Warnings: okay, so this fic has background and a bunch of warnings. First of all, read the other parts of the series before reading this one, it makes more sense this way. Fragiles mental states, dragged-out mental conflict/psychological exploitation, slow spiralling into insanity, then finally ending up with insanity, (implied/referenced/not explicit though?) character death, strangling, threatening, dark!America, brainwashed!Canada, my terrible attempt at faking Newspeak.
A/N: A bit of background here, because this is a one-shot and there's a lot happening. Keep in mind that this is set far later than 1984, the novel, and the rest of the fic series so far - I do recommend very much reading the other installments in chronological order (Hellfire, In All Chaos There Is Calculation, and No More Gods) before reading this one, as they explain the background and set up the premise more than I have developed inside this fic. While what I've written so far is in the 20th century, this is well into the 21st in the universe. I'll explain my reasoning and my excuses in the author's note at the bottom because other wise it's just gonna be spoilery. Fair note however, this is kind of similar to No More Gods, but kind of not. I hope it isn't too similar. Enjoy!
"The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth."
- George Orwell, 1984.
When Oceania enters the room, the North Territory's back straightens, shoulders draw back, legs widen in their stance. Oceania's icy glare lands on him, and the Territory is rewarded with a curt nod.
He's asked how is the Territory? And he answers with a metallic good and an artificial smile. Oceania seems satisfied, and walks over to his desk. The Territory turns sharply when his name is called and he meets the inquisitive eyes of the superpower.
"Report?" Oceania asks, his voice thin and bland. The war has traced shadows under his eyes, and his face seems shallower and paler than last time. It's been awhile since Oceania walked these halls, and it's as if the time between has edged lines into his skin.
"Everything is doubleplusgood," comes the Territory's clipped voice. Oceania's electric eyes dart away from him, down to the papers on his desk. He picks up a pen, but writes nothing. Silence hangs in the air.
After a moment of glaring at his documents, Oceania looks up again. "No thoughtcrimes?"
The Territory's voice brightens infinitesimally. Never too much - too much would be treacherous. "No."
Oceania's eyes narrow at that, and he leans back in the chair, left ankle over his right knee. The pen in his hand starts to fidget.
There's suddenly a nagging feeling in the back of the Territory's mind that something is wrong, horribly wrong, but he can't think of anything that he might have done wrong or out-of-line. When Oceania's motions stop, the Territory's muscles tense and his composure freezes.
But nothing happens. Oceania looks down at his papers again, and gives him a cold, "Dismissed."
The North Territory nods, salutes, and leaves. He doesn't look back at the door, and doesn't see the daggers in those cold eyes as they follow him out.
Oceania is left alone, an event that has become an irritatingly common reoccurrence. He remembers, oh, how well he remembers, the days mere years ago. He remembers the busy halls of the Ministries of Love in every different territory. He remembers the stacks of Thoughtpolice reports that he either skimmed or smiled through. He remembers the streams of expressionless faces in the streets, the ones meeting at corner pubs and drowning their fabricated love in endless bottles of cheap liquor and burning the remaining scraps of themselves into the smoke of cheaper cigarettes before they themselves disappeared in the flow of time. And he remembers the walls of peeling paint and nameless stains of the rooms he so longed to see.
Rooms that probably had not been used in years. So much so that last time, four months ago during his last visit to the Outer Perimeter, he had mistakenly taken a wrong turn on his way to Room 101, and it had taken an inquisitive guard to point him in the right direction. And that mere thought had plagued him since.
Is this not what he had wanted? Is this not what he bragged about to Eastasia and Eurasia? His better-behaved, obedient, exemplary territories? The lack of a need for re-education, because his control is absolute, unquestioned, he has no need to use elaborate systems of psychological torture because he has complete and utter power over his subordinates?
Yet, boredom never fails him. He finds it so dull to watch the days go by and his citizens question nothing and his armies progressing nowhere. The stalemate is almost total, from the international stage to the intra-Oceanian backstage.
