All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Author's note: The original concept came to me when I was actually being bored with my Geometry homework last year. I remember staring at a pencil for a while then I excitedly wrote the idea down. I hope people are able to escape from everyday life with their imagination and receive some internal motivation from this novella.
"Life isn't black and white." There was no better phrase to contradict the world Dominic lived in. To a total outsider, the World might seem like a mythical, fantasy place, but for Dominic, it was cold hard reality. Black and white, except skin tones, were the only colours to be seen along the streets and fields of Block, a small country encompassed in a sea of landlocked states. One might think that the fact that everything was made of up words might give the place a little more oomph, some creative urge. Nothing. The words were stale, concrete. Nothing poetic lay in the repeated lines of "BRICKBRICKBRICK," forming walls of buildings, or the bobbling clusters of "WATERWATERWATER" making up the pond. One would think that nothing needed a label. But without words, there was no identification. Clusters of letters would float around aimlessly, not resembling any known object. Yet somehow, there was only really one person in the whole of Block that identified himself with words.
Dominic was a feature editor at the traditionalist, slow newspaper, The Clock. Everyone deemed him as a freak, because he was fascinated with language. He was the only one who showed up to work every day with a smile, eager to type on his computer, which was hell for the others. They were pushed into it. The people of the World were indecisive by nature, but if one was so indecisive to the point of laziness, they'd get stuck with a job as a journalist. They, the young adolescents with no care for anything except the present moment, didn't give a damn what they would be stuck with for the subsequent ten years of their lives. Until they got there.
Part of this drab lack of motivation was caused exactly by the opposite of that cliché phrase: Life was black and white in the World. One way, one clear cut choice, two tonal shades to describe it. And all written in words.
It was a late Sunday evening. Dominic was yet again hunched over his keyboard, typing so frantically as if his fingers were magnetic to the keys. He smoothed his blonde curly hair back and admired his creation. Three pages of absolute glory on why the World should bother caring about recycling. Dominic smiled as he sipped his decaf coffee and stared out into the black sky. At night, the words "SKYSKYSKY" turned dark and huddled so close together that they resembled a sheet of midnight velour enrobing the World. Suddenly his smile faded. He quickly remembered that although he wrote this article, it was not truly his. The Law of Conservation of Words flashed through his mind: "Words cannot be created nor destroyed, only transferred from one mind to another." There used to be a bit in there about Erazeh, Block's ruling overseer, being the only creator and destroyer of words. But that would mess up the flow of the sentence, and besides, everyone knew that Erazeh was the only exception anyway. Erazeh was the Boss of Block; other countries has Bosses but there was no central Boss, as it would be impossible for he or she to manage all that word creation and consumption. The Bosses never talked to each other, ever. Practically the only thing connecting them was that they were all in the same World.
Dominic pushed aside his discouraging worry and tried to reassure himself with the fact that he was able to put his voice out there. The other journalists honestly didn't give a crap.
It was 10:32 p.m. Sighing, he emailed his article to the Manager of the Printer, also known as his employer that collected the articles and printed them. He then called it a night and shut his light out at 11 p.m.
The next morning, Dominic was greeted on the street with the annoying click of heels following behind him. He turned around. Ethel, great.
"Nice to see you actually coming to work on time for once," she sneered, stuffily holding her takeaway cappuccino in the air. Dominic looked down at her shoes. "HEELSHEELSHEELS" were written so obnoxiously it was as if Ethel herself had scribbled on them in her precious cursive. This ordinary start to the workday did not continue so ordinarily after the Manager of the Printer called all the journalists in the office to discuss articles. They huddled around his desk nonchalantly, but also with a twinge of worry that they might get cut.
"Mark, you might want to edit yours next week," the Manager critiqued. "Cynthia...good job..."
He shuffled through some papers. He stopped short at one.
"Ethel, oh my goodness what an achievement! Every line, so structured...the overall message...yes! This is exactly what I wanted. You should definitely get a bonus for this one."
Ethel smiled deviously. She loved the fact that her last name started with "A" because it came very early in the alphabet. Thank God the Manager reviewed the articles alphabetically.
When the Manager reached his article, Dominic was already beaming with delight. He knew the Manager's reaction to it would top his to Ethel's.
"Dominic," the Manager murmured as he read the first paragraph. He rapidly flipped back to Ethel's and read hers. "I would never think to accuse you of..."
Dominic's heart raced in nervousness.
"Plagiarism. This is exactly the same as Ethel's article. How can--you're one of our best writers!" the Manager exclaimed.
Dominic's expression drooped to a sullen shock of awe. He felt like the room was closing in on him, the eyes of his co-workers gleaming at him like daggers. Cold beads of sweat trickled down the back of his neck.
"But...that's my article! I finished it last night!" He wailed hopelessly.
"Oh, well, I sent mine in at 5 p.m. yesterday. You must've hacked my account, you filthy liar!" Ethel attacked.
"No--I swear I sent mine in at 10:30 p.m...."
"Are you sure it wasn't 10:32 p.m.? All the minutes matter," she sneered. Dominic shot her a suspicious look.
"Sir, I had been writing my article for days. See, I have notes!" He pleaded and fumbled through his pockets for some paper.
"If you were working on it for days then why did you send it in so late last night? I sent mine in at a decent time so I would have more free evening time to either recuperate my mind or begin thinking about a new article," Ethel lied. The Manager flashed her an impressed grin. He turned to Dominic.
"Dominic, I'm afraid we're going to have to take serious measures for this."
"Sir, I would never even think of--"
"Enough. Plagiarism is one of the biggest crimes you can commit against the court of journalism. As the law states, words may be transferred, yes, but not copied. We are a house of printers, not photocopiers. We print newly arranged combinations of words just to satisfy the deprived public."
A consensus of mental thought stirred the room. No one gives a crap about our paper, idiot, was the real internal remark.
"And in the hopes of what? Getting 'ahead?' 'Saving time?' Creating discomfort and unrest from this poor robbed lady?"
Ethel made a whimpering, sniffing noise. The irony turned Dominic's face cold. The still presence of the looming judgemental crowd further shuffled towards him. The open embarrassment, of not even his own mistake, was too much to bear. Dominic felt a wave of nausea begin to creep up on him until the Manager announced:
"Alright. This is a private matter. Employees, you have things to do. Dominic, you meet me after your lunch break. My office. 2 p.m. sharp."
The herd of slightly entertained journalists milled out of the room, upset that they couldn't witness more of the drama. Ethel dried her fake tears as she approached Dominic alone. She put on quite a performance in there. Dominic couldn't understand why she didn't choose to be an actress for her profession.
