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Once you've heard Juan...
Froge Offline
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Once you've heard Juan...

"...You've heard them all!" ALIAS yelled as his eyes burst open and he jolted upright on his bed.

Beads of sweat rolled down ALIAS' face. His fists were wrapped tightly around the thin, ragged sheets that made up his blanket and he was panting heavily. Gray morning sunlight shone through the windows in the bedroom. Just like every other room in this dingy little apartment, there were no curtains. Everyone was expected to get up as soon as the light of morn arrived.

ALIAS knew that he had just had a bad dream. He hoped that they were not able to catch the frightened expression which he had allowed on his face for just a few seconds when he burst awake. As soon as he heard the speaker's voice, ALIAS promptly resumed an expression of indifference. From the telescreen nearby the morning motivators would start going through their daily routine. Every inhabitant of the apartment was expected to be out of bed at 7 AM in the morning, all dressed and ready for the fitness exercises.

"ALIAS, failed. Apt 337. Why aren't you dressed yet!?" A feminine voice demanded.

He quickly looked around for his blue and gray uniform. Normally ALIAS kept it near his bed so that he could quickly get dressed into it every morning, but for some reason it was nowhere in sight today. ALIAS jumped out of bed embarrasingly in his pajamas and began looking around for these clothes, hoping that he wasn't currently under the watchful gaze of the motivators. Half a minute later, he found that his uniform had somehow fallen underneath his bed while he had been sleeping.

Even while he got himself dressed in it, ALIAS could not stop showing just the slightest frown of disgust on his face. The gray shirt and the blue pants were the formal wear of every worker in town, and everyone was expected to be dressed as such from morning until they go to bed. It had been this way for the past some years, now.

The voice spoke up again on the telescreen: "Ready to begin, ALIAS?"

He nodded in response. ALIAS knew that they were able to see him, even though he was just replying to a voice. They were always able to see him.

The motivators seemed to have prepared an extra tiring workout routine for him this morning. First, some stretches, some lunges, even a few backbends that made ALIAS feel extremely dizzy. This was followed by jumping jacks, and then five minutes of rapid jogging on the spot. ALIAS had not slept well last night, and this showed in his physical performance. Twice throughout the jogging the voices told him to stop lagging and run at a steady pace. At the same time, ALIAS had to keep up a face of permanent optimism and excitement to prevent his weakness from showing.

When the workout routine was over, the motivators told everyone that they had five minutes' break before they were expected to be out of the house and on the way to their jobs at the ministries. Then their voices were cut off and replaced by a more familiar one: the steady stream of news brought to the town of Frictional by reporters from the Party. ALIAS was panting by then and he desperately needed a drink of water.

While he went into his small kitchen to get a cup, ALIAS wondered about the dream that he had last night. He could not recall its exact details, but he remembered very clearly that he wanted the voices to "stop" and that he had already "heard them all." He wondered, for a second, if he had actually been referring to the voices on the news. The volume of the telescreen could be turned down, but it could never be shut off. For twenty four hours of the day everyone was subject to them, "live broadcasts" according to the Party of everything that was relevant and good for the town's citizens.

If they had actually heard and recorded his scream, ALIAS knew that he was in big trouble.

As he grabbed his backpack (all that was inside was a notepad, a bottle of water, some pens, and a calculator) and went out the door, ALIAS saw one of his floor neighbours approaching him, a tall blond man by the name of Adny. The two of them were both heading towards the stairs, as they did at the exact same time every morning. The strange thing, however, was that normally there should be three of them. Another one of his neighbours should be here by now, a person named Zaffre. He was nowhere in sight.

"Good day, ALIAS," Adny said as ALIAS approached. "Fine morning we have, don't we?"

ALIAS nodded in response. "Yes. I had one jolly good workout, too. Really got me energetic and ready to start the day!" He allowed himself to display the widest smile that he could muster in his current state. Adny ate it up complete and smiled back genuinely.

