The museum of Cancellation

The automatic doors closed with a soft hum as the cabin pressurised. We arrived at the exchange station via teleporting and embarked on a land pod to take us to the museum. We took our seats in silence, a small group of strangers that didn’t speak to each other. The pod had small windows covered with a special glass to protect from the ultraviolet radiation. The landscape was desolate and void of life; the glaciers that had covered it many centuries ago had long disappeared and now it was a desert of grey sand. The sky was deep blue, and the fierce light of the sun cast sharp shadows under the rarefied atmosphere.

This was my first visit to the Museum of Cancellation. I was doing anthropological research and needed access to the forbidden material. The permit took several months to arrive and required many background checks. I was given level 7 access which enabled me to see the political collection from the beginning of the third millennium which is my speciality. I know that for the foreseeable future I will be subject to more checks to ensure that I have not been culturally contaminated during my visit. The museum is a subterranean complex co-located with the old seed bank, and is protected by expansive security doors that open automatically to let the pod in. We disembarked and formed a line in front of the control machine. The room was empty and only had a lift operated automatically. The machine scanned the eyes of each person in turn and after verifying their credentials opened the gate to the lift. The destination floor was automatically selected by the machine, and inside the lift there was another eye scanner to ensure that each passenger was delivered to their proper destination.

The role of the Ministry of Culture is to ensure social equality. Initially those who didn’t conform with the ideals of the Great Revolution were executed as traitors to the new order. During many years mass executions took place every Sunday, but apart from taking most of the day away from religious duties, they created social unrest amongst the people and reduced the labour force available for productive work.

It was during one of the conclaves of High Priests that the current approach was conceived and rapidly implemented. Sociologists had discovered that a subterfuge employed by disputing ethnical groups was to negate each other roots, for instance the conquerors denied the conquest the practice of their rituals; the inhabitants of a land denied immigrants access to their history and so on. Instead of foregoing the contributions of able bodies, the High Priests contrived the elimination of their past, their memories and identity. It was a form of mental castration that would preserve the individuals but remove their individuality, and without their traditions people became soulless zombies easily controllable. What had once been a tool of liberation became a weapon of oppression.

Although the Great Revolution had no use for the lost memories, the High Priests decided to curate the collection, and that is how the museum was conceived. Perhaps it was done to warn future generations, or perhaps it was done to preserve the seeds of humanity for recovery purposes in the same way that seeds of plants had been conserved in the past.

I spent the day taking holographic notes for my project and when my time was finished the robot assistant escorted me to the lift that took me to the departing lounge. The group that came with me in the morning was already congregated. I noticed a vending machine of souvenirs and waved my embedded chip over the activation pad to select something to take home. I chose a replica of a primitive mechanical bullet that took the life of some ancient leader of a long forgotten nation.