A short story within the book "To Be or Not To be" scheduled for release 2017
The Day After
The face on the screen was old, lined with wrinkles. She had sparse, wispy gray hair, but her eyes were a twinkling blue. Jorge couldn't help but make the comparison with the "ideal caucasian" theory. Jorge listened carefully to the old woman's words in the interview that had happened before Jorge was even born.
"The day after the election? Oh, goodness that was long ago. I think...we were all in shock a bit. At least those of us who were disappointed with the result. Lots of us who had not voted for him remained inside, especially those who were vulnerable."
The old woman's facial expression changed, becoming distasteful, as if she had bitten down on something very difficult to swallow.
"People of color, and especially the LGBT crowd in my neighborhood. And you have to understand we had a good neighborhood...they all just...withdrew. The man who ran the burrito restaurant, he..he closed down almost immediately. There was a lot of noise about some states seceding, chaotic protesting."
Her lips twitched, "The Canadian immigration site crashed. I think...it would have been hilarious...if it had turned out differently."
A disembodied voice off camera spoke, "And how did it turn out?"
The old woman waved a hand, "Oh, it..was..scary. But not immediately! Oh no. A few days, a week afterward and people had to go to work. There's only so long you can play sick out of despair. Outwardly, it all seemed to just, go back to normal. But there was this undertone. Like after having 8 years of hope, a piece of people's hearts had been ripped out. It was an ugly undertone. Even in our little community we had those who celebrated the result and that undertone caused those who were….different….to be scared."
"What happened after that? Can you tell me?"
Now her face displayed sadness.
"We...I wish we had done more to prevent it. It started with the usual policy changes. Rollbacks of certain decisions. At the time I felt lucky that he didn't have more power. I mean, what was it to me that certain people couldn't use my bathroom? What did I care if more hunters had access to automatic weapons? I didn't carry a gun and it wasn't permitted to fire a weapon inside our community limits. These were all little gifts to his cronies that had helped him get where he was. What was scary was the set-up for further policy. He was a sneaky bastard that one. While we'd all been complaining that politicians didn't consider the long term, he had a list a mile long of things to make his empire last."
The disembodied voice started to ask but she began speaking again. Her eyes drifting upwards into her memories.
"His tax policy seemed kind. He took only a quarter of a percent from everyone, but it was every single person. There was no accounting for social or economic status. It all went upwards, never down. We were all supporting the biggest three companies in the entire country, and it wasn't long before he owned those companies. Of course we didn't know that. He was very good at crushing media hype. He allowed certain things through, and it wasn't always good, just enough to make sure people watched him, paid attention to him. As the years passed and he gained more control over the government through the judicial branch than we had ever seen, we asked ourselves how did this happen? And we had no answer. Instead of improving the electoral voting system, he provisioned the system through his supporters that broke up voting into sectors. The sectors that supported his policies got more votes. The popular vote became just a figure. It didn't even matter anymore. Our votes didn't matter. And then…."
Her voice got rough and her eyes filled with tears.
"And then came the next four years. And he was celebrated. By so many. And it seemed so NORMAL! Our children still went to school, but slowly their access to higher education depended upon testing that told them what they should do. Slowly, instead of us controlling what our representatives did, we found the representatives controlled what we did through manipulation. Even when the evidence produced was not based in reality, if a trusted figure tells you A causes B therefore avoid A...you tend to believe it right? And the pressure, the constant pressure from everyone around that believes it, even if it's tripe! All our trusted representatives began to disappear, replaced by those who were allied with him. And they began to call him The Great Man."
"And...after the next four years?"
"Oh, he didn't even have to be president to be in power after that. He was lauded as the man who made our country great. He had done it. He had fulfilled his promise to us. He brought in jobs, he reduced crime, he stabilized industry. The president after him barely even mattered."
"You seem upset. Would you like to stop?"
She dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief, taking a deep breath, "No. No thank you. This is so important. The truth is important, no matter how hard it is."
"Ok. So how is life different now than when you were young?'
"When I was forty, there were so many different stores and people in our community. Every street was different, every store, every house was individual. We had supermarkets and specialty markets. Over the years stores have become much less individual. Where we might have had a super market downtown, and then a mediterranean store north of town, a german store to the east and an asian market to the south, now we have only generalized supermarkets at regular intervals through almost every city everywhere."
The disembodied voice questioned, "But..wouldn't different kinds of markets be confusing?"
"And that was the reasoning! Instead of a city bustling with all sorts of variety, our cities became...homogenous. TEll me young man. When you look around your neighborhood, what kind of people do you see?"
"Oh...well..this isn't really about me."
The old woman shook her head, "No, this is meant as an example of the change that has occurred. Just answer the question."
"Well, I...see journalists. And I think there are some lawyers down the street. Not many couples and no kids for sure. We aren't set up for children. No schools nearby."
She nodded vigorously, "Exactly! These people are all like you. When I was young, the people in our neighborhoods were all so different. We had people who had been born there, and then we had people from India, from Europe, from Mexico, from Canada, from so many places and different backgrounds. It was interesting."
"But, wasn't it difficult? All those different people."
"Yes. It was. And it was wonderful because none of us had the same views and when we took a moment to step back and consider what it was that made us different, it made us feel special and important to know someone else who wasn't like us. And we didn't agree. We didn't agree on how or where the homeless should be housed, we didn't agree on how taxes should be spent, and we didn't agree on well...very much at all. But we found compromise. The compromise led to new ways of thinking, of doing things, new ways of learning. We made each other better."
The disembodied voice became slightly argumentative, "How could that make anything better though? If no one really got along well? Now we all know our responsibilities, we know exactly how our money works, and we know where it goes. We know who uses what and everyone has a job. How is that bad?"
The old woman sighed, "Young man, when was the last time a major invention was announced? Besides virtual reality and the automatic car, when was the last time someone came up with a new computer, or delved into a new math theory. The last new elements were discovered in 2016! That was sixty years ago. What happened to the space stations, the robotic planetary explorers? When was the last time we sent a rocket into space?"
The camera view shifted as the old woman lifted herself up and walked toward the window with careful steps. Her wrinkled old hand reached out toward the glass.
"There is a reason we have TWO walls encompassing the entire of Central America young man. There is a reason we no longer have communications with anyone in Africa, and that our trade with China is strictly regulated. I assure you it is not terrorism. This homogenization of our country is not a portend of success. It is a blazing neon sign of doom. So long as we plant those trees only in rows instead of letting them grow organically, we will reap nothing but the same boring reward, for the rest of humanity's existence. Until something comes along to smack us in the face."
Jorge watched the interview fade, "And then the Eoirkoran came."
Sam's voice echoed solemnly, "And then the Eoirkoran came. Humanity was forced to adapt again, to improve in fear of being wiped out by another space faring species. But along with the Eoirkoran's new knowledge came the knowledge that inconvenient people could be taken care of wholesale. The people that the woman knew early in her life would have been horrified. But by the time she grew to be one hundred, even that young journalist interviewing her had no idea that there were even people who were sexually differentiated from himself."
"You mean people who wanted to be with people of their own sex?"
Sam grunted in agreement, "And those who were bisexual or transexual. Those people didn't "exist" in his world anymore."
"That's why she said the change was scary."