It was approximately 12:00 SST (Soviet Standard Time) and Comrade Lindsey was in the cafeteria of the Comrade Condom factory, eating her lunch of delicious shrimp flavor ramen noodle soup. Comrade Lindsey loved these lunches, despite some of her comrades' complaints. They obviously couldn't appreciate the joys of shrimp-flavored ramen noodle soup.
There were two basic choices for meals. Lindsey and her comrades could either eat Comrade Macaroni and Cheese or Comrade Ramen Noodle Soup in either chicken, beef, or shrimp flavors. Occasionally they got a treat of canned peaches for dessert. Whenever possible they were given some real meat or vegetables or something that didn't come from a box, can, or other package. This wasn't very often, though. The farming and ranching sections of the State were experiencing a drought, though Township Condom was receiving plenty of rain. But even if everything was perfect, they still wouldn't be able to provide enough food to satisfy the entire population at every meal every day. But Comrade Kristin said life was great and getting better. Comrade Lindsey believed Comrade Kristin. Why wouldn't she tell the truth?
As Comrade Lindsey was eating, she looked out the window at Township Condom. She could see about a quarter of it, since the factory was in its center, approximately .38 kilometers from her apartment. The apartments formed a ring around the outside edge of the commune, each an equal distance from the factory. In front of the apartments was a dirt path, hard-packed from Comrade Lindsey, her comrades, and their ancestors' feet treading on it over the years. It circled the entire commune, with four paths branching from it and heading for the factory, like the spokes of a wheel. The path was lined with lush, green trees. Comrade Lindsey loved to walk along it. If she looked toward the trees it just seemed so peaceful, and she truly loved her commune for it.
There was a small clearing around the commune and the two roads leading out of it, and the rest of the land was covered with a dense forest, eventually giving way to mountains in the distance. When she once again found herself looking off into the distance, even though nothing outside Township Condom was of any concern to her, she felt ashamed. She quickly glanced back down to the commune.
Directly beneath the window through which Comrade Lindsey was looking was a courtyard, where monthly public meetings were held. In the courtyard was a sundial, a marvelous invention by which anyone looking at it could tell the time, if they were too lazy to look at the clock tower standing directly behind it. Most people weren't. Laziness was a horrid fault of filthy egotistic bourgeois capitalist swine.
The only member of the commune either permitted or inclined to spend much time looking at the sundial was Comrade Martine. Her job was merely to mix new colors for the condoms that would be manufactured by her comrades. This task seemed unfairly easy. But Comrade Lindsey knew it must be just as difficult as hers, because everyone and everything in the commune was equal.
So, as Comrade Lindsey was inside eating lunch with all her other comrades, Comrade Martine was sitting in the courtyard with a notebook and staring at the sundial, either drawing it or writing about it. Comrade Martine was antisocial, eccentric, and borderline insane. She'd often run around with condoms on her head or do other ridiculous things that just wasted time and served no purpose whatsoeve. Talking to her was discouraged, though Comrade Lindsey never would have anyway. Comrade Martine was dangerous; one never knew what kind of evil things she was capable of doing or making you do.
Comrade Lindsey looked up from the sundial to the clock. She only had a few minutes left to finish her lunch. "Wasting food is a sin," she thought, and she resumed eating.
The whistle blew, indicating it was time for Lindsey and her comrades to return to work. As usual, Comrade Martine ignored the whistle. Comrade Lindsey noticed that Comrade Emily was once again the last to return to work; she always hung back and stared out the window as though she wanted to be outside with Comrade Martine. Comrade Emily was a fool.
That night, at precisely 19:00, was Township Condom's monthly meeting. At these meetings, Lindsey and her comrades would be addressed by Comrades Kristin and Megan, who would inform them of ways their standard of living had been raised and ways their production rates could be.
Occasionally, Comrade Kristin would announce that the State had provided them with a special treat, usually in the form of a video on the evils of capitalism and the greatness of communism and their glorious leader, "Big" Brother Jokela.
This was one such night. After Comrades Kristin and Megan gave their customary speeches, which Comrade Martine always rolled her eyes at, though Comrade Lindsey couldn't understand why, since things were always improving, Comrade Kristin announced that they had received a very important film about the evil capitalist lurking inside every one of them.
Comrade Lindsey was horrified to think that such a thing could dwell in her. She tried so hard to be the perfect communist and please all of her comrades and Big Brother Jokela. She swore to pay attention to the entire film and learn how she could remedy these horrible flaws.
It began by chastising them for all their selfish ways. Comrade Lindsey suddenly felt terribly guilty. She wondered if Big Brother Jokela knew about the time she had complained about Comrade Megan making them begin work 15 minutes earlier after Comrade Matt almost killed Comrade Garrett and had been taken away for reeducation.
