A bead of sweat rolled down into his eyes, and the painful sting caused him to wince. Jonathan Hanover's fingers danced ever more quickly against the illuminated surface of his holographic keyboard, rewriting line of programming code after line of programming code. His heart beat stronger against the inside of his chest as he heard footsteps approaching from the hall. If someone caught him now, he would be reprogrammed for sure.
The door to the small office flew open. It felt as if John's heart had stopped with the impact of the door against the wall.
"John!" his boss shouted in a friendly manner. "What are you doing here so late for? Sorry for busting in like that, but I thought that one of those crazy protestors might have broke in."
John breathed a sigh of relief. Mark was a typical government-employed drone... he probably hadn't had an original thought in his life. Mark was definitely someone he could deal with.
"Hey!" Jonathan replied, smiling as sincerely as he could manage while he turned around to face Mark. "I didn't think anyone else would be in this late either. I was just
doing that research you asked me to do; you know, to see whether we could use the Blinders to disable the protestors. After all, we wouldn't want the police to be exposed to
real violence, now would we? Then we'd have to go through the trouble of reprogramming them all."
"Yeah," Mark sighed. "Definitely wouldn't be fun, that's for sure. Try to remember not to call them Blinders though... the real name is 'Federal Inappropriate Sensory Input Inhibitor', as you should know. People get the wrong idea of what they are for if everyone starts calling them Blinders. Made any progress on modifying them?"
"Let's find out," John muttered. He pressed the transmit command on his computer screen, sending out the signal which would reprogram the Blinders. He waited a few seconds just to make sure the Blinders had updated, then smiled towards Mark.
Suddenly, in a loud voice, John shouted out every obscenity that he had heard his parents utter when he was a mere child, before the days of Blinders. Mark backpedaled towards the door, clutching his ears in pain. To Mark, the obscenities were nothing but a terribly loud buzzing noise, the sound of the Blinders doing their job correctly.
John smiled again, elated that his modifications had functioned as he intended. The Blinders remained active for all Federal employees (exempting himself), but had been deactivated for civilians.
John pushed Mark out of his way, running full out until he managed to reach the protestors out front.
The massive mob of anti-Blinder protestors was impressive to behold. The mob operated as a massive entity, its shouts uniform and its movements that of a single creature, bent on a single purpose. They pressed against the field barriers around the Federal Offensive Materials Bureau, blue flickers of energy playing across the crowd whenever they pushed just a little too hard. They shouted for freedom, for the ability to see what they wanted to see, hear what they wanted to hear, and feel what they wanted to feel. Some of the braver had earlier attempted to scream out curse words, only to find their throats constricting as the small metallic devices implanted into their temples took over their higher brain functions.
Now, they were able to scream whatever they wished to, and some were rapidly figuring that out. Various obscenities and scandalous words issued forth from the crowd-entity, the police officers that had been circling them suddenly backing off. All of them were holding their ears, begging for the crowd-entity to cease its relentless assault. John couldn't help but grin as he witnessed this; their own devices were being used to fight them.
He slowly walked to a podium in front of the crowd, which had been tactically placed directly behind a primary field emitter. The director of the Federal Offensive Materials Bureau had earlier used it to try to placate the crowd, to no avail. Now, John would use that same podium for precisely the opposite purpose.
"Ladies and gentlemen... a new day is upon us!" he shouted into the microphone. The crowd roared as one with excitement, nearly drowning out Jonathan. When he spoke again, it was in a slightly louder and more confident voice.
"Do we want this new day's sunrise to shine upon a land where everyone sees the land, almost literally, through rose-colored glasses? No! We shall no longer let an executive agency to rule over us, demanding that we deny ourselves every freedom there is to deny! The latest generation has never seen the human form nude... the Federal government suggests that it will corrupt children. Our children have never had the pure and simple pleasure of a mere cuss word... something so small that can relieve so much stress through a single utterance. These insignificant words can supposedly turn them into mindless zombies of destruction, ruining their fragile minds. Every morning, before I head off to work, I watch the government recommended cartoons, each one containing a different moral. I tire of this. I tire of being treated as if I cannot handle the least bit of truth. I refuse to live like this. Let me have my freedom back! I demand it!"
A roar from the crowd effectively ended John's tirade, as the crowd repeatedly pushed against the field barrier. Some of them even managed to procure various melee weapons such as pipes or baseball bats... which was surprising since violent sports had been banned for more than a decade.
The time had come for the second phase of John's plan. Just as he had timed it, the computer command activated. The field barrier deactivated, leaving the crowd full access to the building that was the imminent target of their hatred.
They tore towards the skyscraper as a wave, pouring over the steps, quickly smashing their way through the front entrance. Thousands of people crowded around the sixty story tall building, as if they could push it down through sheer numbers.
John clung to the microphone as people swarmed around him, the incredible din rising to such a crescendo as to be deafening. The crowd was so loud that he almost failed to pick out the sound of military hover jets approaching. In less than five minutes after the barrier's collapse, the sky was filled with sleek black hover jets that managed to blot out the stars of the night sky.
John began to wonder why the military had come with such a large force to put down a simple protest, and grew nervous at his guesses.
The lead pilot of the Federal Sensory Correction squadron opened his communications channel.
"We have the protestors in sight. They have broken through the field barriers. Should we deploy our Reprogrammers to straighten them out?"
The pilot's commander quickly replied, "Negative. Just hold position for now, until we gather more data. If they make any hostile moves, however, you are free to respond with whatever force you deem necessary."
Back on the ground, John was doing nothing but becoming more apprehensive. All of the military hover jets were just sitting in midair, as if they had all the time in the world. What were they planning?