Wasting, withering to a bony frame, my silence has insured my demise. Not more than a coherent fiber of disgust, less than a mild passion, my grievances with the current autocracy meander back to the safe corner of complacency.
My dad's response to all the analysts, brilliant spokes in the bent wheel of society, respected duty-bound workers who never complained was a singular belch. Intently locked in his overstuffed chair, downing a quantity of beer and chips that would have made an elephant sick this proud observer languished in ineptitude.
This man's man, boundless follower, fine father, and agreeable soul enjoyed every whiff of air streaming into his lungs. He rarely had a bad day, was always optimistic, never withdrawn - his capacity to see past adversity was superhuman.
But that was all before our multi-national controlled governments took the big leap to pure slavery. Not the kind that left you scraping bottom but instead inhabiting it.
Right this minute dad with his puffy right-hand is twisting a medium sized dog on a skewer. He's become quite skilled at scorching these rotten carcasses into crispy brown creations. Even though his rations are supplemented by a family allowance not being put to work for well over a year means that we often eat dead droppings instead of fresh carved horse. Costing our masters in time and money to have dead carcasses bagged they distribute each wormy mass to the optimal number of slaves. Therefore a single petrified roasted stump of protein with the accompanying pungent odor has to be shared with over a hundred other Less Desirables - that equates to one slimy-brown strip apiece. For when you're retired to the Labor Surplus Camp you have to expect your suffering to be just a tad bit more acute.
Being far removed from the labor camp our walk over the rut covered muddy path takes us about three hours each way. Singing patriotic songs belonging to a hopeful spring day decades ago my dad always keeps us moving our legs over the scum like the preprogrammed robots we've become.
His last walk will be any day now so why shouldn't he keep his spirits high. When you aren't allotted work and you're an old horse who can't make money for the masters they just take you to the Slab and clobber you with a mallet. The Slab's supposed to be real red from all the blood that's gushed onto its white surface. Maybe, I'll find out if I reach the ripe old age of thirty.
Don't know how dad made it this long? Possibly, he just slumped into a routine - that's it after all he was always the grand acceptor of his fate. He must have passed that gene onto me because I don't think the Taskmaster's at our site ever thought I'd advance to Prime Slave material.
No that wasn't it, what saved me was I discovered early on that getting to the work site worn-out was never a valid excuse to not work like a fiend. My first Taskmaster never the sentimental sort would just laugh when he saw my small seven-year-old legs trembling from the extreme exertion.
I'll never forget that bright morning with its deep blue sky. It felt like a new horizon was opening up all these beautiful flowers had bloomed at daybreak. Being a child I had this unique sensation, I was expecting the best even if I'd been plunged into the worst. Anyway, my eyes must have been bulging white with fear when I saw a girl not more than a year older than my five years being dragged to the edge of the Waste Pit screaming bloody murder. All my happy stirrings ceased when my ears registered the abrupt silence. A hammer was mercilessly slammed into her skull. I resolved never to again be deluded into believing our masters were human. From that point on I knew they were animals.
So now it's a lot easier to just let the sharp tearing claws of pain rip at my legs and have them morph into a throbbing numb clump of wood. For I never let my focus flicker from that sunny deep blue morning. Heading in a long winding string of drooping shoulders back to camp, in the black of night, this is how I survive - exist.
They did come for dad, but at least it was a miserable day not a false day of hope. He left without a struggle. That was so like dad.
A guy I know from headquarters told me a story about a week ago. He's a smart guy so I'm inclined to believe him. I guess that's why he can sit behind a desk with shining steel encircling his ankles for hours on end with only a sore butt for his walk back to camp. This guy who comes down to the pit every so often to write some figures down said that the reason our elite masters were having us dredge a canal by hand instead of use machines was because human hands, thousands of hands could save billions on machine maintenance costs and fuel. In case you weren't paying attention these were elite business masters who'd calculated this huge savings not government masters - granted it is hard to differentiate between the two.
So now I knew why my upper torso merged with my lower to turn into this huge lump of pain - a higher profit, more bags of loot for our lords. That could also be why by days end after scraping my hands raw for eighteen hours with only a ten-minute break for gruel I'd feel like grabbing a large jagged rock on the ground and pounding my head to a pulp; some chose flying from the cliff. Problem was the three hours of sleep we got every night just wasn't enough time to recharge even your little toe. We were in a constant state of delirium - termed "death stare".
A tap, tap, tap of gunfire can be heard in the distance near the base of the mountains. There's this wave of scarecrows hobbling towards us shouting a word I haven't heard for ages. Yes, that's it; my dad said it in his sleep every now and then. I think its FREEDOM.