Saturday, 7 January 2017

The Sounds of Silence

And we're back to writing Flash Fiction Fridays again! This time, Chuck has us writing about our own Unusual Apocalypse... the one we didn't see coming - or won't. 


It’s spooky to be around this near-silent world you know, when you’re not a part of what everyone else is doing. I’ve walked down the street with a trusty book in my hand to the bus stop, sat down and wait with a group of what passes for humans these days.

They’re all glued to their handsets, tablets and have everything plugged into their ears – and they just sit there in complete silence. There’s no looking up to talk to the person next to them, no verbal conversation; nobody seems to realise if it’s raining or if the sun is out.

It’s creepy I tell ya.

But I’m sitting there with a book, reading with my glasses on and I have had a strange look from time to time.

 A frown is caught just as they turn away.
I wonder if they’re all talking to each other, gossiping at the retro-person sitting nearby.
I have had one or two people get up and move when they see my hand move up to turn the page of the book; as though the movement freaked them out and they couldn’t stand being so close to somebody who moves so much.

Strange, right?

Well, that happened the other day, and now, I’m not at home. I’m supposed to be, but I’m not. I’m in a little room somewhere away from my house with a camera in the corner of the room watching my every move.
I’ve been here for around twenty minutes with them watching me in total silence... waiting for me to do something.

But that’s the thing: I’m totally comfortable in my own mind without being attached to a computer, a mobile phone or the internet... and this is bothering them.
The door opens and a man walks in with a thick folder, a phone and box with a new phone inside it. He’s dressed like that – Agent Smith – out of ‘The Matrix’ and sits across from me, “We have been watching you closely, Miss...” He checks the front of the folder, “... Anders. And your activities online aren’t right.”
“What do you mean?” I ask.
Flipping the folder open, he clears his throat, “You don’t have a Facebook page, or a MySpace or anything to do with social media... you haven’t told us anything about yourself.”
“I don’t have to.”
He looks up at me, “Everyone else has.”
“Doesn’t mean I have to.” I said.
He regards me for moment before continuing, “You are one of a few people in this city who have blatantly refused to get with the program, Miss Anders.” He flipped over the page and it flickered a little as it landed soundlessly on the other side of the folder, “You actually go out to the store and buy your shopping, you don’t have a credit card, and never have anything delivered to your house... not even a pizza.” He looked up at me, “Why is that?”
“I like picking out my own groceries, I like driving a car and I like cooking my own meals. And I like saving money; so I don’t need a credit card... just because everyone else has one doesn’t mean I have to get one.” I replied.
He flipped over another few pages, “You have some large collections of things we don’t approve of.”
“You’ve been through my house? Why am I not surprised?”
“You have a room filled with books... real, traditional books. They were put onto The Cloud years ago. You don’t need them.” He said, “And you have cd’s and vinyls of music in your possession as well as a turntable... you need not have those. All of that music is also on The Cloud on the internet.”
“Next thing you’re gonna tell me that I’m not allowed to have a Christmas Tree or send out Birthday Cards to my friends; because we can do all of that online.” I smile, “Exactly what is the harm in all of this?”
He closed the folder with a dull thud, “You don’t understand, Miss Anders, you are already in a matrix. What you are doing by ‘going retro’ goes against the rules of this matrix, so we need you to catch up or you will be rejected from it.”
“Aren’t there other people like me here?”
“There were.”
“Where are they now?”
“That doesn’t matter.”
“Yes it does. You must know where we go once you reject us.” I leaned my elbows on the table and stared at him, “I know you’re being told what to say, but I want you to tell me exactly what happens to us, because you know what happens to people like us – people who don’t want to take part in the future, who stick around in the past like I do.”
“They look stupid.”
“No, they’re doing what they want because nobody is forcing them to do what the rest of the world is doing. Now, tell me where do you send us? Do you kill us?”
“No. We...” he pulled at his ear-wig and let it fall onto his shoulder, standing, he took a deep breath, “There’s a place we send you; but none of your things are there... you’re left there until you beg to come back. But ...” looking at me, a smile hinted on his face, “You have ‘The Boss’ 5-album box set on vinyl... how did you find that?”
“You were like me.”
The door opened as his face flushed and he looked down as another walked into the room, “Agent, step down.”
“No.” He turned and looked at this next agent, “I have done this to them so many times, I can’t do it anymore. Why can’t they have their own things that make them happy?”
“Because happiness isn’t how the world works.” The other agent said, “If there was happiness, the Computer Apocalypse we’re planning would falter.”
“Computer Apocalypse?” I whisper.
“Yes. From the very first time one was invented decades ago, governments planned on making the world into the idiot nations it is now... but there had to be a few people, like you Miss Anders, who just wouldn’t go with the program.” The new agent took a threatening step forward as I stood from the table, “Sit down.” I almost did, until the first agent grabbed my arm and pulled me up to stand, “Agent, you’re out of line. You are to be reprogrammed.”
“No.” He said, “After I removed the ear-wig, I knew exactly why I was here; and it’s not to punish Miss Anders for her ways of living.”
“You have it all backwards. The Human Race isn’t to be programmed into a world of silence so as to make them do as they’re told – they’re not cattle.”
“Yes they are.”
“Who told you that?” I ask.
The second agent stared me, “What do you mean?”
“Who told you that we were cattle and were to be reprogrammed to do as we were told?” I ask.
He hesitates, “I don’t understand.”
The first agent sighs as he rips the ear-wig out of his collar, tearing the soft plastic from the back of shirt, showing it to the second agent, “Who’s blabbing instructions to us through here?”
“Oh! It’s our superiors.” He says.
“And who are they?” I ask.
The second agent slowly pulls his ear-wig out, “Oh shit. What have we done?”