The White Square: For Your Own Protection - A Satire.
The crowd were not packed together like sardines, not like the days I remembered fondly from Glastonbury festival. Each person on the rainy Tuesday night in London town was standing on a white ‘X’ while they listened intently to their leader’s announcement, the military watching silently with machine guns poised.
We were two years into what the world leaders referred to as ‘the great pandemic’. We were told it was caused by a rogue virus—we were told many things, many of which didn’t make sense. Anyone speaking the truth was disposed of by the government, protesters were shot with machine guns and surveillance was everywhere. In truth, more people had lost their lives through military rule and poverty than a new rogue virus. We all knew it, but it was too late to speak up.
Those times had passed.
“For your own protection, every citizen in Britain will be assigned a white two foot by two foot square. You must stand inside the square at all times and the square must be six feet away from other people’s squares. Each square will be assigned a number, from now on you will be summoned by your number only.” Horris Ronson stated, addressing the worried faces before him.
“But how will we work?” A man in his early fifties questioned. “I’m a cabby, I can’t stay six feet away from my punters.” He added in a gravelly tone.
“Don’t bother me with your mundane needs, this is for everyone’s protection.” Horris Ronson stated unemotionally, backed by his right-hand man - Fishi Ransack.
“I can’t feed my baby.” A hysterical woman cried at the leader. “My husband lost his small business because of your closures, we can’t pay our bills.” She yelped with her babe in arms.
“Not to worry Miss, we have a generous financial package that means all families are entitled to £7 per week.” Fishi chimed in.
“Now, you must be aware, that any deviation from your white square will set off an automatic alarm. This alarm will alert one of the AIs patrolling your area. AIs are programmed to terminate you upon alarm sound. Therefore, it is imperative that you do as you’re told.” Horris Ronson told his disbelieving audience.
It was at this point the crowd got louder, some started shouting, but they were soon dealt with. The young mother was gasping, trying to keep her composure. I could see her struggling, but I was powerless. To approach another person meant instant termination, I’d seen it many times, we all had. But she couldn’t keep her composure, she ran to someone for comfort, for answers, for the warmth of a human smile to reassure her.
No-one had smiled since August 31st 2018. A law had been passed that smiling was prohibited in case it was used as a means for communication in secret. Smiling was punishable by death.
The young mother was dead before she hit the ground; a gunshot wound to the head. Her baby was still wrapped up next to her chest, crying as its mother lay in a pool of her own blood mingling with the rain on the pavement.
“At least that’s another £7 to keep in the budget.” Fishi smirked to Horris, and the pair muttered between themselves while the young woman’s body was removed from the scene.
“If they carry on disobeying, we’ll have plenty of meat to grind into burgers to feed the moaners. They’ll never know they are eating their own—most of them will be so hungry they won’t even care.” Said Horris slyly to Fishi.
“Ha! Good notion.” Fishi agreed.
As for me, I guess I just stopped feeling. It was easier that way. The day my wife was taken from me for trying to speak out is the day something inside me died.
She was quickly dealt with by the military a year ago almost to the day.
I’ll never forget the look on her face, It was the look of someone who knew they were going to die, that, and one last defiant smile. A lipstick dropped out of her pocket as they dragged her away, the shade of red that always left a mark on my cheek in the morning. I managed to pick it up and slip it into my pocket before I was further restrained by the army.
It is the only treasure I have left now in this dystopian world I find myself living in. Our only hope is Gandhi Durnham, the leader of the North. He vowed to try to save us from the tyranny and corruption of the Blues. * Fishi and Horris retired to their banquet, along with their other leaders. The pair started tucking in gluttonously to the array of food before them. There was so much food that you could no longer see the table’s surface. There were chickens and jellies, grapes and cheese, fish and rice, chocolates and sweets and a grand cake three tier cake dominating the middle of the table.
“The North have refused to stand in their squares.” Horris stated through a mouthful of gooey chocolate truffles.
“The North?” Questioned Fishi.
“Yes, yes. You know, that place with a large proportion of working class.” Horris whispered the word ‘working’, for that word alone made him want to gag. “They expect us to pay to feed their offspring, it’s a shame Aggie Hatcher closed those cole pits really, we could have sent the little buggers down there to do something useful.” Horris scoffed along with Fishi, who had half an éclair hanging out of his full-lipped mouth, cream smothered all over his stubbled chin.
“These eclairs are on the account aren’t they?” Fishi asked, spraying pieces of mulched up éclair all over Horris from his full mouth.
“This is all from the whining working class taxes, fill your boots.” Horris directed, shoving a cheese and onion pie into his mouth.
“So, what are we going to do about these Northerners then? We could just cut them off the map of the UK.” Fishi suggested.
“It’s this bloody Gandhi Durnham, some godforsaken councillor of somewhere up there. He’s demanding we give the people enough money to live on while we shut down businesses. I mean its only a few thousand livelihoods for pity’s sake. I’m sure they can manage if they stop spending their bank balances on tattoos and iPhones. It’s not my fault if they had kids when they couldn’t afford them. Bunch of bloody layabouts and no hopers. Most of them didn’t even vote Blue and now they want handouts—try the fois gras, its divine!” Horris just about managed to get the words out through the pile of food in his mouth, unbuttoning the top button of his trousers to allow for his expanding hairy stomach.
Then I saw something I’d never seen before in my life, or even imagined possible. Horris Ronson started sprouting a snout. His very nose started to widen, the nostrils enlarging and it started moving up and down as he sniffed. He didn’t seem to notice, he just kept shoving more and more piles of food into his greedy mouth. But it wasn’t just him, Fishi had whiskers that had suddenly shot out from his cheeks, another had started to develop hooves and soon enough they were getting onto the table on all fours, all senses having left them. They were rolling around in the food, eating with their hands, eating it off each other. Horris and Fishi were now engaged in a tug of war over a chicken leg, Fishi snarling and Horris snorting with his newly developed snout.
Suddenly, the door burst open, and Gandhi Durnham stood there, dominating the doorway with a glint in his eye.
“I see you have enjoyed the banquet.” He addressed the semi-animal politicians who could no longer speak human words. “For your information, these food items were laced with one of your future biochemical experiments which I acquired from one of your pharmaceutical pals, he was very easily bought.” Gandhi stated. “I see the serum had the desired effect. A nation of human/animals that were dumbed down enough to carry out your whims no questions asked, I believe that was the plan wasn’t it?”
Horris snorted at Gandhi. Fishi didn’t even look up, having satisfied himself that he had won the tug of war for the chicken leg.
That was the day the white square project was deactivated, and the AIs were taken off the streets. Gandhi Durnham took the corrupt wealth of the Blues and distributed it to the people of the UK to rebuild the broken world caused by the government.
Gradually, we got used to smiling again, we worked together as communities and never went back to having a central government. We learned how to hold each other again, to re-develop human contact as the norm and work as a true democracy. The devastation of the great pandemic left a scar on all of our hearts, but we grew in kindness and strength. Human greed became a thing of the past, for we saw the wreckage that it caused.
As for the Blues— Fishi and Horris who were permanently transformed into ‘animal type 1’ as stated on the serum bottles spent the rest of their days doing manual labour to support the country, working like animals, which is what they had intended for the masses. Their payment is in the form of tripe treats only if they have performed well.
© 2020 Gemma Malak