The Right ‘Right’
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
“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
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
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.