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Respect Through Power
The warm, humid air blew through the building’s corridors. Many men waded up and down the busy crowd coming in and out of office doors. The surrounding walls were a cold, plain white with little decorating. Near the middle of the hallway, only one picture hung on the wall: a portrait of Director Jakob Wiltz. His diligent, hard-working face stared into the crowd grimacing. However, the picture lacked a glare of importance and proudness in his eyes. Some viewed the look as fiercely brave and strong, others as a display of a power hungry man.
However, as the Director walked through the hall, the twinkle was absent; he looked nothing like the man on the wall. Instead, his face was stretched thin and pale looking. His shining eyes were aged and dim with age and stress. Still, he walked with importance and a fierce hatred for everyone surrounding him. Immediately upon his entering, the men and women in the halls clung to the edges of the walls to salute their leader.
Jakob Wiltz checked the lines. They appeared perfect. He strutted down the hall, too important to look any of them in the eye. But as he walked, he could feel the hatred aimed at himself. He felt dirty glares from most of those lined up against the hall, but he continued in silence towards his office. One might even feel sorry for the Director if it were not for his cruel pride.
As he approached, a woman caught his eye; she was not looking straight ahead but directly at him. She was not saluting either. Coming to a halt, the Director turned slowly to her, yet she did not back down. He felt offended that such a person even existed, offended that someone would stand up to him.
He made one simple command, “Salute.”
Her voice countered immediately, “No.”
Enraged and embarrassed he lost his words. In his four years of office, he had never had someone challenge him.
“Fine,” he looked to an armed guard in line. “Take her to The Jail.” The guard quickly drew his gun and forced her to follow. The Jail was a phrase that was used to condemn criminals to certain death. Everyone knew this, but the girl was still defiant towards the Director and spat at his feet.
She desperately struggled against the guard to get the final word. “You think you gain respect this way? Look around you; people are scared. They don’t respect your rule. They’re afraid of death. A man like you has no dignity. Just wait, when you are on your deathbed, you will realize. Life is not about power; it’s about contentment and actual respect. Honor is not bought through control.”
The Director touched his eyeglasses. Immediately, they scanned the woman and gave a report: Julia Hans, age thirty-four, maintenance worker. He nodded to the guard, who in turn, jerked Julia harder away from the scene..
Again, however, she screamed through the halls, alerting anyone who heard, “Don’t trust him! Run while you can! Get your family away from this dictator and run! Die if you have to. Just get out!” A door closed behind them and the voice was gone. An awkward silence fell throughout the spectators of the previous scene.
The Director continued striding towards his office door. It smoothly slid open automatically, and he stepped inside. Away from the public view, he took off his glasses, rubbing his temple. He could not continue like this. However, he had to. Contrary to the society’s belief, Jakob was not the man in charge. The name of the man for whom he worked, he did not know. In fact, the Director had never seen or heard the mysterious man, but he was sure of the mystery man’s existence. It spoke to him from his head all the time, telling him what decisions to make. He tried contradicting the voice once, and consequences had followed. For weeks, he felt the searing feeling of being burnt all around his body, though no scars were left.
He paced around his office wondering what to do. The voice said to never doubt being the Director, but Jakob was definitely doubting. He was told to frighten people no matter how awful he felt. People mistrusted him, he had no friends to confide in, and his control was slipping from his grasp. The nation he had tried so hard to make was turning on him because of his doubts and fears as a leader. Maybe the voice was right. Maybe his internal struggles were causing his failures as a leader. Or possibly, the contrary was true. It was entirely possible that the countless times he had obeyed the voice destroyed all he had worked for.
On an impulse, he made a decision. He talked to the voice, “Whatever you are, give me answers. I’m tired of playing the leader for you. Show me who or what you are or I’m leaving. No matter what you do to me.”
The office was surrounded in an unbearable silence. Realizing nothing would enter the room, Jakob seated himself in his white office chair and started to dig through his desk. He was going to leave and never come back. He dug until he found a pocket gun. As small as the size of a thimble, they were a relatively new invention and only for government and military officials. Despite their size, they were a powerful weapon. He would need this just in case; he was not exactly a popular figure among his people.
He closed the desk drawer and rose from the chair, but something new was in the office. The torso of the creature was white and tough-looking wearing ripped and tattered clothes. Jakob fearfully looked at its neck. It was a foot in length which supported a skinny, long head. It’s eyes focused on the frightened Director with a hint of mischief in its eyes.
Slowly, it took one of its long, bony fingers and lifted it to its mouth. The creature wanted silence from Jakob Wiltz, and he cooperated. His hands shook violently. Somehow, he knew the gun in his hand would have no effect on the monster in front of him.
To the left, another figure was forming close to the newcomer. It gradually materialized. In the first moments of existence, it had no material form. It moved through different faces, but it eventually morphed into his own. Clothes also formed around the machine, matching what the Director was currently wearing. It stood in a ready position, waiting beside the tall figure. Still, The Director said nothing.
The tall creature walked calmly towards the Director with a simple smile on its face. Jakob’s stomach dropped, his brain became numb, and cold shivers of terror rippled through his body. This would be the end for him. His eyes stung, and his breathing shallowed as the threat advanced slowly towards him.
It stopped inches from him, looking down on the sitting, fearful man. The creature bent its head to match the height of his own. Jakob could now clearly see this face. The white face had hollow cheeks, a short simple nose, and bulging eyes.
Its forefinger rose into the air and inched towards the Director’s temple. It touched him, and he felt a dark, sinking feeling. His head spun as he tried to stay in reality, but it was too late. The last thing he saw was the creature’s grin getting bigger and his doppelganger walking towards the desk, ready for his new job.
And so the cycle repeats.