Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The Adult Conversation

I’ve always been a fairly childish person. Not immature, but just never afraid to keep doing things that I liked as a kid, and still do to this day. Things like Lego, or looking up every time a plane flies overhead because I still think they’re cool (even though I see a dozen every day is Saskatoon). 

However, I’m also a fairly mature and responsible person, who can do things he needs to when he needs to, take care of bills, make plans with other people, and so on. Both of these sides coexist together inside me peacefully.

Until I enter into an adult conversation.

Now these are not adult-themed conversations. I’m not going to get into those (and nor should you). I’m referring to the unbelievably normal thing that happens when adults get together and end up talking. If you’re an adult, then you’ve had an adult conversation. Generally, I find that it happens with at least three people, and they sort of form themselves into a circle (standing or sitting) so everyone can be a part of the conversation. Chances are, too, that you’ve never thought anything of it when it happens, and maybe not even noticed it was happening. This may even what you think of when you hear the term “hanging out.”

Then there’s me.

You’ve probably already noticed that I’m referring to these things as “adult conversations” instead of just “conversations.” Well, look at how kids talk and be with each other. They are running around and doing things while they talk. It all happens at once. Adults take out the doing part and just talk. And that’s where I start to get problems.

For the first, say, 15-20 minutes, I’m perfectly fine with being in an adult conversation. I like getting to know people, and learning about things they’ve done, sharing stories and hearing funny stories from others. This is my adult, mature half saying, “Hey, it would be nice to see how this person is doing.”

After the first bit of the conversation, though, I start to get…antsy. It’s like I’ve suddenly decided I’m 6 years old and I don’t want to pretend to be a grown up anymore and I can’t sit still. I itch to get up and do something, but my maturity reminds me that I would look rude and kind of like an idiot.
But the feeling persists.

 So I end up forcing myself to sit and pay attention to what’s being said, but that ship has long sailed by this point. I look around. I get lost in my thoughts, then catch the last bit of a conversation that sounded interesting and want to know what happened before but can’t ask because then they’ll know that I really wasn’t listening at all and that I have the focussing capabilities of a humming bird. Is this what ADHD feels like?

Anyways, I sit silently like this, hoping I can jump into the conversation and force myself to be an adult, even though I know that the topics have departed my realm of knowledge and have no plans of returning to shore. That is, until I find a suitable distraction.
Here’s some real life examples:

1. I’m over at Janelle’s best friend’s house. We go out onto the back deck and hang out in the sunshine. Now, I know her, and we’ve talked briefly before, but I don’t really know her, and Janelle and her have a ton of history together, so I soon find myself sitting on the edge, watching them talk about old jobs and family friends and such. I’ve got nothing, so I start to look around, and let my mind wander…

"There’s a little bag on the shingles above them. Wonder how it got there? How long has it been there? I should take it down. Nope, can’t do that. That’d be weird. Man, there birds everywhere here. Ooh, they’re mentioning the birds! What is the bright orange one? An oriole maybe? I’ll suggest that (I did). Do they come around here, though? Or are they just in Baltimore?"

Suddenly, her little dog comes running out of the house to greet us. Usually, I’m not a fan of little dogs, but this one was pretty cute, and seemed really friendly to me, so I start playing with it. Soon I have it on my lap, and I’m just petting it and scratching it while it sits quietly. After 15 minutes, the dog gets up and leaves, and I realize I totally zoned out of the conversation. Whoops.

2. On that same weekend, Janelle and I went with her extended family to Dinosaur Provincial Park for a BBQ and to hang out with relatives. After the burgers, everyone starts to break off into groups and begin having conversations. Generally, in Janelle’s family, the men break off and talk about farming, while the women talk about…women things. I’m sorry, I can’t remember what they talked about. I usually think that I’m expected to be in the man group, so I listen to them talk about farming. Which I know very little about. Ranching I can get by with, but my farming knowledge ends after stooking. Which no one does anymore.

Anyways, during this picnic, I found myself torn between the two groups. First, I wanted to be with Janelle (because we’re engaged, if you didn’t already know), but I couldn’t contribute a thing to their conversation. I also wanted to hang with the guys, but I could contribute even less (especially since hockey season is over). So there I am, in the middle, listening to both side while not listening at all. Then Janelle’s (my?) nephew comes over and asks if I want to play football with him.

Heck yes, I do.

