Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The List...A Short Dystopian Story

I thought, maybe…maybe it would be there. I mean, the law of averages must catch up with me at some point. I know my luck’s lousy, but come on! I entered the bookstore that was once a 7-Eleven at the end of an abandoned strip mall and hoped.

Some, well…most would disagree with me but the smell of an old used bookstore is one of the best smells in the world. Pages upon pages of slowly deteriorating paper colored with script waiting to be either read or left to decay and meet an end that befalls all physical things. I tell you, I can never get enough of that smell.

But was it there? Each day and I searched for it at the various kiosks and shops that still sold physical books. I looked for the book that my father first told me about, the book that—as a teenager—changed my life. My logical mind knew that these antique books were becoming rarer and rarer. For once a book was destroyed or used up or fallen apart so it could no longer be read it was not being replaced. It was illegal, after all.

But only certain books were destroyed. If a book was deemed “indecent,” or “not politically correct,” or in any way offensive it went on The List, and once it went on The List, it signaled a slow death knell of the work, regardless of its current or past importance. I knew I (or anyone else for that matter…) would never see a copy of Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, or Catcher in the Rye, or Lord of the Flies again. They even hated The Count of Monte Cristo for some strange reason. And forget finding a copy of anything written by Ayn Rand. Funny, I keep seeing copies of Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto translated into every language imaginable.

I knew as I walked down the various aisles that I’d probably end up with nothing, again. As I passed book after book of bland, non-offensive titles I smile. Only books not on The List were republished, all in digital form. They knew that, after enough years, all those awful books would disappear and if you were found in possession of “a bady,” they just upped your individual tax rate or threatened to take away your family’s healthcare until you turned it in. It wasn’t illegal to own a book on The List, just expensive. Something I had thought many times before returned to my mind. The Nazi’s burned books…now we just let them disintegrate—same result, just a slower process and without that pesky “book burner” label to deal with.

I pulled out a book that I thought it was it, but nope—disappointed again. Maybe at the next store I'd find it because one of these days, it’s going to be gone forever.

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