You find yourself drinking alone after work, seated at a wine-stained oaken table, deep in the Reconstruction District of Dworkonia. A long day of picking up heavy things and setting them down left your muscles sore and your brain numb with tedium, but you comfort yourself with the knowledge that your punishment is building towards a better future for the Femireich.
You start at a small scraping sound. Looking around—but carefully, so as not to Male Gaze anyone by mistake and extend your sentence further—you notice that a small trap door has opened in the Bikini Kill concert poster on the wall beside you. You peer closer, and a voice whispers to you within.
“We’ve been watching you. The Fourth Femireich is not what it seems. Rap twice on your table if you will join the Underground. Quickly.” You gasp, then try to hide your reaction from the Political Correctness Enforcement Cameras hovering in the corner of the bar, holding your mandated glass of rosé up to your mouth. As numb as you are, you still feel that another day of lifting and setting will not be enough.
You knock your knuckles on the rough wood, and with a sudden squealing of a giant screw, your table spins down into darkness. A hatch slams shut above you, and you find yourself in a pitch black chamber that smells of old soap and fine spirits. You haven’t smelled whiskey since…
“The Before Times,” a voice rumbles. Its baritone is fine and smooth, like the feeling of an old boat’s oars. A face floats out of the shadows, lit by the ruddy glow of an e-cigarette. It’s the face of a man who shaves just often enough to remind you he has to, and his eyes are blocked from your gaze by the lowered brim of his fedora.
“Yes! That smell reminds me of… of my father, and of his transactional relationships with all the women around him, and of the freedom to say whatever I want without consequence!”
A slight smile plays around the mouth of the stranger. “The fact that you even remember is what drew us to you. Most of the Betas have had the memories of life before the Femireich obliterated by the steady labor and numbing drugs they slip into your wine.”
“Then why do I know? Why do memories of the simple pleasure of shaving with a straight razor still come to me in dreams?”
“Because you’re strong enough for the truth. Haven’t you wondered why there are only Alpha and Beta males? The former studded out to have casual sex with every woman they meet, given license to violate the laws of the Franchise of Men, and the latter doomed to labor and open doors and screw in high-up lightbulbs?”
“I just assumed…” Your voice lowers. “I assumed the Matriarchs didn’t know Greek very well.” Even here, your eyes dart to check for the Political Correctness Enforcement Cameras.
The shadowy figure chuckles as he vapes. “I can see you’ll fit right into the Men’s Underground. But no—they know Greek. They know it too well, studying it in their Ivory Maiden Towers, where they add ever-more rules to the Franchise of Men. The truth is, there are males even lower than the Betas. The Gammas are left chained in the Hirsute Caverns, and shaved of their natural manly hair every day. Their beards are used to stuff pillows for the Prelates of Purity. Their chest hair is woven into slippers for the young Matriarchs.”
You gasp in horror, imagining the indignity of a smooth-chested man, manfully grimacing as he is shorn against his will.
“And it gets worse. The Epsilons are forced, on bended knee, to cry into goblets at the feet of the Gynocrat’s Council. They drink deep of that bitter brew, drawing strength from the suffering of men. The Kappas are left locked up in the vast Sperm Fields, where they are harvested for their precious bodily fluids. You can hear your screams on windless days, if you are brave enough to stand atop the Wall of Macroaggression. And the Omegas? They are bound on rigid frames and turned into living furniture for the use of the High Empress herself.”
“I had no idea that it was this bad. I thought that… that this was temporary. That we are working for them to build a better empire, when men would be given back their rights.”
The room is silent for a moment, but for the sound of vaping and the tinkle of wine glasses from overhead. The stranger’s head is bowed, and you must strain to hear his gruff and honest words. “It’s worse than anyone knows. That’s why the Men’s Underground fights. We burn their stores of yarn and vegetarian foods. We tear down their lacy flag wherever we find it, and spit if someone mentions the name of the Femireich. We need new recruits. We need you. Will you join us?”
You hesitate for a long moment. What if the rumors of the Rendering Fields are true, where men are forced to manufacture scented candles for long years until they die of olfactory fatigue? But no. You know what you must do.
“I cannot stand by. I must join this fight. Freedom for all men.” You reach out to clasp the stranger’s hand, when suddenly the lights flare brightly around you. Where once the room was soaked in shadow, now there stand twenty women in the brilliant pink pantsuits you’ve feared for decades. The man in front of you reaches up and peels off his face and hat, revealing a woman who would be super hot if she wasn’t so bossy, so now she seems kind of unattractive. Her heels are lower than any woman’s you’ve seen and you pale with the realization that she’s the highest ranking member of the GP you’ve ever glimpsed outside of a recruitment poster.
She laughs, and where her deep voice had seemed pleasantly masculine before, now its timbre strikes fear into your heart. “What fools men are. Give them a hint of the truth, and they fall all over themselves to land in our honeypot.”
“But… does this mean the Gammas and Deltas don’t exist? That there is hope for men?” You are breathless with fear, but bold enough to challenge her.
She smirks. “Of course not. An outright lie is something only a man would tell. The Girlstapo would never stoop so far. There is no hope for men in the Femireich, little boy. The future is a sensible flat, stomping on a man’s face. Forever.” Two women seize you by your arms and begin to drag you away, and you are too stunned to struggle. The last words you hear before the velvet hood is cinched around your head are the Girlstapo chief’s orders to take you to the Friend Zone for processing.
Christian Brown is an animator in Los Angeles who doesn't let that stop him from writing things for websites with names that start with "The."