The Rebel Cause
Kevin had been sleeping for nearly three hours when his life fell to pieces before his eyes. Through the blasted shards of what had once been the door to his modern two-story home emerged seven Government Enforcers with blazing weapons in their hands and murder in their hearts. Shocked from sleep by the sudden flurry of activity, Kevin barely had time to stumble to his feet and murmur a plaintive question before he was roughly thrown to the ground and the smoking muzzle of an automatic weapon was pressed hard against his temple.
"Kevin Gallant!" shouted one of the black-cloaked figures.
It was all Kevin could do to mumble affirmation, his eyes fixed nervously on the muzzle of the gun pointing at his head.
"You have been tried and convicted of conspiracy against the freely elected People's Government. This heinous crime, according to Clause VII of the new Constitution, which was drafted by the very government you sought to overthrow, is no longer punishable by death."
Relief flowed through Kevin like a fresh breeze as he learned that he wasn't going to die. The new government really was a government for the people, just as the banners and signs had proclaimed during last month's election. Kevin knew that he had not done what he was being accused of, but he was now confident that the whole matter could be cleared up before anything of a permanent nature happened to him.
"Thank God, " he whispered, an audible sigh escaping his lips.
"I wouldn't," one of the Government Enforcers sneered. "The punishment you do receive will be so bad that you'll probably wish you were dead. Do you understand what you tried to do?"
"I didn't do anything, " Kevin asserted in a slightly trembling voice.
With a curse, the Enforcer came forward and roughly kicked Kevin in the side.
"Nothing? You tried to bring down the only government to give the people a fair shake in forty-seven years! There was a time, and it wasn't too long ago, when it was a crime to read a book or gather in groups, or even say what you felt. Now, the government provides wholesome literature for any citizen who asks, provides places for supervised public gatherings, and conducts surveys to determine what the people want from their government. The world is changing, and that change cannot be halted for the sake of a few malcontents like you!"
"But I haven't --" Kevin started to say, but thought better of further protest when the Enforcer raised a fist and made as if he would strike Kevin if he finished the sentence.
Kevin was roughly jerked to his feet, and a thin, silver collar was fastened around his neck. The Enforcer who was going to hit Kevin only seconds earlier pressed a green button on the side of his ebony helmet, mumbled something Kevin could not hear, and then watched as Kevin's limp body stiffened and then dropped to the floor, drained of any ability to resist.
Kevin's eyelids fluttered open after an unknown amount of time, and he once again became aware of his surroundings. He was in a dark room, with steel panelled walls. The room only had a cold steel pallet which served as a bed and a straight-backed steel chair for furnishings. The only source of illumination was a cold white energy panel near the ceiling. There was a strange scent in the air which Kevin could not identify.
Where am I? Kevin wondered.
With some effort, Kevin forced himself to his feet and stumbled to the door. Turning the handle, he discovered that the door was locked.
"Damn, " he said aloud, leaning weakly against the door. "Where am I? I didn't do anything. When will I be able to leave?"
Just then, a terrifying thought occurred to Kevin.
What if I never...
Kevin had never been brave, and now his fear or permanent imprisonment and the disruption of his life allowed his thoughts to burst wildly beyond control.
...never let me out...help me...not guilty! ...guilty?... never let me out...forever...why?...help me...!
Kevin sank weakly to the ground, tears beginning to stream from his eyes.
Some time later, long after Kevin had run out of tears to shed over his shattered life, Kevin felt the weight of the door to his cell shoved against him roughly. He quickly scrambled out of the way to allow the door to open freely. A short, balding man stepped past the black-clad Enforcer who had opened the door and sat down in the straight-backed chair. The man had a grey-streaked beard, and a hard, chiseled face. A pair of wire-frame glasses rested on the bridge of the man's nose. He was frowning.
"Have you been crying, Mr. Gallant? You didn't need to, you know. Your judge was ordered to suspend your sentence. I am Dr. William Shane, and I have been selected to help you through the difficult process of harmonizing your thoughts and views on certain matters with those of the government."
Kevin looked up at the man in confusion.
"Yes. In time, you will understand. It is something that must be done if you are going to be re-introduced into society, or serve the government."
"Why?" Kevin asked, not particularly liking the sound of the word 'harmonize'.
"Trust me, our way is better. The rebels don't understand that control is needed if man is going to remain a single group with a single goal. If everyone went his own way, trying to win others over to his way of doing things, then there would be chaos. Don't you see what would be the result if the rebels had there way?"
"No," Kevin answered, not quite sure of how to respond.
