To the scent of burnt toast they arrived, disorderly though, as one wouldn’t expect, perhaps to sneak up on the proceedings. It was more of a bustle than an occupation.
“No dissent,” a graying ruffled soldier brayed. “We are unaccustomed to having to prove what we say. Get down!”
I was sipping coffee at the time, perusing the morning news for signs of life, waiting on the word “hope” to trickle back down into my vocabulary. A corpulent officer in a white ostrich-skin jumpsuit was upon me before I could tell what side I was supposed to be on.
“There are no other sides. There is only ours.” He barked at what seemed was the sky, but could only have been my poorly painted ceiling. “Get up. Follow me. There is no time for thought.”
I put up my arms in a gesture of willingness to follow. Everyone was blabbering on importantly in hushed cadences about what sounded like nonsense to me. I made out the words “inflammatory” and “quash” in the melee. There were four armed troops pushing me along, and a yellow-toothed captain whose name appeared to be either Peach or Leech, depending on who was pronouncing it. They marched me into the living room, where a firing squad was tipping over my framed pictures and getting mud all over the carpet with their boots. Soon I was against a wall on which hung portraits of loved ones and deceased family members whom I was in great fear of meeting again in the all-too-near future. The firing squad eyed me unpassionately, slightly annoyed, as if I were just another pest begging for execution, a task awaiting their completion.
I straightened up against the wall and waited, repressed and in disarray. Unity was a far cry from my crying distance.
The captain with the bad teeth gave some orders, of which nobody seemed to fully understand, but obeyed as best they could anyway. The firing squad raised their guns towards the wall where I was standing.
The captain spun towards me suddenly and shouted, “You!”
I assumed he was talking to me.
“You are not in agreement with the totalitarian jiving of our ways. You seek freedom to say whatever it is that you want. What you have said about us is intolerable, as are your so-called opinions. You hereby are revoked of your privileges, which includes the one to breathe.”
“Are you sure you’ve got the right person?”
“Sure? Sure.” He slid his girthy tongue over his mangled set of choppers, and I noticed a rather bovine odor emanating from him. “Who else would you be? We do not make mistakes. We make truth by saying it over and over. You are who we say that you are. There is no error when you are the dispensers of right and wrong. No disagreement. All the news has been disproven. There is only what we say that there is. Nothing else.”
“But can you tell me what I have said that has brought your ire? What offense I have made or given…?”
“That is quite more than quite enough out of you. You will be silent!”
The troops surrounded me, dour faced, and boxed me in, their eyes set in stone, their mouths thin lines of obedience. Their actions seemed excessive and unnecessary, as I was greatly outnumbered, but it also didn’t seem absurd at all. Everything felt rather ordinary.
The portly officer in the jumpsuit was going through my personal effects. He riffled through my collection of ornithological tomes with the quizzical yet blank gaze of someone seeing something for the first time of which they never knew existed and had absolutely zero interest in. Then he came to my notebooks, which he began reading out loud: “There are many ways to coexist with others, not only ‘of the feather’ types, but all those whom one may or may not deem to be in agreement with. Getting along is crucial to our species survival. We must peck at the scraps of our differences for signs of mutually beneficial knowledge of what makes us similar, of which there is plenty.”
Then he turned to me and screamed, “This is garbage!”
“I’m sorry, sir. I tried my best.”
“Can’t you stop chiming in for 5 minutes?”
I stayed silent against the wall, waiting for what would happen next.
The troops backed off. The firing squad remained silent with their assault rifles directed at my person. They were so shiny and new, probably never used before, stowed away for a special occasion. The gleam from their barrels was excruciating to witness. I wanted no part. I closed my eyes and didn’t make a single wish.
The officer conferred with captain Peach-or-Leech. They came to a conclusion hurriedly, as if they had to keep to a very strict schedule and were running low on time.
“You can speak one last time, then our will, it will be done. We have a military parade to attend shortly.”
I cleared my throat as I stood there flat against the wall.
“It’s the damage that’s never done. Overt aversion to the stymied repulsions of being evidently uninspired. Untalented nobodies take the most of the resources, leaving only blinding flashes of what they consider excitement to quell the rest of us. The questions bury their own answers, and let me tell you, well, all I’ve come to know is that the sienna’s lighter there.”
“Are you finished, then?”
“Does it matter?”
They laughed at this: a curt and dry time-saving harrumph.
Mattering’s the thing. There is not time to go into it further. Any of it. Living outweighs other options. I reached in my pocket for the incendiary device. They noticed, but not quickly enough. I did what I could do.
It was quite fun watching the looks on their faces, watching them burn dull and fast in the early morning light as I stood there for a brief moment in my flame-proof attire just before the oubliette opened up to whisk me away. My only regret was that I was only able to save myself instead of the whole of humanity from these creeps. But one can only do so much until being discovered. I guess I’m just getting too damn recognizable around here. But, perhaps, there will be a time when it is all over for good, at last; and I will be able to concentrate my efforts on something more worthwhile than luring fascists into my kitchen to meet their terrible maker. But for now, well, it’s not that bad of a job. I actually kind of enjoy it.