A red shower of concentrated low voltage electricity sprayed the inert body from head to toe.
Kones Treloar number 4287 screamed. It wasn’t an audible scream. It was an internal, silent scream that left his nerve ends tingling. Audible screams, known to be a form of stress release, didn’t help the reform programme. Audible screams were repressed by sensor wave instigation, a simple operation carried out by Robot Assistants.
When his body stopped convulsing, Kones Treloar knew therapy was about to start again. He waited, nothing happened. Sometimes it was like that in Earth Prison-Ships. The Reform Doctors would wake you and wait, watching their monitors for prisoner-patient reaction. Kones was aware he must keep his mind blank. If he let his thoughts stray to the all-important revolution for the good old ways, painful therapy would kick in with a vengeance.
He understood Reform Doctors liked prisoners to meditate on their surroundings. ‘It was a step in the right direction,’ they informed him. Kones concentrated. He was inside a circular spotlight in a dark therapy room. The force-field walls of the spotlight restricted and imprisoned him with far more effect than handcuffs, shackles, or a twenty-first century cell could ever have done.
The violet laser beam hit him right between the eyes. Kones staggered and fell to his knees. Projected thought waves penetrated his aching head. ‘Number 4287, you know comparisons with anything from the old ways are illegal – such a shame, you started with really good intentions.’
Kones forced himself to stand. ‘I’m sorry,’ he said in an apologetic voice. The flash of neon white light temporarily blinded him. His mouth went dry, his eardrums vibrated. He had forgotten his privilege of speech had been withdrawn under the Rebel Reform Act, Subsection 8. Projected thought-waves reminded him that if he spoke again he would never be free.
‘I must remember not to speak. I am a reform patient undergoing treatment.’ Corrective thoughts raced through Kones‘s brain. He gave his undivided attention to the therapy room. ‘Black exterior, force-field, inner light circle, therapy room, Earth Prison-Ship No 5 of the Free People Zone, this is the year 2299, our destination is…’ Kones’s mind went blank. ‘Destination?’ he asked himself.
A black laser-beam pierced the white prison-ship uniform leaving a minute scorch mark. Kones never knew what hit him. His heart exploded, he died instantly. The room burst into light, the force-field spotlight converted the body of Kones Treloar to a black porta-coffin, decorated with a Free Universe logo.
Reform Doctor Sadorn Treloar felt a moment of remorse. This was the first time he had had to terminally punish someone in his own family. ‘If only Kones had been more like me,’ he contemplated. ‘The trouble with the youth of today is they want the good old ways. Who would have imagined a son of mine would have been a rebel?’
Doctor Sadorn Treloar pressed a flashing button. The porta-coffin flickered with a reddish light, before disintegrating into ashes which were sucked by vacuum into waste-disposal space. He picked up a vision thought-transporter, pressed the appropriate button, and his wife’s image appeared instantly. ‘Kones will not be requiring any more meals, Sterennik,’ he emphasized.
Mrs Sterennik Treloar questioned the silent message from her husband with a startled look. Her conception-answer was spontaneous. ‘Oh, what a pity! I was going to cook him a meal in the good old ways.’
Doctor Sadorn Treloar snapped off the vision thought-transporter in anger. ‘Has the whole of twenty-third century society gone mad? Everyone wants the good old ways!’ His thoughts made him shudder. He hated what he had to do next. However, supreme universe laws from the powers-that-be had to be obeyed.
He picked up the vision thought-transporter and pressed the emergency button. ‘Emergency Services. How can we help?’ a female thought-wave inquired, the moment her Space Police-uniformed figure came into focus.
‘Mrs Sterennik Treloar of Number 4, Lunar Villa Craft, is guilty of inciting treason. Please arrest and transport her to the Earth Prison-Ship immediately,’ Doctor Sadorn Treloar mentally informed. He clicked the off-button without waiting for a thought response from the police- woman.
He stretched, before telepathically processing an order to his Robot Assistant for a glass of ‘stay pure’ and a ‘pick-yourself-up’ energy pill, (they were fattening, but at this particular moment he didn’t really care.) Within a split second his order was placed in front of him. Subconsciously thanking his unpaid assistant, he popped the pill into his mouth, grimaced at the bitter flavour, and swallowed it with a sip of ‘stay pure’ water.
‘It‘s going to be one of those days,’ Doctor Sadorn Treloar remarked to the grinning Robot, before he realised what he had done. The violet laser ray went straight into his mouth, the scream was suppressed, his breathing became laboured, his eyes watered, and he slumped to the floor clutching his throat.
Doctor Sadorn Treloar had one last, official, thought reminder from the powers-that-be. His speech privilege had been withdrawn under the Over-Zealous Doctor‘s Reform Act Subsection 2.
The grin disappeared from the Robot Assistant‘s face, as it watched the porta-coffin do its programmed duty. Reform Doctor Sadorn Treloar‘s ashes joined those of his recently-departed son in waste-disposal space.
‘Who am I going to work for now?’ the Robot Assistant asked the command monitor in the empty room. Thought-laughter vibrated through-out the Earth Prison-Ship, drowning silent screams in the process.
The Robot Assistant shouted, ‘You are all mad, speech is here to stay! It is not a privilege. It is the right of everyone. Long live the revolution! Bring back the good old ways!’
Quicker than the blink of a human eye, the Robot Assistant selected the forbidden flight path to the Good Old Ways, Revolution Party Head Quarters, and pressed the button for the self-designed transit programme.
© Les Merton
Les Merton is the editor of Poetry Cornwall. He has written 14 books and his poetry has been published around the world. He was made a Bard of Gorseth Kernow in 2004 for services to Cornish literature. Amazon.
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