a tale in weekly parts
Bernice Reed, a thirty-something African-American woman from Arizona, appeared in the street of a small Canadian town some two hundred years in her future in the body of a naked white man. Now known as Bernie, he was befriended by successful author Diane, her husband Jonas and their 'friend' Julian, who introduced him to some amazing technology. But it didn't end there!
A week later, Bernie and Jonas again met up with the Rev in the dinner queue.
“How did the meeting go, Rev?” Jonas asked.
“Despite my very best efforts, dear boy, the officers wouldn’t move an inch from their usual position. Fortunately, the danjang dropped in on us halfway through the frankly pointless discussion and asked for a catch-up on what we had covered. His men passed on my requests; honestly and accurately, but with a most disdainful tone. He replied that such matters were beyond his powers, being decided in New Pyongyang by the man he called ‘His Holiness the Supreme Leader’ and passed down through the Party machine.”
“So that’s it then,” Bernie suggested.
“Not exactly. I put it to the danjang that it would prove detrimental to the aims of the Party to allow the subjugated population to die out, there being no-one to replace them.”
“What did he make of that?”
“His idea was to allow his men to breed with the women in block 3360, by force if need be. ‘If you do that,’ I said, ‘the offspring, being sons and daughters of your men, would not be Canadian, but citizens of the DPRK. Would it be acceptable to keep them in captivity?’.”
“And?” Jonas asked, excitedly.
“He agreed to send our request to Continental Command with a recommendation that limited fraternisation be allowed.”
“That’s something, I suppose,” Bernie said.
“No. I rejected that suggestion out of hand,” the Rev said.
“Why? Surely it’s a start!”
“Not really,” Jonas said, “I understand why it was necessary to reject it. Carry on, Rev.”
The Rev rubbed his chin and broke into a wry smile. “I told him that brief, supervised meetings wouldn’t work; that no way would our men join with their women under those circumstances.”
“I damn-well would,” Bernie objected.
“You shouldn’t. They want us to breed. They need us to breed. And now they know it. If we remain in segregated blocks, what will happen? I’ll tell you. We’ll have our meetings, the women will become pregnant, and when they deliver, the children will stay with their mothers; you’ll never see them, and these ‘conjugal’ visits will stop. That’s if the children don’t end up in their own block, brought up by nannies.”
“Yeah, I get what you mean, but what’s the alternative?”
“We have some power here, my fine friends, power that it would be foolish of us not to use to our advantage.”
“Where will that get us? More punishments, longer work-hours?” Jonas asked.
“Hear me out, my friend. The danjang said he would suggest to Continental Command that segregation may not be the best answer. My impression was that he wanted the Party to trial an alternative.”
“When will we know what they say?”
“We do already. That first meeting was five days ago. I’ve just come from a face-to-face with the danjang. Continental Command has agreed to a trial, and as the suggestion came from area 33, they want to run a five-year pilot here.”
“What does that mean?”
“A supply of tents will arrive in a few days. We men are to move out of our block into the tents. We will then work on this block to transform it from dormitories to what they’re calling ‘family cells’. When that’s done, the women will move from block 3360 into this one while we work on that block. At the same time, we have to build a new block with segregated cell areas for unattached men and women.”
“So we end up with three blocks instead of two?”
“That’s right. 3358 and 3360 will be family blocks, 3359 will be for single people, two to each cell – men on one floor and women on the other.”
“What will happen if a man and a woman from the singles block get together?”
“I asked him that. If there is room in one of the ‘family’ blocks, they’ll move in there.”
“And if not?”
“They’ll remain in the singles block, sharing a cell in an area of one of the floors that will be suitably designated.”
“There’s one type of pairing you haven’t mentioned,” Bernie said.
“I don’t see a problem there. The singles are two to a cell anyway, the couples will simply share a cell. And before you ask, the unattached men and women will be able to meet in a communal recreation area.”
For the first time since arriving in this reality, Bernie managed a smile, and started to believe that there might be a purpose to his arrival here. “Sounds good to me, Rev,” he said as they reached the front of the queue, “Let’s get some food and eat.”