IT HAD BEEN SIX MONTHS SINCE the agencies started tracking Donnie McGee, a lanky, brown-haired, green-eyed nineteen-year-old boy. They were after him for his out-of-control ‘hate’ speech. Donnie first attracted the attention of the agencies when he posted a picture of his parents’ wedding to a woke corporate digital media platform. It was not an inclusive photo; it was hateful. His parents were straight and white.
The final straw, which dropped a few months later, was a post containing a ribald joke about a tryst between a low-IQ Somali illegal alien and a trans-sexual midget.
That was it for Donnie!
The computerized, digital-red-flags for racism, sexism, homophobia, trans-phobia, xenophobia, and height-insensitivity had buzzed and beeped. The surveillance system seemed angry. Donnie was instantly banned by all the big tech corporations from further digital posting (standard procedure) and, of course, his bank account was shut down. Shaquonda was instructed to cancel his driver’s license, which she did while chewing on a piece of red licorice. The $782.69 in his account was donated to a leading woke social justice charity on Donnie’s behalf. They would use the money to prove that certain lives really did matter. Either that, or they would use it to buy bricks to use to fuck shit up in a riot. The government pumped his facial identity markers into the ban list for all major services: airlines, trains, ride-share, phone services, grocery, and entertainment. Just like that, Donnie had no more access to any of these things. A technician shut down his smart-refrigerator, remotely. His toilet was stopped up, again, remotely. The key card to his corporate-government apartment was changed to deny him access.
Donnie McGee had been officially canceled.
As a living cancellation, Donnie would have no further ability to use corporate-government products and services in the United States of America.
No-one thought much of it. Donnie’s cancellation was highly-automated and he was just one of millions who had been digitally eliminated from participation in the technocratic kleptocracy and its related scams. In fact, the government and its mega-corporate partners were running out of people to cancel. After a few years of cancellations, most everyone held approved opinions; they shared the ‘right’ kind of information, purchased approved corporate-government products and ate only government-approved processed food. They drank only corporate-government soda; water was banned. Everyone seemed to learn and comply with the rules; they didn’t want to get canceled, and no-one thought to fight back.
“Broad Limited Freedom” was what the corporate-government called their system.
But something strange happened when Donnie was canceled: the system couldn’t locate him on the grid! Usually, the corporate-government surveillance system would pick up the canceled outcast on its tracking system — going from apartment to apartment looking for food, asking to use a toilet, asking to borrow a phone to call someone for help. They always tracked the cancellation to make sure no one gave it aid or comfort. Anyone who dared help a cancellation became a cancellation themselves.
Not Donnie. He was gone! He didn’t show up on any of the government’s surveillance feeds. Zero. No facial recognition hits. No body recognition hits. No digital footprints. No attempt to access his canceled bank account. Donnie McGee had vanished.
The disappearance created a new URGENT red-flag in the system and an agent was dispatched to talk to Donnie McGee’s father. He entered John McGee’s standard-issue corporate-government apartment after knocking once (as a courtesy), then using his government access smart-key to open the door.
The stale air inside the apartment stagnated even more after the heavily-cologned diverse agent stalked into the room. Donnie’s father looked up, slowly, careful not to make a sudden move in front of an enforcement agent. The agent had government sanction to use force for any reason or no reason at all.
“Mr. McGee? Well sir I have to say there is some shocking news today. Your son, Donnie, was canceled. Let’s see,” said the agent, looking at his enforcement device, “it looks like it was a whole bunch of -isms and -phobias. A hateful joke. He said the wrong stuff, and it wasn’t the first time. Funny thing is, we haven’t seen him on the network grid after the cancellation. We know where everyone is, in real time. Except Donnie McGee.”
“Is that right?” replied John.
“That’s right. Looks like it was a really, REALLY offensive joke that finally did it. Offended a lot of people.”
“Well, if that’s the case, I support his cancellation. We have to be sensitive to differences, sir. We can’t just go around making jokes. Donnie should have known that,” said John with a forced grin.
“Have you seen him?” asked the agent.
“No,” replied John.
The agent looked around the apartment and, seemingly judging that Mr. McGee was telling him the truth, walked out the door, saying “Good-day” as he left.
Donnie had taken his precautions. In fact, at the time he posted the joke he was already living on a deserted island just north of Killiniq. He had left the week before, on the underground railroad for un-woke dissidents. Hundreds of people had left this way in the past few years. He traveled heavily cloaked, face hidden, and he avoided the cameras. His government-tracked cell-phone was the first thing he got rid of, throwing it in the trash can. Cancellation was bad; getting purged was worse.
Donnie had already reached his destination. He went by car, then train, then boat — shepherded by a runner who went by ‘Richter.’
