Saturday, 2 July 2016
The Electrified Staircase
The empty classroom is cold and sterile; this is no longer a room of knowledge but of re-education. She sits behind her desk alone, waiting; her tight yet formless clothes the same drab grey as the walls. Her features betray no emotion and her hair is cut short; severe, like her manner.
The door opens and a man walks in. He may have been described as an individual once but no longer for he is but a defective cog in the machine. This is not an acronym, simply a fact –to her we are all Cogs in the wheel.
He is sick, she’s seen his type many times and it is her responsibility to maintain the status quo, to enlighten those broken cogs and reprocess them where necessary. Most suffer from the simply aberration of mis-identification; they’ve lost sight of the hive and see themselves as different. Most can be brought back to the awareness and will regain their place in the totality. But there are always a few that refuse to be the same; these are the trouble makers and have to be dealt with accordingly.
He sits deliberately in the third row of the empty classroom, by the window. Clever, she thinks to herself, drawing attention to himself even now, allowing himself access to the outside world.
“Admin RH6 37? I want you at the front of the room where we can converse more freely.” She speaks in an authoritarian tone exactly like a school teacher should, excepting he is at least seven years older than her.
“Oh, I didn’t realise that I was brought here for a chat!” He replies in a tone that would once have been dripping in sarcasm; but of all emotions, sarcasm was the first to go. It was deemed the most unprofessional and the lowest of all the forms of ‘wit’ by those who lacked the understanding that came from true awareness. But then self-awareness, like sarcasm, was bad for the system; it was dangerous and needed to be stamped out –and stamped out it was. Soon humour was drained of any colour until it ceased to be.
After sarcasm was dispensed with things became far more politically correct; everyone was the same. Everyone was equal and there was no need for diversity of any kind. It was one big happy family, except there was no such thing as a family unit any more and no was happy.
“You know why you’ve been brought here, RH6.” She replied as he got up and almost skipped into his new chair.
“So not a cup of tea and a chat then.” He replied, smiling.
“Stop behaving like a child, RH6. You’re not a child any longer and haven’t been for quite some time.” Taking away names was just the first part of the dehumanisation process. Of course it had been a subtle indoctrination; the mass media, advertising and asinine television programmes and films had systematically taught people to think along certain predetermined tracks for years without them realising it. When the programming finally became overt there was virtually no resistance; most people seeing it as a kind of blessing. They didn’t need to think any more and there was no longer any need for ‘escapism’.
“You know.. you could call me Bob.” Bob replied. This was as she expected, he still clung to his birth name….
“I knew you’d be trouble, RH6.” Her arms flat on the table, her body language betraying nothing, her voice modulated and icy. “Despite having been systemised once before you still maintain your right to individuality. You still flaunt yourself as a somebody, albeit in subtle ways. Yes, it took us quite a while before we were able to truly catch you in the acts but now that your sitting in front of me I can see it in your eye.” Bob smiles at the recognition and matches her gaze. “At one time we would have called it a mischievous glint and it might have even been applauded but now it is just another sign of your depravity, so it needs to be eradicated.”
“And so you fear it, don’t you?”
“We fear nothing. Fear is another concept that we don’t recognise.”
“But you do encourage fear in others, don’t you… That, at least, is acceptable.”
“There are some emotional states that are useful to us, that we can engender in others, yes.”
“Hate, fear and anger;” Bob listed, counting them on his fingers. “Once these manifest you’ve then got cause to clamp down on people, eh? Clever.”
“You seem to understand our ways.. Bob. You approve?”
“Approve?” Bob shrugs, looking non-plussed before slamming his hands on to the desk. “Approve! How dare you? You’re no different to all the other despots who have sought to control peoples minds throughout the ages and you’ll fail as they all did!”
“That is where you’re mistaken. Where you see successive failures, we see rehearsals. Where you acknowledge individual despots we see one tapestry. Our files indicate that your subversions stem from the belief that there is one big conspiracy. Originally you were arrested once the Freedom Of Speech act came into play; you were posting comments on Facebook , trying to warn the people of our agenda –as if they cared! No one was listening to you, RH6. No one ever listens!”
“They will one day, when they realise what it is that they’ve lost!”
“What is it exactly that you think they’re losing? Free will? Oh dear –you will need re-educating! From the moment they’re born the majority think exactly what we tell them to think; they’re given countless choices along a very narrow spectrum of thought but consistently kept beneath glass ceilings. We pressure them into learning things that will occupy, confuse and belittle them at school. We educate them enough so they realise their place in society and they know not to question our fundamental truths. We tell them what to believe, we tell them what to feel and how to think. Give a lie enough credence, make it elaborate enough and people will believe it regardless of how ridiculous it is! We’ve had thousands of years to practice that… But then you know that already, don’t you… Bob?”
“Jesus Christ!” He says, hanging his head in frustration.
“Good example! So.. how does it feel to be right?”
“Someone will stop you; will free the people against you!”
“Free the people? What makes you think that the people want to be freed? They know no different. Let me tell you of an experiment…
“It’s about three generations of rats. They lived in a two storey cage and the only way to get to the second storey was by a metal staircase which gave off electric shocks. So the first generation knew not to go up the staircase because of the pain it inflicted on them. Those four rats soon got the message and didn’t venture near that end of the cage, nor upstairs.
“Two were taken out after a week and two new ones were substituted. When the new additions tried to go upstairs they were warned not to by the original two. Warning squeals would deter them even if they dared to walk towards the staircase. Even though a week had elapsed since the shocks had been administered the original two rats had remembered the pain. Another week passed and the last of original two rats were taken out and replaced by another two. Can you guess what happened?”
Bob sighed and felt a tear trickle down his cheek. “When the third generation of rats tried to go upstairs they were warned not to by the second generation, even though the second generation had never been shocked themselves.”
“And by that time the staircase was no longer electrified… and that’s the story of the human race some several thousand generations on.”
“But you will always get people who can see through your lies and seek to tell the truth.”
“Like yourself, RH6? And where did that get you? How many people did you manage to convert with your anarchic posts? Who engaged with you?”
“And those few were the ones who gave us the evidence we needed to bring you in the second time! Don’t look so shocked –oh, they needed persuading… but even the most stalwart of your so-called-friends folded after a while. They saw the futility of your quest especially when they realised how we could hurt them.”
“You hurt them?”
“Not in any real sense, no; and nor would we. They are too useful to the machine. We threatened them with expulsion and public degradation. Like most rebels that have no backbone; they put up the façade of strength but it was paper thin. We scarcely threatened them, truth be told, such was their conviction and belief in you.”
“So what about me?” Bob sighed. “What do you intend to do with me now?”
“Well, you have resisted all attempts to be recycled, RH6. You stubbornly cling to your petty individuality and refuse to submit. Your wish is to be unique and so we reward you with the right to do so!”
“What? How do you mean?” Bob stammered, shocked by the revelation.
“You are far more use to us in your present state… Bob. We will grant you everything you desire. You may keep your name, your true name; act how you like and behave in whatever manner you desire –you will never be arrested or conditioned again. As far as the law is concerned you no longer exist.
“You will only strengthen people’s perception of our regime and you will become the object of their fear and hate. You will, in effect, become their electrified staircase. After so many generations we feel that someone has to be made an example of so the people can be reminded of the truth… and you, Bob, will be their example. You have now everything that you ever wished for –complete freedom, but something tells me that you will no longer be able to enjoy it. But, that’s that – Thank you for your time, Bob –you may go… We will not be seeing you again.”