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The Scattering: Part One
Prisoners. That is what we are. We’re called PINs’-people in need. There’s something wrong with all of us; Claudia, with her disrespect for authority; Evan, and his thirst for money and power; finally, me: sent here for “abandoning my vocation.”
The work we do as PINs’ is not easy, but not hard either. New PINs’ struggle as the rough splintered shovel they stab into the ground also stabs into something else: their hands. We need not be remembered: the blood from the blisters that stains the shovels is remembrance enough. Once the calluses form the work becomes easier, but the sun beats down on our necks and causes the skin to burn, then blacken. We often never know who is black or white: at this point, we’re all the same color anyways.
Once the holes are dug by the new PINs’, the hard work begins. We carry brown-thatch sacks on our back, filled to the brim with various seeds: potato, corn, any food crop really. We only leave for dinner until our sacks are empty; sometimes a new PIN will be out past midnight.
This morning was different. The air was tinged with something different, unusual, underneath the raw earth smell of the fields, the smell of cooking breakfast in the cafeteria; the smell of metal. We never were allowed anything metal to help in the fields or in our quarters, apparently it “taught character.” There was a tangible sense of distraught in our camp, questions lingering in the air, unanswered: What is it? What is happening? Are we going to die? Where are we going?
A man approached the camp with a loudspeaker and stood on top of the old Jeep our camp master drove. He was large and muscled, and wore tight clothing that only added to his masculine aesthetic. It was almost taunting, as he was saying ‘try me, I’ll take you any day.’
“PINs, return to your quarters immediately. Crop planting will resume shortly,” the man said, his voice so low that the ground rumbled when to spoke. Almost like the bass clarinet I played in band during my junior years.
I stood there, Claudia shaking my shoulder. “C’mon, I don’t want to get in trouble again. Maybe we’ll get some extra food if we follow his directions,” she said, licking her lips as she looked up to the sky. It’s no secret that Claudia loves food, she’ll ask for all of our extra portions we didn’t want.
“I don’t want to go. I’m going to run.”
“What? You’ll be killed, besides, where’ll I get my extra portion?”
“You could come with me.”
“No. I have a good life here.”
“I thought you ‘disliked authority,’” I said snarky.
“No. I’m still not coming,” Claudia said forcefully. She started walking toward her dorm, then turned. “Do you think we’ll ever get out of here?” She said quietly.
“No. That’s why I’ve got to run.” Tears glistened on Claudia’s eyes, and she held me tight. I could feel the quiet drops of tears as they fell onto the hard packed dirt beneath our feet.
“Listen to me. Take care of yourself. I don’t want you dying,” she said, sniffling.
I nodded. “I’ve got to go, before they realize I’m gone,” I said, wiping away her tears before starting to run. I could almost see her eyes, hoping, praying that I’d be safe.
There was a woods right beside the fields, I started running towards that. The man was still squeaking into the loud speaker for people to get moving. I would still have to hurry, for fear of snitches.
After a few minutes of hard running, I reached the woods. I took off my hard hiking boots and strung them on my shoulder. The crinkly leaves combined with the boots would make it nearly impossible to sneak away without causing attention. I started walking slowly, holding my breath each time I took a step. Squirrels and rabbits watched and quietly clucked their disapproval that I was intruding on their home.
A few hours passed, and my path narrowed. Rocks slowly climbed on either side of me, and it began to grow dark. I suddenly spied a pinpoint of light. I squinted, it couldn’t be light. Not this far from camp. I quickly grabbed a stick and slowly starting walking towards the light, sure it was a search squad waiting to trap me. The light grew larger, and I could almost feel warmth emanating from the rocks. Vines covered the length of the rocks where it was coming from, and I uncovered them with my branch, then set them aside. A small, mahogany door stood almost engraved into the rock. Long deep scratches were etched into the wood, as if something-or someone-had tried to get in. I slowly raised my hand to the door, and knocked. It creaked open, where an elderly woman sat in the middle of the room, a cane in her right hand, and a bubbling pot steamed over roaring flames.
“Come in, sit,” she said. I felt as if she were my own Grandma, commanding me to sit and eat. I slowly walked and sat in an old chair across from her. It was then I realized, she was blind. Her eyes were a milky white, and stared off into the corner of the room, searching for something that I could never see.
“Have you ever wondered how our world came to be?”
The woman said.
“Well, no. I’ve always known from what we’ve been taught in Junior. Mad men took over the world, then The Creators killed them, and restored order to our universe,” I said, very sure of myself.
“Hmph,” the woman replied.
“What do you mean, “Hmph,”” I said. This old geezer probably doesn’t even know what’s going on only an hour from her doorstep!
“You seem so sure. Odd what a bit of twisting can do to a story,” she replied.
“There’s no twisting! That’s what happened,” I said pleading. My curiosity got the better of me, and I added “But if your so sure, why don’t you tell me?” I said.
The woman laughed, warm and bubbling with raw emotion. “You remind me so much of me when I was your age,” she said. “I suppose I should tell you, before the beasts come,” the woman said. She took a deep breath, and spread four piles of different colored flower petals across the floor. She then threw a colored powder into a pot, which burst with an amazing intensity, and gave the room an eerie purple color. “Once, there were four kingdoms,” she said, gesturing to each pile of petals. “They lived in harmony, each one giving something, and receiving something in return. Until one day, the fourth kingdom became unhappy, and took over the third kingdom and second kingdom as well. Chaos ruled for many years, until the leader realized he was doing wrong, and corrected his actions. For 1,000’s of years, harmony ruled once again. But secretly, the first kingdom was planning revenge. Their hate had fermented, and slowly became not a lust for revenge and power, but a lust for bloodshed. On the eve of the 5832nd anniversary of harmony, they struck. No longer were they humans, their sense of love and purpose gone. Hate and thirst for spilt blood consumed them, turning them into beasts. After killing off all who opposed them, they began to tell the story of how they were the ones who corrected, thren hunt down those who held the secrets of what truly happened. They hunted down everyone, everyone but me. The beasts will be coming soon. They know that I have spilt the true secret of our society, and will murder you as well if they find you. I ask of you one thing,” the woman continued, turning behind her, and pulling out a bow with several notches and a leather quiver with six grey arrows. “Each of these notches is someone who has carried the secrets of our society, and has passed them on, just as I have to you. You will know when to vpass this on,” she finished. She then cocked one ear towards the door, then handed me the items, slinging the quiver over my shoulders. Finally, she handed me a rolled piece of old parchment. “Go. Run towards where the moon rises and the sun sets. Run for two nights, and you’ll find another valley,much like this one where you’ll find a stream. To the left of it will be a cave opening, where a man lives. Give him this parchment.” I looked at her, stunned. “Now! The beasts are nearly upon us.” I turned and stumbled out the door and started to run faster and faster. I quickly glanced over my shoulder, and saw creatures that resembled wolves claw, hit, and tear open the door. They were darker than the blackest pitch, and their howls shook the whole forest. I turned back and started running, running towards where the moon rose and sun set.
To be continued