August 10th, 2019

August 10th, 2019

Mr. and Mrs. Walker awaken to what looks to be another day of blistering heat and high humidity in Garnersville, U.S.A., a small suburb situated on the Hudson River just north of New York City. In the shower, fully lathered down with soap, Mr. Walker moves under the weak stream of water to rinse himself off. Only half-rinsed, with soap still running down his body, the water abruptly shuts itself off. “Damn it!” Stan Walker bellows, but reluctantly steps out of the stall and blindly reaches for a towel and wipes the soap from his eyes. Able to see now he notices the green and yellow lights blinking on the com center built into the bathroom wall just above the towel rack. Pushing the button next to the yellow light he reads the message on the small monitor.

Water allotment for user 012-52-5197 has been reached. Next
allotment will be available at 0600 on 08/12/19.
See you then!

Mr. Walker entertains the idea of punching in his wife’s social security number and using some of her water allotment to finish rinsing the soap off his body but decides that wouldn’t be fair to her. Toweling off he pushes the button next to the blinking green light and grumpily yells into the wall unit, “What?” knowing it is his wife calling him.

“My, ain’t we bright and chipper this morning!” comes his wife’s voice through the little com speaker.

“Sorry,” he replied. “But the damn water shut off before I was fully rinsed.”

Half-heartedly, his wife offers to let him use some of her allotment to finish his shower.

“Thanks, but no, I’m not gonna take away from your shower just because I forgot to set the one minute warning alarm.”

Relieved, Stan’s wife asks him what he wants for breakfast.

“How ’bout bacon and eggs, hash browns, toast and jelly?”

“I’ll check, but I don’t think your diet will allow for that.” she answers.

“Whatever,” he replies. “I’ll be down in a bit.”

In the kitchen Emily enters her husband’s social security number into the food preparer and types out his request for bacon, eggs and hash browns. Not surprisingly, she gets a quick response on the food preparer monitor that reads:

Your request for bacon, eggs and hash browns has been denied and
order cancelled. Reason: Cholesterol and fat content of your
selection exceeds the maximum weekly allowance for user
012-52-5197. Please make another selection.

Emily quickly types in her second choice. Not Stan’s second choice mind you, but something she knows will be accepted by the ever watchful and intrusive food preparer.

By the time Stan gets dressed and makes his way to the kitchen table his breakfast is ready and waiting.

“Not this again!” Stan moans to his wife as he looks down into a bowl of oatmeal, two slices of dry wheat toast, a half glass of orange juice and a cup of decaffeinated coffee. “Where’s my bacon and eggs?”

“We already had bacon and eggs once this week dear, and you know as well as I that HE won’t allow anyone to consume any more fat or cholesterol than the Surgeon-General deems healthy. We’ve been through all this before, honey, you just have to accept it. Now eat your oatmeal so we can go for our morning walk before it gets too hot.”

Stan took a few bites of his oatmeal but he mostly just swirled his spoon around in the bowl. He didn’t like this new healthier life style that was being forced upon him and everyone else in the industrialized world. He didn’t like being told what he could or couldn’t eat. Didn’t like that he was only allowed a five minute shower every other day. Hated that he was forced to go for a two mile walk every day just because HE says it’s needed exercise. But mostly he hated that everyone in the world, including himself, had rolled over and accepted this total monitoring and control over their lives with nary a squawk of resistance. How did they ever let one man become so powerful? Sure, there had been a handful of people, a couple million perhaps here in the States and maybe another three or four million throughout the rest of the world that had resisted and refused to be herded like sheep, but most of them ended up having to flee the cities and towns and take refuge in the deserts, mountains and forests of the world in order to escape the ever watchful monitoring systems of the New World Government. Monitoring systems provided and installed, free of charge, in every house, apartment, business, and public building by B.G. Enterprise.

Stan cursed the day when all the world’s leaders sold out and agreed to let B.G. Enterprise infiltrate itself into the daily goings-on of just about every man, woman and child on the planet. At the time it seemed like the right thing to do, but now… Stan wasn’t so sure.

That day was ten years ago, when the threat of global nuclear destruction had reached a 90% probability with the likes of Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, India and North Korea all possessing nuclear capability and threatening to use it. Which in turn brought the nuclear-tipped ICBM’s of the United States, China and Russia back on-line, armed and standing by for the inevitable confrontation. The United Nations Security Council, tasked with defusing the situation, was actually adding more fuel to the fires with its constant bickering and finger pointing. Had it not been for the seemingly levelheaded intervention of B.G. Enterprise’s CEO, Bill Gates, the third rock from the Sun, most agree, would today be a lifeless, contaminated, dead planet.

