Repurposing | Rebecca Hadland



Rebecca Hadland

The Death and Public Speaking Award


The glow of the man’s lit cigarette flickered in his eyes as he surveyed Richard over the radio broadcast desk. A desk which now felt like a flimsy shield between himself and this man, flanked by bodyguards dressed in the black of the regime. The man himself wore a brightly coloured robe, which suggested he was high up on the food chain. Richard knew this much from his own investigation into their administration, but his broadcasting of these facts was, no doubt, why they were here.

The man took a long drag on his cigarette and was briefly masked by the long column of smoke that followed.

“You are quite good at this job. You have a clear voice, excellent tone and good modulation. He inhaled more smoke, his hooded eyes already bored with the conversation. “You see, Richard, your communication is very good, as is your ability to interact with your 7000 listeners. This is why I do not want to have to repurpose you.”

A bead of cold sweat traced a line down Richard’s back, his throat felt so swollen he had lost all power of speech, and speaking was his current existence.

No one ever came back from a repurposing. There were rumours that the repurposing work program was actually a slaughterhouse. Humans who were no longer deemed of value were indeed repurposed, as fertiliser to keep the perfectly sculpted lawns green, dog food to feed the pure bred pooches, or, if the rumours were true, human food for anyone who was leftover. Richard had long since gone vegetarian, and had suggested to all of his listeners that they do the same.

The man flicked ash from his cigarette onto the desk between them.

“I think you are a clever man who is able to improvise on the spot.” He said, gesturing with his cigarette. “It’s just unfortunate that your knowledge of current events seems to be a bit… off. This makes it difficult for you to sway public opinion to the truth. And really there’s only one truth now. It’s important that you come to understand that. A man such as yourself though, well, I’m sure you’re willing to learn that truth.”

He crushed his cigarette on the desk and let it fall to the ground.

“That’s the beauty of radio though, don’t you think? The listeners will believe whatever they hear.”

He reached up and placed heels of his palms over his face, covering his eyes. “Like this. They cannot see, so they listen. Since they cannot see they cannot tell if the only reason you are speaking the truth is because one of my men is holding a gun to your head.” He chuckled. “Not that we would ever do that, of course.”

Richard stared fearfully at each of the bodyguards, his eyes darting between them. He couldn’t tell if either of them carried concealed weapons.

“I think you’ve learned quite a bit of truth today, haven’t you?” Asked the man, glancing at Richard, and then more meaningfully down at the broadcast desk.

Richard nodded and, with trembling fingers, pressed his microphone button.

“It’s Rocker Richard here folks, back on the waves. I have a special treat for all you all today. I have had my eyes opened, so all of you had better have your ears open for this next segment.”

And like that he betrayed his 7000 listeners.