by Adam Selzer

Not if you work with it.

     Every morning, a long bell would sound. It was time to get up and go to the day’s first instruction with the rest of the students.

      No, wait, let me rephrase that. The alarm went off, and the slaves went to have their minds programmed. That’s a little more accurate.

     Every morning, through much of my youth, I was forced to follow the rest of the flock into the “instruction periods” designed to slowly brainwash everybody while they were still young. It was a rather strict place, the dictators were very much into conformity, to put it lightly. Walk in a straight line. Quit talking. Don’t eat until lunch time. You can’t wear that shirt, it might distract people. Forget the first amendment, it might cause distraction! Anything that might question the system was ALWAYS thrown out, so that nobody could get their hands on it. I tried often to obtain copies of the forbidden materials, but it wasn’t easy. They watched you like hawks.

     I knew the dictators had something in mind, some great master plan, the entire time. They, of course, denied it, but they were up to something. I knew I could figure out what it was. But that’s not important yet, and you’re probably confused. Let me fill you in.

     When federal spending on education was reduced to a minimal amount, young people started getting dumber and dumber. No one could find it in themselves to blame the faultiness of the schools; blaming it on the media was too much easier.

     Then a group called PES decided that perhaps the school WAS linked to the whole problem, but not because they weren’t very good. They weren’t doing enough! So this PES group told the government they were going to take over education, and no one complained, because that just meant X more dollars to be spent on tanks and other superfluities. So they hauled everyone into these big, imposing buildings, which they called PES Institutes, where they treated us all like cattle. Sure, you could think for yourself if you had to, but you’d have better consulted someone to make sure what you were thinking about was legitimate. The funny thing was, this new system was almost identical to the old one, except that the hours were longer.

     Me? Well, I got away with thinking for myself all I wanted. I just had to be quiet about it. If I mentioned some idea that was unconsulted, I’d be branded an “outcast” and tossed into a big, dark room with no doors and no windows, where I could think whatever I wanted with the other outcasts, without hurting anybody.

     So that’s the beginning. I’ve pretty much described how the rest of the day works. Now let me tell you how I tried to do something about it.

     After a few years in PES, I began to stay awake at nights, plotting what I could do to get out of that hellhole. The first thing, obviously, would be to figure out exactly what the dictators, instructors they were called, were trying to accomplish.

     The obvious place to look first was the “Forbidden Zone”, a spot where the dictators themselves could go practice all their own vices and do other things they’d taught everyone were evil. Also, that’s where they kept all the newspapers.

     We weren’t allowed to have newspapers of any sort in the PES institute. They might reveal things to us all that we weren’t supposed to know, I guess. I figured that there might be something inside of them revealing the goal of the whole operation. There were guards outside the Forbidden Zone, which made it pretty difficult to get in. I tried disguising myself, but didn’t do a very good job, and nearly got thrown in with the outcasts. However, once I got hold of a camera and managed to take a picture of what went on in the Forbidden Zone via a quarter-sized hole in the wall in the nearly barren library, I managed to blackmail my way through the doors, and got the newspapers I wanted. Sure enough, it took just a little bit of figuring to decide what was actually going on. PES was trying to raise a generation with “good morals” who were “hard working”. If that wasn’t the dumbest thing I’d ever heard! How were people supposed to work in society when they didn’t know how to think for themselves?

     A few more simple pictures, and I was granted permission to leave PES, and I lived the lifestyle of a typical starving artist for years, working free-lance for photography journals through the mail. When I was old enough to work, I could get a much better job.

     In fact, the job-getting was easy once the first groups to be released from PES entered society. I was right all along, they couldn’t think for themselves, and had a lot of difficulty doing the simplest of tasks, making the most basic of decisions.

     So now I basically have the world at my feet. Because everyone else is pretty dumb, I made my way to the top in a brief period of time, with almost no competition whatsoever. And all thanks to PES, the Public Education System. Maybe they helped me, after all.