Dystopian fiction by Vita Cherepanova
Message from the writer
I can’t help constantly thinking about what our world is going to be in a few centuries. With modern technologies overtaking the majority of processes in our lives, we are getting further and further away from nature. The core moral values and beliefs, “rights and wrongs”, are slowly dissolving in the atmosphere, becoming ancient history, as decades pass. Our society has become chaotic. Sometimes I think: how soon is humanity going to face self-destruction? I have a feeling that this is not a question of “if”, but rather “when”. We are failing to take care of our environment, don’t pay enough attention to our mental health and exist in the fictional world of social media. Running away from reality. Pretending to care. I’m not saying that we are all the same, don’t get me wrong. I have faith in human kindness, generosity and sincerity, however I realise that the modern generation can be characterized in six sad words: “Embrace the image, forget the contents”. Shallow. Shocking. Scary.
So, again, I was thinking about the future of Earth and I came up with the idea of writing an opening chapter of a dystopian book. What if overpopulation becomes a fatal global issue and governments have to take cruel action in order to save our planet and future generations? What if cannibalism becomes an answer? Sounds terrifying, but still... what if? Keeping this question in mind, I invite you to enter the dystopian story, depicting a horrifying world.
We collect memories through senses. The sound of birds piping their calming morning chants The smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls and black coffee flowing from the local café. The taste of icy lemonade on a boiling July day. The sight of someone’s smile. The gentle touch of a loved one. Imagine not having those memories. Not just forgetting them but having no access to them.
Hello, I am Ronnie Francis, I am 18, and I’ve never heard a bird piping. Ironically, my surname means “free”, which does not apply to anyone living in this world. At least in the place I grew up, in the place that I know, the place that I am supposed to call my home.
My childhood memories are blurry, but I vividly remember the day I turned 6 years old. The rainy November morning of 2376. I woke up to the sight of six middle-aged women, dressed in white formal suits. Different complexion, same ambiance. Fake smile, honed movements, drafted speech. They looked like ghosts with no identity but just a void behind the perfect image. The whole day those women were testing my physical and mental abilities, attaching devices to my body, as if I was an experimental object. Hours after this exhausting birthday surprise one of the ladies, Suzanne Hendrix, squatted to reach my height and shook my bony hand.
“Ronnie, why are you so pale? Are you feeling unwell? Do they not feed you enough here?”- she faked her concern and glanced at my mother.
“Ms. Francis, her blood test implies there is not enough protein in her body, have you been receiving daily deliveries of meat?”, asked Suzanne impertinently.
“Mhm, I mean, yes we have. Ronnie is just not very keen on the taste of human carcass. She is a stubborn kind. Once she read a historical article about something called “animals”, that apparently existed back in the 2100s and were the main source of food. Now she is curious what they taste like and says that eating human meat is boring”, my mother answered, rubbing my hair nervously, making me feel her racing heartbeat through the crown of my head.
“Ronnie shouldn’t know what she is not supposed to know, Ms. Francis. She will learn it in her faction, later, when the right time comes. It’s a shame you broke the rules. I don’t have a choice.”
“Not here, Suzi, not now, not in front of her”, one of the women pointed me out with her dark brown eyes.
“Right. Well, it doesn’t matter anymore, now she’ll be supervised in Art & Science by me”, stated Suzanne, devouring my mom with her cold sight. She then looked at me again. “And you shouldn’t worry, you’ll get used to the meat. The chefs in my faction are fantastic! Soon you’ll drop the desire to try anything else. We better get going now”, she said, grabbing my hand tight enough for it to turn completely white from the squeeze.
I was told mom would be visiting me every week - not very often - because she works in the Biochemistry faction 60 km away. She was crying heavily, though, so I knew something was wrong. Apart from the fact that I was no longer going to be living with her. Suzanne was now dragging me out of the house. I couldn’t escape, handicapped by her physical superiority. The last thing I remember is my mom mouthing: “I love you. Work hard. Stay strong. Only trust yourself”.
That was the last time I saw my mother.
And here I am. 18 years and 7 months old. People describe me as introverted and humble. Twitchy and suspicious is what they mean, but sugar coating everything makes them feel better about themselves. There is no such thing as friends here. You can’t trust anyone except yourself. And I even doubt this part sometimes, because our thoughts are not a private matter. The government reads us like daily news. Suzanne says it is necessary “to ensure A & S is a safe and peaceful environment”. So, I try not to comprehend, not to reflect, not to analyse. Today is the first time I have to take part in the competition, where the prize is another stressful 6 months of existence before the next contest. We live in a loop. Work hard not to be killed and eaten by “the worthy ones”, earn your right to breathe. Death doesn’t seem that scary when I live thinking about it every day. When I wake up, when I eat, when I work, when I sleep and right now, as I’m stepping on the knife edge. Walking up to the stage ready to present my unique invention. Something the world can benefit from. Something that will convince the authorities my place is not on the butcher’s cutting board.
I stood in the centre of the platform and attached the sensors to my head for the authorities to access my brain. My knees shaking, blood pulsating in the temples, jaw clenching with anxiety.
“My name is Ronnie Francis, I work in the A & S faction as a specialist in digital art. With the time we’ve been given I created an app that projects any artwork as a 3D model.” I took a big gulp of air, tense from all people watching me. The pause was too long.
“Okay, Ronnie, sounds good so far, now explain the details and show how your creation works, won’t you?”, said one of the administrators quickly.
“She stole my work!”, screamed a female voice from the crowd. “Liar! Thief!”
I heard Death whispering “hello” in my ear. My heart dropped. I take it back. Maybe I am scared for my life after all.