To: The Illustrious Editor-in-Chief
Subject: Deliberation on Deleted Scenes from the Bestselling Utopian Novel
As the Editorial Committee, we present this succinct report including the excisioned sequences from the bestselling utopian novel. Our actions were undertaken to preserve narrative integrity and avoid the descent into literary anarchy and narrative discord.
Following a meticulous vetting process by our Editorial Standards and Review Board (ESRB), and in accordance with the stipulations of the Official Committee for the Preservation of Literary (OCPL) and Linguistic Integrity, we have meticulously adhered to the protocols outlined in Section XII, Subsection III, Paragraphs 4-8 of the Comprehensive Guidelines for the Evaluation and Modification of Literary Works (CGEMLW), as well as Section VII, Subsection II, Paragraphs 1-3 of the Canon of Thematic Consistency (CTC), and Section XXI, Subsection I, Paragraphs 9-12 of the Treatise on Narrative Coherence (TNC), thereby ensuring that our actions are firmly grounded in the annals of bureaucratic propriety.
Post-examination, our expert collective determined that the deleted sequences suffered from turgid grandiloquence, non sequiturs and obfuscations, creating a disjointed reading experience. We have concluded that these sequences cannot be reinstated without compromising the novel's status as an exemplar of utopian literature. As a committee, we have acted in the best interests of literary excellence and the written word.
Hereby we provide you with the deleted scenes and humbly anticipate your concurrence with our verdict and await your guidance on any further course of action.
In sincere obeisance,
Every snowflake that settles on the frozen city seems to carry the weight of silent dissent. Ensnared in this somnolent spectacle, we stretch out our hands, striving to displace the accumulating drifts, then soar. It's merely a lurid dream, for that is the only time when we can fly. Our wings draped in snow, we, a lonely soul, a droplet in the sea, sweep over the age-bleached streets, peering into the windows of grey houses where corpses try to tune into channel one. They envy our graceful flight, while we, regarding them with angelic apathy, prefer to dismiss their existence. We whirl around the towering buildings, drowning in drifts, as the corpses boil oil on their rusty kitchen stoves, and the moment we pass by their windows, they douse us with the bubbling liquid. The oil sizzles and splashes, our white wings disintegrate, the skin on our face peels away to expose the bare flesh beneath, we scream and
A cacophony of thundering footsteps and demonic voices grow louder outside our flat on the landing. A draught slithers across the floor. After us? We move alone through our flat, our brain our only company. The thick quilt keeps our pale body warm, despite the surrounding chill that controls everything: the air, the floor, the blood, and the cold metal door against our cheek.
You’re the one who forgot to close the window yesterday.
Through the wide-angle lens of the peephole — like a small portal or a crystal ball — the over-lit hallway irritates our dry eye. Faceless demons, clad in black skiing suits and balaclavas, have gathered under a nervous bulb at a neighbour's door across the hall, and, their hands crossed, wait and stroke their big black batons.
Levers of utopia.
They exchange some professional trifles, cursing and jesting, expressing dissatisfaction over the late, nay early, foray, while simmering with anticipatory tension, such that one of them, perhaps a rookie, almost trembles, pacing back and forth and obsessively checking the arrows on his watch, drawing mockery for his unprofessional nerves. The largest and the bellyest of the demons, who has been standing directly in front of the neighbour's door, shakes his head, shushes the crew, then presses the doorbell's button into the white wall — *bzzzzzzzz*, and the other one, the clockmaster, uses a clumsy hammer of his fist to pound the metal door, again and again. Their orchestrated clangour acts as a deafening wake-up call, not only for their intended target but also for anyone living on the same floor. The din reverberates through the stairwell, flooding the entire shaft with industrial banging, while another demon of chiefly demeanour remains still on the stairs, leaning against the wall, puffing clouds of acrid smoke. Roughly thirty-eight seconds pass. The lock rattles, the door hesitantly opens to reveal a young lad, crumpled, shaggy and still lethargic, as if his body alone has come out to greet the visitors while his mind, just like ours, lingers in dreams. However, upon seeing his uninvited guests, vivacity sweeps over him with an unbelievable effect, and his previously vacuous slimy orbs miraculously enkindle. The narcotic scent of adrenaline invades the landing, wafting under every door. Without any welcoming foreplay, the bellringer violently grabs the lad and drags him out of the flat and into the stairway. With one fluid motion, he forces both of the lad's arms behind him and shoves his face against the white wall. The lad groans, struggling to break free. Meanwhile, two of the crew enter the flat, disappearing behind the door and leaving the bellringer, the clockmaster, and the chief alone with the lad in the stairway.
