The Right ‘Right’

The Right ‘Right’

Leon Obrenov


The bitter cold of the invisible wind, unseeable in the cold night came as a mere draught through
printing room. Dimly lit, and about to be filled with the sound of presses creating tomorrow’s
papers, filled with the striking smell of ink, and with just one man in the whole room, the basement
of the International General was filled with volumes about to be spoken. The question at this point,
in the middle of the night, was which volumes they would be speaking. The one man in the room, he
hoped it would be the truth.

The sliding door opened, metallic and creaky.

“What are you doing here, Tom?” an older man asked. A slight beard and greying hair, this man was
Jimmy, chief editor and manager.

“Changing their truth to the real truth, Jimmy,” Tom said. They both knew who he was talking about.

In the 22nd century, what was written was printed and swallowed as truth. And the writers, they
worked for people higher up with only one point of view: the one that benefitted them.

“Come up to the office, Tom. Let’s talk,” Jimmy said. Tom didn’t move, hand on a button.
This was the modern world. One button decided who saw the ‘truth’ and who saw the truth. People
had become controlled. The philosophers, just before they had been abolished, had said that
the death of truth would mean the destruction of morality. Now, truth was whatever suited the
powerful, whatever suited the so-called ‘stability of society.’

“Let’s talk, Tom,” Jimmy repeated. Tom nodded. Acquiesced.

“About what? Your cowardice?”

A blank stare.

“What’re you printing?” Jimmy asked. Tom nodded. Kept on nodding.

“What people need to see. Children with bullet holes put there under orders,” Tom replied
bluntly. “The truth that everyone needs to see and hear.”

Kept on nodding. It was a self-convincing argument, pitiful righteousness at its heart.

“The funny thing about the truth, Tom, is that people don’t believe it. You can put it in front of them,
evidence… undeniable even,” Jimmy said. Tom kept on nodding, a shrug at Jimmy’s words.

“You think so? Bullshit,” Tom said.

Jimmy blinked. Tom’s hand lingered nervously next to the button that he believed could change the
world.

“That’s the trick though. People don’t believe the truth, they believe what they’re told to believe.

“That’s what we do, isn’t it?” Tom asked.

There was a pause. Nobody spoke. Nobody needed to.

“What’s the hardest thing in this world to kill, Jimmy?” Tom asked. The non sequitur surprised Jimmy.

“I don’t know. A leader?”

Tom laughed. “Leaders are men. Men are easy to kill. An idea, Jimmy. Once it’s in your mind, it sits
and festers and grows until you can’t just keep it in, and like a virus, it spreads faster than wildfire.
The only way to kill thought is to kill people, but the funny thing about ideas, Jimmy, is that they
travel faster than bullets.”

“That’s what you want to do, isn’t it Tom? You want to spread doubt. Change the world. Make this a
better place,” Jimmy prompted. Tom looked at him, dead pan eyes, and laughed.

“You see doubt and chaos, Jimmy. You see revolts and revolutions, and you know what I see?” Tom
asked. Jimmy shrugged. “I see what needs to be done. I see people. I see spirits doing what they
were meant to do.”

Jimmy couldn’t help it. He laughed. At the idea, and Tom. Enraged, Tom moved his hand closer to
that all important button. Jimmy stopped, abruptly.

“You this place as well as I do, Tom. People don’t care about other people, they care about
themselves. When the going gets tough, the most selfish man survives,” Jimmy replied. “Do you
know what’ll happen if you push that button? People will get up off their couches and do something,
yeah. How long do you think the Authority will let them protest before somebody gets tired of
listening?”

Hundreds of people would die. Bullets would rip through crowds, like babies.

“What’s so great about your truth that means that thousands should have to die for it?” Jimmy
asked.

Thousands would. This wouldn’t be a peaceful revolution. The Authority only believed in one-sided
peaceful revolutions, and it was never their side that was peaceful.

“It’s who we are, Jimmy. We want the truth, and we deserve it. You’re just a coward. If I don’t do
this now, then somebody else will, and it’ll happen anyway!” Tom replied. “You’re just a coward who
can’t bear the thought of the world falling apart while you’re still around.”

