Results 1 to 3 of 3

Thread: A View to the Skies

  1. #1
    Imperialist Brit Member Orb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1,751

    Default A View to the Skies

    A View to the Skies


    John watched the stewardess walk past, and slowly re-opened his book. Thankfully the staff were less attentive than the cameras of London. Unlike the government and their all-seeing eyes, the stewards and stewardesses probably didn't know that Arthur C. Clarke's novels had been banned four months previously as it 'encourages resistance to progress'. A fairly common reason, though not so common as 'intended to discredit the government'. He finished reading the last lines and closed the book. After quickly readjusting the plain black cover, he returned it to his bag. Amazing that they were allowed on airlines still. 'Excuse me, miss? How long should the rest of the journey last?'
    The stewardess looked at him, afraid and alarmed, then moved on without giving him an answer. Oh, God. Found out.

    He took out the disguised copy of Athe City and the Stars, stood up and walked confidently through the bustling rows to the toilet. He pushed aside gently a toddler who was wandering in the row and
    ignored the angry complaints of the kid's mother. Second class already had the new circular seating arrangement, with seats around the edges of the room facing inwards and a floor for families with children. The arrangement didn't look safe, but had been added for safety reasons. The experimental poles were like those that had once been on trains. Passengers' only guarantee of safety when going down was now a metal bar. He glanced up at the recently installed camera on the ceiling. A barely-visible metal box, never even swiveling. Then again, it probably didn't need to, if there were a dozen like it in the walls. He walked on, carefully stepping around the mass of people on the floor.

    The toilets of the plane had been modernised, and now had the urinals and size of any public toilet. There had at first been some protests about removing the doors to the separate cubicles, but after a speech on the need for security by the Prime Minister, these had been ignored. It was unreasonable, the Rt. Hon. Winston IV argued, that a few naysayers should dare to put their own personal squeamishness before the safety of the general public. The government had naturally compromised, and allowed the toilet as a whole to have a door. John pulled the door open with a smooth movement and walked in. The place was pristinely clean, no doubt from the various cleansing agents that routinely spilled onto the floor from tiny one-way vents in the wall before evaporating seconds later. Supposedly a chemical company known as Acheron Industries was now working on producing a similar product for the government that would act identically on a carpeted surface. John carefully pulled the door to and went to sit on the nearest unoccupied toilet. What could he do about the book? He put the book down next to him.

    John pushed the handle down, and watched the lime green 'water' run down the sides of the toilet, removing all traces of his toilet visit. He realised that there was nothing he could do. Surely he was being paranoid. There was no way that a waitress would follow banned material, and the cameras couldn't process the Times New Roman font when the serifs had been altered. He would just go back to his seat and relax. The hostess must have been concerned for some other reason. He squirted the compulsory handwash onto his hands, endured the sting, collected his book and then walked back to the door. An embarrassed octogenarian stepped out of his way as he returned to second class. A minute or so later, John was back in his seat. After a little hesitation, he turned to a pretty, bored-looking girl in the row behind him, 'So, are you going to London or coming back?'
    She looked up, 'Oh, I'm just returning from Cornwall.'
    'Me too, did you do anything interesting?'
    'Not really. It was too crowded on the beaches. You?'
    'The same. I just went there to get out of London.'
    'Ah.'
    A kindred spirit. 'Too crowded' was John's universal excuse for why he went on planes to Cornwall so often yet never had anything to tell people about. She asked him, 'What were you reading? You seemed fairly engrossed.'
    John replied instinctively, 'A CIM. My union (I work in editing) deducts pay if I fail to answer a few questions on the latest regulations.'
    'Editing? What exactly do you do?'
    'It's pretty dull, mostly we just decide on the layout of text for books and correct any mistakes. Occasionally the firm publishes something and we have to chip in with suggestions. What do you do?'

    The conversation dragged on happily throughout the rest of the voyage, and at last the waitress announced over the loudspeaker that the plane would be landing in ten minutes, and that all passengers should put on their seat belts and face directly to the front within the next minute. Those without a seat should hold tightly onto the new poles and face the glowing signs in front of them. John nodded, 'Nice meeting you, Em. I'll call tomorrow evening sometime, OK?'
    'Yeah. John...Reeves, right?'
    'Yep.' He smiled and turned to face the front of the seat and clipped the seatbelt on. He stared out of the window at the near-fortified Heathrow airport. The plane gracefully hovered over the airport for a minute or two before slowly lowering itself onto the runway. As the plane touched the ground, the loudspeaker announced, 'We are proud to announce that the plane has landed safely, before you go, here is the latest message from the Prime Minister.'

