BedLaM 14

(A message in a bottle.)

I am old enough to remember happier times.

There used to be small shops and restaurants, cafes and bars all along the main street of our town. Not any more. A lot of the buildings are still there but the units are empty.  Everything we buy is delivered from warehouses which are fenced off and under military protection. The delivery drivers have an armed security guard riding with them and keeping beside them right to our front door. We must sign for everything every time and show ID.

Everything is very expensive. We buy much less food than we used to. The smaller children have never tasted meat or fish.

We are classed as “white” – even though two of us aren’t – so none of us in our part of this house gets relief money. You must be classed “of color” to get the government payout, unless you were ever in prison in the old days when people used to be punished for stealing or setting fire to buildings or killing police or taking children away from their parents. Then the credit you get is called “reparation payment”.

We cannot go for walks or bicycle rides. Our car was taken from us even though it was electric.

The schools are closed. They say the buildings are put to some use but we don’t know what. Children are taught by television and only officially sanctioned textbooks may be used. Formal home schooling is forbidden. Privately owned libraries have been confiscated, but there is a list of books you are allowed to own, up to a certain number.

All the prisons have been closed down, and the law courts, and the police offices and barracks. There are no police.

The hospitals are behind high fences and gates and are heavily guarded. Only ambulances are let in. You book an ambulance if you need to go to a hospital. The wait can be days, even weeks. The only exception is if you want an abortion. Then an ambulance comes for you in a few minutes. But if you lie so as to get to a hospital you are denied treatment. There is no emergency service. If people are injured in a street accident they are taken to a fire station for immediate first aid and then wait their turn for hospital treatment. Most firefighters are trained paramedics and do not fight fires.

If you work with your hands in a factory or as a repairperson, you are transported by bus. If you work at home you can only go outside into your own yard, provided it’s fenced in and has no back gate.

Every night, after curfew, we can hear gunshot like we used to hear traffic and talk and insects.

We are not allowed to have a gun in the house. We have put bars and grids over our doors and windows, and we have hoses ready in case of fire. But there are hours every day when we have no water. And hours when we have no electricity. Our old central heating and air-conditioning no longer work.

Our telephones will only get through to certain given numbers. Everything we send by email goes to the censors, whoever they are, and only some are sent on to the addresses we put on them. No messages to private people are allowed. We can send them to our representatives in the town or the state or Congress, or the IRS, or the boss of the government department we work for.

Voting is compulsory. Our ballot sheets are brought to us with the name of the person we are voting for already printed on them. All each of us needs to do is sign a sheet in front of the official who brings it. There is only one political party.

Very little traffic comes along our road. Just delivery vans, workplace buses, occasional ambulances, the military patrols, repair trucks, dog catchers, and the government inspectors’ armored cars. The inspectors call at every house a few times a week, at different times, sometimes at two or three in the morning. They are the highest paid workers. They are all “people of color”. (So are all the armed security guards.)

We do not know if it is the same everywhere in America, or anywhere else in the world. We only know what we are told during one news hour every evening: climate control data, the latest taxes and the dates by which they must be paid, information about the current epidemic and what we must do about it, whether masks, inoculations, isolation, and/or fines.

A security guard who came with a delivery person told me she was going on next to a house by the sea, so I asked her to throw this message in a bottle into the water. I’ve had it ready (except for this last paragraph) for days. I explained what it was. She seemed sympathetic. I think she will do me the favor, though I can’t be sure. If she takes it to the inspectors I’ll be in trouble. If you who are reading this are not an inspector, and are in another country, well, just so you know …

Posted under satire, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, January 7, 2022

Tagged with ,

This post has 14 comments.

Permalink