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Brave New Legacy
Two men sat on the cold, windswept beach, empty save for them and the savage winds that tore through from time to time. Both were wrapped in the furry cloaks that were scorned in everyday society, but not there. Fortunately for them, the Falkland Islands had long since been set aside to act as a sanctuary for those who did not conform. Despite the wind picking up, howling through the scraggly trees of this temperamental land, one man’s voice began to steadily rise above the din.
“You must get over your conditioning, Bernard. It hinders you so.”
“Perhaps,” grumbled Bernard, “or perhaps the d*mn islands our World Controller forced to reside in have made me like this. Why did you have to pick the Falkland Islands, for Ford’s sake? At the very least, you could have picked a more pleasant prison.”
Helmholtz sat, unperturbed by his friend’s habitual attitude. “A gramme is better than a”
“Don’t,” growled Bernard. “I hated those sayings back home and I hate them even more now. At least back there the soma tablets were plentiful.”
“You never used soma,” pointed out Helmholtz. Before his friend could interject again, Helmholtz quickly raised his hand. “Bernard, it’s been eleven years since we joined the community at the Falkland Islands. Why is it that you mope so strongly at this time every year?”
“Because,” Bernard ventured in his sullen mood, “The anniversary of our arrival only makes my moping stronger.”
Helmholtz Watson took a few steps back, allowing his friend to surround himself in a web of loneliness once more. His mind began to flit between others he had encountered after a decade: Charles Golding, Thomas Kafka, and, most prominently, John the Savage.
“How do you think John is doing, Bernard?” Helmholtz inquired of his moping partner.
“Better than us, I presume,” Bernard muttered, still stuck in sullenness.
“I wonder if he is still fighting against the World Controller’s decision,” Helmholtz stated, and was rewarded with a flickering smile on Bernard’s features. Unbeknownst to both of them, John was starting to instigate change. Another John, that is…
For as long back as I can remember, there has always been a Voice whispering out of the darkness. It would repeat soothing phrases, seeking out our minds and molding them as one does to clay-surrogate. Late at night, when no one was looking, I would stuff some scraps of wool I found into my ears to muffle the whisper that crept around every child, snaked around every crib and tangled us all into a web of phrases. This process, I later learned, was called conditioning. Perhaps hearing the phrases only from behind the safety of that wool made me who I am. A fifteen-year-old Alpha Double Plus, with brown hair, standard blue eyes and many admiring girls to choose from already. I take a few to make sure no one notices anything wrong with me, but in reality I am always looking for a way to free the minds of these people.
“John? Can I come in?” Leona Wilson appears in my living quarters. With her beautiful curls, this Beta minus is awfully pneumatic. Still, I found such widespread affections worrisome, even if no one else did anymore. This Beta Minus had just finished her affections with my friend Alexander Einstein less than three days before, and the maxim “everyone belongs to everyone” held no sway over me.
“Let’s talk, John.” Leona quickly began to peel her outfit off of her and opened her Malthusian belt. After all, everyone feared the pornographic thought of viviparous reproduction nowadays. Quickly, I got into bed with her as those glorious, pearl-white breasts became unsheathed from their green covering.
While I could not help but enjoy Leona’s pleasures, she also served as an unknowing spy for my purposes. As she had seen the infant conditioning center before, Leona often recounted her stories about the center when I requested it. As a result, I had been able to quickly amass enough information about the place to prepare for the upcoming trip.
“That was great, John,” Leona said with a satisfied sigh. I then led her to the door with the promise that we’d catch a feely the next day with our group of friends.
