Cat's Perfect Illusion

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Cat is a soldier.
But he's not like most soldiers. You see, he likes games-the Cat's Cradle, specifically. In a dystopian city, where games and entertainment are forbidden, Cat himself becomes a danger to the system.
Then again, if the life you're living right now seems too real, could it just be an illusion?

Submitted: May 12, 2013

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Submitted: May 12, 2013

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Cat’s Perfect Illusion

There was one rule in the city he served in:

No pleasure.

If broken, it was instant death.

As he stood in line among the other young and potential soldiers, he put his hand down his right pocket, feeling the entangled piece of string in there. Maybe if I get in a good angle, I can secretly play with it, he thought. The Commander in Chief called out soldiers (“S-00145!”) one at a time to the Examination Room. He shivered, partly because he felt cold in the darkly-lit and damp room he was in and partly because he felt scared and nervous. Calm down, Mother and Father are so proud of you; serving the only city in existence, he thought, after the Global Warming Wars. He shuffled forward and accidentally bumped into the recruit in front of him, causing him to fall down. The soldier got up and kept on moving, anyway. Weird, he thought, I would’ve said something…

The CC glanced at both of them and continued yelling, “S-01367!”

That was him.

He stepped forward cautiously and observed the soldiers coming out of the Examination Room. They looked…different, somehow. Their stature was stick-straight and their eyes…were white, as if they had no irises to begin with. Am I the only one seeing this? He thought. “Ahem, is there a problem?” The CC looked down at him from his table, which was taller than any soldier in this room. The CC doesn’t even know my name, he thought, what IS my name? Who am I and what am I doing here? “Uh…” he responded while peering into the mysterious room they would take him to. He only caught a glimpse of a man in a lab coat maneuvering a machine around a seated recruit. The mechanism sparked and sent out dark waves of light around the room. The recruit suddenly stood up straight and turned his face towards the doorway. His pupils were white.

“Please enter the Room after the recruit leaves, in order to start your procedure….S-01367.” The CC looked at him sternly. That’s not my name, he thought and instinctively reached down to feel the tangle of string in his pocket. He remembered the steps to his favourite game with this string: One step, slip over hand, Two step, wind it around excluding thumb, Three step, loop it around wrist once…

His grandmother taught it him in his childhood, swearing him in secrecy to never mention it to anyone. The name of this game was called…ah, the Cat’s Cradle, he recalled, caught in the nostalgia. “Your turn is up, enter the room now.” The CC kept watching him, until he was in the doorway. On the way, he bumped into the statue-like recruit, who kept walking, never once blinking his snowy eyes.

All these recruits, he realized with a pang, were going to be like that-lifeless.

Including me.

The nurse sat him down and asked him generic questions (“How’s your NaCl dosage?” and “Are you taking all your vitamins to ward off UV rays?”) before bringing in the enigmatic man in a lab coat. He squirmed slightly in his soft cushion and noticed that this room was more brightly lit and warm than the Waiting Room. Only one plaque hung on the wall, stating: “No pleasure and we survive.”

The Lab-Coat Man arrived with his machine and questioned his glance at the wall. “Explain that rule to me,” He simply replied. The Lab-Coat Man looked back at it, “Well, without the distractions of pleasure or entertainment, we accomplish more and stay on task. We need to do this in order to survive the world after the Global Warming Wars.” He started to tinker around with his mechanism. I don’t like that ‘we’, I’m not part of that ‘we’, he took out his snarled string from his pocket and repeated the steps to the Cat’s Cradle out loud. “: One step, slip over hand, Two step, wind it around excluding thumb, Three step, loop it around wrist once…” he hummed a little tune until the Lab-Coat Man noticed and turned around, “what are you doing, Soldier?”

I’m not going to be lifeless like the others, he contemplated, I want to LIVE and find out who I am, although I’m not sure what life means, but I’m not going to find anything in this enslaving city.

The Lab-Coat Man approached him with the apparatus, “Soldier, stop this yarn nonsense and get into a stationary position, I’m starting the procedure.” But he continued to hum the steps until he finished the Cat’s Cradle. Something dawned on him, like the sunrise. “That’s not my name.”

“What is it then?” The Lab-Coat Man asked, clearly amused for the wrong reason. “My name’s…Cat, as in the Cat’s Cradle, which I find pleasure in,” Cat stopped to observe the Lab-Coat Man’s now-red face, “what’s your name?” Cat disregarded his glares and asked him again, “What’s your name?”

The Lab-Coat Man ignored him, composed himself and aimed his machine at Cat, “No pleasure and we survive, S-01367.” Cat looked at his yarn play and realized his city was like it. The Cat’s Cradle showed no cat or cradle. What a lie for all the tedious tries the yarn play produced. His city was a lie, too, with their ignorant motto and enslavement of its citizens. The Cat’s Cradle and his city were both illusions.

The perfect illusions.

Cat knew what he had to do.

He kicked the machine away from him, slamming it into the Lab-Coat Man and ran out the door. But before he could make it outside, he was pushed down to the ground and the next thing he could see was a colourless void.

 

He woke up in his office, surrounded by telephone rings and fluttering papers. Ah, it was just a dream, he thought. Suddenly, a woman next to him swiveled around and showed an entanglement of string in her hands, “Can you see the Cat in its Cradle?”


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