Stories from Refuge – 50 – “We wanted to get arrested to prove we were really doing something.”

Refuge: an underground city built to save people from an apocalyptic world. But how will its people save themselves? Read the stories in any order, or start with the introduction at part 1.

Reconciliation Council report B-43, interview with T.A., recorded by Mary 80C
Refuge Year 100.9.11

I think I was the only artist who wasn’t arrested. John was, and Amy, and… I know I’m not supposed to say names, but you’ve got them all in your records. Indira Kan was arrested, of course, and she’s still locked up. We were all trying to live up to her example. Most of us wanted to get arrested, to prove that we were really doing something, really fighting back.

I never got arrested. I used to think that I wasn’t really an artist and that was why. I didn’t write novels or poetry, didn’t hack into the speaker system to read my books on the morning broadcast like Amy did, and I never had anyone paint my poems on the walls. I wrote plays and tried to get people to put them on, just stop in the middle of the tunnels, on the tracks in Section 13 between the trains, and act them out. It didn’t usually happen. I couldn’t usually get any other actors, except Amy a few times before she was sent to Confinement, so I had to play all the parts myself. I’d stand on one side of the tracks and point at a hole in the crowd and say, You – you are a dissident, you spoke out against the Psychological Council! Someone would get nervous because they thought I was pointing at them, but then I’d run to the other side of the tracks and hunch up my shoulders and answer in a different voice, No – I just wanted to find out what happened to my daughter, she keeps having nightmares and I’m afraid someone messed with her mind.

Mostly people thought I was crazy. They started laughing and ignored me, went back to whatever they were doing. A couple of times someone tried to call Medical and have me taken in for a psych assessment. I got away through the crowd pretty quickly then. There was just one time I wasn’t quick enough.

It wasn’t even an Empath or a Commander. That was the worst thing. It was one of the clerks from Civil Council who was patrolling Commerce, who didn’t like that I was making a scene, trying to get people riled up. I thought he was going to turn me in for sure, call in PsyOp and have me interrogated. I expected to get marched to Confinement by bots. But the clerk just called over one of the merchants – they had some kind of agreement so the merchant could sell something he wasn’t supposed to, I think, money changing hands under the table, that kind of thing, I almost wrote a play about it – and the two of them dragged me off to a storage closet. They broke my nose. I was too nervous about going to Medical to get patched up so I went to John’s and had him clean me up, and he didn’t know how to set my nose right. That’s why my voice sounds so bad now.

That’s why I quit doing my plays. Not because I was arrested or because I had to hide from Commanders and bots. No, it’s because I’m embarrassed like a little kid. It’s because I hate the sound of my voice so much I can’t stand to use it.

That worked better than locking me up, right? Indira Kan keeps writing poetry, but I got my nose broken and I haven’t written a word since. That’s probably not what the clerk had in mind. I don’t know what he had in mind, I can’t even imagine, I can’t even think what words I’d put in his mouth…

Or maybe I can. Maybe I should. Is that what you want with these dialogues? Why isn’t he here?

[Recorder’s note: Councilor Booth states that the Civil clerk involved in the subject’s incident could not be identified, and no other Government employee volunteered to represent him.]

[Subject does not respond. He nods silently. He’s thinking of something but I can’t determine what.]

©2017 Michelle M. Welch

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