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I woke up this morning at 7am, checking my phone in a state of dread.  Information I saw there confirmed my deepest fears.

I dressed in silence, in somber tones, like dressing for a funeral.  The demise of common sense, common decency, perhaps?  I gathered my hair aside but I did not linger in the mirror long, unsettled by my own expression.

I woke my child and his naive chattering lifted my spirits enough to see me through the rest of the hour.  I took him to preschool and returned to find the quiet of the neighborhood shattered by a team of tree-cutters next door.

I sat in my room to write and found myself unable to concentrate on the project I was supposed to be working on.  The noise from next door pierced my brain, filled my ears.  I felt deafened, just as the nation had apparently deafened itself to the plight of everyone this man sought to marginalize.  They had elected him, anyway.

From this thought I was then provoked to pen the following short story.  I will likely develop a novel out of it in time.

It is titled:

 

The Call

 

Part One: The Noise

 

It started with the noise.  The entire country was so busy making its walls that no one thought about the effect the noise would have on the people, but the effect was as devastating as it was complete.

At first it didn’t matter much, the world had moved beyond verbal communication and into text.  No one minded if they couldn’t hear their companions speak, they had other ways to talk.  The constant ringing in their ears was a nuisance but soon became just another facet of life, like taxes, which was annoying but unstoppable.  People stopped noticing it altogether.

Then came the children.  Congenital deafness had always been present already, but the rates skyrocketed beyond all expectation.  From an original rate of 2 or 3 children in 1,000 born with hearing loss grew to 1 in 100 within ten years.

Within twenty years that figure grew to 1 in 10.

After thirty years of noise, the anomaly was no longer the deafness but the hearing.  Around 1 in 1,000 children were now born with the ability to hear.

It no longer mattered, because no one was listening.

 

Part Two: The Walls

 

It had been a project started by one man in a position of power, and in an attempt to make good on one promise he broke faith with countless others.

In order to rid the country of its Undesireables, its illegals, its malcontents, he would have sent them all away but there was nowhere for them to go.  No countries would absorb the influx, and arguments were had between powerful people behind closed doors.  Bargains were made, and trade agreements bartered, morals bought and sold.

It was decided; walls would be built.  In every state, in every county, dispersed evenly to prevent unnecessary strain on one location’s individual infrastructure and provisions.  They would be everywhere.

The walls were white erections blighting every vista.  They penetrated into the turbulent skies and could not be ignored.  Especially not by the individuals who lived there.

Before the walls were even built its occupants were moved in.  They were rounded up like cattle, removed from their homes by force.  Some fought but were restrained, some cried but were not heard even before the era of deafness struck the country.  A willful refusal to listen to the pain of those not like themselves had been ingrained in the people long before their physical senses were altered.

They saw their freedoms eroding brick by brick, year after year, as their incarceration became ever surer and the walls grew ever higher.

Lives were lived inside those walls, the elderly dying and children being born.  There were schools, shops and places of worship, all run by the states which oversaw them.  In return, there were jobs that the occupants were given in exchange for those kindnesses, those morsels of humanity that were dropped like crumbs at their feet and called charity.

And so went the modern era of man.

 

Part Three: The Areas

 

The walls encircled land which had once been wasteland, or forest, or otherwise not yet occupied by the sprawl of an ever-spreading populace.  Each piece of walled land was called an Area, and was given the designation of its telephone area code, and in places where area codes spread over too-far a distance there were multiple Areas, given further alphanumeric designations.  Some Areas were small, only housing a few families, like the 701-F in Kindred, North Dakota, whereas others were thousands of people strong, like the 347 in New York City or the 323-A in Los Angeles.

Every Area was fully encircled by its wall, and every wall had one opening guarded by the new military force, the Local Area Police, or LAP.  It took no time at all for those few occupants who sought favor with the LAP by being overly obsequious to be branded “LAP dogs.”

Before the Local Area Police had Areas to police, their first job was to locate and collect the Undesireables who would be their occupants.  Every citizen was quickly issued new unforgeable ID cards with which to prove themselves to be natural-born citizens.  Anyone who did not have this ID card, either by being present in the country on a visa or through being suspected of illegal residency, was summarily rounded up or held in containment zones until their legitimacy in the country could be either confirmed or denied.

Those who were confirmed were given temporary ID cards of a different color and subject to regular checks.

Those who were found to be in the country illegally, or whose legitimacy could be neither confirmed nor denied, were moved to the Areas.

That was how it began, but after the initial round up covered illegal immigration problems, the government soon began to address its population based on other Undesireable traits.

Political protestors were Undesireable, and moved into the Areas.

People of questionable religious affiliation were Undesireable and moved into the Areas.

People of suspect sexual deviancy, deviant on the basis of a conservative vision, were Undesireable and moved into the Areas.

People who did not fit into clearly demarcated labels were Undesireable and moved into the Areas.

Soon, any people who were remotely suspicious in race, ethnic background, language, religion, culture or beliefs were Undesireable and moved into the Areas.

The white walls which encircled the areas removed all that was problematic and Undesireable from the sight of the rest of the white-washed nation which carried on unchecked.

The man who ordered these walls be built had promised economic growth, new jobs and that no citizen would be touched by raised taxes in order to accomplish them.  The jobs were created by the industries needed for building the walls, policing them, and the money taken from those initiatives which did not serve that man’s interests.  Funding was taken from alternative fuel initiatives, science and research.

America no longer looked up at the stars with ambition, or at science for answers to global problems, or at the world as a place to improve for their children.  Americans as a whole were too busy looking at each other with suspicion, segregating each other into “us” versus “them,” deafening themselves with their own ignorance and hate.

And that’s how they missed it.

 

Part Four: The Call

 

Before the noise started there had been concerns about a global catastrophe, fears that unless action was taken promptly that the fate of Earth and its inhabitants would pass a point of no return and doom themselves to a terrible fate.

No action was taken.

Thirty years, a generation, passed in which scientists with zero funding, and even less respect, fought to be heard.  But their papers were not read, their finding ignored, and no one had ears to hear the desperate pounding of fists on closed doors.

At this point other nations had followed suit, had begun building their own walls and creating their own noise.  Other countries were deafening themselves, choosing the level the playing field at the lowest common denominator.  America and her allies shook hands and congratulated themselves on their progress.

The refuges of the hearing were small and far between, but they watched and listened.  They saw the coming crisis and prepared.  When it was incipient and incoming they could not stand by and do nothing, so they sounded the call of alarm across the world.

The call went out to take action.

The call went out to find shelter.

The call went out across America, over its walls and throughout the Areas where the Undesireables were kept in pens like animals.

A few small children looked up, tugged on the sleeves of their parents but were quieted.

No one heard, no one was listening.

 

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