In 2118 all music had been made illegal 30 years ago by the Administration. The Administration had decreed “Music promotes diversity. Diversity is the enemy. One nation, one race, one people.”
When the Administration made the law it did everything it could to purge the country of anything related to music. Wood instruments like guitars, violins and cellos were burned in massive public fires. Wind instruments that were metal like Trumpets got smelted into new guns and bullets for the police and the army. Record stores were burned down and every iPod and mp3 player was smashed. Conductors were dragged from their beds and shot. Music teachers were sent to either dig ditches or prison, they at least got a choice.
Because there was no music all other self expression was practically non existent, but the Administration always made it clear that self expression itself was not banned, just music. However one could not tell that self expression was still allowed because everyone practically dressed the same. A pair of slacks and a t-shirt. That was what everyone wore, no dresses skirts shorts, not even swim suits when they went to the beach. Slacks and a t-shirt. The one avenue of self expression was that you got to choose what color of shirt you wanted. Some people choose red, others yellow, some had just given up on that and just wore brown to match the slacks.
The only people who got to dress differently were the police, military, and members of the Administration. The first two wore standard uniforms, but the administration was different, they all wore suits. The men in the administration wore top of the line hand tailored suits. The women wore pant suits of the same quality. No one in the administration ever dared wear anything but their nice suits(they would never be caught dead dressing like a civilian).
But still, the Administration stuck to its motto: ‘One Nation, One race, One people.”
The tailors all worked for the Administration making their suits, but even they were only allowed to dress as civilians. Dave’s father was a tailor, and he lived with his dad across the street from the shop. Dave would watch people file in and out of the store in their jackets and ties and Dave would hate them, and he hated them when he had to work in the shop.
Dave’s father used to play in a punk band. Dave never heard punk music, or any music, but everything about it sounded wonderful. His father told him the stories of the songs they would play, about the concerts and these things called “mosh pits” He heard stories about wild hair cuts dyed all sorts of colors, about people who were so into this scene they would get holes punctured in their face in order to put pieces of jewelry into their lips, eyebrows, and even their tongues. Dave was lucky to have a father who remembered what life was like before the Administration banned music. Very lucky.
On Dave’s 19th birthday, his father said he had a present for him, but they would have to go out of the house to get it.
“Dad,” Dave said worried, “You know that the Administration moved the curfew time up to 10pm right? Anyone caught outside their house without military clearance is immediately…”
“Shot.” Dave’s father finished for him. “Yes I know, that’s why I have been waiting to tell you.” His father took a deep breath and sighed. “David,” His father began, “You are an adult now. When you were a boy, I was always worried. Worried that something may happen to me and then that would mean something happened to you. I would never be able to live with myself if I lost you the way I lost…”
Dave knew he was talking about his mom, and he also knew his dad did not like talking about it, so Dave just nodded to show he understood, and his father moved on.
“It’s why I became a tailor for the Administration. I had to distance myself from that past I always told you about. But now that you are old enough, old enough to protect yourself, it’s time that I share this with you.”
“What?” Dave asked.
“Just wait son,” his father replied. “And happy birthday.”
When it was 9:30, Dave’s father told him that it was time to go. “Go where?” Dave asked. His father told him nothing except that they needed to hurry.
They went out the back door of the house through the alley to avoid being seen by the street cameras. The Administration had cameras everywhere but the alleys for some reason, so that was where the underhanded did their dealings. Dave’s father took him on what felt like a maze of concrete and trash, zigzagging all the way across the city. They turned a corner went one way, then turned a corner to do the opposite, until finally they hit a dead end.
The dead end was just a giant brick wall with a pile of trash underneath a large arch by the wall. Dave was confused when his dad told him to be quiet, and then his father kicked the pile of trash three times. The bags of trash and stack of wooden debris sounded hollow when he hit them with his foot. Dave moved back with a jolt when the pile started to rise revealing it had been on top of a door. The door popped up like a garage door to reveal a long set of concrete stairs that appeared to lead to the cellar of this black building they were by, but as the stairway disappeared into the darkness it seemed like the steps went on forever.
