Dystopia: "Day One..."
Here's a little something I've started.
I'm not sure it's really my thing, but I decided to try my hand at fiction.
Over the next few weeks I'll upload the opening chapters of a dystopian piece I've started.
Be gentle with me!
It's a first-person diary account of a man who becomes obsessed with the notion that he is the central character of a story he doesn't know the plot to. He is fixated with dystopian fantasies and reads himself into the plot. The diary starts as therapy following his release from an asylum, as he is believed to be recovering.
I have no idea what I’m doing really, and I why I’m doing it. I’m not sure what the point of this whole exercise is… If anyone ever decides they want to read this, you’re going to have to bear with me!
That said I’m fairly sure this sort of diary thing is just for my benefit anyway. At least that’s what the psycho-babble woman told me.
At the end of our last meeting she told me that I was making progress, but that there was a long way to go. She suggested that I write about my day in a journal, and that would help me to come to terms with all the changes that have gone on to lead me to this place I’m in.
She’s not the first person who told me I should write things down, and this isn’t the first time I’ve started something like this. In fact I have a whole array of journals and notebooks and diaries that have the first dozen pages already ripped out of them because I started something like this, then I needed a piece of paper for a phone number, or I started drawing instead of writing, or I read it back on day three and realised I sounded like a complete tit…
As I write I remember being in school as a young boy and having to write my diary on a Monday morning of “My Weekend”. Every Monday Mrs. Sandford would give us 30 minutes to fill a page in our jotters. When I say page, the top half was space for a picture, and the bottom half was about 6 chunky lines to be filled with my 7 year old scrawl.
I hated Monday mornings even then. It wasn’t the work or the writing, and it wasn’t even the drawing (which I despised with a passion). It was the invasion of my privacy. Every week my teacher had to hear about every detail of my weekend.
But what did I have to hide as a 7 year old? Absolutely nothing.
I know it doesn’t make much sense now to you reading this, but let me try and explain myself.
I had nothing to hide because every weekend was the same:
Friday night: TV, homework, dinner, and normal bed time;
Saturday: Bike ride, sitting on a cold side-line watching my dad play football for the local pub team, take-away for dinner while watching Gladiators, and then to bed;
Sunday: Church, Sunday lunch, playing while everyone else had their afternoon nap, church again in the evening, and then home to bed.
And then came Monday morning again and I had to find a different way of writing the same thing. I’m sure there were a few weeks when I tried to just repeat what I’d written before but I got in trouble for not being imaginative enough with my journal.
How many ways can you write the same thing?! They asked me to write about what happened, not to make up a story. It was hardly my fault at 7 that my life was so boring and predictable now was it?!
As I got older I began to read. I mean I could always read, but I never enjoyed it. I never read for fun until I got to High School. In fact, the first real book I remember reading all the way through was “1984” by George Orwell.
I don’t know what it was about that book that appealed to me, but I was gripped from the very first line: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking 13…” Maybe it was the blend of the dull with the extraordinary, the everyday with the twisted look at time.
Everything in Winston’s life was grey, but it was an enforced grey. Everything around him was dull because all colour had been suppressed. He wasn’t free because “Big Brother was watching.” He fought though. He found someone to love and fought for his right to love her. He fought the system and appeared to be winning for a while… But by the end, Winston realised he couldn’t win, that there was no fighting it any more, that “He loved Big Brother.”
From that point on, every book I ever enjoyed was about dystopia.
I fell in love with the stories that told of how messed up life was, and how there was someone on the outside trying to control it. That the law makers made unjust laws, that the “peace-keepers” loved war, that love was for the free, but that no-one could be free.
Totalitarianism bewitched me and I began to see it everywhere. Suddenly I was able to explain my boring existence and the predictability of life because I could see it in the stories I was reading and watching.
My life made sense if I was Winston and Big Brother was watching me…
My life made sense if I was plugged into the Matrix and was living out a programme…
My life made sense if I was Truman and my life was a TV show…
My life made sense if I was Job and God was letting the Devil play a boring game with me…
My life made sense if Huxley, Orwell or Wells were writing the plot…
It was that “sense” that got me put away.
I’d always heard jokes about men in their white van with their white coats, straight-jackets and the padded walled cells, but now I was the crazy man they were coming to collect.
And that’s how I ended up in the Asylum at the age of 29.
Physically there was nothing wrong with me. I’m average height, a little overweight but I like to believe it is mostly because of muscle rather than all fat, I’m going bald rather prematurely and I haven’t run since I was at school, but I was perfectly healthy in body until the day I checked in.
The mind is on the mend now too. It’s controlled by medication at the moment. While I was in the asylum they pumped me so full of drugs that I became numb. I couldn’t recognise myself. Every three hours without fail the nurses would arrive and “top me up” with their needles full of joy.
The real irony is that in order to heal me from my paranoia, they had to make my fears my reality: For four years I had to live out my dystopian nightmare at the hands of my captors.
It all seems so stupid and far-fetched now. I’m so glad to have come out the other side and to have got rid of the paranoia. The drugs still help, and I’ve forgiven my family for turning me in. But I now know what it is to be free!
Remarcable is one man blogging about Youth Work, Theology, Family, Life and those other random things that come to mind.