As Rip stared at the machine, trying to divine its inner workings, the man to his right leaned over and whispered, “Need some help?”
“If you would be so kind,” Rip responded, bashfully.
The man extended a hand. “RedStater. RedStater Knickerbocker. But you can call me Red.”
Rip looked fearfully at the proctor, then, not wanting to be rude, shook the man’s hand. “Rip Van Whitey,” he said.
“Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Rip,” RedStater replied. Red then proceeded to assist Rip with getting his pieces of cloth in order and demonstrated the use of the sewing machine.
“You’re not from around here, are you, Rip?” Red finally asked.
“Uh, no…no I’m not.” He looked at the proctors again, then enquired secretively: “What is going on here, anyway?”
“It’s a long story, Rip…but we’ve got nothing but time, now, do we?” And with that, Red launched into a detailed history of his experiences in this strange land—how he was a precocious child and the darling of the Indoctrinators until he began to question their preachings; how this consigned him to a life of labor in The Factory; how he believes most others feel as he does, but are too fearful to protest in front of the proctors; how he seethes at the opulence and decadence of Glitterati Hills, which he sees every so often when he is tasked to deliver goods there—
“Wait—’Glitterati Hills’ you say?” interrupted Rip. “I’ve heard of that. I thought it was a dream, but now I’m not so sure that those men weren’t real, and their words weren’t the truth…”
And with that, it was Rip’s turn to chew his neighbor’s ear off, and he launched into recounting his tale of his hike into the Catskills, the young dandy with the keg, the flagons of gin, the game of stickball, and the distinguished old man’s now-not-so-inscrutable monologue.
“So, wait…there were all-white nations, and they were civilized?” marveled an incredulous Red.
“Not only civilized, but wildly successful. For example, have you heard of television?”
Red shook his head.
“Telephones? Microwave ovens? Automobiles? Airplanes? The internet? Nuclear energy? Genetic engineering? Engineering? Calculus? Theoretical physics? Zoology? Newton? Einstein? Tesla? Da Vinci? Aristotle? Michelangelo?”
On and on Rip went, and with each noun, Red would shake his head, signaling his ignorance.
“The moon, Red—do you know of the moon?”
“Why yes—that I know of!” exclaimed Red, happy to finally hear a word uttered by this strange old man with which he was familiar.
“Do you know that we walked on its face? We—we whites—we used slide rules and mechanical pencils and hammers and wrenches and we built a rocket ship and a lunar module and a rover and we walked upon the face of the moon…and then brought those men back safely to earth!”
“Now you’re just messing with me,” said Red slyly.
“No, it’s true; I swear upon all things holy it’s true. And not only there, but beyond—to other planets, beyond our solar system even!”
“But how were such amazing things possible without diversity?”
“I’m beginning to suspect,” whispered Rip, as quietly as possible, “That it was not in spite of a lack of ‘diversity’, but because of it, that we were so successful.”
Red’s eyes widened as saucers as a mischievous grin spread across his face. “Heresy…”
They were interrupted by a scream from behind them. Craning their necks, they saw a pretty blond proctor being dragged by the hair into a corner by one of the “guards”.
“My dear, what’s happening?” Rip asked, alarmed.
They watched as the guard threw the proctor to the ground, tore her dress from her legs, and began to fish his penis out of his sagging pants.
“Looks like one of the guards is horny,” Red sighed nonchalantly.
“Well, shouldn’t we do something? I mean, he’s going to rape her, isn’t he?”
“Eh, what can you do…”
Rip was flabbergasted at Red’s insouciance, and disheartened to see it was shared by everyone else in the room. The other “guards” barely even stirred from their slumber, and the proctors did nothing but continue to heckle the workers, acting as if nothing was going on behind them; that the screams from the poor woman were mere background noise.
“Well, this simply will not do,” Rip declared, arising from his seat and marching to the corner where the rape was unfolding.
Red tried to stop him, but to no avail. He remained seated, but watched the proceedings intently.
Once at the scene of the crime in progress, Rip wondered what on earth he would do next. The beast who was raping the woman was a hulking mass of muscular black flesh, undulating upon the petite blond with testosterone-fueled fury. Surely a physical confrontation was out of the question; and Rip had, at long last, realized reason was beyond the reach of such an individual.
It was then that he saw, tucked into the perp’s white underdrawers, the most dangerous and detestable of all machines ever invented by the mind of man: a gun. In saner times he would have run to the police and reported the discovery, but clearly there were no police to be found in this new and awful place. And perhaps he would have been plagued with doubt and misgivings by so much as considering utilizing that machine, were he even considering it. But he was not considering it; time was too short, and poor old Rip too emotionally discharged, to allow for anything resembling critical reflection upon what the situation demanded. Instead, he did something he never did before in the entirety of his long, pathetic life: He embraced his newly found righteous rage, and his burning thirst for justice, and grabbed the gun.
To be continued…