Dystopia! Writing Challenge.

– As a new blogger, I am still finding my pathway as a writer. Therefore, I thought I would attempt this weeks ‘Weekly Writing Challenge, with the inspiration as Dystopia! My extract of writing is set in the monotonous future. I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this piece this week, so I may continue to write short extracts throughout my blog. If you would like to take part visit http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/writing-challenge-dystopia/ and enjoy! –

Right on time. Five o’clock. The air-raid siren screeched, again, just like it does every Monday and every Friday without fail. Lord knows why they choose these days to attack; Lord knows why they attack at all, it is not like anyone gets hurt. I say, ‘Lord knows’  like I know who ‘Lord’ is, or what he did to make everyone think he knows so much, but it is a force of habit. I heard my Grandpa say it once and thought it sounded like a cool, ancient bourgeois phrase so tried it out and now it is stuck.  Lord.

I found a quicker exit to the air-raid shelter last week. It involves climbing through a window and skulking across a roof, but it gets me there before the others. It’s not the bombs that make me want to arrive first, no; I’m not fussed about them. There is this one seat in the corner of the shelter, it looks proper regal. It is made out of some sort of soft material; I don’t know what they would call it. This seat though, it is the only seat in the shelter that has access to this magnificently small stream of sunlight; the cause of a design flaw in the shelter. This is the reason I must act like a male-youth on Speed to get there, I need that seat.

You are not allowed to enter the shelter unless you have your tin-lunchbox. They say they are produced from tin because not even a bomb could destroy tin. I do not know if this is true; but I do know that the higher ones have special lunchboxes made of titanium. Whatever that is, it looks a hell of a lot more expensive than the one I am carrying so I choose to assume there is quite a difference in their infallibleness.  Inside your standard lunchbox you can find; a gas mask, a flare, a grenade and this slight thin vial labelled ‘Liquid Cyanide: Emergencies Only’. I was asked if I wanted to upgrade once, for five sterling pounds of my monthly twelve euro salary. I respectfully declined; I doubted the necessity of an extra grenade and strobe-torch. In my opinion, they would be better putting food in my lunchbox. I don’t half get hungry sat down there.

So the air-raid siren does not stop until there has been no sighting of a bomber plane for twelve minutes exactly. When it stops, this timer starts in the shelters counting down from two minutes. Once that has finished the door gets unlocked and the shelter-captives may leave. There is never a particular rush to leave the shelter, just like there is never a particular rush to get in it. What is waiting for us back on the outside is just as unexciting as in the shelter I suppose.

Those two waiting minutes are particularly odd. There is rarely the sound of a siren or a great tragedy. Not for years I don’t think. The attackers are quite predictable. They follow an unfailingly repetitive pattern. Bomb hospital, bomb factory, bomb important-looking parliamentary building. Somebody, probably a higher one, got pretty wise to this common procedure and started painting red crosses on the tops of empty warehouses and reinforced the walls of the important-looking buildings. They didn’t bother protecting the factories because we employees are so in demand, we could easily get another factory job the day after ours got bombed away.

You see a lot of scuttler’s when you come out of the shelter. Those who like to tempt fate and scuttle round the streets looking for a bargain-snatch. This paranoid old man once told me the higher ones were actually the scuttler’s. He said they take our proudest belongings whilst we fear for our lives. He disappeared soon after that, probably too paranoid for his own good. I didn’t believe what he said, the higher ones protect us. That’s what the posters say. And the billboards. And the radio show. And the chants they play to us. ‘You people are our power’ they say. We are their power. We control them. They protect us.

They protect us…

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

George Orwell, 1984

Ernest Hemingway, This is Risky.

 

This is risky. There is a chance of misspelling. There is a chance of grammatical errors and most importantly, there is a chance that I will discuss an issue that I cannot readily conclude.

Ernest Hemingway, a brilliant author, once stated ‘Write drunk; Edit sober’.

