Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Serial: Chapter Ten


As the Man in the Black Hat speeds in a fast elevator from a high floor down to his important meeting with Boss Eggers, he takes a cellphone from his pocket and touches a button with a red X on it. A display on the cellphone reads in sharp red letters, "DESTROY THE ULA."

This message is transmitted to Imperial offices throughout the country.

Literature Police Sergeant John Freeman at Literature Police headquarters smirks happily as he reads the incoming message on his computer screen: "DESTROY THE ULA."

Trooper Skurnick at a desk nearby begins to say, "I know we're not supposed to pay anymore attention to them, but--" She's cut off with a glance from Freeman, whose eyes point her to her own screen with its own message, "DESTROY THE ULA."

In a newspaper building in Philadelphia, a short man with curly black hair rearranges a stack of papers on his desk as his computer begins to beep. The man looks like a Roman and thinks of himself the same way. Last January he'd spotlighted a ULA-like book with a ULA-looking cover in the newspaper's "Spring Books" section. Unironically, he'd written about the book, "about two renegade leaders of an underground literary movement"-- knowing well his city harbors the most infamous of all underground literary movements, which he'd helped his paper to ignore the past several years; the capper being a major article about one of the city's least talented poets which appeared the same day as one of the ULA's readings. Glorious!

The incessant beeping disturbs the Roman's reveries of literary Empire, then he gloats as he reads on the screen, "DESTROY THE ULA."

In another office, Michael Signorelli, dressed in a gray Star Wars uniform marking him as a drone, also reads the command and prepares to comply. "DESTROY THE ULA."

Across the Empire the message is sent and read, giving satisfaction to guardians of literary privilege only too eager to enforce conformity and shut out the forces of dissent and change. They feel swift encouragement. In their fears of literature's failure they have a target which can be named only secretly-- the target has now been named to them and they feed on the information: "DESTROY THE ULA!"


Anonymous said...

Oh King, I know you probably mean this stuff to be serious and it is--it's disgusting the way things-literary are in real life, but this satire/social commentary chapter is still such humorous writing, just in a dark way. I wonder if your funny writing's making those people laugh more than anything else? M.S. did link to your parody of him, you know. Or maybe that's what you want--their attention?

But I can just picture the whole scene in a slick Hollywood military-style movie with the literary personalities sitting in front of radar screens, with ULA faces and books floating on the green screens....

King said...

It's meant to be tongue-in-cheek. I write it off the top of my head. Check the first chapter and you'll see I was just goofing around.
MS posted a link to my remarks after he'd wiped out the same thing I'd written on his blog. I think he realized that with the Internet, one can't be TOTALLY censored. If he can accept criticism, or has a sense of humor, he's one of the very few.
But, really, I'm writing the serial for my own entertainment. . . .
(I began it after seeing an old Dick Tracy movie. Another source inspired the Plimpton lecture.)