"Funny thing is," she whispered, trying not to laugh. "Is that I was the one who snuck into the Manager's email account at 11:30 p.m. last night. I obtained his password when he stupidly confessed it at Josie's leaving drinks party last year. Everyone else was so delirious that I was the only one who picked up on the gold. What morons. Anyway I did it because I knew you would've written some overly showy yet decent piece and quite frankly, I just wasn't bothered to write anything yesterday."
Dominic stood in utter shock. He opened his mouth and barely managed to project a response out of it.
"What about the 5 p.m. thing?" He asked naively.
"Don't be stupid, Dominic. You've known me long enough to expect that I can't be trusted in handling the truth," she bluntly admitted. Dominic hated the way Ethel saw lying as such a casual circumstance. More than that, he hated that her act of stealing his chosen words seemed like a malfeasance to her.
"You committed word theft," he bit sternly.
"Honey, the only word theft that exists in this World is real, tangible, object theft. Remember objects are made of words," she nastily replied, seasoning her sentences with a twinge of obviousness.
So stealing words isn't a crime, Dominic gloomily realized. Despite them being my own. From my own heart. Yeah, I technically didn't "create" them, just "rearranged combinations," but so what? Who is it to tell me that those words aren't my own creation? Can a combination have my creativity, my voice, my personality, infused into it? These dejected thoughts spun a web in Dominic's mind throughout the lunch break and the meeting with the Manager.
During the meeting, Dominic was able to talk, but he never fully was able to attack Ethel for the fraud that she is, to attack the manager for being so favourist and ignorant, to attack the World for being so--!
The only conclusion that resulted from the 2 p.m. meeting was the cut in Dominic's pay check and the "firm knowledge" that he was "proven guilty." Bunch of bullcrap, Dominic thought as he finished up and left the office. It's annoying how, despite being a journalist, I am still restricted under the "care" of some overseer who doesn't even take my side of the story in account. I thought words were free. Whatever happened to freedom of speech? Who am I writing for, myself or others? I live in a World where everywhere I look I'm bombarded with floods of letters and annoying "STONESTONESTONE" patterns. One would think that with this endless alphabetical sea around me I would be able to drench the page in my own words. Yeah, technically speaking, all those other jobs like mechanics and cooks and crap all "deal with words" because they move objects around. But they're not really using words. They might just be mixing letters around in a bowl, but they don't know the weight and feeling that hangs with every word baked in the oven. And everything is "technical." Technically this, technically that. What's the point of having journalists if they have to act like robots? We're the ones who really do, or should, understand words. So why in the World there be so much rigid structure in a society formed of scribbled bursts of language?
The pent-up frustration in Dominic was brought to a boil. He had never felt so betrayed, rejected, or publicly humiliated in the journalism business, or at any other point in his life. He felt as if his words had been hijacked, fluttering off onto someone else's page and leaving a gaping wound in him.
The sky above never looked a more bleak shade of white. Maybe if there was some grey in the there the World would be a little more interesting.
Dominic turned and looked in the reflection of the store window he was walking by. He stopped and noticed something on his cheek. It was a tear rolling down his face, composed of letters that repeated the word "melancholy". The trail of the water made a line of his face a little pinker.
Two thundering thoughts bombarded Dominic. His tear was composed of an emotion, which had never happened before to him. And there was a temporary tonal change in his skin. Was it possible for the World to have colour like his flesh? Could there be more than black and white, more than two solid answers, even just a grey in-between? Were olive-pinks and browns the only colours that existed? If there was colour, could it wash out the rigid, monochromatic moods and personalities of the people of the World? These questions were far-fetched and crazy. But Dominic knew in his heart that they were significant, because a calming wave of hope spread over him, and partially washed away his dismal distress.
This abrupt hope also stirred an energetic, risky feeling in Dominic. He suddenly had an impulsive idea to attack the source of the problem, the creator of this shattered whirlpool of a society. He was inspired by the simple notion of using the power of words to change words, thus causing Dominic to think that a fiery letter to Erazeh would change the World forever.
He could dream. Dominic's expectations for the result of the letter were a little too optimistic, but he could dream. As soon as he arrived back at his apartment that Monday evening, he threw his bag and pay cut letter on the counter and furiously began attacking the keyboard with his mind. Besides taking short breaks to stuff his face full of leftover spaghetti and meatballs and making a trip to the bathroom, Dominic laboured over his letter for practically three hours straight. He wove his potent hope into every word choice, and typed as if every press of a key was a step towards change. After the sun had dived into the horizon, the sky turned its usual midnight shade of black. But the white stars, so far away that the words "STARSTARSTAR" were hardly legible, seemed brighter than usual. Dominic peered up at them through his window after typing the final sentence. His eyes had a hard time readjusting from the harsh screen light. He then leaned back in his chair and nodded slowly, humbly proud of what he had achieved:
Dear Sir Archibald Erazeh II,
After a turbulent day at work, I am writing to tell you that there is something wrong with the society you lead here on Block. My co-workers are rude, nasty, and vindictive. My boss has no sense of compassion for me. I was innocently accused of plagiarism. I have come to conclude that this is all the result of your dismal society, Sir Erazeh. Yes, we live in a world of words, but none of them contain emotion or sentiment! The fact that you make us live in a black and white environment crushes most people's moods and causes our art systems and facilities to fail, as there is no opinion, no originality. No in-between answer, not even a single shade of grey. Well, I am stating right here and right now that I demand that colour be put into the World. Or at least the country of Block! Why should the only colours we see are the browns, pinks, olives, and tans of skin tone? These are the only colours I know that I can associate a shade with. I've read old tales using foreign words such as "red" or "purple," but what do these words mean? I know there are more colours out there. In a world surrounded by language, ironically, I feel that my vocabulary is restricted. That's what the World is made of, Sir. Irony. Pure Irony. I would like to live in a world where I can feel truthfully, listen truthfully, understand truthfully. Not where everything is contradicted or the outcome is completely unexpected. I have done nothing wrong. Why should I be punished for simply seeing a state of reason?
I hope you ask yourself these questions long after you have read my letter. I hope that my words inspire you to change, unlike the rest of the words we are surrounded by.
Dominic had no clue what address to put on the envelope, or how many stamps he should stick on it. He did know for a fact that Erazeh had a postal office, but the thought didn't even occur to him that his work of art might be tossed out with the rest of the "unimportant" messages. He cleared up and went to bed, falling asleep easily to the notion that he was progressing, that he was really getting somewhere. He was moving mountains.
The extravagant amount of writing and postage slapped on the envelope of Dominic's letter must've been correct as it arrived at Erazeh's mail office about two weeks later. The thuggish, burly mail sorters were doing the usual organization of letters on Thursday morning when Erazeh himself walked in.
