"Hello, Father," I greeted him as I walked in the luxurious torture chamber, "Uh, I mean, fellow Receiver."
The seemingly old man turned around to greet me. He was reading one of the numerous books on the shelves lined up against the walls. He smiled at me and welcomed me with open arms just as a wise grandfather would with his young, innocent, naïve children. I guess that was once the relationship between my father and I, but I'm not so sure I can have that anymore. He had always tried to make me happy and wanted to hear me laugh just as a father should, but I insisted on receiving memories of pain just to ease his own. Little did I know that in those moments, I had willingly requested my innocence be ripped from me.
"Hello, Rosemary," he said, almost weakly, "How are you feeling today?"
"Fine," I lied, as had been allowed by my rules.
To say the truth, I had felt horrible all of last night. Yesterday, he had given me a memory of a child being ripped from the arms of her parents. The father, in a complete rage, attacked the man keeping him from me and gotten killed as a result. That very moment when the father had completely lost himself to rage forced me to think of the deep recesses of the human psyche. Raw emotion was something that both frightened and fascinated me. There was something else I had perceived in that memory too. Violence, I thought as I recalled the memory. All I could think of was raw anger and raw hatred that seemed to be fundamental to that memory, which now that I think about it, held a similar pattern to an uprising of the oppressed, whether it be small or on a grand scale. It made me cringe.
That's not to say I had come to this conclusion purely from that memory. I had read some of those mysterious books up on the wall that told of slave rebellions and political dissention, not that I understood the concepts fully. To know that those books contained a sort of sneak preview of what I was forced to face was somewhat satisfying. After learning of the feeling I had come to call horrifying uncertainty, knowing a bit of what lay in my future was somewhat satisfying and almost calming. I was somewhat apprehensive to know the horrible pain that would accompany the disturbing truth of the history of humanity. I guess it was then when I started to want a say in my future so I could deny myself those truths and live in a beautiful lie once again. But then again, I assume whoever had come up with the idea of sameness had the same thought in mind. They wanted to deny a primal, fundamental part of humanity so they could control their own fate. I hadn't really communicated my musings to my father, as they seemed too complicated to sort through in a moment's notice.
"I know you're lying, Rosemary," he said with a frown, "I can't imagine someone feeling 'fine' after receiving such a powerful memory."
"I'd rather not talk about it, Father," I scowled.
I paused to see his reaction. He cringed in the same way I had when I thought of the memory. I felt bad.
"I'm sorry Father, I didn't mean to make you feel that way."
"Just come here with me."
So I sat on the bed, removing my tunic in order to receive a memory. I was afraid of what awaited me just beyond his hands and eyes, deep within his mind. Still, I bit my lip while he came toward me, the image of his loving hands threatening what was left of my innocence and naivety. I guess there wasn't much left of that anyway, as I had become more accustomed to pure despair.
Once again, I had received a memory of a beloved individual dying right before my eyes. This time, I was a full-grown woman witnessing the death of my lover. He died in the hands of a militaristic man, who from what I had learned from books, was a victim of horrible indoctrination. It was like a strange novel I had read sometime earlier called 1984. When I thought of that book, I remembered when my father explained to me that the novel was intended to predict the future, as a form of satire. I looked up satire in an unabridged version of a dictionary, hiding at the bottom of the bookshelf and committed it to memory. Satire: the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. I thought it was ridiculous. How could pain and oppression be humorous?
The memory of the dying lover ended and I sat up, staring at the books to find that strange novel my father and I had read together. I looked into his eyes and wondered if he had the same thoughts I had and concluded otherwise. We were two different people with different lives, so the chances of having the exact same thought and the exact same time were close to zero.
"Father?" I asked him, "Remember that novel we read together yesterday? Nineteen Eighty Four?"
He nodded, "Would you like to finish it?"
"Well, sure, but later, that's not my question."
He leaned in curiously, "What do you want to ask?"
I tried to distance myself from the painful memory in order to formulate the question. The feeling of tears pained my eyes, but I tried hard to repress them and succeeded. I saw no point in adding to his perpetual pain.
