After the Individual

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Chapter 2.

Over the course of the next few years, the rebellion took full form. The news reports were filled with attacks on government forces, the police, army and educational establishments.

The students as well as Chester were being constantly frisked on their way to the university. Chester became more and more frantic.

Naturally, the state started fighting back. People had become numb to the loss of life as the state tried harder and harder to keep them under control. Massive fires, extreme brutality and indiscriminate lootings plagued most nations on the planet.

Those in power had to increasingly resort to underhanded techniques to occupy the public’s minds and stop them from questioning their place. These techniques included control of the media with major public announcements around such huge topics as virus outbreaks, potential wars, space exploration and racial inequality were becoming more and more transparent in their purpose. The purpose being to ground people to the earth and stop them looking up and asking why? Or rather just simply to throw them off the scent.

The loss of life on both sides became immeasurable, but the immense pain was palpable.

The mobs were winning; society was crumbling. It became increasingly difficult to find someone in support of the state. Evidently, the state had created the situation; why would anyone have supported it?

All this pressure reached a boiling point one day as Chester found himself right in the epicentre of the chaos.

One morning, he was awoken by a banging on his door. Someone was shouting through his letterbox, ‘Come on! Come on! It’s happening!’

Chester opened his eyes and knew exactly what was happening. It was his neighbour who had shouted, and he was waiting at the door.

‘Come with me’ he said.

Chester followed.

Chester told Suzanna and John to wait at home as he ran with his neighbour down the road.

The streets were full of people and all were running in the same direction. It must have been planned.

They were all running to the local football stadium.

Chester entered the stadium and was immediately greeted by a wall of noise. Thousands and thousands of people were looking down at the football pitch, shouting ‘Kill! Kill! Kill!’

The focus of their attention was on 50 police officers tied up and blindfolded and sitting in a circle.

They were surrounded by a circle of angry protestors pointing rifles at them.

Chester was astonished by what he saw.

This was everything he had predicted, everything he dreaded.

He tried frantically to run down the football stadium to make them stop but he was held back the closer he got.

Just as he began to scramble towards the pitch, the guns went off in the lower stand with one big bang.

And that was it. Everything was to change from that point on.

Chester fell to his knees as the crowd cheered.

He knew everything was level now. The world was in chaos and order must find a new form.

He frantically ran home and made sure Suzanna and John were safe. They were both watching the television, with tears running down their face.

They had witnessed the whole thing. John, now around the age of eight, questioned, ‘What does this mean now, Dad?’ ‘I don’t know…I don’t know’ Chester sighed.

‘It’s happening everywhere’ Suzanna said. ‘They had planned this all along. It was Freedom Day apparently.’

All the undercover anti-establishment groups had united for this one day. Mass killings, suicide attacks and bombings were occurring across the globe.

The family sat huddled at the end of the bed in the parents’ bedroom, shaking, with eyes brimming with tears.

They wondered, ‘How does one recover from this?’

They made the house as secure as they could.

Boarding up with windows as best they could.

They would stay put until they heard otherwise.

After a few hours, the televisions were cut. Soon, there was no radio, no Internet.

Silence dawned.

They stayed in the bedroom for a few days until one morning, when they were awoken by a loud knock at the door.

This time it was a group of men dressed in black and covered in body armour. They spoke of orders to search the house.

They restrained Chester, Suzanna, and even John.

Binding the occupants in the living room, the group of men searched the entire house.

The house was stripped of all communication devices and technology. This included all phones, laptops, DVD players, televisions, computers, and radios – any tool through which a message could be passed electronically.

Massive rubbish trucks were driving past, and similar items were being hurled into it from different houses and crushed.

Outside, cars were being destroyed. Tyres slashed, windows smashed.

Outside the homes, cameras and listening devices were being installed.

The men, dressed completely in black and donning black masks, released the family’s restraints and left a note.

It read:

Citizens of the Imperia, the following are the new rules:

- There are no longer nations

- There are no longer individual governments

- There are no longer multiple religions

- There is no longer the right to bear more than one child

- Any family with more than one child will continue to be together

- Any child born from today into a family with a child already present will be taken away

- Money no longer exists

- Occupations are not chosen. They are allocated by the Imperia

- All students will receive the same education

- Every citizen shall receive the same amount of food/material wealth

- Clothes will be distributed in line with Imperia guidelines

- Citizens are allowed out of their houses only for restricted hours

- No one is allowed to live on the streets. Citizens found defying this rule will be taken away

- Citizens are allowed one hobby

- Competition in any form is banned

Note that these rules will be enforced in the coming weeks. Resistors will be treated as enemies of the Imperia and dealt with accordingly.

Cameras and listening devices will be installed in all homes. Anyone who tries to remove these will be imprisoned.

Anyone who tries to defy these rules or spread anti-Imperia messages will be imprisoned and treated.

These will be effective now and forever.

Humanity has abused its freedoms.

This the new way. We are the Imperia and you are the citizens.

Signed: The Imperia

The family was left shaken. Chester passed the note to Suzanna.

‘They had this planned all along,’ Chester cast a stern look towards the window.

That was it now. Full control. Man had given up his right to freedom of choice.

This was the final impact of purposely created and mismanaged individuals.

Nothing could now be left to chance.

It was made to look like our doing. ‘Perhaps they were right all along,’ Chester thought. ‘Control can take many forms.’

This was not the world Chester had envisaged. Not the world he and Suzanna had hoped to raise John in.

What sort of an example was this? How could John enjoy the same level of creativity and freedom?

Chester wanted John to have an open mind, so he did his best to make sure it was so. Despite the various listening and watching devices that were fitted around the home.

As John grew, Chester would have to teach him through analogies. The narratives were less likely to set off the warning signs during the ubiquitous surveillance from the Imperia.

As the days, months, and years went on, Chester dedicated his time to teaching John – now growing into a young teenager – about the world as he understood it through analogies.

There were a couple of stories that Chester repeatedly narrated. He found their messages particularly poignant.

One was about a ship out at sea. A ship where everyone on board was consulted about every single decision that the boat needed to take: where the ship should go next, which route to take, and who should do what jobs.

After a while, the ship’s members became self-interested, unruly, and lazy. The purpose of the ship became unclear; even non-existent, it just wandered from place to place and so did the crew.

Chester also told his son of the lessons that could be learnt from Greek mythology. The story of Cassandra, who could tell the future. An enraged Apollo had cursed her – no one would ever believe her predictions.

She had a gift that was made useless by someone else.

These two stories combined alluded to how the people had ended up in the Imperia mess. But of course, it didn’t set off any triggers in the institutionalised minds of the watching Imperia.

There were countless stories that Chester told John, all with a strong moral message.

Whilst continuing to develop John, Chester was doing the same with his photographs. In the basement, Chester had set up a makeshift dark doom. He was capturing and developing pictures.

Photography was the hobby he chose as his number one passion.

His focus, however, had now changed. He no longer captured trees. His new muses were empty buildings that had been abandoned since the Imperia took charge.

The buildings were full of empty chairs and mountains of dust and despair. These were completely deserted, old industry buildings that were overgrown and represented a former reality.

Often, they were closed off to the public with ‘do no enter’ signs. Admittedly, Chester did venture into these building. But all in the name of art, Chester would say.

His mere act of clicking their pictures lent these old buildings a new purpose, and it was bound to be informative for John in a few years.

‘Maybe one day we will go back to this,’ Chester must have hoped.

Like all artists, Chester had an insatiable appetite to create and capture. This meant that his work became more and more risky.

He would break more and more rules, venturing further into forbidden territories.

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