A door guard instantly saluted the entering figure. Decorated with details such as a gristly moustache, burly eyebrows and wrinkled eyes, Erazeh's face carried a solemn ambience of power wherever it prevailed. It was as if the dark thoughts of his narrow mind had spread to the rest of his body when they exited through his mouth. Stripped clean of the last shade of light in his soul, his heart beat to a military-like, marching beat. His fair skin had no trace of colour in it: it was as if his body was made up of white words too.
Erazeh prowled the space behind the desks of the mail-sorters, peering at their work, one by one. Cold beads of sweat trickled down the necks of the workers as their breathing quickened. He bent down and squinted to read a letter one of the workers was holding up.
"What do these people think I'll get out of reading these putrid messages?" He remarked, disgusted at the letter he just scanned through. "Honestly, put some effort into it. If you're going to send a message to the ruler of your country you might as well make it slightly more presentable."
Erazeh continued stalking the aisles until he stopped and announced, "Whoever can find the most entertaining letter, motion me over as there may be an exemption from a duty. "
At that, the rustle of the papers grew voluminous and the heads of the sorters dived into their gargantuan piles, only coming up for air when they thought they found a nugget of comedic treasure. A greasy-haired worker shot his hand up with a piece of paper in the other. Erazeh calmly paced towards him, hands behind back in a collected, overseeing manner. He skimmed the letter and then snatched it from the worker's hands. He smiled.
"This is pure gold," Erazeh chuckled to himself. "Just listen to this plebeian yammer about colours and letters...what a frivolity."
The nervous employee tried to smile.
"Write back to this hooligan with the words, 'please elaborate,' and we'll see what humour will arise next week," Erazeh gleefully ordered. The exemption from a duty was never given to the worker. After all the World was a world of irony, hence the sarcasm.
A cloudy Sunday afternoon. The excitement of the first letter had worn off of Dominic and now he slumped into a lonely hole of self-doubt. Did he really think that the leader of the country would pay attention to him? Was anyone going to pay attention to him? Dominic pondered these questions as he slouched into his warm hoodie and slowly sipped a mug of tea. To clear his mind he decided to go for a bike ride, despite the dark clouds.
Sure enough, halfway through his ride, "RAINRAINRAIN" drops began to slowly drip from the sky. As they accelerated, more began to fall and soon the streets were blurred with a curtain of ink. Despite being a nuisance, descending rain always made everything look artistic and beautiful, in Dominic's opinion. The World was a canvas usually covered in scribbles, but now lavish strokes of ink had turned it into a painting. The drops clung to objects like magnets cling to metal. Dominic liked the way the water swirled his usual "SHIRTSHIRTSHIRT" imprints making up his clothing. Rain, how beautifully you place drops on nature, he thought to himself.
This tranquil peace swiftly halted when a postman came whipping around the corner on his bike and threw an envelope at Dominic. The mailman caught Dominic's confused expression.
"This rain is too treacherous for me. I'm callin' it a day. You were the last stop, anyway," he announced and turned into the distance.
Dominic carefully opened his envelope as if it were a present. He always had this tentative manner towards things, a peculiar gratefulness to objects that others would just view as ordinary. After he read the short message it entailed, Dominic threw the message up in the falling sky for joy. He had reached Erazeh! He was making progress! Suddenly the day didn't seem so dismal anymore! He squealed and hopped back onto his bike, speeding through black puddles and letting the ink taint his wrinkled jeans. There was sun in the sky, even if it wasn't visible. There was hope. He felt so foolish for wasting hours drowning in worry and despair. Dominic knew his optimism would return. He hadn't known when, but he knew there would be some sign of nature working as a harbinger for self-belief.
Ecstatic with determination, Dominic sped home to reply to Erazeh's letter. The fiery light inside him never dwindled. It was always present, flickering and shining brightly at different times. He was again excited with his result and proudly bathed in the glory of the closing line that read:
"If I see no changes soon, there will be consequences."
The rest of the letter consisted of a similar, yet expanded, plea for change and social justice. The words were lightly intertwined with sentiments of a yearning for sympathy and compassion.
To Dominic's dismay, however, the daily grind at the office was still dismal over the subsequent weeks. Words continued to exist in black and white, and he yet again found himself tangled in branches of anxiety.
But there was a reason for this. Days before Dominic had sank back to a more doubtful mood, Erazeh had been smirking and grimly chuckling at his letter.
"Consequences? What consequences? Start an art club? Bombard me with bullets of ink? Stuff poetry down my throat? Honestly, I cannot wait to see what this fool has in store. I'll continue daily life in its usual fashion, and then we'll watch what dastardly tricks this man claims to have up his sleeve!" Erazeh had cackled to the workers in the mailroom. They laughed along out of nervousness. The mailroom men didn't know whether to feel sympathy or disgust for this sick man who was so bored with his granted royal life that he had to fill it with harassing his own people.
To Erazeh's delight, Dominic was fed up with the stagnancy of life and began mentally scribbling notes in his mind for his plan at 11 p.m. one Tuesday night.
"If you come to the meeting room during your lunch break I'll give you something sweet," Dominic repeated numerous times to twenty of his somewhat friendly co-workers the next day. The general response was "What do you mean by something sweet? Don't tell me you're gonna give me a hug or hold my hand or some other form of mushy crap."
"No. I have éclairs," Dominic replied. He wondered why he didn't just mention that in the first place. Sometimes his poetic desire got the better of him.
"Beats cafeteria food," all the co-workers agreed.
At lunch break Dominic successfully managed to organize his co-workers into the meeting room. He secretly locked the door in case anyone tried to make a run for it.
"So, what's the occasion, Dominic?" a lanky woman asked.
"Yeah. Why the sudden surprise of kindness and breakfast food?" asked another.
"I'm here to ask you all a favour," Dominic began. The whole room rumbled from the thunderous wave of moaning.
"I'm outta here," one man declared as he stood up, fingers sticky with chocolate.
"W-wait!" Dominic cried. "You'll get something in return."
The man sat back down.
"If you help take part in this demonstration I'm planning, and round up fifteen other people each to help as well, I'll write an article for every one of you before your next deadline. Whataya say?"
A hushed silence hung timidly in the room.
"A whole article? Heck I can list fifteen people off the top of my head. If I only have to do that instead of writing another stupid article, I'm in," someone remarked.
A wave of agreement buzzed throughout the room. Dominic was surprised that these people would rather bother rounding up their friends than pouring their heart into an article, but that was the whole lazy irony of the World. He, being a bit more anti-social, would definitely prefer the latter, but this was a rarity amongst most people. Yet he wasn't complaining, in fact he was actually pleased. Dominic smiled humbly to himself. His visualization of the demonstration might become a reality!
