|Authorities Search for Escapists|
Issue #60 (November 1986)
Republic, TH (LEAK) — Sixteen people escaped from Plato's Cave today, making a mad dash for reality while the Overseer's back was turned. Authorities immediately began organizing search parties to go after the fugitives, but held out little hope of finding them any time soon. They are considered unarmed and dangerous.
"These people are much more dangerous than your ordinary murderers and rapists," the Overseer said at a hastily-called news conference, "because there is no way of knowing what they'll think of next, or in what way they'll attempt to upset the Stability which we know is our most sacred possession. While the overwhelming majority of you know it's your place to [quoteright]maintain your station and monitor the shadow shows on the screen before you, these cursed nonconformists insist on resisting the Way Things Are (WTA) and seeking fruitlessly for some other illusory 'meaning.' Heretics that they are, some even maintain that WTA is what is illusory!"
The latest escapists are far from the first, according to the Office of Information and Reality (OIR), but they are extremely dangerous because they set an example which others might be tempted to follow. Since the majority are programmed to emulate the images in the shadow shows before them, the OIR stated, anyone violating the shadow images can cause considerable social dislocation and provoke potential escapists to take unrealistic action. "All reality is equal," an OIR spokesman said, "but of course some reality is more equal than others."
Escapism is actually on the rise, according to independent investigator Jack Fudge, and may constitute a serious threat to shadowtarian society. "There have always been philosophers, poets, and anarchists who have escaped from the Cave," Fudge said, "but the alarming thing is that the number of escapes is on the rise and the increase is increasing. If this goes on...where will it all end?
Meanwhile, in another part of reality, escapist Lefty Rightbrain yawned and stretched and scratched himself. "This feels good," he said as he savored his new-found freedom.
Neal Wilgus was born in Jerome, Arizona. He has a degree in English from Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, and moved to New Mexico while working for the US Forest Service in the early 60s. He is a prolific writer of poetry, science fiction, and satirical humor. His latest chapbooks are The Leakoids: Newsalizing the Nation, and Rhymed and Dangerous, a book of poems. Neal currently resides in Corrales, New Mexico, and works the night shift with his illustrator, Filo Martinez, who provided the sketch of Neal at right.