And Alfred loathes it. His eyes drift to the door again, the one Matthew - Matthew, so broken he probably couldn't remember his name besides North Territory - had walked through mere minutes earlier. And his mind drifts and dreams, back to those days where the violet occasionally shone through and his voice screamed so sweetly and desperately against the lies Alfred fed him, because he had still been there somewhere.
Alfred knows Matthew isn't completely gone. He knows the relapse is bound to happen someday. But he doubts, with the hollow way Matthew doesn't see anything around him, it would happen any time soon.
It's far past the point of long enough, and Alfred believes there is a way to remedy it. A balance of inescapable control and forbidden thoughts would surely restore things to a perfect equilibrium, more than satisfactory for Alfred and beyond painful for Matthew.
Matthew was the first country Alfred had broken, he was the one Alfred watched the closest, he was a sort of reference for Alfred. And he would once again serve as a test, to enable Alfred to determine the exact balance between obedience and insubordination.
For the first time in a year, a grin splits across Alfred's face.
He hikes the steps of the Minipax, before arriving in front of a pair of large metallic doors. One of them is already ajar, and the Territory doesn't even have the chance to raise his hand before he freezes. What he hears then makes his eyebrows arch up.
Oceania is inside and he's speaking to someone, so the Territory decides to wait until he's no longer busy to make his presence known. There's only one voice coming from the inside, and… there's a hint of irritation marring the usually calm, steady tone.
"... think that the best idea is to declare war on me, then?"
A pause. A scoff.
"Right, and Yao told you that, didn't he? … And you have reason to believe that I would go around bombing your outposts and territories and whatnot for the hell of it? … Oh yeah, 'course that sounds completely believable. … You know just as well as I do that he isn't a damn bit better than either of us. He just paints a holier-than-thou mask and plasters a wise smile and suddenly he's got you wrapped around his finger, Ivan. He's not stupid, neither am I. … I don't - what are you… listen up here, I do not have all day, I have things to deal with. … How do you know about… Fine. - well, guess that's not my problem any more. Fine, declare war on me, both of you, have fun."
The Territory pressed closer to the door, his treacherous, dangerous instincts taking over, a frown edging deeper onto his face.
"It's happened before and nothing's gonna change anyway so,... Have a nice week, Ivan, 'cause I am going to do my best to make sure you don't. … That is none of your business what does or doesn't go on in my territories. No, it's not their business either what I do in them or with them. … As if you believe in the 'right to know'. … Yeah, sure, Yao is such a better ally than I am. Good-bye, Eurasia, loathe to speak to you."
By the end of the conversation, the territory's muscles are tense and a frown creases his face; his mind replays the one-sided dialogue. Eurasia? Eurasia had been on the other end of the line? Oceania was in control. Oceania had to be in control, Eurasia couldn't declare war on him. Oceania had… he had told him so. And even if he did exist, why would Oceania sound so angered? Oceania could win the war any moment if he so wanted. He had more than enough resources, he was far more powerful. And they weren't at war with Eurasia. It was Eastasia. It had always been Eastasia. It had-
His train of thought is interrupted by the door flinging open, and Oceania looking at him with a bland expression. The smell of ash clings to him, and the Territory spots the smoking ashtray on Oceania's desk.
It's as if he's not even surprised to see the Territory standing there with a beige folder tucked under his arm. The Territory's immediate reaction is an apology, but Oceania beats him to it.
"Why're you here?" Oceania asks, and it's as if he's not even concerned about the phone conversation the Territory might have overheard. Maybe it hadn't even happened. The phone conversation was in the Territory's imagination.
"I-" The Territory starts, and he quickly remembers the folder. He takes a hold of it. "Possible thoughtcriminal, thoughtpol documented acts and watchrec inside." He presents the folder to Oceania, who eyes it for a minute before looking back up at the Territory.
Oceania looks at him blankly. "In Oldspeak. Newspeak is being revised. Some words are… nonwords… now." Oceania waves his hand and it looks as if he has no idea what he's really saying.
"Of course…" He resists the odd, quizzical look wanting to settle onto his face by replacing it with a blank one. Perhaps Oceania was troubled, and the Territory would be more than glad to assist - only if needed, however. "This is the identification of a possible thoughtcriminal and the Thoughtpolice's documented infractions and criminal or suspicious activities, along with their recommendation for him to be watched and followed."
