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Without a choice, I walked. Neon signs flashed to either side and in front of me, and they all said one thing: “Choices are not available. They produce unintelligent individuals. Therefore, the Perfect Machine makes the choices for you.” Inside, I scoffed at the motto.
Nothing is perfect, not even machines. Some are faulty, while all screw up at least once in their mechanical lives. In my own mind, I worried if the machine would be faulty with me. I leaned to my right and silently counted those in front of me. I didn’t get far though, because one of the officers gave the command to me.
“Get back in line or your death!” he yelled, pointing directly at my head with a gun. I put up my hands defensively and placed my feet in the correct formation. Oh, how much I would give to have been born before this horrid shift in thought!
I stood as if I was a statue, only moving my eyes when deviously tempted by the devil. All I heard was the consistent beeps and clicks of the monstrous machine as it processed five people, and then as one we moved forward—evidently to the death of our “free will.” Every legal adult, when he or she turned eighteen, had to get processed. Then, your life’s path was set. Choices were not available anymore, as the signs stated.
But...if I could choose, I would have aspired to be a writer, a connoisseur of written works—an author of sorts. That way, I could speak out without speaking out, if you get what I mean. But even the processed writers had strict restrictions mandated by the official government. We had had an unofficial, underground newspaper, but the enemy had found out and those who had worked on it were found and immediately murdered.
After that, nothing was done against the government. At least, nothing physical. We, the Believers, became frightened of our eventual deaths so we started working only in secret.
What of our ultimate cause? The Believers Foundation was founded three years after the shift in thought—as we had called it—for those who had escaped the initial processing. Children born after the year 2072 had the choice—the one choice given in the United States now (or should I call it Unisteria?)—to press the button of their liking to have choices or to not have choices. Seems like an insufficient plan, right?
No. Actually, it was pure genius on their part. Or rather, vile and sadistic genius. Many who voiced their protest of forcing little three year olds to ‘push the button that would decide their fates’ were killed on the spot. After that, no one said anything about it in public. The children, up until they were three, were put into a ‘toddler to preschool’ system and their parents were not allowed to see them because ‘they could deter the individual rights of the children,’ as the government had put it. In other words, the government—or rather, the new Unisterian Dictatorship—did not want the children’s parents to persuade their kids to push the ‘choices’ button.
So, to get the children to pick one button over the other, Unisterian scientists conducted a study with two and a half year olds to see what their favorite and least favorite colors were. Ninety-eight percent of the time, the kids liked the color blue, mostly sky blue. Black was the least favorite. Many children called it ‘scary.’ So, in turn, they implemented the poll results onto the buttons. The “No Choices” one was painted sky blue while the “Choices” one was painted pure black. Obviously, the children chose the lighter, cheerful sky blue button and pressed it, believing it was a harmless toy. Thus, their fates were sealed. Those who chose black were injected with a lethal poison and died in their sleep. None of the people who injected the killing poison were tried and sentenced to death row, because there was not a death row anymore. The unforgivable things done in there were never spoken of until word got out—and even then, if you said anything negative about it, you mysteriously ‘passed away in your sleep.’ So, to put it bluntly, everyone shut up and went on with their lives.
At this point in time, I was only seventeen and very naïve. I did not fully grasp what was going on until the Unisterian Police barged into our home and my mother and father urged me to go and find the headquarters of the Believers. They had come to get us all processed. I told them I didn’t know where the Believers were, but in return they just handed me a map and held up the U.P. (the Unisterian Police) while I escaped. That was the last time I ever saw my parents.
I found my way to headquarters in the course of two days. With a vehicle, I may have found it in a few hours, but now when I look back on it, I realize I made the best choice. Vehicles were monitored by an advanced GPS system that could see who was inside, so I would have been killed if they had found me through that thing.
Once I reached the Believers, I at first thought that I had missed it by a few miles or so, because the only thing in front of me—where the building was supposed to be—was an empty plot of land. Puzzled, I had walked around for a few minutes, and then looked at the map again.
“Oh!” I exclaimed, finding what I had missed on the map. Labeled on it was a red stop sign and by it were the words, ‘Seek and ye shall find. We Believe.’ The wind slightly ruffled my charcoal black hair, and I glanced up in the direction it was blowing. There, twelve feet in front of me, was the stop sign that had been drawn on the map. Sighing discontentedly, I ambled over to it.
“Yeah, God or whoever you are, thanks for the sign. But still, I don’t know what I’m getting myself into!” I sarcastically said to the sky above me. “I seriously don’t know what I’m doing here...I don’t... ‘Seek and ye shall find. We Believe.’”
