Untitled; Rough Draft.
Amber watched in stringent silence as the sun leisurely rose within the lavender-kissed sky. The glaring red of its sphere seemed incongruent above inanimate gray rooftops and below, city streets were bursting with the assiduous movement of workers progressing in blind compliance. Their march was unbroken by hesitation or thought as they pushed forward, abiding to the whim of some unseen transmission. While the weather held a promising clarity expressed through its cloudless view, aesthetic beauty was a lost merit when presented to those incapable of appreciation.
The year was 2049: an era of service. Nearly a decade had passed since the Sidonia Procedure was declared a mandatory operation. Since then, all forms of crime had been completely eradicated. There was no money any longer; instead, the Head of State collectively distributed rations according to need. Although she was considered too young to have her emotions medically obstructed, Amber did all she could to imitate the apathetic quality worn by older ones. Her teachers accused her of being too intelligent and regarded this thirst for knowledge as a negative attribute for it led her to articulate a question to which no answer was possible. The question of why. Matters were less painful to address if one simply accepted each moment upon its occurrence as opposed to making empty plans and acknowledging the unspoken. Attempting to understand only brought forth anger and sadness because there was nothing to be done with the realizations obtained through her analysis. No hope for change. Amber Ford did not trust herself to think.
The Procedure was initially developed by a young scientist named Adam Sidonia. Its intention was to eliminate man's concept of greed and hatred by destroying his ability to form opinions or desire. This would end the interference of selfishness within the community, he explained, in order to create utopia. Instantaneously, the media conceded; however, statistic reports began the realization of negative side effects. Having asphyxiated the awareness of identity in their patients, the subjects would often work for days without food or sleep, divorced of their body and its needs. To correct this issue, the Head rose to a position of leadership, announcing they would abstain from undertaking the operation lest it impair their judgment. They requested Adam join the ranks, saying his medical experience might prove valuable. Weeks later, another surgery came into existence as a solution to the first. Such was an operation only performed on the Head which involved the insertion of a microchip that discharged a signature pulse, enabling them to control all those whose minds were wired to the Sidonia. This development permitted the Head to provide families with instructions on when to eat. From there, bedtimes were assigned along with strictly abided timetables. Those who were not yet convinced expressed skepticism at these regulations but a preacher by the appellation of Jonathan Adriel stepped forward wielding a powerful message to the disbelievers.
"The Lord said to love thy neighbor as you would yourself!" It was midday on a Sunday in 2038 and the church was packed to its full capacity. "You who doubt are blinded by arrogance and self-importance, too foolish to seek the salvation God sacrificed his very son to enable. It is your moral duty to capitulate the evil of our covetous way. In the event that you refuse, only damnation will follow. Sacrilege is the worst sin imaginable as it separates us from the love and passion of God, putting your very immortality at risk.
"Without the Father, we are nothing. The Bible teaches us that all must submit to authority. Consequently, if you rebel, you are standing against God. Selfishness is not the way forward. In a world ruled by economic depression and dog-eat-dog Capitalism, it is easy to lose sight of the path. This operation will give us the opportunity to finally achieve a warless unity and fulfill God's plan".
His message aggregated to a commonplace. It was written on billboards and spread from door to door - from mother to child.
On July 5, 2040, the will of a democratic poll insisted this righteousness be imposed by force. When the brain completed its development at the age of twenty-five, the Sidonia Procedure became requisite. The moment this information was publicized, a group of would-be convalescents refused to go under the knife. They made open protests, demanding representation. Then, without warning, the cluster vanished. There was never a mention of rebellion in the papers. It was as though nothing had happened.
In result to Adam's surgery, civilians lacked the willpower to break or evade laws. In fact, they possessed no desire whatsoever. A terrifying stillness settled about the people. A deathly saturninity which seemed to suggest that at any given moment, they would all explode from the chaotic desperation building inside. Because she was only nineteen, Amber still bore signs of an individual consciousness. Her mind was untamed and free. Six more years, she thought; I have plenty of time. Nonetheless, it was the image of her sister's face which was so troubling. Her sister who had only a month until her scheduled treatment. Amber recalled those late nights when Rachel crept into her bed and whispered for fear that their parents may hear. She spoke of the archaic lifestyle pre-Sidonia and pleaded for some flicker of intellect within her.
