I have chosen a writing prompt from The Daily Post today which read:
Your entire community – however you define that; your hometown, your neighbourhood, your family, your colleagues – is guaranteed to read your blog tomorrow. Write the post you’d like them to read.
I have followed this only very loosely to write a short story about a someone who writes a blog that everybody will read tomorrow, only hinting at the contents.
As always with my stories born of prompts, it is only a first draft and I’m never sure whether they make sense or not until someone else reads them, so please feel free to leave comments letting me know how you feel about it.
I turn the pin badge over and over in my fingers, the smiling face of Guardian Tor flashing his intensely white teeth at me with each turn. I consider flipping it to absolve me of responsibility, heads I post it, tails I don’t. If only it were that easy to decide the fate of two hundred thousand people.
The office is deserted besides me and the ancient cleaner who sprays and wipes with nerve fraying apathy. I strain to see who’s pin badge he wears but the lights are too dim to make it out. He’ll be wearing one, the law demands your allegiance is displayed. We’ve all witnessed the penalties suffered by dissenters.
Guardian Tor’s bilious smile undermines my resolve from every wall, his election propaganda fused into the fabric of my being like an unwelcome scab. This office is his voice, his communication hub in a city of enslaved, herded followers. Every resident ingests a daily blog of believable lies provided by me at the push of a button; the assurance of fabled fruits we’ve never tasted, new power supplies promising life to idle household appliances, and even the expansion of our approved reading list to over fifty titles. Every family drinks in these updates with the dream of a better future, the return to a long-gone past. Ancestor’s tales are repeated to generations of sleepy children by hopeful parents; stories of fresh milk from cows, of oversized fridges stacked with more food than they have ever seen and schools crowded with children no matter who their parents are. This blog hovers a ribbon of hope, twisting in the wind and cheerfully swirling just out of reach. It balances the ever-present rules cutting a track through our lives like a passive aggressive ticker tape on a loop across our television screens. Nobody can escape or opt out, participation is not optional.
I press my eyeballs as hard as I dare through closed lids to reset my thoughts. I am numb from shelling my neighbours with breezy news of the election, declaring how we are ‘embracing our individuality’ and ‘celebrating our differences’ by holding an open and free election. The first one in living memory. A sense of uneasy euphoria has settled over the city despite the public nature of the vote and a rare fission of excitement buzzes around the streets and workhouses. The Guardian has decreed that votes will be cast by attending hosted events, there will be no tedious ballot papers, your ID chip will register your vote as you walk through the door. The city believes the election will be fair, that democracy will return to rule them, that there will be no repercussions. How wrong they are.
The cursor blinks on the screen in front of me, I have finished my final post for Guardian Tor’s blog before I disappear into the underground with my fellow activists. I pray that it’s powerful enough to snap the city from its daydream, I’ve provided proof of his plans to cull those who so brazenly vote against him. It’s no coincidence his opponents events are being held in enclosed buildings, he will have hundreds of easy targets to strike in a single orchestrated volley. His weapon of choice will seep silently into the sealed buildings. His paralysed victims unable to save their collapsing bodies from shutting down, leaving them conscious until the grisly end. This weapon of choice is designed to send a clear message to the city now free of potential separatists. His rule is law. He will not tolerate autonomous thinking.
This is all I can do, I have the means to tell the people and I have to believe in their ability to remove the blinkers, to tear off their own scabs of oppression as I have torn off mine.
The activists will lead an uprising when the tide of opinion to turns, this post will be the start of it. The fate of two hundred thousand people depend on their reaction to what it contains, I pray to any deity listening to help me plant a seed of doubt, to shun the election, to rise up against the Guardian. If it works, we will lose many men, women and children in the fight, if it doesn’t, the activists will keep trying to loosen the Guardian’s chokehold on the city we love.
I flip the pin badge. Heads I post it, tails I still post it.
I press ‘publish’ and walk swiftly from the office, smiling at the chimes of emails arriving in inboxes around the room.