Be grateful your morning didn’t start like this…

…unless it did. Then I’m truly sorry.

A wee extract of one of my favourite books…

PONTIFF LAY NAKED on his bed. The Time Indicator, or clock, as such things had been known in the past, indicated he needed to get to breakfast. Attendance was compulsory.

On cue, a light tinkling of piano began over the speakers. This was the Sonic Technicians’ idea of a nice alarm call but it was entirely unnecessary. Every Misaligned in here would already be awake given the punishment for missing an appointment.

As the first forays of a summer morn lapped his face, Pontiff rubbed his bald head and yawned. He bathed a moment in the warming rays and tried to ready himself for another day. After a couple of seconds he reached onto the floor to locate his white briefs and white t-shirt, and levered himself out of bed. He clothed and set about his morning routine: fifty sit-ups followed by fifty-press ups followed by fifty sit-ups, followed by ten pull-ups on the metal curtain rail that surrounded his single bed. He was a man of medium height and well-set build, and needed to keep his strength up in this place.

At the small sink in the corner of his three-by-three metre cell Pontiff splashed some water on his face and head and took in his reflection. He was lightly tanned, a surprising skin tone given the land of his birth, and the scars of battle were evident. He had felt the full force of the People’s Republic of Britannia on an almost daily basis at Life Camp – and indeed for some time before that – and staring into his own green eyes he felt every minute of his forty-three years.

For three months this place had been his home, just one of the many centres brought in to aid those that could not cope with the rigours of the improved, modern life. Many in here had been interred a lot longer. Many had become so institutionalised they felt they would never be able to live outside the parameters of LifeManagement4Life, the prospect of returning to society to fend for themselves filling them with dread.

As he did every morning Pontiff looked out across the playing fields to the perimeter fence. Standing a mere thirty metres high with a subsidiary bulwark beyond, it was peopled with the requisite armed Blackguard and had all the allure of a Cold War-era Berlin Wall. Scanning the horizon, Pontiff’s eyes came to the entrance arch of the mammoth gated complex and the start of that long gravel drive, the approach to the imposing white grandeur of LifeManagement4Life. The flag of the republic billowed delicately in the breeze. A poor mock-up of the Japanese imperial standard, the red sun spouted alternate red, white and blue rays, the colours of the old Union Jack.

Pontiff rubbed his bald head again, gave it a robust itch, and leant across his bed. From a small table he picked up his LifeManagement-4Life booklet – A Guide for the Misaligned. He looked over his timetable to see which of the lessons, field activities or role-plays he had in store today, or which of the daily chores he was to complete to ensure he (like every Misaligned) understood that a clean and tidy home made for a clean and tidy mind. There was a relentless obligation to always be somewhere, always doing something. Letter Posting Best Practice awaited him before lunch. Today’s bonus? An assessment­­-cum-presentation, and a key moment in demonstrating his realignment. Then, later in the day, he… He didn’t want to look. He knew what else was coming. Modern medicine beggared belief.

From atop the dresser on the window-side of his bed, Pontiff grabbed his Life Camp uniform and donned the all-in-one linen suit and regulation moccasins. Both white, naturally, like everything else in here. The Liberal Compassionates felt white best evoked feelings of purity, of goodness, of transparency.

“Not to mention a little slice of heavenly godliness,” Dr Zini had added. “It will help you realign.”

Pontiff left his room to passages teaming with anxious Misaligneds, all dressed in white, all trying not to be late for breakfast.

“What a fucken shit show,” he muttered, following the throng through the curved corridors. There were no corners, no hard edges. Anything as abrupt as a right-angle might upset the balance of a Misaligned.

Hoisted on the parabolic walls were holographic screens upon which the camp’s leader, Dr Zini, would appear to pump out mantras, advice, timetable amendments and any other messages she might have. These screens were also used to play images from the recent past, of the millions that had met their ghastly demise at the hands of Plasticitis, of toothless, ill and washed out people sobbing into the body bags of their loved ones, of the time of great fatigue, of people shuffling through life amidst pollution and disease, of the outgoing government dripping with the carnal goo of sleaze, energy sources all but vanqu-ished, when many, if not most, had slipped into poverty. These images were reminders of why life had had to change, reminders of what had led everyone to where they were now, reminders of the importance of Easification-Facilitation. Nobody spoke.

So there you have it. Pretty bloody good eh?

Let us know what you think. Or share in the comments your extract of choice (not as big as this one, mind.)

Mind how you go…

Sigmund F x

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