I was six years old when I first experienced It. I cannot remember the exact day or date that I did, although I could recover it if need be. I remember the events of that day much clearer than the exact details of it. The day began early, I was awoken by my mother earlier than any six-year-old would’ve enjoyed, but I held back a whine because today was the day that It began. It was no surprise to me that I was going to be exposed to It, parents everywhere spent the earliest years of their child’s lives preparing them for It. The anticipation of It almost has a greater impact on a child than It itself. My mother could not have been more excited, and I could not have been more nervous. We drove a distance, during which I went through a series of emotions ranging from curious to concerned, eager to downright petrified, as my mother did her best to settle my unsettlements and fuel my excitement.
Our destination, a large building I had never seen before, seemed to tower over me, and yet seem harmless and almost inviting at the same time. Upon entry, I saw many like me, tired six-year-olds, all dressed up and looking much like they were going through the same emotional turmoil as me. As time passed and groups of parents and six-year-olds bustled around the building’s many rooms and corridors, I witnessed children settle on their expectations of It, some impatiently pulling their parents along, ecstatic for It to begin, others clinging to the legs of their parents, blubbering nonsense and looking up at their parents’ faces with wide, teary eyes that pleaded to be away from this building which contained It. I cannot say for sure, but I believe I was a stoic mix of careful curiosity, and jittery nervousness, the divide due almost entirely to the fact that I had no clues whatsoever about what to expect from It.
Shortly after our arrival, my mother informed me that we were only in the final stages of preparation for It, that It had not yet begun, and that I was to be in another room elsewhere in the building. We walked there, hands held, and were met by about fifteen other parent-child duos and a man who was to administer It. We, the children, settled down in little chairs with little tables around them, and chattered amongst our little selves while our parents discussed It with the man. I learned through my chatters that I was not alone in my near non-existent knowledge of It, which tipped the balance between my emotions, rattling my nerves even more. While I kept my composure more or less the same, others were not so constrained. The excited ones were practically jumping up and down in their seats, tortured by the waiting, while timid ones grew quieter and still. Others still reached their panic threshold, and ran crying to their parents in fear of the unknown, of It, which only excited the rest of us further, magnifying our already intense emotions. Then, even furthering our mental stimulation, although in nearly the same way for everyone, our parents began to leave.
When you’re six years old, or at least when I was, you were never away from your parents for more than half an hour at a time, and they were always your light in the storm that is your life. Picture yourself, six years old, extremely impressionable, just starting to be able to think for yourself, nowhere close to knowing how to handle yourself alone. You barely understand the concept of the future, much less what it holds for you, what you want it to. Your parents are always there, the constant in the experiment that is your existence. They are your anchors, your safety blanket, your support group, your cheerleaders. Your parents are why you are so happy, and why you are so ignorant. They know what’s best for you, they know how to protect you, they know how to comfort you, they know how to build you up, they know how to make you feel at peace. To condense my thought, when you are six years old, your parents are your security. Then, at that moment, at that unforeseen turn of events, the door opened, my mother walked out, and I was left alone without my anchor, my support, my safety. I was completely and utterly exposed to what I didn’t know, along with every other child in the room.
You may have expected chaos. I certainly did. I almost contributed to it. I thought there would be turmoil, I thought there would be panic, I thought there would be hurt. I was scared. So was every other child in the room, even the excited ones, in a shell-shocked sort of way. There was no chaos though. There was turmoil, but only inside each of our little minds. I’ll tell you what there was a lot of. Tears.
We were all wondering; “Why?”,” Why did they leave?”, “Where did they go?”, “Who is this man?”, “What now?” We were all completely over-stimulated. Our little minds were firing as fast as they could, the most intense, primal panic programmed into our genes so long ago, a fight or flight impulse that had us sweating like we just sprinted a marathon even though we hadn’t moved a muscle. We couldn’t.
We were all frozen in our seats, hands at our sides, staring down at our little tables, trying to make ourselves small. I wondered why I was being exposed to this. I wondered what this had to do with It. I wondered if this was It. I didn’t know. The only movements I made were little twitches of my eyes, suddenly very interested in my surroundings. Other than the little tables and little chairs, I noticed a larger desk in one corner, where the man sat, shuffling papers. Another corner contained a large glass tank, which appeared to be empty, save a small half-open log and what appeared to be some scaly animal. A third corner contained a pair of little beanbag chairs, and a shelf with various thin paper-back books stacked up against one another. The last contained a closed door to a small, dark room near the back, full of large boxes, stacked several times taller than I stood. The walls were cluttered with posters with brightly colored symbols I couldn’t recognize, and depicted smiling animals and happy children. There was a large, empty space on the wall between the large desk and tank, bright white, with more unrecognizable symbols on it, written in large, curvy, pale colors. It was at this time the man stood and looked out over the children.
He was tall, much taller than me, wearing a sharp dress shirt and pants to match, a pale red tie, and eyeglasses. He had a receding hairline, and a short, grey-brown beard and moustache. He was old and tanned, a man who had spent his life in the sun. He was smiling, but soberly, almost sadly. He looked over us, slowly turning his head to peer at each of us, as if sizing us up to some unknown challenge. When he was done with his survey, he said “Good morning”, in a strong, clear voice. He waited. Most of us remained silent and motionless. A few brave souls echoed him, timidly. “I said,” he said, firmer, “Good morning.” A few more brave souls echoed him a bit louder this time. “Better.” He declared, and then It began.
