The decrepit gymnasium, from the outside, made no indication that it was occupied or even usable. The man approached it cautiously, looking around not only to ensure he wasn’t being watched, but also to verify that he was at the right location. His large gray overcoat, worn as a sort of anonymizing disguise, complemented the drizzly dreariness of the weather.
He had been told to use a door on the side of the building; the front doors were permanently barred from the inside. So he walked down the alley that was to the side of the derelict brick building, very conscious of the fact that if this entire thing was a targeted ambush, he would be extremely vulnerable in such a tight location.
A quick rap of the knuckles on the door brought forth a voice from inside. “Name and password,” it demanded.
The man knew it was fruitless to give a fake identity. If this was a trap, the Authority already had more than enough evidence against him. Besides, if the rumors of this place were true, you had to get a recommendation to get in. “Greg Carter. The password is ‘VC Goat’.”
There was the clunking of multiple locks unlatching, then the door swung inward, allowing him inside. Greg walked down the short, empty, hallway, wondering where the person was who had let him in. The only light in the corridor was supplied by another door at the opposite end which had a small wired-glass window in it. He approached this door, and, hearing the faint squeaking of sneakers beyond it, opened it.
Just as he stepped into the musty gymnasium, he saw a young man leap off the floor and execute a slam dunk. The sight of it caused Greg’s heart to jump; it was the first time he had seen a slam dunk since his childhood. The Authority had banned them from all levels of play sixteen years ago.
The thought finally sank in: he had found it. He had found the Dunk Club.
“We got a newbie,” said one of the other men, noting Greg’s arrival with suspicion. “We sure he’s not an Auth?”
“Greg’s cool. He’s with me,” replied a familiar voice. Greg turned and saw Nate, his coworker from the PSU, or Public Surveillance Unit. They were both very low in the government structure, and Nate was the one who had told him (surreptitiously, out of range of the very surveillance instruments they helped administrate) about the club.
“Can he dunk?” asked the first man.
“Well, obviously I don’t know, do I?” Greg answered glibly. His smile disappeared when he had to quickly react to catch a ball that was thrown roughly at him.
Greg soon found out that he wasn’t quite a dunker…yet. However, now that he was sitting on the dilapidated bleachers with the other members of the club, the act of dunking seemed secondary to the exhilaration he felt at being part of a subversive organization, no matter how trivial its mission.
“So…how’d it start? The ban?” Greg asked. The banning of the slam dunk from the game of basketball was just many of the seemingly random decrees made by the Authority to control the populace. These bans were so common and so spread out across the continuum of public life that the institution of a new one barely spurred a discussion, not that such a discussion could ever be held at anything other than the most micro of scales.
“It was right around the time of the hip-hop ban,” replied the initially suspicious man, whose name was JD. Greg actually didn’t remember what hip-hop was, other than it was a former genre of music, but let JD continue without interruption. “They were cleansing the culture of anything that could subvert their power. If the culture presented a clean, family-safe image, everybody would assume that was a true reflection of society, and society itself would naturally move in that direction.”
Greg had never heard so frank a description of the government’s motives in his entire life, but JD’s words made sense when pieced together with the fragments of inside knowledge that Greg had gleaned from his low-level position.
“I see the wheels spinning in your head, man, but we’re just here to dunk, that’s it,” Nate said. “No revolution. No insurrection. Just dunks. It’s our little bit of resistance.”
Greg looked up at the lights hanging from the ceiling (the electricity had been cut some time ago when the building had been decommissioned) and down at the dirty, uneven floor (it would make too much noise to replace). “What would they do if they found this place?” he asked.
“We’d all get arrested, of course,” JD said. “If they thought we were a big enough threat, we’d probably never get out. That’s why we keep our numbers small, only a few of us here at a time, so if there was a raid, we wouldn’t get labeled Anti-Authority.”
‘Anti-Authority’ was the term used for persons deemed to be against the state. Those accused of such treason would disappear in the night and never be heard from again.
The thought deterred Greg only slightly.