So I end up spending the rest of the time running around with a 4 year old and a 7 year old, letting them tackle me, wrestling with the younger one, and going to the park with them and hiding under a dinosaur slide, which led to pushing pebbles up through the perforated floor above us.

Now, some people may think that I was just being nice to the kids by playing with them. However, it’s more along the lines that I can’t sit still anyways and was looking for an excuse to go play with them because I freaking love it. I could escape the adult conversations and let my inner child go nuts. So really, I’m not just doing it for the kids. I’m doing it for me, too. Maybe that’s what draws me to elementary teaching.


Anyways, that’s my struggle of being in an adult conversation. One day I might be able to sit still and be all mature, but I highly doubt it. I’ll probably be the old guy playing with puppies and wrestling with his grandkids, while the adults sit around talking. 

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Proven Performance

“Alright Jenkins, we need to put out a new ad campaign for our line of batteries, so show me what you’ve got.”

“Of course, sir. We’ve designed the new battery just like you wanted us to. We’ve had a team of top-notch graphic designers work on the logo and colouring for months. It is very flashy and eye-catching.”

“..And?”

“Sorry, sir?”

“What about the tests? How did it perform?”

“It did.”

“Excuse me?”

“It did, sir.”

“I’m…I’m not sure what you mean by that, Jenkins.”

“Well, sir, you asked us to test the performance of the batteries. So we asked ourselves, what is the most common use for our product? The answer: a remote control. Our team of researchers then popped in two of our AA batteries and tested to see if the batteries worked. They did.”

“Um, ok, slightly unorthodox, I suppose, but does the trick. What about the competition?”

“They also worked, sir.”

“You’re losing me, Jenkins.”

“You also asked us to test our competitor’s batteries performance, right? Our researchers also put those batteries into the remote. The remote still worked with those batteries.”

“That’s it? That’s all you have for me??”

“I don’t understand, sir. We did everything you asked.”

“I wanted to know HOW the batteries performed, Jenkins! Do they last longer? Run faster? Be...better batteries? I don’t know! That’s your JOB! But you’re telling me, after months of funding and research, that you have discovered that the batteries WORK?!”

“Um…yes.”

“Perfect. Just perfect! We have to release our add campaign TOMORROW! Our designers have everything ready to go, and we can’t even offer them a decent, research supported tag line to entice customers! I should have listened to my mother and become an encyclopedia salesman…”

“Don’t give up hope, sir. I think I have a slogan that will do the trick.”

“Well it will have to, Jenkins. It’s all we’ve got.” 






Friday, 12 December 2014

Believe It or Not

Recently, I was inspired by a post my brother wrote on Facebook, and convicted to do the same, but instead post it on my blog. It has to do with something very important to me, but I don’t talk a lot about it:

My faith.

I consider myself a devout Christian. This is no surprise to many of you who know me. However, I rarely bring it up in talking with strangers or even friends who I didn’t go to Briercrest or church with. I’ve always found it hard to start those conversations, yet have no problem getting into spiritual and theological discussions once the initial topic has been brought up. So I guess I’m should probably start it for once.

Being a Christian means that I believe Jesus Christ was crucified on a cross for my sins, along with the rest of humanity, and rose three days later, confirming his victory over death and breaking its power over us. I believe that we have been saved from a very real place called Hell, where souls are sent to be punished eternally for sin, but I also believe in the place of Heaven where all those who have followed Jesus are taken for eternal rewards. I believe that all of this can be found in the Bible, and it is the recordings of people who were told by God and impacted by Christ. I believe everything written in this book is true, including the stuff that many people struggle to understand, such as Old Testament passages on genocide, homosexuality, polygamy and slavery. I believe that I have been placed on this Earth for a reason, which is to bring glory to God to all his people, and that I owe him my life and try to live for Him every day.

This is a really compressed version of my statement of faith. It is by no means comprehensive. To graduate from Briercrest, I wrote a 4 page document on what I believe. So I’ve had time to think about my choices and whether or not I’ve made the right decision, and I truly believe I have.

But why?

Why would I believe this stuff? Why would I commit my life to something that occurred over two millenniums ago, and that no one can seem to prove today? Why would I believe in something that some people so strongly fight against and claim that it’s completely insane?

Why not?

