No matter how he looks at it, the ocean never changes.
From the windows of his and Helmholtz's room, on the fourteenth floor of the West Falkland Sub-Centre, Bernard has watched it move in countless hours. Its surface always has the same paleness, the same saddened cheeks, constantly slapped by the wind.
He tries not to think about it often. In the end, monotony is what he has chosen for himself; and, Ford, regretting one's own choices is no man's right, especially in this place.
Yet – in spite of the neutral attitude he shows towards anything – the gloomy rippling of those waters really bothers him, more than anything else. The dirty white lines seem to strive for the shore, to run for a safety, a stability, they are never bound to reach.
They are useless. They fail. Most of all, they remind him of himself.
Why should he complain? He never does. For one who has shown such annoyance towards civilization, and utter indifference in the filth of a Savage Reservation, the Islands are not that bad after all.
Timetables are strict, discomfort is a constant companion, and inactive life is nearly as humiliating as hard work must be. Moreover, Alpha-Plus conditioning is not something to get rid of easily, not even for him – it still sneaks in his veins, redundant and soft, full of despise.
However, there must be a reason if Bernard found himself in a Sub-Centre. Something must have gone wrong with his hypnopaedia, he guesses; as the days go by, he feels its influence grow fainter.
If, in the old times, unease haunted him incessantly through the hours, apathy is now his natural condition. He survives and cares about nothing; just like the ocean, always there, always the same.
Most men and women around him have strange inclinations. Illnesses are frequent, the climate uneven and uncomfortable, and so little they seem to care. Except for the few who don't speak at all, they talk to each other, theylisten – they cling to the melancholic art of thinking, as if it could protect them against the stinging cold of wind and rain.
Clearly, His Fordship was not mistaken when he showed them the power of unhappiness. Still, Bernard can hardly believe his eyes when he watches them argue, discuss and smile, when he reads the piles of paper they regularly write on, aware that they will be forced to burn them within the evening.
He sees their relief is real. But Ford, how could this be? How could something so hard, so painful, turn out to be so intriguing?
"There is more to life than this," he repeats. "There has to be more, Bernard."
He turns to Helmholtz with a skeptic sigh. It is astonishing how easily his friend has adapted to their new condition – with his feverish dedication to writing, he makes him wonder whether theirs really is a punishment. But, in fact, Bernard cannot remember clearly Mustapha Mond's words; his memories of the day that changed three lives are blurred, even a year later.
He thinks of John, of his mighty gods and their wisdom. Maybe there is a connection between them and the people who live in Sub-Centres; maybe their unearthly strength, their love of thoughts, come from the same source which inspired the Savages' ancient fables.
He must admit Helmholtz is right. Things are changing for himself as well, and the memories of John – now so similar to them new Savages, exiled from the World State – give Bernard the hope to understand, somehow, someday.
On the weak gas flame, Helmholtz is burning the efforts of a whole day. The rules are strict. His eyes are made of stone, yet deep and pensive.
"We are here, my friend. It can't be helped. Now, what makes you so unhappy?"
Bernard tries to answer, but no sound comes. He keeps looking at the sea – in the distance, on the rising moon, he finally sees a shade of night.
"Hey, Bernard. What are you looking at?"
By now, every time Helmholtz approaches the window with his ironic grin, Bernard knows in advance that the Atlantic ocean will show them a totally different face.
He has told him many times since their arrival. Just try looking through a writer's eyes, and you will find much more than a plain greyish surface – there is the labyrinth of currents, there are the foaming waves, the reflections of the stars, the tempests and winds shaking the water. And through the years, in their dull grey room, Bernard has learnt that mankind is like the sea – eternally the same on the face of Earth, yet so various, so hard to control.
Hadn't he been taught so by his friend, he is sure his eyes would still be closed. And this, even though he hates to admit it, is not a surprise to him.
Bernard never was a writer. Helmholtz, on the other hand, has always been.
"Nothing," he answers to the shore, sensing his smile. "Absolutely nothing."
I am probably the one person in the world who, having to study a book, chooses to write fanfiction about it instead.
My homage to Aldous Huxley's masterpiece, Brave New World, belonging to the dystopian genre I so love. I am truly happy with this.