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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Left Edge

Standing in the queue at the supermarket. I hate it, with a passion. What’s worse is that it’s nearing five o’clock. Ever since the war started the government invoked the five times a day “Affirmation of Patriotism.”

The loud-speaker comes on. “Welcome S-Mart shoppers. We would like to remind you about the September 11 fund. There is a mandatory ten percent donation with every purchase. The fund was set up by…” And so it goes on. In a couple of minutes when the monotone drone of the speaker stops, people will start singing in unison. I wish these people would hurry up. I could get out of here before I have to sing. I hate the song, I hate the show of pride. My father was a preacher. He said, “Son, pride is the first deadly sin. Do you know why? It is because the sinners are too proud to allow themselves to be forgiven, even by God.” That lesson always stuck with me, I would like to be forgiven by God. I would like to be forgiven for writing that song.

“Comrade Stewart! Welcome to S-Mart. Have you come for your rations?” They all knew my name. They all knew me as the reclusive writer who came into the city to get his rations. The symbol of what a true American should be. Silent, self sufficient and proud to be American.

“Yes, comrade. A loaf of bread and three tins of the Ultra Meal.”

“Three tins of the Ultra Meal!” The food these days was all condensed meat and fiber. Greens were hard to come by, most of us grew our own and half of that was sent to the soldiers fighting the war. Frankly, it tasted like cardboard. I always diluted it with water and some of the hash browns I stored before the war started. People thought I was crazy when I came to the cash register with a hundred cans of the stuff.

“Yes, I am having guests tomorrow.”

“That will be two hundred and fifty dollars plus twenty five for the fund.”

“Thank you.” The money was so devalued that having a wallet-full of Ben Franklins was now a hassle instead of a sign of wealth. “Here you are, and for the fund.” I can’t believe they still call it the September 11 fund. That was seven years ago already, the food shortage was three years ago and the market crash was two and a half years ago.

Right on time the music chimes in.

America, you are my home, America, you are my one true love, you protect me and shield me, you are my savior my helping hand… And when I’m lonely and when I’m sad…

“You come and save me when times are bad, America! America! We work for our brothers across the sea…” Five o’clock was verse four, verse five is at curfew which is eight o’clock.

Things were well seven years ago, and then the world came crashing down. The World Trade Center, anyhow. It shocked the nation including myself, it was then that we went to war. We won that battle, but that was not the end of the war. There was the whole Middle East to deal with. I served my two years of mandatory service in the Air Force and I loved every minute of it. I had to, it was a requirement. And to show my love I wrote the song which was awarded a National Merit of Honor by the Lord Protector George Bush. The song was awarded not me, because the song was inspired by this great country and no man is to be higher than another. We all wear the same clothes, we all get the same amount of cigarettes, we all are given the same amount of rations. Men are thrown in jail about the food, it hurts the morale of the country.

I just barely caught the 5:15 trolley. It was empty as usual, most people didn’t have the money to buy a train pass. It wasn’t really a train pass, one would take their National Identification Card and swipe the black stripe. The Card helped monitor where people were going, to protect them of course. The Card was rather ordinary, a photo, a thumb print, critical information such as birth and address, a computer chip so that officials could get a proper retina scan and an American flag hologram to prove validity of the card.

It was a long ride back and I had to go through several different neighborhoods on the trolley. There was the reclamation neighborhood where the blacks were shoved into to replace all the Arabs who were expelled form the country due to the terrorist attacks. After the third attack on the White House, most were bussed into concentration camps where they would do manual labor and help restore many of the national monuments. The reclamation projects looked like they had been fire bombed. Children run around the streets with no shoes, and broken glass is everywhere. A friend told me it reminds him of North Philadelphia in the late nineties.

Three stops from home we stop for a mandatory check point, nothing out of the ordinary. A tall man in full military uniform steps on the trolley and looks around. He has an automatic assault rifle and a standard issue magnum pistol at his side.

“Your identification, please. Comrade Stewart, please remove your eyeglasses.” The soldier pulls out his retina scanner, a thin wire-frame object that beeps red or green once the card and retina have been scanned. It shows red.

“Where are you going Comrade Stewart?”

“Home.”

“Where is home?”

“In Collinston.”

“What’s in the bag?”

“Just my rations.”

“That’s more then usual.”

“I’m expecting guests tonight.”

“Are you? Come with me.” He takes the bag and grabs me by the arm, the rifle poking into my back.