Riverview, Again Series 1 - Episode 02 - The Correctors

The stroll that I took around Riverview to clear my head seemed to have the opposite effect. My mind was swamped with surfacing emotions and clouded judgements, overwhelming my ability to rationalise my thoughts.

A long absence from my residency would be slightly suspicious, as I had no proper business in town and I would return home empty-handed. Perhaps I should pick up some groceries on the way back, I thought to myself.

As I began the gruelling walk home, I began to contemplate my sheltered life. I felt an immense sense of contempt towards the State, for thriving on everybody’s misery and for maintaining the invisible threat that was “the rebellion”. It didn’t really exist. It was just a ploy to scare everyone into devoting their lives to the State. The “Correctors” were just another ploy to keep everybody in line.

An announcement bellowed through the Tannoy speakers, "Government Protocol #1054B states that imported wheat is now illegal. All Comrades may only purchase and trade locally grown wheat. Anyone who cannot provide proof of purchase of locally grown wheat will be sent to the Correctors without trial. That is all. In the words of the State: FORWARDS!

The announcements always ended with that chilling motto. The State prided itself on its own locally-produced goods, and often made foreign produce forbidden.

I encountered Comrade Breyon on the way home, as he must have been passing towards work. Normally one would saunter on and not acknowledge a Comrade when alone – one should only converse with a witness to hear the exchange of words – but today proved to be an exception for Comrade Breyon.

“Are you okay, Comrade Racquel? You seem different today,” asked Comrade Breyon.

He sounded concerned. Every day seemed so alike that even minor disparities in a Comrade’s mood were noticeable to the observant eye.

“Yes, I am fine,” I responded, acknowledging his question.
“Are you planning on committing yourself to a child soon, Comrade?” He leaned closer to whisper in my ear. “People have been talking, and I’ve heard suggestions that you are… reluctant.”
I was disturbed by the vagueness of his comment, so I had to interrogate him, “What have people been saying?”
“Lips have been moving and people have suggested that you might be showing signs of… rebellion,” he elaborated, and his words stirred me further. “Surely not?”

“How could a defenceless woman like me pose as such a big threat to the government?” I replied, but it wasn’t enough to dismiss any accusations of an underground insurgence.
“Even a child could spark rebellion, if he put his mind to it. All that is needed is one small catalyst,” he reasoned. “Women experience malicious thoughts just as much as anyone else.”
“Your suspicion is working overtime, Comrade. I must leave now and return to Brother Mikhail. Farewell,” I said.
“In the words of the State, Comrade-“ he said to me, expecting me to finish that thought.

The encounter with Comrade Breyon was most unusual; it was quite curious. Why would he jeopardise his own integrity by speaking with me alone? I took a backward glance at him walking away. There was something rather betraying in his stride.

As I strolled through the small copse alone, with only the emotions of fear and resentment for company, I heard an indiscreet rustling amongst the branches and leaves. Was somebody watching me? I continued on, cautiously.

There was another crackling noise amongst the trees, but this time it was from behind me. I stopped and swivelled around on my toes, but could not see anything but wavering branches and the sun gleaming from above. I was growing paranoid by the second, but in this country that was nothing out of the ordinary when one considers the hysteria caused by rebellion.

I raised a foot to begin walking again, but dropped it down when I felt a set of dark, piercing eyes singeing the back of my neck like lasers. I turned around to confront my stalker.

The aggressive, exalted face of a Corrector stood before me. His darting stare gripped me and immobilised me; a violent fire raged within his irises. I couldn’t move a muscle from its place and my breathing grew dangerously weak. The Correctors had an unnerving effect on the Comrades they encountered.

“Comrade, identify yourself!” the Corrector boomed, his voice reverberating amongst the trees and down my frozen spine.

My voice was inaudible and hoarse, but I managed to summon a quiet word to reveal my identity.

“Comrade Racquel,” I squeaked. I had no surname to give, as no Comrade had anything more than a forename.

“Corrector #33, reveal yourself,” the visible Corrector announced to the surrounding wood, and a similar terrifying figure emerged from the woodland.

“Identification verified,” the second Corrector bellowed, making sure anybody in the close vicinity could hear, “engage prosecution!”

At that moment, a recognisable face appeared from behind the first Corrector.

“Brother Mikhail?!” I exclaimed feebly.

There was a betraying glint in his eye, which suggested that he was responsible for my demise.

“It was the only choice I had, Comrade Racquel,” he muttered quietly.

He just called me his Comrade. Already, he had emancipated himself from my partnership and had probably begun the search for a replacement Sister. He had disowned me.

“Comrade Mikhail has relinquished his companionship to you in exchange for a rebellion-free life. You have been suspected of thought-treason within the mind, and you thus face penalties commencing immediately,” the first Corrector informed me.

Brother Mikhail didn’t have any evidence, but then again, the Correctors didn’t need any. The paranoia was so extensive and perverse; any suspected assailant was pronounced guilty until proven innocent. Sometimes there was no trial at all!

Something told me that I wouldn’t get a trial. I would just be subjected to whatever torture they employed on so-called “rebels” – torture that nobody could ever justify on another human being. Soon, my identity would be eliminated and all thoughts, memories and precious emotions would be banished during brainwashing.

As my head hit the floor, my entire world blacked out.