Silence is blood
Copyright © 2011 Howlyn KEFTS
thumping growl of the judge made me start, dragging me back to
reality I loathed was going on over and over again, always the same
though each day more monstrous. And each night, the same silent hope
would fall upon the people, the hope that in the morning, all this
would be over and the awakening would come as a merciful release for
most of them. All this would have been deception. Reality would be
back, with all its light, its warmth, its colours… just a dream …
a horrible dream.
story I'm going to tell you is not mine. I have none. I had never
known anything in my life, save the headquarters of the Brigade where
it all started. This story is hers, Hope's story.
morning, an order was received from the Upper Authorities, breaking
the news of some grave deviance developing among the Masses. The
request said that the Thought-net system had been reporting with
regularity 'the unusual emission of peculiar ideas by an Element
apparently located in Sector 7275'. Despite its acknowledged
efficiency, the system had proved unable to find out the identity of
the deviant and this case thus became a first. The missions were
usually short for if the thoughts were detected, the element that was
emitting them would be detected too. That was all it needed.
as I said, this case became a first. Never had the Elements encoded
to work for the Brigade been required to investigate. They had not
been shaped for the task. They were made for catching the criminals
and nothing else. And yet, because this criminal was clouding the
issue, showing an unprecedented strong will to dodge the system and
displaying a tremendous ability to avoid thinking for too long, or
thinking about anything that would orient the search, the system had
failed to identify it and a new deal was set up. For the first time,
a team was constituted to lead an investigation. I was selected to be
part of it.
the Authorities being displeased by both the forms and contents of
the deviant's thinking, had decided to keep secret the nature of the
crime 'for public safety'. Hence the vagueness of the order that was
sent at the headquarters. Even the team was not to be given any
detail about the matter, the aftermath being that a couple of months
later, the lack of actual instructions reduced us to wander
aimlessly, like a lost flock without a/its shepherd. Yet, the fences
were there and their oppression vivid, until we were granted one
month and not a single second more. Should it fail, the elements
involved in the mission would be found Useless and deleted from the
way the search developed does not matter though. What matters is how
it ended. They smuggled me into this sector as an administrator.
That was a rational thing to do. If I could hear the thoughts myself,
it would be easier to find out the thinker. And it worked. Some days
later, something stood out of the messy ferment that formed the
Thought-net in my mind. You'll be here soon enough, there's no
need to hurry. It was an acute, frail, trembling voice which I
trusted beyond doubt, belonged to a female. What it said was not
standard. It was not communication, in the sense the Community
understood the word to encompass. She was directly addressing someone
and there was the tinge of an emotion that an Element like me could
not comprehend. All that was peculiar and suspicious. She thought
differently and in a different way.
Immediately, my mind connected
to the headquarters: 'Map this thought “You'll be here soon
enough, there's no need to hurry”. Emitted at 12:45 pm by a female
element. Quick. Leave out files related to male. Deviant is female'
further information, I listened with greater attention to try and
catch something else. But there was nothing. Mute.
the number, Element 73774, located in the Community Feeding Hall.
I headed toward
that building, moderating my speed not to arouse suspicion, walking
with a careful disinterest. Found her file, chestnut hair, 5.7
feet tall, white, skinny, dark brown eyes. Belongs to the Scientists'
system, microbiologist. Nothing to report.
minute later, I entered the halls and pretended to get feeding pills.
feeding-time for Civil workers', the attendant grunted in my
a surreptitious gesture, I revealed the swipe card that was in the
pocket of my uniform, glancing fiercely at him. His blank pigsty eyes
moved aside to let me come in.
I carried my glass of water, glancing furtively around, trying not to
think. There was many white skinny woman in sight, some with chestnut
hair but none of that size I swallowed the pills and turned around to
leave the place, determined to put an end to the hunting.
the element's office number into the file.
B, room 142.
corridor was empty. I sneaked into the room. At first sight, it was a
very conventional office: dilapidated walls, an iron chair, a
computer on a grey desk, metallic tools neatly disposed on it.