As they arrived at the stairs, ALIAS became worried. He turned around and asked his neighbour: "Hey, where's Zaffre?"

A rather confused expression appeared on Adny's face. "Who are you talking about?" He asked.

ALIAS simply nodded once more.

The two of them parted as soon as they reached the ground floor and had exited the apartment. ALIAS was to go north and then turn east on Wub Street. He worked at the Ministry of Ecology, while Adny went west down Kreek Avenue to reach the Ministry of Information. The two said their goodbyes and promptly parted, neither of them eager to be late for work. ALIAS smiled all the while as he walked to work even though he felt a heavy ache in his heart.

ALIAS knew what had happened to his neighbour. Zaffre had lately been appearing very tired every time he walked out the door of his apartment in the morning. Tired, and also noticeably displeased. One day, ALIAS risked asking Zaffre what was wrong while they were walking together to the Ministry of Ecology (the two of them worked at the same place, unlike Adny). Although he felt a bit reluctant to answer, Zaffre had decided regardless to tell ALIAS about his problem. In very hushed tones Zaffre had explained that lately, he couldn't stand the news that were being reported on the telescreen. He doubted that most of them were true, and thought that the speakers were all the same, talking only about the war and their rations and also how great the Party was.

"Once you've heard one, you've heard them all."

These words were scarred in ALIAS' mind. But at that time, he did not say anything back to Zaffre, not even a reprimand. He had decided that the best thing to do was just let him be. But now ALIAS realized what a mistake that decision had been. Zaffre, his neighbour and friend, had now been vapourized, and ALIAS was sure that he would never see him ever again. In fact, no one would even know that Zaffre had ever existed. Anyone sent to the correctional facility had all their files, possessions, and records promptly destroyed - when, and by whom, no one ever knew - and their name was never to be spoken of again. Zaffre was not just gone now - he never was. Although it pained him to do so, ALIAS made a mental note of this. He also hoped that no one had heard him this morning when he had asked Adny about Zaffre.

While going down Wub street, ALIAS suddenly saw a large crowd in front of him. He was nearing Corinthian park, which was the place where they held all the live executions. ALIAS recalled hearing from the telescreen this morning that they were going to be executing a few traitors by hanging at this park. While most people enjoyed watching swift "justice" being brought to those that had betrayed the party, ALIAS usually felt sick at watching these executions. He would do anything to either avoid going to this park when the hangings were being held. This required, of course, that he stealthily take another path to work. The authorities (street police that patrolled the streets) were very suspicious of those that broke from routine and would no doubt take him in for questioning if they saw ALIAS going down a different path to work.

Breaking routine wasn't a severe enough offense to land oneself into the correctional facility. However, ALIAS knew better than to take his chances - most of the time, that was. The executions this morning appeared to be quite a big event. According to the reporters, they were to be hanging "traitors that had been hunted for the past three years." Of course, no one really knew who these traitors were, but they just believed whatever the telescreens told them. ALIAS wondered if Zaffre was going to amongst those to be executed today. Once an individual became vapourized, no one ever made an effort to recognize them anymore. ALIAS didn't want to stick around to find out, however.

Noticing the lack of authorities patroling the streets this morning, he decided to risk taking an alternate path to work. If someone caught him, he already had an excuse in mind: "I have to hurry and I'll be slowed down if I have to pass through the crowds." ALIAS was really in no hurry, however. Although he was late waking up this morning, work was more often than not delayed every time an execution was being held. Sometimes even by a few hours. What ALIAS actually had in mind was to go down Mandus avenue, which would take him into a part of town inhabited by the proles. Most of the workers avoided this place, as there dwelt lower class filth (though of course, such words as "class" did not exist) and were unpleasant to walk through. ALIAS, on the other hand, found the company of the proles to be almost refreshing.

