Control

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.

Vanishing Point (October Vignette)

on the bus, after we heard the news,

I saw a woman softly sobbing into her hands;

beside her was a Whole Earth shopping bag

containing what must be heirloom or designer apples

that were almost orange in color –

perhaps a miniature pumpkin,

if such a thing exists –

and what resembled a purple pomegranate.

 

another woman was picking at her nails

nervously

like a monkey searching for nits.

 

the crying woman patted the pockets

of her all-weather jacket;

maybe she was searching for a handkerchief

to wipe her face?

 

but then I noticed that her face

was darkening, like the tears

were soot, and by mingling with her skin,

they were turning her entire person

into black-and-white, like an old-fashioned movie;

soon, everyone on the bus

was fading into black,

or vanishing altogether

as they bleached out of my vision.

 

I looked down at my hands

and I, too, no longer

had any color except shadows

and pale, ghostly flesh –

it seemed like early Halloween,

or an Edgar Allen Poe tale come to life.

 

someone on the bus said,

I think we’re heading back into the 1950s,

before color TV, and someone else said, no,

the 1930s, before Technicolor hit Hollywood:

it’s like in The Wizard of Oz, in Kansas,

before Dorothy meets the Munchkins,

or follows the yellow brick road.

 

the woman stopped her sobbing, sniffled, then said,

yes, we’re going backwards, to when white men

didn’t have to share the country with anyone else.

 

by Alison Jennings

Alison Jennings is retired from teaching and accounting; throughout her life, she has composed over 400 poems, and recently published several of them, in print journals and online. She lives in Seattle, where she writes poetry whenever she has time.

Cherished a Hope

The emotion that lies at the heart,

not shown in gestures and words,

cannot be measured or felt,

but for myself.

Disillusion, sadness and despair,

even rejoicing and pleasure,

have created tears, salty and hot ones,

that have leavened the soil where I live,

bringing forth flowers, fruits, children.

Have also nourished and ennobled my spirit,

paying the toll I owe to the lord of the fief.

I am sure they are leading me to Canaan,

the promised land where evil finds no shelter

and milk and honey flow abundantly.

Where the woman I desire is waiting for me,

at the door of my house, longing and needy,

wife and lover.

 

by Edilson Afonso Ferreira

A Brazilian poet, Mr. Ferreira, 75, writes in English rather than in Portuguese. Largely published in international journals in print and online, he began writing at age 67. He was nominated for the Pushcart Prize 2016. His first Poetry Collection – Lonely Sailor – is coming soon, scheduled to be launched in London, November 29th 2018, with one hundred poems. He blogs at www.edilsonmeloferreira.com.