"Amber," She breathed, "this is wrong. I wish you'd admit it".
"What good would that do for us?"
"We used to be so full of life and now-"
"Let's not worry. I'll think about it tomorrow".
A tomorrow forced back for years. A tomorrow she believed would not come if they only turned the other way and refused to evaluate it.
"Why are you so afraid of passing judgment?" Rachel's words cut like a whip and Amber could only respond in equal bitterness.
"Why do you insist on hurting us both?"
Her bus crawled up the road like a massive animal. There was an unflattering screech as it approached its designated stopping point and the doors swung open, revealing an ultimatum. There could be no alternative but to enter. Amber gathered her belongings and boarded, forcing away the concerns which so cruelly besieged her. She inertly scolded herself but the conception was reflexive and not the product of genuine guilt. As they chugged frontward, her vision fell upon the city; there was something eerie about the stillness its populace maintained even in motion. She noted with disgust how their shoulders hunched forward by way of ignominy as they dispensed into allotted buildings. The familiar pale of architecture was whitewashed over the passage of time. Like dying trees, their structures remained but all proposal of life had faded on.
Inez Academy embraced a similar display, stripped of its integrity and left to stand naked in the absence of color. Mr. Sloan, the assigned teacher for her age group, had once been a man to make even the highest in authority feel inconsequential before they were freed from the burden of esteem. Presently, he was just another echo of what had been. His eyes were dark but strangely intense when compared to the hollow stares she felt accustom to. Taller than most, he was encompassed by an imposing build framed by broad shoulders. He strolled mechanically from aisle to aisle and opened their lesson by proceeding to tap the desk of Celia Genera and ask, "Is this real?"
Celia looked up through her shadowy lashes. She was a quiet girl and seemed honestly startled by the inquest. "It is impossible to establish, sir".
"And why is that?"
"We have evidence that the desk is real. We can feel it with our hands and see it with our eyes. Evidence suggests something but is not verification. Our perception is null. For all I know, the desk is an illusion".
"Regarding this theory, there is no such thing as 'reality'; only arbitrary human conventions. However, in the privation of objective concretes, we cannot maintain order. How is it, then, that we determine what is real and what is not - Amber?"
She bit her lip softly and gazed through him, saying only what was expected: "God".
"Very good. It is by means of God that you know what to do. See, our minds are impotent as separate entities. If I posed the query - Alex?"
Amber was suddenly alert. She angled her head as to better see him, observing his reaction with a sense of unease. Alex Bryant was fairly good-looking with icy blue eyes and a constant impression of poise. Yet there was more to it than a physical manifestation. It was the way he held himself that made his attendance so startling to perceive in the being of their peers. For a beat, Mr. Sloan stopped speaking and simply watched him.
"What would happen without the authority of God?"
He oscillated briefly with some internal conflict before allowing an answer. "It is believed that we would revert to the position of savages and that no morality could be possible".
"That isn't belief," Mr. Sloan insisted, "It's irrefutable. Without a higher authority, how would we accurately judge what composes good and evil? How could we form decisions?"
"We couldn't. Of course, you're right". Alex leaned back, looking at ease. Mr. Sloan hesitated before continuing onwards.
"Exactly. It is for this reason that we require leaders. Man is evil by birth. We are conceived bearing the sin of our species: the curse of greed, lust... vanity. Prior to the Sidonia Procedure, we were filth. We walked on the backs of others and took like leeches, building upon suffering. For the first time in history, you have the opportunity to change. There is no authority except that which God has established".
Each sentence hit her like a blow to the stomach. It was not his words that disturbed her but to whom they were spoken. She longed desperately to see Alex make a counterclaim but he seemed peacefully alleviated, ignorant to her unvoiced wish. She encountered an irrational wave of anger and returned to the lethargic fog in revulsion.
"Who are you to question the government? You who are so young and know nothing. The Head is backed by the Lord himself! Therefore, all that they ask must be done without reproach. All that they wish is law".
The students resembled sponges: absorbing his speech while comprehending nothing. After what seemed ages, the bell announced a conclusion to their indoctrination and the flock shuffled out. Each day at the termination of her classes, Amber and the others would venture off to commit an atrocious sin. While the teachers were aware of this crime, they did not meddle. All the same, disapproval was not concealed by any stretch of the imagination.
