Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Books

He looked with only mild interest at the images that filled the other half of the room. They had just began a minor NorthAmGov commercial. The women were all fully dressed, and it urged some incidental points of good citizenship. There would be more compelling ones later in the evening, advocating loyalty to NorthAmGov. But he found his mind slowly drifting back to her.

They had met at a coffee shop. She was good-looking, though not exceptional, but he noticed something odd about her. She was reading her controlpad. Now, of course everyone read their controlpads. How else would they get directions or check out the sales or know what shows were available for viewing? But she  was continually scrolling down, like she was reading a really long text. But no one wrote really long texts.

He was sufficiently intrigued to strike up a conversation. She seemed reluctant and suspicious, but he sensed that behind the facade she wanted someone to talk to. They continued to meet at that coffee shop. And she told him things he had never heard of before. She told him about history. Now the study of history was not illegal but was discouraged. He found himself opened up to philosophies and concepts of which he was ignorant. He looked forward those meetings.

Then it happened. His controlpad announced her outside the door of his apartment. In her eyes he saw panic. She handed him a knapsack and told him to take what was in it and destroy them if he wished. He was the only one she knew who was not under suspicion, and if she tried to dispose of them she might be caught in the act. She then ran out the door and out of his life. He never saw her at the coffee shop again. He tried calling her once, but the response was that the possessor of this controlpad was under interdiction by NorthAmGov and unavailable to communicate. He was afraid to try again.

He turned off the holoprojector and strolled into the bedroom. It was unclear to what extent NorthAmGov observed its citizens. But it was generally believed that they could not watch every person all the time. He pulled the knapsack from under the bed and removed three objects. They were books, made of bound-together paper. One was a book of mathematics. Study of math was discouraged after the basics for everyone who did not need it for their trade. He had never before wondered why. The second was on something called "deductive logic." He had never heard of it before, but it seemed like mathematical-type reasoning applied to other forms of thought. The third book was the strangest. NorthAmGov loved religions. Particularly those that include cryptic mystical teachings and inculcated obedience to NorthAmGov. But this book was different and spoke with the decisiveness of a orbital launch. It started, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. . . ."


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