“Get out of bed, get out of bed, get out of bed…” a loudspeaker in echoic tones broadcast this message for thirty minutes starting at 5:30 in the morning.
The residents finally did as they were told when they realized that there was no snooze button on the interminable sound.
At 6 AM a new message played.
“Wait outside, wait outside, wait outside…” this lasted for 10 minutes and everyone moved to the front of their buildings and into the cold rain soaked air.
“Collect your rations, collect your rations, collect your rations…” the slow voice commanded everyone.
They looked around vaguely, and, at the bottom of the street, they saw that a huge metal cage had been erected and in it stood two guards in front of several hundred boxes. Slowly and still confused they walked towards the cage where the guards, without word, handed each person a brown cardboard box and in each box was 21 small bars. A small printed bit of paper in each box contained the following note:
Your food is now provided by the state. To reduce obesity and prevent starvation you have been given this box of 21 flavored kelp bars. You will eat one each for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have been scientifically designed to fill you up and ensure that you do not feel hungry for five hours.
Do NOT over eat; there will be no more until next week. Failure to comply will result in you being locked in the community cage until the next rations arrive.
Signed Your Government”
There were grumbles of dissent, but since the slow eroding of liberties at the start of the Fuel Wars, the passion for a fight had been lost. A few people looked around for the ‘Community Cage’ and assumed it was the one storing the boxes. They were wrong.
Two hours later, a bulldozer arrived and knocked down a vacant building and removed the rubble. Then sappers arrived and began constructing a large metal looking cage on the vacant lot. In the cage they strung 50 hammocks and in a separate caged area they plumbed in toilets and rudimentary showers. This was all done within ten hours.
Five days later and the first people started filling the cage, they were reluctant at first, but not having eaten for three days they realized that at least they would be fed. Just one bar a day was given to those inside the cage. It was bland, tasteless kelp, but it was nutritionally perfect and engineered to ensure that, whilst they wouldn’t feel full, that hunger was kept at the other side of door.
Life inside the cage was dull and uncomfortable, the only time it wasn’t exposed to the elements was when it was heavily raining and kelp sheeting was dropped down the sides.
Two days later, the rain gave way to sun, the next weekly consignment of kelp bars was delivered and the greedy were free to collect their next food ration.