...wall of huge blank-faced white microwave ovens lined up like refrigerators at a department store--no department stores now of course--and the long lines in front of each white enamel door, all naked and trembling in the cold, antiseptic-scented air, the guards uniformed and grim behind metallic shades against the fluorescent glare wave plastic wands over heads, legs, buttocks, hands clutching denuded genitals. Every five minutes or so one of the wands beeps, LEDs flash and one unhappy naked and shivering soul is pulled out of the line, subjected to inspection under fluoroscopic screens, bits of metal--fillings, pins in hips, skull plates, reconstructed vertebrae--glowing brightly as miniature suns. The poor soul in question doesn't know whether to laugh or cry, the ambivalence of momentary reprieve balanced against the certainty of surcease offered by the gleaming white doors. The doors in question open, gleaming interiors beckoning, a slight whiff of ash in the air, the constant susurrus of exhaust fans feeding the scrubbers in the stacks, making the air cleaner for democracy or at least what commentators and potentates cry out is democracy, at least what is compared with the kind of regime our honored enemies possess, where voters kept in boxes much like these ovens burn like candles without even the chance to get away like a good two percent of ours do, escape to the sunlit shores where cameras are still allowed (no unrest to document and ignore) and the waves are the only things still crashing.
Try to squeeze into the longest line--prolong the agony the only goal now as ever--go through the shaving of the head and genitals, bits of fluff going in separate piles to stuff either cushions or pillows upholstered with the skins of the lucky/unlucky ones with too much metal in their bones to go through the caloric release that fuels the last turbines still spinning, the last TV station still on the air (though only one is needed now, the populace remaining having been conditioned from birth to expect no more), the commentators aping potentates who compose speeches, crying out for the quieting of the masses--not so massive now; the lines are getting shorter and now the guards turn on each other, assist each other out of uniform, pass wands over themselves and get in line behind the last few stragglers. Only one door opens, shuts, whirrs now, one line hitches forward, all becoming silent in the echoing white room.
I glance over my shoulder, one last look at the end of it all, the last guard behind me tips me a wink and gives me a shove, the latch on the smooth white door clicks shut and
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