Author ‘Nathan Burgoine is hosting monthly flash fiction. May’s edition asked for Science Fiction, set above the clouds, with a dog whistle. I leave above the clouds in this one to be a clouded conscience. Ok, yeah, I’m reading that back into it…
This story is set in my Age of Revelations universe and is set in the 2030 or 40s
Whistle While You Hate
“We cannot allow these deluded people put innocent children at risk,” Adam wrote, then stopped, unable to continue. The article he was assigned was one he could not in good conscience continue. Looking at the calendar Adam wondered how much longer he would have to work for the newspaper. He had started working as a journalist forty years ago, before North America went downhill. Before the theocracy. Before the annexation of most of Canada into the United States. Before dissent earned a person prison time.
He sighed, stood, and stretched. Joints cracked, creaked, and sounded like the slogan for a well known rice cereal. Looking around the office Adam wondered if he could get away with taking his break five minutes early. One of his co-workers had been punished a day or two before for “dereliction of duty” because he took an unauthorized break. He had been suspended without pay for one week. Adam moved away from his desk toward the kitchen area to refill his water.
Returning to his seat he re-read the instructions for the article.
“Adam, I want you to write an article about the recent riot. We must make it clear that these demonstrations are not only anti-Christian, but unpatriotic and illegal. They are flaunting the God ordained rule of our government.”
Bile rose in Adam’s throat, the acid burning. He swallowed his water quickly. He didn’t think that vomit all over the computer would not endear him to management, or his co-workers. Adam looked through his drawer for his stash of antacids. They were where they always were, right at the front. He picked the bottle up and took the last one and ate it.
Adam continued to write, “these protestors at Queen’s Park are undermining the authority of the government and its support for religious freedom in Ontario. Their demands would put the eternal souls of all those in Ontario at risk.”
This was too much. He could not continue. He looked around the office, trying to figure out who from management was there. The insertion point blinked at him from the word processor, silently demanding that he continue to write the article. Blink, blink, blink. Each blink a reminder that all keystrokes were monitored, how fast each person typed, how many words, how many deletions, and any sarcastic comments that were inserted before being deleted before submission of the draft article.
In an effort to buy some time, Adam re-opened the police press release about the demonstration. It was expected that he use the facts as presented by the police and the government without question. This wasn’t journalism, it was state-mandated propaganda.
The news release described how the protestors were violent, attacked the police and were threatening the lives of the politicians. “Three police officers were injured by the anarchist protestors,” he read.
Injured? They were in full body-armour, Adam thought. What did they do, stub their toes while kicking handcuffed protestors?
“Courageous police officers stood up to the protestors, protecting our representatives from harm,” Adam wrote in the article. Unsure how he would write the rest of that thought he moved to another line. He paused again, unsure how to write such an abhorrent article.
There was movement in the corner of Adam’s vision. Looking up he noticed a man walking across the newsroom toward his desk. It was the news editor, Deacon Thornton.
“Adam, how is the article about the near-riot at Queen’s Park coming along?” the editor asked.
“Not bad, sir,” Adam replied in a respectful tone. “I want to make sure that I convey just how dangerous and unpatriotic those people are.”
“I know that you will do well, I am always inspired by your articles. Your faith and unswerving obedience to God’s will, and ability to convey His message does you credit.”
“Thank you, sir, that means a lot to me coming from you.”
“Keep up the good work, I look forward to reading the final article,” Thornton finished and walked away, smiling.
Adam’s insides felt like they wanted to erupt from his mouth. He couldn’t handle much more of this. Deacon Thornton’s reign as editor started the previous year when the Truth and Freedom of the Press Act became law. The act mandated that all editorial staff at newspapers be approved by The One Church of the Gospel. As a result, all content was under religious control and required to uphold church doctrine and teachings. There was no more freedom of religion. People were free to choose any religion as long as it was The One Church of the Gospel.
The government news release taunted Adam from the screen. Adam read it one more time and continued to write, not really thinking about the words going into the article. They were not his words. They were alien to him even as his fingers moved across the keyboard. Rather than the contents of his stomach exploding onto the desk, he felt like he was vomiting words into the article.
As the deadline drew closer he went to work editing the copy he had written. Suppressing his distaste he was not happy with what he had written. Knowing that Deacon Thornton would be thrilled. Adam could not comprehend how someone who professed to be a representative of a loving God could be party to these lies.
Reading through the article one last time he wanted to retch at his words.
“These people move against God’s will for the protection of the children of our state. They want Ontario children to be at the mercy of those who would oppose God’s will. The government only seeks to protect our children by requiring all daycare workers to be approved by the Church. These daycare workers, these women, must listen to our leaders. The men ordained by God to monitor and dictate their daily activities.”
The whistle blew, ending the work day. He felt like a dog, having to respond to a whistle that he felt through his whole body.