"Wait," a voice pierced through the chatter. "What exactly do we have to do for this demonstration thing?"
Dominic shuffled and dug up some courage to actually reveal his plan to some other minds.
"We'll make a formation..." he began.
"...That spells out the word 'colour,' and we'll make it outside Erazeh's headquarters, the Capitol of Block.
The room was stunned with silence.
"What in the World is that going to do?", "How would Erazeh see that?", were some of the subsequent reactions.
"Because. If we make enough racket--" Dominic started.
"We'll be thrown out by the P-guards!" someone added.
"No. Erazeh will see it. I have this weird feeling that this will go through and it'll work. Erazeh can only destroy objects made of words, right? And we're not made of words. He can't destroy us."
There was a pause of minds basking in the creative thought that was this idea, a sudden conjuring of the mind presented before their brains to decipher.
A male co-worker broke the serene stillness. "Sounds like some poetic weapon that would only work in a story," he exclaimed.
Dominic was frustrated. "Don't you see? We call this real life but isn't it essentially a story in itself? Yeah, the events might seem monotonous to you, but you're still living your own stories. We're alive and sometimes we forget that. Are you going to waste another minute lazing around, letting dust gather on your ambitions, your goals, and your journeys? Wouldn't you rather live in a world where true happiness exists?" He didn't notice that his hands had gradually clutched together throughout his desperate monologue. The inspirational words hung in the room like a foggy mist, visible but too thick to see through. The mist had obviously blurred the co-workers' visions so much that their faces were left in utter confusion.
"Eh, who cares? As long as I don't have to slave myself over another article for a while, I'm in," someone announced. Another soft murmur of agreement hummed throughout the room.
"I'm not," a high-pitched voice snapped. "I don't care if I have to bother hacking the Manager's email again for one of your frilly articles, Dominic. Your method is too peaceful and will get nowhere. Have fun being ridiculed."
The whole room glared at Ethel.
"Wait, so it wasn't your article after all?" a person asked.
Ethel flushed, not realizing that she had just exposed her secret.
"I, uh..." she stammered.
The languid sloth returned to the co-workers yet again.
"Oh well, at least I know now that the Manager will like "my" next article if it's written by that flowery lucky writer over there," a woman mentioned, motioning to Dominic.
Dominic beamed humbly. "What do you mean, 'lucky'?" He expected a response that would regard him as lucky for his talented gift of writing.
"Well, you got somethin' in you that earns ya the fattest pay check, besides that one time."
His heart sank. Still, there was a touch more organizing to do.
"So if Ethel's out," Dominic began, "that leaves 19 of you. Times that by 15, you get 285, plus me, is 286, so we'll have 286 people for the demonstration!"
"Hooray. You can do math!" a man bitterly remarked.
"Are you not gathering up your own volunteers then?" someone asked Dominic.
"No, since I'm organizing this whole thing. I have enough on my plate," he bluntly replied. The man was taken aback by Dominic's sudden brashness.
"Hey what if the 15 people don't want to help out?" a woman questioned.
"Just get on your knees and plead to them that writing an article is Hell for you and that this journalist job was imposed on you by some supernatural force and you have no way of escaping its horrors," someone grimly responded.
Dominic could not believe what he was hearing. Sure, it made a different that he was the only one in the office who even remotely had wanted this job, but still. Was thinking and arranging a bunch of words on a piece of paper really that hard? To the quantitative types it could be like a puzzle, locking all the right words together to create one solid picture. In puzzles the picture was often a painting. In writing it was no different. The end results are both art. These people needed to wake up from their naps of ignorance and realize that, without writing, the world would be too quantitative and logical. Everyone would speak in numbers if it got any worse. Perhaps the culture of the World was supposed to be as black and white as its surroundings...
His co-workers' outlooks reflected the dismal tones of the World, and vice versa. It was this notion that compelled Dominic to, against his own will, make his response:
"Do exactly that," the words stumbled off his tongue like a runaway train falling into a canyon. Nevertheless, they had been said. His words left the co-workers on a somewhat content note after they left the meeting room. They probably thought that they had converted Dominic to their side, which was most definitely not the case. Dominic was surprised to see Ethel still standing in the doorway when everyone was leaving. As he packed up his briefcase she said to him:
"You didn't mean the last words you said."
"I know. But I know what I'm doing," Dominic replied with confidence.
Weeks passed, and the number of volunteers for the demonstration began to rise. Dominic had secretly been conducting some research on the mysterious life of Erazeh. The internet was weirdly littered with glorious raw facts that, when sloughed through, could be deemed crucial. He had, one night at 1:15 a.m., discovered a few significant tidbits:
1) Erazeh was royal even though he sold himself as "being a man of the people" and "elected by them." What lies.
2) Erazeh was not born anywhere in Block; his birthplace was actually in an opposing nation.
3) Erazeh had a dial embedded in his skin on the nape of his neck, a quality only possessed by the royals.
As Dominic read the rest of the last aforementioned fact, his eyes opened doe-like. His pupils contracted and widened at the letters on the beaming screen, spelling out a thought that was as shocking as it was essential. It read:
"The dial is presumed to control the colours of the World. Last noted by an undercover guard,' the dial was set to 'black/white.' The guard did not have enough time to see what other settings were on the dial. Numerous attempts have been made to adjust it but Erazeh is very sensitive around there and has always caught and captured any anarchists who try to do so, thus far."
Dominic swallowed a gulp of nerves. The last few words had trickled down his spine like icy raindrops, freezing every motion in his body. Caught and captured. Who knows what consequences await after one was captured? Torture? Death? He searched the internet some more. There were no accounts of those who had once been captured. Were they still imprisoned? Dead? Or freed but under oath that they would not tell a single soul about the mysterious deeds that occur behind the concrete barriers of the Block Capitol? These thoughts and more spun in Dominic's mind, weaving a web of uncertainty and fear.
He experienced difficulty falling asleep that night, as his mind was awake with weighing options, envisioning poor outcomes and questioning if he really had enough courage to do so.
As the clock just struck 2:00 a.m., Dominic was fed up and forced himself up and over to the mirror. He turned on his dim light. The soft glow from the lamp created hollow shadows across the depths and pores of his skin. Eyebrows a little furled, eyelids coated with weariness, Dominic gazed at the man he had become. He ran his fingers over his prickly stubble. He looked at himself with respect, but at the same time saw a man who had accomplished little of phenomenal value during his lifetime. He had been fairly happy, easily journeying through school before writing for The Clock for most of his life. Yet nothing stood out to him. Sure, there were milestones, but no monumental conquered mountains. No work or deed that would be imprinted in history textbooks for centuries to come. Something had been holding him back.