    The rotund, balding man stepped onto the screens attached to the backs of the seats, and spoke to the camera. The speech followed his motions with an almost comical second's delay.
    'We are proud to announce', he declared with a flourish, 'that our links to the fine British transport industries are increasing even further. In particular, recently we have improved our security cameras so that they can now pick out unsafe or dangerous materials even inside bags and also can “speak” and “read” seventeen more languages than previously. Some underlying security issues have been addressed: our cameras can now read altered fonts and 97.3% of handwritten documents. I am sure that you will be pleased to hear that we, the government, are doing everything in our power to ensure your safety and prosperity. The good people at Styx are responsible for the new cameras, so please thank them by post if you want to share your gratitude.'

    John just about kept his panic from showing. The stewardess announced (as before, via the speakers) that it was now safe for passengers to take off their seatbelts and stand up, and that the passengers would be directed to the exits at the back of the plane in just a minute. John pressed the button at the side of his seat. The seatbelt didn't open. He tried again. Still no response. He tugged at the fibres of the seatbelt, but still nothing happened. He noticed that a man a couple of rows in front was having the same trouble, while everyone else was being filtered out of the plane. He tried to ask the stewardess about the seatbelt, and she nervously muttered something into her mouthpiece and then said, 'Someone will be along to sort it out soon.'
    A neutral, male voice announced over the loudspeaker, 'There has been a malfunction with some of the seatbelts, would those suffering this error please bear with us and not struggle. Could everyone else please move off the plane as quickly as possible.' “Everyone” bore a special emphasis, and soon the plane was almost empty.

    John counted eleven others still sat down in first class. The hostess hurried back towards the staff rooms. A stocky, blue-uniformed man with an archaic moustache and three sets of handcuffs in his left hand, strode in from the cabins. He moved to each of the trapped “criminals”and spoke to them quietly. Two he placed handcuffs on. The rest he gave notes to, and freed from their seatbelts with an electronic gadget in his right hand. He reached the man two rows in front, 'George Arden, assault, punishment undecided.' He attached the handcuffs. He stepped forwards and through the rows to John. He professionally declared: 'John Reeves, reading of illegal literature, thirty hours of unpaid labour.' and clicked the gadget in his right hand. He handed a printed card to John, stating the exact details and repercussions of John's offence. The policeman moved on, 'Sarah Reynolds, defacement of a civil instruction manual, fifteen hours of unpaid labour.'
    John undid the seatbelt.

    ---

    Another short story I've started on, set in a somewhat futuristic Britain. The name's explanation may turn up later. I'm not 100% happy with the final three paragraphs, but describing seatbelts is not always easy. I plan to update on a regular basis, but that's likely never going to happen


    'My intelligence is not just insulted, it's looking for revenge with a gun and no mercy. ' - Frogbeastegg

    SERA NIMIS VITA EST CRASTINA VIVE HODIE

    The life of tomorrow is too late - live today!

  2. #2
    Just your average Senior Member Warmaster Horus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Besancon, France: a stepping stone to greatness. I hope.
    Posts
    2,940

    Default Re: A View to the Skies

    Kind of like George Orwell 1984, right? Government controls all, restricted reading, that sort of thing?

    It's pretty nice.
    The Throne Room: "Less a forum, more a way of life." Econ21
    Don't hesitate to visit the Mead Hall! A little more reading, a little less shouting, please.
    Join the latest greatest installement of mafia games: Capo di Tutti Capi!
    Check out the Gahzette!
    By the by, are you interested in helping out the Gahzette? Think you could be a writer, reporting on the TW or Org community? Then check the Gahzette Thread or drop me a PM!


    Back.

  3. #3
    Imperialist Brit Member Orb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1,751

    Default Re: A View to the Skies

    Basically, yes, though I haven't read 1984 beyond the opening (I seriously intend to, but my reading list is two feet high and I'm getting through it at an appalling rate). The government's control is likely (I don't know for sure) looser than Orwell's setting, basically being limited to a socialist grip on the job market and having cameras everywhere.
    Last edited by Orb; 08-27-2007 at 21:52.


    'My intelligence is not just insulted, it's looking for revenge with a gun and no mercy. ' - Frogbeastegg

    SERA NIMIS VITA EST CRASTINA VIVE HODIE

    The life of tomorrow is too late - live today!

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Single Sign On provided by vBSSO