Why wouldn’t I want to follow the Creator of the universe? If everything in the Bible is true, and I have faith that it is, then we have been given the greatest opportunity in history in following Him. He promises us rewards beyond our wildest imaginations, love that cannot be comprehended by humans, and destruction to our enemies. And all we have to do is believe in Him. That seems like a pretty low-risk/high-reward deal.

There are a lot of other things I could get into, but I feel that this isn’t the place for them. If you’d like to continue the discussion, feel free to contact me via facebook or email or my face or whatever. If there’s any glaring omissions or confusions, then also please let me know so I can clarify myself. Being a Christian is not my religion; it is who I am. In everything I do, God will always come first, and I hope that He also will for you, too.

 There’s a verse in Joshua (24:15) that I would like to end on:

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. But for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
               

May God bless every one of you richly,

Dayton Reimer

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A Letter to Snow

Dear Snow,

First off, let me say welcome back! I hope you enjoyed your summer vacation up North, but I’m glad you decided to come back again this year, since we didn’t leave on the warmest of terms. It feels like ages since you’ve been around, and I’m glad we finally get to hang out again. I have so many things I want to do. Outdoor skating, skiing, snowmen…do you wanna build a snowman?
But before I get carried away, I want to get some things straight, which is why I’m writing this letter in the first place. See, last year, when you came to visit, there were some…issues. You didn’t leave on a great note last year. You managed to anger most people I know. And I’d like to prevent that this year.

The first thing is you can’t overstay your welcome. I know, this sounds a bit cold, but you gotta get used to that. You came around November, and suddenly it’s April and you’re still crashing in the back yard. That’s not going to happen this year. I know times are tough, that it’s getting warmer everywhere and you’re finding fewer places you’re comfortable hanging out, but that’s not my problem. That’s just the inconvenient truth. There have been several times where you’ve ruined my plans with Spring because you’re still here and I have no place for him to stay.

Speaking of Spring, stop being such a jerk to him. Before you get all icy with me, just listen. Last year, I go and visit some friends down in Moose Jaw at the end of April. Spring had tagged along, though he was still warming up to the area. Then, when I go to drive home the next day, you push him out of the car and just exploded. Seriously, you were everywhere. At one point, you sat on the hood of my car and I could barely see the road. You kept going on about how you were so much cooler than Spring. And that’s not the only time. He’s a nervous wreck now. It’s like you leave just long enough for him to think it’s safe to come and visit again, then you jump out from behind the bushes and just pummel him. Last I heard, he’s in counselling. You’ve got to get along better with him.

And this year, let’s cool it with the mood swings. When you arrive, you’re always light and happy. You get a bit brisk, but that’s just who you are. I’ve gotten used to it. Then, all of a sudden, you get really bitter and heavy. Everything is dark and gloomy, and you won’t let me go anywhere to hang with other people. You get these really bad temper tantrums, sometimes just turning off the power because, “nobody like me anymore!” Did you take my advice and go to a doctor? It really seems like it might be schizophrenia. It got really bad last year when they were calling you “The Polar Vortex.” That was the worst I’ve seen of you in a long time. After the nasty temper tantrums, you get really cold and won’t talk to anyone. People freeze just being in the same area as you. I know people can suck, but you got to warm up to them a bit. Most people are really quite nice.

Anyways, those are the big things I wanted to address. Like I said, I’m really looking forward to chilling with you this year and I hope our time will be well spent. If you don’t tell the others, you’re really my favourite guest. Summer thinks she’s way too hot, and Autumn is depressed all the time. I think she might be sick, too. That much hair should not fall out of a person. Spring is friendly, but he gets a bit too cheery sometimes. And he always brings Rain with him, and he’s just a major downer. I can’t deal with all the waterworks. But I’m ranting.


Welcome back, Snow. 

Monday, 25 August 2014

House Warming

This past week, I moved into a house with 3 other guys I knew from Briercrest. Before that, I was living in a bachelor suite over near Broadway St, which I had been in for about a year while attending the U of S, and then living and working here in Saskatoon during the summer. This was not the worst place I could have found. There was an ice cream shop a block from my building, you could walk downtown (if you wanted) or to Broadway, where there was a tea shop, a cheese store, a cupcake place and a music store. It was generally quiet, though you would hear sirens and concerts from across the city. But when the opportunity came to move out, I leaped on it. Because overall, the bachelor life was…well, let’s put it this way…

Here are the top 25 reasons why my new house is better than my bachelor apartment:

1. It’s a house.

2. There are actual rooms. I can leave my bedroom, go up the stairs into the kitchen, make breakfast, then take it to the dining room, eat it, then relax in the living room with a book. In the apartment, this was one room.