It was foreign but familiar, old but new, unexpected but not surprising. It wasn’t awful. It wasn’t even uncomfortable. The transition to It was rather painless. It didn’t even become a large part of our lives, or so we thought. It was just there, a quiet noise in the back of our heads. Every day, we went to that building, and experienced It. Early in the morning we arrived and began to hear It, late in the afternoon we left, and ceased to hear It. It came from the administrator. Each day, he had more of It to expose us to. That was the routine of It. It’s not quite accurate though. It was always there. Quiet. When we arrived at the building, It got a little louder, a little more complex. When we left, It got a little quieter. It didn’t always come form the administrator, but it did in one form or another. Sometimes it came from books and films. But it was always there, ever since that first day. It told us things, It helped us, made us smarter. Or at least competent enough to survive It. This went on, each day, for weeks, which stretched to months, then a year. We got a break, a few months, then It began again. That second year, It was louder, louder each time we arrived, and when we left It quieted, but not quite as much as it used too. It continued to tell us things, and It began to ask us things. To do things. Little things, meaningless things. We did these things, not really understanding why. It told us that doing those things were crucial to our future, without explaining why. Doing these things exposed ourselves to more of It in turn, and It continued. Another break. It continues. Year after year, Its routine continued. Each year, it got louder. It asked us to do bigger things. Harder things. We did them. By the sixth year, It was a steady noise in our heads, constant, never ceasing. We were doing things for it every night, spending many of our waking ours obeying It, while still carrying on with our lives. We didn’t know that our lives revolved around It. At the end of that year, It was no longer just a noise in our heads. It was a whine.
The seventh year, I stopped going to the building. That building had offered all it had of It. In that building, It had been an interesting, almost entertaining experience, once we had gotten used to It. But today, a new building rose above me. Unlike the last time I first entered a building like this, I felt prepared. I had survived six years of the unknown, of It, and had thrived. This was not the quaint little building I had just left behind, no. This was tall, unwavering stone, no little tables or chairs here, no brightly colored posters here. This building was a collection of white rooms, with rows of desks facing new administrators, standing stone-faced, prepared to deliver the next level of It. Nonetheless, I entered undaunted, with my head held high, laughing at the ominous façade with my friends. I was shocked when It began again. The first few days, It screeched in our heads, and demanded tasks that felt impossible. It came to us in a torrent from multiple administrators, stacks of humorously thick books, and a multitude of multimedia sources all at once. It was so loud It was nearly incomprehensible. It persisted that It was still quiet and easy, but It was certainly not. Day in and day out, It was there, occupying our minds as long as we were awake. Thinking about anything other than It simply ceased, for three whole years, as we got used to Its screech. It was no longer an annoying whine. It was an ear-splitting scream.
Thankfully for us, after another three years, we escaped that building, for it had exhausted itself in its freight-train delivery of It. We were ecstatic. It had been stunning how quickly that It went from tolerable yet annoying assistance to unbearable, arduous work. We were all proud when we walked out that last day. Despite our rude awakening to the intensity of It, we were proud that we had survived It yet again, and felt sure that after that we could handle anything It threw our way. Sure enough, after escaping the building, It quieted greatly. But It did not end. A third building awaited us. A massive, brick-and-mortar monstrosity that combined every aspect of both of the previous into a chaotic gauntlet of the worst of It. I approached with the same confidence in my ability to manage It, but with none of the blind disrespect I gave It at the beginning of the seventh year. The first day, we all arrived in the building, our minds ready and steeled against the scream. But It didn’t scream.
We had prepared ourselves for a surround-sound symphony of It in the center of our heads. It did get louder once again, but in a way we hadn’t expected. It didn’t scream. It didn’t even yell. It was certainly louder than it had been when we had escaped the second building, but it truly didn’t feel that way. It felt like It wasn’t really trying to get in our heads, like It had given up, like we had beaten It. None of us were dumb enough to fall for that, though, and remained steadfast in our efforts to maintain what was left of our lives. It was fruitless, though. We never saw it coming. It had beaten us before we walked in.
It no longer told us to do much of anything, and It ceased to aid us in any way. But louder and louder It got. It ceased to allow any more thought, pulsing and swelling to fill our brains with nothing but It, which was nothing much in Itself. It was a brilliantly engineered, perfectly executed plot to eliminate thought. It filled the brain with nothing until we believed that there was nothing to think about, that every thought had already been thought. And a few years later, It continued to hold us this way.
It takes pride in Its effectiveness. It’s proud of Its ability to completely and utterly eliminate thought. It squashes any attempt at creativity and It cannot be pushed out. I have been in this third building for five years, and am writing this from the inside. I believe I have not yet completely succumbed to It, proof being that I have enough control of my thoughts to write this. It has ceased to be any recognizable noise. It is now a complete and deafening drone, never ceasing. It means nothing to me, and yet I cannot think of anything else but It and this. Should anyone read this before It has completely numbed your mind, hold on to your thoughts. Do not do as we have. We tried both accepting It and rejecting It. But It predicted our efforts.
The only way to resist It is to be creative, be innovative, never stop thinking about your life. As long as you hold on to thoughts other than It, your thoughts, It cannot trap you. Draw something, write something, perform something. Anything. Whatever you do, don’t listen to The Drone.