If he had actually admitted that to one of the authorities, he'd be immediately whisked off to the correctional facility. The proles were treated by well-off workers such as him as being "less than people." They did not have jobs in any of the valuable ministries and often spent their days losing at the lottery draw before getting drunk at the local bars. This did not exempt them from the persecution of the authorities, though. The police were known to randomnly patrol the prole region to arrest any "dissidents," though this word was meaningless as 'dissident' could be taken as 'anyone the police wanted.' ALIAS hoped that none of the authorities would be here today - it would be extremely unlucky if they spotted and recognized him.

As he went down Mandus street, ALIAS made a beeline for a certain bar where he knew a couple of his acquaintances would be spending the morning. The place was called 'Oswald's Cafe'. When he reached the place, ALIAS found - just as he expected - his (secret) prole friends drinking there. Kman sat a a table with four mugs before him alongside Statyk, who was already completely drunk.

ALIAS sat down beside them and casually grabbed one of Kman's drinks. Neither Statyk nor Kman really minded.

"S'up," Kman began as soon as he finished his current mug. "Aren't you supposed to be going off to work this morning?"

"Yeah, I should," ALIAS replied, "But I'm not."

"You gonna get caught," Statyk spoke up with a burp. He appeared quite wasted.

"They're hosting executions again," ALIAS said. "I bet work is going to be delayed for quite some time. I'll leave once I feel better." He took a very long drink from the mug.

"Not a good idea to show up drunk, though," Kman responded. It was funny to hear a prole say that, and ALIAS nearly laughed. He put his mug down and leaned forward.

"I'm not going to get myself wasted like Statyk here," he whispered.

Kman didn't appear entirely convinced, and he folded his arms. "So what are you actually here for?" He asked.

"I learned this morning that one of my friends got vapourized," ALIAS answered. Amongst proles, talk of the authorities' actions was less restrictive. It was probably because the police were visibly arresting them out on the streets half the time, anyways. Only here in Oswald's cafe did ALIAS feel comfortable mentioning unpersons. No one bothered to put cameras or recorders in the prole section of town. Or at least that's what everyone believed.

"Too bad for him," Kman said nonchalantly. He went back to drinking.

"Is that all you're going to say?" ALIAS demanded.

Kman shrugged. Feeling a little infuriated, ALIAS stood up and prepared to leave.

"Where you going? Didn't you say that you wanted to stay here for like, an hour or something?"

"Maybe if you guys cared a bit more," ALIAS replied.

"What's the matter with you, man?" Statyk whispered as he leaned up at ALIAS. "You're not usually this grumpy when you talk to us."

"I had a terrible dream last night," ALIAS explained. "So I'm feeling unusually antisocial right now."

"Come back when you can actually afford to get wasted," Kman responded, when suddenly he received a kiss on the lips from ALIAS.

"Fuck. I might be disappearing any time now," ALIAS said. "That's my goodbye present."

Kman didn't really know what to say. He went back to drinking. Appearing rather annoyed, ALIAS promptly left the cafe.

Upon nearing the ministry of ecology at the northeastern end of town, ALIAS saw a stream of workers coming in from the nearby park. He breathed a sigh of relief, knowing now that he wasn't going to be considered late to work as everyone had probably gone to watch the executions. But since the crowd was now dispersing, the show was also probably over. That means whoever had been considered the "traitors" were now finally dead.

Poor Zaffre, ALIAS thought. Poor non-existent Zaffre. Poor never existed Zaffre. And just like that, he forced himself to cease thinking about this person who had once been but had actually never been his neighbour ever again.

He could not help but allow a little bit of sadness to show on his face for just the slightest fraction of a second as ALIAS entered the building that was the ministry of ecology. He knew that this was all it took. It was all that was necessary, if the thought police were currently watching him, to realize that he was a dissident, that he was truly never happy, and then he would immediately be taken away. Vapourized ALIAS. ALIAS, who did not exist, and who really never existed.

It was so hard, just so hard to keep up a permanent smile on his face these days. Such pointless optimism he was expected to show.

