Tomorrow there will be a.., p.1
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       Tomorrow, There Will Be A Bear, p.1

           Ray Daley
 
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Tomorrow, There Will Be A Bear
Tomorrow, There Will Be A Bear

  Raymond Daley

  Copyright 31/5/2014 by Raymond Daley

  The children were all laughing as they played with the puppies and kittens. Their screams of joy and excitement echoed off the stark black walls of the television studio.

  "Today there are puppies and kittens. I care." You should ignore what he was saying and pay attention to the underlying subtext. "No-one is dying today." He wasn't saying that, nor will he ever. Even on the days that people do die, he never says it. Our beloved Leader was probably smiling beneath that enormous, thick grey beard. It was difficult to tell. He was in what I like to call 'Benevolent Mode'.

  Everyone was nervous yesterday when he introduced the notion that children were going into the Arena. Everyone knows what happens in there.

  You go in alive. And then you die. This happens once a day, every day.

  The only person who ever leaves alive is our beloved Leader. Even the cameras are remotely operated.

  Thirty-four children.

  The sons and daughters of known dissidents, rabble-rousers and trouble-makers. All of them were taken quietly, quickly and without any fuss. No guns were needed.

  Because they know The Black Guard.

  "The Black Guard are your friends. You can trust The Black Guard." One of the many media-friendly sound-bites from the various adverts that are used to indoctrinate the kids into thinking these faceless creatures are the good guys. That they can go to them with their fears and problems, no matter how small or insignificant.

  The Black Guard welcome those visits with open arms, from the children, I mean. They get all kinds of Intel they never expected to be able to find out. Because children, especially young children, speak without thinking. They have no security filters.

  They haven't learnt the paranoia that comes with adulthood.

  All of them will learn, eventually. It's a truly sad eventuality, a damning indictment on the state of the world we live in now. They will learn the cold, hard truth. The reality of life in a totalitarian state.

  But not today.

  Because today there were kittens, and puppies. And something else, apparently.

  From somewhere off camera, Maggie walked on. She was pushing an ice cream cart, ringing its bell. "Ice cream, ice cream for everyone!"

  Maggie is never far from The Leaders side so it was no surprise to see her here today, backing him up in this blatant public relations stunt. She is his right hand, the velvet glove around his iron fist. She is the one who softened his hard edges and made him media friendly.

  Correction. More media friendly.

  Before Maggie, he did used to perform the occasional act of kindness or charity. TV appearances of The Leader giving blankets to the homeless. No mention that his troops destroyed their homes, making them homeless.

  Shots of The Leader handing out food parcels to the hungry. With no mention of the fact that his troops had been the ones who had blockaded supply runs to the enclaves he was now standing inside, passing around food to those he himself had forced to the brink of starvation and near extinction.

  The Leader. A one man genocide.

  Maggie opened the cart and offered the first ice cream to The Leader, with a smile. Of course. Because she knows which side her bread is buttered. And like every citizen of the Regime she wants to live.

  Correction. She wants to continue to live. In this state that's not always a possibility.

  The Leader licked his ice cream, almost certainly smiling at Maggie through his bushy beard. People have asked him to shave that off before now. Those people are now dead, buried deeply away somewhere they will never be found in unmarked pits.

  Not even worthy of the designation; grave.

  As Maggie passed out ice creams to all of the children gathered around her and The Leader, he carefully stepped forward, stepping around them and the lights faded down behind him, leaving the children eating their ice cream in the half-light.

  The spotlight picked him out, his shadow falling across the children behind him, both symbolically and deliberately. It says a lot about the man that this image can both inspire the faithful whilst simultaneously striking fear into the hearts of those who seek to oppose him.

  He lowered his ice cream out of shot, no doubt passing it to some nearby stage-hand positioned there for that exact moment.

  He bared his teeth, this is his smile. Both charismatic but bone-chilling too. "That's all we've got time for today. Why not tune in at the same time tomorrow? Tomorrow, there will be a bear!"

  The title music started to play and the credits rolled, the image of The Leader was replaced by the Party logo.

  STRENGTH THROUGH UNITY.

  The image of the clenched gloved fist, holding our flag. It says a lot about our people. It says 'You're either with us, or we'll crush you.' That's what it says, in no words at all because the picture says everything necessary, telling all citizens who live beneath it more than mere words ever could.

  I pulled up my terminal, checking links, searching databases.

  Who is going to be in the Arena tomorrow? What do we know about this bear?

  The list of attendees for tomorrow went live a few minutes later, the usual flag burners, graffiti sprayers, slogan shouters. They're not really dangerous, they are just being used as yet another example to the people at home. The people considering doing what these folks have already been detained for.

  I pulled up a DarkNet message board. 'What do we know about this bear? What type of bear? How old? What gender? Where are they getting it from? Can we drug it? Can we substitute it for a trained one that won't kill people?' My question is one of the many, we don't seem to know much until after an hour, an unnamed source gives us a name.

  'They call him Ivan. That was all I could find out.' Then our mysterious source went offline as quickly as he appeared.

  Our keyboard crunchers spent the next few hours trying to find out more, zoos and circuses were checked out. Private owners were hunted down and enquiries were made. We don't use force, unlike The Leader. No-one managed to locate this mysterious bear called Ivan. Perhaps it was a double-bluff. It'd be just like The Leader to use psychological operations and bring out a fluffy teddy bear with him, then call it Ivan.

  This theory was shared over the DarkNet, then almost certainly agreed upon. It's the kind of propaganda trick The Leader loves to pull. How he loves his little stunts.

  I checked the time, almost midnight. I sent my final salutations and signed off. My final moments of the day were spent cleaning my weapon and preparing my uniform for the morning.

  Sleep came, eventually.

 
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