30 October 2011

Magpie Tales 89: Enemy of the State

Image courtesy of Tess at Magpie Tales

The meatheads from the Ministry of Information came for me, as they came for everyone they disappeared, at four o'clock in the morning.  Predictable and laughable, to those of us who knew we would get caught, eventually.  The secret police was hung up on outmoded aspects of psych-ops, left over from the wars, that said humans are at their most vulnerable just before dawn.  A load of shite, we said.  After all, we had lived under the clumsy thumb of the Premier for all our lives, and we stopped feeling vulnerable and became numb.

There they were that frosted October morning.  The small flotilla of chunky black limousines pulling up to the curb out front, silent and slick like oil spilling into the gutter.  The thunk of the doors closing was faint but I heard them.  I was in the basement in my usual habit, having been up for an hour already, too anxious to sleep.  Sitting in the semi-secret closet-turned-study behind the furnace, I was chain-smoking and piecing together the next piece of samizdat for the upcoming protests.  The dank little room with its single bare bulb had been my secret home for years.  I had stapled insulation to the door long ago to muffle the click-clack of the contraband typewriter I had smuggled in shortly after moving in.  I was banging away on the keys when I heard the clatter of boot heels on the wooden stairs.

The typewriter had been my own personal joke, a sharp stick in the ribs of the State.  Computers, laptops, smart phones were all the rage now.  The Ministry had focused so sharply on the electronic revolution I reckoned they would never suspect broadsides from a pre-digital relic.  And I was right.

For years they had chased me, always wondering, never grasping the motivation behind the typewritten pages.  They could not fathom why anyone would do such a thing when smart cards and an Internet connection was so much faster and pernicious.  They never understood how I had rigged up my own ribbons from spools of tailor's trim, the ink a home-made mess of Vaseline and carbon black from candle wicks. The blot on the nacreous concrete of the basement wall a testament to a bottle of the ad hoc ink thrown in a moment of panic and frustration, that night so long ago when the apartment next door had been raided.

They never understood.  They never will understand.  The revolution will not be accomplished by machines.  The revolution will only happen because people are behind those machines, even the relic I had poured my life into; this was the joke, you see.  The typewritten pages were all one elaborate joke that the blind leviathan called the State was too dim to see.

Just as the bullet leaves the gun because a finger squeezes the trigger, Truth leaves the pen because a human heart made it so.  Like water wearing down a stone, truth will wear down tyranny.  And truth is not produced by machines.

Their was a sharp rap on the door.  The insulation jumped, peeling a little further off the door. An iron voice.

"Bellensky!  We know you are there!  It is best that you come with us, peacefully!"

My mouth opened in a silent laugh.  They still had no idea of my real name.  I placed my last cigarette between my lips, bent to the desk to rummage in the drawer.  The cold metal grip of the pistol felt electric in my hand.  the magazine was full.  I swiveled the chair about to face the door.

"Come in, komissar, come in!" I exclaimed jovially, "I wish nothing more than a polite discussion of the truth!"

Planting my feet firmly on the gritty, stained floor, I leveled the pistol at the door and watched the lever turn.  The revolution, I thought, starts now.


  1. Wow. Strong suspense! And I enjoyed the details of the make-do of ribbons and ink, and that peeling insulation.

    (Like the Ministry, but for happier reasons, I should say that I hunted down your blog from your name because the link on the Magpie page wasn't working (yet?). Might want to check that.)

  2. Nicely done. I love the idea of a low-tech revolutionary in a high-tech world. Clever way to outsmart the system...for awhile.

  3. ....come the revolution brother!!
    I loved this piece, every little thing about it. Thank you!

  4. Full of intrigue and a lot of fun. :)

  5. Dear Comrade Irish Gumbo: Magnificiently constructed activism, and so radical! What a spy thriller and great verbage; nounage, you got it! More new words for me! Like Borsht;

    "nacreous" and "samizdat" Where is politbureau? next door? hope the limos aren't men-in-black-russians! Great intrigue! Well described with much visual richness! jj Chiccoreal

  6. Well told story that draws the read in. Thanks.

  7. Powerful with great insight into what a modern revolution might need. My Magpie this week is Poet.

  8. Really hot and smokin' story Irish Gumbo, great ending...

  9. hell yes...power to the writers...and truth in what ever form it takes...smiles...the power is in the people behind the machines and this may not be a reality too far gone...

  10. Richly textured tale. Powerful and timely.

  11. Viva La Revolution! I had the hair on back of my neck stick up outta suspense of this piece. Great piece!

  12. I was about to say what delicious noir, but it's not...it's hip and modern and shiny...

  13. Woot! Excelente, mi amigo. Excelente!


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...