Dystopia - Sofia's Journal

From the Story Arc: Dystopia

Previous Story in the Arc: Dystopia Chapter 20 by Krasnaya Zarya (Tuesday, August 15, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Dystopia Chapter 24 by Krasniy Zakat (Saturday, August 19, 2006)

(posted Thursday, August 17, 2006)

Sofia's Notes

History is a funny thing. I often wondered; how was it that our world was as it was. How did it come to be what it is? Was it an inevitable chain of events that created our reality, or was it a mere series of cosmic coincidences.

I know what Alex would say; he would talk of atoms, colliding in the void, and of stars and galaxies. He would then say that everything was, ultimately, ruled by chaos, and that the movement of every atom creates endless ripples through space and time, every single particle leaves a trace – a sort of odd, scientific Zen. History is no more to him than the conglomeration of all these movements, a sum of many atoms moving. Therefore, every atom out of place results in a different, widely discordant history with that we know. That this world should be so different should not, then, surprise me.

What astounds me again and again is just how similar it is.

The gigantic span of the universe pays no seeming heed to this chaotic disorganization. Galaxies will swirl majestically through the endless vacuum no matter how far history shifts. The Sun, the Moon and the Earth remain stable no matter how widely this carousel of reaction sends the momentary eye blink that we perceive as ‘change’. It is not change, not really, merely a variation on the great cosmic order of things, the eternal quiet of the universe Alexander’s beloved Science had not yet managed to pierce.

How many atoms must have fallen out of place just so, I wonder. The people are the same people; I see ghosts wherever I turn. Things are even more reminiscent of my youth than they are at this stage in the other world – that so distant ‘home’ – and everything is familiar enough to ache. A changed, inert universe, a paradox in my eyes.

The laptop case is easy enough to smuggle into the library, under the not-entirely-false pretext of an attaché case filled with papers. I am cautious of letting anyone see the complex electronics, however. Now that I know better, I am hunched over the laptop protectively, back to the world at a corner table. Fear can make people do amazing things; some people grow wings, some people accomplish physical and mental feats beyond belief… I have grown eyes in the back of my head, to see and detect approaching natives.

So I must write the history of this world, its manifesto, so to speak.

Everything changed in ’84, I believe. It is hard to detect the most certain, earliest spot among the influx of information in these books, these encyclopedias, these mountains and mountains of paper. For the people of this world, it is history; easy and obvious. For an outsider, even a highly qualified and intelligent outsider, it is a boggle of confusing patterns. Where does change begin, and continuity end?

Clearly, with Andropov, in this case. With his failure to die as was right and proper. Instead, the man – for the better and for the worst – lived for several more years. Crucial chain reaction, just like the crucial chain reaction in Chernobyl – which, incidentally, still came to pass in exactly the same way as it had in our world – beginning with the gift of life to one man. Reforms followed; a reformation of the economy that had stabilized the old Soviet Union, a reform of politics that brought it closer to the world at large. Things were better, only Communism failed to shatter.

The client-states of this particular vassalage could not, thus, revolt as effectively, and when Andropov finally passed on, leaving the country better off and richer to his inheritors, these in their turn instituted a time of ‘reformation’. In the jargon of my dear old motherland read: purges.

But that is not all. The outside world did not wait on our history either. It plunged on, headfirst into disaster. The Cold War failed to abate and it had been hard-line China to send off its mortal arsenal of nuclear weaponry to every valuable target in the West. Retaliation followed, but by then it was too late. The United States was a wasteland with a few isles of sanity that were not in the way of the Fallout patterns. Europe, stunned and unbelieving, collapsed in a clatter of economical bankruptcies.

And it was the USSR that came, like an absurd knight in shining armour, to the rescue of the world. It offered stability, certainly, and a superior form of government to that which brought about this disaster. It was, apparently, diplomatic and loquacious, and it smoothly took over the U.N.

In so doing, it swiftly gobbled up opposition. The conquest, at least according to the current history with its dubious authenticity, was painless. I have no doubt that the Europe I know would have had no tools to object, but it fascinates me, the language of understatement and careful nuances that deals with the far and middle-East. I know exactly, from previous exposure, what ‘marginal losses’ mean.

America is gone in ashes. All the people we have known – at least the ones who had doubles in this universe, and that would be quite a few, since it split so recently – are dead. It makes for an odd cognitive dilemma; are they truly dead here, when they are alive over there? Or is it perhaps that Schrodinger – the man, not our cat – was more correct and more realistic than even he imagined, and these people are like photons, living in a quasi-reality of quantum probability? So long as I do not go see, so long as I do not find out, some echo of them is alive in this absurd world, as well as in our own; a sort of cross dimensional reverberation.

If indeed this is the case, and even if not, I will not go and attempt to find out. I will not collapse their wave state. I understand now, too, the odd conversation with the truck driver; people who had lived in the now-ex-U.S. are, apparently, dangerous to know. Just how hard-line is this regime?

The Middle-East… another sore spot. Once one of the stabilizing super-powers that made the conflict there so keenly equal in armaments and political influence was gone, the scales tipped. Horribly. Israel is gone, swarmed over by technologically and politically stronger enemies. There is not much, not in here, but I gather the last war was… spectacular.

It saddens me, this odd loss in the background of my life. Granted, I have never been a great patriot of anything, yet… it was always quite clear to us that the hospitality of any place in the world lasts only so long as my husband and I are useful. So long as our usefulness exceeded our problematicity, we were tolerated, even welcomed, given aid. But Israel was the only place in this world – or any world – that was willing to take us in unconditionally. And we both had known, beyond the careful serenity of our everyday lives, that if all hell broke loose, that would be the only home to two dying, broken people.

It’s gone now, the place that, if you had to go there, they had to take you. The second Holocaust happened, and the world hadn’t even noticed it when it swept by. And this new Diaspora, how knows how long it will last. Perhaps it is forever.