Nothing looked suspicious. No decoration, no personal object, no
mirror, no plant, nothing. I walked around, scrutinizing everything,
scanning every corner and finally, headed toward the desk. I opened
the first drawer: files, reports on experiments, protocols. Nothing
special. But the second was locked. No-one nowadays would dare
locking something up. Literally no-one. I determined to force the
lock and, a second later, the drawer sprang open. I was far from
expecting what I found. I had not been encoded or prepared for this.
And that's how I knew it was illegal. Hidden under a scarf, a pencil
was tied to a sort of notebook.
had written in it. She was guilty. Instinctively, I emitted the
warrant of arrest.
number 73774 is wanted. A warrant is ordered.
was the protocol.
the end, the mission was over. I would to go back to the
headquarters. But as I was about to leave the room, I paused, unable
to ignore the confusion stirred by my incomprehension, by all the
things I wondered about, unable to bring an answer. Deviants usually
rebelled violently. Many were food-dealers. Others stirred up the
masses' wild inclinations spreading prohibited articles.
But she had
written. Why? Why would she write? That was something new to me, and
as such, it disconcerted my logic. Should I read it? Why would I?
These were questions to which I had never been prepared. I had never
been encoded with the right answer. There should be more information
about her illegal activities in this thing and in this sense, I
decided that it was for the mission's sake. That was the first
decision I had ever taken.
turned around and sat in the chair, still hesitating. I could not be
sure whether or not I was allowed to take such a liberty but, with
shaking hands, I opened it and took a deep breath before I started
the 5th, 2046
would never have expected progress to be nothing but black and white.
I was a child, I'd often dreamed of having telepathic powers. I
imagined I was a hero who would hear everyone's thoughts, who would
use this precious gift on behalf of peace or justice or something
similarly meaningless … how silly I was.
assume that's the reason why you call this a dream. If only I
had been aware of all the evil it could do ... Today, we all hear
at the same time in
4 or 5 miles around. So that they deaden your mind.
with some practise, you manage to think out of the mess. I'm not a
puppet. And I am no number. My name is Hope.
March, the 12th,
My breathing hurts
terribly these days. I am more and more of a living dead.
I loathe their
stupid nutritional pills. I dream of food. Roasted chicken, with
mashed potatoes … Real food like my mother used to cook before
things started to turn badly. Pills! That's the only solution to
scarcity. So they say. Pills, just enough to maintain the last
supplies, just enough to grant you survival. Barely enough for you to
be conscious while the pain burns the remains of your body and
consume the last threads of your mind.
until you finally die of exhaustion or whatever. It doesn't matter
once you're dead.
I've often dreamed of how it would be for me. I
am not afraid of it. I just keep hoping it won't take long. Actually,
death is the best I can hope. A curtain falling. A black one, falling
for ever. And it does not matter, because there is no character
anymore in their play. Just lifeless puppets.”
did she mean? A play? Curtain falling? I had never heard of such
I think I'm
actually losing my mind. Something happened today. It could be the
first symptoms of some illness or … I don't know … there's
obviously something wrong with me. But I don't care. After all dying
is my best chance to flee this world, isn't it ?
I was queuing for
my water ration and as usual, there weren't enough supplies for
everyone. The last ones would have to suck their mouldy walls for a
chance to survive. It was my case that evening. The people at the end
of the line was growing agitated and started to jostle, causing
inevitable physical contacts. And even if it was not deliberate, it
still wasn't allowed.
In front of me,
there was a man. We were standing so close that our bodies almost
touched. His warm breath felt so real on my dry yellowish skin that I
thrilled. I can remember feeling it when I close my eyes. Just for a
second. A million of things happened during this tiny, insignificant
second. I can remember nothing of him but his bright eyes, the
hopeful green shade, full of something I could not comprehend … and
the wet haze that blinded me … I blinked and felt a wet tickling on
my cheeks as tears swept away the image. Yes, I felt … The first
contact I have had with a human being, the first I remember since
But sadness take hold of me as I realise that starvation,
or the lack of water, or something like that, was certainly the
reason of my hallucination.
