“Veritas” By Tapti Sen

I woke up with a start.

“That dream had seemed so real,” I said to myself, as I imagined my bed getting out of bed and

thought up the bathroom, white and marble and shiny. The tiles, however, were a bit too cold so I imagined them becoming warmer and relished in the instant heat. I thought of clean teeth, and my teeth instantly felt squeaky clean. As I mentally got my things ready, I talked aloud to myself about the dream.

“It was a very strange dream,” I commented to myself, “People couldn’t thought-perform

any more and they had to do everything manually! It was more of a nightmare than a dream. In fact, the funniest part was, people talked aloud to each other instead of thinking at each other. And thoughts were private!”

“How absurd”, I said to myself as I imagined myself in my classroom.

‘What’s absurd?’ My friend Tate thought at me as I appeared in my classroom.

‘Nothing’ I thought back. ‘I just had a really weird dream last night’ I thought. The teacher’s voice echoed in our hands.

‘Please get into your seats’, She thought at the students.

‘Today, we will be learning about the Pythagorean Theorem’, she said, envisioning a white board with the formula scrawled on it. As her thoughts continued, words began to appear on the board.

‘This is stupid’, One of my classmates thought. The teacher gave them a look.

‘Mr. Finch, I understand your feelings but I do wish you would put at least a minimum effort into Thought-Math’, She thought. The boy’s face colored.

‘I am sorry for interrupting the class, though not, for what I said’, the boy thought guiltily.

‘It’s ok Ms. Finch, we can’t control our thoughts after all, can we?’ The teacher thought,

before turning back to the lesson. It was common courtesy to excuse a person’s thoughts, as they couldn’t control what they said, but I couldn’t help but notice the teacher’s hurt face.

‘You know’, I thought to Tate after the lesson was done, ‘What if we lived in a world where we could think untruthfully?’ I wondered.

‘Untruths have no purpose except spreading toxicity in the environment. What would be the point?’ She thought, her mind already wandering to what she was going to do after class.

‘‘What if it was for a good cause? What if untruths improved someone’s lives? Or they were used for a good cause?’ I thought.

‘Yeah but, it’s better to leave things as they are, right?’ She thought pointedly.

‘True’, I sighed softly.

In the middle of my next lesson, I was thought-asked to come to the principal’s office. As

soon as I appeared there, I saw two women in black suits standing there, looking strict and professional.

‘Ms. Monroe, could you please come with us,’ They thought in unison. It was rather creepy.

‘Of course’, I answered confusedly. They showed me the image of a prison cell, and I appeared there. As I appeared there, I couldn’t help but wonder what wrong-doing I had

thought-performed to be sent here. In person, the cell was much gloomier than it looked with dim lights and dirty walls surrounding me.

One of the women walked up to me.

‘Today, we heard you and your friend think some interesting things. Apparently you’re not happy with how our society functions?’ She thought with a soft tone.

“It’s not that’, I thought hesitantly, ‘I just think that untruths, while terrible, could be utilized for certain purposes.’

‘But that would be false’, the woman pointed out, ‘And we as a society rely on reality, don’t we?’

‘Yes but-’ I tried to interrupt, but the women raised her palm as if to communicate ‘stop’.

‘Do you know why we converted to Thought-Performing?’ She asked. I shook my head.

‘Long ago, we realized that so many of the world’s problems would be solved if people just learned to communicate better. Except there was one problem, untruths, or ‘lies’ as they were called them. That’s when a brilliant person, Shan Garcia invented the illustrious ‘Veritas’ machine. The machine induces hallucinations in people, that can last decades, or even centuries’ Once we created our own ‘thought society’, we banned untruths and made everything truthful,’

‘Yes, everything in this world is false.’ She thought, seeing the realization dawn on me.

‘But why? If everything is fake, then why do we ban untruths,’ I thought.

‘Who said everything is fake? Your thoughts are just as real as anything else. Why shouldn’t you be able to build bridges and entire cities with your mind, stopped only by the limits of architecture? Who needs mundane things like physics when you have your mind? It was thinking of this, that Garcia had created the Machine.’ She thought. Then, she turned to me.

‘And now, unfortunately, we must erase all your memories of everything that you learnt here today again.’ She said with an almost sad smile.

Again? I wondered but before I could say anything, a strange blackness started creeping

into my mind, similar to how thought-sleep felt, but even scarier somehow. In a few seconds, I was out cold.

I woke up in my bed with a start.

“That had sure been a strange dream’, I thought as I imagined my bed away.

 

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