A Strange World

“Sure!” responded Jerry. It almost never mattered what was being asked of him, Jerry wanted to try making everyone happy. Conventional wisdom already told him that was suicidal, but he wasn’t one to go with the flow.

“I’m not dead fish!” he would respond whenever someone asked why he particularly had to go against what everyone else agreed upon. And he was no dead fish. Jerry was a strangely nice person, always occupied in something or talking to someone or sitting quietly, with a thousand things bubbling in his mind. “It’s like a circus inside here!” he had remarked once, and blamed the cheap rum next day.

Speaking of circuses, Jerry had a friend, and no she wasn’t called Tom, but close enough to be amusing, Tam. It was her nickname made from Amanda T. She had this interesting characteristic about her, which made strangers keep distance. Maybe her eyes that commanded and ruled the beasts within. She had retired from her job as a ringmaster in an old circus, at the age of 34. New rules had put her out on streets, and put her ‘furries’ in zoos. “Strange world, eh?” she quipped as she poured another glass of port wine. “You think you can get me a job?”

“Sure!” responded Jerry, as he pulled out his phone and started texting a few people right away. “Tam, do you think you can put up with crazies?”

“Well, I’m sitting next to you.”

“Ha! But do you think you want to deal with power hungry millionaires?”

“I don’t like the sound of this already!”, Tam said, confused and worried.

“It’s just about talking on phone, selling them, uh… guns.”

Tam tilted her head, her face morphed into an embodiment of a question mark as she stared at Jerry, waiting for him to deliver the punchline.

“These guns fire a tiny payload that implants a location tracker under the skin, quite invisibly. The victims think it is an insect bite. It swells a bit like one.” continued Jerry, calmly.

“Are you out of your mind?!”

“Not yet, not enough wine!”

“I’m not selling any such thing to anyone! And why are you even around such people? I thought you were the good guy!” Tam was furious, her wine glass had already fallen three floors from the terrace.

“Everything okay up there?” the watchman yelled in their direction.

“Yeah, stupid glass got too drunk, we’re fine!” Jerry yelled back. The watchman went back to his cabin muttering something about useless idiots.

Tam was halfway between feeling offended and chuckling at the stupid joke and the security’s remark. “How did we ever get here?” she wondered out loud. “It’s like just yesterday we were living normal lives.”

“Normal is relative”, Jerry chimed in, “isn’t that your line?”

“Yeah, ass. You know what I mean.”

“It sure has become a strange world, Tam. On one hand we have human and animal rights activists shutting down everything fun, and governments taking control of everything else that’s fun and making it illegal. While the really bad things are rampant, encouraged even!”, Jerry sipped on the glass of wine.

“I really hate the state for making it mandatory to send all kids to public school hostels. They’re my kids! How can they take them away and try and turn them into brainwashed robots!”

“Well, the humanitarians agree that they get the best nutrition, physical training and unprecedented access to knowledge.”

“Knowledge that the state controls!”, exclaimed Tam as she picked up the bottle to drink straight from the source.

“Try telling these crazies that they’re wrong. They’ll probably call the cops on you for violation of freedom of expression!”

“And the cops will happily arrest me, of course. Without reflecting one bit on the irony of it all.”

It indeed was a strange world they were living in, where the extremists had become the voice of the common people. Cleverly they had worked their way into every organization that talked of freedom and equality and rode the wave as people agreed that a paradigm shift was indeed necessary for improving quality of life.

Some started by selling the idea of lab grown meat to politicians, who quickly employed their power to get the patents and set up massive factories just before outlawing slaughtering animals for food. “It is to protect the balance of nature, and to free humans of the guilt of killing” they argued.

Others managed to convince the masses that having one standard for essential crops. So that nobody would get cheated with lower quality grain, food would always taste as you expected as vegetables would all come from one perfected strain that was cloned with 100% precise genetic copy rate. Added benefits of longer shelf life, resistance to weather and pests were touted. Who could had argued against this when global warming had already rendered massive stretches of land barren. People need food!

Water was now national property and you had to have a license to store water for longer than 3 days worth of your allowed use. Tampering with gauges was a risky but very lucrative business for many, as folks with means offered rewards worth enough for these people to risk being put to death for attacking national security. Yeah.

Tam had been lucky to have a circus running till yesterday. A little too lucky. They were the finest circus in the world, with utmost care provided to the artists, human and otherwise, performing in the acts. But a raid citing animal abuse had put her entire crew out of business overnight.

The incriminating evidence — an assistant had not picked up after a horse and a dog from the next act was distracted by the smell. Tam’s partner in the act had yelled “focus!” at the dog. All captured on a phone, posted online and gone viral as the animal rights people got a whiff of the story.

“It’s ridiculous!” Tam was fighting tears, “I can’t have my children with me, I can’t teach them values I believe in. And now I can’t have my furries, because you’re not allowed to yell at them even once? I’m not a bad person, I love them dearly, and they love me!”

Tears had won, Tam was sobbing as Jerry moved closer and held her. “They will always love you, there is nothing that’s going to change that.” Jerry tried to console.

“They made our tools of freedom, their toys of oppression! How did we not see this?” sighed Jerry, “all this while, we were afraid of evil people doing evil things and they still won by pushing the good agenda so far that it turned even worse, because now we cannot fight the brainwashed masses, the ones we had so painstakingly awoken from their ignorant slumber.”

Tears still rolled down Tam’s cheeks, as she sunk in Jerry’s arms, feeling defeated and helpless.

“Maybe tomorrow is a better day” Tam mustered a voice “I’m not giving up, and promise me you won’t either. We’ll see forever together.”

“We will”

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