“Come on” his father said, pulling out a flashlight from his pocket.
They walked down the stairs and into the darkness with the spot of light to guide them. As the went down the stairs Dave could hear the trash door close behind them with a thud that echoes in whatever cellar they were in. The echo was large though, too large for just one cellar. When they got to the bottom of the stars they had reached a corridor of a tunnel, a long brick tube that stretched in either direction for miles. David and his father started walking down the tunnel and as they did the echoes of their feet began to be drowned out by other noises, noises that Dave had never heard before.
As they walked to the noise it had gotten louder. Dave could not tell what it was but it was a sound that intrigued him rather than terrified him. It was rhythmic and fast, and the closer they got the more they could hear voices along with the pacing rhyme.
Eventually Dave could hear what it was, his father was already singing along, Dave had never heard singing before.
“Neat, Neat, Neat.”
Then more of the rhythmic interlude. Then the voices again “Neat! Neat! Neat!”
“Neat! Neat! Neat!” Then with a sudden burst of sound then it had ended. “The Damned,” was all his father said to David. Before Dave could ask him what that meant suddenly another one started, again with his father singing along at first.
“I want to be classified, I want to be stereotyped!” Rang out from a distance, and it grew louder and louder with each step.
Dave could not help but bob his head along with his father, not knowing what he was doing or what he was listening to, but he knew that the more he could hear it the more he liked it, and he was hearing it clearer with every step.
“I want a… SUBURBAN HOME! SUBURBAN HOME! SUBURBAN HOME!”
The noises grew louder until finally they reached a metal door on the left side of the tunnel. The noises that they were enjoying seemed to come from this one room. Dave’s father knocked on it the same way that he had the garbage door, three times with his foot, and the door opened, but the door was opened by a person with blue hair that looked like spikes and a piece of metal sticking through their eyebrow, exactly as Dave’s dad had described to him.
The song was peaking and coming to it’s conclusion as Dave and his father entered the room, which was filled with people dressed like they were from the stories he had grown up with. The sounds were coming out of this little wooden box with a dial and speakers on it. Dave’s father told him that it was a radio and what they were listening to was Punk rock. The musicians that had just been playing were called the Descendants, according to Dave’s father, and there were plenty more songs to be played.
Dave’s father went around introducing his son to the people, some of them were people Dave recognized, even though they were wearing things that had long been banned. Torn jeans, military shorts, thick boots, and piercings and hairstyles that were impossible to imagine on the Administration’s surface world. Yet it didn’t prevent Dave from recognizing Mary who ran the corner grocery store by their tailor shop, or Phil, who even though he had a ring in his nose could still be placed as the physics teacher from the high school.
After Dave’s father had properly shown him around he told him that the box with the speakers was a radio, an antique from sometime in the 20th century. “What they used to do is have things called radio stations, and they would play songs. The stations would then transmit these songs through the air, and these radio things would pick up the signals and play the songs the station was playing.”
Dave then learned that this was what they were doing, listening to radio, and they were listening to the punk rock radio station, being run out of a different spot underground just like this one. “There are lots of us David.” His father told him, “and not just Punk Rockers either. There is an underground Hip Hop radio station, a Classical radio station, a show-tunes station!” Dave didn’t know what any of those things were, but he was just glad to finally experience Punk Rock because it was everything as his dad had described. Fast paced, energetic, and full of the most expressive people you could ever see.
The station had begun to play a different band and song, and on a loop the radio was screaming ‘I fought the law and the… LAW WON. I fought the law and the… LAW WON!”
The night had been the greatest birthday present Dave could receive, and he was even more thrilled when he found out they would be going back every night. “The administration can ban music,” his father told him when they returned home. “But they will never stop it.”
