…And Away Again

I shall post the next part of my ongoing story tomorrow in all likelihood, but I decided to write a short post tonight about my upcoming trip. Yes, another one.

My brother is graduating college, and my mother and I are flying to Chicago next Wednesday to join him in this exciting time. After his graduation, we’ll be helping him move out of his current apartment and relocate to Washington DC where he will be moving. I’ve seen Chicago before, recently even, and it is a marvelous city. However, what I’m most excited about this trip, apart from seeing my brother walk the walk in his cap and gown, is seeing Washington DC, home of the White House, home of our current president, Mr. Obama.

There is something so exciting about going to the hub of the US government – the city is supposed to be amazing, young and lively. There are, of course, the museums and the various memorials and sites to see around the city, but there is also supposed to be a hip and cool music scene apparently. It’s going to be an experience, to say the least.

I shall keep posting as much as I can during my trip, though I can’t promise regular posts – it will probably be like my last trip, a post every few days, sporadically.

Newspeak

I have, as the title would imply, been reading George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” It is an incredible book, and I am truly ashamed of not having read it before now. Then again, perhaps now I can understand it better than I would have four or five years ago.

As anyone who has read, or even heard of, the book knows, it is about a society and a government that have developed themselves in a way that eradicates all possibility of independent thoughts and actions. Or rather, the people who matter, the higher levels of society, are not allowed to freely think and feel, while the masses, the “proles”, lead their lives oblivious to what is going on in the government and in the country, concerned as they are with their day to day trivial matters.

While all of that is disturbing enough, one of the things that most troubled me as I was reading was the concept of “Newspeak.” Newspeak is the new language, one that is comprised of shortened words and terms so as to eventually kill the possibility of independent ideas, because there just won’t be enough words to express them. In the book there is actually a whole department whose job it is to eliminate words, useless words that aren’t necessary. I truly felt my heart pound with shock at the explanation in the book of how language doesn’t need the words “excellent” and “splendid” because they’re just “good” with a bit of exaggeration. Instead, there would be “plusgood” or “veryplusgood” to express things greater than just plain “good.”

How horrible the English language would be if ever it were reduced to such a bare bone! Just think; novels, poetry, plays and songs – all ruined, unable to exist anymore or even be written. Shivers literally go down my spine at the very thought.

Move [Part VIII]

Marianne was afraid for the first time in days. That is to say, she was consciously afraid – her muscles, whether she knew it or not, had been clenched in a sort of animal fear ever since she had first woken up in that cold steel room. But this was different. Marianne had gotten used to the routine of this place, these facilities in which she acted as lab-rat. Her mind was constantly ticking away and her plan was slowly forming during those short spans of time when she knew she wasn’t monitored as closely.

She was unprepared, therefore, for what was currently taking place. She had come to think of Miss Flanders as a scientist; pure, precise and utterly ruthless when it came to her experiments, one of which was Marianne, Adept [for she had been promoted from Novice apparently] #824. Marianne wasn’t ready for Miss Flanders to come into her room, sit down, and try to chat with her.

When Miss Flanders had entered, Marianne froze in what she had been doing. A panic that she had been discovered rose in her, for she had just been making her usual rounds of the room, jogging, trying to see if she could detect any more cameras in there. She jogged so as to have excuse in case she was asked what she was doing, taking rounds and rounds of the room as she did – exercise, she would reply. She promptly forgot this excuse, however, as the fear of Miss Flanders’ entrance erupted in her mind.

Miss Flanders didn’t ask a thing about what Marianne was doing. She didn’t speak for several minutes, but just sat down on the vacant bed in the room and stared politely at Marianne. Marianne couldn’t help noticing that Miss Flanders’ pupils were very wide, so her eyes looked blacker than ever. She also detected a strange smell about the woman, though she couldn’t explain what it was.

When Miss Flanders opened her mouth and asked Marianne the question, in a false, bubbly voice, Marianne knew that things were only going to get worse from now on, and she had to sit down on her bed to stop her legs from buckling completely.