The film continued revealing more of Comrade Lindsey's evil ways, with each minute making her feel more and more like one of the people she had spent her entire life hating and being told to hate. Capitalism represented all that was evil in the world. The thought of Comrade Lindsey having so much evil inside her was horrifying.
Finally, the movie reached its last segment, unveiling possibly the worst and most common evil of all. The word "I." What other word could so promote individuality and the ego and tear apart all teamwork and cooperation? Comrade Lindsey was appalled that this demonic pronoun had been allowed in her vocabulary.
As she was having this revelation, Comrade Lindsey heard a member of the audience suddenly burst out into horrible, insane laughter. Judging by the volume, it could only be Comrade Emily, the loudest and most obnoxious member of the commune. Minus Comrade Martine, she was the least enlightened. She was uncooperative, antisocial, and distrustful of the State and Big Brother Jokela, besides just being damned annoying. She'd often hold secret meetings that few, if any, of her comrades would attend. Comrade Lindsey wondered why she had them and what they could possibly be about. She couldn't imagine anyone being opposed to anything in their wonderful commune.
What baffled Comrade Lindsey more was that there had actually been a huge scandal about Comrade Kristin attending these meetings. This was later believed to be nothing more than a hideous lie after Comrade Emily loudly and frequently professed to dislike Comrade Kristin and claimed the meetings were all a rumor spread by agents of the government to try to make her look bad.
Publicly, Comrade Kristin merely stated that she loved all her comrades equally and would never do anything they and Big Brother Jokela didn't approve of. Privately, she told everyone she couldn't stand Comrade Emily and thought she was a nutcase in desperate need of reeducation or an encounter with the violent Comrade Matt, who she also disliked ever since he dumped her.
Comrade Lindsey was surprised that Comrade Emily hadn't yet been sent away, and wasn't at all surprised when Comrade Emily continued to laugh. It was obvious she had finally snapped. This happens. "But it will never happen to me--we mean us," Comrade Lindsey thought to herself as two of her comrades drug Comrade Emily away, still laughing.
Then Comrade Megan announced they'd have to work an additional five minutes each day to make up for the loss of Comrade Emily, versus the typical fifteen when such a thing happened to anyone else. Apparently Comrade Emily didn't do nearly as much as she pretended to.
Comrade Megan then reminded everyone that the next day was Saturday, their day off. The State required that every commune gave their workers one day off a week, as this greatly reduced the number of fatalities from sheer exhaustion. She mentioned that there was an "optional" task of cleaning up the Township that day. Of course Comrade Lindsey would be there.
But strangely, the next morning, Comrade Lindsey's publicly owned alarm clock failed to sound, causing her to sleep an extra hour. When she at last awoke, she quickly dressed and sprinted to the courtyard without bothering to eat, hoping to get there before it was entirely too late and she ended up working by herself or with Comrade Martine, or just missing it altogether.
She did succeed in reaching the courtyard before everyone left, but as she feared, only Comrade Martine was left for a partner, and working alone was definitely not an option. They were taught that no task could be accomplished by an individual. To make matters worse, they were stuck with the rather large and unpleasant task of picking up all the trash on the outskirts of the commune.
Comrade Lindsey was upset. Comrade Martine rarely did any work at all. She was more likely to draw the trash than to pick it up. Plus, she was practically insane.
Comrade Lindsey began to seriously consider going back to bed. But, of course, she didn't. Instead, she reprimanded herself for thinking so harshly about her comrade. After all, everyone was equal and she shouldn't like any of her comrades any more or less than the others.
"Well, let's get to work," said Comrade Lindsey.
Surprisingly, Comrade Martine actually was rather helpful that day. Comrade Lindsey congratulated herself on giving her comrade a chance to prove her obviously unfair opinion of her wrong.
"Hey, Lindz, come here!" she suddenly heard Comrade Martine yell.
"Yes, Comrade Martine?" Lindsey said, walking over.
"Arg! Drop the Comrade crap! You don't actually believe all this propaganda they've been feeding us, do you?"
"What do you mean? Why shouldn't we believe it? The State says it, it must be the truth."
Comrade Martine changed the subject. "Never mind. Look, I found something," she said, uncovering a large, circular piece of metal. She then lifted it up revealing a ladder descending into the dark.
"Oh, that must be the old sewer system from before the Revolution. Didn't you know this whole place used to be one big city? It's nothing. Let's go."
Comrade Martine either didn't hear or chose to ignore that statement as well. "Do you have a candle, Lindz?" she asked.
"No! You can't go down there! It's dangerous! You don't have permission!" She wanted to add "And quit calling us Lindz! Our name is Comrade Lindsey!" But she decided to be polite.
"But it's not forbidden! Besides, who knows what could be down there? I want to know. Don't you?"
Comrade Lindsey didn't respond.
"There, I knew you did. Now, give me your candle. And, Lindz, you've got to keep this a secret, okay?"