"Were there real places like 1984's Oceania?"
"Yes," he replied with a pained voice, "There was one thoroughly described in one of those books. I believe it was called South– no, North Korea, where they punished political dissenters for wanting freedom. I believe that memory I had just transferred to you took place there."
"Well, there's one other thing I'm curious about."
"Go on, you can ask as many questions as you please."
"There was one part of the book that made me think of Stirrings," I admitted, "The affair between Winston and Julia, it makes me think of my most recent transferred memory as well. Their entire relationship was inherently an act of rebellion, but there was something else too, that I want to know."
I shifted uncomfortably, knowing that there was something about the topic that was taboo, even for me. I guess my father sensed it as well, but he knew he couldn't protect me from what plagues us both.
"Why did they want it so much? Why did they go into harm's way just to do that deed?"
My father became uneasy. No doubt he was wondering whether or not I should be exposed to that so soon, as it had only been a couple of weeks. Still, there was some strange hold I had over him, which seemed to demand that I receive the information needed to satisfy my curiosity. The idea that I could have control over someone frightened me.
"That deed itself is a primal part of humankind. We have a history of trying to suppress our basic nature in order to achieve something, whether it is great or terrible. In such places as that novel, the people indoctrinated by that idea are trying to suppress humanity's need for freedom and pleasure in order to fulfill a sinister promise," he explained, hoping I understood. I did, partially.
"Can you give me the memory of the deed, so I might understand it better?"
The old man paused to think for a moment and I tried to read his thoughts through his deep eyes, failing horribly. It frustrated me to not know something that had involved me.
"I would normally save such a memory for when you are somewhat older–"
"I want to know now!"
"Let me finish!" he replied sternly before speaking to me in a gentler manner, "I was going to give it to you, but I'm warning you, it's a very strong memory."
"I'm fine with that," I insisted.
He placed his chilly hands against my exposed back and I was suddenly in a room with dimmed lighting. I was, again, a young, yet full-grown woman waiting for a lover. A handsome man arrived and smiled at me with a sort of emotion that I could only remember as Stirrings-related. What happened after was overwhelming, to say the least. Although I knew of love from previous memories, there wasn't a single memory of love in my repertoire that mirrored the primeval (and rather thrilling) nature of this. I could see why he would have been so apprehensive about giving me this memory. It clearly wasn't meant for children.
"Oh," I said after the memory, as if an Instructor clarifying why a student had arrived to an answer for a math problem was all that happened, "That's why it was done away with, when we came up with Sameness. The primal part of humanity had to be suppressed one way or another in order for it to work. We suppressed this in a similar way we did away with violence and rage."
"You learn quickly," my father had pointed out, "I think that serves advantageous to your – our – position."
"But wouldn't suppression of the most natural part of us serve some sort of consequence?" I asked, almost indignant.
"Why do you think you and I are here, Rosemary?" he chuckled, which almost infuriated me.
"How can this be funny to you, Father?" I demanded to know, "How can you possibly be laughing at this when every day, you are in crippling pain?"
He didn't have an answer. I wasn't sure what to think, but this part was surely something I had yet to learn about the human psyche. The whole thing made me feel bad about it, so I hugged him and apologized. He kissed my forehead and said it was all right, that my reaction was completely justified.
"All right," he sighed, "It's time for another memory."
It was then when I had learned of the primeval urge to live, which made me think of why my father was so adamant against the process of Release. All of this made me form thoughts of primal human nature and the suppression of it in order to make this beautiful lie we live in. I couldn't help but think of the cost of such a world when I remembered I was living in that very punishment. We are the cost of it.
If only there was a way to show the population just how wrong they are in what they were doing, I thought to myself. I considered waiting until I received more severe and painful memories before I would somehow reveal them to the populace, but I reconsidered, thinking that they would destroy themselves if they had received something too strong. Perhaps what I had now was enough to stir up a little trouble and the populace would start changing on their own. Perhaps the elite would see the error in their methods and start change or the memories would be sent to those at the very bottom of the hierarchy and as a result, start an uprising. The thought satisfied me.
