Friday, July 17, 2009

Excerpt From Home Is Not Home

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
"Tears are disgraceful. You must stop. You are Areonian. You set a bad example to the people. If you cry, you make what is to come worse." Both inorganic simulants droned in their whispers as they walked me to Therapy Square. Desperately, I looked at the flowers, the sky, to control myself. Will my family be punished because of my disgrace? Instead, my eyes fell onto the drabness of the meltedsand buildings and the unsmiling faces of the people who stood on either side of the path. Mostly the faces of strangers, but I felt as if they hated me for pulling them away from their work. I knew that many did not survive the Therapy. I had friends who were taken to the square and exposed to its controlled brain damage. A Kajarian technique; how ironic that a race so anti-Kajarian could use captured enemy technology to control its people! Brain damage intended to make the mind susceptible to control by inorganic simulants who whispered phrases directly to the subconscious. Then the person's family took the outcast home to regenerate, if possible. More often than not, the unfortunate reached limit. Not enough life energy left in him to either regen or maintain life at that point until more energy could be obtained. No reserve. All or nothing. A regen is always dangerous. I prepared for death, thinking that surely slow, agonizing death lay before me. But then, I had known for a long time that this inevitably waited for me.
As I looked into the gathering crowd for familiar faces, I saw my parents, my sisters Maia and Aronna. They turned away; I knew they risked setting the ED's off themselves.
Before me I looked past the two silver poles, the only sign that the extension of the path beside the Detector Force building had any function besides foot traffic. They stood only about three meters tall, and more slender than my arm.
The inorganic simulants generated a containment field, lifted me a few centimeters off the ground, connected me invisibly to the machines. I stood suspended between the two poles, arms and legs stretched taut in the containment field. One inorganic simulant named each of my ED offenses, and recounted the rules for avoiding Therapy, this punishment. His whispers probably did not carry to the crowd, even though no sound otherwise impeded. Most people I saw did not even look at me, but I gained little comfort from that. I could see the hard face of the Governor of Lilmerica, Dreis Schwer, in my peripheral vision. My head could not turn in the grip of the containment field. The few I had seen that survived this were never the same again, never able to feel emotion again. Like simulants.
The machines whined. Cold crept up my arms and legs with the multicolored light that surrounded me. The inorganic simulant told me the Rules in a monotone. "Strong emotions are evil. They corrupt you. They steal our descendants’ nitrogen. You will avoid them..." I felt such pain as the colors reached my head, I wanted to cry; yet I could not! Then I felt a presence in my mind. A presence that helped me bear the agony. Who would dare to interfere with the Therapy? No one cared about me enough to risk it on themselves.
The pain stopped suddenly. Astounded me. I heard voices and confusion. The noises faded. I could not move, speak, focus my eyes. What caused my torture to end? Usually Therapy lasted for hours!
“I take full responsibility. Please release her to me." A familiar baritone voice spoke. The voice of my friend, Ryee!
"We cannot. She has violated Areonian culture, and you are a representative of that violation." The Governor of Lilmerica spoke to him.
"As you know, we have protested your restrictive policies for a long time, especially the latest refit of the Emotional Detectors in the city of Eicken. We do not mean to interfere with the humane operations of your government, but it is difficult for us to continue normal relations with a government that becomes cruel to its people."
The crowd cheered Ryee; did they not fear retaliation?

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