A glance at his messy, scribbled mound of paper on his desk signalled a message to him. Of course, writing was his talent, hobby, and comfort, but it was also an outlet to which he could reveal all his deepest thoughts, his true self. One of his qualities that was clearly reflected in the pile of paper was his indecisiveness: his need to write out and over-think so many little, silly choices. It was acceptable for the truly significant decisions, of course, but it had gotten to the point where it was just a pure nuisance.
That was it. The indecisiveness, derived from his slight insecurity and low confidence, had caused him to be rigid and safe in terms of his life decisions. He could just sit there in his fairly monotonous life, staying safe and moderately happy. Or he could risk his career or even his health to attempt a socially useful, gargantuan deed to change the World, or at least his country.
Dominic's eyes drew back to his reflection. He hadn't noticed that his face had grown excited, his mouth curved into a smile. Was he really going to do this? Yes. Yes he was. He would overcome his inner fear of taking chances, and pour his heart into achieving so and his plan from that day forward. He would leave his mark on the World, no question.
He sighed gleefully, stretched, and then clambered back to bed where he fell asleep, released from emotional strain.
Dominic squinted in the morning light that pierced through the trees as he left his apartment building. The outcome for today looked good: shining sun, nice sleep, and no burnt toast. It had been two weeks since the initial meeting for the Plan, and now Dominic held another to check the status of his growing process.
"The main reason for this meeting is to discuss how many volunteers we have signed up. Remember you had to get fifteen each," he began. A uninterested murmur hummed about the room, signalling either reluctance or forgetfulness. But as always, the irony remained engrained in the people of Block, and Dominic was shocked to discover that fifteen people had been recruited from each co-worker.
An awkward silence instilled as Dominic scribbled some simple calculations on some paper. "15 times 19 is 285, plus one is 286," he mumbled.
"Why are we here to watch a performance of math?" A participant dryly remarked.
Satisfied, Dominic looked up from his paper. He had obviously ignored or not heard the comment.
"286 people," he whispered in awe. "286 people...we can do this!"
"Why exactly are we doing this demonstration again?" Someone called out.
Dominic sighed. "Because..."
"Don't you remember his long sappy speech he gave at the first meeting where he gave us each an éclair? It was gross," a short man snapped. Dominic couldn't tell if the man thought his "speech" was gross, or the éclair. Nevertheless, he was impressed and elated that his claimed "sappy" proclamation hadn't just gone in one ear and out the next.
"Oh yeah, I think so," she replied. A gentle nodding of heads ran through the room.
"Good. But just to restate, the main purpose of all this is to get Erazeh to bring colour into Block at least, if not the whole World. I've done some research and we may only be able to get some changes done here."
The room was still with silence. A burly voice broke the evident tension.
"All this hard work for nothing?"
Dominic could feel his support slipping through his hands.
"It's not nothing! It's colour! It's life! It's..." He stopped as he could tell his voice was breaking and he was starting to sound weakly defensive. He pushed his shoulders back and cleared his throat.
"It's also the way you'll get your next article written by me," he continued. The conference room buzzed with approval.
"Mustn't forget about that," the same burly voice mentioned.
"Now," Dominic led, slamming both hands and his weight on the table in a very authoritative manner. "Erazeh is known to be a dominating, intimidating source of control but with a little careful planning I think we can topple him."
He organized his nineteen people into groups for the formation. There would be six letters, each composed of about 47 people. He gave directions to his co-workers to then give to their 15 recruits. Whilst he was doing this, Dominic realized that he was indirectly instilling a sense of rebellion in his co-workers and their relations without them realizing it. His directions were electricity, bridging from mind to mind via a cable of communication. The electricity sparked in the sockets and mixed with other energy to create a powerful force. Dominic was the wind turbine, conjuring ideas integrally and renewably from the fountain of his creativity, not by trickery or theft.
Weeks passed and the movement grew like puddles after rainfall. The puddles of thought littered the streets of Block, the air so moist with ambition that it was surprising that Erazeh hadn't started sweating with suspicion. Dominic could see each letter in his mind, the curls of the 'C' and the lick of 'L' slowly taking shape.
The date of the demonstration was the 16th of August, five days after the original proposed date, as final organization was needed. On that cool, damp morning, Dominic was already out on the streets at 4:15 a.m. near the Capitol of Block, also known as Erazeh's headquarters. He managed to fall asleep the night before but woke up early, buzzing with anticipation and excitement.
The sun filtered through what little trees were in that area of the central city. The rays were warm, but also became annoyingly hotter as time passed. The letters, "SUNSUNSUN," darkened from a light white to a thick, sticky black. Dominic tried to push them away with his hands, but they stuck to his clothes like glue. It was convenient that it was a Sunday morning, as hardly anyone, including Erazeh, would be up as bright and early as he was.
Just like water droplets falling from a dripping tap, co-workers and their recruits slowly started to emerge from the mirage-like haze.
"You sure picked a sweltering day to do this," one of them mentioned to Dominic, who was engrossed in sorting papers.
"Hey, last week was cooler, I know. But we weren't prepared then," Dominic replied firmly, barely looking at the man.
Once all the participants had gathered, a sense of extra alertness and determination switched on in Dominic's mind. This was it. The demonstration he had been anticipating for what seemed like an eternity.
"When the clock strikes 4:45 a.m., we make our move. Everyone remembers what to do, right?" He ordered in a stage-whisper volume.
"Yes," his 285 volunteers grumbled. Dominic took a few seconds to appreciate the sea of people that he had single-handedly culminated before him. A swarm of bodies, a plethora of minds. He at this point was their focus, their leader. Such respect was uncommon to Dominic, especially amongst his worker peers. But look who he was dealing with! He noticed his audience was glaring at him and he shook his head to snap out of the daydream. He clambered up onto some rocks that lay outside the gates of the Block Capitol to give him a slightly better bird's eye view. The rocks didn't raise him very high. He would have to rely on visualization.
Dominic's watch beeped 4:45 a.m. He nodded to the crowd and directed them with arm movements until the following word was formed:
L O U R
A sudden thought dawned upon him as the volunteers were gathering. If words are objects, and the six letters formed a word, then wouldn't the word be an object? He deeply hoped that after all this hard work, Dominic's crew of peaceful demonstrators wouldn't be erased by Erazeh.
"Don't jinx it," he humbled under his breath. He tried to expel the thought from his mind. But why didn't he think of it until now, at the most crucial point in this momentous process? With a concerned expression on his face, Dominic nodded to the bobbing heads before him that crowded the Capitol square. He slapped himself. He needed to be strong through this. Where had courage been hiding all this time? After he straightened his shoulders back, confidence overcame fear and he nodded assumingly again, looking directly into the eyes of his volunteers. They dimly began the chant Dominic had taught them.
