Commonwealth, II.XXI: “No One Is Irreplaceable”

Commonwealth, II.XXI: “No One Is Irreplaceable” December 25, 2020

Commonwealth: A Novel of Utopia, part 2, chapter 3

Author’s Note: This is an excerpt from my novel Commonwealth. The rest of today’s installment is free, but only on my Patreon site. If you want to read the next part today, it’s already up on Patreon as well. You can sign up for as little as $1/month, or $2 for exclusive author’s notes and behind-the-scenes material. There’s also a table of contents for all published chapters.

Between the other labs, there was a nondescript door labeled “Social Influence Division.” Jane paused when she saw it.

“I think you’ll want to see this,” she suggested. “This isn’t technically research, but we couldn’t find anywhere better to put it.”

They entered the room, which was a circular, high-ceilinged space. Except for the doorway they’d entered through, the walls were giant floor-to-ceiling screens displaying larger-than-life images. There were no other lights, so the center of the chamber was dark.

For an instant, Rae was disoriented. The screens surrounded them with a disturbingly realistic, three-hundred-sixty degree tableau of a war zone. The earth was a churned-up mire of mud and sand. Crows roosted on the leafless branches of dead trees, squawking and jostling each other expectantly. Gun muzzles protruded from defensive nests of trenches and sandbags. In the distance stood the skyline of a ruined city, broken towers gaping like tooth sockets in a skull.

“It looks like the news broadcasts,” she said, “the ones I saw before I— Oh.”

“Yes,” Jane agreed. “This is where we create those images. I thought it would help you to see it for yourself.”

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