Dystopian Short Story

News to me

Author: Oliver Smith

“Activate the content.”

“As you wish. I will do it now.”


That was the end of the conversation. It was the start of the change.

I work hard, I go home, I eat, I put my Cord Hum™ 6000 headset on, I immerse and finally I sleep. I wake the next day, go to work, come home, eat, put my Cord Hum™ 6000 headset on, immerse and then sleep. Life is good when you have a routine.

Life is good when you work to make your country strong. The augmented stories show me how important it is for me to work hard and keep our country safe and strong. The good will of people like me means we’re in complete control.

I immersed in an eye-opening account of how some of the others live only last night. I put my Cord Hum™ 6000 on and selected the feature presentation. It was Beers Gorgan presenting and I thought to myself about how I hadn’t liked him many year’s ago, it’s funny how opinions change, I now thrive and fantasise about having the same barbed wit and mind to match his social commentary. My immersion was so well done. I was walking around a country, it could have been Italy, Germany, France, they all blend into one in my mind. The people were happy and laughing. It was as if they were laughing at me. They all looked so happy and smug, the warm sunshine, the gentle social interaction, it was all too idyllic. Beers then carefully talked through why they were so happy, why they were so relaxed, why they could afford to live like this. They had taken so much from us before the change and now they wanted to show us how they drained us of our resources, our wealth.

The next morning, I ate my micro-protein porridge and went to the plant for work. I worked at the micro-protein plant, helping to feed the nation with an assortment of different micro-protein meal solutions. There isn’t much variation, more a variation of consistency than anything, but we can feed ourselves.

When the others were banished, left the federation, and retained our sense of self, food had to be rationed, and with limited supply, prices went up, soon nobody could afford to buy food. Our country acted though, and we changed, we became self-sufficient, our own food, our own power and our own sovereignty.

My colleague is ill, I think seriously ill, but he comes to work. He can’t see a doctor, he can’t afford it, it’s not included in the micro-protein plant package. Food, shelter and two bonus coins for every month of perfect attendance. My package combined with the Cord Hum™ 6000 is everything I need; work, shelter and the ability to go anywhere and do anything. The routine, eat, work, immerse, sleep. Just make sure you save your bonus coins for a rainy day, don’t deviate from the routine. By not deviating from the routine you’ll have enough bonus coins to see a doctor. My colleague must have strayed from the routine.

It’s lunchtime, I sit and watch the news in the staff canteen. The leader is speaking on the screen. I eat a mouthful of micro-protein broth and listen as the leader talks about our great nation. The address is brief, but a daily service, a hello from him to us. He doesn’t tell us much, but his voice reassures us that he understands us, the people of this nation, he speaks our language, he is on our side. We have our own rules, nobody forces anything on us anymore. We are free to live our routine without interference.

My day finishes and I go home. I eat and then immerse with friends. I use the Cord Hum™ Friends App and we travel the world looking and laughing at the strange customs of the others. It reassures us all how alien the others are and how lucky we are to have our country back. I unplug and sleep.

The next day follows a similar pattern.

The following day is national flag day. I put my flag up outside and go to work and follow the routine.

The following day I take the flag down and use some bonus coins to buy some antihistamine for my hay fever, and my Cord Hum™6000 operating system upgrades while I sleep.

The next day I see the new home screen when I immerse. Cord Hum™ have thought of everything. They provide the news, the entertainment, communications and bonus coin shopping all neatly wrapped up in the comforting Cord Hum™ world personalised to your own thoughts.

This is my life. It’s a good life. A life I voted for and one that I am proud of.

And this is how the conversation started.

“I have this addiction and it’s an addiction that’s very strong. So powerful I just can’t stop even if I wanted to…which I don’t by the way.”

“I know sir, you’re addicted to power. We’ve had this conversation on many occasions. You wanted to see me”

“No chit chat, I like it. Very well Geoffrey, as you wish.

“We’ve been planting the seeds for a number of years through my media empire. The people are aligned to our cause.”

“What about those who are opposed? There will be hell to pay.”

“It’s okay, I have friends in high places and my technology associates are ensuring the opposition only see what they want to see. They’ll think they are winning, and only realise the façade when the decisions have been made.”

“Are you sure?”

“Don’t doubt the algorithm.

“Besides, we’ve managed to finally get our man in power as the Leader. We all know he’s a bumbling fool, but the people like him and let’s face it, we could ruin him if we wanted, he is putty in my hands.”

“Are you sure?”

“You doubt too much Geoffrey. Aside from the fact that he owes us a debt of gratitude and a sizeable debt for getting him into power in the first place, he also asked to get a preview of the Cord Hum™ 6000, with some ‘unique’ features included I might add.”

“What does the Cord Hum™ have to do with it?”

“Blackmail of course. The feature presentations he requested, and we recorded, are not exactly of the highest moral fibre. That’s insurance of course and will not be needed, we control the media, hence we control people’s thought.

“We’ll leave the Federation; the people will ensure it.

“I’ve spoken with the engineering department and the Cord Hum™ 6000 is in mass production, and delivery will start next week. As per the Leader’s promises, every person will receive a free Cord Hum™ 6000.

“Before long, people will be immersed in a world of my own making.

“I imagine it’ll be six to 12 months until our foes in the media crumble and the Cord Hum News Service becomes the voice of national thought.

“Send in the Content Director Geoffrey.”

“Activate the content.”

“As you wish. I will do it now.”


This was the making of the hidden dictator.

Like this story?

Try From Despair to Where

Oliver Smith’s debut dystopian novel, From Despair to Where, is available in paperback and as an ebook from Amazon. A fast-paced thriller set at the beginning of a zombie outbreak, the book will have you hooked from the first page.

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