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a building appeared before my very eyes. It glowed in the sunlight and looked to be made of glass. It was an angelic white on the outside, but I couldn’t really see through it. Still though, taken over by sheer curiosity, I went forward and gently rapped my knuckles against it.
“Yes, it’s glass; be careful with it. So what? Are you going to come inside?” I looked up and to my left, finding a man who looked to be around thirty-five years old at a window. His light blonde, almost white hair was radiating energy of its own against the building, it seemed like. I couldn’t help but smile for some odd reason.
“Haha, yeah,” I replied as I climbed up the stairs and went inside. I met him in the hallway and attempted to shake his hand, but he declined.
“Not until I know you’re genuine. We don’t tolerate spies here. So, where’s your map?” I unrolled the parchment in my hand and held it up to him. He gently took it from my grasp and studied it, even taking out a magnifier, ruler, and calculator once. In three minutes, he set the map down onto a table, and shook my hand cordially.
“So, I take it you are satisfied now?” I cautiously asked him once he let go of my hand.
“With you, yes. This world? No. I’m Miles Fragnie, better known around here as Frag. I run the Creative Sector here at Believers. And you are?” he asked, picking up a clipboard.
“I’m Anson Dwight.”
“Like Dwight Eisenhower?”
“Never mind,” he said shaking his head and whispering to the clipboard, obviously writing things down, “I’ll tell you later. Go on—tell me more about yourself.”
“Um, okay then. I’m seventeen, a senior in high school, and I like to write on my computer at home. Need anything else for your little digital info sheet there?”
“A million bucks!” he laughed. “No, I just need to know how you learned about us, The Believers Foundation. That will be it for now until next week, when you get settled in here with us.”
“Well, the Unisterian Police literally just barged into my home two days ago. My parents handed me the map and told me to follow it here. They kept the police away as I escaped. It took me two days to get here by foot. So, I had never really heard about you all before. And, to put it bluntly, I’m still confused. For one thing, why was the building invisible when I first arrived? I almost left to go and see if I had missed it by a few miles.”
“Ah, well then, you should come with me, Anson. I’ll tell you about The Believers Foundation and show you a holographic video, and I think we have an old digital information brochure I can give you. Follow me.”
I did as I was told and was able to get a good tour of the building. It turned out that there were three main sectors at The Believers Foundation—Historical, Scientifical, and Creative. Each one served its own unique purpose for the foundation, as I learned then.
The Historical sector covered all history of the world. Most Unisterians in this age and time knew only back to the year 2025; the people here knew back to the before Christ times, or B.C.
The government changed after the shift in thought caused by rivalry between the states. They had decided to try and prevent another Civil War by using an experimental procedure called “processing.”
This procedure, which had been played around with by the FBI since the year 2056, was actually meant to help detectives make criminals tell the truth. At first, the ‘no choices’ catchphrase was meant to alter your brain so that you could not fabricate lies. Don’t ask me how this worked, though. It just did somehow; I think it messed with your brain waves or cells or something like that. After that, you couldn’t lie until they were done with you.
But now, it had been altered to where it could completely and forever change you to where you never could have the ability to make barely any choices at all. At that time it seemed like a good idea to the government. This way, no one could cause trouble by making a “wrong decision.” They thought it was the perfect plan for the perfect world.
In turn, though, it did cause resistance among some. In 2068, four years before the complete shift in thought, word leaked out through many different means. Specifically, though, it was mostly through Internet 2. Very much like the old internet that lasted until 2025, it leaked through chat rooms, forums, and emails. Soon enough, the internet was oppressed and shut down to the public by the government. The two state senators who had started the ruckus by leaking the information were tortured and then finally killed, but they never stopped believing that maybe, just maybe, the shift in thought would not prevail and conquer what America had once stood for.
This was how The Believers Foundation came about. The former president of The Believers Foundation, Felix Blackwood, was a retired state senator reaching his half-century birthday when these events took place. He had retired in April 2065, a month or so after he had turned forty-seven. Later on, we found out by his words that in all actuality, the FBI had been working on the processing for a pretty long time.
“Best I can recall, I first heard about it in 2059, back you were just a little baby boy, Anson,” he said to me once.
“That’s unjust, you know. Everyone has their right to free speech. You can’t change that, it’s in the Constitution!” I replied back.
He just shrugged and said, “Well, somehow it changed. That’s why we’re here—we’re trying to fight back.”