Oceania nods, and takes the folder. "I assume this is a highly-placed Inner Party member for this to be brought to me?" At the lack of response, Oceania raises an eyebrow. He opens the folder, and glances inside before shutting it again. "Did you look at the profile?"
The Territory shakes his head. "I didn't have the time. It was marked urgent and to be immediately delivered to you."
Oceania looks almost pleased. "Good." He opens the folder again, before looking up again as the Territory still lingers. "Anything else?"
"There…" he pauses. Did the conversation really occur? It couldn't have. "Nothing."
But he had heard it.
Oceania nods. "Alright. Dismissed, back to your duties."
A salute, and he's making his way down the stairs again. He tries to forget the conversation.
It plagues him for the next week.
The shout startles the Northern Territory, who doesn't move for a moment. When Oceania doesn't call again, the Territory returns to placing the files in the cabinet in order.
The next moment, however, the door to the room he's in is flung open, and Oceania's eyes are trained right at him.
"What was that about?"
The Territory freezes, unsure of what he was supposed to answer.
"When I call, you don't ignore me," Oceania states with an expectant frown, looking him up and down.
"I-" The Territory tries to think of something to say. "I didn't hear you," he attempts, but that's obviously the most wrong answer he could have given.
"I was in the room, right next door, and I shouted. Really?"
"You called for Matthew?"
Oceania's eyes glint, but then he looks at him blankly. "And?"
The Territory's confusion rises - what is Oceania on about? Who is Matthew? Was he suppose to know him?
Why does the name sound familiar?
Oceania looks at him in disappointment. "Never mind. Forget about it. I was thinking of someone else," he says before closing the door again.
The Territory is left more confused than ever, and has no idea what to make of it. He decides to file the occurrence away from his memory, an unnecessary piece of information that matters to no-one.
A slip of the tongue.
Even though Oceania never made mistakes.
Doublethink. Both statements must be true.
It's not until three weeks later, when he's doing the morning exercises in his meek apartment, that the name Matthew connects -
I am Matthew.
He freezes in his thoughts, unable to process it. He's only taken away from his thoughts once the telescreen calls him back to reality.
I am Matthew.
"How is your Territory?" Oceania asks, his voice cool and detached.
The Territory's - Matthew's - eyes snap up to the superstate, who is intently focused on the target in front of him. Oceania fires a round from his weapon, before inspecting the results. He places the gun back into its holster, before he takes the cigarette from between his lips and exhales the smoke. He looks expectantly at him.
"Good," Matthew tries, and it seems Oceania is satisfied. He tries to think of something to say. "How - how is the war? Against Eastasia?"
"Eurasia," Oceania says with a frown.
Matthew's brain stops, his mind reeling to a halt at the mistake. Ripped posters, a mob gone wild flash through his mind. "Oh - oh, of course, Eurasia, of course. Of course."
Oceania eyes him suspiciously for a minute, the silence overbearing.
"We're winning," Oceania says finally. "As always."
"As always," Matthew repeats thoughtlessly. Oceania throws the cigarette away, crushes it under his boot.
"When's the last time you've had any practice?" Oceania asks, and Matthew takes a minute to realise what he's talking about. "With a gun."
"A-? I don't - I haven't…" Matthew tries to find the words, but his right index finger twitches, almost a reflex. Oceania catches it, and takes the weapon out of its holster before loading it. It's certainly not something Matthew has seen in years, if not decades - he's only caught a glimpse of one when he was sent to supervise the loading of a shipment to the frontlines of the war. He doesn't recall ever holding one.
"Here, try it," Oceania says as he hands Matthew the weapon, holding the barrel of the gun, the handle within Matthew's reach. At Oceania's prompting, Matthew takes the handle, the gun slipping comfortably to fit in his hand. His fingers slide into place, and for a moment Oceania looks amused. "Aim and fire."
Matthew stares at the target, unsure of what to do. His arm rises, the weapon steadies, he sees the target over the barrel and his finger twitches. Oceania moves immediately, pushing his arm down and taking the weapon from him, Matthew's eyes still trained on the target. Oceania then watches Matthew curiously, before moving towards the target - he walks to it, before coming back with the grin of a devil twisting his lips.