"C-O-L-O-U-R. Change the way our lives are!"
This cry echoed throughout the Capitol and its late-dawn haze. The volume grew more and more, the sound of one chant stacking atop the one before. Dominic enticed the standing crowd, pleased that their faces were growing more ferocious with every shout. He knew that they were visualizing the articles in their minds, but he really wished that rebellion was truly building up in them and they'd consider the thought of a World in colour to actually be exciting.
The serious and agitated P-guards patrolling the Capitol surrounded the demonstration immediately. Red eyes peering out of thick plastic cylinders, they stared at each person menacingly, but did not say a word. The internally stored tubes of ink weren't visible, but their presence and mysterious use were well noted by the innocent crowd. The bodies of the P-guards were topped with plastic cones containing a rolling ball. Ominous-looking was the mildest description of their intimidating stature. They would not move without actions ordered by the General of War. Coincidentally the General was away, purging the distant lands of Ware and Loc, so the acting General was currently Erazeh. Erazeh had the last word on the actions of the Block army, but he had no true military experience. All he knew was that he had the option to throw Block into a war or not, or create one from scratch.
5:15 a.m. The resting dictator's eyes fluttered open as a blade of sunlight penetrated through the curtains. He was a very heavy sleeper and was surprised that he had woken only to the seeping morning light. His dreams must've told him that something was agitating him in reality. He blinked his crusty eyelids. Then he heard it.
As soon as Erazeh's feet touched the floor and produced a cushiony noise, two private P-guards burst into the luxurious bedroom.
"Sir! Sir! Do you hear it, sir?" One croaked. These elite P-guards had a more elaborately decorated metal torso, with a sharp silver nib sitting atop their structure. Their beady eyes shone a blinding yellow not as quite as menacing as the outer P-Guards, but still very menacing. Their bottoms were flat and signalled the end of the graphite. There was no rubber, of course.
"Error in Sunday morning routine!" The other beeped.
The roar outside, dampened by the thick walls, had sounded like a blur of mixed noises to Erazeh when he had woken up. Now that his consciousness had been rebooted, the chant clearly went into one ear and stayed there.
"Blasted protesters waking me early on a Sunday morning," he mumbled, hastily fastening his bathrobe and storming out his bedroom door. The tentative P-guards followed him.
"Do you want the Outer P-guards to just enable attack mode?" one suggested.
"5:15 a.m. isn't that early," the other remarked, trying to whisper.
Erazeh didn't turn around. He kept on bursting through every door of the Personal Wing of the Capitol.
"No. At least not until I've seen this for myself. And I heard that. If you call 5:15 a.m. sleeping in for you, then I don't want to know what time you get up during the week. Oh wait, you don't sleep at all, so you don't know how I feel!" he responded to both of their comments, frowning. His muscles were tensing with irritation. The P-guards cowered in embarrassment. They were used to being rejected by their leader, but never this boldly.
When Erazeh pulled open the velour blinds that hung over the Capitol square-facing window, his mouth dropped in awe. There it was: six letters spelling "COLOUR," formed by chanting protesters converging outside his property.
"What the...?" he whispered as he edged closer to the window. His breath clouded the image for a moment and then cleared. His grim reflection framed the roaring demonstration. A moment of horror struck Erazeh as he watched the crowd forcefully chant over his tired face. It was as if he was watching Good conquer Evil right before his eyes. He slapped himself. At that moment the chanting words registered in his brain.
"This is it! This must be from the flowery idiot who thinks I should turn the World into an art shop! So this is the consequence he threatened me with? Oh, I have to go see this close-up!" Erazeh exclaimed with delight. He excitedly burst through the doors to the overlooking balcony. The 285 people couldn't see Erazeh standing behind the balcony railing, but Dominic did. He looked like a tiny bead dancing around in enjoyment: Erazeh was the real fool.
"This is hilarious! And look!" He motioned to one of the nearby P-guards. "They make letters! C...O...L...another O...U? I think that's a U. R..."
He paused. Erazeh's decision to drop out of school early was catching up to him. Colour, he thought to himself. He had a brief moment of contemplation and then resumed clapping and laughing at the spectacle.
"Guards, come mock with me at what this imbecile had conjured for my Sunday morning entertainment! Stop looking so rigid and come laugh with me. I order you." At this the P-guards on the balcony whizzed over to Erazeh's side. The ones at the gate stared bleakly out into the crowd.
"I mean seriously, what danger lies in this?" Erazeh joked, trying to make conversation.
As soon as Erazeh had let the P-guards be semi-off-duty, Dominic sprung into Plan B, which was his intended manoeuvre at the heart of this entire plan. (Plan A was very basic and was reliant upon Erazeh's reaction.) He didn't expect this much luck that day. The volunteers knew of Plan B, and when they looked to the rocks where Dominic had been directing and saw that no one was there, they mentally affirmed, as if sending telepathic messages to him.
It was on. Dominic jumped the fence of the Capitol and managed to reach the roof overlooking the balcony. I must be dreaming, he thought. He was so shocked that he got up there so smoothly. Yes, it required fitness and physical skill, but he had strongly expected the P-guards to be the real obstacles to avoid. Thankfully they were distracted by Erazeh's order to monitor the demonstration. Out of breath and marked with bruises and bloody cuts that he acquired from climbing over metal spikes, Dominic took in the moment for a second. He knew he mustn't dilly dally but he couldn't help but observe the sprawled out city before him that extended into Block suburbia.
He had been to fields, but no other place like this was a vast sea of words, a civilization bobbing up and down in letters. The waves were the transport, the calm were the buildings. This is the land he was from. This was the place he was going to save.
The "SUNSUNSUN" rays were beating down on Dominic harder as the day awoke. The air, normally invisible, started to show wavering strands of tired looking "HEATHEATHEAT" phrases. He shook his head and snapped out of his reverie. I've got a job to do, he told himself.
Dominic clambered to the ledge hanging over the balcony. Erazeh was still captivated with the chanting. Good. A few heads in the crowd tilted upward, noticing that he was on top of the Capitol. He hoped that this wouldn't take Erazeh out of his entrancement. Out of the corner of his eye, he recognized Ethel at the building behind the square, watching the demonstration. What? How could she? Why did she bother--?
Too many questions racked Dominic's mind and he forced himself to focus them into concentrating on Plan B. He laid down on his front and peeped his head over the ledge.
Zzst. A P-guard turned its head slightly. Its body faced the protest, but its eyes remained fixed on Dominic's. Not trying to let any twinge of fear show through his face, Dominic furled his eyebrows as if he was about to attack. Courage, he kept telling himself. No one gets anywhere without courage.
