Hello once again on this fine Thursday (if time still persists it as so). Today we have a short story that is a bit of a metaphor in of it’s entirety. It’s about a man, or whatever thereof , who has been born, shockingly, blind. Such is the title, Blind Rats. Though, that isn’t the idea of it. The blindness is one aspect of a much larger truth that the main character doesn’t realize. Propaganda. Or censorship. The idea of not knowing, and staying “in the cave” is also an important issue that I try to raise. It’s quite quaint once you get to it. Here you go, “Blind Rats”
I once heard my Keepers talking about the outside world, they called it a wasteland. I grew up here for as long as I can remember. My Keepers said that the world around me was known as an institution. They told me that many other people lived in this world, and that many other people also had Keepers. My life for the longest time had been very nonchalant and slow moving. I woke up, ate food, and did the tasks that my Keepers assigned me. Sometimes they were thinking tasks, and other times I would be exercising. Sometimes even, my days went by so quickly that I didn’t even notice. Nothing of big importance had ever occurred, and my entire life could just have been chalked up to a sanctum of commonality. I was just another person among the many other persons that lived here. I was no different from the person who lived in the room beside me, and from the person who lived in the room above me. The only persons who was different from me were the Keepers, who said they could see things called “color.”
They described color as transient emotions, things that were there for a second, but leave your sight in the next. I’ve never actually been able to understand that concept, but I imagined it as something like wind, or snow, or rain. I’ve never actually seen those things either, their color, their smell, or what they sound like, but I hear the Keepers talking about it all the time.
Today is the day that I graduate. My Keepers called it a momentous occasion, and the only other momentous occasions that I have been ever so graced by was my “birthday”. I never understood the concept of a birthday either. They said that large circular objects hovered above the room, and liquidated flammable plastic covered a large body of fat and cream, while everyone cheered and sang. I was there, of course, but I couldn’t understand a lick of it. My Keepers said that the entire world came to see me, but I never once remembered going to any other person’s birthday. I knew I wasn’t special too, but my Keepers never told me about it.
“Good morning.” I heard. One of my Keepers had entered the room, they had a masculine voice. I had two Keepers, like everyone else in the world. One male, and one female. They told me to call them, “mother” and “father”, but I never really understood why. They were my Keepers. I heard the other persons in the world call them that while giving off disdainful chuckles and grunts. I called them mother and father when they arrived, but, I really know that it’s all just a fabrication. They are my Keepers. I don’t know why they lie.
“Good morning father,” I answered to my male Keeper. I couldn’t tell, but I knew he had a smile on his face.
“Today is your big day,” he said.
“Yeah. I’m graduating today, right?” Although I still didn’t know what that meant.
“That’s right. Are you ready?” My male Keeper had a deep husky voice, and I imagined him to have a deep husky beard as well.
“I don’t have a choice but to be ready, right?” I didn’t want to be ready, though, I didn’t tell him that.
“We’ll come pick you up in an hour.” His voice trailed off, and I understood that he was now leaving. I looked around my room.
“What should I do now?” I thought to myself. I got up and walked towards the door, my hands in front of me, and once my hands felt a smooth surface, I traced it down towards the knob. I twisted and then opened. I really had nothing to do but wander around the world, and listen. I liked listening to the other persons of the world. They always told fantastical stories and I often wondered if they were just adroit at story telling or simply maniacal. I didn’t exactly know who I walked by, or their names, but from the snippets of my feigned ignorance, I was able to catch onto a few familiar voices.
“They say they’re sending another gas blanket across the south.” This voice belonged to Larry, a man, who had a deep voice like my Keeper, except, his was not as deep. I imagined him to be a towering man.
“Wouldn’t think otherwise. Those damn Reds can’t think for a second that sending neurotoxins isn’t the only solution.” The voice that responded was Dan. Another man, except, not deep at all, kind of like my voice. He seemed much more smaller in comparison. I listened intently as I walked past them, turning to my side, and facing the wall in front of me, which for some reason didn’t elicit a reaction from them. I had noticed that by doing so, it appeared as if I was in a state of reverie, and thus not many people bothered with me. At one point, I was even so enamored in their conversation that I had walked forward without realizing and thumped with the wall. It vibrated, oddly, but they still didn’t take much heed. Sometimes I catch their voices near this wall as well, so it must be a special wall.
“Next thing you know, we’re getting a carpet here in the north,” Larry said.
“Reds know that the Blues are here, central and everything. If they send a carpet now, it’s the start of another genocide.”
“Genocide? You think that’s going to be genocide? It’s nothing compared to how they cleaned the east,” Larry said.
“The east had it for them. The north, us, we didn’t do anything. Those damn Reds are just trying to instill authority. Authority for a backwater nation like us, it makes no sense.”
“Slave labour and economy makes sense,” Larry said.
“That’s why the world is going to hell. You, me, even the ‘lune’ at the window. We’re all heading to the same place, so why make it anymore miserable.”
“Capitalism,” Larry said. I think that was Larry’s favorite word, capitalism. I asked my Keepers about it, but they never gave me an answer. I was forbidden to talk to people without my Keeper’s supervision as well, so I never bothered asking them.
“Hear about the raid at the other factories?” Larry asked.
“I read about it yeah.”