On the way to his office, ALIAS saw the official posters for the Party hung up as usual along the walls. More seemed to have been put up. Now they were more numerous than ever, and ALIAS thought that he could almost see the tiny cameras placed on them, or the voice recorders that were hidden behind them as well as in all the telescreens that surrounded the halls and his office block. But he had to remain ignorant, he had to always be pretending that he was unaware, even if he knew that one of these days he really was going to snap and then he would find the correctional facility authorities right on his door. And then he would be vapourized just like never-existed Zaffre, and soon he will be never-existed ALIAS.

Or would he actually be never-existing but self-existing ALIAS? Even if he was vapourized, ALIAS could never stop himself from recognizing that he existed. Or would they, the authorities, somehow be able to force him to even realize that he never existed? Was such a thing even possible? To even do so the authorities would have to treat him as temporarily-existing ALIAS, a tangible but ephemeral thing that had to be worked with in order to erase him. Maybe they treated him as temporarily-existing bu not-really-existing ALIAS through some practiced act of self-denial. But all this is just speculation. Maybe they will be aware that he actually exists, and they will hurt him and question him and torture him in the correctional facility, or whatever happens in that place. Then he will be truly-existing ALIAS, but not truly-existing to anyone else that aren't the authorities. But this didn't make any sense either because the authorities themselves had to think that all vapourized person were non-existent, a paradox in itself because to be vapourized one had to exist in the first place. Would he then be temporarily-existing-in-the-past ALIAS, existing just long enough for the authorities to erase him, and then non-existent-in-the-future ALIAS? But no, that was not true, because vapourized people never existed, so really he was also non-existing-in-the-past ALIAS, just temporarily-existing ALIAS but also not temporarily-existing ALIAS since the authorities had to erase him and be aware that he is something that exists that has to be erased and all this made him truly non-existing ALIAS but still self-existing ALIAS unless he himself believed that he was non-and-never-existing ALIAS and now he just wanted to explode.

The posters showed a figure with long red hair and a rather austere expression upon its face. Below it were always the same words:

"Brother Traggey is watching you."

[Image: p229xcq]
04-01-2013, 09:01 PM
Tiger Away
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RE: Once you've heard Juan...

Haha, awesome!
04-01-2013, 09:19 PM
failedALIAS Offline
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RE: Once you've heard Juan...

Shit just got real.
04-01-2013, 09:22 PM
Ghieri Offline
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RE: Once you've heard Juan...

Quote: Wub Street.
...Ok, I'll read the rest of it now.

edit: did you happen to get inspiration from "lucky day forever"? There are some pretty distinct similarities.

[Image: tumblr_n6m5lsQThQ1qc99nxo1_250.gif]
(This post was last modified: 04-01-2013, 09:36 PM by Ghieri.)
04-01-2013, 09:30 PM
Acies Offline
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RE: Once you've heard Juan...

Are we back in 1984?

[Image: mZiYnxe.png]

04-01-2013, 09:38 PM
Zaffre Away
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RE: Once you've heard Juan...

I stopped reading these a long time ago Tongue

I saw my username and I nope'd out because I was too afraid of the awful reputation you may have given me

As of September 2nd, 2014, I've left the Frictional forums. Check my profile for more details.
(This post was last modified: 04-01-2013, 09:45 PM by Zaffre.)
04-01-2013, 09:45 PM
failedALIAS Offline
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RE: Once you've heard Juan...

(04-01-2013, 09:45 PM)Xenokkah Wrote: I stopped reading these a long time ago Tongue

I saw my username and I nope'd out because I was too afraid of the awful reputation you may have given me

Oh, hello neighbor!

(Just roll with it)
04-01-2013, 09:47 PM
CorinthianMerchant Offline
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RE: Once you've heard Juan...

This is so awesome...

Still hasn't gotten over the loss of wubwub...
04-01-2013, 09:47 PM
failedALIAS Offline
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RE: Once you've heard Juan...

So am I just the protagonist?
04-01-2013, 09:50 PM
triadtimes Offline
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RE: Once you've heard Juan...

Kman x ALIAS OTP confirmed.

04-01-2013, 10:20 PM

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