Not long after he exerted his influence on the powers of the world and prevented them from blowing the planet to smithereens, Bill Gates proposed to those same powers his ideas for a global monitoring system which would eliminate once and for all any possibility that one or a handful of nations could hold the rest of the world hostage under the threat of any kind of mass destruction, be it nuclear or otherwise. He also promised the added benefit of a kinder, gentler, less hostile populace.

Humbled by their inabilities at having dealt with the near self-destruction of Planet Earth, the powers-that-be in the world went along with Bill Gates’ plans. Thus was born the New World Government.

And although the crime rate throughout the world had become practically non-existent since the monitoring systems of B.G. Enterprise completely and flawlessly kept track of every known criminal and red flagged for the authorities any suspicious behavior by anyone subject to New World monitoring–which is just about everyone on the planet. And the people of the poorer nations around the world were no longer starving, again thanks to B.G. Enterprise’s monitoring systems and Bill Gates’ ingenious use of this system to equally distribute the food caches of the more advanced agricultural nations. But even after all the apparent good that had come from B.G. Enterprise and its CEO, Stan felt betrayed, stripped and deprived of even the most basic freedoms he once took for granted only a few years ago.

Stan reached unconsciously into his shirt pocket for his pack of cigarettes and groaned as it dawned on him for the millionth time that he no longer smoked. He hadn’t had a cigarette in over three years, ever since the New World Government, headed up by Bill Gates, convinced (or bribed) the tobacco producing nations of the world to declare the growing and/or selling of tobacco products to be illegal acts. Although you could still find cigarettes on the black market, they cost a prohibitive $75 a pack and carried the risk of a lengthy prison sentence if you were caught using the substance. Stan decided all that wasn’t worth it and allowed himself–at his wife’s urging–to be checked into a substance abuse program for smokers, provided and paid for by none other than B.G. Enterprise. But while Stan supposed he was better off without the cigarettes and admittedly felt better than ever before, the idea that he had no choice in the decision kept gnawing at him. Stan did not like the control that was being exerted over his life. He felt he had no more freedom or independence than a common household pet.

Many diseases had been eradicated by the year 2019, but not through any earth shattering medical or scientific breakthroughs. Heart disease, for instance, is no longer the number one cause of death in 2019. In fact, it’s quite rare. Stan couldn’t remember the last time he heard of someone dying of a heart attack. But when people are no longer allowed to ingest the harmful ingredients of tobacco products into their bodies and their diets are strictly regulated by Big Brother’s food preparer, most of the causes of heart disease disappear. Also gone–or almost gone–are obesity, most kinds of cancer, tumors, and strangely enough, even the common cold. AIDS is no longer a player in the killer disease arena either. Not because of a cure but because Big Brother, aka The New World Government, eliminated the spread of the disease. All those found to be infected with full blown AIDS or testing positive for HIV were removed from society six years ago and placed in quarantine, there to live out their lives comfortably but away from the rest of the population. Everyone else is now tested for the disease on a monthly basis, and anyone testing positive is immediately relocated and put into quarantine with the original sufferers. According to the New World Government statistics, there hadn’t been a new case of AIDS requiring relocation in almost two years, proving that the battle was being won. Nobody seemed too overly upset that these people were jerked out of their homes and–without having a say about what happened to them–were forced into isolation until they succumbed to their inevitable hard death.

Stan had his doubts about how comfortable these people had been made or how humanely they were treated because once they were taken out of society they were never seen nor heard from again.

Like most of the population of the world, Stan had gone along with the changes being proposed by B.G. Enterprise. After all, who could argue against less crime, world peace, a healthier population, and a respite from the ever increasing tension and stress of everyday life? That was the picture being painted by B.G. Enterprise and implemented under the authority of the New World Government. It all seemed too good to be true. So Stan and Emily, like most everyone else, voted to allow changes to be made in the U.S. Constitution that would, in essence, turn over the governing authority of the country to the global management of the New World Government.

Not everyone went along with or agreed to Bill Gates’ proposals for a kinder, gentler world. Those who refused to allow their DNA to be typed and recorded were refused the benefits that came from living under the protective umbrella of the New World Government.