3. I don’t have to clean the entire house when company comes. If my room’s a mess, I can just close the door and hang out in another room.

4.  I can actually have people over for stuff, like board games or whatever. My guest list no longer has a max capacity of 3, limited mainly by the amount of chairs I had. Which also means…

5. I now have more than 3 seating options for myself.

6. My guitars have their own room (for now).

7.  If I want to play guitar, I can crank it up. No more headphones every time I want to plug in the electric. And I can actually break out the acoustic without people complaining. Hopefully. I haven’t actually played when other people are here. But, in theory, they shouldn’t.

8. I have two basements. This may sound a bit funny, but to get to my room, you must go down a small flight of stairs and into the first basement. There’s also a bathroom and a small living room where my guitars are (yes, I’ve taken over the first basement). It’s not a true basement, but most of it is underground, so it counts. Then there’s the unfinished, or second basement. That’s where the laundry and storage is. There may be plans to convert it into a gaming center, but that needs some planning and such. But still, two basements.

9. I have a backyard.

    10.   There can be BBQs in a backyard.
    
    11.   There can also be fires in the backyard. Like in a fire pit. Not just there. I think that might be arson.
    
    12.   I could even just sit out there in the morning with a book and a coffee and enjoy the sunrise…if the weather would ever smarten up.
    
    13.   There’s a kitchen with enough counter space to prepare meals. That is, if we didn’t have so many appliances.

    14.   I have a dishwasher. You have no idea how happy I was when I saw that I had a dishwasher.

    15.   There’s laundry facilities that don’t force me to spend 11 dollars just to do my laundry for the week. Even if the utility bill comes out to that, it still feels better than plunking coins.

    16.   Speaking of laundry, I no longer have to save every loonie, toonie and quarter I get. Now I can spend them on Big Macs.
    
    17.   I can stand straight up in the shower when I wash my hair. The shower head no longer is aimed at my throat.

    18.   I generally don’t want to avoid the people who share my building.

    19.   I don’t have to brace myself for people every time the elevator door opens, because the times I don’t, there’s a person there I wasn’t expecting, and then I jump, then realize he’s an East Indian, and then hope he doesn’t think I’m racist. Too much stress.

    20.   I can stay home all day and still be socialable. Roommates are awesome.

    21.   Another roommate benefit: internet suddenly becomes that much cheaper per month. Also, rent. And utilities. Basically, everything is cheaper.

    22.   I don’t have to plan as much if I want to do something. For example, this evening Ben had a friend visiting and they wanted to go see Guardians of the Galaxy, and asked if I wanted to go. I said yes. That was the extent of the planning. Living alone requires actual effort in setting things up, then someone has to drive somewhere to meet up.

    23.   Ben and Carter have Costco memberships. Which means I have access to a Costco membership. As long as they drag me along.

    24.   The temperature is adjustable. In the house, you can leave the furnace off for very cool, or turn it on and select the temperature you desire. In the apartment, you can open all the windows, keep the lights off until ten at night, wear as little clothes as possible, and then continue to melt because you have zero control over the five floors of rising heat. I had my heater on for about 3 weeks last year. That’s it.

    
    25.   Did I mention it’s a house?

Monday, 28 July 2014

Whales Are People Too?

I have big news! There is a new social justice bandwagon to hop onto!

I was browsing my Facebook wall when I noticed a picture of a city by the ocean, but the water around it was stained red. The comment from the person who posted (someone I don’t even know, by the way, so I’m not even sure how I saw it) read, “You people are despicable,” and the heading of the article link stated, “Her child was torn from her body. It’s almost impossible to view these images.” Immediately, some sort of natural disaster comes to mind. Maybe a tsunami, pulling people into the ocean? But that doesn’t explain the “you people” comment. So maybe a genocide? I mean, it’s gotta be just the worst thing ever, right? The worst human cruelty on earth? So I clicked on the link. It took me to a page where pictures were posted of a small coastal village on the Faroe Islands during their whale hunt. There were slaughtered whales strewn along the beach, and their blood soaked the shored. One picture even portrayed a small boy sitting on top of a bloody whale carcass. I couldn’t even finish scrolling to the bottom of the page.

Mainly because I just didn't care.

