. C.S. Lewis.”

machievelli
05-27-2009, 01:13 AM
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