Fight, he did. Unfortunately for us, he was killed. Blood was being shed everywhere now. No one who had escaped processing went out into the open shouting that they hated Unisteria, but had loved the United States of America. You were completely and utterly stupid if you did so. Everything and I repeat EVERYTHING had to be planned and done in secrecy. In time, we would defeat the enemy. Just not then, one year ago. We weren’t ready then.
But a year and a few months later, our plan was going accordingly. I was ‘voluntarily’ going in for my processing. Yes, as a child you were processed, but you were made to come back for an evaluation and the “Final Processing” at age eighteen.
So, at the time when all of the planning had been finished for the conquest of Unisteria, I, the lucky Anson Dwight ‘Eisenhower’ (as some had nicknamed me), was the only eighteen year old there at The Believers Foundation. Everyone else was either older or younger than I was and was not eligible.
At first, I had really not wanted to go. Ironically, at this point in time, my colleagues had probably facetiously wished that I had been processed so I wouldn’t dissent from their decision. Within a week though, I had wrestled and knocked out my natural common sense. If I had to sacrifice myself and become a martyr, I would for the sake of the United States.
The plan had been relatively simple, but could have been deadly if not done right. On every Processor, the gigantic machine you went through to be processed, there was a time machine. It was normally used by the Assistants of the Processor. The Processor—which was basically the new mayor and ran everything political of the city it was in—needed them to sometimes go back in time and see what the ancestors of the people being processed did with their lives. That way, the Processor could process them correctly for the job they would be ‘best’ at. This was decided by their past relatives, their DNA, and their strengths and weaknesses among other things.
Anyhow, when I stepped through the Processor, I was to head over to the upmost right corner. The time machine was located there. By the time I reached my destination, the Processor would be trying to stop me from getting to the time machine. I had to fight against its defenses to type in the year ‘2012’ into the machine. This year and its people, I knew, would be frightened and disbelieving if I blatantly told them all that would happen in the year 2016. The inventor of all the chaos that had happened in my time would be born in that year. He had to be stopped, or time would repeat itself and my efforts would be wasted.
I was very careful when I arrived in that time period. For one thing, I had to break into this strange residence (I’m guessing it was a home of that time period) and steal modern-day clothes. If anyone had seen me in my futuristic black and white suit, I would have been sent to an insane asylum, whatever they were. I had just been told they were for ‘crazy people’ by Frag, my old supervisor.
Once I had dressed myself in ‘blue jeans,’ a ‘red hoodie,’ and ‘tennis shoes,’ I left to observe this new, but old, world. I couldn’t help but examine my new clothes. They looked so out of place on me after wearing the same thing for almost all of my life. I could not believe that you could dress yourself however you wanted to in this time period.
I stared at what Frag had called a vehicle of this time. It was strange-looking...Again, this world really confused me. It was so different! But soon I had to go find myself a ‘hotel’ to stay at and write the memoir of my timeline. Frag had made a copy of a picture of one so I would know what it looked like. I was to pay with the American dollar, one thing that I did recall. I had grabbed some from a woman’s purse at the house where I had gotten my clothes from. I became happy and almost ecstatic when I saw the green paper. I had not seen it for almost ten years after we had switched over to the unified world currency.
After traveling on foot for twenty minutes, I saw this ‘hotel.’ It looked as if it was built in the late 1900s, by its style. I had never been to that century, and didn’t plan on going back that far in time. I took out some ‘paper’ and a ‘pencil’ that Frag had received from Felix when he had still been alive. These things had been thrown away in 2037, when computers started to make the digitalized parchments I had known and pencils were discarded for typing and speaking to a computer.
With these two things, I wrote this memoir. I know it may not be long, but I was never much of a person to have a long attention span so that I could go for months on end writing. Hopefully, this will become what you call a book, or really, a short story, I suppose. Maybe when I go back to my time, a new timeline will be created and this one thrown out—all by my story here. I will stay here just long enough to get this published and read by a couple hundred of people, and maybe it will save the human race from destruction by the Processor. I just hope I have done the right thing.
I will not be ‘Anson Dwight’ when I return to my own time, most likely. I shall be someone else due to a new timeline caused by people in this time reading my memoir and acting on my words. Do not let this man—his name shall be Riley Garrett—fulfill his destiny. Create a new timeline, please...for the sake of your descendants.
So, for now I stay here. I will not seek fame from this story. I do not wish to be rich for this deed...it is my gift to my ancestors, whomever you may be. When I leave, I will be heading into what is known, but unknown. Peace be with you all, and God bless you all. I pray you will do the right thing for the sake of our country.