John is passionate about human and animal rights, social justice, equality, and the environment, and likes to convey that in his writing.
The Little Girl With a Booklet
As a freelance writer, I was recently hired to adapt the famous Hans Christian Andersen tale ‘The Little Match Girl’ into a contemporary story about modern society and the concerning direction it seems to be heading in the very near future. What seemed to be dystopian science fiction in novels like George Orwell’s unforgettable ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four, (written almost 75 years ago) is now becoming a reality. We have long surpassed the year 1984 but the emergence of COVID 19 and the resulting pandemic has acted as a catalyst to fast-forward the implementation of a totalitarian regime worldwide.
“The primary theme of 1984 by George Orwell is to warn readers of the dangers of totalitarianism. The central focus of the book is to convey the extreme level of control and power possible under a truly totalitarian regime. It explores how such a governmental system would impact society and the people who live in it.”
I was given permission to share this story, and the main image, by the buyer as he wants this message to be spread far and wide. I will also be credited with the writing (as co-author) when the book is released. The client chose the title ‘The Little Girl With a Booklet,’ wanting it to be relatable to ‘The Little Match Girl’ though I am not entirely happy with that. For that reason, I have alternatively called it: ‘Death of Free Society.’
Death of Free Society
It was so terribly cold. Snow was falling upon the last evening of the year and darkness was descending early. Despite the cold and gloomy conditions, a poor little girl, barefoot and dressed in rags, was walking through the streets.
Like many others in the city, she was homeless, though officially such a condition did not exist. “Poverty Free City!” proudly boasts an overly bright display as she passes by. She was a number, like all citizens. The bar code on her ear-tag was a testament to that, as was the booklet with her social pass she had to carry at all times.
She had very big slippers, way too big for her for they were only made in one size. The little girl had lost them running across the road when two limousines narrowly missed her as they sped by. A few weeks earlier her mother had refused her services to an old Elite, and when that happens, they revoke the child’s good pass first. So she could not renew her clothing.
Her small feet had become red and raw from hours and days walking the hard city pavements, and the now frosty conditions were starting to turn her toes blue. People passed her by, indifferent. “Shame on parents, letting their child out to wander the streets in these harsh conditions, and dressed like that!” one thought as he noticed the little girl, but then continued on his way quickly diverting his thoughts to the more important business matters.
Her eyes begged to rest upon a friendly face as her pain and sadness hid behind the restrictive muzzle on her face. Only the rich and famous were allowed to go about freely without wearing these, but in this section of town, mostly busy gagged figures were to be seen. She was shivering and hunched over from the cold… and oh so hungry.
As the world becomes a more digital place, we can forget about the human connection
— Adam Neumann
The girl paused in front of a clothes store, attracted by the inviting atmosphere and the warm clothes stylishly worn by the mannequins in the lighted window. Standing in the doorway she held out her pass for scanning, her hands almost dead with cold.
The machine lit up and started beeping as she held up her booklet in a faint hope. For a moment, in the little halo of light in front of her, it really seemed to the little girl as if she were happily walking down the street; as if she was free to enter any shop she pleased. This particular one had good clothes in warm colours. She gazed in amazement at the wool socks, the padded gloves and snow-white scarves…
Then the halo of light vanished; the machine buzzed and started flashing its red dot at her face.
Saddened and forlorn, she continued slowly along the street, the feeling of emptiness tossing in her tummy urging her to eat. Snowflakes dusted her long straggly hair as she approached a restaurant. It was easy to see that she would have been quite a pretty girl if she had been cared for only a little.
To anyone else, the smell of hot food cooking from this place would have been revolting, but she was raised to be accustomed to it. For ‘C’ class citizens, private restaurants were a thing of the past and for their safety, they were only allowed to eat from corporate restaurants. Once again, she held out her hand containing the pass. The scanner at the door illuminated as she raised her booklet in front of it and when the halo of light fell upon the wall behind, it became transparent like a thin veil.
She could see through into a room in which stood a shining dinner service. Gloriously roasted food she had never seen before was shared around the table. Then the scanner buzzed, and she could see only the thick, cold wall flashing red.
Again, she held her booklet up and she was startled at all the smells that filled her nostrils. How could she have imagined a family sitting together around a table, sharing such gorgeous food and drinks, talking with each other and smiling and laughing? She scanned her booklet many, many times and saw so many beautiful things that her grandmother told her in stories from her childhood.
I want to go home, but lamentably, I don’t know where home is anymore.
— Danny Castillones Sillada
The little girl was getting colder and colder … breathing was difficult, and her poor skin was now slowly turning from blue to white. Maybe she could have tried to go to her mother’s container, but she was certain to be angrily roaming the DigiVerse™ or already dazed from the drug use. Her abusive father had left them years ago; her loving grandmother had turned 60 years old a few years back. This memory particularly saddened her … when people are not productive anymore their body is recycled for the common good.
The girl staggered on, feeling weaker and weaker, and just dragging one frost-bitten foot after the other. She was almost in a daze from cold and hunger as she reached the steps of the hospital. As a C citizen, she knew even if her pass let her in, she would have to pay large sums of central Digi coins she didn’t have, to be taken care of; but her mind drifted as she lifted a shaky hand to present her pass to the scanner once more.
“Protection and care for everyone. The World Government is working hard for you!” says the billboard right next to the scanning machine. “Free food and clothes! Charities are a thing of the past… Just scan your pass.”
The girl’s eyes focused again, flickering in sad recognition, as this scanner also flashed its red dot at her. The door remained closed as the small flicker of light slowly faded from her eyes and she collapsed in the doorway. The life slipped from her small body as she lay alone, uncared for, dying from starvation and the cold.
Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life
— Nelson Mandela
While the little girl’s soul prepares to embark in the brightness of her voyage above the Earth, an intern springs out the hospital doors in great agitation. “This is outrageous!” he shouts, then proceeds to lecture the nurse following him on the bad image a body in the doorway gives to the hospital. He leaves promptly, instructing her that rendering should be called in immediately.
“Stupid pass-less non-citizen crap!” faintly resonates from the hospital’s hallway as the New Year sun’s rising light briefly reflects on a small tear above the nurse’s mask. But how could the nurse say anything, how could she risk having her own pass cancelled? Some said the little girl was better off. Whatever awaited her now must be better than the miserable life created for her on Earth. Perhaps she would be reunited with her beloved grandmother.
But, no, her grandmother would not be greeting her with open arms in the Great Light. A long time ago she had the opportunity, like everyone did, to speak out against the fakery and the lies. But even as she knew the story of her granddaughter was being sowed, she remained silent and obedient. Doing nothing, she vetted in favour of the digital segregation, then again for the digital slavery that came with the Great Reset. She knew the lies; she knew the corruption; but with her silence allowed, time and again, for the crimes of a few to proceed, creating more powerful tyrants and the even poorer slaves.
There would be no “happy ever after” ending in this story.
Nothing’s lonelier than living amidst the digital world, where no one knows about your physical existence, whether you’re still living or just existing for algorithmic feed on the social network or Big Data system.
— Danny Castilllones Sillada, Homelessness of the Soul in the Digital World
© 2022 John Hansen