YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

A Chapter by Valerie Dean Belew
"

This is the first chapter of Proud Nation, a futuristic novel about our country under the control of a political climate that advocates financial means as the indicater of every person's worth.

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YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
CHAPTER ONE
YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. It was just a thought. One of those programmed thoughts. It wasn’t really my thought, or at least I didn’t think so, but occasionally it flashed in my mind’s eye like one of those neon signs. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. There it was again.
            Where had I first felt its impact? In the casino? New Orleans was full of them. In the grocery store? YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. The thing flashed everywhere in bright green so it was difficult to recall where or when I had first seen it. No. It wasn’t in the Roman Catholic casino, or the Baptist grocery store. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. It was at Oak Creek Elementary School, in the third grade, one of the first of its kind flashing in publicly funded elementary schools throughout our Proud Nation, the year the Pride party did away with food stamps, completely.
            YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. Was the brain able to send these electronic impulses through the body, or was this the work of our Proud Nation? Technology being what it was these days, it was impossible to segregate one’s own thoughts from those computer waves our Proud Nation mass distributed from time to time throughout the day. My thoughts were there, but so hard to locate at times. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. It must be our Proud Nation’s thought of the day.
            The Pride Party had instigated the Thought of the Day system after a public uprising almost created a civil war over the elimination of Social Security Benefits. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR was one of the seven Holy thoughts agreed upon by the Council of Churches & Principles of St. Paul. One of the seven Holies was the focus of each day during the week. They weren’t supposed to flash on weekends, but it was rumored that the weekend policy might soon change. Too much crime and resistance over the weekend, and FREEDOM MUST BE SACRIFICED TO PROTECT THE NATIONAL SECURITY OF THIS PROUD NATION. Was that my thought? Oh damn. It was another one. Had it ever been my thought at all? I didn’t think so. 
FREEDOM MUST BE SACRIFICED TO PROTECT THE NATIONAL SECURITY OF THIS PROUD NATION. No. It was not my thought. It was another computer transmitted programmed thought. One of the flashing signs. This one always flashed in fire red. There it was on a city transit bus, probably transmitted from there. Microchips were everywhere. No, it wasn’t actually my thought, either. About all my own brain could do during the week these days was work hard trying to discern my own thoughts from the neon signs, and the programmed thinking imposed by our Proud Nation. Both thoughts were firing at once. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. No wonder I was so confused. The flashing green sign was coming from the bank across the street.
It was a hot day for walking in New Orleans, but I had lost my road use rights when my income dropped unexpectedly, and I was reduced to the yellow stripe. Yellow stripers did not have the right to public transportation, and certainly could not own their own automobiles. Such luxuries were reserved for Blue, Green, purple and red striped individuals, but I had lost my red status when my income dropped below the thirty thousand annual mark. Red status had been unpleasant enough. It required sitting on the back of the bus, and giving up one’s seat completely, if a Blue, Green, or Purple striper did not have one, but at least a red striper could ride. 
Wearing the yellow stripe was somewhat embarrassing, and stepping to the side of the sidewalk whenever a Blue, Green, Purple, or even Red striper passed caused travel to take an eternity. I could no longer travel far from my room on the French Quarter, because it was hot, and paying to use the water fountain was a luxury I could not afford. Euthanasia awaited me if I dropped two stripes lower, as people only wore the black stripe until it could be arranged. Our Proud Nation did not tolerate people who could not take care of themselves; euthanasia was its solution for homelessness, people and animals.
Yellow and Brown stripers had to live in the heart of the city, because travel to the grocery store was otherwise impossible. They also had to pay a hefty fine every week they remained in yellow or brown status, because they were considered financial parasites. Failure to appear in city hall to pay your fine on time would result in sinking to Brown status, nicknamed s**t level, one step above mandatory euthanasia.   At Brown status, it was mandatory to turn in any and all of your family pets and children for humane euthanasia, as it was suspected you would most likely follow soon afterwards, and brown stripers had no right to animals or children, since they could not even carry their own weight financially, in society. 
It was Euthanasia Monday, so named, because weekly fines were due for yellow and brown stripers every Monday at 9am. My $100 fine had to be paid above all else, if I did not want to slip into brown status. If that happened, my fine would be increased to $200 a week. That was why most brown stripers did not live very long after sinking to that level. I made my way up the courthouse steps, thinking of my golden retriever dog. She was all I had left in the world, and I was determined not to slip into brown status and lose her to euthanasia. There had also been Taylor, but that was probably over with my new status as a yellow striper.  Strangely, the thought of sinking to black status was not as chilling as that of sinking to brown. I guessed that was because if they gassed Ginger, I would no longer care if they also gassed me.
There was a long line ahead of me. I tried not to acknowledge the black stripers in our midst. They did various jobs at city hall until their euthanasia could be arranged. So many dull, gray faces. I did not look in their eyes. Well, it was JUST PENALTY FOR SINKING TO THAT LEVEL. Definitely, not my thought, it was being transmitted from the computerized sign located directly above the courthouse door, blinking a bright yellow. JUST PENALTY FOR SINKING TO THAT LEVEL. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. FREEDOM MUST BE SACRIFICED TO PROTECT THE NATIONAL SECURITY OF THIS PROUD NATION.
           