Why? There’s so much public outrage (apparently) about the whaling practices of this super tiny island most people have never heard of before this issue arose. Why don’t I care about this movement against animal cruelty?

First is the location. Though I didn't know where the Faroe Islands were initially, if they’re hunting whales, then they’re either in East Asia, where whaling practices are slightly below legal, or up north somewhere, where whales are common and traditional food staples. My gut said up north. Sure enough, after a quick google, I discovered that this small group of islands is in between England and Iceland, and part of the Kingdom of Denmark (also, Denmark is still a kingdom. Who knew). Up in northern Canada, whales are killed for food, yet there is very little you hear about that. Because that’s what the Inuit do, and as Canadians, we are taught to respect native peoples traditional rights. Yet these people don’t get the same ones? According to another article I read, the people of the Faroe Islands have also practiced whaling for generations upon generations. So why is this so deplorable?

Well, one of the reasons is that somewhat recently, there was a huge push against China and Japan and their whaling habits. I believe this was a case of mass overfishing and sub-par killing tactics, which China always seems to be in trouble for. I remember watching a fairly disturbing video a while back which showed some of the practices in the fur industry, where animals aren’t even fully dead when they’re skinned. Of course, it was in China. My theory to China’s notoriety in this area is a combination of the huge population, authoritarian government and wide variety of food they consume. In order to satisfy all those desires for whatever food they like (like shark-fin soup), animals are killed in massive groups and because government regulation is lax in these areas, companies can save money with sub-par practices and not having the proper equipment. Because it all comes down to money. So now, with the pictures from the Faroe Islands going viral, these memories are brought up again and the worst is automatically assumed.

Now, if that’s correct, it makes sense about the outrage. But it doesn’t explain why it’s so furious. The Faroe Islands people are called despicable because they kill whales. That’s it. No one knows what else they do. So the problem becomes less about prevention and more about ignorance. Which is annoying. But not nearly as annoying as my last point.

After reading a response to the whaling pictures supporting the right for the Faroe people to fish whales like they have for generations, one thing became fairly obvious: the biggest driving factor of this social movement is animal rights.

Now, I do have to admit, I am not well researched in this issue. I read a news article and a half about it. I googled where the Faroe Islands were. That’s pretty much all I’ve heard of it. But it vividly reminds me of another group I have more knowledge with, which is PETA. Most people I know would agree with me in saying that PETA is straight up crazy. I remember when they wrapped up naked supermodels in clear plastic in order to make a point about eating meat. I also remember when they made a mini-game based on Pok√©mon, but arguing that it was supporting abuse towards animals. Both those are HUGE over-reactions towards something that ISN’T A PROBLEM. So that doesn’t help my opinion of this whole whaling thing.
But the biggest thing that makes me completely right this off as another internet social movement is that it’s arguing that whales and dolphins, because of their high intelligence and advanced family structures, deserve rights of their own.

No.

No no no no no no no.

Animals don’t get rights. They get survival. People get rights, because we’ve figured out that the best way to live is to have some sort of government with laws, and that we can’t simply run around doing whatever we please. This was done with logic and rational thought. We figured out that killing each other over a mate isn’t right, and should be punished. We figured out that eating each other would quickly wipe us out. We figured out that grabbing a mate whenever we want is also bad and should be punished, because if one person has rights, so does another. Religion has given us a great guide in those. God basically commanded all those things, along with a few others, in Exodus. But we don’t have to follow them. We’ve figured out that it helps to. That’s why we have rights. Animals haven’t figured those out yet, so they don’t get people status. They get animal status, which means no rights.

But because we have rational thought and the ability to think in future and past tense, as well contemplate our own existence, we realize that we have to respect and take care of animals. It doesn’t mean that we have to treat them as equals, because they are not equal to us, but that we shouldn’t kill all the cows because we want steak. We’re smart about raising beef, so that we can have beef for many many years. This goes for any other animal that is eaten in this world. It also helps to remember that God created all the animals, and we should respect all that God created, because God didn’t make something for no reason.

Sadly, some people haven’t figured this out, as there have been actions passed giving whale and dolphin relatives the right to life. The animals didn’t decide this. They had it forced on them by people who think they’re doing the right thing. They’re not. If a whale wants the right to live, then it can argue it in a court of law.

