“The time is 800 hours, return to your designated stations,” the voice projected over the loud speaker. I began to walk to my station. For the next nine hours, I will work to construct the lamp heads that top the streetlights of OGS, Our Great Society. Without my work, the city would fail to remain lit at night when my day truly begins.

My mind drifts as I screw the light bulb into its base, wondering how Americans had lived this way in the past for their entire lives. Before the establishment of OGS in 2101, Americans subjected themselves to mundane lives filled with boredom. They died without living a fruitful life. They died as they were born: creatures incapable of acts outside of eating, sleeping, and excretion. Their lives lacked ambition, intelligence, and true understanding of the value of life. This is what the Sanitation intended in their labor requirement for our citizens.

Each day from 800-1800 hours we are to engage in dull activity through our work. While this work is necessary for our society to sustain its economy, it also serves as a reminder of the days before the Sanitation revolutionized our society. I continue to screw bulb after bulb, thinking about how I will compensate for this excruciatingly boring activity following my shift. I continue to screw.

Hours pass and finally I am relieved from my station. I rush home to change out of my work clothes; I don’t have much time. I run into my small, barren apartment. Inside there is a small kitchen with the most basic appliances, a bathroom, living room, and bedroom. The walls are white and there are no adornments or decorations. As I change out of my factory uniform I glance at the alarm clock atop my steel bedside table. “18:17,” it reads. I’m making good time.

By 18:30 I am out the door and in the town square of District Adrenaline. I spy a tall woman with long brown hair dressed in all black across the pavilion. “Joan!” I call out as I wave. Her sharp, gleaming white teeth peeked from behind her lips as they spread into a wide smile. I watch as she slithers through the crowd, her hips swaying as she walks. “Well hello there, Eddie, ready to blow off some steam?” she asks. I chuckle “born ready,” I reply.

We begin to walk down the street, the height of the D-Tower looming in the distance. My heart quickens at the sight of the 600 foot tower. 600 feet of pure adrenaline as you drop down at a 90 degree angle. Joan turns to me with a glimmer of excitement in her eyes and grabs my hand, pulling me to the base of the tower. We strap ourselves into the seats tightly and we begin to ascend. Beads of perspiration appear on my forehead while my palms become damp with sweat. My heart beats faster and faster as we near the top. By the time we’ve reached the tip of the tower, I can hardly hear over the sound of the thumping. Joan looks at me and smiles one last time and grabs my hand. Suddenly we’re dropping at a speed of 200 miles per hour. I close my eyes and attempt to shelter my face from the intense wind. I cannot contain my screams as we plummet to the bottom. We finally land after what feels like hours, though it couldn’t have lasted more than a few seconds.

We climb out of our seats and proceed to check our adrenaline meters located on our left forearms. Nearly full. We look to each other and I can tell we both are wondering the same thing: is this enough? Living to the extreme in OGS is what we do; it’s how we live. I look down at my watch, “21:30,” still seven and one half hours left until we need to enter our revitalizing chambers. I lift my head to see Joan staring at the sky, a look of awe on her face. I follow her line of vision and tilt my head toward the top of the D-Tower. At the top of the tower the seat is suspended, a figure seems to be falling from the chair. Not even a second passes before the body begins to fly down, the seat following him. We hear the sharp sound of bones cracking against the pavement, the seat of the D-Tower stopping just above the body. Two Professors of the Sanitation come from behind us in a truck and scoop up the body. “Oh well, we won’t use that one again for a while” Joan says with a shrug of her shoulders and we begin to walk back toward our apartments. Joan’s reaction is typical of those in OGS. We live based on a code of extremity; accidents are bound to happen. I try not to think about the distorted figure splayed on the concrete as we walk home.

I begin screwing. My day at work begins and I am back to the ordinary task of assembling streetlights. Normally during work I would revel in the daredevil act of the night before. Think about my heart beating fast, my adrenaline pumping to drown out the monotony of my task. Today is different, however. For some reason, I cannot get the image of the mangled body out of my head. The body could have been mine. I could have fallen out of that seat, Joan could have, and no one would have cared. Maybe not even Joan. I continue to screw.

