The sound is faint, like the low grumble of an old man in his sleep, constant and all- pervasive—a unitary oscillating auditory net that suppresses spontaneous impulses and curbs undesirable actions. Holographic images in staggering colors pulse through the atmosphere, supporting auditory control, thus promoting emotional stability and forestalling anti-social impulses. All UniCitizens, like the dwellings they inhabit, the vehicles in which they are transported and the devices with which they communicate, are extensions of a unifying principle, components of the universal network that maintains a functioning society.

Life in the early 21st Century was messy and unpredictable. Terrorism, criminality and personal dysfunction prevailed. A multiplicity of information sources conflicted with one another, contributing to widespread confusion and disturbing behavioral patterns. Fear prevailed in a society riddled with contradictions. That is, until social scientists and engineers developed a panacea for chaos. Intensive Auditory Therapy has provided a comprehensive method to homogenize and control conduct, radically reducing the potential for anarchic and anti-social expression. It has transformed the troubled rumble of pre-UniLife into a unified buzzing hum, like bees at a distance, both a warning and assurance.

Despite Social Credit Scores that now weed out undesirable impulses, the quest for perfect social harmony is still occasionally subverted by expressions of errant desire that even the most precise algorithms often fail to take into account. Controlling human desire is a fragile and febrile thing, subject to resistance by the ambiguous and unruly qualities of the latent human spirit, impulsive emotions that even if rigorously suppressed will occasionally find expression in the side streets and back alleys of the maverick mind and delinquent heart.

Case# 45-41561X:  Two middle-aged men, each assigned to a member of the opposite sex for life, are granted a UniWork break at a virtual eco resort in the Outer Hebrides, otherwise known as “islands of the strangers.” They grow inordinately close to one another and conjoin in sexual union for which they do not have official clearance. Each party desires to continue with this unsanctioned social breach, straying from their UniRole assignments and thus disturbing calibrated societal balance. The transgressors are prescribed multiple treatments of Intensive Sound Aversion Therapy and successfully returned to normative relational function. Case closed.

The social order, codified under the universal doctrine of ‘Each An Assigned Place’ is restored, forestalling any reversion to pre-Uni conditions when individual choice and irrational urges subverted cultural cohesion and threatened human survival.

 

by William Torphy

William Torphy’s poetry, critical reviews and articles have appeared in numerous magazines. Ithuriel’s Spear in San Francisco has published three books. Short stories have appeared in The Fictional Café, ImageOutWrite Volume 5, Main Street Rag, Miracle Monocle, Sun Star Review and Chelsea Station, the story for which was nominated for the 2018 Pushcart Prize. He works as an art curator in the San Francisco area.

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