           
 


© 2009 Valerie Dean Belew


Author's Note

Valerie Dean Belew
This is political fiction, a story of what might happen if the concept of people only getting what they can afford was taken to the ultimate limit. Note: I said the ultimate limit. Please do not confuse this story with anything that is actually happening in today's world. It is fiction.

My Review

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Reviews

Valerie,
Tons of GREAT ideas in this chapter. You definitely describe it the right way, with alliteration to brave new world, etc. However, I think you probably have tens of pages in this short post. The unique ideas come out as telling rather than showing, as you place a lot of the newness and differentness of your world in front of your audience. Lead us to these ideas. Totally keep the "was that even my thought" as an opener. This is so strongly done and evocative of the cyber-transition our world is going through right now, and impacts many things I am thinking related to something I am writing. I hope you continue to work on your story!
Sincerely,
Max


Posted 6 Years Ago


This was a really great chapter, and I love the premise behind the story! The language you used was fantastic, and I loved the repitition of the Party Slogans.

Posted 11 Years Ago


Very interesting indeed... certainly a great mocking of how society labels people. Certainly a great set up to the story, I am interested in where you take it.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 12 Years Ago


Wow! Your story is a good read and I look forward to the next chapter. This may be a work of fiction but it seems almost eerily possible at some future time. I like how you mentioned that each drop in the status stripe, the fines go up. Rather like a lot of governments who give big tax breaks to the rich while the 'middle class' are taxed to death. You either have a great imagination or are more than likely psychic. This is not so far fetched as governments continue to seek more and more control over our lives. The flashing signs/programmed thoughts remind me of sumbliminal messages. Great work Val. Hope to read your next chapter soon.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 12 Years Ago


It's strange and a little eerie, but I enjoyed it. Can't wait to see more, don't forget to proof read first, you had a few grammar errors.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 12 Years Ago



In the arena of plausibility, the far right of 'getting only what you earn' has never represented the downfall of a nation. There are few examples if any of conservativeness driving a country into the ditch. On the other hand the opposite--taking from the earners and giving to the non-working class--has formed the catalyst for everything from socialism, marxism, stalinism and communism. Taking from those who have in order to 'make things fair' has been the excuse for every dictator and tyrant. It is disturbing, for the warning signs are in abundance. If we lose our working middle class it's over--completely over.
Your work did bring to mind Sinclair Lewis' book: "It Can't Happen Here".
You did a fine job on developing tension and uncertainty. A truly worthwhile effort.

Daniel

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 12 Years Ago


Interesting start, cant wait to see how you spin this one out.....keep writing!!!


This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 12 Years Ago


Let's see, how do I put this? Brialliant! I absolutely appauld you on this work of modern sci-fi. Oh wait a minute......HMMMMM, could it be that you are psychic? Down through the years sci-fi has had the uncanny knack to predict the future. Old news, that this brings to mind, is that they have a chip that is touted as a way to trace your children if lost and they can implant it at birth. Could this be part of the control plan veiled as a protection mechanisim, so parents will agree with its use? You did a fabulous writing on what could occur in our future, through technology or simple forms of brainwashing. Many are already showing signs of giving over to the subliminal suggest tech. You used great visual skills with this story and it holds interest from beginning to end. Could so easily be expanded into a book. Applause is in order for you and the magnificent writer's pen that you so fluently use. Political fiction? Nope, due to the continued demise of charge cards, for the everyday consumer, that fell for their jargon of living well on low interest, until you were so in debt it became a way of life, now "you will get what you pay for." KUDO'S to you for this peek into a possible scenerio for the future.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 12 Years Ago



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Added on August 20, 2009
Last Updated on August 27, 2009
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Author

Valerie Dean Belew
Valerie Dean Belew

Atlanta area, actually Jackson, GA, but that sounds too backward and redneck...., GA



About
I have recently completed and copyrighted my first novel, presently unpublished. I discovered writing groups about two months ago, and became hopelessly addicted, and not looking for a cure. I atten.. more..

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