This is an excerpt of a short story I am currently working on. It is based around the ideas presented by Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four and, of course, many novels of the same genre that have been published since.
Please comment any criticisms or opinions you may have below; I would love to hear them.
The Power of Literature: An Extract
I am laying on the floor.
It is cold, hard, and my head hurts. There is a single window, right near the ceiling, barely fifteen centimetres in height. It is utterly useless but I am grateful for the strings of light which attach themselves to the wall on my left. The only other thing worth mentioning is the painfully icy draught that breathes into the cell from some unknown source.
I should be scared, I think to myself, an air of absolute calm washing over me. I should be begging them to free me, pleading my innocence. But I don’t. I am beyond that now, I’ve come too far. And I will be as bad as Them if I resign myself to forgiveness now.
Two weeks ago it began. I had just entered my third week of pilgrimage- a journey every member of The State was required to make once in their lifetime to see the ruined world outside of the wall. We went alone, venturing into the outside, like sheep separated from the herd, and walked for miles on end in total solitude. We were told it was to refine us, make us appreciate what they did for us, make us appreciate human interaction and help us understand why The Wall was so important. The terrifying thing was that they were absolutely right- but there was more to it than that.
On the first day of my third week I stumbled upon a building. It was remarkably in tact (most buildings on the outside were mere ruins) and it had a series of semi-circular steps radiating from the doorway. Bright, luminous, blinding; the sun shone down, its arms smothering the dusty ground, its fingers creeping into every crevice. Two lions, faded to a dingy white hue, stood guarding the steps, their faces contorted by the angled morning light. It was grand but not like the grandness of the Government buildings inside the wall. They were towering, oppressing, whereas this- this had a subtle allure, an air of prominence that did not need to be spoken.
I paused where I was. They told us not to enter buildings while outside. They told us the radiation would kill us. That we’d lose our minds. Let me tell you now- that is not what happened.
I couldn’t resist. My mother always told me I was dangerous; shot me fearful looks as smiled at the Keepers, whispered for me to be quiet as I asked one too many questions, one too many times.
My feet carried me gracefully up the steps until I was stood facing the huge wooden door. Flakes of golden paint leered toward me. It was locked, of course, but woodworm had crept in and it was weak. It took me but a few moments to push my way in.
Immediately I knew I was where I shouldn’t be. The walls were high: the curves naturally meeting the straights in an eloquent display of architecture. And every inch of them, every surface, was covered in books. My heart began to race as the smell crept up my nostrils, that musty odour smothering me.
Books were dangerous, they told us that enough times. Books were what caused the War, they warned.
For a moment I almost left but the lurid scent of death was somehow compelling me to just look. My curiosity was awakened. I knew it was wrong. They told us that much. To be curious was a crime, but here, I told myself, I was not questioning, just understanding.
Slowly, cautiously, I walked over to the shelf. My feet left a trail of prints that reeked of exhaustion in the years-old dust. The titles were illegible but I chose carefully, gazing at the dust-haunted tones. Then, in a trance of stealth and focus, I reached forward and slid a book from the shelf.
In a world where social media rules the minds of the people, we are easily manipulated; I simply want people to recognize the importance of the freedoms we have.
‘When I entered that room, I did not lose my mind. I found it.’