First they colonise…
My Life In Communist Australia
By Nick Lachmund
I wasn’t happy when the aliens colonised us, but I was really mad when I found out they were communists. My grandfather always warned me about the ‘commies’ and their undemocratic ways. Some communist countries, he used to tell me, won’t even let the people vote. I couldn’t imagine it at the time. But now I’m living it.
“Morning Bill,” Jay, my local barman greets me.
“G’day Jay,” I reply, taking a seat at the bar, “I’ll take a cold one and I’ll soon need another.
The first, second and third beer go down particularly well but I begin to take my time on the fourth one. This is what Sunday looks like to me now. After a six day working week, a lot of us end up in a local pub drowning the week away. It’s the place where I tend to feel my most relaxed. The regular crowd of drunkards are here today. They are a mix of old and young. They all look tired and haggard, as I probably do. The Reds (that’s what we call the aliens) work us all hard during the working week. The pub’s a great to have a place to escape our troubles and be away from the Reds. Sometimes, I even forget that we’re a colonised race. But this only happens when I’m really, really drunk.
The door opens and a beam of horrifically natural light shoots around the bar. I cover my eyes with my forearm and groan. Then the door shuts and we all see them. Shit! Every once in a while they do a random inspection. The Red Guards enter the bar and everyone tries to avoid looking at them. To acknowledge them is to show them some level of respect and none of us are willing to do that. We have one weapon against our rulers though. They made sure they knew the English language before they landed here but we’ve worked out ways around that.
“Stench likes a dingo done shat in the g’rage it does.” One of the old drunks yells from the corner.
The bar erupts in laughter. The Guards start looking around. Their unnaturally large triangular eyes scan all of us. They seem concerned with what’s going on but they are unsure why. Two things the Reds can’t understand: the human sense of humour and sentences where the words are out of order that contain Aussie slang.
“Worser than a shit a young Bilbo ‘ere when ‘e’s been egg eating all day.” Jay, the barman announces with a wide grin, holding his nose for effect.
He pats me on the shoulder and I can’t help but laugh along with the rest of them.
“They almost be near as ugly as old Jay bastard ‘ere, they is.” I counter and get another good laugh from the crowd.
“Me wish youse could fire a boom stick at ‘em an’ knock the ugly noggins off ‘em.” Yells a young, angry looking drunk sitting across from me.
The laughter dies down as we all fantasise about the same thing, a revolution against these bastards. But none of us move. We know the odds. We know where we stand. We have no chance against them and there iron-like, muscular bodies. Their strength and weaponry is too much for us. The Guards continue to scan the bar, presumably looking for contraband or anti-governmental posters. After a while they leave without further issue.
“Pricks,” an old drunk sitting near me mutters as the door closes behind them.
I signal to Jay for another beer and he quickly obliges.
“What was it like?” I ask Jay, “You know, before the Reds got here. I was only 13 when they arrived so I don’t really remember.”
“Well,” Jay looks thoughtfully at me, “we used to get to pick our own leaders. They didn’t force us into jobs and most of us only had to work 5 days a week.”
“That sounds great,” I reply, “the leaders must have been great.”
“No, not really.”
I wait a few seconds for him to elaborate but he doesn’t.
“How so?” I prompt.
“Well, most of them were rich. They went to the best schools, the best universities and had the best lives you could imagine. They didn’t tend to really care about people like you and me. You know, the working people. They just seemed to care about their popularity and staying in power.”
A long silence follows. I’m not sure what I’m hearing. I’m almost scared to ask Jay to go on. He makes the decision for me and continues.
“Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t as bad as it is now. We didn’t have to talk in a riddle language. We could speak out against the Government all we wanted but,” he pauses.
“But what?” I ask anxiously.
“But then again, they didn’t listen when we did speak out.”
“Jay, are you a commie?” I can’t help but ask.
“No Bill, I’m not a commie. But I’m yet to see a political system that works for the people.” He gives me a weak smile before he walks away to serve someone else.
I used to dream of it being the way it was but Jay’s words make me doubt that that’s a good idea. Maybe I need to find something new to wish for.