/Suggest-a-Tron ver 2.506 online
/accessing household, please wait...
/camera 1 ready
/camera 2 ready
/camera 3 offline
/camera 1 zoom
/Suggest-a-Tron ver 2.506 offline
0:00 subject in sleep mode
01:00 subject in sleep mode
02:00 subject in sleep mode
03:00 subject in sleep mode
04:00 subject in sleep mode
05:00 subject in sleep mode
06:00 first alarm sounds
06:04 subject awakens
Edith woke at 6:04AM because sleeping in until 6:05AM was a crime. She set her alarm for ten minutes, checked beneath the bathroom sink for recording devices, then took a shower. She set another alarm to comb her hair, brush her teeth and get dressed. She ran the comb along the bathroom floor tiles to dull the teeth.
Edith Grey was a model citizen when the cameras were watching.
/subject looks at camera 4
The camera is always watching. Edith thought to herself and wondered if the camera could hear her thoughts. She waited for a moment to give the camera time to formulate a response—then headed toward the kitchen. By 6:25AM she had a bowl of cereal and sat down in front of her large screen Suggest-o-Tron and to wait for the Morning Vote.
The Suggest-o-Tron powered on.
Ballot Initiative 1984. Address selected: 16 Canterbury Street. Today's vote. The address belonged to her neighbor Mr. Martinez. Edith knew why. Last week someone had reported him with a red envelope. Yesterday the secret police found a pair of dull scissors in his kitchen.
Edith voted no for Ballot Initiative 1984. She moved to her front window and lit a candle in a blue vase. Her neighbor, at least, would know her vote. It was up to the Suggest-a-Tron now.
/camera 3 rotates
Joseph Martinez sat across from his wife. His shoulders were sore from restless sleep and his back ached from a long morning of working in the fields. He hated fruit season. He ate his cereal in silence and waited for his muscles to relax. His wife Ester left her breakfast untouched. She had lost her appetite ever since the red envelope had found a home on their kitchen table. This morning they'd receive the results of Ballot Imitative 1984. This morning they'd discover if their family would be shipped off to work on The Wall.
His youngest son stared at him from across the table. The boy's dark brown eyes darted from clock to the blank Suggest-a-Tron screen that sat in the middle of the table.
The clock struck 06:30 and the boy bounced to his feet as the Suggest-a-Tron screen lit up.
Joseph whispered a silent prayer.
Across the street—a blue light flickered in the window.
/Suggest-a-Tron ver 2.507 online
/all votes collected
/allocating extra vote to E. William's household
/processing results, please wait…
/Suggest-a-Tron ver 2.507 offline
Edith waited, watching the slow moving hands of the clock on the wall. Ten seconds. Five seconds. Her hand tightened around the door knob. Two seconds. Her eyes darted back to the red glare of the Suggest-a-Tron. Had the light just blinked? Was it awake early before the morning Mandatory Vote, somehow able to move forward the two inches it would need to get a clear line of sight to the closet door? The same line of sight that Edith had eluded for so many years? Had the Suggest-a-Tron turned on early, finally aware of her intentions? Her heart began to race.
No. The clock slammed to mark 07:29 hours.
She breathed and turned the knob. She rolled around the door and fell into the closet with a soft thud. It was empty of clothing. No spare jackets. No umbrella. Just darkness. The Suggest-a-Tron could not see her. It wasn’t scheduled to turn on until exactly 7:30. Five seconds. She pulled the door behind her and closed her eyes against the dark. She faced the closet door, counting each second in her head, and slid down the wall. Ten seconds.
She felt with her right hand: just where she’d left it, a stray coaxial cable that fed from the Suggest-a-Tron into the closet. Fifteen seconds. She very carefully pulled the slack through her fingers until she felt the familiar indents in the rubber casing. Teeth marks. Twenty seconds. She pulled the cable to her mouth and began to chew. Dried blood and saliva met her tongue from where the cabling had cut her gums before. Thirty seconds. She dropped the cable, pushed herself up the wall and opened the closet door. Forty-five seconds. She had made good progress today. It wouldn’t be much longer now.
She opened the closet door and stepped back into the line of sight of the Suggest-a-Tron.
07:30 and the red light flickered on. A message began scrolling across the bottom of the screen. Edith rushed in place herself directly in front of the screen.
The red light flickered again and tiny clicks and buzzes sounded from within the Suggest-a-Tron. Edith picked up the remote control and tried to steady her hands. She typed a reply on the compact keyboard as she sat down on her couch.
/Good Morning. ~E
/enter verification code
Her cell phone buzzed in her pocket. She checked the screen. Your confirmation code is:
7:30am she was back in the line-of-sight of the Suggest-a-Tron. One minute a day, every day, for the past ten years. Her gums were scarred from the memories.
16:33. The door bell rang. Edith shut the closet door as quietly as she could. The closet door had jammed and she'd been stuck for three minutes longer than she had intended. The Afternoon Ballot had started already. The door bell rang again, this time accompanied by knocking.
