The next morning, Dylan left the shelter, hoping to see that his words had taken effect on his neighbors. It was an unusually cold morning, and he shivered a bit as he walked down the street towards school. Suddenly, a man in a dark suit veered toward Dylan and pushed him into an alleyway. Immediately, several other men in dark suits joined him. Dylan had the strong sense that yelling out would not improve his odds, so he remained silent, waiting for the men to explain themselves.

The man who had pushed Dylan into the alley still held tightly to his arm. With his free hand, he removed a leather wallet and opened it to reveal a shiny badge that read “FCC Operative.” Dylan’s eyes grew wide as the realization hit him: the conspiracy theories were true! The government must be purposefully limiting the internet, or else there would be no need for secret agents of the FCC.

Gathering his courage, Dylan calmly stated, “I know what the President has ordered. I know that rationing is a tool to control the people.”

The man released Dylan’s arm, and for a moment it looked like he might laugh. “You’re not wrong,” he stated. “But what you don’t know is that we want you to join us. Dylan, you’re a bright mind, and we can offer your family safety and security for life in exchange for your efforts. Think it over carefully, Dylan. If you are not on our side, you are against us, and we do not take threats lightly. We will be in touch with you soon for your decision.”

As quickly as they had appeared, the men were gone. Dylan exited the alley and stood in a daze as he watched life go on as usual around him. People hustled to work, a woman in a white dress hailed a taxi, and a line stretched out of the coffee shop. No one held signs of protest, no one whispered “strike!,” no one cared.

I tried, Dylan thought to himself. I tried to reach these people, and it didn’t work. Now, I have to take care of my mother. Dylan turned back towards the shelter, but the man in the dark suit was waiting for him, a smile on his face. “We knew you’d make the right choice,” he said quietly, handing Dylan a shiny badge.