Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Ministry Of Health

He woke to the sound of heels striking the floor in lockstep approaching down the corridor. He had been taken into custody……. before. He had no recollection of how long it had been. An hour, a day, he had no idea. He wore the only clue he had on his face. It had been days. Why he had been arrested was a total mystery. What had he done? What had he said? What had he thought of saying? He had no idea. The sound of the approaching men in the corridor stopped directly outside of the heavy door. A long silent moment passed and then door opened suddenly and he reflexively flinched when it noisily slammed against its stops. The two black clad officers entered the room, grabbed him by either arm, jerked him to his feet and drug him into the corridor before he could find his feet and then away.

He was led to a large open room filled with other citizens. Men, women and teenagers, all standing, feet together, on spots painted on the floor, facing what must have been the front. He thought that it looked like it could be a gymnasium and that this could be some sort of exercise class except for the terrified expression on every face. He was lead to an empty spot. He seemed to know instinctively what was expected and he faced forward with his feet together without having to be told.

It was only then that he noticed. All of the people were swaying in unison, left to right and at the limit of their motion saying tick…… tock….. tick, tock…. tick tock. He thought to himself that this was rather odd and quite outside of his experience but that it really shouldn’t be too hard to do if that was what was required. And so he bent to the right and silently muttered “tick”. But when he returned to the upright position and tried to bend to his left he found that he could not. He thought it must have been some stiffness from his time lying on the floor that would pass and so when it was time, he again bent to the right and said, with more confidence this time, “tick”. But again he was unable to bend to the left. He wanted to bend to the left. He wanted to be like the others and was terrified at the prospect of drawing attention to himself. He wanted for the room to be uniform. But whenever it came to bending to the left he just physically couldn’t force his body to do it. It was like the dream he had often had as a child where there were unseen monsters chasing him but he couldn’t force his legs to move. The most he could do was to bend to the right and say “tick”.

And then what he had feared became real. It started with some unseen commotion in the back of the room, but soon enough there were three men standing in front of him. Two burly officers dressed in black, just as the men that had brought him here and a third, smaller man. He wore a black leather top coat over his black uniform and spectacles with wire frames. From his demeanor and his clothing it was clear that he was in a position of some authority and accustomed to having his way.

After an awkward time the smaller man spoke. “So” he said with more menace than you might imagine would fit into one syllable, “what seems to be the problem here?”. He could think of nothing but an apology. “I’m sorry” he said, "I just can't make myself do it". “I’m not sure what you mean”, the small man said very earnestly. “You must bend to the left”. He replied “I’m sorry. I’ve tried. I’m trying still…. I just can’t”. “It’s not that I don’t want to. I do. I just can’t make myself do it”. “I don’t mean to be a problem. I just can’t do it”.

It was at this point that the little man said something that sent chills down his spine. Pushing his glasses up on his nose and leaning close to the point where their faces were only inches apart and his foul breath caused him to take his own in short bits, he said ……. “Don’t concern yourself” “Vee haf vays of makink you tock”.

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