"Have you ever fired a gun before?" He asks.
Matthew stares, uncomprehending, a sole memory flashing through his mind - snarled words, desperation, blue eyes, blackout.
He can feel the reverberations of the gunshot across his hand.
Oceania nods slowly. "Dismissed - you can go about your day."
As Matthew leaves, he can feel the eyes following him.
The single word resonated in Matthew's mind, and in a flash he was moving. Helmet, safety vest, and he leads a team out the door. No words are said as they make their way to the crime scene, silence reigns as they bust the door, all of them mute as the telescreen speaks its orders.
Oceania himself is already there in a clean, dark grey - almost black, even - uniform with a team of Thoughtpolice with him. The man doesn't show up on often to catch minor, Outer Party criminals, but he sometimes does to check the functionality of the operations.
The woman is terrified, frantic, pleading. Oceania smiles at her and tells her meaningless words that will haunt her forever. Matthew looks around the place, picking up this and that before tossing it aside without care.
Matthew's eyes land on a book. The name means nothing to him, the author catches his gaze.
He reads the title again.
THEORY AND PRACTICE OF OLIGARCHICAL COLLECTIVISM.
Half the words no longer mean a thing to him, but they looked so very familiar. Like an old friend whose face and name do not match up. Matthew picks it up, and his fingers clutch the book.
It shouldn't exist.
It definitely shouldn't be there.
But there it is, and Matthew's mind nags at him that it might contain all the answers he wants, the truth - it might contain the truth. His arms want to put it back down. His brain doesn't let them. He doesn't see when the woman is escorted - dragged - out of the room, but he jumps when a hand lands on his shoulder. He whips around, the book behind his back.
Oceania's clear eyes shine at him through his glasses.
"We're done here. Did you find something?"
Perhaps Matthew imagines it, but he thinks there's a weight on the last word of the question. For a moment the thought he knows flashes through his mind, but he ignores it.
"Nothing of interest."
Oceania's lips quirk, and Matthew thinks it might be amusement. The alarming thought returns, but he files it away again - he can't know, he wouldn't be amused, the book is criminal, forbidden, treason. Oceania wouldn't smile. He wouldn't take it lightly. He cannot know.
"Alright," Oceania says, his hand falling away from Matthew's shoulder. "Go home."
Matthew can only nod, his mind twisting on itself. He hides the book into his jacket, makes his way home. Every corner feels like he's being watched, and he doesn't doubt it - the screens know, the cameras know, Oceania knows. But he makes his way home, finds himself a place to hide from the telescreen's eyeless sight, finds a corner and opens the book.
CHAPTER I. Ignorance is strength.
"Throughout recorded time..."
No. He couldn't read further. His hands are shaking, his heart pounds. Finding out the why would be too much. But he has to move on, he has to know. He has to know something. He reads, on and on, page after page, half the words meaningless to him - but he finds that the longer he reads, the easier it becomes for him. Oldspeak comes back to him, and his mind reels at the words in front of him. Every moment he feels watched, a pit of fear pools in his gut, the reality sinking in with every word. Faraway memories resonate in his head, and guilt gnaws at him.
"... the citizen of Oceania is like a man in interstellar space, who has no way of knowing which direction is-"
Matthew jumps, scrambles to hide the book. He has to find a place to put it, hide it, but the knock comes again and he panics. He opens the door with the book in his hand behind his back.
"You seem surprised to see me," Oceania states, a bland expression on his face. Matthew can't do anything but stare, his mouth unable to form words. "I just came by to see you. You were, to say the least, acting odd. I needed to see if everything was fine." Oceania eyes Matthew, and Matthew's gut lurches. Oceania sighs. "There's been more thoughtcrime in your territory than in previous years."
"Want to take a guess why that might be?"
Matthew doesn't answer.
He knows everything.
Matthew shakes his head.
Oceania nods slowly, as if thoroughly disappointed. "I guess you don't know." Oceania raises an eyebrow. "Yet."
Oceania turns away. The book behind his back burns his hand.
Big Brother is watching you.
