PART five: diin
Chapter 43: The Kind Ones
“Do you think this will ever end?” the uniformed OSZA with blue hair asked his coworker, as DIIN watched them from her cage.
“Not at the pace at which things are going,” his coworker, an OSZA with spiky red hair, replied.
DIIN watched them in silence, eating her piece of the tasty bars of food they had given the kids in her cage. She liked both of them equally. They were always nice to her and the other kids. They always gave them a little food when nobody was watching. DIIN had no idea where they got it from, but she was grateful they did.
The food that she was given had gotten worse with each passing day. At first, it had been cold and tasteless, but edible. Then, it had not only been cold but disgusting to taste as well, but still edible. But now, it was also often rotten in places. The gnawing hunger she and CREFY constantly felt had tempted them to eat it nevertheless, but they had witnessed what doing so had done to another child first hand before they could attempt such an act. The retching the child had gone through had scared them straight, and they had fought their urges, even the worst ones, ever since.
The food wasn’t the only thing that had degraded ever since they had gotten there. Water had become scarcer as well. They were not given water for large parts of the day, and those who tried asking for some were screamed or laughed at. Some of the children continued to smile despite it all. But the smiles decreased in number with each passing day.
“Sometimes I wonder why I even bother coming in anymore. I mean, look at this. There are days when I just can’t take… all this… madness…” the blue haired OSZA said, pointing to the overcrowded cages of children that spread out in front of them.
“I know what you mean. It sickens me to continue to be a part of this. But what choice do we have? We’re the only two conscionable OSZA left in this dump. All the other legacy hires have either quit, or been pushed out one way or another. It’s those newer pricks who remain. And you know what they’re like, don’t you? Somebody needs to at least try and balance their cruelty and madness… their goddamn torture…” the red haired OSZA said.
“I guess… It’s just getting harder and harder to put on this uniform every morning. This is not why I joined. This is not why I gave this organization fifteen years of my life.”
“I know,” the red haired OSZA responded.
“You’re right though,” the blue haired OSZA said a few minutes later. “The OSZA we’ve hired since the last few years are mental. I just read something about how an alarmingly large number of them have criminal records.”
“You’re behind, buddy. You need to read more. One of them was arrested for multiple murders. We’re not just hiring petty criminals… we’re hiring full-fledged ones,” the red haired OSZA said.
“What? Don’t yank my chain! I’m too old for those kind of pranks…”
“I’m not pranking you. I’ll send you the article. Read it when you go home,” the red haired OSZA said. “I wonder how many of us oldies are left. Things weren’t like this when we were hired. Our backgrounds were checked. We had to pass exams. We were given psychological checks. There actually were standards back then. Now they let anyone in. This riffraff has ruined our entire organization.”
“Whose brain fart was this whole thing anyway? To just hire as many more OSZA as we could in as short a time?”
“Who do you think? It’s the same idiots every time. The ones at the top. They put whatever stupid nonsense comes into their heads into action. I’ve been here longer than you, and there’s been one time, and one time alone, when we have had a competent OSZA leading this place. Somebody who actually bothered listening to those who made the most amount of sense. Otherwise it’s always been idiots listening to other idiots, the ones who kiss their idiotic behinds the most.”
“The goddamned status quo,” the blue haired OSZA muttered. “Asshats even chased the females out. How am I supposed to meet somebody now? This job takes up most of my day already,” he said, a few seconds later.
“Oh, yeah. Don’t even get me started on that. These stupid loons and their lack of anything even loosely resembling morals…” the red haired OSZA said, as he waved at DIIN and smiled.
“Poor little thing…” the blue haired OSZA muttered. “I still have some hope though. The politicians have been visiting. All those lawyers. All those news crews. There have been OSZA out there protesting. The pressure’s mounting. I think things will change.”
“No, they won’t,” the red haired OSZA said. “I don’t want to take anything away from all the OSZA trying to help, but the fervor is simply not there.”
“Yes. The fervor. The intensity. The will. The determination. Call it whatever you want. It’s just not there.”
“Why do you say that? So many of our citizens are angry. So many are livid about all this.”
“Not enough, buddy. Not enough,” the red haired OSZA said. He kept quiet for a few seconds, thinking deeply. “Think of all the movements of our past. The one for equal rights. The one for sexual equality. The one that outlawed slavery. Think of the more recent ones around the world. There was that rebellion in one of the desert lands last year. There has been another protest, just last month. Right across the planet. You know the one I’m talking about, right? It’s related to some law their government wanted to sign…”
“Right, right. It was about a criminal bill of some kind. They protested to push the government to disregard the bill completely.”
“Yes! That’s the one.”
“They held back on passing it. I don’t know if they disregarded it completely.”