I'm so upset these
days … I don't know how long I'll be able to hold my sensibility.”
If the first
messages had no impact on me but that of questioning, that one gave
me a lot more to reflect on. It emitted something I'd never
experienced before. That was another kind of communication, a foreign
language to which my body answered. A jolt ran along my spine and
discharged an electron flow through my chest, before it deeply
lodged, somewhere near my entrails. It went through various
indescribable states before it finally relieved me from the tension.
Breathing was hard and it took me some time before I got my rhythm
anything, I needed to speak to this person. She had to explain. What
was that? What was the meaning of it? I hid the mysterious notebook
under my shirt and promptly left the room.
When I reached the
headquarters, the woman had already been dragged to her jail.
The warder was
there, standing straight, with an expression of canine ferocity in
616366. Here to
question the deviant.'
gazing instantly at the card I had taken out of my pocket, he finally
left the room. We were alone. Nothing could escape the walls of the
jail, not even a thought. Nobody would hear us.
I called her:
She ignored me,
holding her knees tight against her chest, staring at the opposite
wall, perfectly still.
Nothing. But I
remembered what I had read in the notebook and asked:
turned her face to me, looking both astonished and horrified. There
was something impressive and vivid in her eyes.
“Yes, I have
found your notebook.”, I said, dragging the evidence from under my
shirt before I went on. She stared at it and I could see the anger
filling her eyes. Very slowly, she released her knees.
“Tell me … why
did you do that? You know it's illegal. What's wrong with you? … ”
sniggering interrupted me before she shrieked:
with me. There's nothing wrong with me. Nothing! But you, you …
what's wrong with YOU?”
Now.”, I snarled, “Why don't you conform? I've read bits of what
you've written. I know what you think. I know what a wild being you
you know what's in my mind,” she snapped, “You don't. You do not
understand any of it. I'm not wilder than you are, certainly even
less. You know bloody nothing. Otherwise you wouldn't be here. ”
“Why? To give
you satisfaction? No. I refuse.”
A glint of madness
sparkled in her eyes while she uttered the words. Her manners warmed
me up and I started to bark at her:
Do it. Now. Do it or you shall die. Right now!”
your death threats upon me. It's been a while now that I've been
longing for it,” she snarled with an evil smile twisting the corner
of her mouth. My blood was boiling inside and the only thing I could
think of was to slap this smile off her face:
“Maybe pain can
convince you then.”
I took a tool out
of my pocket. It was the kind of electrifier that would make all your
muscles burn in pain. She knew it. She stared at it in awe and raised
her eyes to mine, scared.
know I've done nothing.”
But I was
determined to make her speak.
please, don't ...”
howling under the jolts, emitting acute shrieks louder and louder
until I finally stopped.
body emitted pathetic squeaks before she ended coughing, sorely,
lying around on the concrete ground of the jail like a slackened
rubber band. I was about to giver her another convincing blow, but
she interrupted me, begging in a cry:
“Don't you dare
do that to me again! I'll explain everything. Not to satisfy you, for
I doubt you will understand anyway, but because I need your help.”
“I don't think
you are in a position to seek help,” I retorted, pointing to her
the passage that had had this weird impression on me, “What does it
mean? And don't even try to fool me around, or I swear this first
blow will feel like a tickling after what I'll do to you.”
Her eyes were
reddened with silent tears, rolling all their way down her cheeks.
She rested her hand on her belly, as if to soothe it. Taking a deep
breath, her face head down, she began to tell her story in a frail
happened to me. It was the first time I had a real contact with
someone. It had been ages since the last. I did not even remember how
it felt. What you've read, is what I had felt that day,” she said
in a sigh.
