Howdy! So, here’s my first real shot at creative writing (but, you guessed it, it’s still basically just fuckin’ poetry). The concept for this story, however short or long it may be, is that of dystopian America. Taking place over the span of a single, 16 hour day, this story follows the routine, setting, scenery, and introspective analysis of a fella’ named Thomas Poet. Here we go.
Being Thomas Poet
5:59 A.M, October 1st
Thomas was already awake -granted, only for a moment – when the alarm screeched. That piercing, shrill, jolting dagger of frequency slapped Thomas through his eardrums, just as every morning; but no matter how used to Patriot Protocol Thomas thought he would become over time, every morning somehow seemed more stressful and terrifying than the last. Thomas realized that six seconds had passed since the wall-mounted alarm began the daily Call to Arms. And so, immediately, and with absolutely no hesitation, as every morning, he flung himself from the bed. In his hurried and frantic attempt to appear set and ready at exactly 6:15, Thomas slipped and fumbled on the hardwood floor, fell to his knees and caught himself with the palms of his hands.
The spread of agony.
The shock of the clumsy and frightened fall shot from his palms, through his wrists, up his forearms; the strike of his knees on the hardwood ricocheted through his hamstrings, bolted to his Achilles tendons, and echoed in his hips and ankles. Thomas held himself, on the hardwood floor, hands and knees, like a broken and beaten dog attempting to recover from a kick. Seven seconds passed. Thomas was running late.
“Again?” The only thing Thomas could think.
6:00 A.M, October 1st
The Call to Arms had concluded its 30 second blast when Thomas had composed, swept-up, gathered himself, and gotten to his feet. Seemingly instantaneously, as the alarm silenced, the florescent light of his quarters illuminated with a blinding, searing flash. The entirety of his 18-by-18-foot studio was completely revealed; the manmade light denied nothing its false and hollow warmth. As Thomas walked, more so threw himself towards the bathroom, he noticed, as every morning, the light of the florescent tubes was so savage and domineering that no shadows were cast in his apartment.
The light shows everything.
Although he had gotten his mandated eight hours of sleep, Thomas still felt groggy. “Sleep isn’t really sleep when its forced, is it?” Thomas thought. His legs and arms still tingled with the echoes of his frantic fall, his muscles ached from the night full of clenching, trying to block out dreams and just make it through the night. He knew he was falling behind. In desperation to reach the bathroom by 6:01, Thomas lurched his head and chest forward, hoping that his strained muscles would somehow manage to propel themselves to prevent another collapse.
“Gravity is as good a slave driver as any, I suppose” Thomas thought to himself as his legs and feet stomped and drove him onward with hopeless, panicked impetus.
6:01 A.M, October 1st
As Thomas approached the bathroom with five steps left to the door, he heard the breath of machinery begin to swell. “Running late” Thomas thought. The door to the bathroom unbolted itself, and hurled open automatically, stopping suddenly in the exact same place as every morning. While taking the step through the threshold from the hardwood floor of the bedroom to the white, clammy tile of the bathroom, the hanging head of Thomas noticed, as every morning, the steel – ‘secure’ – hydraulic door of his bathroom had, over time, carved a faint and shallow crescent in the tile. Tiny flakes of tile dust, like powdered sugar, floated, glided, and danced across the floor, propelled by the gust of wind from the doors determined and planned opening. Thomas thought he should report the damage to Landlord Miller, but was caught in the predicament of getting the mechanical folly rectified, and being reprimanded by Landlord Miller for not having reported the impairment earlier.
There’s really no winning.
But Thomas didn’t have time to think about that, he was running late. He pivoted like a soldier, and faced himself in the bathroom mirror. Thomas hated the way he looked. For being as young as he was, he looked like shit. He grabbed the “What a Smile” toothbrush (seven days old now, this would its thirteenth, and second to last use), the half-empty – ‘half-full’ – flaccid pouch of “Pearly Whites” toothpaste, and began to brush his teeth. The bristles were a little bit soft now, not as rigid and sharp – ‘new’ – as they should be by Protocol. Thomas looked at the clock, the digital segments, fragmented, divided, read 6:02:49; Thomas had brushed for a minute and 49 seconds, meaning he had eleven seconds to spit, rinse, and move on to shaving. The water of the sink turned on automatically, as it does every morning, and Thomas jumped on the four seconds he to cup his hands, collect some water.
