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2024: Scenes From Trumplandia

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It was a bright cold day in April, and all the smart watches were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an attempt to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quick enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering with him. Not that it mattered much, for instantly a jet of water streamed discreetly out and removed the grime. Things were like that now in Trumpland - glossy, polished and artificially neat. But also more than a little disquieting - except even thinking so was a crime, so W. quickly put it out of his mind.

In the lobby was a giant poster with an enormous face with a familiar and distinctive orange hue. It was one of those posters which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. DONALD TRUMP IS WATCHNG YOU, the caption beneath it ran. W. didn't have to worry about forgetting the face for an instant because when the elevator arrived and he entered it, there was a telescreen embedded in two sides with President Donald Trump on it talking about how since America had become great again, he was going to make it even greater. Since literally everywhere W. went, there was a telescreen doing this, not to mention that his smart watch bleated every now and then with tweets from the President himself, W. was able to block much of it out. At first when the President had taken office back in 2017, this whole arrangement had been deeply unsettling, but now after seven years, he had gotten used to it to the point where it was just wallpaper. Mostly.

Ordinarily, W. would have tried to get some exercise by taking the stairs, but he had recently had a varicose ulcer removed and was still recuperating. Thanks to TrumpCare, however, it had cost him very little, and he was well on his way to his usual health. In the bad old days, he would have had to wait at several months just to get the diagnosis that would allow him to have an operation to remove it, and he was grateful for this, but still, it was a little bizarre to know that his doctor could, at any time, watch him through the telescreen to see how he was really doing. The bad old days had been admittedly bad, but at least back then, you didn't have to worry about your doctor spying on you to make sure you followed instructions. But that, too, was a thoughtcrime, so he tried his best to forget it.

As W. entered his apartment, he couldn't help but notice the giant billboard in the square across the street which also bore the visage of the President and the message: DONALD TRUMP IS WATCHING YOU. Twitching the curtains shut, he looked cautiously at the telescreen, then ducked into a small alcove from which he was - hopefully - invisible from the all-seeing gaze of the Trump Administration. With yet another furtive look, W. took out a blank journal and pen and opened it up. In small clumsy letters he wrote: April 4, 2024, then sat back feeling hopeless. What was the point, after all, of keeping a journal? For one thing, he could get in a lot of very unpleasant trouble, since ordinary citizens of Trumpland were only allowed to communicate via text and tweets. For another, who exactly was going to be reading the journal? No one that was who, since reading it would surely bring punishment on his descendants. Still, despite that, he suddenly felt a powerful urge to start writing, and so gave in.

Boy, do I feel like an idiot writing this because who communicates like this anymore? No one, that's who. After all, brevity of expression is prized above all nowadays, and what can be more precise then a tweet? Or, if you need to go on about something, texting is permissible. Nowadays, people mostly just communicate via photos and videos, and everyone says how much more efficient this way is. So what the hell am I doing? It isn't like my days laboring at the Ministry of Truth yield new and surprising insights that are worth writing down. Going back over years of news stories about the President and cutting out all the negative parts is about the dullest thing you could think of to do for a living. Even getting to spice it up with a little photo or video editing now and then when someone goes on vacation doesn't make it any less boring.

W. stopped and groaned. He had pictured himself, when he finally got a chance, pouring forth endless observations that were tinged with wit and perception, but instead, he was just blathering on. Plus it was a forbidden way to blather on. But then suddenly, he knew. A memory came to him, and he realized that it was this other incident that had made him come home and begin the diary. It had happened that morning at the Ministry, if anything so nebulous could be said to happen.

To be continued