I took advantage
of her pausing to ask:
“What do you
She looked up with
a desolate expression stamped on her face:
“You were born
after everything changed, after the Great Shift. You were born after
they prohibited and denied our species' emotional disposition. They
adopted treatises and theories according to which feeling is a sin
against the Community's welfare. That's the reason why people cannot
have families, friends or emotional ties of any kind anymore. That's
why you have no idea what it is. Unlike what you think, computers,
numerical powers and machines have not always existed. There used to
be forests, animals, crops and human beings. Or rather, we used to be
human beings, and not mere biological systems.”
That was beyond my
understanding. That was against everything I had been taught. And
that's why it could not be
“You lie. We're
created by machines. You can't pretend it's otherwise.”
“That's the way
it is today. I know it's hard to believe for someone like you
who has been conditioned to believe in their lies. But for your own
sake, please, open your eyes. Everyone has a mother and father,
that's how it has always worked, and even if they deny it, it will
always be thus. Why do you think they decimate people of my
generation? We are the last memories left of this era, the last to
know the truth. And because of that we constitute a 'danger'. Didn't
you notice that their deviants were always people above 35 years old
…” She suddenly broke up, wailing and tumbling against the wall,
her hands clutched to her belly.
Is it the jolt?” I asked, not really caring for the answer. She was
breathing hard, speaking in a clipped manner:
“I don't think
so. But you shall see, I swear I'll prove my point. Do you know how
they create “elements” as you would have it? They confine females
and take their ovums from them. Then, they are all fecundated with
what they call appropriate semen. They create people who possess the
genetic characteristics they need for the community. They shape
creatures who are genetically strong. And they call it being
civilized. But I call it barbarism.
They think that rationality is
the key to civilization but they are mistaken. Their rationality
lacks reasonable, moderation, sanity and everything that goes with it
Because she was
yelling, she started coughing. When she could breath again, she said,
holding her head between her hands:
man I had met when I was queuing, I saw him again in the feeding
halls once. And something similar happened. We looked into the eyes
of one another and it was as if there was another world. We did that
several times, at different places, without any communication, just
sheltering in the comfort of the other's iris until …, until that
day. He followed me to my office. I remember he remained there,
standing at the door, locking his eyes on mine. I remember he asked
who I was. I even remember his mellow laugh when I gave him my
number. He wanted me to say my name. Then, we spoke of the past,
never overtly though, always taking the hint to avoid suspicions. It
went on for some days and weeks. It helped us to suffer this new
existence we had been thrown into. But the 25th of March,
something happened. To the comfort of the look, we added that of
physical closeness. He came nearer to me, very slowly, as if afraid I
would escape. We did not touch yet but it felt as if some kind of
energy was flowing between our bodies. We felt attracted, like two
magnets. Then he kissed me …”
She buried her
head in her hands, as if desperate:
“Of course you
don't know what it is.”
She stood up, and
with slow gesture started to walk toward me, as if to tame a scared,
dangerous wild beast.
“What are you
doing?,” I asked.
explaining. I swear there is nothing dangerous in a kiss. But I can't
make you understand what it is with words.” She stopped in front of
Her face was now
so close to mine that I could feel the whiff coming in and out of her
body, warm and soft. I was scared. With a careful slowness, she put
her hand on my shoulder to make her steady while she rose on her
tiptoes. Something warm was spreading from somewhere in my body,
disturbing my heartbeat and turning my innards inside out. I could
see her eyes were golden brown before they close. And then came into
contact her lips and mine. I did not expect it. It was weak, warm and
wet. It was a million of things at the same time. A million of
unknown things that troubled me, disturbed my sight, blinding me with
a wet fog that turned into drops whose ticklish course ended at the
corner of my mouth. It was salty. I ringed briskly. I needed to sit
down. I needed my breathing to be steady again.
kissing”, she said, “and it upsets you. You're weeping because it
upsets you, because it makes you feel, because you are human, ...”.
