We invite you to enjoy this short story from Caragh M. O’Brien: Tortured. It is available for free download wherever ebooks are sold. Taking place between her novels Birthmarked and Prized, Tortured answers an important question:
“But what about Leon?” Caragh M. O’Brien answers her readers’ most common question with a tale of suffering and determination from Leon’s perspective. Be warned.
(SPOILER WARNING: The following spoils the ending of Birthmarked.)
What I love in a dystopia is that the folks in charge usually think they’re doing things for the right reasons.They want everyone to be equal (“Harrison Bergeron”) or faithful to their religion (The Crucible) or fully united and like-minded all the time (Anthem).An obvious exception is 1984, of course, where the leaders use war as an excuse to crush and brainwash the middle class. The Hunger Games falls somewhere in between, offering a twisted form of child abuse as entertainment. The problem is, once everyone accepts the rules of the dystopia, well-intentioned or not, those people are essentially dead.They’re stagnant in a vacuum of free will where they can no longer choose or change.
It is here that the pending road-kill watcher in me takes over, the part that wants to see how and if an individual can awaken to the dystopia and struggle to resist it.I like to see a fight against all odds. I’m rooting for the hero to escape somehow to somewhere else, preferably some innocent garden where he or she can start all over.
I did not deliberately set out to write a dystopian novel when I started Birthmarked.Rather, I was imagining how a future society would adapt to climate change, and I thought of how strong the survivors would have to be, how resourceful.Since I’m an optimistic person who believes human nature is inherently good, I thought the forward-looking rulers of my Enclave society would invent a good system.
It became a complex, morally twisted mess of compromises.