A Life Seen Through A Television Screen

Winner of the Vortex Competition.

If you were a slave, but you didn't have any chains on your legs, no master to worship and no chores given to you. How would you know you were a slave? How do you know you aren't one already?

This is for the Vortex Competition, a tale of what the world really is. Once you are able to see the chains that bind us all, what will you do then?

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2. Act 2

White Castle Shopping Center is the third largest mega mall in the city district. At nearly two million square feet it dwarfs the city skyline. 

Tom found himself walking the long raised streets within the building. He looked through shop windows at the items within, at the people rushing around, countless bags weighing them down. The air was stifling, thick and heavy. Tom found it hard to breathe in some of the more crowded areas of the shopping center. He had no intention of buying anything, but with the cameras following his every move he had to attempt to look interested. 

Tired of walking, and feeling sweat building up on his back, Tom made his way to the food court to cool off. There in the queue at one of the countless McDonalds Tom saw some people he recognized. Bored on his own he shouted over to them. "Annabel!" 

They grabbed their trays as well and joined him in the queue. 

"Hey Tom," the leader said, two other girls stood either side, looking unimpressed with the sweaty boy. "Did you watch Get Famous last night? Was epic!"

"Err no, I turned my TV off actually." Tom replied, trying to keep his voice down.

Shocked, one the supporting girls stepped into the conversation, "you turned your TV off? Why?"

This caught the attention of some nearby people, who gave the boy sidewards glances.

"Well my Grandfather died last night actually," he said. 

Annabel then felt obliged to console him best she could, one hand still holding her tray of food. "When did he die?" She asked.

"I got the state text at half eight at night, right after meal time." 

"So how did you miss Get Famous then?" The other girl asked, "it doesn't start until nine."

They moved down the queue, closer to the cashier. 

"I just didn't feel like it, is that so bad?" Tom said, anger rising once again. "They've added on the remainder to tonight anyway, but I just want to be by myself. I wish I didn't have to watch it."

"Dude, keep your god damn voice down!" An older man said nudging Tom and eyeing up the green dot on the ceiling of the fast food restaurant. 

Jesus Christ, Tom thought, immediately regretting his outburst. 

"I saw you last night on TV, mate. You should run," he said smiling, "it'd be great for your ratings."

"You're being monitored Tom?" Annabel said, suddenly more interested. "Ha run! They'll be coming for you now won't they."

Tom was unsure of what was going on, all around him the countless people in the queue and those sitting down eating were all looking at him. Just waiting to see what he was going to do. Live entertainment. 

Slowly they began clapping, their faces smiling. They began to chant run, run, run.

Tom looked up to see another two different green lights were on him now, capturing his every move. A vibration came from his pocket, he flipped it open and read the text. 

"To Thomas Briar, No. 352/JJ. You were recording at 2:46pm as saying 'I wish I didn't have to watch it,' regarding your scheduled viewing. This was overheard In a crowded place. A team in on its way to discuss the outcome of this disobedience and give you a formal final warning. Please stay where you are."

How could I have been so stupid, Tom thought, the chanting getting louder and louder.

Without another thought Tom dropped his tray and dashed for the exit of the McDonald's as fast as he could, to the crowds excitement. They cheered him on.

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