"Is something wrong?" Oceania asks him, and his mind trips and stumbles. Words come to his lips but none of them pass their barrier. The inquisitive eyes bore into him, and Matthew wants to answer.
He knows, he knows what you've done, you're a criminal and you betrayed his trust, you've failed him now and he can see it.
He feels bile rise in his throat, he knows.
Oceania clears his throat with a frown. "I asked, is something the matter?"
Matthew startles at the ugly hint in Oceania's tone. "No!" He sees the flash of something in Oceania's eyes and knows he's mis-stepped (long ago, far too long ago to help it now). "No, nothing," he croaks out in correction, his voice thin and tin-like.
He knows, of course he knows, you thought he wouldn't? He's all-powerful, he knows everything!
He straightens himself, but he knows his stance is still off. "Nothing - nothing's the matter."
The lurking suspicion is clear in Oceania's voice. "Then, I'd really like it if you did what you were told. I want a crackdown on the 'epidemic', immediately. I don't like this surge in thoughtcrimes." Oceania's voice now holds a lightness to it, almost a melodic lilt, but it's so concealed that Matthew can't be sure-
"... don't worry bro, I've got an idea, you'll love it! Best idea I've had!"
He feels sick, and his legs wobble underneath him. That's him, his voice it's him- He reaches out of instinct to hold on to the nearest stable thing, which just so happens to be Oceania himself. He doesn't realise his mistake, but as soon as he stands straight again he's looking straight into a shocked stare, into disturbingly sky-blue eyes.
- fire, fire everywhere, flames so bright and high, the night-sky disappearing behind the blazing light. Quiet crackling. Shouts.
"My capital! How could you do this?! Traitor! I only wanted your freedom, only yours!"
His response is silence.
"Alfred made his choice decades ago, Matthew. You have made yours, and I trust you'll stand with it. Yes?"
When Matthew remembers himself again, he's on the floor, clutching desperately at his chest, his breathing erratic. He misses the look of delight that flashes across AlfredAmericaOceania's face, seeing the man standing still in front of him, unmoving and silent - and the voice and the screaming haunts him, the same cry over and over again. But Matthew has no idea where it came from what it means whose cry it is and he doesn't want to know, but it pierces his mind again and again and again and again and it's unrelenting and unforgiving.
Who did he betray? Who? Why? Who is screaming? Why won't they stop? Stop! What can he do? Why won't they stop?
You can only blame yourself, you traitor, traitor, TRAITOR-
What do they want? His mind begs Please stop! but it's not helping. There's more than one voice and he recognises some, there's Alfred please don't scream please help please stop and there's himself and there's a woman but he doesn't know who and there's an accented voice, so odd, faraway, and it's not screaming for him - but it's his memory so who are they screaming at?
The screaming stops. His mind is in free-fall. He doesn't know how to process the demand. Did he hear correctly? He mustn't have. It wasn't possible. But he couldn't erase the pervasive echo of Matthew, Matthew, Mattew from playing over and over in his mind, trying to make sense of the foreign, forgotten name -
"What is going on?" He demands, but as Matthew looks up to the man he can't put a name on him, who is he? "What is it?"
Everything slams through him again,-
You betrayed him, us, yourself, EVERYONE!
-and it's back, the screaming, a world between his ears tearing him apart with a knife everyone you betrayed them all and-
"Make it stop, please, I beg you, make it stop make it STOP!" Matthew screams, his hands scrabbling to hold onto something, alternating between trying to close off his mind STOP PLEASE and finding purchase on the floor EVERYONE and suddenly-!
There's an oppressing pressure, a weight on his shoulder and everything goes silent. Slow.
The word sounds suddenly odd.
He can't remember what just happened. What was he thinking about, again?
"Make what stop?"
The hand, the pressure, it's safe.
"Make what stop?"
The voice, so soft and familiar and safe. Is he breathing? The voice.
"Make what stop?"
The voice, breathe, once and twice, focus on the voice, "Focus on me." The voice.
"Make what stop?" The voice repeats, a mantra, how many times has he asked it? "Matthew?" Matthew realises it's not a mantra, it's a question, he has to answer. Who's asking it?
