The Last Book Store

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
In a not so far in the future society freedom of speech still exists but freedom to hear does not!

Submitted: August 19, 2017

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Submitted: August 19, 2017

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The Last Book Store.

When the present government stormed in and seized power they wanted a way to keep control. Freedom of Speech – that has been a part of our society for so long and they dared not attack it. They would have sparked a revolt the like of which they could never have survived. So they thought of an alternative.

Let people say what they like but there would be no ‘Right to Hear’. Opinions could be aired as much as people liked but what people could see, read, hear, that would be strictly controlled.

Thousands and thousands of people were employed by governments around the world, policing the Internet. Videos were watched the instant they were posted – the slightest controversy and they would be ordered to be removed instantly. The same thing happened with audio files, with songs, with commentary. And the same thing happened with Ebooks. Let people write whatever they feel like but that does not mean that anyone has the right to read them.

Physical copies of things were seized. Videos were burned, cd’s were melted, and book after book was reduced to mere ash. Stores were forced in to instant closure; searches were made in home after home. Libraries closed; what need was there for them when everyone had access to the media they would be allowed to hear,to watch, to read.

But they had not got rid of everything. These tactics of censorship always caused a rebellion and that was what I was a part of – a band of media rebels. Who were they to say what I could learn? Who had something worth saying? Books were hidden, books went underground. Their value rose a thousand-fold.

But books wear, tear, become destroyed by bad conditions. How many reads can an average book take, even when they are handled with extreme care. There was a rumour though, a whisper that spread throughout us rebels. Somewhere, one single solitary book store had survived.

A group of us decided that we would leave our lives, walk away from our positions and go in search of this legendary place. Four of us. My name is Marcella and I am to be accompanied by Evan, Cassie and Floyd. We could all drive; we’d take it in turns, so long as our money held out.

Cassie took the first shift, driving smoothly, sticking to the rules, getting us well away from town. And then we hit the highways. Around the towns there was still plenty of traffic, less so around cities, where personal vehicles have been banned. But the miles and miles of highway that stretch out from one re mostly deserted.

Where to go though? Logic would suggest East. After all, isn’t that where the largest proportion of the population live. The biggest of cities are there, the biggest companies, but then so is the Government. We hit the highways heading west.

West is where the more radical thinkers would have been found. West is where most opposition was found to the government’s manipulative policies. The government had come down heavy there, sending in troops, armed police, introducing compulsory rehabilitation programmes for the less compliant members of society.

We take turns in taking the wheel. It is monotonous driving with so few distractions and it’s all too easy to lose concentration. And doing that at the wrong moment could prove fatal for all of us. We have to make frequent stops to fill up with gas but we stick to the outskirts of the towns, the cities, go around rather than through for the most part.

The surroundings are getting more interesting now. Instead of flat ground we are entering more rugged terrain. There are more trees, more forests, less grassy expanses of nothingness. There are mountains and as we go further and further westward we are greeted by the smell of the sea.

We are west, as far as we can go. But which way now? Do we go up or down, or stick to the middle. With only one car between the four of us we have to make a mutual decision. Three to one say south, so south we go.

As somewhere that should not exist, the Last Book Store is not going to be sitting there in the middle of a metropolis. No, it’s the outskirts, the villages that we must search, and there are so many of them. Miles and miles of driving in circles, days of looking down one small street then another until we arrive right back to where we started.

Carefully we start to circle again, over and over, round and round. We cannot ask. It is impossible to tell by looking who is a government supporter and who is not. No directions to follow at all, just our instincts. And I for one am beginning to believe that they were fundamentally flawed. Maybe, if the place exists at all, it is to be found to the east.

Almost out of optimism, belief and money, we talk of heading home. Cassie and Floyd want us to return, they’ve had enough, miss their friends, their families.

Evan says two more days and I back him. We’ve crossed so great a distance, scoured so many miles. We’re getting further north now where somehow the people seem more real. Should I chance it, ask someone? Surely that guy over there would not turn me in! But sense prevails and I hold my tongue.

It is getting dark, we’ve one day left. We are just looking for a place to stop out in the middle of nowhere. “Look,” says Cassie, and we can make out some kind of lit up sign. Not bright and garish. It would not attract notice from a long distance and we are, after all, right out in the middle of nowhere.

We carry on that bit further and the sign gets that bit clearer. ‘The Last Book Store’! We’ve found it, finally, after weeks and weeks of searching. We can read what others think, hear what others have to say. And we can thumb our noses to the government who dared to try and stop us.

What now? The others no doubt will return eastwards, having made their precious selections. They have people waiting for them but me, I have no one special. If there is any way of doing so, I resolve to stay.

 


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