World's End

March 29, 2018

  As I stand before your grave I wonder what went wrong. I wonder. Ha, such a foolish excuse. I already know what went wrong.

I went wrong.

   "How do you think the end of the world will feel, big brother?" I glanced over at Ayven, a thin smile spreading on my lips at the sight. Despite not being related by blood, he was all the family I could ever ask for. "Hm, I think the end of the world would be like losing you, big brother!" Despite our closeness the answer shocked me to no end. It rattled my heart to its very core. "Really, Ayven?" The smaller boy, younger by three years turned to me. The thin, oddly mature smile never leaving his face. "Of course. You are my world!" 

   I laughed lightly at that, laying back down on the dirt in front of the small place we call home. "You're my world too Ayven. One day we'll escape this place. That I promise." As I stared at him, I could see something I could only place as disbelief flash behind his eyes. Quickly being replaced by hope. Hope. As long as he had hope, I believe that I could too. "Big brother, how would we get past the wall anyways? Won't the guards just get to us?..." 

   At this, my own eyes lit up. I had been planning it out for years now. Back in the 2000s these things called airplanes were a big thing. I had heard tales of them taking people thousands of miles in a matter of hours. That was larger than this entire prison town alone. We could surely escape that way. Ayven could finally see grass. Trees. Flowers. All the things I wished I had been able to experience just a few years ago. Standing up, I rushed into our one room home, which was in complete disrepair, and walked to the far right corner. Lifting up the rocks from the area, I pulled out a small box. Something my blood brother had given me before joining the Regalia. The people who kept us trapped here. Only so far from salvation and life.

   I didn't waste my time on such sorrows though. I continue back outside. Sitting down beside Ayven who had now sat up, and was gazing at the box in my hand with much curiosity, I opened it up, to reveal a blue and white model airplane and tons of blueprints. " Look at this Ayven. This is the future for us. This is how we'll escape." The warmth in my heart grew as I noticed the amazement that filled his eyes. "Where did you get this?" "Someone I knew gave it to me a really long time ago. They are gone now. Maybe one day we can both meet them. I am sure he would like you very much." "Really big brother. Are you sure?" "Positive."

   "That's truly great big brother. What is it called?" "It's an airplane. They used to be popular about seven thousand years ago. They stopped being made when Japan took over and the whole of the population was gathered into separate Prison States." Ayven glanced up at me, wonder filling his blue orbs, wonder for the information I had gained over time. "How will we make it?...." I looked around cautiously. Sure it was fine to dream aloud, but if anyone else found out about this, our one chance could be ruined. Leaning in, I whispered lowly, "There's this old building that used to be called a warehouse surrounded by ruins in the Veltro District. It has almost everything we would need. Sure, everything is extremely old, but it should be enough to get us over the wall." 

   "What will we do when we get over the wall? What if there is no grasslands, and trees, and water like you said? What if everything is just like how it is in here?" I flinched lightly. It's not like the thought hadn't crossed my mind. The thin belief that something was beyond those walls did crack from time to time. But hope was all I had left to hold onto. I would not let it go just yet. "We'll think of that when the time comes. Surely anything can be better than living our lives as caged birds, no?" "What are birds, big brother." "I'll show you when we escape this place. I have seen pictures from a long time ago. They are truly magnificent. They fly high like the plane we will build will!" "Then why don't we just build a bird, brother?" I remember laughing at this. As Ayven's curiosity was something not of this world. 

   "Birds are living things like you and me, Ayven. They are not built. They are made with love and care. Just like how you and I were made." "Big brother, when I am not with you I do not feel very loved." "That's because we are being tested. You will see the benefit when we cross the walls." I smiled down at him as he yawned. Having only now noticing that it had gotten dark as we talked. "Let's go to bed, Ayven." "O-Okay big brother." We walked inside, Propping up the large piece of plywood that we called a door and placing a few large stones in front of it for extra reassurance. I turned to see him laying on the dirt, One of our two holy and thin blankets laying over him. I returned the box to its hiding place. Taking the patch of dirt beside him afterwards. Laying down quietly as Ayven slowly fell asleep. "Goodnight Big brother." "Goodnight Ayven."

