The Wall

June 29, 2011
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The wall appeared to reach to the very sky. Peering up at it, the small boy was struck with awe. His ancestors had built this many a season ago, to protect from the evils beyond. Of these devils, the child knew not, but knowledge was not needed. All that was needed was caution.
His eyes roved along the length of the barrier, a mass of metal that separated the colony from the world beyond. The section right in front of him was lit with a double shine, the result of the setting binary stars over the buildings behind the child. All along the wall, blinking caged lights signaled the existence of a current through the wall. The child stood inches from death at the hands of electricity, yet he was not scared. He had been here many times before, whether to write on his band, listen to music or just ponder his life in this place.
Ever since he had been very small, the boy had possessed a quality that no other around him did: curiosity. A pondering thought process about everything; their food, buildings, everything that they just seemed to have. But it one place, his thoughts stuck like a rolling ball on putty. The wall. Why was it there? What could be so terrible that it must be kept at bay in such a formidable manner? This single question had become the very source of his being, driving him to work ever harder on his schoolwork, finishing the school application quicker and quicker each day, just so that he could gaze at the wall. His parents had become concerned, asking him why he cared so much for the lifeless, charged piece of metal that he could be found at so regularly.
He had tried to explain it to them, tried to get them to see how close-minded they had become, but to them he was only a child stuck in a fad. One that they hoped he would soon outgrow, for he had been getting sick more often and his complexion had been getting paler and paler as the days and weeks rolled on. The medical droids reported stress issues, so his parents had insisted that he attend the counseling that they believed that he so dearly needed. This, of course, helped nothing, as the problem was not school work or his friends but the wall. His plan was approaching completion, and he could not bear the thought of failure.
Speaking of his plan, the child looked down pondered its location, receiving the directions to his favorite place along the barrier. Within only a few thoughts of a map, the GPS arrow faded into view below the skin of his left forearm. Following its instructions, the boy soon reached it. The old, rusty sewer grate lay embedded in the wall, a remnant of the time when matter could not yet be fully recycled, when this fully reusing colony could never had existed.
The colony had once been open to the planet, with the inhabitants venturing out into the open plains to gather the materials that were not contained inside their city. There was no wall then, just a gate to record the comings and goings of the community. Then, the newest ship from the mother planet arrived and with it, recyclers. With the new technology, treks into the unknown were no longer needed. All power could be supplied from within. But some members of the community loved the feeling of freedom, the wind in their hair, the very feelings that the boy now needed to feel. How he wished that those days had continued, had never ended so that he too could have accompanied the adults on their missions. He wished it had never changed.
But, as the boy had quickly discovered, wishes cannot hold together a broken reality. The gatherers had gone out one day, searching for the precious donglefruit that this community had come to love. They never returned. No search party was ever sent out, for the fear of the outside was far too strong to overcome now. With the help of the recyclers, no additional matter was ever needed. The waste atoms were constantly rearranged back into whatever the colony happened to need- iron, steel, bread- and the colony was kept in by... the wall.

Everything came back to it, the very center of existence in the place. And the child intended to bypass it. Pulling a 4 inch rubber stylus from his pocket, the tool of the computer at his home, the boy inserted it in the crack in the top left corner of the grate. This single weakness had been endlessly poked at by the child for years, his obsession slowly whittling the crack, his freedom, wider and wider. And today was the day. The day he broke free.

That morning, he had taken four times his share of breakfast, a crime for which he would be severely punished when he returned. Except that he would not be going back. Not ever. This was it. Prodding the grate’s weak point with the stylus, the boy levered at it until the metal squealed and the rubber folded. For a few seconds, the boy felt his stomach drop away into eternity. The metal squeaked and moaned, protesting this abuse of its being. It gave way.
The grate fell with a crash, and the opening in the boy’s soul was cleaved into an escape. Stepping onto the grate with trembling legs, the boys took his first steps out of the colony, and into the world beyond.





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