These people could not be gainfully employed within the system, nor could they find housing other than a tent or a burned out or abandoned building. They had to fend for themselves when it came to food, clothing or medical attention. It was a hard existence at best and if the news reports coming from the last remaining broadcasting station in the world, BGB/CNN, could be believed, these wayward, outcast, non-conforming Individualists, as they are called, were rapidly declining in number. The news reports said that the Individualists were dying off due to lack of food and clean water, diseases caused by living in unsanitary communal environments, and widespread murders over matters as inconsequential as a loaf of bread or a pair of shoes. The reports go on to say that a great number of Individualists are abandoning this lifestyle and begging to be reinstated into the mainstream of the New World Government.

Stan wasn’t so quick to believe these reports ever since he had talked to a group of the Individualists who were still living on the outskirts of the city. Stan had spent the whole afternoon yesterday with about twenty-five of these people when he inadvertently stumbled into their camp while riding his mountain bike through the forest bordering the Hudson River. Stan was welcomed into their camp with open arms after it was determined that he was not a member of the NWG Police Force. From what he could see, these people weren’t starving or lacking anything other than the few amenities that a permanent home would provide. Things like indoor plumbing, hot and cold running water, electricity, and a soft clean bed were nice to have but weren’t absolute necessities. They hunted for their food using bow and arrows or by setting traps and they fished the many streams that fed the Hudson. This particular group of Individualists even had a medical doctor among them.

What surprised Stan the most about these people was the fact that these people were happy. Truly happy. He could see it in their eyes. See it in the way they interacted with each other. He watched as four little children played a game of tag and listened to them laugh and giggle as they chased one another around the campsite. He watched four women, one of whom was obviously in her last trimester of pregnancy, sitting at a makeshift table slicing up pieces of meat and vegetables for a stew. They too were laughing and carrying on like they hadn’t a worry in the world. When Stan pointed to two men digging with shovels on the distant perimeter of the campsite and asked what they were doing, he was told they were digging a new latrine. Even those men seemed to be joking and carrying on as though they were enjoying what they were doing. And they probably were, Stan thought. He hadn’t heard this much laughter or seen this much joviality since… well, since before everyone became subject to monitoring. A tinge of jealousy settled over Stan like a dull toothache.

The Individualists inundated Stan with questions. Mostly they wanted to know if Stan had noticed any deterioration in the monitoring system or heard any reports that the system was being tampered with.

“Not really,” Stan told them. “Although I doubt the government would tell us anything if they thought someone was tampering with the system. They would want to keep that kind of information in-house and quiet.”

“So you haven’t noticed any glitches, even small ones that are causing problems in the system?” asked Anita, who seemed to be one of the leaders of the clan.

“What sort of glitches?” Stan asked.

“Anything. Little mistakes, like not recognizing a user’s social security number right away. Or bugs in the food preparers; overcooking or undercooking meals, perhaps. Or a noticed drop in the efficiency of the climate control modules in your house or office. Things like that.”

“No, I haven’t noticed any problems at all in the system. It seems to run like a well-oiled machine, as they say.”

Anita nodded. “It’s still early yet. Steve said it might take a few days to manifest itself.” Then she looked up into his eyes. “Are you and your wife happy living under the direction of this New World Government, Stan?

Stammering a bit, Stan was unable to meet the women’s gaze. “Uh… well… I wouldn’t exactly say we were happy but it’s not really all that bad. We live comfortably, we don’t have to worry about where our next meal will come from. We have a roof over our heads. We can go outside at night without the threat of being mugged. We both have jobs and when we retire in another eight years we’ll still be able to live at the same level we are now. It’s security that not many had before HE took the reins.”

Shaking her head and still looking at him she said, “That’s some Utopia you describe, Stan. You know, we have a few pets in camp here. A couple of dogs, several cats, a dairy cow. And you know what? They’re living the same protected secure existence that you just described. Is that all you want out of life? Are you and your wife happier now than you were before the United States lost its sovereignty?

Stan didn’t answer. He knew what his answer was but couldn’t bring himself to voice it.

Anita let him off the hook. “No matter. It won’t be long now before the New World Government finds out it bit off a little more than it could chew by thinking it could suppress the almost two hundred and fifty years of independence and freedom that still lingers inside the hearts of the people of this country. All they need is a little taste of the independence they once had and they’ll remember how it use to be. They’ll want those freedoms back, Stan. And Steve is about to give them that little taste.”

“Steve? Steve who?” Stan asked.

“Steve Jobs, of course.”

To be continued:

Pete Miner

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