So this is nothing more than an internet fad. Someone found some bloody pictures and now everyone hates the people of the Faroe Islands. I’m sure they’re super nice, too. Anyone remember Kony? No? Exactly. 2 years ago, there was a movement to raise awareness about Kony, a dictator in Africa (I can’t even remember where), who was using child soldiers. And why were people supporting that? Because kids shouldn’t be soldiers. That’s obvious. But nothing ever happened, and everyone forget about it in a few months. The organizers even dropped it. It all started because kids are so cute, and now they’re brainwashed and killing people. Now it’s the adorable baby whales, who are slaughtered right in front of their parents. There are so many other REAL things to be enraged over, like the overfishing of tuna in the Mediterranean, but have you ever seen a tuna? Not a pretty fish. It’s the cute factor. That’s really the driving force behind this.


Now, it’s up for everyone to decide what they want to support. But it’s always good to think about it first before jumping on the social bandwagon. As for me, I’m going to support the rights of the Faroe Island people to hunt responsibly. And though I wouldn’t join the hunt, I’d sure eat with them. Fresh whale meat sounds tasty. 

I could go on for much longer about how much I hate the animal right groups, but I'll spare you my ranting. So here's the link to the article I read. It has a bunch of interesting stats that'll make you think. http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9126932/why-we-should-let-faroe-islanders-hunt-whales/

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Another Story

This is a story that I'm currently working on. It's a sci-fi narrative based on the theory of cloning, and whether the same person would be created if genetic material was used from someone who had died (for example, cloning John Lennon). Would being in a different time create a different person, even though they would be exactly the same genetically? Would it create a completely different person, based on their surroundings (would new John Lennon even be musical?). Would that genetic material also carry with it memories? Probably not, but what if? That's what I based my idea for this story on. The stuff here is the preface and first bit of Chapter 1. I've always liked the idea of having something I've written published, and I think this story has the potential to be a very interesting novel for teens, but also enjoyable for anyone who's a fan of the genre. But I first need to know if this is worth reading. I think it is, but I can only buy so many of my own books. So please send me some feedback on what you think. You can leave it as a comment here, or email it to me at dayton.reimer@gmail.com. Or tell it to me in person. Basically, I'm wondering if this intro is at all interesting and would compel the reader to continue. If so, let me know. If not, why? What could I do to improve it? Also, I'd imagine there's plenty of grammar errors. You can tell me about them too. 

Thanks, and (hopefully) enjoy.





“This isn’t legal.”

The doctor ignored him, flipping a switch on a large drum-like object. The machine whirred to life, making a soft electrical hum as it waited for its next orders.

“This is going to destroy everything we’ve worked for!”

The lab coat spun around, revealing the hate and frustration that was spilling from his eyes. “No, to do NOTHING will destroy everything we’ve worked for!”

He abruptly turned back to the machine, and began to insert several petri dishes smeared with a clear-ish gel smeared in their centers. His colleague behind him glared, but he didn’t turn to return the frustration and reveal that he was just as afraid and cynical. There were no guaranteed success. The samples provided were barely enough, since so much had been either charred beyond use or weren’t the parts needed. And if they were caught, it would mean instant death. Not that their involvement with this group hadn’t already ensured that, but this added a new level of fear. They were committing a crime that was outlawed before everything changed. But orders were orders, and it did seem like the best- and only- solution.

 The doctor quickly pushed several buttons on the cylindrical machine, causing it to emit a louder, spinning sound from within. The process would take several hours before any development could be observed, so he turned to leave, brushing past the terrified and frustrated colleague, who stood motionless, staring at the whirring machine. The only light and sound in the room, other than the doctor’s brisk footsteps, was emitted by this metallic barrel. The doctor reached the door, pushed the latch open, and took a step out.

“Ihr Geist lebt weiter.”

The doctor paused in the doorway, grabbed by his colleague’s voice. That phrase - their spirit lives on, in English. That’s why they were doing this, the reason that he had signed up in the first place. It was the reason behind every decision he had made in the last five years, even the one to support this undercover, highly risky action. He just never imagined that he would be one of the two selected to design and execute the procedure. As these thoughts rushed through his mind, he took a deep breath and dropped his chin to his chest. “Ihr Geist lebt weiter,” he uttered in reply, then entered the darkness of the hallway.


CHAPTER 1

Gunfire sounded all around him. Explosions ripped through the night air, followed closely by the whizzing of bits of dirt and metal as it flew by the soldier’s heads, occasionally finding its mark with a wet thud. The only way to avoid certain death was to huddle deep in the trenches. Any movement too high was announced with bullet and laser fire. It was chaos, and Captain Arric was running out of options.