Before he left, Donnie had purchased two cell phones on the Hungarian dark web. The phones were delivered by unlicensed courier. They connected to satellite — so they could be used anywhere, even in the far north where he had relocated — and Donnie knew that he could only use each of them once, before he would destroy them. He had used the first one to jimmy-rig a connection to the internet and post his (hilarious) joke about the Somali and the trans-midget. He laughed as he posted it. Then, he destroyed the first phone.
Presently, Donnie McGee was out on the ocean in his little fishing boat, casting for salmon. He had already caught two, and wanted to get one more before heading back to land and smoking the fish outside the little cabin he had built for himself on the uncharted island.
He took out his second cell phone and put the battery in, then turned it on. Once it was connected to the satellite and operational, he called his dad, John McGee.
John didn’t recognize the Hungarian number — but answered his phone.
“Dad, it’s Donnie.”
John McGee was surprised it wasn’t a work call. Most of his contact was work-related, asking him to pull a double shift at the plant.
“They came looking for you today, Donnie. A corporate-government guy.”
“Yeah, I figured they would. It’s fine, they’re not gonna find me.”
“Said you were canceled,” noted John.
“Yeah, I wrote a joke on the internet. But it’s all right, I did it on purpose.”
“Where did you go?”
“I can’t say, dad. And I can’t call again after this, this phone is a one-and-done.”
“I understand, son.”
“You doing okay, dad? I can give you the name of the guys that helped me get out of there if you want. They’re good. It’s beautiful where I’m at. And there’s no woke bullshit; you can think what you want.”
“I think I’m too old, Donnie. They made this system on my watch. I’d be embarrassed to run from it now. I just have to wear it.”
“It’s not your fault, dad. It snuck up on everyone. And you’re not old.”
“I look back and I don’t know how I allowed it — I don’t know how everyone allowed it — but it’s too late for me to leave.”
“Dad, be careful what you say.”
“Ahh, let them cancel me, Donnie. Fuck these people.”
“Just be careful, dad. How’s your ankle?”
“It’s okay. I had the surgery and I’m moving around pretty well. I just have to keep working on my flexibility.”
“That’s good,” replied Donnie. “Don’t let them work you too hard at the carbohydrate plant.”
There was a pause in the conversation. Donnie and John were lost in their thoughts. Donnie had been a professor and a writer before he got moved into the empty-carb factory for wrong-think (he wrote an article about Aristotle that didn’t give primacy to the ‘African heritage’ of Greek thought). Donnie’s reference to the carbohydrate plant was an inside joke between the two of them. It was a way to acknowledge how ridiculous the woke system was without actually having to say it.
A flock of seagulls traveled over Donnie’s boat and he marveled at their grace in flight as he continued to grip his salmon line in his left hand, with the cell phone in his right hand pressed against his ear.
“I wish things didn’t end up like this,” John said, finally.
John smiled happily, remembering the old days. Donnie smiled too. At nineteen, he couldn’t remember any good old days. He just smiled because he loved his dad.
“You know, dad, sometimes things just have to get really bad — they have to bottom out — before they can get better. Bad times create good men. And the other way around. It’s gonna be okay.”
“I know, Donnie. I just have these regrets.”
“Don’t worry. It’ll get fixed. Someone will stand up and fight.”
“I don’t know…” said John, trailing off.
“It’s gonna be awhile dad. I just wanted you to know I’m okay. I’m safe. I needed you to hear that from me. I’m working on some ideas, can’t say what they are over the phone. In the meantime, I have food and water and shelter. That’s all I need. It feels good to be away from all those corporations and their partners in the government…”
“I understand that,” interrupted John.
“I know how to take care of myself,” continued Donnie. “I didn’t want you to worry. I’ll figure out a way to get another phone and I’ll give you a call. But it might be a year, might be two. Just know that I’m good.”
“Glad to hear it, son.”
“Okay, I’m gonna go. I didn’t consent and I won’t comply. Love ya, dad.”
“Love ya, Donnie. I’ll wait to hear from you again, whenever it is.”
Donnie hung up the phone. He took a mallet from the deck and smashed the phone until the screen was completely destroyed and the battery fell out. He put his right hand back on his rod.
Just one minute later, he got a bite. He hooked the fish and reeled it in. Number three was in the boat. He set his course back to the island and a few minutes later he was trudging up the path toward his cabin. He cleaned his three fish and put them on the smoker.
While the fish were cooking, he sat down on a wooden chair by his fire pit and worked on his plan, jotting notes and thoughts and ideas inside a spiral notebook with an ink pen. “It’s coming along just fine,” said Donnie, to himself, as he finished writing for the day. “It’s all gonna work out okay.”