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A List of Forty-Nine Lies Steven S. Fischer

My name is not Levi. I am not afraid. The machines that hover in swarms over the streets cannot read the thoughts inside my head.

I am not running from them. I have nothing to hide. Citizens who have done nothing wrong have no reason to run or to hide from the machines.

The New Dawn has my best interests in mind. The New Dawn has brought peace and truth to the world.

Only truth can bring peace. Only peace can bring safety. Truth and safety cannot exist in a world that holds secrets. Secrets do not exist anymore.

I did not have a wife. I did not have a child. He did not have eyes that burned like starlight. Her laugh did not make me happy to live.

The wife and child that I did not have were not killed in the war when the New Dawn took power. The war in which they were not killed did not ever occur. The New Dawn was elected peacefully by unanimous vote of the world’s population.

I have never met the criminal Huang Li. I would never transport weapons or information for the so-called People’s Resistance. The criminal Huang Li does not exist, and she does not lead the People’s Resistance. There is no resistance to the New Dawn, because truth brings peace, and peace brings safety, and secrets do not exist anymore.

I do not have a bomb in my pocket. I will not detonate it in the city center. The bomb that I do not have is not set to release a large EMP. An EMP could not disable the machines, not even for a short while.

There are not armed men waiting outside the gate. They are not waiting for me to disable the machines. They will not rush inside with guns in their hands.

Huang Li is not with them. She will not proclaim rebellion in the central square or stride through the streets with revolution on her lips. Her cry will not echo from the mouths of the masses or make the sky ring with the sound of revolt.

There is no way any of these things are true. There is no way I could be discovered if they were. If I were discovered, I would not resist.

If I were discovered, and I did not resist, I would not be captured, tortured, or killed. If I were discovered, and I did not resist, the information would not be stripped from my dead brain.

I am not reaching into my pocket. I am not arming the bomb in my hand. It will not harm me when it explodes.

It will not tear me to pieces or burn me to ash. It will not scorch each neuron in my brain beyond repair. The bomb in my hand will not turn my body to dust, just as my wife and child’s never were.

I did not have a wife. I did not have a child. I do not see them each time I close my eyes.

My name is not Levi. I am not afraid.

I am not afraid.

I am not afraid.


Previously published in Fantasy and Science Fiction (January 2018). Reprinted here by permission of the author.

© Steven S. Fischer

Meet the Author

Steven Fischer

Steven S. Fischer

Steven Fischer is a medical resident living in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. When he’s not too busy cracking open a textbook (or a patient’s thorax) you can find him exploring the Cascades by bike, boat, or boot. You can read more of his work at or follow him on Twitter @stevenfischersf.

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