What else could she do? Comrade Lindsey agreed, and just to make sure nothing happened to her comrade, as it was her duty to do, she followed Comrade Martine into the sewer.
"Yuck! It smells down here! Let's go back, Comrade Martine," Comrade Lindsey whined once they reached the bottom.
"Quit complaining! It's not that bad! And I want to look around some first."
Comrade Lindsey reluctantly agreed, hoping Comrade Martine's curiosity would soon be satisfied and she could return to work. But there was no such luck. Pretty soon Comrade Lindsey once again heard Comrade Martine calling her name.
"Oh, what did you find this time? A dead rat?" Comrade Lindsey asked sarcastically.
"No! Even better! Books! And lots of them! There's an entire library down here!"
"Who the hell would keep books in the sewer?"
"I don't know, but come look!"
Comrade Lindsey walked over to the bookcase and picked one up. "Howard Roark laughed. He stood naked on the edge of a cliff-"
"Egad!" Comrade Lindsey exclaimed, as she slammed the book shut. "This book is thick and long and boring and bad!!"
She picked up another and another and read small passages from each. As she continued, she began thinking more and more that a sewer was indeed an appropriate setting for them.
But Comrade Martine loved them. "Haha! Filthy Tralfamadorians!" she laughed.
Comrade Lindsey was getting severely bored. She was also afraid Comrades Megan or Kristin would find them down there. Comrade Lindsey didn't want to let down the commune or Big Brother Jokela.
"Come on, Comrade Martine! We really need to get back to work!"
"I'm staying. Cover for me, would you, Linz?"
Comrade Lindsey cringed again as Comrade Martine said "Linz." Yet, strangely, she found herself agreeing to this as well. She reminded herself to never go without breakfast again. It did things she didn't like to her. Either that, or Comrade Martine was Satan. That seemed more likely. No one else could so corrupt a comrade.
With this thought, Comrade Lindsey climbed out of the sewer and finished picking up trash all by herself, which took a considerable amount of time longer than it would've if Comrade Martine had been helping her like she was supposed to, instead of down in that smelly sewer wasting her time on those books. When Comrade Lindsey was going to return to the commune, she went to the sewer and called down to Comrade Martine, who climbed up and joined her.
This continued every Saturday. Unknown to Comrade Lindsey, Comrade Martine also began going down to the "library" after work. By the end of the month she had read Anthem, A Separate Peace, The Fountainhead, and Slaughterhouse Five.
Soon Comrade Martine was trying to share her newfound knowledge with her comrades. When Comrade Lindsey saw her trying to teach Comrade Cassie to think objectively, she became concerned.
"Comrade Martine! If you don't stop this, they'll have the KGB after you!" Comrade Lindsey warned her after work one day.
Before Comrade Martine could respond, a hand suddenly reached out from behind a clump of bushes in front of one apartment and pulled Comrade Martine aside. Comrade Lindsey followed to find Comrade Emily.
"Comrade Emily!" Comrade Lindsey exclaimed. "They didn't tell us you were back!"
"Shh! Not so loud! I'm not supposed to be. I escaped."
"What? You escaped the KGB?" asked Comrade Martine with a new look of respect. "How?"
"Never mind. But they're looking for me. I need somewhere to hide."
"We know about someplace that nobody else does," Comrade Lindsey found herself saying. "We found it one day while cleaning. You can hide there."
"Thank you!" said Comrade Emily, as they began walking toward it. If you hadn't found somewhere for me to hide, I don't know what I would've done," Comrade Emily babbled as they were walking. At last they stopped.
"Here we are!" Comrade Lindsey announced as she pulled off the manhole cover.
"The old sewer?! Eew! No way am I staying there. There must be someplace else!"
"Quit whining, Emily," said Comrade Martine. "It's not so bad, besides, there's nowhere else."
"All right," Comrade Emily reluctantly agreed, as she climbed down the ladder grumbling to herself.
Comrade Martine showed Comrade Emily the bookcase she had found, and during the day, Comrade Emily read. When Comrade Martine would come down there, Comrade Emily would complain about how the majority of the books sucked. By the end of a week, Comrade Martine was sick of it and began grabbing books and reading them elsewhere. Here favorite spot was rather high up in a large tree just a short distance from the commune.
Comrade Martine wasn't the only one getting sick of Comrade Emily hiding in the sewer. Comrade Lindsey was horrified at the idea that she was harboring a fugitive, in addition to hiding the truth about Martine's secret library containing a large number of books that Comrade Lindsey had found out were banned by the State and supposed to be burned if spotted.
And it was also becoming increasingly difficult to cover for both her lawbreaking comrades. Comrade Megan had given a speech about someone (Comrade Emily, of course) stealing food from the cafeteria at night. And Comrade Martine continued to try to enlighten her comrades and was now disappearing during work hours, as well, to go sit up in that damned tree and read, in plain view of anyone who would happen to look that way.
