My dreams have become disturbing. Oh, I’m sorry. What a crappy line to start off with. Everyone has disturbing dreams from time to time. I’m sure a million blog entries have started off with the words “dream” and “disturbing”. I will try to do better… Shit, I can’t. I have been having dreams, and they have been disturbing. I know that I don’t have to tell you about them, but I will.
I am standing in what seems to be a bathroom. Its walls are smooth, grimy cement that looked marbled with streaks of black and moisture that is seeping through. It is from this that I deduce that we must be underground. I am standing in front of a bank of mirrors above a narrow, red lino countertop. The lights mounted in the wall above are of the bare, single bulb variety and shed a sickly, shadowed light, making my skin appear muddied like the concrete. I notice that I, too, am moist like the walls.
I have just removed a pair of screened goggles from my eyes. Their heavy, red, rubbery plastic looks old and well-used, and the space where lenses would normally be fitted is covered over with a thick, metal mesh. I hold them in my left hand and stare at myself in the mirror. It is as though I am seeing myself for the first time, although what is different about my vision is nearly imperceptible. My eye sockets are rimmed pink with the imprint of the goggles. I think that I must have always worn them, or at least I do not remember a time when I did not.
There are at least two people who drift into the scene, but I rely on my peripheral vision for this information, because I do not want to make any sudden moves. I instinctively recognize them as authorities of some kind, part of group that polices such things as goggle-wearing, and so I remain still. I do not “freeze” as I would have if I still had the reflex to run, but I simply stand still and limp, offering no resistance to their advancement. I am resigned to whatever they must do to me for this infraction.
I am expecting them to kill me, or at the very least handcuff me and take me away for interrogation, but when they lay their hands along my arms on either side of me, the weight of them is gentle yet still firm. I am being guided; I am being made one of them. Faraway inside, buried deeply somewhere I have not visited in a time remembered, I am sickened by what I know is happening to me. A part of me that still remembers life before the screens and knows that I will be made a criminal against others for having regained my sight.
It is their utter lack of barbarity that tells me this; they are guiding me, forming my actions with the force of intimation. I know what might happen to me if I refuse, and I have not had the right of refusal for so long that I follow along. I fill myself with a familiar sense of apathy in order to try to ignore the knowledge of my own betrayal of humanity.
What I am being pressed to do is encourage the wearing of screened goggles. Most wear them willingly, but a few people have rebelled and expressed a desire to remove them. This is intolerable to the authorities, and I am to use warm methods of coercion to make the rebels believe that they want to wear the goggles and that their ideas about removing them are nothing more than silly, immature flights of fancy. I am to smile and befriend, converse and tease, pressure and support.
I find that I am quite good at this. People like to listen to me, and befriending newcomers is an easy process. Most of them seem to respond to me quickly and easily, nodding ascent while I explain the obviousness of the reasons for wearing the goggles and how necessary they are for good living. All of the people I talk to are young women. On one occasion, I am stroking a woman’s arm in a familiar, best friend kind of way, encouraging her sense of self while urging her to accept the inevitability of the goggles. No one seems to notice that I do not wear them, and I see that I have not simply been unfairly oppressed by the authorities – they have given me something back. I don’t have to wear the goggles, and I know that this is what I have been trading my betrayal for.
I suffer a brief pang of deeply rooted guilt, but the apathy I have been taught is a quick balm to cover over any pain. This is where I am, this is who I must be, and I accept it as I do the length of the day and colour of the sky. My latest task slides her goggles back down over her eyes from where she had them up against her forehead. I nod and stroke her reassuringly. It is better this way, I tell her, you will be happier.
Scientists have observed the biggest raindrops ever discovered on earth.
The Al-Jazeera television network has been cleared for Canadian viewers.
The death toll from a fire in a school in India has now reached 84.
The United States’ intrusive travel surveillance plan for Canadians has been ditched.
Isabel Sanford of “The Jeffersons” fame had died at the age of 86.
Philippine troops have started leaving Iraq.
New Zealand had suspended all its ties with Israel.
Vital U.S. nuclear weapons data has gone missing.
A suspected severed baby’s foot was really a carefully shaped piece of dough. Am I bad for thinking this is terribly funny?