Edith caught her breath then ran to the front door.
In her fish-eye view through the door, her neighbor Evan stood flanked by two Secret Police Officers. Evan wore all white, the officers wore all black. Under better circumstances, she may even have found him attractive. Her hand shook as she turned the knob. Three minutes late.
[ this scene was supposed to be done by her neighbor, and then after she goes to join the others, she sees the neighbor but they look JUST as upset about it as she is… ]
/Suggest-a-Tron ver 2.508 online
/camera 3 ready
/camera 3 zoom
/officer 3206 speaks: “Miss Grey you are fully aware of the Voting Participation Law. Are you in full control of your cognitive abilities?”
/two second delay, subject nods
/officer 3206, looks directly at camera 3, speaks: “You were three minutes late addressing your Suggest-a-Tron. Do you understand the punishment?”
/officer 3206 turns to subject 2, identified: Evan Williams. [address]
/civilian 1101 grabs subject's neck and slams subject's head against front door, blood spatter
/subject falls to the ground, blood detected on camera
/subject speaks, inappropriate volume: “You can't do this!”
/officer 3206 kicks subject in stomach
/officer 3211 removes safety baton from holster
/end sound recording
/end visual recording
/Suggest-a-Tron ver 2.508 offline
Edith waited until the officers had left before she pulled herself up using the door knob. Her ribs were bruised, her shirt was ripped and her nose wouldn't stop bleeding. She pried her face off the ground with the sound of ripping skin. Blood oozed between her nose and lip. She licked the blood away, fumbled with the front door, and checked her watch.
16:50. She had just enough time to put apply an ice pack to her nose and wash her face. She wouldn't have time to change before the trucks arrived.
17:00. Edith limped out the front door and held her shoulders as high as she could. She glanced at her neighbor's house across the street. Mr. [name] wasn't on his front lawn. Edith checked her watch to make sure she hadn't broken it during the fall. A drop of blood dripped from her lower lip. The time was right. Mr. Martinez was late. The Ballot Initiative must have passed.
“Daddy, where is Mr. Martinez?” A boy's voice sounded in the next yard over. Edith closed her eyes: she knew the answer, but wished the father would spare the child.
“He's going to help build The Wall. Him, his wife and their three sons.” The father's voice lowered and Edith couldn't hear the rest. The son's face went pale at his father's words and he stood a little taller. The boy clutched a pair of blue neon children's scissors in both hands. Edith hadn't seen those kinds of colors in many years.
“I liked Mr. Martinez. And Miss. Misses Martinez. And the boys next door. They had cats.” The boy looked down at the scissors in his hands. “I liked their black cat.” The boy's blue eyes went wide and he grabbed the corner of his father's shirt. “Who is going to feed Mr. Mittens?”
“Mr. Mittens will have to take care of himself, now.”
The boy frowned and scrubbed a tear from his cheek.
Inside the house—a gunshot sounded.
A black armored vehicle rumbled around the street corner. It parked in front of Mr. Martinez's house. Six men unloaded from the back of the vehicle and stormed the house. The driver and passenger approached Edith's neighbors. The boy stepped forward—gleefully holding out the pair of children's scissors. An officer—Edith recognized the red stars across his chest—knelt down and patted the child on the head.
[ start from the perspective of the officer; like the author Saunder's and his head-hopping]
Officer Williams admired the boy's blond hair for a moment and inspected the skin on his neck and shoulders. The boy was young, perhaps six or seven. Too young to join the military, but we'll recruit him for the Neighborhood Watch. Williams pulled a notebook from his breast pocket and a pen.
Officer Williams surveyed the boy. Too young for the military but he would grow up to be tall, white and blonde. A model citizen. He was crying now, an unfortunate trait that could be weeded out during Orientation. The boy was young, perhaps six or seven. It would be at least three more years before Orientation. If he kept up that level of loyalty—Williams noted how tightly the boy guarded the scissors—he would be enlisted as an Officer right away. If he survives Orientation, the Suggest-a-Tron may place him in the Welcome Party. I'll put in a good word for his address.
# Hitler’s Antenna
# Trucks arrive for citizens to turn in their sharp objects
/Suggest-a-Tron ver 2.508 offline
/criminal activity detected, notifying authorities
/the door bell rings
/camera 3 pans to doorstep
/identification module: officer 3206
/disengage security lock on door 1
/begin audio recording
“Miss Grey? Our system shows your Suggest-a-Tron is offline. Are you having
A knock sounds at the door. In the background--the Suggest-a-Tron is full of static. The
white noise is interrupted only by the spark of an electrical shock. The cable running
from the closet to the Suggest-a-Tron is severed, whipping around wildly with electrical currents. Edith lays lifeless on the floor, a shocked and pained smile forever plastered to her stiff dead features.
She was finally free of the Suggest-o-Tron.
18:20 subject offline
19:00 subject offline
20:00 subject offline
21:00 subject offline
22:00 subject offline
23:00 subject offline
24:00 subject confirmed dead
/Suggest-a-Tron ver 2.507 offline