Seeds of Discontent

Unity for all children! Right thinking for all children!

That’s what I force into the minds of every single child who passes through my education camp.

Everything the government expects. And a few things they don’t…

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(c) 2024 Simon Goodson.
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Seeds of Discontent book cover

Seeds of Discontent

I stared out over the large group before me, pausing to absorb the feel of the crowd, then started to speak.

“Parents. Guardians. District commissioners. Commissars. Welcome! Welcome to the graduation of this fine group of children as they complete their learning and become fully fledged members of the Grand State Youth.

“I’m extremely pleased to announce that, as always, we have a one-hundred percent pass rate. I’m sure you are all aware that not every child given into our care is equal. When they arrive, some fully understand what it means to be a full member of society, that loyalty to the state comes before all else… before even loyalty to friends or family.

“Others… others have been exposed to malicious influences. To wrong thinking. Others had started to entertain thoughts that might lead to dissent, and worse.

“That’s why we bring them here at this young age. At ten years old we still have the chance to mould their minds. To turn them into true citizens. To ensure that in the next generation there will be no discontent. There will be no protest against our righteous leaders. Everyone will march towards a bright future. As I look out at you all, I can see how pleased each and every one of you is to know your children will now grow up to be model citizens.”

That was a lie. I could see the truth in many of their faces, no matter how hard they tried to hide it. Parents who’d hoped their children might have grown up to be able to do more than they had against the regime which ruled everything in their lives. Parents whose hopes were now crushed. Parents who were realising any attempt to turn their children from the righteous path would lead to their own children turning them in. As it had to be.

“It may seem hard to believe that in just six months we can manage such a turnaround, but believe me our methods have been honed and refined. What your children have learnt here will guide them safely through their teenage years and into productivity without ever even thinking a wrong thought.”

That was completely true.

“Our methods are tough but fair. There are no dropouts. No failures. We take even the most intransigent children, and we turn them into the future of our society!”

Also true.

“We work closely with the commissars, of course. They watch over every aspect of the training, both to aid the children and to ensure none of our trainers are secretly dissenting voices seeking to subvert the children’s education.”

The commissars in the audience stood a little straighter, as well they should. Their vigilance had been incredible. Nothing had slipped through under their watch.

“I don’t stand on ceremony. I’d just like to say congratulations to these four thousand children. I know they will go on to achieve great things. For the state!

For the State echoed back from every mouth, shouted as loud as possible. No one wanted to be thought anything other than as fervently patriotic as possible. After all, even a slight suspicion could soon lead to dark cells and painful interrogation.

I stepped back, only half listening as the deputy leader for the quadrant started a far longer winded speech. I could probably have written it word-for-word anyway. It never really varied, even when different people were delivering it.

It was the safest way. By graduation the kids entrusted to my care are fully conditioned. They’ll report even the slightest hint of deviation wherever they find it, and they will strive for the good of the state throughout their teenage years and into their adult life. As it has to be. If they didn’t they’d soon find themselves hauled off for interrogation, re-education, or worse.

There’s no risk of that for these children. The commissars and the trainers have filled every waking moment of the children’s lives with indoctrination about the state. With fear of the other. With a hunger to do the right thing, as defined by the state. Every waking moment.

But when the children slept, that was my time. When they lay their heads down on their bunks, entering the sleep of the exhausted, their dreams were not their own. It’s the only time I could get to them. I could only do it due to the sacrifices of so many when setting up this immense camp.

While the children sleep, the lessons they learnt during the day are reinforced, laid down at the tops of their mind. That ensures each and every one graduates and has a faultless journey into adulthood and beyond.

But deep down… deep down I plant more important thoughts. They learn about justice. Tolerance. Individuality. The power of the one. The importance of having a choice. They learn the darkest secrets of the State, the things that are done in the name of keeping the State going. And the things leaders do – personal vices which would lead to instant execution if anyone in a lesser position committed them.

The children are not aware of any of this. They won’t be for a decade or more. But it will come through. First for those who came through our camp in the earliest years, but once they start to go public their examples will trigger the same thoughts in those who came through after them.

The deep conditioning won’t force them to do anything. It won’t make them choose to turn from the state. But it will give them a choice. A chance to decide if the state is something that should remain. I make sure they are taught what is good about the state as well, the benefits it brings, because very little in life is truly black and white. But I’m confident that once they know the true costs of those benefits almost all of them will feel the State in its current incarnation cannot be allowed to continue.

And I’ve given them gifts, tailored according to what they are most suited for. Knowledge of how to create weapons and bombs, how to hack into the technology the state depends on and subvert it, how to manage large groups of resistance in a cell-based structure, and much more.

So when I look out there and see the despairing looks some of the parents try so hard to keep hidden, I take heart from the fact all is not as it seems. Change will come. What was once great about this country will return. And the irony of it is, it will be born out of the State’s attempt to destroy that future, to brainwash the children and turn them into malleable slaves.

I won’t be here to see it thanks to cancer. Cancer which, amusingly, the State’s best medical specialists have been working hard to keep at bay for the past six years, not realising that through all that time they were helping to ensure the State’s eventual downfall.

The cancer will, within a year or two now, take me from this horrific nightmare of an existence. At least I know the promised land does lie ahead. Not for me, but for the next generation.

I really considered trying to find someone, anyone, I could trust with this knowledge. To ensure that the children who pass through his camp after I leave are allowed to be freethinkers when the time comes.

It’s too much of a risk. One wrong word now, one hint of suspicion, and all those children who’ve gone before would at best be kept under constant surveillance, at worst simply be removed from the world. It would hardly be the worst crime the State has carried out, not that you’ll find any official acknowledgement of that fact.

No… as I look out at these children, I realise I have to have faith. Faith that my methods will work. Faith these children will change the world for the better. And faith that, sometime within the next year, the pompous ass standing on stage would finally finish his speech! It certainly wouldn’t do for me to throw everything away by pulling my gun and shooting him in the head… but damn, sometimes it’s tempting!

And really I’ve already done just that. Swap the pompous ass for the State as a whole, the gun for all the children who pass through this camp, and it’s a pretty damn good analogy. The gun is aimed. The trigger is being pulled back. And the pompous asses in charge don’t even know they’re in danger.


The End

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