They had tried to catch the enemy by surprise, but every attempt was predicted, maybe even already known by their foes. They had tried waiting for a lull in the fire. In fact, they were still waiting. It hadn’t come for three months, since the beginning of this battle. Food and water were low, and morale was even lower. Arric was sure that if they weren’t trapped in this trench, he would have been the only one who would have stayed. That, and if every person associated with him didn’t already have a bounty on their head. But he still had to do something.

Then it hit him. Thankfully, he was wearing a helmet. A shovel had come flying out of the air and slammed against Arric’s head after the latest shell had erupted in another trench ahead of them. They could tunnel to the other side. Maybe. It was beyond risky; it was uncomfortably close to suicide. But what other choice did he have?

Suddenly, a sharp cry cut through the stillness.

“Arric!”

Arric jolted awake and found himself. Gone were the explosions, the gunfire, the dark, muddy trenches, and the cries of fear and pain. He was instead placed under the disapproving gaze of a middle-aged woman, whose face was scarred with stress lines. Her eyes were tired and apathetic, yet fierce, begging whoever they fell upon to try that again just to see what happens. Then he realized that he was also confined in a small, wooden desk. Arric was not on the battle field. He was still in school.  

“Would you care to answer the question?”

Arric rubbed his eyes and looked down at the worn surface that had only moments ago held his head and noticed a small puddle of drool, which he quickly wiped away. “Umm…not really,” he replied, his face pointed towards his desk top, trying to avoiding eye contact with his teacher. A few students giggled behind him.

“Would that be because you were asleep again in my class and didn’t hear a word I said?” Her voice was agitated, but it was obvious that apathy had again won against doing anything about it.

“Yes, Mrs. Hiller,” mumbled Arric, his face still down, still trying to avoid that spiteful gaze.

Mrs. Hiller sighed a sigh of defeat and frustration, wishing more than anything that she could be at home with her cats. It sometimes seemed that even they listened better than these students. “That’s the sixth time this week. This has got to stop, Arric. I’ll be sending a note home to your father after school.” She shook her head and walked over to her big oak desk and scribbled a brief reminder on a sticky note. “As I was saying,” she began again, continuing on with the lesson, “the American government used to be made up of three branches: the legislative, the judicial, and the executive. These all worked together to form a balance of power and ensure that everything was done democratically, but proved at times to be very inefficient. The system now used, which was created by President Gowen, is the single branch, simply called the President. This position combines the previous three branches in order to promote efficiency and effectiveness in dealing with immediate problems. Now, can anyone tell me why the position was created?”

Arric’s hand immediately shot up and high as he could raise it. Mrs. Hiller thought that it actually might have detached itself if it had gone up any faster. She watched as the young boy bounced in his seat, begging to be picked. She looked around the classroom to see if anyone else knew the answer. A few other students had also raised their hands, though not nearly as enthusiastically. She contemplated actually picking one of the other students, but decided against it, as not picking Arric would probably cause his head to explode. And the biggest issue she had against that was that parents would complain about the mess and ‘mental scarring.’ She hated parent complaints.

“Yes, Arric?”

“The civil war of 2076!” he shouted, barely waiting for his teacher to stop speaking.

“Very good, Arric,” she replied. “Do you know why the civil war caused Mr. President to change the governmental structure?” Mrs. Hiller immediately winced. Of course he knew the answer, and she had just set off a bomb.

“Because the rebel leader Graff was opposing the President by having lots of protests and stuff. He was the leader of an opposition party, called the White Rhino Party, which the President didn’t like because Graff kept talking about how bad the government was, so he attacked a protest group in April of 2074, which is why it’s called the April Massacre, because there was, like, twenty people that were killed, and then Graff built an army over two years, and attacked the government, and the government wanted to get stuff done really fast without having to ask questions and so he called for a state of emergency, but they weren’t actually gotten rid of until 2078 and Graff was dead.”

Arric gasped for air, as he hadn’t taken a breath in his entire monologue. Mrs. Hiller glanced upwards in exasperation. “Thank you, Arric.” She opened her mouth to resume her lecture again, but just then a loud bell rang through the classroom. She sighed. The end of the day. Freedom. “Alright class, remember to read to chapter on how the American government was organized throughout history, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”