Pledge of Allegiance

It was surprisingly easy.

You would think it would be difficult to reverse more than two hundred years of history, to recover a lost possession of such magnitude. You might think it would take armies, a second war. All it took was cloth and careful planning.

First came the public health initiatives – policy changes promoted by secret donations and lobbyists who knew nothing of their employers. Fluoride, iodine, chemical after chemical added to the water. All innocuous, all beneficial on their own.

But in combination, very effective. A big change was not needed, not for this. A slight lessening in eyesight from generation to generation. Over time, they accepted a fuzzier world, one in which colours bled into each other and outlines blurred.

No one minded. Hardly anyone even noticed. Grass was still green, the sky was still blue – nothing important was affected. Opticians talked about it excitedly during conferences, but the country ticked over as normal. Time for phase two.

This was more complicated, requiring careful calibration. It all had to be done overnight, unnoticed and unsuspected. It cost over two billion pounds, and involved nearly ten thousand personnel, in one capacity or another. History will record it as one of the greatest acts of coordination humanity has ever undertaken, far outstripping synchronised drumming in Beijing or the creation of the Nazca Lines. Books will be written about the difficulties, the near misses, the tense hours of waiting in secret bunkers for the last reports. The important thing is that it was accomplished – all fifty states in only two hours. Every public building, school yard, military base – not one was left out.

July the Fourth, 2076. All across the country, millions of citizens placed one hand over their hearts, and spoke in unison. Their bleary eyes were fixed on that familiar rectangle – red, white and blue.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag…”

This story was written in response to this prompt, rather a while ago. I felt it was a fitting one to post today.

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