Attempting to search for George Orwell or Aldous Huxley on the Cabinet supplied sleek electronic self-powered and booster enabled “V-Book-Ups” was rewarded by three weeks of isolated detention behind one of the hermetically sealed Ministry of Justice dungeons. Repeated offenses triggered even graver consequences ranging from forced labour in Gulag styled labour camps to execution by Minimal Invasive Liberation Outlet (MILO) methods.
‘Unlawful’ assemblies of more than 5 were located and dispersed with – initially warnings – and, for the more obstinate, by mild shocks, courtesy, Jarrings Of Limited Traumas (JOLTs) administered by humanoid UBTech Walkers. These robots patrolled the streets 24 hours a day in 6 shifts. Each one of these forbidding machines used 36 actuators and featured proprietary Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) abilities for planning out paths and avoiding obstacles. The policing of the streets however, did not pose much of a headache for the Universal Law Enforcement Department since the only sporadic disturbances were in the nature of mutinies for additional packets of Frozen And Tested Edibles (FATE). Moreover, social unrest after all had to be preceded by the existence of a society. In a world populated by a mere four countries, society was but a bedraggled assimilation of income and wealth inequalities.
Category 10 cyclones (yes, you read it right), sea level rises exceeding 150 cm, acidic oceans, unfathomable increases in global marine heatwaves and a near complete erosion of the tropical forest had all contrived to wipe the greater good of humanity off the face of the only Planet which hitherto was habitable. Two categories of people survived this macabre dance of wanton destruction. The categories themselves were privileged choice and pure chance.
The wielders of the privileged choice comprised of the so-called “1 percenters”, who in a paean to their vulgar displays of wealth, watched the unfettered and brazen destruction of Earth from the serene confines of space. Defying both gravity, and the wrath of Mother Earth, these noveau riche ensconced approximately 250 miles above the land mass. Here they, along with their families, shamelessly and smugly bore witness to a massacre whose origins had these watchers themselves at its core. Relentlessly and repetitively orbiting the shrunken, shriveled and scorched Earth at a speed of 17,500 miles per hour, the parvenu lived in space capsules, each of which had the volume of a eight-bedroom house or five Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Capable of supporting a family of 10, plus ‘floating guests’ these capsules all put together covered the area of 1654 football fields including the end zones. Stacked with the finest of foods and stocked with the most sophisticated of spirits, the floating emperors shrugged off the doom below them like ducks shrugging water off their backs.
The ’victims’ of pure chance meanwhile, were those unfortunates who had either intentionally or accidentally wedged, nudged, crammed, coiled, and got stuck in nooks and crannies, crevices and caves, attics and air vents. Physically seared by injuries and psychologically scarred by destiny, these children of a lesser God survived by scrounging, the dark streets for scraps, left overs and tolerable detritus. The sight of a child prowling an almost translucent street at night, (or was it day) passing by ghost buildings set against the backdrop of a foreboding eclipse, became a common sight. Because of the depletion and damage to the ozone layer and some orbital peculiarities caused by the global warming, the moon more frequently blocked the Sun.
(Photo Credit: pixabay image by Natan Vance)
After 25 years of chaos and calamity, an eerie calm prevailed over Earth. The spacemen, with a great deal of reluctance and a bit of rancor floated back to Earth. Immediately upon arrival, the self-proclaimed leaders of the world, divided the spatial region (or whatever was left of it) into four sovereign nations. This division was based on an equal representation of flora and fauna, fertility, finite natural resources cultivable land area and maintainable infrastructure.
The children of pure chance were shepherded into the four countries and plied with the responsibility of working both the land as well as the wishes of their Masters. Forbidden to use their own names, they were all given uniform, standard and ‘harmonised’ names. The naming conventions seemed as if they had their genesis in The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, also known as the Harmonized System (HS) of tariff nomenclature – an internationally standardized system of names and numbers to classify traded products. A factory worker manning a lathe machine was named 10-10.6-1006.10 where 10 represented the factory, 10.6, the engineering section and 1006.10 a lathe machine. Man thus, became indistinguishable from machine. Food was severely rationed and distributed at designated intervals in packets called FATE. Leisure was strictly codified and the publication of books was a managed industry.
Specially manufactured robots patrolled the streets in self driven amphi-bots. In an example of exquisitely dripping irony, the controlled toiled long and hard in sophisticated laboratories and design centres creating their own controllers. The controlling monarchs watched derisively as the controlled dutifully set about birthing their controllers.
Till one day, when either an extremely intrepid or an extraordinarily foolish lad of 23, clandestinely mass produced copies of a revolutionary work. The author was an egregious and eccentric philosopher named Karl Popper and his book was titled, “Open Society and Its Enemies.”
This is a piece of fiction piece written for D. Wallace Peach’s monthly Speculative Fiction Writing Prompt.