"What the hell do you think you're doing Jim Hauser?"
"Get right back in your team seat and away from that window, NOW!" yelled the disembodied voice of the instructor at Indoctrination High.
Jim had been daydreaming. Looking out the classroom window at the dirt road that cut through the fields towards the horizon he'd felt this instant need to escape. Escape from the relentless drilling of dogma, the regurgitation of facts, the suffocating presence of teammates, the boring hours spent studying, and the passage of time not his to use freely.
He'd always been the oddity, the obtuse piece that just won't fit no matter how hard he was pushed to conform to the standards, rules, and beliefs that were stuffed down his throat. His response was always the same - identifying it as alien to the human spirit his mind would simply forcefully expel it as a foreign substance.
The others: his fellow students were different, they would lap this spoiled 'milk' up. They didn't recognize, or care to know why it was being supplied when fresh untainted 'milk' would have been healthier.
Ever so slowly Jim walked back to his team's table. Pulling the chair along the floor so that it made this scratching sound against the hard tile he plopped his wiry frame back into his seat. The instructor a Mr. Yang gave him a menacing look indicating that he was taking note of all Jim's instances of insubordination. The tally had become so numerous Mr. Yang had to move it from his deteriorating memory to a notebook binder with page after page of Jim's daily acts of defiance against the system.
In this screwed up world, in this screwed up country, within the ever so screwed up high schools turned into indoctrination camps no leniency was given to those who wouldn't accept their place; their homogenous soulless incorporation into the state gulag. These students were studying not for their benefit but to benefit those who ran the business/government machine that used up the finished products from these mind-melding shops of conformity. The only purpose that these students served were in their eventual infusion into the maggot infested rotting corpse of society. They were never viewed as individuals but as raw materials of production that fit into the cog, which was the societal assembly line.
It was an all-inclusive assembly line; a stupendous undertaking by the puny greed gripped business minds of the day. From cradle to grave all labor slaves of the business/state slave camp were 'planted', 'fertilized', and 'harvested' by "The Rulers", their direct subordinate managers, and government 'royalty'.
What had initially been a Hodge Podge of uncoordinated efforts by the ruling elite to use this huge labor force for their exclusive benefit had become a well-orchestrated perverse system of extreme exploitation. Human beings were nothing more than inputs into the production process that had over time become more dehumanizing. No care had been exercised by the old democracies to limit how low the global business block could sink in order to achieve their primary objective of eking more and more profit from less and less revenue.
The ultra-capitalist corrosion had eaten away at freedoms until those who'd believed they still had democratic governments directly answerable to the people woke up one day to find they'd become the property of the global business elite.
Smirking ever so imperceptibly Jim along with the other malleable production units sat with eyes fixed upon a long rectangular monitor that had emerged from a slit in the center of the table. The translucent viewing screen of the monitor was scrolling up large brilliant red "Words of Wisdom" reflected off the blank faces on either side of the table. Each sentence scrolled up in the center of the screen; synchronized across all the other tables in the room. On queue the entire classroom would chant in a loud monotone voice that barely conveyed a drop of humanity.
Mocking the single mindlessness of this amorous mass Jim spoke softly - his protest was an insult to the standardization process. It was a process that demanded every working slave to replicate the actions of their group right down to the intonation of their voice. Deviation, non-standard inputs injected into a production process (including slave labor) tended to skew the output in unpredictable ways; ingenuity, creativity, and quality might result from letting the human spirit free of this cage. But these intangibles could never be quantified by scrawny business minds that could only deal with here and now short-term gain. So the end result of this highly controlled sanitized environment was the spewing out of endless quantities of junk. Pumped out of antiquated factories staffed by hungry, tired, unmotivated labor slaves this broken stuff, the product of a broken society lasted no more than a couple of years.
Conformity was therefore a guiding principle that guaranteed a uniform predictable output at ever increasing quantities that would ultimately be wasted by the elite lords. Therefore no working slave (the workforce had recently made the transition from serf to slave) could be allowed to distort the finely tuned totalitarian ultra-capitalist society. Given any task these human slaves would unflinchingly execute the order regardless of any deep-seated desire to refuse; this is the ultimate fodder of any totalitarian regime.
Nighttime provided the only unmonitored freedom Jim had; his core self could be exposed to the dark without fear of recrimination from the other conformists or instructors. Tonight was different, instead of envisioning a more compassionate, empathic outcome than this wasteland filled with pain, suffering, stupidity, and hatred. He was filled with fear, an indefinable fear that his life was rolling down this dead end path. His optimism, his ability to absorb pain in its many varied forms was failing. Maybe this is how the transformation occurred in the more difficult cases like him. That night he realized it was only a matter of time before he'd become subsumed in the marching mass, the vanquished horde that readily spilled its lifeblood for the aristocratic royalty that ruled the feudal regime. He realized that his solitary fight could never inspire confidence in other citizens to lash out against conditions they were oblivious to because they were to expertly monitored, controlled, and reduced into a compliant army of zombies. He was all-alone. He would eventually have his soul sucked from his body. There just was no way to stop this evil it was just too effusive, it covered everything with its sticky slime.
Waking startled to the beating of a large pan by an even larger metal spoon Jim and the other students in Barrack #6 jumped from their bunk beds. Knowing that this was the expected alarm in this harsh, unsympathetic world, didn't lesson its emotionally wrenching effect.
Standing at attention at the foot of their bunk bed Jim and his bunkmate Johnny Horance looked straight ahead without the slightest hint of expression on their immobile faces. All the young members of this robot society readied themselves mentally for another day of mind numbing rote feedings of stale propaganda.
There were a few who relished these regimented, consistent, carbon copy days. They were the simple-minded who were incapable of functioning in anything but this obtuse largely irrelevant police state. In an upside down society like this they'd rise to the top of the crust of scum that coated this cesspool.
"File out!" came the guttural yell from the instructor. Walking on wobbly legs Jim and the others in his barrack marched towards the dirty white door at the end of the hall. Following the instructor in military style steps Jim walked with his submerged dejection well hidden.
Smoke rose in a twisting curl from the shack where meals were served - that is if the slop scooped with small wooden splitter covered ladles could be considered edible food. Snaking from outside the cracked metal door all the inmates of this personality-molding center stood silently in the liquid heat filled air.
It was just another indignity that Jim and his fellow inmate students had to suffer - this waiting in line for 'grub' that a mongrel wouldn't eat. Break the spirit of those who still possessed a semblance of individuality; that was the unstated objective of this police state. Kick the door in on the mind that held a tightly grasped individuality. Tear the soul out and rip the spirit from those who protested to wildly. This was the sure fire way of homogenizing the masses, the blob of uniformity, the controlled. No escape, no outlet was provided, all was minutely managed; every ingredient was carefully measured to insure that those in power stayed in power.
Awash in a sea of stinking drones, this mixed with the foul smell permeating this dirt-floored barn Jim unconsciously moved his rusty spoon through the tepid liquid resting in his bowl. Whatever the ingredients, they'd settled down to the bottom of his chipped bowl in what resembled a very wet mud. The spoon released these black pieces that floated to the top instead of being carefully hidden below the surface of the 'mud'.
Inspecting these irregular pieces and bits of black had become a mania with Jim. He'd look these little waste products over very carefully from all angles. He concluded that if all food was either a putrid looking liquid or these small floppy black sponges, eating was just another disgusting natural necessity like using the toilet.
"Get up! Now!" the uniformed guard yelled. Jim along with all the other young men and women moved back towards the paint chipped door that they walked through a few minutes ago.