He went for it. He pushed himself off the ledge and dived for the potted bushes. The roar of the crowd was so loud that Erazeh didn't budge when Dominic crashed into the plants. The P-guards, however, shot a suspicious look at the fallen human, grazed with thorn scrapes. Erazeh then noticed out of the corner of his eye that the P-guard's heads were turned sideways and not where he wanted them.
"Guards, place your eyesight where I told you to. Is something the matter?" Erazeh began to look side to side.
GO! Dominic thought as he sprang up from the bush, spilling soil everywhere. He sprinted towards Erazeh fast enough to not be caught by the P-guards. He then grabbed the dial at the back of Erazeh's hairy neck. Sensing danger, Erazeh whipped around. But Dominic had his fingers gripped tightly on the plastic dial and when Erazeh did this, his hand jerked and the dial clicked.
A thundering whack struck Dominic and sent his body flying across the marble floor.
"YOU!" Erazeh exclaimed in furious enragement. His eyes stared at Dominic as if he had murdered his family. Before Dominic could even blink, he was handcuffed and prodded by the P-guards. Despite being a word enthusiast, no sentences could exit from his mouth even if he tried. His mouth had frozen in fear: his lips as immobile as rocks and his tongue as tense as ice.
"I would never expect such ridiculous behaviour from a--" Erazeh began. He stopped short when he noticed the bush behind one of the P-guards slowly changing. Its letters, "BUSHBUSHBUSH," remained as scraggly as ever, but they turned a deep emerald hue.
"W--what's happening?!" He stammered.
Dominic's eyes lit up when he saw the trees and the little grass of the city turn green. He had never before seen such a beautiful spectacle. The colour had a pretty, fresh, and relaxing effect. Colour! He could see colour! He waited for more words to change but he only saw a few things change into green. The 285 people stopped chanting and admired the area around them in awe. They knew of Plan B, but at this moment they felt as if they had conducted a magical spell, chanting a verse that had changed the World (or Block, at least).
He had done it. He had actually done it. Dominic now saw a description, some character, when he looked out into the World, even if he only managed to turn Erazeh's dial to green.
A jubilant cheer boomed from the protesters. They all seemed delighted and proud that they had brought a colour into their country. For a moment they had pushed aside their usual sloth and the incentive of a finished article and just celebrated rejoicing in their new verdant life. Such joy and achievement beamed in Dominic's face as well, if not brighter. The addition of colour into Block had brought colour to its peoples' souls and faces. Erazeh, however, seemed to have a different explosive mood bubbling inside of him.
"You caused this disaster!" He shrieked at Dominic, casting his burning eyes close to the young protestor's. "You and that plethora of people over there, disturbing my Sunday morning rest and making everything look odd! You will all pay for this. You especially."
Erazeh pulled his face pulsing with fury away from Dominic's and turned toward the cheering crowd. He snatched an emergency megaphone from the nearest P-guard and ran to the balcony railing. He held the megaphone in one hand and the other in the air authoritatively.
"Attention citizens of Block," he boomed. The entire mass of people pulled away from celebration and gawked at their leader, who stood over them in a flapping velvet bathrobe.
"I have no choice but to obliterate you from all existence for following this maniac and making a public effort to overthrow me," Erazeh bluntly commanded.
"We weren't trying to overthrow you!" shrieked Dominic, who managed to get the words out before his mouth was clasped tight by the grasp of a P-guard.
"Silence, fool," Erazeh snapped back. "I am sure you are all aware of the Law of Conservation of Words, correct?"
The air was eerie with silence. He sighed.
"Gosh what are they teaching you numskulls nowadays? Basically, I'm the absolute destroyer of everything, so make your goodbyes quick before you meet your death in ten seconds."
The crowd cried in panic. Having to jump from beautiful joy to tense fear was a grave burden on their emotions. Not knowing what to do, they screamed and held onto each other, hoping to go down surrounded by other martyrs.
Erazeh removed his velour cap and revealed his shiny bald head. A gasp of horror sounded from the writhing crowd below. Not a single one of them has seen such pale skin, as white as a sunray.
"Go on, stare all you want. They don't call me Archibald for nothing," Erazeh teased. He knew that the crowd was gawking at his most insecure spot. A flash of light beamed from the tip of his head, and the rest of his upper skull turned into a thick, rubbery texture. The light shot up into the sky and dipped down into the crowd. A luminous beam melted into a blanket of fluorescent light that covered the crowd. Swirling and moving like an animal, the untouchable cloud tried to attack the protesters' skin. It managed to destroy all of their clothing, which was made of words, leaving them in a very awkward situation.
The deflections off the skin were transferred back to Erazeh's head, burning the sides of his brain. His eyes twitched and his mouth screwed up with strain. He couldn't take the torturous pain any longer. He breathed and relaxed his muscles, causing the erasing beam to vanish into thin air.
The crowd was frozen in awe in confusion. They had placed more importance over staying alive than dying of embarrassment in the stark-naked scene.
"Wha--what's wrong? Why is my function not working? Why wasn't I able to...?" Erazeh stammered, shocked with the same level of bewilderment as the crowd. Dominic was thrilled that his earlier fear had not occurred and his volunteers were safe. He stood up in a precious moment when the P-guards were distracted and loosened their grip.
"It's because you can only destroy objects made of words. Humans aren't made of words, and don't come close to objects either. You misjudged the human race: we are not invincible, but we are often powerful over bad logic. Looks like you didn't know the Law of Conservation of Words correctly yourself," yelled Dominic sternly.
"Who said you could talk?" snapped Erazeh spitefully, secretly realizing that Dominic was right and that someone had actually proven him wrong. Dominic opened his mouth again to speak but was muted back by the P-guard's obstructing claw.
Meanwhile, the air was getting dense with confusion down in the Capitol square. Some man made the brash decision of acknowledging the awkwardness:
"Well, I don't think I'll have any problem going to nude beaches now." Others around him smiled weirdly and some even laughed.
Erazeh was fed up with this foolishness. He turned back to the balcony railing.
"If you don't all evacuate now, I'll send a fleet of P-guards storming at you!" He boomed, followed by a screaming and terrified response from the crowd. That's it, Erazeh thought deviously. Make them leave with the impression of fear on their minds. Instil a little trembling to restore order...
The sea of protesters fled the Capitol wailing. They were legitimately terrified but once they were out of the dictator's sight, they felt less so and that proud feeling of satisfaction came back again. Obviously all of them eventually reverted back to some of their original procrastinating habits, but the change in scenery and the eye stimulation brought by green inspired them a little. The green objects throughout Block--trees, grasses, leaves, many items of nature--were a reminder to the co-workers that despite their usual lazy antics, they did have the potential to do something significant. None of them talked about this, of course. They all silently felt the same way, and would continue to remember this day until the day they died.
