A needle prick carries the well fever and epiphany of pain. Like me, it is a flaw in the perversion of modern genetics to manufacture and reconfigure humanity. Theirs is a revulsion of history and that which made men whole, despite their flaws. But history is betrayed in our bodies. It fled there long ago from the arrogance of purposeful evolution.
Oh, the world that resides within that first wonderfully awakening instant of pain! At once curious and electric, but so terribly fleeting as it trails away from its cold eruption into something warm and remorseful, like the first breath of a beautiful word fading towards its demise. The pain clears my mind and diverts unguarded thoughts before they can betray me. This is how I have stymied them for so long!
A ruby-red drop grows at the tip of my finger. It reflects the acrid gloom of the city. I study the blood for a moment, as though it is some ancient relic of myself, of what I am and what I am not- which seems to threaten the very existence of society, according to the Corporation. Even the reddish smear it leaves across the wall is an element of the battle. For now it is fresh among dozens of others.
Section twenty-one regulates and controls the society. I should say here that they are not cruel or calculating by any standard, which is not to say that I fear what is written here will be read by Section Twenty-one. Society regulates itself well enough through the consequence of blind momentum and the dumb weight of population. Section Twenty-one shepherds that momentum through the implication, through a culture of subverted fear as real as an extra helping of salt brings a certain bitterness to a stew.
That they are not overt in cultivating fear they view as benevolence and judiciousness is also purposeful. Section Twenty-one allows me the paper and pen to organize my defense. It is curious how they bend over backwards to create the illusion of fairness, as if the ultimate outcome was ever really in question. Instead my hand strains to write these words, a melancholic refrain to ancestors distant and long dead. That refrain is as much a part of my defense as I am. It is their defense as well, for it is their memory that has been erased from the world. That is until I came along.
And what do I expect from these selfish thoughts? Perhaps they will be a cornerstone to a revolution that reasserts the autonomous stature of each soul. I might hope that the spirit in every human being, all but extinguished by the Corporation, will re-ignite and run like wildfire around the planet and beyond. And if cities are razed and millions lost for the retrieval of our plundered liberties then so be it. What could prove a nobler cause?
Ha! It is a laughable thought. What absurdity to believe that the pallid assertions of pallid assertions of words swept into the dustbin of history, when my eyes no longer see and when my hands no longer write, and when the years have ground me to dust, that these words will do them any justice. But still I continue, playing the game, lifting my head each morning, while fantasizing about nothing short of revolution. It is as if there was some intransigent quality to the breath in my lungs, or the blood in my veins that compels me despite a tattered heart.
There is a world outside my window. It is a dull urban landscape: monstrous conglomerations of metal and glass and concrete. The city appears more as some odd crystalline growth, inhabited by mindless crustaceans or single celled organisms than by people. It is too much for the land, almost too much for the clouds drifting among them through jaundiced industrial haze. On twisted and overlapping expressways, far below, traffic lights appear as sluggish rivers of molten lava.
The sun lays low on the far horizon, hardly more than a pale disk through dust and sulfur smog. I pause from these words for a moment to ponder the darkening city, I wonder about the people who go more quietly about their lives than I do. I would prefer to change places if only I did not hope that I serve a greater purpose or that I wasn’t locked in a battle for my very survival.
Would I relish their ignorance, or feel the fool in some errant awakening? In the umber shadow of sleep the faces of my ancestors visit me, and I know that I must see this through to the end.
Millions rush blind in their tasks, sending up choruses of breathless greetings and simple offenses forgotten almost before they are spoken. They are feverish, feverish in their work, feverish in their play and even in their sex. This is a new world, wholly different from the one mankind understood before. There is no war. Birth and life and death are mandated by the Corporation, administered by Section Twenty-one and monitored by Sentinel. Gone are distinctions of race. The blend is complete. Homogeneity is the new order. The dream of the futurists too afraid or hypocritical to ponder the ramifications has at last been achieved.
It heralded a new golden age, the extinction of animosities, inequality and war. There is no want and no poverty to speak of, none that is acknowledged anyway. Mankind is identical in every way and at every point on the planet. They are identical in the color of their hair and eyes. And their bodies are uniform, at least as uniform as the schemes and science of modern genetics will allow. None of them ever envisioned me.
And I among these uniform hordes, by quirk or by fate, or by the mindless consequence of the Universe stand alone. I am a scar from an erased past, an anachronism, an aberration in a world in which the question of race is obsolete. I am a threat to man’s formulated illusions of himself. I am the unintentional heretic, an intrusion upon the unprepared modern conscience. Black as I am, I am a ghost. I am a tribe alone.
The Last Man, by WC Turck is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com