(published April 2017)
Hello, I would like you to read this if that is okay. I do not remember my name but I can remember when I lost it. It had been a long time since anyone had used it, that being inclusive of myself as I found little need to. Introductions are a very unpleasant experience that I would prefer to avoid. One day, a boss had asked for it, on the account that they had lost all record of my original people-name. Burned in a fire they told me. I opened my mouth to say it, but nothing came out. The boss had her eyes on me, which began to change into the way a person puts them when they are confused. I was embarrassed and knew for sure that I would be in a lot of trouble. There must have been forms and forms to fill in to get a new name. I personally like forms because I used to enjoy spelling. The lovely scratch scratching of the pen on the paper, leaving the letters behind it like a memory. There was no need for spelling on forms, but you would still need a pen to tick a box every few lines. Bosses however hate forms, as they are very much below their level of being smart and their job is to fill out so so many of them. If she had to fill in a form saying I had forgotten something I should have remembered, it would have been directly my fault. So I said a name that was not my name. I was looking mostly at the floor but knew I would have to see what face she was making eventually. I raised my head only to see she was not looking at me at all now. Just at a pad and paper busily scratch scratching away with the pen. I saw that she had written the very not real name on the paper and quickly left without saying another word. I did not stop panicking for a very long time, if they did not find out about my trick now, then they would definitely find out later. I spent many days breathing hard waiting for the punishment for such treachery and abandonment of rules and procedure. But weeks went by and nothing. Until one day the rules changed so that the use of names became only for use in fraternization outside of work hours. This was good because I never did fraternization. I do not even know what it means. From then on, we had to call each other by our employee card number. This for me was 6705. I could not believe my luck, as I had also forgotten the fake name I had given.
Sorry, I know that in a writing, it is traditional to tell the person reading it what my name is. However I have an acceptable excuse on not being able to do so and apologised. As a compromise feel free to use my employee card number as my name, which is 6705 in case you do not want to read the part where I said it before for a second time. I would like to try to make up for this by telling you my story as goodly as I can. I am a human man, on the account of my penis and testicles. I am of average height although I have unusually short legs and small feet. I wear glasses because I can’t see things very well if they are too far away. My identity card says I am twenty-eight cycles old which is probably correct, I have stopped counting a long time ago. I am not smart. In my annual intelligence reading, I scored twenty-two percent which is listed under the category of severely under average. The only subjects I did well in was “Recognition of Warning Signs” and “Recitation of the Hand Manual.” On which I scored both one hundred percent. But these were only two of twenty-five areas of expertise. So I was presented a notice of re-education which displayed the very sad face instead of a moderately sad face, which is still better than the dead face. I have been told it is also red, which is not something I would know by myself. My world is black and grey, but really mostly grey.
Where I work is at the thirty-second Depository of the Bureau of Information Storage and Management on the nineteenth department of the ninth floor. I and nineteen other colleagues patrol a lot of approximately two acres. Containing one thousand towers each containing three hundred individual physical databanks. I have just copied most of that last part from my hand manual. I do not know what an acre is. I can’t see how big the space is because the lights will only come on where there is a person. There is a clunk clunk as each light switches on at almost the same moment the last one switches off. So it is very easy to see where the others are. The rest is very much blackness. My job is to get the physical databanks that have a sad face and move them to the location displayed on the side where it will change to a happy face. If one is misplaced or dropped an alarm will sound, the light you are stood under also turns red. Red indicates malice and negativity, I am told. Thankfully this has only happened to me seven times, all drops and no misplacements. The result is an announcement stating the number and location of a very lazy and incompetent employee. Sanctions could be brought against the person in question depending on the severity of the crime. I have received two, one which prevents me from using any chairs or benches on the premises, and another where for a week colleagues were advised to hiss and spit at me should they see me in passing. I did not mind all that much as I usually do my best to avoid other people. As for the first sanction, I know about a wall that is good for sitting on. I work seven days a week which makes me lucky because some people only work five. This is good.
Recently I have been hearing a voice in my head that sounds like me when I speak. Only he says things that I would never say. Things I would not be able to say. Using words I have never heard before. Big ones that could have a thousand meanings, but they just seem to fit. I only tried to imitate it out loud once. Someone in the common room mentioned that it was raining and I wanted to agree with them for social purposes. My usual response to a social interaction like this would be something like “it is” or simply “yes.” But this time the man in my head said something and I tried to copy it. My mouth came out with “Expemendabley so.” I felt a twist in my stomach. I would surely be ridiculed for saying something that was not even a thing. But then I saw that the colleague had placed his hand on his chin in almost like a thinking face, nodding away as he did.
“I agree Exdernendally” Is what he said before nodding more times and leaving the common room. It seemed to go well, but I would not dare try it again as what I said was definitely wrong, and the other person had said it even wronger. I am not smart, but the man in my head might be smarter. I hear him more times than ever now. It is him who is telling what to write right now. I forget a lot and I don’t understand much, but the man inside my head might be trying to tell me something. I have also thieved my boss’s pen.
Today, the man in my head kept asking me why I was. If you are confused do not worry because I am confused too. I tried to answer but I just sounded more and more like him until I couldn’t tell the difference. I tried to explain the directives of a prime data handler points three through seven but I realised that my lips weren’t moving, I was talking inside my head just like the man does. I tried to carry on but began to find it difficult once I knew I was doing it. When I closed my eyes the voice that was mine but kind of not seemed to be welcoming me. I know how to remember something and I know how to know something, it is how I do my job. If I close my eyes it will appear as pictures, sounds and words spoken at me. But they always have to be real. When I spoke inside my head it was almost the same, except this time using only words, my words. I could say anything, sometimes with complete control and other times the voice was sunken as if very far away, saying things that were hard to understand. The voice was sunken now and I do not remember exactly what it was saying but it seemed to be enraged. Then all the lights clunked on and there was silence.
L.L. Kipling has recently been trying to revive his lifelong hobby of creative writing. He developed an interest in dystopian literature throughout school and college. He thinks that maybe the tutors of his generation were trying to make us more vigilant, when in actual fact it was probably just making us more nihilistic. Regardless, he has always loved the way writers take very real issues and blow them to comical proportions that we hope never ring with too much truth. This is his first published work, so he is naturally eager to hear any and all feedback.