“Doesn’t matter. You saw some of the coverage, right? You saw their ferocity? The citizens of that country were angry. And their rage got them on the streets. They blocked off areas of the city which actually affected businesses as well as the government itself. They showed their elected officials that they meant business.”
“Yeah, I saw something about that on the news. But those turned violent. You think violence is what is needed?” the blue haired OSZA asked.
“No! Of course not. Not the violence! What’s wrong with you? The violent ones are always a small part of the larger group. And they always damage the cause more than they help it. No! They have no right to be there and ruin what everybody else is working so hard to accomplish. I’m talking about the anger, the rage… Look at how motivated they all were. Why do you think that was?” the red haired OSZA asked.
“Because the bill would have caused them a lot of problems. And so they didn’t want it. Why else?”
“Exactly! Because all those OSZA felt like they had something to lose, something tangible I mean. And they could lose something personally. They felt like it could affect them, and I mean them, adversely. And look at our citizens. There are many who have been outraged enough to actually show up here, or call their elected officials and yell at them. But most are satisfied with expressing their moral outrage on social media.”
“They’ve marched about all this though…” the blue haired OSZA began.
“We’ve marched about a lot of things,” the red haired OSZA said, cutting him short. “But a march is not the kind of protest we need. Again, I don’t mean to take anything away from anybody. But we march for a few hours one day. And that’s all we do. We haven’t even come close to what those OSZA did. Just go back and look at all that coverage again. Their protest actually made a dent in their government’s day. Why can’t we do that? We don’t have to get violent. But why not stand in front of government buildings till our will is actually executed by those who we have hired to do so in the first place? Why can’t we protest with more fervor? With more anger?”
“Because they had more to lose… I guess?” the blue haired OSZA muttered.
“Exactly! We care, but not enough. I mean, look at everybody. They’re all busy arguing with each other about who is right. They want their moral victory. You would think that both sides would just cast their differences aside for a few days, and find some solution that stops the torture these little children are going through. But, no! They will argue and write their opinions, and the opinions to counter the opinions, and more to counter those, and so on and so forth, while things just keep getting worse for these poor things,” the red haired OSZA said angrily, with great effort to keep his voice low enough for the conversation to continue to be a private one.
“You’re right,” the blue haired OSZA said, after thinking about it all for a few minutes. “They could just stop bickering and figure out how to treat these children better first. And then figure out what to do about this whole mess after that.”
“But they’re not their kids though, are they? And this situation does not affect any of them personally, nor will it ever. It outrages them, but on a social level. The stakes aren’t personal. It isn’t their families that are in these cages. It isn’t anybody they know or love. This only affects them,” the red haired OSZA said, as he pointed at DIIN’s cage, “and they… are the others. They’re not us. And for the worst of our citizens, they’re not even OSZA. They’re just animals.”
“I guess you’re right,” the blue haired OSZA said. “Maybe nothing will change. Maybe they will all continue to scream at each other… continue to have their moral arguments while these children continue to sit here in this filth.”
“It’s the way of the world, my friend. Our citizens can rise, and make every elected official wet themselves in near unison. Force them to do something about this mess on the double. But they will not. They’ll continue to let both sides use these poor things as pawns instead. A reckoning is required to wake both sides up, my friend. A reckoning. But such a thing will never come. Because the stakes are far from personal. At the end of the day, these children… they’re not theirs… And until they are, this disgusting torture will go on.”
“And we will have to continue to swallow our morals and keep ourselves detached from it all,” the blue haired OSZA muttered.
“Yes, we will.”
“We could quit, you know.”
“Not this again. For the thousandth time, what good will it do? We could complain to our superiors too, you know. But what good would that do? Others have tried both these options, and more, already. Nothing has changed, has it? We’re following orders, and perhaps continuing to do so makes us miserable excuses for living things. We could leave. But we cannot get everybody else to leave with us. This country will always have a steady supply of demons who are willing to torture these children. It’s the head that needs to be pressured into making changes.”
“And only the citizenry can do that… I get it… I get it…” the blue haired OSZA said, as he sighed once more.
“And until they realize that it’s all in their hands, that they’re the catalyst that needs to activate itself, we must continue to hold down the fort. Sneak in as many protein bars and water bottles as we can to give to the little ones. Clean them up as best as we can when nobody is looking. Fudge the numbers and give them extra blankets whenever possible. Leak what is actually happening in here to the media as often as it is safe. Do as many of the little things we can without getting caught.”
“That’s our part to play in all this, eh?”
“I think so. I have to believe so. Otherwise, we’re as bad as the ones who torture these poor things. Come on, buddy. Let’s get back to our rounds. We can sit here and mope all night, but we really shouldn’t.”
“True. Let’s get to it. It’s not like there aren’t many more miserable shifts to come anyway,” the blue haired OSZA muttered, as they flashed DIIN one last smile, before walking away.