It was another ‘Downtime’ – they were once called ‘weekends: Saturdays and Sundays’ but that was a naming that had long since ceased. When the Provost and his Cabinet felt that the country had done enough, then a Downtime was declared.
Of course, what the Proles didn’t know was that the Downtime wasn’t part of the higher Cabinet’s agenda – no sir, they had vacations and holidays, when and where they wished – much of the south coast was their property and was restricted for their use only.
The Proles could only take a holiday when it was assigned to them and then only to a designated area. But it was all for their own good and most people knew that. It’s like what that banned author had written in that banned book – ‘Freedom is slavery’: not that people bothered to read any more. Reading and writing had been abused by the Proles and for their own good, those arts were no longer taught in schools.
But one of the highlights of the Downtime was the Ex Factor – which was shown on screens all over the country. It was the only available entertainment, but then few knew what the word ‘choice’ meant anymore; it had been dropped from normal speech.
About half way through the show, when the audience were reaching their well-guided peak of excitement, the presenter of Ex Factor would introduce the Barabbas Segment.
This was where the four judges were presented with a dozen ‘crims’ – these were Proles, and sometimes Cabinet members, who stood on camera to admit to their heinous crimes of pedophilia, terrorism, conspiracy and anything else that could be attributed to them. Of course, in most cases they were nothing of the kind, they just happened to be in the wrong place or annoy the wrong Deacon (the Provost’s henchmen). But it was entertainment for the masses and the masses lapped it up.
When they had forced the twelve to tell their ‘scripted’ stories, these people were then made to act as foreigners displaying all the nasty attributes you would find in such a person – the ones who acted the best were saved for the singing round. In this round they would have to sing a song which told of their own wrong-doings.
At the end of the trials, four were left, the other eight were electrocuted in front of the audience.
It was then up to the judges to save one of the four – if they failed to reach an agreement (which normally happened) the vote was put to the television audience. The one with the highest votes was saved – the other three were thrown to the wolves in a pit below.
The one who survived was told of gifts and houses that they would be given at the end of the show – the truth was they were taken away and killed too.
Not that the Proles cared.
bobby stevenson 2017