Cover art via pixel art animator Valenberg
An endless scattering of neon billboards painted the city in shades of pink and green. A self-imposed curfew was set for ten o’clock every night among the working class, but a different breed of person rises long after the sun had set. These people rebel against the social norms set by the overbearing government. For in the near future technology has advanced beyond what was previously thought possible—but these technological marvels brought on stricter and more invasive regulations from the government.
Even among the immense variety of people in the bustling and chaotic crowds of the city’s nightlife, it’s difficult to tell anyone apart. All clothing and hairstyles must be uniform to the national guidelines. Rebelling against these set appearance codes subjects one to punishment via hard labor camps.
Five blocks away from the nearest bar a man stood alone on a pedestrian bridge. The faint sounds of laughter were carried from the city to his ears. They think they are happy? Free? he thought.
The blue glow from a nearby street light illuminated the water below him; reflecting a wavy image of his face back to him. I look just like the rest of them. He turned away in disgust. How did I let my life slip away from me like this? Why did we let them steal our individualism?
He looked up at the hazy sky. It had a milky hue to it and he couldn’t remember the last time he saw the stars. Just like us, huh? When I was a child the stars used to all twinkle the same way, yet were all different when you looked closely. Now, they’re all blended together and covered by a thick smog. But I know they’re still there—still shining bright with their unique brilliance.
A flicker high above him caught his attention. He had to squint his eyes to see it, but through the thick layer of light pollution and smog he could see a solitary star. It was dim but he could see it—knew it was there watching over him. Ah, so one is brave enough to rebel against that which smothers it. It’s not afraid to be different—to be itself.
The late night gong went off signifying it was time for everyone to go home. If you were caught outside an hour after the gong had gone off the authorities would subject you to extreme punishment. Fools. They think they are free. They think they obey to ensure the safety of everyone. But they aren’t free. They are slaves—scared to disobey their overlords.
He began to walk back towards his tiny apartment—lamenting sleeping another night in the cramped cage he called home. I live like a hamster. Never able to escape my prison and forced to do the same things day in, day out. Will this life ever change?
But he knew it wouldn’t. In this world he was a slave. A slave to the idea of freedom. A slave to the illusion of choice. Everything he did in life was because he was allowed to—because he had permission from the government. He wasn’t free. Nobody was. They gave up their freedom for a false sense of security. They were all tricked into believing being unique caused radicalism. Now, the world was bland—like the milky-white sky covering the twinkling of the stars.
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