Each night for the next six weeks Dave was brought to the underground listening station where they rocked out and mingled with like minded punk rockers. For one night at a time people would shed their civilian dress and put on clothes from a bin in the corner which held jeans of all sizes, black t-shirts with holes and giant A’s on them in a circle. There were also studded belts and shoes. Some people took this chance to dress up, others just came for the music. Dave just came for the music.
One night the station was playing a female lead punk band called Bikini Kill. Dave was enjoying the gritty vocals and rapid guitars, but he could not help but notice his dad was not himself that night. Normally his dad was very sociable at the Underground. He would usually be off in the corner chatting with some of the civilians he recognized from their neighborhood. Tonight though he was sort of slow, down and moping. He just shuffled around nodding at people when they said hello and looked at his feet.
Dave went up to him. “Dad,” he said. “What’s wrong?”
He looked up at his son. He did not say anything at firs. At first he just put a hand on the back of his son’s head. Then finally with wide watery eyes he said, “This really does mean you’re grown up. I kept you from this because this, all of this…” he trailed off as he looked around at the people moshing or the neighbors shedding their t-shirts in exchange for their chains and studs. Then Dave’s father gave a deep sigh. “You know how big of a risk this all is right?”
Dave was about to say yes but then, almost as if on queue, there was giant explosion somewhere that shook the entire Underground. The radio was almost knocked off its stand, but was saved as the people nearby it caught themselves on it to keep from falling when the shock wave came. The bricks and mortar all around them danced. Still the music was playing, but something was wrong and everyone knew it.
The fast paced drums on the radio playing were being drowned out by different thudding rhythm. “One two One two.” That was coming from the hall and echoing throughout the tunnel.
They grew louder and louder as if there were more of them coming with each beat. Everyone seemed to realize what was coming all at once. They were trapped, the only way into the room was the only way out, and everyone knew what that beat in the hallway was. It was the rhythm that can only come from boots marching. It was the Administration’s army, and they were closing in on them.
Suddenly the steps all came to a stop at once. Within the next second the metal door was hit with a different rhythm. “BANG!” A beat, then “BANG!” Another beat. Then with the third “BANG!” the battering ram had shoved the door in, and the troopers began to swarm. They flank left right and center as they entered the doorway to keep anyone from getting away. They filled the room from corner to corner. Even when they had the whole room flanked, they kept pouring in, and soon enough the beatings started.
With the thuds of rifles came the the screams of everyone begging for mercy. ( Pleading that they would come peacefully.) Some got the butts of riffles plowed into there stomach or smacked across their noses. Skulls were cracked under the weights of a soldier’s boots as some people fell. Others were lucky enough to hit their head on the brick floor before getting away. The luckiest were the ones who took a bullet to the brain when some of the soldiers opened fire.
Dave and his father were near one of the flanked corners and each grabbed the butts of rifles as soldiers took swings at them. Dave’s father used the moment to butt his head into the guard’s while swiftly kicking him in the crotch. That soldier went down just before three shots from the other side of the room cut into Dave’s father. One of them made it all the way through his chest and ended up cutting Dave in the back of the leg, sending him to the ground.
“Dad!” Dave screamed back.
But his father said nothing, he just lied there bleeding out.
The song kept playing amidst the gun fire and the screams. Dave just lay there on the ground as bullets whizzed over his head. He tried dragging himself closer to his father only to be blocked by the body of Joan from the pharmacy when she collapsed thanks to the bullet now in her brain.
Dave just lay there, trying to make the most of his impeded view of his father. Trying to think of some way out of here. But the pain in his leg was too great, and for some reason the darkness was growing around him. He couldn’t keep his eyes open much longer.
The darkness was growing around Dave as the song kept playing. The music didn’t stop until one of the soldiers finally kicked over the radio and smashed it.
When the music stopped was finally when Dave let the darkness consume him.