Once the door was shut, I surreptitiously look around, left, right, and then left again. I knew that this could be misinterpreted as antisocial, but my precaution was well worth it to protect the one secret I had. Underneath my bed, the horribly white and uniform bed hid one secret that set me apart. Finally, once satisfied that no one shall interrupt, I unlatch the secret compartment and pulled out a Book. Its glossy, forbidden cover glistens with the words The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, and on the inside cover was a single phrase: shun the Pneumatic World. I have no idea where this had come from, only that I found it years ago when I dropped some beef-surrogate onto the ground along with a soma pill. The soma, despite its ability to take away all anger and pain, was loathsome to me because of how it made you less human. However, its one redeeming quality was that it led me to a small latch, which opened at my touch to this wonderful new world. Little notes in all of its margins made me discover a new way of seeing this world from the lives of so many before me. I quickly soak up a part from Julius Caesar¸ ending finally with Antony’s statement “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears!”
“Romans, countrymen,” I say out loud, sounding out the unfamiliar words that I have become so used to. Sighing, I quickly put back the book and latch the door. My intuition is well-founded, and soon Alexander walks into the room.
“Ford!” I shout while whirling around, as if I am surprised that he is here. Alexander laughs and replies in turn “Why are you so worried? Did I interrupt you and Leona?”
“Are you becoming antisocial, Alexander?” I tease him. “Remember, everyone belongs to everyone.”
“Yes, everyone belongs to everyone,” he intones automatically. I wince inwardly from his intonation, but it also fills my inner mind with anger. Anger is a powerful tool, and one emotion that I am quite capable of both hiding and channeling.
“Are you coming to the feely, Alexander?” I inquire, hurriedly trying to shift this topic off of my friend’s mind.
“Yes, of course!” he exclaims with a broad smile on his face. “I wouldn’t miss a chance to see the famous Savage of Surrey!”
Neither would I. Even though that feely had been originally created a while ago, popular demand has kept it appearing every now and then. These rare appearances were always a rare treat, and from the reviews I have heard the incredible experience one feels from it is almost as good as soma. I personally hope not, as I still retain a dislike of soma, but perhaps the experience will be well worth watching.
A few hours later, night had fallen, but spirits have risen. I walk out of the feely and intermingle with the crowd, still feeling the exhilarating rush of the whip stinging my back, of the torment that the Savage felt. Finally, I find myself at the old conditioning center. Reaching into my pockets and glancing around, I nearly change my mind and go back to the comforting layer of society. Suddenly, an eagle soars into the sky and perches on the roof of the nursery. I am startled, not only because I had thought that eagles were driven out of civilized places long ago but because of the eagle’s stare. The eagle looks at me with its black, intelligent eyes, finally uttering a screech of derision to my wavering courage. This hardens my spirit, and as I walk into the room the bird takes flight, satisfied that, for me, there is no turning back.
Once I get into the control room, I put my objects to work. The glittering chrome guardians that house the Voice fall to my tools, and slowly I begin to alter the destiny of the children. Finally, with my steel file delivering the final severance of a cord, the soft, whispering sound that permeates this place of rest falls silent. I walk into the room, slowly tiptoeing around the room. After seeing row after row of babies, all snuggled closely in their blankets, I begin to speak.
“You’re free,” I say over and over again, “Free to think for yourself. The Voice cannot hurt you now.”
I finally walk out of the building and back into the crisper air of night. Most of the crowd from this night’s venue has dispersed, but there still are some groups that cluster under the veil of moonlight. I begin to walk towards them, and as a result fail to see the police behind me until anesthesia from a water pistol turns my knees to jelly and, as my vision falters, I collapse.
When the world comes back into focus, I notice two things. First, I am in a grey room filled with rows of manuals, a desk, and a safe. Second, and most important of all, I see a very powerful man staring back at me.
“Welcome, John,” was the first thing to come from the mouth of our World Controller.
“Why have you brought me here, sir?” I inquire, trying to feign my innocence. The tips of the Controller’s mouth twitched slightly in response, as if he had already seen through my attempt at pleasantries.
“‘Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em.’”
I gasp. How could he, the World Controller Mustafa Mond, possibly know about my secret book? Then, figuring that at this point there was no turning back, I reply to him with another secret from my book; “‘Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.’ Why am I here, sir?”
“You know why,” Mustafa Mond states in his polished voice. “You temporarily disrupted the teaching of hundreds of students. This behavior cannot be tolerated in society.”