“So, Marianne, what’s your mom like?” Miss Flanders asked.

“Wh-why? Why are you asking that?” Marianne was thinking furiously, trying to figure out what was happening here. She guessed by now how the Set worked, and she was chilled to her very bone at the thought of what they might do to her mother.

“Oh, I just want to know what you think of her. I mean, dear, all our other volunteer subjects talk about their families all the time,” Miss Flanders’ cheery voice was somehow much scarier than her normal, deep, musical and threatening voice. “You, however, seem rather quiet on the subject. You haven’t, for instance, asked to go home since those first few days.”

“Your OTHER volunteer subject? Meaning you think I’ve volunteered for this?” Marianne tried to take the subject away from her mother, but wasn’t sure whether or not Miss Flanders would see through this.

“Yes, you did. You applied, you got accepted, you signed the papers. Now, what about your mother?”

Marianne gulped. She knew that what was coming wouldn’t be a pleasant interview. She’d lie as well as she could, tell Miss Flanders that she absolutely loathed her mother, tell her whatever it took to try and convince her of that. She knew the truth though. She knew that they were planning something to do with her mother. As she lied fluidly to Miss Flanders, Marianne was speed-thinking, trying to figure out her plan and how she could carry it out quicker than she had intended. She resolved, as Miss Flanders raised her eyebrows in disbelief at Marianne’s lies, to begin practicing.

I’ll practice every night if I have to, she thought to herself. We’ll see how they like a taste of defiance soon enough.

History Being Made

My brother claims to vaguely remember sitting on the floor of the living room when he was very small and watching the Berlin Wall falling down on television. My parents obviously had the TV on that whole day in 1989, and as my brother was three years old, there’s every chance that he really remembers this historic event, however vaguely.

Tonight I had the pleasure to watch history being made as I watched President Obama, the first African American president of the United States and a man in whom I have more belief than in any other president I’ve witnessed in my short life, being inaugurated. As a cynic and often a pessimist, I know that things will not necessarily change for the better immediately, that Obama isn’t the sole ruler and that much depends on the Congress’s decisions – and yet I cannot help but be uplifted this evening, as I take in the fact that the “reign of Bush” has ended. A man who speaks in complete sentences is now in the Oval Office, and I am glad.

I don’t want to start any political arguments with this post. Mostly, I just want to point out how glad I am that I was able to watch and witness this great event – I know I will remember the swearing in of this 44th president always: sitting in the living room with my mother and my boyfriend, sighing at the wonderful speech Barack H. Obama gave, and feeling a ray of hope and sunshine filter through the television from that cold Washington D.C. morning.

Move [Part VII]

Miss Flanders was standing at the window into the room where Marianne was currently strapped into the chair. She looked thoughtfully at the girl, and saw that Marianne had succeeded in this next part of training as well – there were two wooden blocks floating now, one on each side of her.

Miss Flanders returned to the monitors and sat down in front of them, tracking the little lines with her calculating eyes and trying to decipher what the girl was thinking of that was giving her such extraordinary power so as that she managed to move two things simultaneously as she was doing now.

A door opened, and Miss Flanders spoke without turning around to see who it was.

“I think she’s thinking about her family again.” She pondered aloud. The man who had entered made an indistinct noise in his throat and put down the tray he was carrying beside the monitors. He handed one of the mugs on the tray to Miss Flanders and sat down beside her, staring intently at the monitors with her.

“There’s something new there, though. Look, right there, see it? Just once in a while. What could that be?” He said quietly as Miss Flanders took a sip of the drink he had given her. She made a face at it.

“God, that tastes nasty,” She said. “Anyway, yes, I see it. We’ll need to start analyzing that tonight. You want to do it, George? I want to spend some time with her tonight, see what I can get.”