“Rinse, gargle, spit. Shave, shower, shit.” Thomas rhymed in his head.
6:03 A.M, October 1st
Thomas had half-assed the mouth rise portion of Morning Protocol; he didn’t want to fall behind on shaving. The Landlords and Managers never really noticed a bit of residual tooth paste coating the gums, or lingering on the tongue, but they’ll dock anyone for a sloppy shave. Thomas reached into the package of “Looking Sharp” disposable razors, slid the thin and flimsy – ‘economic’ – plastic sheath off the razor head, and then left it to rest on the elevated porcelain border of the sink. The water turned on automatically, again, just like every morning, and as Thomas shook his can of ‘Silky Smooth’ shaving cream, he waited for the water gauge to read “Optimal Face Temperature”. It took two seconds longer than usual today; weather must have been a bit colder than predicted.
Can’t control the weather.
Thomas cupped his hands again, and splashed the water on his face. “Say what you will about Protocol, but they do know how to make this shit precise” Thomas thought as the water dampened his face, slid down his neck, and pooled between his collar bone and the top bridge of his trapezius muscle (Thomas usually spent his required hour of Free Study reading about human anatomy, bone structure, things of that nature). He shot a splash of shaving cream into his left palm, still a little tingly from his fall from the bed; lathered the cream together with his hands, and slapped it on his face. “Maybe a little too much there, buddy” Thomas said to himself within the confines of his mind. The shaving cream splattered, sprinkled the countertop. “Sorry about that, Carla” Thomas apologized, in apostrophe to the FreeMaid who cleaned his floor of the Complex when the FreePens were at work. He took the razor against his skin, dragged and pulled, slicked and shone it across his face; left cheek, right cheek, against the grain, no pull, no snagging; everyone had to shave every day anyway, so the hair never really had a chance to grow back. The water was still running from the sink, but methodically fluctuating in accordance to the regulations of water preservation established by GreenPeace, which Corporate had implemented on a Statewide basis about two years ago. The fluctuation, as described by GreenPeace, and passed onto the FreeMen of The State by the LandLords was in attempts to save water during the Morning Shave (Thomas wondered what it was like for the FreeWomen, and how Corporate had wasted – ‘dedicated’ – so much time to figuring out exactly how to control the water that their legs would get the best possible shave, without wasting any water). LandLord Miller had said that the low flow of water assures that no excess hair or cream will gather to clog the pipes, while the high spurts of water pressure allow for the razor to be fully rinsed in between strokes.
“Wonder how many fuckin’ monkey’s they shaved to figure that one out” Thomas said in his head, with a chuckle and sardonic grin.
6:10 A.M, October 1st
Thomas finished off his shave, and waited for the “Polish Up” aftershave disposable facewipe to be fed from the wall. “Did I actually get that done on time?” Thomas pondered, looking at the clock. 6:09:56. “Shit, would ya’ look at that. Not too shabby, Tommyboy” he thought to himself with a little sense of pride in his efficacy. “Four seconds to yourself”.
Little moments like these.
The aftershave facewipe slid from the chrome-plated slit in the wall (positioned just to the left of the sink) like one of those old dollar bills being rejected from a vending machine, but that was all before Corporate. Thomas snagged it, rubbed it between his hands to warm it up a little, and wiped his face. Thomas liked the little sting, the little pinch of his skin and pores reacting to the alcohol, or whatever it was that soaked the napkin. Behind him, the chimes from the BathroomPlanner played its little tune, like a xylophone, signaling that it was time to take a shower. “They play music to tell you it’s time to shower, but they wail the screams of a banshee to get you out of bed” Thomas remarked, silently, to himself. He approached the shower, held the CorpTek on his right arm up to the BathroomPlanner to transmit his current body temperature. Even since Corporate has initiated the State Comfortability Plan, everyone’s CorpTek was revamped to monitor everything: blood pressure, blood sugar, body temperature, heartbeat, location, and stress levels. While stepping into shower, even after all this time, Thomas was still hesitant that the water may be too hot, or too cold; but just like always –
“It’s fuckin’ perfect.” Thomas critiqued in his mind. “They stuff terror down your throat, and what comes out is a big, heaping, steaming pile of perfection.” Thomas closed his eyes, and let the water run over him; on the ShowerScreen, Corporate’s “Five Steps for a Cleaner Body and Healthy Skin” beauty regiment morning talk-show played. But unlike every other morning, today, Thomas didn’t listen.