Matthew looks around, and he sees the man, such a familiar face, who is the man?
"I-" He starts, but what question is he answering?
"What do you want to stop?"
"Okay, I can do that."
Everything, stop everything.
"Okay, breathe, in, out. Good. Everything. Okay."
"I need-" What does he need? He needed something. He needs something. Something, what? There's a momentary flash and everything unfurls and disappears. "Everything, all of it, I don't want to know. I don't. I... don't."
Such blue eyes. Cold. "Don't want to know what?"
"I don't want to remember."
"I can do that. Here, what do you want?"
"What truth do you want, Matthew?"
It's the same name again.
What truths are there?
"There are... different truths."
Desperation creeps again, his lungs, constrained, compressed-
"Any truth, any, just take it away!" A whisper, his voice is but a whisper and weak and shallow.
"Breathe. I can do that. I can help. It won't be nice. I'll have to be thorough. I can help. Do you want me to help you? I can help."
The man stands and there's a hand in front of his face. He looks up, and he still doesn't know who the man is, had he forgotten? Names zip through his mind, who is he?
"Who do you want me to be?" The man smiles, grins. The ceiling light catches on his glasses and his eyes flash.
Matthew stares blankly at the hand extended to him, silent. "Who are you?" He repeats, weak, so weak, could he even be heard?
"I'm Oceania," the man responds calmly, and Matthew feels as if he's carrying the world on his shoulders and he sags. The name brings flashes with it but none of it makes sense. Where did everything go? Everything, his thoughts and memories? Where? Did everything vanish?
"Isn't that what you wanted though?" Oceania asks, and the hand is still hanging there in front of him.
"Yes." It's almost a question.
Oceania smiles, and Matthew wants to slink away from the smile. "Who's Alfred?" The name haunts the back of his mind, rolling like a wave and crashing against his skull.
He can see the blue eyes again, but they're darker. His voice is hollow. "No-one. He doesn't exist. For lack of a better word, he's dead. Don't worry about him any more. Forget him." Oceania seems to think it over for a minute. "You used to know him. Alfred died. Forget him."
"That isn't a word, North Territory."
North-? "But I… you… I'm Matthew?" His eyes plead Oceania, confusion clouding them.
"Whoever said you were?" Oceania asks with a smile, he's pleased, happy over something.
"I didn't. Maybe it was another misleading memory. You're not Matthew. You're the North Territory. That's who you are."
"No." Oceania's face is carved from marble. "You were not. You are not." There's a twitch at the corner of his lip. "That's the truth."
The Territory nods. Matthew.
No. Not Matthew. Forget Matthew. Forget Alfred. Ignore it. Forget it.
"Now, can you tell me who you are, and what you do?" Oceania asks softly.
North Territory. Go from there. "The North Territory." There's a connection, a link, and he follows it. A single thread. "Oceania. Part of,... part of it. Of Oceania." The hand in front of his face moves slightly, and it's as if the Territory sees it for the first time. He takes the hand and is pulled up. Standing is harder than he thought, stumbling, but he's steadied. Oceania leads him to a chair. He sits. "Oceania."
"That's a good start." Oceania looks at the wall, as if bored with the Territory. "Can you go on?"
You know and he knows, make an effort. Satisfy him. He'll be pleased. You know the answer. Go on.
"Thought… Thoughts. Thoughtpolice. It's a crime. Thinking, a crime." His words are confused, a jumble, but it comes back to him. And so do other things. He remembers more. "I supervise the Thoughtpolice operations within the North Territory, Airstrip One and the Maritime Outpost. My counterpart… I don't…?" Who is she? You know. "She represents the - The central… area… She's, er, takes care of the Belt and Southern Perimeter. I report to you."
Who are you? Who is he? Alfred, he isn't…
"Alfred," the Territory says, and he looks up to see a mixture of satisfaction and anger in Oceania's face. Why, why is he angry? Why? Alfred? "Alfred!" It's barely more than a gasp, everything rushing back again and he remembers everything, even that which he already forgot.
Traitor, he's the traitor, he betrayed you, and who else - who-?
