Thursday, 31 January 2013

Beware the jabberwock

Terribleminds flash fiction challenge 
26 jan  - motifs

“A motif is not a theme. It is not a mood. It is a recurring element. A repeated symbol or overarching image.” Again, three options. I rolled:
9             motif -             mirror
1             subgenre -       dystopia
6             setting -           An amusement park

A dystopia is a community or society, usually fictional, that is in some important way undesirable or frightening. It is the opposite of a utopia. Such societies appear in many works of fiction, particularly in stories set in a speculative future. Dystopias are often characterized by dehumanization, totalitarian governments, environmental disaster, or other characteristics associated with a cataclysmic decline in society. Elements of dystopias may vary from environmental to political and social issues. Dystopian societies have culminated in a broad series of sub-genres of fiction and are often used to raise real-world issues regarding society, environment, politics, religion, psychology, spirituality, or technology that may become present in the future. For this reason, dystopias have taken the form of a multitude of speculations, such as pollution, poverty, societal collapse, political repression, or totalitarianism.
Famous depictions of dystopian societies include Nineteen Eighty-Four, a totalitarian invasive super state; Brave New World, where the human population is placed under a caste of psychological allocation; aspects of the film Demolition Man; Fahrenheit 451, where the state burns books out of fear of what they may incite. The Iron Heel was described by Erich Fromm as "the earliest of the modern Dystopian". from wikipedia

Beware the jabberwock.

The new conservative government had been right wing. Everyone knew that. But over time, they veered ever so slightly further to the right. They made changes to the laws for security. For the preservation of our way of life. They protected people’s rights.

People were glad. It’s about time someone did something, they said.

And the hippie greenie anti-development people protested.

People ignored them. What did they know? Damn tree huggers.
More laws came in for more security. People had ID cards and travel restrictions. Closed circuit cameras were installed everywhere. For your safety. People felt safer; even if they actually weren’t.

The statistics said crime was down. Journalists argued that the figures were wrong. Newspapers were closing down as people got their news from the internet. Entertainment replaced current affairs programmes.

They voted the government in again. The government transferred the Police force into the hands of a corporation. It started as a budgetary thing.

It called itself The Force. It sounded strong and safe. The civil rights people protested; they shouted about the separation of Law and State. With all the new laws, there were many more arrestees awaiting trial.

The people were glad.

The government built bigger, newer prisons. More secure, they said. They employed many more judges to clear the backlog in the justice system. More people were given prison sentences, so they needed more prisons. They filled up quickly. The new laws didn’t allow people to publish or voice criticism. People were arrested who spoke out against the government or The Force. The CCTV was used as evidence.

The people felt a little nervous as their neighbours started to disappear.

The new laws stopped them moving out of the city. People were confined to areas, for their own safety you understand.

The government changed the laws to allow them to stay in government… permanently.

With all the cameras around, you spoke quietly all the time and you only spoke honestly after dark, and then only to your closest friends.

There was a new tech advance; a camera that looked like a thin mirror. The rights were bought up by The Force. Slowly word of it was suppressed.

Hushed whispers still travelled quickly. The people chewed their lip. Mirrors started to pop up everywhere.

A mirror could be a camera. Any mirror. Anywhere. A public toilet. Your bathroom. How could you tell?

People were nervous.

What could they do?

If people were walking in the streets they kept their eyes down, avoiding the mirrors. They no longer looked at each other. Men with beards were arrested on sight.

The streets cleared.

A lone blogger wrote about their favourite book; Alice in Wonderland. It was a classic novel and literary nonsense, so it was allowed as entertainment.
Some clever people remembered that the book’s sequel was called ‘Through the looking glass’ and that a looking glass was a very old word for a mirror. Clever people took notice of Blogger Alice.

Her tag was Alice. No one was even sure that she was a girl. They listened to her nonsense. She encouraged a return to old entertainments. To reading and amusement parks and fairgrounds to return to your memories.

Clever people realized that the hall of mirrors, where the mirrors showed distorted views of people to amuse, were the only place where the mirrors were sure to be real. The CCTV mirrors showed a perfect reflection. An amusement park became the only place where you could meet and talk safely.

The seeds of rebellion were planted.

Beware the jabberwock, Alice said.

More people listened.

Alice made her moves across all eight ranks of the chessboard until she became Queen.

Go through the looking glass, she said.

Alice said to break the mirrors. Do it on the day she becomes queen. And the time was sunset, when Alice farewelled the white knight.

On that day all the mirrors were broken so that people could see clearly again.

And then the war started.

© AM Gray 2012

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