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Nestled into a tight blanket, I proceeded to tell my story as I held the globe of Euphoria between my aged and tired hands, thunder roaring and lightning flashing as the young Euphorian kids nudged closer to hear my ancient tale.
“Watching the scenery of the countryside calmed my senses into a state of tranquility, the worries of my distant home drifted away into the back of my head, leaving nothing but soothing thoughts of reaching the famous headquarters of the prosperous yet mystifying country of Euphoria.
“Ensconced on a train – a dusty, antique Euphorian train nearly isolated with the exception of a few grey shades of human-shaped blobs; its dim lighting concealed their faces, and details seemed to blur into darkness – I glanced through a window to the vast farmlands stretched across wide plains of swaying grass under tenebrous skies, where hundreds of laborers planted seeds in a line along the grassless sections of the plains with tremendous concentration, in the most orderly manner as well. They each moved with such precision it seemed as if the laborers were inhuman; an awe-inspiring perfection only reached by machines; their vacant expressions merely added to their soulless-like quality. At some point, one of the child laborers collapsed, exposing an agonizing look across his face; meanwhile, none of the laborers reacted. My countenance must have revealed my concerns, for two train-guards, once lifeless shadows hidden beside faintly outlined doors, crept forward, revealing the grim faces of a young man and woman.
“‘You just worry about getting safely to the headquarters, ma’am. There isn’t much to see along these farmlands besides grass, anyways,’ the man said, with a kind of nonchalant negligence.
“The other train-guard, a woman who looked around my age, perhaps twenty years old, added, ‘The workers, as well as many other Euphorians, have censors implanted into their brains so anything harmful to them becomes distorted, thus they are unharmed by painful experiences,’ she eyed me with brusque superciliousness and continued, ‘You might have read about it before. Euphoria is very blessed to have control over its people, unlike many other countries where their governments cease to exist.’
“Pondering around in my thoughts to remember how censors work, I felt intrigued and skeptical by the idea of implanted censors; only Euphoria attempted to implant censors into their people, no other country wanted to risk the health dangers. My attention again shifted to the other laborers, yet their vacant gazes blurred as the train abruptly whipped passed the farms and into the urban life of the city. As the train slowed down, I noticed almost immediately the serene plains became devoured by countless buildings that hovered over the train like mountains blocking out the sun, unlike the country side, where the only buildings consisted of a few pitiful sheds. Surmounted upon these sky-scrapers were huge, neon signs; signs with large blocked words, sometimes pictures, praising Euphoria’s superiority sententiously, particularly their achievements in technology: “Censoring the Minds of the Innocent”. Beside the multiple buildings, millions of people walked along the sidewalks carrying black umbrellas, all with an unusually blithe smile plastered on their face- deeply contrasting with the laborers I saw earlier- despite the morose skies covered with massive dark clouds. I thought of these people, the Euphorians, and of their lives in a world where no pain exists, but where knowledge becomes confined, disappearing in depths of darkness, or kept buried in the minds of those in authority, like the train-guards. Yet they’ve never known anything else; Euphoria forbids their people to leave, keeping these absent-minded, smiling Euphorians detached from the outside world.
“Heavily concentrated in my thoughts, I jumped as the train screeched–a painful, horrific sound–as it halted to an abrupt stop, stirring confusion amongst both the train-guards and passengers, as well as creating clamor between various train-guards; the lighting began to flicker until darkness overtook completely, silencing all of the power left in the train, as well as rendering the two train-guards from before speechless; their once composed demeanors overhauled by befuddled gazes. A glimpse outside confirmed only the train lost power; the rest of the city remained lit by neon signs. Many passengers lingered at their seats while the train-guards gathered together, but a svelte passenger seated across from me proceeded to stand up, exposing a cherubic face, one with a sort of assailable exterior, yet she wore a dark grey cloak with jet black hair that evoked more of a cynical impression. Walking – more like gliding since her cloak covered her feet – across to where I sat, she smiled. We greeted each other with the hospitality of friendly clerks, in the midst of all the hectic and frantic discussions between the train-guards, and she stared into my eyes with great intensity when she leaned into my right ear to whisper.
“‘Help my people escape, please, for my empty thoughts, for my forsaken heart...’
“Taken aback by her words, I gave no response; instead, the train-guards motioned in the direction of the dark cloaked passenger, and they began dashing towards us like raging madmen. The girl hardly paid attention to the racing stomps made by the guards; she simply looked at me with begging eyes as if I possessed the power to end her suffering. Once they reached us, the train-guards seized her arms, apologizing to me for the inconvenience, ‘Sometimes the censors don’t work well on some people,’ he gestured to the girl they gripped tightly, ‘They get so hiked up by the side effects of the censors that they start to have delusions about ridiculous lies. It’s a real pity. All we can do is put them in the farmlands with all the other dysfunctional people.’ As they hauled her away, the girl stared at the floor with a lugubrious gaze; she looked lost in her own world, lost in a world full of illusion and suffering.
“Still being dragged away, she raised her head, but this time with a new kind of presence, one with established wisdom and a hint of despondency, turned towards me, and spoke in a solemn tone, ‘They’ll give you noxious thoughts once you get to the headquarters, and then you’ll be crazy with haze just like the rest of us, with no sense of what’s real,’ she turned back as the train-guards silenced her. Gliding away in her dark cloak, she gradually vanished into the dark depths of the train, with the guards still clenching her arms. There was no mistaking she spoke verily and with certitude; the truth of her words hung in the atmosphere like stars in the night sky, never quite disappearing until lights broke the darkness.”
I paused, struggling to remember the rest.
“What happens, Aunt Beatrice? Come on, tell us! Do you actually reach the famous headquarters?” the kids asked with rising curiosity.
I smiled, “I told you, it’s just a story, and I’ll tell you guys the ending later, okay? Now go to sleep so we can all wake up early to work. It’s going to be hard work tomorrow. You know farmlands can’t grow themselves. We’ll need plenty of rest to plant all the seeds so pretty grass can pop up,” a mischievous grin spread across my face, “That is unless you want the monsters to get you!”
After a long laugh and a few moans, the kids finally managed to get into their beds; I myself returned to my own room down the hall with the Euphorian globe still between my hands; I placed it on my desk, propping it next to the tray of food left from supper and my lamp, the only source of light in my room. At twenty years old I arrived at Euphoria, around thirty years ago, and somehow it feels like my only home, but not in a nostalgic sense. I settled against the headboard of my bed, my back pushed into hard wood that hasn’t been dusted in ages. The light from the lamp flickers, threatening to die out at any second, prompting me to close my eyes for the night, yet my mind wanders back to the annoying, flickering, and dying lamp.
I experienced a lifetime; I forgot the memories. I remembered bittersweet moments; I lost the whole truth. Recollections of my life come in brief clips, yet haze conceals them into distorted figures, creating a mess of jumbled memories; however, tonight, I remembered a huge chunk, as I did every now and then, yet eventually they vanished into mist...
I wept as my memories became blurry visions dancing along my mind; memories fading more and more, resembling a distant dream. Whenever I attempted to play obscure memories through my mind, especially the ones involving the broken Euphorian train, a warning appears in my mind, admonishing me that they were delusions, delusions tricking my senses into believing a lie – an awful, ludicrous lie –, but somewhere else in my mind believes these memories possess the unspoken truth of Euphoria and their censors. But what do I know? Dreams and reality in Euphoria intercross like words on a crossword puzzle, just as the lines of fact and fiction seem to blur into one, and somewhere along the way, burying the truth with them.