17. The Show
“Lights, camera… Action!” The old man snapped his fingers. “Hello, this is Mark Sanderson reporting live from one of the islands. Here we have a normal islander for interview. Now would you introduce yourself for us, please?” The reporter flashed a million-dollar smile at the camera. “Okay, I’m…. Joanna. I’m 53, and I have two children. I work as a dog keeper, for the lawgaurds. My husband died from work.” “Oh, I’m sorry.” “It’s okay, he was 49 at the time and was an oil produce worker, where the work is harsh and bad for you. He got cancer from poisonous chemicals while working with oil.” “Do other oil produce workers have bad health?” “Yes, many die before they reach fifty. There are many, too; one-third of the people. “It seems strange that so many people would want the job.” “Oh, no, no. We pick our jobs out of a hat. If you get oil production worker, you’re just out of luck. Gender, personality, it makes no difference. For the government, the jobs need to be done and they don’t care who does it.” “Oh. Well. Now that’s unfair.” The reporter nodded sympathetically, then moved onto the next person. “Would you introduce yourself now?” “Sure. I’m Josh. I work as a wheat produce worker. I have four children.” “That’s more than average, I noticed. Is it ‘More the Merrier’, as the saying goes?” “We did want more kids, but it was mostly for the privileges.” “Privileges, you say? Tell us a bit more.” “Well, one child is required for every family. For your second child, your ration gets an increase of 1.5 people, which is more than the compensation of the extra baby. The mother also gets two extra hours every day off from work. For your third, you get a ration increase of one person, one extra hour of work off for both parents, and a bigger houseroom. If you have any more children, you get a ration increase of two people for each. It’s terrible, having more children for your own greed, but we’re always hungry and tired.” “I’m sure we all understand. It’s okay.” The broadcast went on in this manner, going through Ashley’s problem with her job, Cindy’s hunger, Erin’s crave for more freedom, Wendy’s lack of medical care, Amy’s complain for mean lawgaurds. The reporter nodded in an enthusiastic and sympathetic way. The broadcast clearly portrayed their mistreats and injustices. But the ultimate message was that they were not machines, not primitives, but human. * * * In London, a strange air filled the damp streets. It started from the computer screens showing a youtube video, one bored taxi driver’s radio, the televisions of a family in a lazy afternoon. The air wrapped around the people’s minds and stirred something deep inside. The people who didn’t care about the bombing, they started to feel something towards the islanders. That they were real people. That they were just like them. There were people who felt strongly towards the islanders, but sat just on the brink of protesting. In spite of themselves, they stood at the edge and did not protest. The broadcast pushed everyone off that invisible edge. People started gathering outside, like little clumps of ants. Easy to push away, but when they really gather, they become powerful. The clock kept ticking away. It was live on the internet, on the corner of every television channel. Red digital numbers, getting smaller, smaller… As a college student watched a tedtalk, her eyes traveled to the small clock. A family, trying to concentrate on a thriller movie, kept getting their attention stolen by something much more thrilling. Thirty minutes.