Kevin had never been disloyal to the government in his life, and thus had never given much thought to what would happen if the rebels took control of the government.
"I'll tell you what would happen, if you'll listen. There would be another round of faction politics. Men would fight against each other and deceive each other, like they did hundreds of years ago. The peace that we have enforced for all these years would crumble as if it had never existed. Our way is better. If everyone has the same goal -- is on the same side -- we can prevent that from ever happening. As long as we are united, nothing can hurt us. Do you see?"
Since Kevin had nearly the same point of view on the matter, it wasn't hard for him to agree. Unfortunately, Kevin thought, his agreement probably wouldn't be enough to prevent him from being harmonized.
Unfortunately, Kevin was right. His treatment, as it came to be called, began the morning after his meeting with Doctor Shane. The light steel door to Kevin's cell was thrown open by a black-cloaked Enforcer, and Kevin was roughly dragged out of bed.
"Where are you taking me?" he asked, a tremor of fear riding in his voice.
Have they decided to punish me after all?
"Never mind. You'll find out soon enough."
Kevin wanted to resist, but found that he lacked the strength of will, as well as the physical strength, to resist the armored man pushing him toward an unknown future. Long after Kevin had lost his bearing among the twists and turns of the building in which he was being held prisoner, he was shoved into another room.
Like his cell, this room had steel panelling and was lit by a cold white energy panel. Unlike his room, though, there was a chair with many straps and buckles where the bed should have been and there were two Enforcers standing on either side of the chair. Doctor Shane was sitting in the corner beside a panel of buttons.
"Good day, Mr. Gallant. Have a seat, if you will." he said, gesturing toward the chair.
When Kevin hesitated to sit in the chair, the two Enforcers stepped forward and "assisted" Kevin into it. After he was safely strapped in, the Enforcers returned to their positions on either side of the chair.
"What are you going to do to me?" he asked. Fear was quickly becoming a permanent emotion inside Kevin.
"It won't hurt. This is how we are going to harmonize your thoughts. It is a little crude, but it won't hurt you. There are subtler ways to do this, but this has proven to be the most effective we have found."
Doctor Shane slid his fingers over the various buttons on the wall until he found the one that he desired, and then gently depressed it. A panel on the ceiling slid soundlessly to one side, and a delicate looking steel apparatus slowly began to lower. Four needle-thin rods extended from the base of the lowering machine. After a few seconds of incomprehension, Kevin realized with stark terror that his head was directly below the needles. He struggled then, like he had never struggled before in his life, but the Enforcers moved forward to hold his head still as the rods penetrated his skull. After that, Kevin didn't struggle.
Months passed as Kevin's treatment continued. Every day he was subjected to the torment of the chair as his every thought was sucked out of his mind and replaced with a correct thought. Kevin learned about the government in ways he would always wish to forget. None of the truth was held back.
At first Kevin was appalled that he had supported the government that was doing this to him, but he eventually learned. Constant bombardment by a set of fixed ideals forced him to learn his place in the world.
Kevin wasn't released when his treatment was complete, but he didn't notice. His government had need of loyal men, and he was willing to serve. Kevin asked to be trained as an Enforcer, and since the government had no cause to doubt his loyalty, he was trained. His first assignment after being awarded his weapons was to lead a group of Enforcers to a man's home, arrest him, and bring him to Doctor Shane for harmonizing.
As Kevin and his team carried their prisoner away, two men looked on from a nearby window with somber expressions on their faces.
"Did we do the right thing?" one asked.
"You mean reporting Gallant to the Enforcers? I think we did." the other replied.
"But we destroyed an innocent man's life, and what did we gain? Now there's another Enforcer to impose the will of the government on the people. What good is that?"
"You know how he was trained. The government's set of ideals was forced on him until he buckled under. For now, he'll do their work. But eventually, maybe not for a few years, he will recover. I know he will. He may even rise to a high position among the Enforcers. And then we might have a valuable ally. It hurts to keep reporting these innocent people to the Enforcers, I know, but what else can we do? When they recover, they'll be in a position to rip the government apart from the inside. We have to do it."
"In the name of the cause, " the other whispered, agreeing but not sounding very happy about it. "I hope for all of our sakes that you're right about this, Dr. Shane."
Michel Forget (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a new author, and this is his first publication. This is also his first submission. He is eighteen years old, and enjoys writing short stories and programming computers. He also has a cat. (Bio last updated in 1991.)
InterText Copyright © 1991-1999 Jason Snell. This story may only be distributed as part of the collected whole of Volume 1, Number 4 of InterText. This story Copyright © 1991 Michel Forget.