Jimmy nodded. It was true, after all.

There was a soft thud, and then all the lights came on.

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5 thoughts on “The Right ‘Right’”

  1. Just read the story, and it reads quite well. Short sentences in places gives it more dynamics and accelerates the pace of the story. Good use of descriptive languages and imagery too, as well as the ambiguous ending, which works really well. 😀

    Might want to specify the name of the newspaper in the story (chief editor and manger of what?), though Im guessing there is reason behind its absence.(not only that, who is your target audience, as I got no idea what ‘acquiesced’ means.

    In addition, for ‘what was written was printed and swallowed as truth’, the first bit of ‘what was written was’ has a lot of ‘w’s’, so its a bit of a twister when reading. (may want to rephrase, but still makes cohesive sense)

    Also, with ‘Bullets would rip through crowds, like babies.’, may want to improve the simile rather than using ‘babies’, but then again, I’m assuming you are aiming for a specific kind of effect, but I’m not sure what it is.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts. 🙂

    Like

    1. I did specify the newspaper’s name, early on. The International General. The idea with the babies was due to the original idea I had for the story, where the government covers up the killing of babies.

      Thanks for the criticism, though. I appreciate it a lot.

      Like

  2. Hey Leon, this is a fairly good piece. I liked it, but I just didn’t seem to, if i may use some odd terminology here, ‘melt into the piece’ like I’d have liked to. However, you had some really great themes going on, and some fairly influential sentences that I really liked, like “One button decided who saw the ‘truth’ and who saw the truth.” Which really hit me, and other very crucial sentences. I really liked it. But, and this is the thing that I’m most scared of when I’m writing in parallel to, or in a similar style to another writer, I think that it might have been a little too much like “V for Vendetta”, which was an excellent movie may I say.

    If you were going for a V for Vendetta theme, that was an excellent short story. But, what I’d really like to do myself, and what I’d like to see another MHS writer do (Although, I have my doubts, ’cause it’s a pretty difficult thing to achieve), is what Alan Moore, the creator of V for Vendetta, did in the graphic novel, which was to show how mad the leader of the whole oppressive government was, just to add another nuance of meaning to the whole thing, to make it a little more overarching, and whole.

    Overall thought, a great story. But maybe a couple grammatical mistakes like derpburger77 mentioned above. One that I picked up, it was that there was a lot of use of the word “man” in the first paragraph, and I think (maybe it’s just me) that you should describe the two more. As it is now, the ideas are great, but the people seem to me no more than smoke; you know, puppets that parrot out lines. I know that making a convincing character in a short story is hard, but I think that it is still possible, and that with a little work, you could surely do that.

    Cheers,

    drcrowthorne 😀

    Like

      1. Cheers for the criticism, glad to see some people are getting on board. If you could take a look at White, my other story (currently with 2 chapters), I’d really love it.

        The characters are kind of vacuous, you’re right. But the characters are really just a literary tool to explore the views that I wanted to explore. To me, this story isn’t about going into depth with character development, like I am doing in White and like I normally love to do, this story was about taking the idea that the government controls information and playing with it.

        I agree that there was a little too much repetition of the word ‘man’ in the first block, and I am working on that in the revised version already.

        Those one-liners that hit you are kind a favourite trick of mine, and your not the first to tell me about the fact I use them. I do that on purpose, but I’m glad you liked it.

        I didn’t set out with the idea of exploring the hierarchy of the ‘Authority’, as I called them, however I agree this would be a good story to see. I could have tried to slide that into this story with a line like: “You know how crazy Schiller is. He’ll kill the whole country before he gives up any power willingly,” where Schiller is the head of the oppressive regime, but I don’t think a line like that would’ve explored the idea as much as you would’ve wanted, and I didn’t gear this story, in terms of setting and characterization, to go into the hierarchy with any depth. This story was more about how a shock can be powerful enough to accomplish many things, and how, by bottle-necking all their control into information, the government runs the risk of becoming victims to the power of an idea that festers in the mind of one man.

        Thanks for the critique.

        Like

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