   "Big Brother, did I do this right?" I looked over at Ayven, although he was much older now. A fifteen to my twenty-one. "Yes, you've done very well. If we keep going at this rate, it will be done soon." "Do you think it will work?" "Of course." "That's good." Ayven wiped off his hands on his pants. Ones we had luckily found among the rubble of the Spartha District. "Are you ready to get going, Ayven?" "Yes big brother." "Well, okay then, let's go." I watched as Ayven picked up the thin bag we had found years ago for his ninth birthday. Slinging it over his shoulder before marching ahead of me.

   It still baffled me how through the years he had still managed to remain so curious, cheerful, and innocent. He was always the questioner. That was true. His hunger for knowledge was insatiable. I followed after him quietly. Our walk taking us all the way back to the Cinder District. A place where very few people lived now days. The perfect amount of solitude needed for us. Walking inside, we gave a sigh. It may still be extremely hot in here, but compared to how it was outside, our home was like a cold bucket of water. Something we weren't treated to often. Sitting down, we had a small dinner. A simple apple with some stale noodles. This is the normal meal. In fact, it was more than most others would ever get.

   It was our fortune that blood brother was in the Regalia. His connections kept us fed, although I hadn't seen him in a total of about fifteen years. None of that truly mattered. It showed me that despite it all he still cared. That he wanted the best for me. That he wasn't as cold-hearted as the rest of the Regalia members. "Big Brother. It has been getting hotter lately. I wonder why that is." "Oh, that is a sign that the seasons are changing. I have told you this before." "No big brother. It feels different this time. It feels like a sign. Like a warning." "Is that a good or a bad thing?" "I don't know big brother."

   Somehow, his words managed to put me off. Making me stand up with a sigh. I grabbed my own bag. Turning to the still open door, seeing that it was getting quite late. Yet something told me that I needed to get out of there. That I couldn't stay much longer. That I just needed a quick breather. Some time alone. "I'm going to scavenge some more supplies. We'll need them. You stay here. Keep the house safe. I'll be back. Okay?" "Okay big brother. Be careful..." "I will. I always am." "I know. That's what I'm worried about."

   Walking through the Veltro district brought back memories of when I was much younger. This was where I lived with my big brother, before it was all torn down and he joined the Regalia Yet now, something seemed off. It was so quiet. Not a peaceful quiet, but the kind of quiet that drove minds to the brink. The kind of quiet that was so loud it could give someone a headache. I picked up scraps of metal and woods. Old nails and screws. Pieces of rubber. Anything that could be useful. Ignoring the loud pounding of my heart in my ears. The whispers of change in my heart.

   Until a yell of change erupted from behind me. "Ah, Brother. How long it has been." I turned around to come face to face with my brother, who looked to be around thirty now. Although he had aged well. He wore the black and orange Regalia uniform, and that retched hat that we used to make fun of together. He walked up to me, but I was surprised to find that I was a few inches taller than him. "Johnathan...It has been very long...What are you doing here?.." "Oh me? I was on patrol. It is my job after all." "Oh. Of course. What was I thinking." My brother circled around me, taking in my change of appearance. "Actually, I lied." "Wha?" "I've been looking for you. I have an offer." I eyed him down warily. He seemed very different from before. That much was obvious. "What kind of offer?" "Well, needless to say. It will change your life."

   "Superior Private!" "Yes Sir?" I looked down at the man before me. A very important figure with the Regalia. He was three positions my superior, and he made sure I knew it all the time. "I would like to congratulate you on your recent purge. It was an excellent cleaning of filth. That may just help you move up in the ranks in the near future." My eyes widened slightly. In my six years of serving with the Regalia here, this is the first time he has every complimented me. I had gotten recruited by my brother, and something inside of me had pushed me to accept.

   What, I do not know. Maybe it was fear. Fear that despite all my efforts I still would not make it out of this place alive. Or maybe it was greed. I wanted to move up in the world. I wanted to hold power over others. Or maybe it was selflessness, because Ayven was much better off without someone like me around. I had come to find that I didn't too much care for escape anymore. Life in the Regalia was unlike anything I had experienced before. It was rich. The food was ten times better, the air was cool, and you were well taken care of. I understood now why a lot of people jumped at the chance to join them. If I had known back then...then I hold some shame in knowing I would have abandoned Ayven much sooner. 

