Stories from Refuge – 51 – “Everyone else plays along because they know they have to.”

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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-44, dialogue between A.C. and T.A., recorded by James 72A
RY 100.9.13

[Recorder’s note: This victim dialogue is between two victims. Subject T.A., who interviewed with us in the last report, sits in the chair reserved for the Government representative. Councilor Stray objects loudly and other councilors debate whether to allow this. I record the following during their debate. I clearly read confidence in both subjects. This is a performance and they have rehearsed.]

[A.C.:] You’re the one who beat me up in the Commerce Section. When I was trying to do my play.

[T.A.:] Oh. I remember you. That scrawny little jerk who was making a scene in the middle of the tunnel. I should have called Military in and let the bots beat you up, but I wanted to do it myself.

[A.C.:] Why? Why did you do that? What did it mean to you? Did you want to make a show yourself? Such a low Government official, not an Empath or anything, so you had to get a sense of power somehow? Lording it over a civilian? Like you know there’s not much room to rise with a mile of dirt over our heads, and you had to find some way to step up?

[T.A.:] Now listen here, you pasty-faced son of a bitch.

[This is where I realize what they’re doing. Both subjects are partially unblended. T.A. is pale, with light colored hair. A.C. has very dark skin, and is female. She is playing the role of T.A. He is playing the clerk from Commerce who did not make an appearance for his interview.]

[T.A.:] I’ve had enough of your sort messing things up down here. Everyone else knows what they have to do down here. Do what you’re told and things go fine. Screw it up and we all suffocate. Everyone else plays along, because they know they have to. Because they know who they are. They even look right. And you people don’t look like everyone else so you think you don’t have to act like everyone else. You stick out so you feel justified in acting out. Well that’s not my problem. And if I have to teach you a lesson then fine. Maybe those bruises will make your skin look the right color for a while.

[A.C.:] That’s it, then. You’ve crafted your justification so no one can shake it. You get to hold on to that hatred because you feel self-righteous. Well, I don’t want to suffocate, either. Not under a mile of dirt and not under your hatred.

[Both of them turn to look at the Councilors. The debate at the table behind me falls silent. The two subjects say, simultaneously:]

What’s the answer?

[Councilors have no response. They output confusion. I end this recording and put down the tablet so I can applaud.]

©2017 Michelle M. Welch

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