On my dystopian short story “They”

In 1986, I decided to enroll for a semester at Livingston University where my mom was teaching at the time.

After graduating high school, my plan had been to work for a year and then head off to Eastern Mennonite College where I had already been accepted. Unfortunately, the vinyl siding business tanked and I was left in limbo. My mom suggested I enroll at Livingston to get a taste of college life and as it was only 45 minutes from our house, I did so.

My favorite class was a work-intensive honors history course called Utopias and Anti-Utopias (or Dystopias as they’re called now).

Each week, we were required to read a book such as Orwell’s 1984, Bellamy’s Looking Backward, or Zamatyn’s We. Then we wrote a research paper, and participated in class discussions. Yes, a book and paper each week. Lots of work. I loved it.

For our final test, we were given several essay questions. Or the professor said we could write a story that would encompass the themes of the course. I set to work with a faint idea, and lo, at the end of my allotted time, I had written a dystopian short story entitled “They.”

In May 2018, as I was revisiting my older works, I decided to revise the story; editing and expanding the plot, yet staying true to the essence of the original. The story has always contained a sort of magic for me, perhaps because it came together in one sitting as I maddeningly filled page after page with words that gradually began to make sense. There also is a sense of despair and hope intermingled in the struggles of the main character, Funereal.

It is my hope that you will find the story intriguing as well. I plan on releasing my most recent version on Wattpad this Friday. And hope to do the same with more of my stories in 2019.

I don’t really know whether “They” will join the pantheon of great manuscripts or not. But I enjoyed the creative endeavour, now and way back then. And the Prof loved it.

He gave me an A.

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