This extract is the opening to a dystopian novel set in London in 2047 where for around 20 years there has been an uprising. A man named Alex lives under the tyrannical rule of an extreme feminist regime, the extract follows his daily life in a society where he is legally required to be chemically castrated and aid the government in supporting the success of women with the aim of eliminating men from society entirely. On a national holiday called ‘Giving Sunday’ Alex, as law requires, is on the way to the home of the woman he must act as hand-servant for.
Alex woke to the sound of the radio they’d fitted into the walls of his apartment. The shutters in front of him opened wide, as they always did, flooding the pristine white room with light. With a grinding of metal gears his mattress contorted itself until he was sitting up facing the window ahead of him. He watched the shutters of the windows across the street open in unison, revealing countless uniformly decorated apartments identical to his own. In each of the apartments was a man whose face was painted with the same crestfallen look. In on one of the rooms was a young man, face expressionless his eyes staring blindly at the floor. It was 8.05, Alex turned back to the window; if he didn’t get out of bed in twenty-five minutes The Enforcers would be alerted. Rubbing his eyes Alex shook the thought off. Reaching to his right he grabbed a box from the bedside table. Its label read Alex Smallwood, D.O.B: 12/05/2028, S10953742, Cyproterone Acetate monthly dosage. Sighing deeply, he pulled back his sleeve, tracing his fingertips over the bruised injection site. Though he’d been going every month for the past seven years the thought of the clinic still opened a pit in the bottom of his stomach that swelled with dread. Tossing the box aside he made his way toward the bathroom. Speakers were installed into each room, the radio followed him: ‘… since this government came into power violent crime rates have plummeted by over 70% and our economy is thriving. England has managed to firmly establish itself as the world’s first all-female superpower and as a country we are happier than ever. That stands as testament to the truly meagre value that men have in society.’ There were daily reports about government policies and their countless successes, each one seemed to serve as a reminder for men to know their place.
From the cupboard above the sink he took a small plastic sample pot labelled with the same information as the box, removing the lid he looked down at the filter sealed inside. Stood dismally over the toilet, the pot in one hand Alex aimed the stream into its small opening. When he had finished, he replaced the lid, swirled the liquid around and held it up to the light watching it turn slowly from yellow, to green, to purple. A label inside disintegrated in the concoction of chemicals and urine, revealing a barcode on the side of the pot to confirm his successful completion of the month’s prescription. Alex placed the pot beside the front door. He had set his uniform out on top of the chest of drawers the night before. On Sundays, he wore a pallid pink toned outfit that resembled hospital scrubs. This, surprisingly, was a welcome change from the plain black outfit the government had issued all men. Alex worked for minimum wage as a handyman, fixing wiring and doing DIY jobs in the homes of high-earning women whilst they were away in the city. He’d return to his apartment drained and aching but he appreciated not having to clean sewers or the filthy streets like the others did. Today however, was a Giving Sunday: a full day of unpaid work for men to show their appreciation for women. Alex had been assigned to a Ms. Heathcote; he was to be her personal hand servant and was required to buy a gift from her wish list. It was 8:50 am. If he left now, he would have just enough time to collect her gift from the store and check into the clinic before heading to her house. Picking up the pot, he placed it into the scanning compartment in the wall, after a moment the compartment lit up green. With a click the door unlocked.
The corridor shone with sterile white light. He heard a door unlock. The hallways of his building were the only place Alex was permitted to talk to others. A few doors ahead of him, a man stepped out; Anwar was leaving to perform his Giving Sunday duties. Alex opened his mouth to greet him but just as their eyes met Anwar held his hand straight up. Alex stopped in his tracks, his words froze. Anwar lifted his hand to his mouth, making a zipping motion before turning toward the lift. The two men approached the end of the corridor. As he reached forward to call for the lift Anwar’s hair fell from the back of his neck revealing a glowing red blotch: he had been silenced. Initially a punishment for making a sexist remark or undermining a woman’s authority, silencing had since developed as a way of forcing men to learn to speak only when they have permission. The process involved a Taser-like instrument that latched onto the man’s neck, shooting a pulse of electricity through their throat that rendered them voiceless for anything up to a fortnight. Anwar’s hand shot up to the back of his neck, he threw a glance behind him that made Alex lower his gaze. His fingers twitched, Alex wanted to put his hand on his shoulder in sympathy but he stopped himself knowing not to, for his own safety. A pang of guilt hit him. Being silenced put you on a three-strike rule. Three more times and you were gone. No one knew what happened, people just disappeared and no one could talk about it. They both stood in silence staring desperately at the doors as they rode down. When they finally reached the ground floor Anwar dashed out of the door. Alex let out his breath, though he hadn’t even realised he’d been holding it.
Stepping out onto the street, he noted how much the city had changed since he was a child; this area had once been a council estate but was now one of 6 male-only districts. Walking along the dozens of identically dressed men, traipsing desolately along the pavement you could almost taste the bitter misery in the air. Buses carried women across this ‘dangerous’ area of town, emitting the unfamiliar glow of happiness onto the street. Inside, the gleaming faces of women sitting comfortably and chatting happily to one another, while on the other side of the window men stood blank-faced waiting at bus stops. The male bus was the epitome of hopelessness; filthy, grey and run down, passengers cramped in like an incredibly sad tin of sardines. At the bus stop the poster warned men about the consequences of skipping their injection – anything from short stints in rehabilitation camps to surgical castration or even lobotomies in the worst cases. From behind the glass, haggard, wide-eyed faces gazed out at passers-by, people deliberately turned away from the poster, desperate to avoid its stare. High above the pavement, hanging from buildings and bridges, adverts for women stood in stark contrast. Billboards featured the film posters of the all-female remakes of classic films, reshaped as works of government propaganda. Fashion outlets paraded powerful women dressed in suits and in the latest advertising campaign for stem-cell reproduction, a family of two gloriously happy mothers stand cradling their precious baby girl. It was a perfectly orchestrated reflection of our misery, thought Alex: there was no escape, wherever you went it stared you dead in the face.