Deathcast

A novella from the collection No Way Home

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Novella

The sanctity of human life means nothing when that life is not serving society

When a man visits an illegal pub in a dead zone of the city, it triggers a chain of events that forces a band of resistance fighters to rise up against a brutal state that uses Wellness as a means of oppression, punishing those who do not look after their health with death.

With the man’s young daughter brainwashed into believing her father must die to protect society, can the fighters use the state’s weapons against them to infiltrate a heavily guarded ministry building in time to save him?

Deathcast is a dark and thrilling journey into a dystopian future from the collection No Way Home by L. A. Davenport, author of the novel Escape and the short story collection Dear Lucifer and Other Stories.

Background

This started out as three entries on my old blog, The Marching Band Emporium, then became the script for an hour-long drama, before finally ended up as a novella. All the way along, it was a cautionary tale.

There is something disturbingly evangelical about the modern Wellness movement. One is seen as morally reprehensible, fundamentally wrong even, if one does not ensure that one’s health is maximised and one’s burden on society is minimised. One has to follow a strict diet, ideally involving nothing dying in the process (although with no thought to the environmental cost), and to do nothing that might be thought counter to ideal health. It is religion (faith in the purity of the advocated products) and extremism (against naysayers and ‘law’ breakers) rolled into one.

Do you think I’m exaggerating? Just look at how first smokers, then obese people and now anyone who consumes sugar are vilified and shamed online and in the media. It is a series of modern witch hunts that seem always to be pointing to the same conclusion: ‘offenders’, as in smokers, overeaters, sugar addicts, are not only harming themselves but are harming all of us, and therefore need to be stopped and punished.

The arguments run like this: a smoker is both disgusting and killing those around them; an obese person is both disgusting and abusing the health system; someone who ‘pushes’ sugar on their children is both disgusting and committing child abuse. Faced with that sort of damning, black-and-white thinking, how can you argue otherwise that they are not only wrong but next to evil and need to be punished?

To reiterate, I haven’t made these things up. That is what people say, in print and online, apparently happy to stand by their beliefs enough to see them go on record.

Where will it all end? Hopefully not in the dystopian future I depict in Deathcast, in which Wellness has been elevated to a state-level religion and any contraventions are punishable by death, but it could if we’re not careful.

As a society, we need to remember that collective responsibility should always be finely balanced with personal choice and freedom. If someone wishes to smoke, that is their issue. Yes, I agree with banning smoking in workplaces because of the effect on non-smokers, but only that. Obesity is an issue for the person themselves, as is eating sugar. We can and should advise people the best way to live, so that they can live a happy, healthy and productive life, but if they chose another path, we have to respect them and not condemn them.

Deathcast is from the collection No Way Home, by L. A. Davenport.
© L. A. Davenport 2020.
Deathcast | Pushing the Wave