So, like the true experimentalist that I am, I thought why not give it a go. Therefore, I have been out tonight for a friend’s birthday and had a couple of drinks (Jägerbombs, Sambuca shots, double Vodka’s, you name it…), and now I have returned home I am frantically typing into my laptop praying genius will come out of my hazy state.

Let me tell you about my night.

I saw three people declined from the club for intoxication. I saw people buy shots that could barely stand, and I saw an infinite number of people (myself included) embarrass themselves from over-confidence on the dance floor. We will never learn that regardless of who you are, it is near impossible to look attractive dancing having consumed an unholy amount of alcohol. Apart from Beyoncé, did you see her at the Superbowl?

So if the outcome is public humiliation converged with blistered feet and pneumonia caused by a desperate lack of clothing, why is it that we (generalising the student community) drink until we ‘chunder?’

Well, this is how my all-female household justify it.

  1. In these cold winter months, our favourite accessory to take out is our ‘alcohol-blanket’. This is a make-believe cloak and the product of many alcoholic drinks, that protects us from the evils of the icy wind-chill of winter and keeps us warm and safe whilst wearing it. The theory being that if you can make yourself warm enough to walk home, you can save money on a taxi.
  2. The phrase ‘if you can feel your feet, then you have not drunk enough’ is a common, practically ‘biblical’ commandment for a female student. It is chanted in reference to the completely impractical and painful act of wearing killer heels on a night out. Any girl will know there comes that point in the night when all you need to do is sit down and rub your feet better. Hence, you numb the pain with countless drinks and continue the night as if you are wearing slippers.
  3. Finally, Social pressures. Everybody has that crazy, drunk friend. The one that gets arrested for drunk and disorderly. The one that gets all the attention the morning after because smashing that window last night was SO COOL; or throwing up on the curb outside the club was SO REBELLIOUS; and getting in that strangers car for a free lift home was SO BRAVE. And so, some drink so they can attempt to reach that sort of free-spirited ‘coolness’ that their friends are so impressed by.

It’s not very ‘cool’ though is it? I know somebody that got so drunk they destroyed a couple of cars. Yes, they paid for it, a night in the cells and an amount of money that I dared not ask how much, but do you not think they woke up in the morning with that awful sinking feeling upon remembering what they had done?

Student culture is renown for its over-excitable drinking habits. Fresher’s week is popularised for the crazy memories and alcohol induced friendships. University, for some, is a blur of forgotten nights out. Do not get me wrong, I am not suggesting a drinking ban, in fact this blog is turning pretty hypocritical taking into account the difficultly I just had making it up the stairs. I am just purely pondering or musing into why we attack ourselves with alcohol like this. Is the expensive and potentially dangerous night out worth losing a whole day which you will spend praying to God to make you feel better?

No, logic would suggest it is not. However, should the age of alcoholic consumption be increased like the USA to 21? No, definitely not. If you like it, then drinking, arguably, is a contemporary ‘rite of passage’. Drinking, drinking too much and then learning your limits is a process of maturation; you need to embarrass yourself, you need to be get a little ill and you need to forget some nights to learn to control yourself.

In summary, I may not remember tonight’s events when I wake up tomorrow and I may feel a little unstable and not move for a good couple of hours, but if this happens very sporadically, then why not? As long as you and your friends look out for one another and you are aware and safe in your surroundings, then go and spend your money on 5 shots for £5, go and buy a bottle of champagne in the club and go make memories that you will probably forget. After all, ‘you’re only young once’.

The morning after…

It is 11.25am and I have just stood vertical for the first time this morning. I did not post this blog at 4am when it was written last night for fear of what I had written in it, but it seems spell checker has aided me in grammatical writing. I have not changed anything I have written and although I am clutching water like it is a magical cure, I do not disagree with any of it.

I do understand that this blog is generalising student culture being derived mainly from the stereotype of a student lifestyle, however it is also my truthful experience. I also know people who choose  not to drink at University and have just as much fun and are most probably a damn sight healthier.

So Ernest, this probably is not what you had in mind, but I hope you approve.

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