It’s one of my earliest memories, seeing the Parade of the Worthy. Republic Street was so crowded with all the people forcing their way to the front to watch. Dad put me up on his shoulders so that I could see them, the Worthy. They all looked so happy, cloaked in their robes with the white fur edging, each and every one of them dripping with gold and jewels.
I held that flag in my pudgy little fingers and waved it, the cheap plastic whipping from the motion. I raised my other hand and waved at one of the Worthy, my tiny arms flailing and threatening to unbalance me from my lofty perch. The Worthy responded by shoving another pastry into his grinding maw, grinning with chocolate stained teeth as his carriage pulled past us.
“See, lad! That’s what you can be. You’ve just got to work hard. Train. You can be one of the Worthy, just like them. You’ll be cared for. You’ll want for nothing.” He took me off his shoulders and held me at eye level. “You’ve just got to work hard. Let’s get home, now. Farm is calling.” He set me on the floor and held my hand in his own worker’s hand as he led me through the crush of people. He always left the parade early, but I didn’t find out why until my twelfth birthday.
That was the day I saw the second parade. The Candidates’ parade. Every eighteen year old in the town, following the Worthy and their gilt carriages, walking two by two in their grey jumpsuits. Off to walk through the black doors of the Instruction Centre and take the exam. The exam that determines how much you are and will be worth and how long the government will claim that worth.
Father was still working his worth at the age of forty. Mother was on the government panel and as such was exempt. Then there was my brother, Joseph. He died in one of the innumerable wars that plague this country after being told he was next to worthless. Three years was all he was supposed to have served. He died in two.
Now, it’s my turn. I’m lost in the sea of grey, focusing firmly on the jet-black hair of the boy in front of me. We go in, one step at a time, shuffling forwards towards the ominous doors ahead. The Worthy have gone back to the Amethyst Hall and the crowds are beginning to thin. I’m close to the end of the line, but I don’t recognise any of the people around me except Jericho. He’s in the other line, about eight people ahead, just another jumpsuit in the mob. Until he turns around, just before he enters the door.
He looks straight into my eyes, then smiles confidently. He mouths something to me, but it’s lost as the guards shove him through the door. All I caught was the first two words.
So, bit different. Welcome to a dystopia! I’m still working out which way I’m going to send my main character, but the opportunities are endless. I like this idea though and as such intend to work on this in the coming months. You might see this world cropping up again.
The Idiot in Tin Foil