When I head home today I do not rush as I usually do. I take my time walking from the factory to my apartment. I get home and change as I usually do. As I fold my work uniform, a piece of paper on my desk catches my eye. I walk to my desk and realize that it is a letter. Confused as to how it ended up on my desk, I decide it best to open it and read it carefully.

Dear Edward,

I hope you are not angry or fearful that I was in your home during working hours. Please do not feel this way, if you do, for I am assure you I mean you no harm. I too, was in the crowd yesterday when that poor soul fell from the D-Tower. Unlike the rest of the crowd, I could see that you too were disturbed by the traumatic event and the lack of empathy by the rest of the witnesses. If I am correct about this, please meet me behind your apartment complex one hour before revitalization period.

I hope to see you soon.

The fact that a stranger was in my apartment should have frightened me, but it didn’t. I could not detract myself from trying to recreate the image from the night before and envision the faces around me. All are a blur aside from the corpse in front of me. I look at the clock, “18:56” I need to hurry to meet Joan.

I meet Joan in the square once again and we both agree to walk to the knife-throwing tent this evening. When we arrive at the tent we are each given a bow with arrows, a bodysuit and an apple. Joan stands against the wall and places the apple on top of her head, while I walk to the line drawn 15 feet away. I lift my bow and aim toward her head. Joan has excitement pouring from her face, not an ounce of fear. My fingers tremble as I pull back the bow carefully. I release the arrow, piercing the apple directly against the wall. Joan claps excitedly, “nice shot!” she exclaims. I give a smile, bow and proceed to take my spot against the wall and place the apple on top of my head. Heat rises from my feet as I watch Joan lift her bow. I try to close my eyes, but my fear has he frozen. I watch as the arrow sails toward me. I hear a sharp thud. Joan again is clapping excitedly. I turn and see the apple pierced against the wall much the same.

We exit the tent and check our adrenaline meters. Mine is nearly full, from the fear that Joan would mistakenly send an arrow between my eyes. I look down at Joan’s; not even half. “Oh wow, you must trust me quite a bit,” I say to her. “And you clearly don’t trust me at all,” Joan says with a chuckle. I smile and tell her I think I’ve had enough for the evening, “I don’t want to send myself into cardiac arrest just yet,” I say as I kiss her on the cheek. She chuckles once more, “but that’s all the fun! See you tomorrow, Eddie.”

I begin walking back to my apartment. I check my watch, “24:04,” four more hours to decide if I want to meet this mysterious person. As I walk I think of the excitement Joan showed during the knife-throwing; not a glimmer of fear. While we are both adequate shots, neither of us professionals and yet there we stood unprotected with bows pointed at our heads. The thought of one of us dying didn’t even faze her.

As I approach my block I feel the presence of someone behind me. I look at the trashcan and see a Professor in the reflection. My heartbeat quickens again. I walk faster and turn the corner. The Professor turns the corner as well. I begin to panic. What if someone else noticed my reaction yesterday and reported me for not being extreme enough. What if the Sanitation discovered the letter in my apartment. I walk faster and turn the next corner for my apartment. The Professor continues to walk straight. I open my door and when safely inside breathe a sigh of relief. I look down at my adrenaline meter. Full.

It’s nearing 300 hours and I finally decide to meet the mystery writer. I quietly sneak out of my apartment and go behind my complex, careful to stay out of the streetlights. If I am meeting someone secretly, I certainly do not want to be seen. When I get to the back, a man comes from beneath the shadows. “I thought you would come,” he says.

“You’ve captured my curiosity. Who are you?” I ask.

“My name is Sam. I hope my letter did not frighten you and I am sure you have many questions, but first allow me to explain myself. I have spent the last year hiding from the Sanitation and going between the districts. Yes, I am aware that fraternizing with the other districts is illegal, but this society has gone too far. I lead a fraternity of moderates. We believe that the value of life is in the balance of everything. Balance in pleasure, knowledge, pain, and work. The extreme nature of OGS has left us suspicious of and apathetic toward our neighbor. We do not care who lives and who dies, just of getting our fix, however that may be. We have become a society of drug addicts, suppressed by the Sanitation through their provision of the drug. I could see yesterday that you don’t view humanity the same as everyone else. You care about that girlfriend of yours and of the strangers around you. That’s why you leave each activity when you’ve reached the adrenaline minimum. You don’t want to live to the extreme. It’s not the only thing you value.”