"To 'need' for yourself is the very transgression for which the Sidonia Procedure was invented. This includes socializing and gathering with the intent of enjoying company," Mrs. Hershel, who taught the younger children, declared when the activity of the novices became apparent. "Fortunately, there is optimism for redemption in regards to those who cooperate. Remember: the origin of selfishness lies with Lucifer. When you choose greed, you have protested a higher dominion. Dislodgment from God and our government is treason".
And so it came to pass that they were not suspended from assembly but made to feel vile in the pursuit of personal aspiration. With sinking hearts, they surrendered to the enticement of gratification and came together in the city. At this junction, the firmament had shifted into brilliant shades of red and orange that shattered off the copper penny sinking aloft as the framework adumbrations of the housing structures extended their reach. When he arrived before her, she saw his shoes first: dark blue with black laces. Slowly, her eyes moved up to his face; a cruel slap among the vacant. But, as usual, Alex paid her assessment no profession.
They met this way to relax in the company of fellow individuals outside of a controlled environment. Sometimes they would talk with one another but conversations were usually diminutive between those frightened of vocalizing opinion. Under the cool afternoon glow, Amber lie in the grass and rest her head against a nearby wall, enjoying their hushed reverence. After what stretched into eternity, Claire, who was the oldest of the lot, broke her stillness with a chilling confession.
"I'm getting it done tomorrow. My twenty-fifth birthday," She mumbled, appearing torn between the dichotomy of pleasure and terror.
"Will you be leaving school?" Asked Duena Emil, impassive.
"I'll serve my community according to duty".
"That's very admirable".
"Perhaps," Amber had not endeavored to say it aloud and regretted doing so immediately. Her face flushed. Alex spared a trace of intrigue.
"Isn't your sister's deadline coming up?" He pressed.
"Yes. Sixteen more days".
"And how do you feel about that?"
Asking another to speak on emotion was a terrible taboo. She could feel the critical gawking of those around her and braced herself, deciding this was a topic best avoided.
"I don't care".
The disappointment as he focused his attention elsewhere was unprecedented but Duena disregarded her visage.
"It is admirable and noble as well," She continued, "Sub rosa, I can't wait until they let me get the operation. I wish we didn't have to wait".
There were murmurs of approval. Amber wished he'd look at her again.
"That's the wrong way of interpreting it," Snapped Nessa, a dark-haired militant notorious for her sharp tongue. "You shouldn't be getting the abscission because you want to. We're doing it because it's ethical".
"The government explained this," Claire concurred, seemingly reassured.
"Doesn't that make them selfish, though? I mean, none of the officials endured this procedure".
The increased tension was so dense that it may have been tangible. Amber recognized the speaker as Alyssa, a bolder version of Rachel, not yet compelled to hide her agility. She had demanding brown eyes and hair that scorched with the impression of fire, adding contrast to porcelain skin. Nessa reacted with vicious malevolence.
"The Head is a personification of altruism. They sacrificed their eternal salvation by not throwing out the minds of those in charge in order to appease a greater good. You should be ashamed for even considering that blasphemy".
"Ashamed for wanting to understand?"
They were boring holes into each other.
"God hears every thought you've ever had. He realizes you are weak".
"Or maybe you are weak! You hide behind-"
"He specifically told us to have faith".
"That's not to say we must blindly-"
"Adam and Eve were at peace with God until they took from the Tree of Knowledge. You accuse us of being blind but it was the idiosyncrasy of wonder that destroyed our species in the first place".
"That - I mean-" Alyssa looked defeated. The group watched her coldly and, realizing she had their unbreached support, Nessa moved in for a final kill.
"We live in a fallen world. It all collapsed when Adam and Eve disobeyed. We mustn't doubt those in command at risk of making the same mistake. Who are you to think? The Head is far more educated on these ordeals. Have faith".
Amber walked slowly through the town, focusing on the sound of her footsteps. Each collision of sole against pavement pushed her deeper into a recollection of Nessa's words.
I am going to cut if off here for this post. Constructive criticism, please? I take my writing very seriously but if you find something terribly wrong with the above passage, tell me so and I'll handle it without being too defensive.
Edited by Summer, 16 March 2010 - 09:01 PM.