Rules of Reality

Prologue: Rules of Reality

America in 2050 was no longer about freedom. Americans had willingly traded freedom for constant surveillance and fear. What began immediately following 9/11 as a war on terror, quickly became a war on everyday decent citizens.

Why focus on terrorists when it would be just as easy to focus on everyone.

Between the horror of 9/11, massacres on college campuses and the murder of the President’s son, Americans were ready, at any costs to feel safe. If it meant a bit of government interference here and there it was worth it.

If a large, faceless corporation constantly offered you an opportunity to keep your children and the children of your community safe, there was no arguing about it. This is what started the introduction of a new drug,Reality, designed to eliminate violence in children and lessen its probability among post adolescent consumers.

Save your children or watch them die.

Reality was the beginning of America’s rejection of democracy, free speech and most importantly, free thought.

More addictive than Heroin, it was also community sanctioned by celebrities and politicians alike. We were all made to believe that although it was not the best or a perfect solution, at the moment it was good enough.

At rallies across the country, the positive effects of consuming Reality were shared. Rallies were renamed parties and offered as a place to meet and greet friends,find out more about Reality and of course, determine the best way to allow the government to do its job(protecting citizens).

While many people joyfully entered the parties that were enclosed by a large steel,lifeless gate,there were historians among the masses who knew and understood this level of manipulation and governmental control.

They had names like Griefers,trouble makers, mavericks.

This group of people were considered radical but would have been known as thinking, average citizens twenty years before.

A simple question or a public disagreement could get you taken care of.

No one noticed people not being at the parties, the assumption was that people had forgotten, had other things to do and maybe just weren’t up to all the noise and interruption of their day.

Human beings have an incredible ability to convince themselves of almost anything.

My family was told that I was causing concerns within our community and my afternoon of questioning was simple a safety precaution. My family was told that it was a random choice and that periodically everyone was brought in to discuss anything that might be a danger to the community.

The definition of “danger” in the community constantly changed.

Constant change in what something meant or stood for was the first indicator that we should expect more interference and not less.

As a history professor and writer it was important that I teach young people to question authority and not assume that because rallies were now being named parties that anybody was gonna have a good time.

Be careful what you name things and who gets to do the naming.

My biggest regret is that my young nephew was taught how to rebel and not maneuver.

My nephew never learned to rename the truth and it costs me my life.

I’m glad he never learned to recast the truth.

Truth manipulators always have a good reason for their behavior and love to think that this is the best way to deal with life. Those of us labeled as trouble makers are the only ones who have ever made a difference.

We are also the ones who have been watched the most.

Fear kept good people quiet and average people uninvolved.

Rallies, parties, political removal, resorts. To a rational mind, none of this made sense, people didn’t want rationale, they wanted security and guarantees of safety.

Christopher Mitchell

Since the ‘incident”, I ‘ve structured my world with very few surprises or upset. Sunday is the day for rest and reflection. On Mondays I shop for food and cook meals for the week. Tuesday means lots of reading and organizing thoughts on paper. Wednesday is the day to check in with mother and the family, if they allow it. Thursdays I see a therapist. Fridays are the worst- two days of loneliness. Saturdays are the most difficult. My family always avoids me on Saturdays.

For one year I carried on like this. One day I saw a commercial urging young people to save the country, be good patriots and redeem their social clout. The instructions were simple: put yourself on a disc discussing your likes, dislikes and family ties and whether you thought this country could turn itself around and take back its former glory and rule the planet. There was no way the government was asking for something this simple in an effort to restore America to its former glory. Whenever I heard that familiar Reality jingle, I’d race to the television.

Mother called today. She saw the ads and thought it would be great if I stopped moping and got out of the house. She left a message because it was Monday and I was doing my weekly shopping.

“Hi Chris, it’s Mother. Just wanted to say hello and ask if you had decided what to do for work. I’ve been seeing these ads and I think you’d make a fine civil servant. Your uncle, wherever he is, always felt that civil engagement was extremely important. Ok. Love you. Bye.”

The one phrase , wherever he is made me wince and retch. No matter what I did or how many times I apologized, my family would not let me forget that I was the reason my uncle was removed. Perhaps this new gig will allow my family to love and accept me and allow help me return my uncle to our family.

After listening to this message twice, I decided to apply for this new civil servant position (Joyman)and support the government in launching a new program.

****

Two Sundays after I applied for a Joyman’s position I was left a message via a mechanical voice.

Cold and sterile it stated:

Dear Christopher Mitchell, Congratulations. You’ve been selected for the initial interview process. We will see you Tuesday.” End of message.

I got a serious case of the “Willies” after the last word, Tuesday.Is it too late to retract my application? Would this raise too many suspicions? The fact that a nonhuman recording voice left a message let me there was no way I could “change my mind”.

“Would I be interviewed by a computer as well?”

“This is ridiculous.” Christopher heard himself say aloud. How can a computer interview anyone? Had America gone that mad? Was this the price for protection and liberty?

There was nothing to do but prepare, show up for the interview and hope for the best.

I need to make sure that whoever interviews me understands that I am as frightened as any good American and willing to do whatever I can to protect the country. Uncle Allen refused to keep his trap shut and go unnoticed. With this new job , I should be able to find Uncle Allen and even leave the country for a short time.

****

“So tell us Mr. Mitchell, why would a bright young man like you be interested in working in a place like this and for the government?”

Interviews always started like this. A deadly dance that reeked of desperation , arrogance and ill preparation. Who would put themselves through this voluntarily? No sane person would eagerly take this on hoping to get anything out of it but grief.

“I’ve always been one for government involvement ,civic duty and ongoing community involvement. It seemed like the next thing to do and well…”

“That’s nice but what we’re looking for is someone dedicated to making change and who is unafraid of making people uncomfortable”.

The ominous voice slithered from the small cordless square grey box. In the year 2050, humans didn’t bother to interview with people face to face. Who had the time, patience or wherewithal. Instead, you entered a sparsely decorated room and hoped for the best. Most of the time you didn’t get it. What you got was a voice activated, heat sensitive interview box. Christopher had heard about these contraptions and was unsure whether or not he should believe this urban tale. Ten minutes into the interview he wished he’d believed the tales and prepared more thoroughly.

“Being uncomfortable is my middle name “. Christopher’s response was weak and predictable.

His computer generated foe picked up the rise in heart rate and blood pressure then immediately shot out a question that would make Christopher sweat and stumble just a bit.

“Give me an example of confronting uncomfortability and your immediate community including your blood relatives.”

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