   As my superior kept talking, I got deeper and deeper into my thoughts. Both of us only getting thrown out of our personal bubbles by an alarm going off. One I had never heard before. "What's going on?!" "There is power activity in one of the districts! Someone brought power back to one of the districts!" My eyes widened slightly. In all of my days, even before the Regalia, that had never been done. I hadn't been alive to see the electrical era. Although I had heard stories. Magnificent stories. "I told those damn idiots that we should have gotten rid of all elements of the electric system! Follow me Superior Private!"

   I gave a curt nod and ran after him, following him into the meeting room that was filled to the brim with powerful Regalia members, including my brother. "Power has been temporarily restored to the Veltro district." "What, how?!" "Impossible!" "That system has been off for thousands of years!" "Proposterous!" "Silence! Everyone here will depart for the Veltro district immediately! Any questions?" "No Sir!"

   With great haste me and multiple other men ran through the entrance of the Veltro district. Which now hummed with electricity that had been saving up for a very long time. "Everyone split up! We won't stop until we find and destroy the source! Don't let anyone in our out, We don't want word to spresd to the other districts! The people may gain hope." With that, everyone, including myself, ran off, At first I wandered aimlessly, before a thought struck me. The Warehouse. It was power center, and only me and one more person knew about it. One person I did not doub could do this on their own. With wide eyes, I took off in a sprint, my eyes set on the highest peak of the Veltro District.

   When I had arrived, nostalgia hit me with everything it had. The times I had spent here with Ayven. Planning a future. A future that I had abandoned for a far more secure option. Slowly walking up to the second floor, I stood in awe at what I saw. An airplane, an actual life size airplane. It looked rough, and it was quite obviously not new. Yet it was an airplane all the same. In the cockpit there sat someone I hadn't seen in a very long time. Ayven himself. Although he was all grown up now.  

   When he turned to me I could see the recognition cross his eyes, before a bit of regret, and then love. The kind of love only a brother could give. Whether older or younger. "I knew it would be you to show up. That voice in my heart has been telling me. Telling me that you would cause a change. I knew it was right. That voice is what led me to you in the first place."

   Turning to the plane, he roughly pulled the lever, causing a rumble to escape from the makeshift engine, showing obvious signs and trouble. "I'm sorry we had to meet again like this. I am quite sure we'll meet again one day. Back at home. Promise me then that you will teach me more things, big brother." All the while I had stood there dumbfounded as the plane slowly rolled off. Gaining some lift due to the high placing of the warehouse. Then, he was flying. Ignoring the loud growling of the engine. The yells of Regalia members from below him. Ignoring the screams I let out when I calculated where the plane was going. 

   He just smiled, and laughed. The joyful sound filling my ears over everything else. The plane meeting its planned location. The center of the Regalia building. The building that had been built into the wall. The building that held the wall together. The building that was crumbling at a steady pace, setting off a chain reaction of falling stones and deafening crashes as the wall came down with it. The small boom the airplane gave off as it exploded from impact almost an afterthought amongst the rest of the chaos. 

   I stared down at my old home, which was much nicer than before. You could tell that he had worked hard on it. He had done much better than I ever had. Yet as I walked inside, I was almost shocked to find it just about completely empty. Only one thing remained inside. An old wooden box that I hadn't seen in six years. I walked up to it slowly. Falling to my knees before it and reluctantly opening it. I smiled at the site. Inside the box held memories. The old model airplane that had been the foundation to my- our dreams. The blueprints, scraps of cloth from our old blankets, Drawings, Old letters. Yet one newer piece of parchment was on the very bottom. It was always like him to leave the best for last.

   I took in a shaky breath, my eyes watering as I stared at the paper. Refusing to read it for a few moments as I gained my composure. I didn't deserve to cry over him. I had left him behind when I know he truly needed me the most. Opening the letter I smiled lightly at his first words. "Dear Johan, or shall I say big brother...." 






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