“Got a bunch of them. If this keeps up, the Blue’s going to have to invest into graveyards,” Larry said.
“Or incinerators. Though I doubt they would do that.”
“Saves soil,” Larry said.
“And time.” They both laughed. The two then got up. Larry got up first, and then walked off behind me. Dan was a bit slower, and every time he walked, there seemed to be an extra sound accompanying it. It was a strange sound, like something clasping the ground. I never gave heed to it since such oddities were rampant in the world.
Soon, the world was quiet. I had nothing but to do but to find more people to listen to. Even so, I knew the world was much larger and much more expansive than just ogling the words of strangers. I heard of things like “money”, the idea that a single object would be worth a value that is shared among persons. I had never felt or heard money, but that idea seemed to tie into capitalism. People in the world seemed to hate money, while others loved it. I never understood why, but it seemed that my Keepers were on the latter side. I overheard them talk about it one time, which tends to happen quite often, and they apparently receive a large sum of money for being my Keepers. The way they spoke about it made it seem almost egregious, and thus I had never been brazen enough to ask them about it.
I had a simple understanding of time, and I had a clear understanding of input-output. Rather, I had an understanding of punishment. I needed to be where they expected me to be, or else I would be acerbically sought for. That is to say, I had to be in my room at exactly one hour from the time my Keeper had told me that I had to be there at one hour or else I would not be there at an hour and thus be punished in an hour due time. I was still in my room since my Keeper had the expectations that I would stay within the enclosure of the safety of my room but they probably didn’t think that I would venture into the world. Although, at times, I wonder if they really do know my every moment, since they always seem to hint at it when we talk. Nevertheless I like to think of it as a thought experiment, much like the one’s I have heard about in this world, one with a cat, and one with uncertainty. It brings a certain sense of elation to my otherwise deafening boredom.
“Watch it!” Suddenly a voice rang in my ears, causing me to visibly show surprise. I tried to look in the direction of the voice and discern it from my already known bank of voices and attached conceptions. The results came out as amicably negative.
“I’m–” I cleared my throat and then took a deep breath before finishing, “Sorry.” I bowed my head. I hoped he understood the message and that he wouldn’t be violent about it. I heard many stories of violent tendencies among the persons of the world. I did not want to be a part of it. I waited, and after a few moments, I begun to wonder if the person whom I stepped into had aptly left. I was wrong. I heard scuffling, the person was moving to my side. I couldn’t tell what expression he had on his face, nor what was on his mind as he began walking past me. He didn’t utter a word, not even under his breath, and he simply walked away. I didn’t bother to turn, I continued to walk.
I had arrived back at my room, or so I hoped. I had memorized, generally, where I needed to walk at any given point in this world to arrive back at this central location. Or maybe I didn’t. I hoped anyway, and I entered, by turning the knob that I had felt through tracing the door, walking forward, and closing the door behind me. I walked forward, towards where I knew my bed was, and turned, then sat, onto the bed, and waited. I looked towards the sound of the ticking of the clock in my room, at the corner of my room. It was hypnotic, the sound of the clock. I was told it was round and had numbers scrawled on the perimeter, with two thin arrows tracing the passage of time. I thought it was stupid, that time could be measured like so, that something as immovable as time could be calculated. It was as if the persons of the world had full reign on the fabric of existence, and that every person in this world was ethereal. I knew that not to be true. I heard the Keepers talking about it. I was what they called, a “dead rat”. I have heard of the word rat, it was an animal that was extremely unhygienic and spreaded disease and death wherever they went. I imagined them to be towering beasts that feasted on the flesh of persons. I also have an understanding of death, and thus if I was dead, then that would mean I was not ethereal.
“There’s no point in asking, but you’re ready right?” My Keeper, the male one asked. I wanted to ask where the female Keeper was, but I didn’t bother. I felt his arm reach over mines, and he hoisted me up from my bed. He guided me through my door and down a hallway I never bothered to muscle memorize. The walk was long and silent, my Keeper not speaking a single word, and me not asking a single question. Today was the day of my graduation, it was a momentous occasion, but I liked solitude. I’ve always been engrossed in it, it was my own mantra, my own erudite pleasure. I embraced the darkness around me, and the darkness prevailing me had nothing it could do but cower in my own acceptance.
That all broke when I heard a large crowd cheer and clap. I felt a short breeze on my face, something that I often did not feel unless I was running. I could not see how many people had came, but I could imagine them having wide smiles and bright eyes and long hair and short hair and large hands and small hands as the sounds filled the air. I continued to walk, and at one point, my Keeper had stopped guiding me, but for some reason, I felt safe walking forward, like the people around me had carved a path. I kept walking forward, with the claps and cheers around me and I imagined large circular objects floating. And I imagined large bodies of fat and cream, and I imagined my Keepers, smiling and clapping along. I had no idea what was going on, but I kept walking forward, with the breeze on my face, the stale air in my mouth, and the clanking ground beneath me.
Suddenly, a boom resided in the distance, a large boom and I felt the ground beneath me shake and all the sounds around me stopped and then, I heard a bird chirping. I turned back, towards where I walked. No sounds, no clapping, no circular objects, no cream. All I had in me was darkness, and I turned back, and continued to walk. I had no idea where I was, where I was going, or what that boom was. I was in a wasteland. I had graduated.