It’s 8:57pm. She’s still not home.
Finally I hear the beep, and the door clicks. In walks Candide, my wife. “You won’t believe this!” she says in her best stentorian voice. “I was on my way to see Mum when…” I had to interject. “Keep it down; you’ll wake up Josh — I’ve only just got him off to sleep.” We always wanted a big family but that was not possible, at least not for us: the “zeros”.
After the Great Depression of 2031 — when the cost of retrofitting 8 billion homes with low carbon technology bankrupted the entire planet — the U.K government sought more authoritarian measures in order to meet the ever-changing date required to reach net-zero carbon emissions. The hyperbolic language adopted by climate alarmists was employed for decades, terrifying a generation of people into believing the planet was facing an imminent heat death. In 2032, the state passed a bill that mandated a one-child only policy for all married zero couples. The bill, known as the Green Revolution in Ecology and The Atmosphere (GRETA) gave statutory power to the state’s climate department to monitor the nation’s carbon footprint and set a strict limit on its use.
We were told the state knew what was best for us
Candide had spent the best part of the day at Nanny H.Q., being interrogated. She had been charged with health-jacking. Health-jacking is when a hacker rewires your device in order for you to access healthcare. Candide’s mum has myocarditis — an inflammation of the heart — and desperately needs an operation, but neither of them have enough points. She was let off with a warning. As punishment, for the next seven days there would be a DroneBot™️ outside the house tracking her every move. The message was clear: follow the rules; we control you.
We were told it was for our own good, that the state knew what was best for us. They called it a health revolution. Most of us refer to it simply as the “app-pocalyspe”.
It all began thirty-two years ago when the government of the United Kingdom met with epidemiologists in an attempt to stop the Coronavirus. Panic ensued — people were locked in their houses, and businesses were closed. It still puzzles today’s economic historians as to why the government sacrificed its economy to a virus that had a 99.5 per cent survival rate. Anyway, the only way the state would allow the country to re-open was to prove you were vaccinated by showing your vaccine passport. Trials in France and New York were successful. A once-recalcitrant society quickly became an obedient one.
Around the same time, it was discovered that obesity was a prominent risk factor in contracting the virus. Not long after vaccine passports came into effect, the government launched the trial of a new health app. It monitored an individual’s diet and workout regimen. If you complied and changed your unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle, the state would reward you with gifts.
It was to set a dangerous precedent.
Welcome to Safe-Haven. The year is 2052. Social engineering is now society’s highest goal. We’ve had to surrender all personal freedoms to security. The law was rewritten. Civil liberties are now merely opinions, and rights no longer exist. All surviving government departments deemed morally relevant to society have been subsumed into a new monolithic, technocratic empire. When the second technological revolution began ten years ago, every section of our lives fell under the control of Nanny CORP™️ — a vast data storage facility that regulates the lifestyle and consumption patterns of the nation.
Staffed by a seemingly endless supply of government bureaucrats and scientific experts — known as “the ones” — Nanny CORP™️ refined and updated existing technology, transforming it into an even more authoritarian system of social control. Known as the SAGE-1, the new personal device tracks our every move and rewards us for complying with the latest health regimen dictated by the omnipotent corporation. As with China’s social credit system, failure to comply leads to a loss of privileges.
By contrast, the ones are exempt from all this. As self-professed experts, the managerial elite enjoy all the rights and freedoms that once belonged to us all. They can have a family of unlimited size, dine at the finest restaurants and fly anywhere they want whenever they want.
All zeros are required by law to carry the device at all times. Regulation is carried out by the enforcers: a private security firm that contracts with Nanny CORP™️. There is one enforcer for every citizen of Safe-Haven. Failure to produce the SAGE-1 at an enforcer’s behest leads to the cessation of all privileges and immediate deduction of all points.
Everything in the house is controlled by Nanny
The home of every zero is fully automated — as required by law. CCTV cameras replete with in-built microphones adorn every room. Need the kitchen cleaned? All you have to do is say “clean” and the TIDY-BOTS™️ emerge from the cupboards to offer their services. “What would you like to be cleaned?” The automated interrogatives emanating from the machines appear to offer you a choice. But choice is merely an illusion. If you question anything you lose SAGE points — SAGE points being something previous generations used to call loyalty points, except these are now a form of social currency. They are required for everything from getting a job to booking a flight. Even for receiving health care — the reason my wife is now on probation.
“You’ve had a long day, I bet you could do with a drink,” I suggest to her. “You joining me?” she asks. Unbeknownst to Candide, I’d already had my two state-sanctioned alcohol units for the day whilst pacing anxiously up and down awaiting her return.
Everything in the house is controlled by Nanny. The fridge can only be opened if you’ve sufficiently reduced your calorie intake, as dictated by SAGE. The television only comes on for thirty minutes a day — once at 7:30am and again at 7:30pm — so you can get the latest news from NANNY-TV™️ — the only channel zeros are allowed to receive.
“I can’t make you anything to eat, sweetheart; I haven’t been able to go for a run.” Instead, I offer to run Candide a bath. Slowly she turns her head. Her eyes meet mine and she answers in a forlorn tone, “Will GRETA let you do that?”
We sit in the bathroom together. The solitary glass of wine rests atop the overflowing washing basket, slightly askew. I turn the taps on full force so we can’t be heard.
“What the fuck do we do?” I ask her.
“The car won’t be charged until the morning, and we don’t have enough points to take the hyperlink,” she says, disconsolate. “Plus, I can’t leave Mum.”
The clock hits midnight. All of a sudden, the lights go out. No more power for the day.
We will have to figure it out tomorrow.
Enjoying The Critic online? It's even better in print
Try five issues of Britain’s newest magazine for £10Subscribe