"Alfred is dead. Give it up. He's dead." It looks as if Alfred - Oceania - is torn between masks. "Dead."
"Dead!" Oceania shouts. Not Alfred. Oceania. The man doesn't even look like Alfred at all. He's paler, sallower, thinner,... more dead. Matthew realises Oceania isn't lying. Alfred really is dead. The eyes are the same - except they're frozen.
"Dead," Oceania snarls.
Oceania takes a deep breath, and looks at the door. "I told you this wouldn't be nice, didn't I? It's gonna be painful. The truth, it will be painful. Do you want the truth?"
But he betrayed you-
"I don't know-"
Oceania flares but there's a veneer of sadistic pleasure in his eyes, and Matthew realises his mistake and he sees that this is what Oceania loves and thrives on and he remembers everything - the war, the change, the pain, the torture, the sessions, the pain the pain the pain. Alfred - Oceania - whirls on Matthew, his hand pressed tight around the Territory's throat. Short, strained gasps fill the room. The Territory claws wildly at the hand and remembers and his memories spill into reality.
"You wanted the truth. Do you want it? Do you want the truth?" Oceania's voice is thunder. And words of beautiful serenity haunt his mind.
'Truth, Matthew, is subjective, as are you. Nothing except that which I make is real.'
"Well, the cold, hard truth is here, served to you on a silver platter, then."
The contrast between the words and the voices is not lost on him.
'You obey me, you follow my orders, you don't think - effectively, you belong to me.'
"Why, why do this to you? Why did I put you through all this? Because I need you, I need you to think and lie to me and I need you unrelenting and betraying your country and your people and your people betraying you. I need you to betray yourself."
'Thinking is unnecessary. A sin, really. I have no use for thoughts in other people. It's treacherous.'
"If I have to go to your people myself and whisper lies to them to get them thinking and questioning and disobeying, I will."
'Subordination is what I want. Obedience is what you give.'
"If I have to read you that book of lies - the one you have in your room, right now - myself, I will. Because I need you to remember, because you know, don't you?"
'Abandon thought, and you embrace happiness.'
"Boredom and I don't go together. I hate being bored. And what do you think I'll do if I'm bored with you?"
The emotion, now, in Oceania's voice is raw, real, and the Territory remembers why they world fell to its knees so long ago before the superstate.
'If you do not, you'll regret it. You'll be in pain, yes, until the day you die.'
"Take a guess," Oceania snarls, and his hand relents just enough for a shallow breath.
'I won't kill you yet. Only because you still remember. Somewhere in your mind you remember it all. I have to erase all of that before I kill you.'
"If I'm bored with you, I'm gonna have to kill you. I have no use, none, for a territory who's perfect and obedient. I can do that myself. I can rule all of Oceania myself if I want to, but do I?" Oceania laughs. "It's much more entertaining to watch all of you scramble, scream, beg against the swarming memories that you swat away like flies but they haunt you and won't leave you, parasitic memories-" His hand tightens again, his eyes cloud over, Matthew's vision narrows and darkens.
"I need you to have those memories. And if you don't, you're of no use to me." The edges of his vision vanished, he can see only Oceania and Alfred both in front of him, and it's as if straight from a memory, superposed upon the present, he's been here before. "If you don't, I will kill you."
Memories of death, waking up only to be taken under again flood Matthew's mind, and he doesn't understand, he's died already, he's died so many times, too many times, so why is this any different?
"Permanently," Alfred snarls with a smile carved onto his lips, and it's the last thing Matthew hears before his vision disappears and he can't hear and the hands are tight, tighter, there's no air, please-!
A/N: And here we go, this was it for this time! So here is my explanation for this fic: by this point - way further into the future of the universe into the 21st century - Alfred and the other two superstates would have done re-education on their territories for so long that they would be basically so close to being completely broken and submissive to the whims of the superpowers. However, as you may imagine, for power-hungry nations that get their kicks out of feeling the thrill of power and re-educating/torturing their subordinate territories, that might get extremely boring. But Matthew's state of mind, from the beginning, is already extremely weak and fragile and so therefore if anything seems rushed, or too fast, or too easy, blame it on that fact (and not on my inability to write coughcough).