Thoughts of a Distant Past and a Familiar Future

February 14, 2008
By Daniel Gilliam, Midland, TX

The Crimson Guard decapitated the man, Jonas, Head of the Rebels. The King looked on in glee. The malicious threat to his kingdom had been defeated... Aldorin closed the book and put it on the shelf with all the other pretentious groupings of parchment. It's all the same! He thought to himself furiously. No matter how many times he read through each one, the message was always the same. Irritation was replaced with an agonizing frustration. Ever since the Purge none of the books were the same. The King had seized every known written document and replaced them with a new set of tomes. Nobody knew what had happened to encourage such an unwarranted arrest of knowledge. Books were the only source of information, aside from scrolls and other such educational tools. It was as if the King was determined to blind his people, but to what? He had always been fair and just, why the sudden mischievous efforts? No matter how much Aldorin pondered this, he could not conceive any reasonable solution.

With a deep sigh, Aldorin stood from his seat and slowly started his trek to the door. It seemed so far away, his reality, the door too. He waved halfheartedly to Shina, the librarian. Nobody was allowed to possess books in their own homes. Anyone found with tomes of any sort in their residence would have the books repossessed and would face public punishment, usually just an embarrassing event such as revealing wrong doings the person had done, to the entirety of the town. Again, another act the King had done with no known reasons as to why. Aldorin slammed his fist angrily against the wall, his knuckles cracked as a slight line of red liquid appeared. Aldorin examined his knuckle, his eyes looking for truth in the liquid, as if his own blood could tell him anything about life as it is now. Shrugging, he blew out a deep breath, sucked in sweet fresh air, and strode off to his house.

"How was school today, Aldorin?" Tania, Aldorin's mother, beamed down at him, such a dumbfounded smile. Aldorin grimaced and replied, "The usual, nothing new...ever." The last word was just a mumble, but if his mother head she gave no recognition.

"Well you'd best do your homework and get some sleep; you have a big day ahead of you tomorrow!" Aldorin stared at her, an agony shown in his eyes that, again, she gave no recognition of. "It's the same thing every day! I go to school, learn the same things every day, come home, do homework, and sleep! What about the world outside our house?! Outside our town?!" His mother stared at him in horror.

"Don't speak of such things! Go to your room right now!" She scolded him. Something beyond anger, beyond frustration, took hold of him. "I want to learn! I want to be able to think for myself!" His words were met with a slap to his face. Clutching his cheek he stared up at his mother, anger, frustration, pain, agony, blood, truth, thought, King. He turned and slowly left the house, a weird, melancholy calm had loomed over his being.

The fresh air no longer tasted sweet, but sour and foul. As if the air had been tainted and corrupted by...what? Shaking his head, he knew of only one place to go. As he crossed the town he found it empty, desolate in a way no town should be. There were no gardens, no parks, no fountains, and heck, there weren't even any flowers! It was all so dull and dreary; he hurried as fast as he could to Alynni's home. Thinking back to the book he had just read, he knocked on the door. The Rebels hid underground like rats. Never would they dare to venture out into the daylight. The rats would never venture out into the sight of our glorious King. Cowards they were, for they feared everything that was good and decent. The Crimson Guard had found their rat hole and flushed them out only to have them scatter to different parts of the world...

"Aldorin!" Alynni said, staring at him in the doorway. He hadn't noticed the door open. "Alynni. I'm glad to see you so cheerful." His voice seemed dead, or maybe he was just drained of emotion.

"Come in!" Alynni moved aside to let him in. Aldorin nodded and gazed at Alynni as he went inside. Her hair was long and golden brown; she had a beauty about her that radiated from every corner of her being. Her eyes, her eyes, those eyes, those are what he had trouble understanding. As intriguing as they were, they held a look of oblivious insight. They sat down on the couch, Alynni slinking against him, his arm around her. As he stared around the ill furnished living area he glanced to her. "Do you ever wonder why our world is so...dull?"

Alynni looked at him in the same way his mother had, that same horrified, dumbfounded look. It raked at his eyes until he felt like they were bleeding. "Why would I ever wonder about such a thing?" Aldorin's calm had subsided immediately, that hot rage flooded through him, but he tried desperately to suppress it. Not against her, please no! Clenching his fists to relieve the stress he continued. "Haven't you wondered at all why the King had the gardens and parks removed? They were such a fun place to play once upon a time..." Her eyes held no sympathy for his words. She stared at the ground, slipping out of his reach and against the other end of the couch. Aldorin burst out of the house before his rage could take over him. Alynni didn't follow him.

Aldorin walked along a road, his anger and rage had subsided even before he had reached the door to leave Alynni's house. Yet he still wanted to scream, wanted to howl out in rage, agony, pain, pity, something! A sound in an alley way caught his attention. Curious, Aldorin decided to investigate. Halfway into the dark and murky alley he was assailed by a cloaked figure. Fighting for his life, Aldorin kicked and punched at the cloaked man. "Stop! Calm down!" A voice shouted above the smacks from hands and feet meeting body and rock alike. Slowly, Aldorin stopped swinging and backed away from the cloaked man. "What do you want?" Aldorin asked, nervous and afraid.

"I saw you in the library, and outside. You are angry. Angry because all these books are the same, and none tell you anything useful, at least nothing the King wouldn't want you to know. Just say the word, and I can show you." The figure moved forward and Aldorin moved back, skeptical but far more interested. "Show me." The cloaked man nodded. Together, Aldorin and the cloaked man walked farther into the alley and disappeared into the darkness.

Twenty minutes later they arrived in an underground room. Aldorin's blindfold was taken off. (The cloaked man had insisted he wear it for his own safety.) He peered around the room and saw four other cloaked figures. "Aldorin, welcome to our library." The man behind him said. Aldorin walked forward; sure enough every wall was covered with shelves of books. Aldorin pulled one off the wall and read the title aloud, "Animal Farm." He took another off the wall and again read. "Fahrenheit 451." He lifted the books toward the five cloaked men. "Where did you get these?" The one in the middle, and the tallest, waved a hand to dismiss that question.

"What is important is that these are the last of what was left from the Purge. The King's true intentions have been revealed, now we need help to stop him. By taking away all knowledge and anything that could give a common person time to relax and think, he has ensured that he will have puppets to use when he needs them." Aldorin looked down at the books in his hands. "Use them for what?" The five men shook their heads slowly, Aldorin was sure it was a gesture of sadness. "War, money, entertainment, anything he desires. Why would anyone question it? Nobody above us can even remember how to think. That is why you are here, Aldorin." The man removed his hood. Aldorin gasped, eagerness and wariness colliding. He knew that face from posters all over the land, wanted posters. Kirin, Second Head of the Rebels.

"Will you help us, Aldorin? Will you help us restore our land and allow everyone to think again?" This was it; this was the one chance Aldorin wanted. He had more questions then answers, but now, now he would get his answers! He thought back to Alynni and felt a twinge of regret, but it was too late to save her. "What can I do?"

"Become a member of the Rebels. An influential figure to all who know how to think for themselves." Aldorin lowered his head to think. He pondered the answer for all of five minutes before coming to his answer.

"I will help you, Kirin, Second Head of the Rebels!"

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