My father told me of a time when the memories were accessible to everyone and I thought of ways to make that happen again. I thought of running away to Elsewhere so that I could leave behind the memories. Once that happened, the rest was left up to chance or whatever else would dictate the future. The more I thought about it, the less likely it seemed that I could succeed in fleeing the community. Suddenly, it came to me. I had to sacrifice myself.
At first, the thought was at the very least unsettling. At most, it was the most radical notion to fall upon us since the start of Sameness. I thought about the implications of death, the end of consciousness, the decaying of flesh and muscle until all you were was a pile of bones waiting to be dug upon by future generations who won't even know so much as your name. Still, martyrdom was an age-old concept and if many who had lived before me overcame some strong instinct to live in order to change something, so who was I not to carry out that tradition? The thought of being known as a martyr calmed me. After all, if I had believed in something and stood idly by while what I perceived as horribly wrong persisted right before my eyes when I had the power of choice to change it, who was I to be deemed worthy to live?
I knew if I voiced my thoughts to my dear father, he would beg me to stay with him, that he couldn't bare the heartbreak of my death, and that I didn't have to do this. I couldn't think of explaining to him that once the memories hit everyone, he wouldn't be alone anymore. I wasn't sure why it didn't occur to me to tell him that when I had kissed his cheek and said goodbye. Now, when I sit here on this bed, waiting for a man with a syringe, I wished I had told him I loved him.
Now that I am here, in the Release room thinking about all this, wasn't I doing the same thing the people who wanted Sameness were doing? I was trying to suppress a primal, fundamental part of humanity in order to achieve something. Instead of suppressing sexuality and violence, however, I was suppressing my will to live, which in my opinion was the greatest battle I have faced so far.
That part made me giggle at the irony. Here I was, willing to martyr myself so they could change their repressed ways and I was using their own weapon against them. Wouldn't that piss them off, I thought and sighed. If my dear father was watching the tape recording this, then all I could hope for was that he understood my intentions and didn't think of me as a failure. After all, wasn't change exactly what I could see him yearning just by looking into his eyes? That instinctive human part of me told me to walk out that door, withdraw my application and beg on my knees for my father's forgiveness, if he felt he had the right to be angry with me. I forced that thought down, mouthing the word "no" as if I was screaming it.
A young man, who I thought was quite handsome, came in with a bottle and a syringe. He smiled at me and I tried to reciprocate the gesture, but inside, my heart was beating faster and I was sweating from fear. I couldn't bear to think what the utter lack of consciousness would feel like. I guess it was better that we would have no consciousness, as I assume the rotting of your body would feel very strange, if not painful and the permanent feeling of immobility while something out there ate away out you was, at the very least, taunting. The man filled the syringe.
"Hold out your arm, Rosemary," he said, "I'm sure you know how this process goes."
I paused for a moment to finally think of my decision. This was the last chance I had before I opted out. That part of me that feared death more than anything was screaming at me to flee the room, but I screamed at her in my mind. I did this simply to have control over my fate and to bring change upon a place destitute of love. Speaking of control…
"May I inject myself, sir?" I asked, as sweetly as I could.
"Yes, you may," he replied and I looked into his eyes. His appearance alone reminded me of that handsome lover's face and I wondered how differently he would see everyone had he known that type of love. I guess he'll find out once I push the needle in my skin and take in the poison.
I found a vein in my arm and pushed the needle in, wincing a little bit from the pain. Placing my finger at the other end of the syringe, I pushed down the little thing that pumped the euthanasia liquid into my veins, pushing down my will to live along with it. Inside, I was screaming.
The man removed the needle as I struggled to breath. As I took my last breaths, I thought about how I would be remembered. No doubt they would, at first, think of me as a failure, but at some point, they will remember me accurately. That was my last message before my heart failed.
I, Rosemary the Martyr.