Once again, she
wailed a moment. Taking deep breaths, she managed to sit down and
have to finish the story quickly now. You kiss when you love, and
this man and me, we were in love. That night, we did it. We turned
the feeling into the deed. I remember every single
second. I shall always remember. You know, I told you we all have a
mother and a father. That's what I meant. Human beings are not born
from progress, they are born from love.”
took a another deep breath, clutching her belly, her face distorted
by the pain. I was listening, too upset to say anything.
day after life took him back as quickly as it had thrown him on my
path. He was arrested for anti-rational thinking motives. They
dragged him when he was in the feeding halls. I was there. I watched
them beat him because he refused to follow them. I saw the hatred in
their eyes while they were crushing his skull under their feet. I
heard it when he called my name, when his yelling died … ”
voice died with the word. Stirring up this memory made her break
down. However, whispering through her sobs, she kept going on:
after, I was making plans to kill myself. There was nothing left for
me in this world and I wanted to enjoy the last liberty that was left
to me. I wanted my death to be both an act of freedom and release.
But I found out I was pregnant. I could not kill it. I
could not kill love and what was left of it. So I hid it.”
don't understand. What do you mean pregnant?”
mean that I am expecting a baby. His child. I told you, that's how we
come into this world. I mean that I have a human being, naturally
conceived, growing up in my womb. I mean that he is going to be born
had hardly finished her sentence when something made her wail once
coming”, she said.
was so confused. Could she really give life? No, that was impossible.
dragged herself to the wall and half-lied there, her head against it.
The racket of her breathing was distressing. It echoed in my head
like a painful hammering.
me,” she moaned, “Take my trouser off. Hold my knee firm. I can't
do it alone,”
of sweat were appearing on her brow. She seemed to struggle a lot,
emitting loud moans and groans. And there I was, staring, absent.
she begged, while I executed the deed without fully realising. I was
like a ghost. Pointing at her organ she said:
there is an opening. It is supposed to get larger and larger.”
I cried, stupefied, “yes, I see something getting out.”
it. The head is coming first. Be careful, check if there's anything
tied around his neck”.
head is ...”
door flung open. I had forgotten where we were. Two members of the
Upper Authorities blew in and rushed toward us.
off her”, they said.
threw me aside with a tremendous force. I hit the wall and fall on
the ground, where I remained, harmed and powerless. One of the men
was holding Hope while the other ripped the baby out of her womb with
a terrifying crack. The tiny being started to yell. The brute
had hurt it.
she was howling, desperate and weeping through her fury,“No. Don't
you touch him. No, no, please. I beg you don't touch her. I'll do
whatever you want.”
butcher took the baby out of the room but we could still hear his
cries. Hope was fighting against the other. She tried to get out of
his grip with all the strength love could give her, but in vain. She
was too exhausted. Fed up with her restlessness, the merciless beast
started to beat her up.
petrified. He thumped her face a thousand times and kicked her belly
until blood flowed from her mouth. I could hear the thud cracks her
bones made under his fists. I could see the distress in her imploring
eyes until the last sparkle of life was blown off, until the last
drop of blood was drained off, until they went blank and her body
relaxed under the last blows.
Silence was back.
talking is a loss of time. Your time is theirs. Shut up.
The very second I
had chosen to launch the order of arrest, I had become the author of
her story. A blind author who had doomed the main character when he
could have saved her and who now discovers what freedom and the power
to choose imply. It implies responsibilities and the risk of being
mistaken, as well as the duty to face the aftermaths, whether good or
today I choose to speak because I think you ought to know the truth,
because that's what an investigation should be about.
are no monsters in this world, not even ghosts. Only men. And here I
am, facing them and their justice.
no need to listen to the sentence. From the very first word I had
traced on that blank page, I knew I would die. Because truth is an
offence, because writing is illegal and taking the liberty to write
about the truth is a greater crime. Like love and freedom, writing is
tinged with the weaknesses of humanity. My death should be nothing
but tinged with the flawed humanity of a free choice. This last
sentence I am writing is a full stop to my life.
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