Alex rolled his taped-open eyes. The reeducation teacher had been fooling with the projector for half-an-hour now.
‘Sorry, guys,’ the teacher said now. ‘But I cannot get this freaking thing to work. Oh, well. I guess today we’ll just watch one of the movie downloads on my Mac. You want Grosse Point Blank or Two Towers?’
Cameras, cameras everywhere. But deep down, Kate knew that no one manned them. No one was watching at all. Nobody cared, and she was all alone.
‘John, how can you not love the World State ?’ asked Lenina. ‘Have you ever had an orgy on soma? There’s no more blissful experience than that.’
‘Oh, I don’t know,’ replied John. ‘Have you ever won the most prestigious award in your field, and stood in front of a giant auditorium filled with your peers, all sincerely applauding your great contribution to the human race? And as you stand there, reflecting on all your hard work and sacrifices, you look down and see the woman you’ve secretly loved for years giving you a standing ovation? And as you make eye contact, she silently mouths “I love you,” and you realize that all of your wildest dreams have come true at once? Because that’s pretty blissful.’
‘Yeah,’ said Lenina. ‘But mine you could do tonight.’
As Jonas’s sled reached the bottom of the hill, he saw his mother waving to him in the crowd, next to the stand where the pictures taken of riders are displayed.
‘Did you enjoy the Community?’ she asked. ‘Was it scary?’
‘It blew. Stupid Walt Disney and his stupid sterilization drugs,’ said Jonas. ‘I wanna go on Space Mountain again.’
As the cage was lowered over his head, Winston began to scream.
‘Not the rats! Please God, not the rats! Do it to Julia!’
‘What rats? This is just a cage. Putting a cage over your head would be pretty scary, we thought. Rats…jeez, Winston. You are one, sick SOB.’
Suddenly Offred realized, with a growing sense of humiliation, that she was not a handmaid in the Republic of Gilead at all. Rather, she was on the F train in Manhattan, she was having another schizophrenic episode, and she reeked.
X3947 approached the portal of happiness. The releasing agent closed the portal door behind the citizen in front of X3947, and looked down at his clipboard.
‘Citizen X3947,’ said the agent. ‘I see you’ve signed your form and all is in order. All I require now is the $35 fee.’
‘Wait a minute,’ said X3947. ‘Fee? You’re making me pay for my own euthanasia?!’
The agent blinked. ‘Of course,’ he replied. ‘Nothing is free.’