“I disrupted their teaching?” I suddenly exclaim indignantly. “You poison their minds with fake thoughts, with dainty little songs that make them mindless slaves! Why can’t they read Shakespeare? Why can’t they choose their jobs?”
“Because,” Mond continues, seemingly undisturbed by my rant, “This would only end in unhappiness and failure. This was evident in the case of John the Savage. Fortunately, his friends are safely away on an island, safe from this knowledge that could render them so unhappy.”
“You should have told them! People have the right to be unhappy.”
Mustafa still continues his speech as if he had not heard me. “As always, you have a choice: be trained to become a World Controller, or refuse, and get sent to the island of my choice. I hear that Iceland is a splendid place to send young troublemakers like you.”
“World Controller?” I gasp, startled by this turn of events more than the threat of Iceland.
“Yes, World Controller. I was once like you,” starts Mustafa, “and this was also my choice. One who can think is dangerous, unless they are the ones thinking for society.”
“Very well,” I say to him, “I choose the island.”
“Unfortunately,” Mustafa says with a faint smile, “that choice was never real. I need a replacement, John. Whether you like it or not, this job will someday be yours.”
Mustapha Mond sat at his desk, fingers twitching with temptation to open his safe filled with the ancient treasures so dangerous to the individuals in Ford’s society. Then, thinking better of it, his carefully conditioned mind wandered away from the programming in which it had originally been decanted to the more unpleasant matter of John. John the Savage, that is.
The other John had been right, of course. He should have told Helmholtz and Bernard about the Savage’s death. After careful deliberation at the speed of thought, Mustapha Mond started to compose a message. Then, thinking better of it, he incinerated the first and composed a second message, feeling better after it was finally sealed and sent off. One experiment had failed over a decade ago, much to his regret. Mustapha Mond could not afford another mistake.
Helmholtz ran down to the shore, where a small package lay in a sheath specifically designed to protect it from harsher elements that existed on many islands. Opening it, Helmholtz Watson discovered a small slip a paper
“Bernard, listen to this.” Helmholtz cleared his throat, and then began to recite.
“Shun the pneumatic world, shun the pointless life,
Shun those who shun the books, who perish the thought of strife.
For those free to choose outside, listen to my plea,
Help in turning the cycle through the Brave New Legacy.”
“Did your Shakespeare write that?” Bernard inquired kindly.
“No,” replied Helmholtz, “I believe John did. Perhaps one day we will be able to speak to him again. Brave New Legacy… what could he mean? Regardless, I wonder how that young man is faring.”
“Certainly better than us, I presume.” Bernard had retreated back into his shell of unhappiness, through which only soma could breach. “I imagine that he has nicely assimilated into society now. Perhaps he has gone to see the feelies right now, to live life to its fullest. In the meantime, did you just feel that horrid gust of wind, Helmholtz? Really, I’m sure that John the Savage doesn’t have to worry about this right now.”
The view of the world I had known since decanting slowly slipped away from my view. The tall buildings, the electromagnetic-golf courses, and, of course, the feelies slowly begin to merge into a conglomeration of my old life. Mustafa Mond could no longer hold onto me, and for the first time in a while I feel like I am doing something worthwhile. Just as I start to turn away, I catch a glimpse of the same eagle from that fateful night soaring in the air, crying out into the day as it turns back to the lighthouse. When a small pang of guilt begins to touch me, I quickly brush it aside. I may not become a World Controller, but at least I made one last act in the name of freedom.
As the children fall asleep, one by one, a soothing Voice begins to whisper in each of their ears, telling them of unity, of morality, and of the coils in which they will forever be bound. One child, however, turns in his sleep. His eyes briefly open, scanning for any signs of supervisors. When he spies none, he reaches under his soft blanket. Two small scraps of wool go into his ears, and the child sighs from the tranquil peace that results from this small action. Soon, he drifts off again as his mind opens to the dreams of the brave, the realm in which the legacy of the free can continue once more…