Set within a dystopian America this is a brief introduction into a world where war rages on every continent and the Single State of America maintains control over its people.
Years ago, this city was a different place. The age of freedoms was now in the past and the world had become a darker place. The skyscrapers were towering monuments dedicated to the achievements of what they called Unified America – the Single State of America. Voluminous flags hung from every building and statues of President O’Neil stood on every street corner.
As new towers were raised to strengthen the ever growing city they became symbols of oppression, not hope as the media had promised. Great murals of peace and prosperity adorned the granite grey structures. Buildings that had survived hundreds of years were torn down to make way for the “new beginning” and with each brick that fell, a little more of the city’s soul was stripped from it. The Empire State building became the centre of operations for the new government’s Department of State Security. Flags hung like chains from every corner and window ledge. The south face of the building was painted to match the single star shinning ominously into the city like a great eye peering into every office block and darkened alley.
The Freedom Tower kept its name, although merely a piece of propaganda, its original purpose had been lost. Instead of a symbol of liberty it had become one of oppression. I remember my parents talking about it with fury in their voices; the betrayal became complete when it emerged as New York’s propaganda hub and military headquarters. Battleship cannons had been installed up and down the building. The gleaming glass seemed malevolent, encased by the dull metal of the razor wire.
The city was a quiet one after President O’Neil took over, soon the rich tapestry of ethnicity that regarded the city as its home was torn down, the streets were ‘cleansed’ of traitors with smoke and metal. Central boulevards that had once been impossible to navigate through herds of people became quiet streets; few dared brave them during the day and even fewer at night. From our small two bedroom apartment we heard the cops come for our friends and neighbours. I watched with teary eyes, through the keyhole, as men in grey uniforms, adorned with stars and skull shaped helmets, cackled gleefully at the sight of their cronies dragging families out of their homes. Some would shout and kick, others simply sob, but they were still taken away with black bags over their heads, hands bound, hauled into waiting trucks outside. The unfortunate ones were simply shot as their doors crashed to the floor. A bullet between the eyes. Their bodies simply left abandoned.
School had been hard then, we were required to declare our “unfaltering loyalty” to the President and the Single State before propaganda lessons and censored curriculums. The principle was a bloated toad, boils littered his face and he had a tendency to smack his lips at the sight of any girls he deemed “examples of chastity”. What little remained of his grey hair was slicked back against his bulbous head and a swollen gut bulged over his midnight blue suit trousers casting a shadow about his feet. Whenever he presented his sadistic smile to superiors or parents he would reveal two rows of jagged, fang like, yellowing teeth. I was fifteen before he noticed me, the following year was full of his mind games and sickening flirts, finally ending in his office with a fate worse than death. It was another two years until I was able to finally show him the meaning of feminism with only seven razor blades.
His death was never recorded; like the millions of others that took place in the city where I grew up. My earliest memory was watching through questioning eyes, the television showing images of crowds of protestors being cornered and gunned down. They were shown “No Mercy”. That was before the government took over the media though, after that I had to walk the barren streets following the crack of gunfire to discover any trace of resistance. Soldiers patrolled everywhere, always armed, for ourprotection. I was six, the first time I was shot. It had been deemed a “necessary evil” to fire into crowds to prevent the escape of theenemies of the Single State. The parades of culture and hope were replaced by marches and drill displays, any trace of individuality was stamped out. It was promised that the Single State would be free of the evils that necessitated its establishment. The corruption of America had been caused bydecadenceandarrogance, the President would see to it that America was dragged through the purgatory it had become until it reached perfection in heaven.
Occasionally it was possible to get a glimpse of some distant hope. The seemingly omnipotent gargoyles that dominated the city’s skyline were unable to penetrate into the depths of the city. Occasionally I’d come across a poster promising the arrival of the New United States based in California to liberate the city, a video would crop up, made by some rebel group who claimed to be responsible for the murder of some party official. Those glimpses of freedom were one of the few comforts I had. Although I didn’t fully understand them, they gave me something to believe in. They showed me that somewhere, people were talking, planning, raising an army of our own. This tyranny could end. All we had to do was fight for it.