“You’re saying there are others like this?”
“Yes! Hundreds more! And tomorrow we are scheduling a protest. Tonight we are collecting beneath the ground, in the abandoned subway system from before OGS. We are going to march to District Authority and we are going to speak our minds. We will not live this way any longer. I invite you to join us.”


“No need to make up your mind now. We meet at 700 hours. Return to this spot if you want to live again,” Sam said and he disappeared into the shadows once more.

I walked into my apartment and look at the clock, “3:39.” Twenty-one minutes until I have to enter the revitalization chamber. Twenty-one minutes to decide if I’m going to end this downward spiral to sudden death. Taking this risk means potentially losing Joan, but I am likely to lose her to death shortly anyway. Taking this risk also means potentially having a real life with her, and for myself.

At 6:45 I am waiting in the same spot for Sam. Having left my revitalization chamber early, I am a little fatigued and the time seems to drag. After a few minutes Sam arrives and beckons me behind a tree. Beside the tree is a grate. Sam lifts the grate and tells me to follow him. We climb down the ladder affixed beneath the grate. The tunnel is dark, damp, and smells like mold. Sam hands me a flashlight and tells me to continue to follow him.

After maybe twenty minutes of walking we reach another ladder. We begin to climb. When we reach the top, Sam tells me to go ahead and he will follow. I climb out of the tunnel and find myself in a white room with a surgeon’s table in the center; the grate shuts below me. I turn to speak to Sam and ask him where we are, but he’s nowhere to be found. I look down at my forearm, my adrenaline meter is full again.

A door opens and a medical team rushes in. A few men in white scrubs grab me and place me on the table. “STOP. WHAT’S GOING ON?” I scream, but receive no answers. I kick and scream some more. Nothing. The guards overpower me and strap me down onto the table. I feel a sharp prick in my arm. The lights above me begin to fade, and I fall asleep.

I begin to screw. My job is to attach light bulbs to their bases in order to create streetlights that power Our Great Society, OGS. As I screw I start to think of how boring life must have been for Americans before the great revolution by the Sanitation. How much life has improved since then; now it is worth living! I wonder what Joan and I shall do this evening during adrenaline hours.

I continue to screw.

3 thoughts on “OGS

  1. Wow, this reminds me of We especially the way it ends with the main character’s doubts being surgically removed so that he becomes a model citizen. I definitely wouldn’t want to live in OGS. I’m not an adrenaline junkie and while I do chafe at restrictions I’d never do something as extreme as the districts in OGS get. I’d much rather live in a calm and placid society such as the one in Lost Horizon.

    I also wanted to add that the line “I continue to screw” made me laugh because of the double entendre. I have a sophomoric sense of humor.

  2. Ah yes, the Moderates! I was thinking of a way to get them to make an appearance in my story, but it didn’t really fit with the whole ambassador narrative. So here, it looks like you have the Sanitation using the idea of the Moderates as a sort of tool to root out the people in society who are starting to question their lives in their districts. That’s pretty interesting, because in both of our stories the Sanitation is just this evil powerful body that will use anything at its disposal to maintain their society’s efficiencies. I guess when you create a dystopia like this one that we did for OGS, it’s pretty difficult to actually justify the actions of all the leaders of society. It only makes sense to have them to falsely believe that they are bringing benefit to greater society, but “to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs.” I also like how you wrote a little bit about what life may be like for an average citizen of OGS who may be just one out of millions just like him or her, what work is like, what they think about their jobs, how their apartments look, some of their extreme activities… what a crazy society we have created!

  3. “I lead a fraternity of moderates. We believe that the value of life is in the balance of everything. Balance in pleasure, knowledge, pain, and work. The extreme nature of OGS has left us suspicious of and apathetic toward our neighbor. We do not care who lives and who dies, just of getting our fix, however that may be.”

    This was definitely the turning point for me. I think it is so interesting how you were able to transform moderation into something that is evil. As I was reading, I really thought this was it.. they were going to escape and start a revolution of some sort.

    The way you ended the story was a complete shocker and left me wanting more to the story (in a good way)! If you were planning on writing more for the story – you could definitely expand the relationship with Joan AND the moderates … even though they didn’t really exist since it was just a group trying to reign Eddie back in.

    Super cool!

Comments are closed.