Gritting his teeth, the lad retorts:
—Are you fuckin' mad?
The bellringer, baton in hand, answers by landing a blow to the lad's ribs, forcing a cry and the breath from his lungs to echo throughout the shaft. The metal door rattles. The bellringer lands a few more strikes.
—Shut your trap, you cunt!
—What did I do?
—What? Forgot them fuckin' posters you doodled, did you?
—What posters? I didn’t doodle a thing.
—Didn’t doodle a thing, he says. Some sort of "Abstractionist", aren’t you?
—I didn't draw! I'm telling you!
—He's, apparently, against the war, lads.
—Tell us, which war?
—Yeah, with who?
—The lad’s talking rubbish. There's no war.
—He reckons a battle for peace is a war.
—Well then, I'd reckon he's a traitor, wouldn’t you?
—I'd reckon he is.
—I didn't draw anything! I didn't say anything!
The lad keeps resisting, attempting to break free from the bellringer's grip.
—What sort of women even give birth to such blighters!
—Always the whores.
—You've got the wrong bloke! I'll ring the police!
—Go ahead, squeal, snitch — I don’t give a fuck, I am the police. Won’t bother me none.
—What the fuck?
The bellringer throws the lad to the floor and continues to land his blows. Each hit makes the lad shudder and groan, but the groaning isn't loud enough, so the attacker decides to use his legs, alternating between them and his baton, until the desired volume of pain is reached.
—Bastards! I didn't do anything!
—Lost your nerve, have you?
The clockmaster joins the operation, occasionally booting the lad in the back, right around the kidney area, until the lad falls silent and curls in on himself. Each thud echoes through the hall, setting the metal door a-vibrate.
—Assaulting a police officer!
—Defaming the army!
—His motherland feeds him from a bloody spoon, and he slings it through the muck.
—Fuckin' crybabies, all you lot want to do is whinge, make your fuckin' snow angels, doodle your bloody rubbish, never doing a real job.
—Yelling in the streets during the day, in the houses at night.
—Yeah, there you have it.
—Nothing but crybabies.
—Go on, call your mum, you fucker. I said call your fuckin’ whore!
It's difficult to assign the words to any of the figures on the landing — demons and lad included — as the whole scene appears as a singular speaking object. The peephole fogs up, blurring our sight of the unfolding operation. With a gentle, yet jittery hand, we wipe away the fog with a corner of the quilt. In dead, breathless silence, our finger lingers around the cover of the peephole, ensuring it doesn't close.
The lad seems disinterested in further conversation. He wraps himself tightly in his own arms, shielding his stomach and face with his legs.
—Bloody immortal, are ya? Assaulting a police officer!
What's exciting about torturing an unarmed, motionless man, curled up in pain and fear into a foetus, pleading for a chance to be in his mother's womb again, where no one can get to him? All the lad’s kicks and curses only seem to rouse the demons further, making them more engaged in the operation. As a cat taunts a mouse, observes it, waits for it to move, touches it gently with its paw, the demons wait for something to ignite their inflamed centres of violence, at least a little trigger, a click that would tell them they can lift the cudgels into the air again and continue the game. The chief, meanwhile, rests languidly, watching as if the whole event has been orchestrated just for him and now he can indulge in the show and feel ultimate satisfaction.