“Sure,” He said, smiling as he saw Miss Flanders pupils widening slightly and taking a sip of his own mug. “It does taste nasty, you’re right.”

Move [Part VI]


Marianne was in a chair that resembled the kind found in dentists’ offices, except that there were no trays full of sticks for fiddling in mouths beside her. Instead, she was loosely strapped into this chair at her wrists and ankles, and she was alone. Opposite her she could see a wall that was one long mirror. She knew that this wall must be a one way mirror and that the people who gave her instructions were, in fact, on the other side and watching her every move. As if it’s not bad enough that they get to see my thoughts, she thought bitterly.It had been three days now since Marianne had been taken from her cold, steel room. Miss Flanders, the woman who had collected her from there, had taken her to a spacious room, steel like the first, but warm and full of comforts. She had a comfortable bed with a thick mattress, a desk with some writing paper and pens on it, and, best of all, a bookcase crammed full of books. There was also a spare bed in the room, but Marianne was quite alone and there didn’t seem to be any other occupant at any time.

Marianne felt that she was now pampered, as if to placate her after the bad treatment she had received. Miss Flanders and the others greatly wanted her cooperation, and she was ashamed that she had given it to them, mostly because she was too weary and too scared to defy them.

But not for much longer… No, mustn’t think about that, or they’ll know. She quickly began to think about her mother again and about her sadness and aching heart and the way she missed her home. But in the back of her mind, which she had learned to hide away, a plan was forming…

Move [Part V]

Something was different. Marianne knew it the moment she woke up, because she woke up naturally, for once. There was no rattle of the dumbwaiter; there was no muffled crackle of the speaker. She sat up on her mattress, crossed her legs, and rubbed her eyes. She looked around the room, and immediately saw a difference. A difference so staggering that she felt her stomach clench – whether with fear or excitement, she didn’t know.There was someone in the room with her. Someone was sitting on a simple, steel chair that was right against the opposite wall. Marianne gaped. She took the person sitting there in, inch by inch, while they scrutinized her right back.

The person sitting in the chair was a woman. She had very high cheekbones that were prominently displayed over the black doctor’s mask that was hiding the rest of her lower face. A pair of eyes, the iris’s so darkly brown they appeared black from afar, were above the cheekbones, perfectly framing a slightly long, very straight nose. The woman’s hair was rather surprising – she was a redhead. Though her hair was swept back in a tight bun, it seemed like it wanted to break out and spring back into its normal state of bouncy curliness.

The woman crossed her legs and placed her white hands upon her knee. She then spoke, and Marianne knew instantly that it was this woman’s voice that pierced her through every day, the voice that emerged from the crackly speaker. It was deep, for a woman, and slightly rough, but there was a musical tone to it as well, as if this woman could sing jazz easily.

“Well,” she said. “It’s nice to finally be able to greet you in person, Marianne.”

Marianne didn’t know what to say, so she continued to stare at the woman. She wondered if the woman expected her to be pleased to see a human face, perhaps even be grateful for it. She got her answer in a moment though, when the woman spoke again.

“I’m sure you hate me, Marianne. That’s alright, I don’t really care one way or another,” the woman’s eyes crinkled as she spoke, as if she were smiling beneath the mask. “I am glad, however, of how obedient you’ve been since those first few days when things were… shall we say, difficult. You’ve become a model subject. Your progress is impressive, I must say. It is time, therefore, to get you out of this room and into the next stage of our facilities. I think you will find them more comfortable than these rooms.”

The woman stood up, and moved the chair to one side. The panel of steel wall behind her instantly slid open. She beckoned to Marianne, and gestured toward the open doorway, which seemed to lead into a hallway made of some more steel.

“Well…?” she said. “I hope you’re not going to make this difficult.” A threatening note was evident in her voice as she continued with “You know what happens then, don’t you, Marianne?”

Marianne got to her feet. She strode through the door, shivering slightly at the thought of what would happen if she struggled now. She really, truly didn’t want to know.