The Doom Room

The Doom Room

The collapse didn’t happen the way people expected. It was more like the Hemingway character who said when he went bankrupt that it happened “two ways, gradually, then suddenly.” Disasters were happening but there was sufficient time between them that people were able to separate them in their minds. They were able to dissociate and not make connections between two events until they got so close together that there was no longer any question but that things would soon break and not get fixed. In the beginning stages, it was kind of like walking past an abandoned building that is gradually succumbing to time, weather, and decay. The windows would get broken, the paint would peel the structure would rot and fall in on itself and it was pretty easy to believe, at each stage of the end, that things had always been this way.

That was how the collapse happened for a lot of folks and they ignored it for as long as they could.

The interesting thing about ignoring little things when they happened was you ended up getting a little jaded, and then when bigger things happened you didn't notice them either, they were just part of the old building.

The people in charge, having a vested interest in keeping things afloat for as long as possible, took advantage of the time between the start and the end to begin to crack down on anyone who was trying to bring awareness of what was happening to the public eye.

They decided to be more hands-on in controlling the narrative because there were people, like me, noticing what was happening and talking about it.

Even knowing what I knew about what was going on I failed to notice that people I knew were vanishing.

It was easier to make people physically disappear in the digital age because no one really talked IRL anymore and someone could just disappear and no one would think anything about it. It was generally assumed that when someone went dark they just stopped producing content or got tired of protesting.

Several people that I interacted with digitally suddenly became silent but I, like many others, didn’t think too much about it.

The programs that were put in place during this time were not in the news. They were secretive departments that operated without any oversight or controls.

Some of them co-opted names from previous organizations like Fairness and Accuracy in Media only now they had nothing to do with fairness or accuracy and everything to do with silencing dissenting voices.

There had always been, in the old days, lip service given to protecting the right of free speech even though it had never really been protected.

My right to free speech was revoked on the morning of August 7th, 2025. It was early in the morning and I was still asleep having been up late the night before. There was a loud, insistent knock on my door and when I pulled it open there were two rather large men, dressed in some sort of military-looking uniforms who informed me that I was to come with them.

I protested weakly but the men did not seem to be the types that would take no for an answer.

I followed them down to the street where they put me in the back seat of a van with tinted windows and drove off. They weren’t inclined to answer any of my questions and I didn’t think screaming was a viable choice so I sat quietly and thought about what bleak, nightmarish future awaited me at the end of this ride.

The drive took about two hours and then the van pulled to a stop on a gravel parking lot in the middle of an old business park.

I was escorted into a stark, cinder block building by the two uniformed men who had informed me, only, that my presence was requested at The Office.

I was led down a long, empty hall that was painted a sickly green color and presented to a very prim and proper woman who sat at a desk near a door in the back.

“We have #43 for you.” Said one of the uniformed men.
“That’s fine.” said the woman.

The uniformed men bowed rather stiffly, turned, and walked back down the hall and out the door we had come in.

“Please take a seat.” said the woman. “We’ll be with you in a moment.”

There was only a wobbly, wooden chair, and as I sat down it gave the impression of being none too pleased with my weight, creaking and shifting as though it were about to explode into a million tiny pieces.

“Can I ask why I’m here?” I said.

She looked at me for a second and then repeated, “We’ll be with you in a moment.”

She seemed very absorbed in a thin file folder on her desk and I didn’t get the impression that she was very good at talking. Every few seconds she would look up at me and then return her eyes to the folder. I began to get a little nervous and fidgety. I still had no idea why I was there. The woman took her eyes from the folder again and said, “Could you please sit still.”

After thirty minutes she got up, took the folder, and walked through the door behind her desk. I heard voices and then she came back and said, “You may go in now.”

I got up from the chair very carefully, not wanting to shatter it and add to my troubles, and walked through the door.

The room was painted bright white and with the overhead lights, it was almost blinding. The lights were encased in a metal cage as though they didn’t want them to escape.

Behind a large desk in the center of the room was a man in a uniform similar to the uniforms worn by the men who had brought me here. He had very small, very black eyes and a pasty face that looked like a serving dish. He resembled a snowman with two coals embedded in his head.

He was looking at the folder. He glanced up at me and motioned to a chair that appeared as though it had been requisitioned from a kindergarten classroom.

He turned his eyes to me and said, “What have you got to say for yourself?”

“I’m not sure that I understand,” I said.

“Which part is it, exactly, that you don’t understand?”

“I guess the part about why I’m here,” I responded.

His face turned dark. He stared at me as though I were something foul.

“You are here because you have been accused of disruption.” He said.

“What did I disrupt?” I asked.

“What did I disrupt?” He mimicked me. “You disrupted a very carefully crafted message that we have been distributing to the fine citizens of this country. You did it by spreading lies and misinformation that are contrary to what we would like people to believe to maintain the peace.”

He pulled a sheet of paper from the folder and shoved it across the desk to me.

“Did you write that?” He asked.

I took the paper and looked at it. “Yes, I did,” I said.

He pulled more sheets from the folder and shoved them one at a time across the desk. As each piece of paper fell from the surface and fluttered to the floor he said, “Disruption! Disruption! Disruption!”

“But it’s the truth,” I said.

He looked at me and his face became very calm. In a voice that one would use to explain something to a small child, he said, “This country is moving very quickly toward collapse. It serves no one, especially not the people who will be most affected by the collapse, to hear what is going on. You’ve seen them. Do they appear to you like the type of people who need the information you’re giving them? Do you think, for a moment, that you are shedding light on a dark secret? Have you ever seen what happens to a person when everything they believe is yanked out from under them? It’s a rhetorical question. Of course, you haven’t. People like you don’t care about what happens to others.”

“But I do care. That’s why I write the things I do. I want them to know what’s going to happen. I want them to understand before it’s too late.”

He burst out with a loud guffaw. “You idiot! It’s been too late for a long time. Nothing will be gained by their understanding. They’ll panic. Do you want that? Do you want them to panic?”

“They should panic,” I said.

“You have no idea what you’re dealing with.”

He pressed the button on the intercom and said, “Miss Allen could you bring in the statement?”

The woman walked in the door holding a single sheet of paper in one hand and a small black, zippered case in the other. She placed the case and the paper along with a pen on the desk and walked out of the room. The two uniformed men who had brought me down here entered and stood on either side of the door.

The man behind the desk handed me the piece of paper. “You have two choices, sign the paper or get what’s behind door number 2.”

The paper had a simple statement on it, “I have stopped engaging excessively with negative climate change content online and started engaging in my community. There is too much doom and we should all strive to be the voice of reason and show there is support for the solutions.”

I looked at him incredulously. “There are no solutions,” I said.

“We know that. It doesn’t matter though because the people need to believe there are. People like you are upsetting the apple cart and we can’t allow that to continue. It’s late in the game and mass panic is the last thing we need right now.”

“What if I refuse to sign this?” I asked.

“Well, then you get door number two.” He slowly unzipped the case and took out a syringe.

“What is that?” I asked.

“It’s a fast-acting poison. It will kill you in seconds.” He answered.

“You can’t do that. It’s against the law to just kill people.”

“Laws change. We not only can but we are. All over the country, right now, as we speak, people like you are being gathered up and given the same two choices that we’ve offered you. Several have refused to sign, just like you’re thinking of doing, and no one will ever find their bodies. They’ll just be gone.”

The two uniformed men who had entered the room moved up closer behind me.

The man behind the desk pushed the statement to the edge of the desk and handed me a pen. He handed the syringe to one of the soldiers.

The man put his hands behind his head, leaned back in his chair, and smiled at me.

“Choose wisely.” He said.

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