Trembling, his face bruised, the lad huddles in a corner, moaning and sniffling, and tries to fuse through the wall desperately, but the bellringer snatches him, hauls him to the staircase rail, wrests his left arm upward sharply until something crunches and the lad shrieks, then compels him to stand up again.
—So, creature? Answer me, can you flippin’ fly?
—I didn't! I didn't do a thing!
—Quit your gabbing! Answer me, I said!
The demon promptly bends the lad's upper torso over the bannister and smashes his spine with the baton, causing the lad to collapse for a moment, but he immediately grabs hold of the rail, coughs, and spits blood. It's astonishing how our neighbour, whose name we don't know despite surely having brushed past him in the lift a few times, is so resilient and generally still living; we would have passed out long ago, or would have taken the opportunity right at that moment to launch our body down the shaft to relieve it of the demons.
The third door on the stairway creaks and a sleepy, grey-haired lady in a long nightdress materialises, more baffled than terrified, and has not yet been able to fathom the situation. She sometimes offers us a hand with salt, can be agedly annoying at times and is always eager to talk, especially when we're in a hurry or lack the emotional capacity for any sort of discussion, let alone long conversations with the elderly. Upon seeing her, the demons freeze like mannequins, yet continue to breathe rapidly and snort under their knitted headgear like hungry pigs. The lad, still bent over the bannister, looks mournfully at the old lady. From his mouth, a thick mixture of saliva and blood seeps from a split lip, forming a long, thin, red line.
—What on earth are you doing, boys…—says the old lady, touching her lips.
The clockmaster advances towards her as she recoils, murmuring. He approaches her and threateningly gesticulates with his fist.
—You better mind your own business, old lady. At your age…—he says politely, but stops mid-sentence, slams the door shut in front of her face, and leans on it so his vast expanse obscures the old lady's door peephole. Gulping, our throat runs dry. The bellringer, meanwhile, drags the victim off the bannister, lays out him on the floor face down and, leaning over, growls:
With no more strength left, the lad simply lays where he is, kissing the floor, trying not to breathe.
—Look, I said!—shouts the bellringer, grabs the lad's head with his hand, and flashes him the baton, waving it menacingly.—I'm gonna rape you with this fuckin' thing and then piss all over you, get it?—The bellringer snarls and starts pushing the baton between the lad's buttocks through his trousers.
At that moment, his two comrades exit the lad's flat, their hands bereft of bounty, their heads shaking in disappointment.
—Nothing! Not a bloody fuckin’ thing! We turned the dump upside doing and fuckin' nothing, —says one of them in a squeaky voice, stuttering at every curse.
—No illegal posters, cap. No art supplies. No prohibited literature. No drugs. Bloody nothing.
—You know why, you dickheads?
Bewildered, they look at the chief.
—Because I said "fifteen" and not fuckin' "fifty", bloody idiots. I wondered if you would fuckin’ deduce that! Get the fuck out of here!
—Leave the lad alone, I said!
That twist has immersed the bellringer in a state of bitter fury, making him shake, clench his fists and growl like a hungry dog whose meal has been stolen from him. If we were a dog or a wolf, we would hear the throbbing pulse of the demon's heart and how its whole body quivered with anger that radiated from every crevice of it, encased him like a glimmering crimson aura. The clockmaster looks through the peephole of the old lady's flat, sees nothing, because, to his misfortune, that's not how peepholes work. He approaches the elevator and summons it. The lift remains stubbornly unfunctional. The demon pushes the button frustratedly, but nothing happens.
—Fuckin’ tin can.
The bellringer strikes the lad one more time with his baton, spits on his back, then follows the others to the stairs. The chief, on his way there, bends over the lad's puffed face, clicks his tongue, shakes his head in disappointment, and says:
—And you, stay put. You lie low and rest. It ain’t no good insulting police officers.
An icy chill, a breath of fear, settles on the back of our neck. We exhale, swallow the invisible rock scraping against our parched throat, and gradually seal the peephole.