A Neglected Form Of Freedom This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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An alarm sounded and Landon awoke. He waited for the alarm's twenty seconds to pass as he cracked his neck and stretched his arms. The intercom-clock read 6: 00 a.m. 1-1-4.1. This meant it was the first day of the first month of the first year of the fourth installment of the New Ruling Party. It was been 30 years since the Great Revolution and the NRP had taken over. Landon never thought much of this. He was only 25, a fairly new member of the Work Force and did not know much of Old Tongue. Old Tongue was used to describe places, people and things from before the Great Revolution. Old Tongue was systematically being replaced with New Ruling and people were beginning to forget.

Landon got up and put on his bathrobe. I better hurry, he thought. I was nearly two whole seconds off Schedule yesterday. Schedule was the most important driving force for a Work Force member. If a member was to contribute, Schedule was what kept him doing so. Landon climbed into the shower and bathed as fast as he could. Punishment could be severe for having a Morning Routine off Schedule. The clock on his bathroom wall read 7: 03 a.m. 1-1-4.1 Perfect, he thought. Right on time.

The weather was depressing. The sky was drowned in a gray, tasteless color - a faceless dome over where Landon lived and worked. He stepped outside to begin the new year of work and put forth his best efforts to fulfill his yearly quota. He was assigned to the writing department of the Entertainment Industry. The New Ruling Party was split into separate Industries. When citizens turned 24, they were placed in an Industry. The selection process was determined by how much work they could do.

It was the average day of work for Landon. He was assigned certain topics and had to come up with the most compelling essay he could. This day, his topic was "Why Work Force Members should look forward to the fourth installment and contribute extra work for the new year." Generally, all topics were why workers should contribute more and why they should appreciate tax increases. Landon grew familiar with this kind of work and enjoyed it.

The first day of the first month of the first year of the fourth installment was completed and Landon felt fairly proud. He had contributed 13 drafts of his assignment, nearly twice as many as assigned. He felt tired from the long day of motionless writing and was prepared for a good night's sleep. He stretched his arms out as normal, right when the intercom-clock alarmed for 9: 00 p.m. 1-1-4.1. Only this time, out of clumsiness or pure ignorance, he knocked over his intercom-clock. At first, Landon felt a cold flash of nervousness, for any appliance issued by the New Ruling Party was to be handled with care. He examined it and saw that it was unharmed. Although unharmed to the eye, he had knocked loose one of the most important components: the Dream Reliever. The small computer chip was designed by the most secret engineer teams of the New Ruling Party. Its purpose was to "relieve" the Work Force Member of the common nuisance called dreaming. Dreams were a thing of Old Tongue. How could a devoted worker sleep easily and be prepared for a good day of hard work when dreams could get in the way? No Work Force members knew of dreams or the component built to destroy them. Until now ...

Landon awoke in a cold sweat. His intercom-clock had read 4: 13 a.m. 2-1-4.1. He glanced at the clock and glanced again. Were his eyes deceiving him? Was he awake in the sacred time of sleep? There was no light outside and the intercom-clock was not making daily announcements as it did every morning. He was awake. But why? He thought back and it hit him like a sack of bricks. He had had an experience. He seemed to have been transported to a different world during the time when a normal Work Force Member slept. He had been as free as a bird, experiencing flight and seeing things that nothing earthly could provide. He had had a dream. He broke out in a nervous panic. What am I to do? he thought. I will surely be put in Detainment for a year for this act of heresy. Thinking quickly, he decided to go back to sleep (or try to go back to sleep) without another experience. He figured if the intercom-clock was right, he would be awakening at the normal time and this matter would blow over. He ventured into sleep again and dreamt of nothing.

The next day, he was a whole five seconds off Schedule. He felt very guilty, but did not linger on any thoughts of why he was so late. He didn't speak of this experience to anyone. He thought it must be kept a secret, for if anyone knew, they would certainly turn him in to the Working Authorities and he would be detained or, at least, physically punished. He worked, but with a drop in progress.

Today, he had hit his exact requirement of drafts, instead of the normal two or three more. He thought little of it because it did happen from time to time. He had a normal evening routine. As he stretched and the intercom-clock toned nine o' clock, he was careful not to knock it over. As he ventured into sleep, he tried not to think too much about the previous night's experience. He feared that if he concentrated too much, it might happen again. His consciousness faded and he began to see the wild images and intense feelings of the previous night.

He awoke to the tone of the intercom-clock. His day continued as normal, but this time his work slipped considerably. He continued on this downward path for weeks. As his work slipped, Authority became uneasy with him and the intensity of his experiences increased.

Landon had become increasingly inefficient. His Authority discussed having him executed for inefficient work. He found himself with a greater passion for the dreams than for work. He slept in as much as he could and began to consider everyday life insignificant. This was a New Ruling Party nightmare. If Authority was to discover Landon's new passion, he would surely be executed.

It was 29-1-4.1, the day before the monthly Attention Check. This was a routine technical check done by the Engineering Industry, which checked the workings of every intercom-clock and televiewer in the New Ruling Party State. If an appliance was found to be defective, the Engineering Industry would fix the problem to ensure a proper flow of work. A problem such as Landon's would result in a silent execution, so no details of the defect would be leaked.

The routine check took effect early in the morning, in the midst of one of Landon's dreams. A team of Author-ity figures broke into his room for the extermination. The noise of the battering ram and shouts of the officers awoke Landon. He was drowsy when he saw the shapeless figures standing to confront him. Landon was aware this would happen eventually. He knew what he was about to go through and did not feel the least bit guilty. He had seen a freedom no man had ever experienced. He had seen the only thing that kept a human from becoming a biological machine, working for its government without thinking twice. He had seen the freedom of dreaming. His termination was inevitable, but he had learned a lesson more valuable than any form of work. He had learned that one must hold fast to their dreams - their true source of freedom.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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