Comrade Lindsey knew it would somehow be found out that she was involved in both of these extremely illegal actions. She couldn't understand how this had happened. All she ever wanted was just to do what she was supposed to and now she was an accomplice to two criminals!
One day, Comrade Martine was up in her tree reading and Comrade Lindsey was keeping lookout since she knew Comrade Martine wouldn't care if she was spotted. Suddenly, Comrade Martine called down to Comrade Lindsey "Hey, Lindz, come up here and read this!"
Comrade Lindsey refused, not wanting to go any deeper into disobedience than she already had. But Comrade Martine insisted until at last Comrade Lindsey was forced to consent.
But something came over her as she was sitting up on that tree branch, listening to Comrade Martine quote some evil author from before the Revolution. She became so angry about everything Comrade Martine had gotten her into that without even realizing what she was doing, she reached over and shoved Comrade Martine out of the tree.
Just then, Comrade Emily and several KGB agents emerged from the forest and ran to where Comrade Martine lay, picked her up, and carried her off. Comrade Lindsey was shocked. Comrade Emily didn't escape the KGB! She was working for them all along! Comrade Lindsey felt betrayed. She was so angry, she was seriously considering climbing down and hitting Comrade Emily. But some sense remained in her and she stayed up in the tree, praying the KGB wouldn't notice her, until they were well out of sight.
She then waited another few minutes, though they seemed like an eternity, then looking around carefully, she cautiously climbed down to the ground. She noticed that the book Comrade Martine had been reading was still lying on the ground where she had fallen. Comrade Lindsey picked it up and began reading.
Soon she had finished the great majority of the books down in the sewer and realized they really weren't crap. She saw how the State had been lying to her. Capitalism really wasn't evil. In fact, it was better than communism. And the word "I" was possibly the best one in her entire vocabulary, not the worst. She wondered how she could have believed everything so completely before, and how things had changed so drastically that she even would've been taught to believe those things. She realized that she couldn't go on like this. She had to escape.
She laid her plans and began preparing for the day she'd put them to use. At last, that day came. Everyone else was at a meeting, listening to Comrades Megan and Kristin tell them more lies. She had looked and seen there was another filthy piece of propaganda going to be shown that night. It was the perfect opportunity.
As soon as the meeting started, she crept into the forest. Another product of her literary awakening was an extreme paranoia. Within five minutes she was jumping at every tiny noise both real and imagined. At one point, she mistook a squirrel for some kind of vicious creature and beat it to death with a large stick.
As she stared at its corpse, she wondered if squirrel tasted half as good as shrimp-flavored ramen noodle soup. She decided she'd find out. So she stopped less than a mile into the forest and sat down to roast herself a squirrel. That, of course, was an extremely foolish thing to do, but since she had lived her entire life in a little commune that produced condoms, she really didn't know any better.
But, luckily, nobody saw, and after she had eaten the little rodent and decided it really wasn't all that great-tasting, she continued on her journey and got a considerable distance away from the commune and closer to the mountains, which was where she was headed.
After several days of traveling and living off of what little food she had brought with her and whatever she could kill with a sharpened stick, she reached the foothills and began climbing. Not very far up, she was surprised to stumble across a house. Not much of a place, really it was quite a dump, but it was a long way away from anyone and would do to stay in for awhile. While there, she got bored within five minutes and decided she needed something to do. She could either continue over the mountains, try to rescue Martine, or return to the commune and make a little mischief.
She decided on returning to the commune, and made a plan for something rather devious she could do while there. She'd sneak into the factory and write "EGO" on all the condoms. It seemed rather clever at the time, so she set out to do it. After she had at last arrived back at the commune, she hid in the sewer until dark and then stealthily sneaked into the factory. She grabbed a paintbrush and some black paint and began one by one writing on all the condoms she could find.
When at last she had painted a good 500 condoms and her hand really hurt, she congratulated herself for not getting caught and left the factory. As soon as she had gotten past the doors, she ran right into Comrade Megan, who was starting her day two hours early with a stroll around her beloved commune. She immediately handcuffed Comrade Lindsey (as Comrade Megan was a well-prepared leader, she always carried a pair with her) and called the KGB which came and hauled her away for reeducation. There she learned all sorts of useful things, like 2+2=5, and that Comrade Martine really wasn't the devil, but Ayn Rand was. Fortunately, Big Brother Jokela would forgive her and allow her to return to her home with the now-reeducated Comrade Martine. And both comrades lived out the rest of their days in their happy little commune never again to pick up a forbidden book or think of escape. Comrade Martine became the most popular person in the commune, and eventually replaced Comrade Kristin after she was taken out by the KGB.
The moral: No matter how bored you get, never paint "EGO" on a condom or the KGB will come and get you.