Erazeh turned back to Dominic.
"I can't even imagine what lies in store for you," he sneered, greasy moustache hairs crinkling with his devious smile.
For the first time during that morning, Dominic felt weak. There was no massive crowd of volunteers supporting him now, no extra early hours to reorganize, and his usually-abundant power of hope was slowly dimming.
The P-guards dragged Dominic so quickly through the Capitol building that the only rooms he managed to observe came out as blurs of black and white, and now green. The P-guards gripped his naked skin (the beam had hit Dominic too) a tad too hard and their metal claws left scarring marks on his arms. After a few minutes, Dominic found himself thrown into a damp, dark room with only one light bulb swinging from the ceiling. It was the classic interrogation room, like the ones Dominic had read about in novels. Yet he didn't think they actually existed or served any purpose other than to provide a dramatic scene.
And dramatic it was. The P-guards handcuffed Dominic to a bony wooden chair and whacked his back so he would sit up straight. The lonely light bulb swung back and forth over them. Its "LIGHTLIGHTLIGHT" rays seemed overly bright and more eerie than ever.
Clank. The slam of a weighted steel door echoed throughout the stuffy room. Dominic looked up to where the noise had sounded. Heart racing, he heard footsteps come towards him. Erazeh's tired face appeared halfway out of the darkness, the light only beaming on parts of his face and creating hollow shadows in others.
"Welcome," he muttered creepily. Dominic was really in for it now. His head and body trembled, but at the same time it was frozen in shock. He was ice cold from fear. A nervous sweat began to break out across his body.
Erazeh took a seat at a table and chair that hid somewhere in the blackness before Dominic. He could hear Erazeh's voice but couldn't see his ghastly expressions.
"So," Erazeh began. His chair creaked back and forth. He suddenly slammed his hands on the table. "Why'd you do it?!"
Dominic was silent at first.
"Why did you attempt to murder me?"
A burning pain shot up Dominic's throat as he squeaked his words out.
"I didn't try to kill you!" He croaked.
"Then why did you attack me like that and round up all those people to distract me from noticing you?"
"It had nothing to do with overthrowing or murdering you, Sir." Dominic restated. He gathered the last few scraps of courage left in him to ask the following question:
"Do you remember anything from those letters I wrote to you?"
Erazeh thought for a moment. "Yes. Yes, I do."
"And that is?"
"That they were the most entertaining jokes I've ever read."
Dominic was hurt and became enraged. "If you didn't take them seriously, then why did you ask me to 'elaborate?'"
"To receive more comedic gold. I'm a lonely man, Dominic. Running a country is hard work. Haven't you got any sympathy for the one who rules you?"
"You don't rule me," he snapped.
"Oh yeah? Who says? Your petty little words?"
"Well they must've had some sort of effect if they were able to distract you!"
"Well I thought that it would be just another typical harmless demonstration by tree-hugging protesters."
"But it wasn't. Didn't you expect that? You should by now, living in this World where irony is as frequent as breathing."
"Enough critique of my actions. What made you go for the dial at the back of my neck? How did you find out about such a sensitive spot?"
"I did my research late one night. It's always best to target your enemy at their weak spot." Dominic was getting carried away.
"You have said enough. I am imprisoning you for 25 years."
He couldn't control himself. "At least the World now has some sort of colour in it."
"The more words you say, the more years get added to your total sentence."
"You can't take away the good I've done for Block!"
"Maybe not, as I myself am not able to reach that delicate spot. Yet now I will be able to keep you from ever doing this again."
"How? I'll just try again after my time is up!"
"With a 50 year sentence you'll be done with your sorry life!"
Erazeh's words had punched the room and now it was recuperating with silence. The orders "25, now 50, year imprisonment" had blipped over Dominic's head until now. His life was practically going to be taken away.
"I've heard enough. Take him to the Inner Prison," Erazeh commanded. Dominic felt the two P-guards pinch him at his sides and whisk him away again. He had heard terrible things about the Inner Prison. He had never expected that his original idea and all that planning would actually lead him to this fate. Perhaps this was a consequence of his plentiful optimism. He closed his eyes tightly as he was carried towards his new life. Flashbacks of the letters, the éclairs, late nights at his computer, all mentally played behind his eyelids. One thought stood out: Ethel. What must she be thinking now? He saw out of the corner of his eyes when he was on the balcony that her clothes had been vaporized as well, even though she didn't take part in the demonstration. She must hate me even more now, Dominic concluded. He quickly began racking his mind about what other people would think of the whole ordeal and this outcome. Would his co-workers have more respect for him? What would his Manager think? Would his parents have been pleased or toss and turn in their graves? He had no one to answer these questions except his own inference and imagination.
In the mid-afternoon Dominic was thrown into his jail cell with a crust of bread and three other prisoners. Dark forest-green moss licked the edges of the crack of a window. The sunlight beautifully illuminated its furry texture. He smiled and nodded to the other men who did not seem so welcoming. He greeted his lumpy bed and sat down on the squeaky covered springs. Dominic tucked into his dry coarse bread and closed his eyes. I did it, he thought to himself. And so his fifty years began.
Dominic took care not to bruise his mind with too many thoughts of outside world. He didn't rack his brain with more questions about Ethel and his co-workers. Yet the irony of the World was at large again. Ethel was embarrassed and annoyed about getting her clothes obliterated, but she was, in fact, melancholic in the long run. She perhaps missed a target to bully around the office, of course, but a part of her deep inside actually missed the commotion and stir that Dominic and his demonstration had brought. She noticed that everyone was a little lazy, but overall more focused, with a stronger will to work and live. Ethel acquired a slight humbleness (emphasis on slight) and felt a tiny bit guilty (emphasis on tiny) for shooting down Dominic's idea originally. Now that she was the only prominent journalist in the office, she had no competition nor anyone to torment and steal articles from. Ethel had developed an odd, love-more-than-hate relationship with Dominic, the "deceased" writer she would be infamous for sabotaging. However, she had no courage to write to or visit him whilst he was in jail, so Dominic spent the rest of his life never knowing that his enemy had turned into an acquaintance.
Although not having many companions, Dominic was an extremely loyal man. Over a few weeks he wrote articles for all 19 of his co-workers in the wee hours of the morning when the prison had shut down for the night. He couldn't use a flashlight for fear of waking his cellmates, and more importantly, being caught by the 24-hour on-duty P-guard roaming through the black halls. Yet he kept his promise, scribbling on napkins in the dark with a blunt pencil he found neglected in the grimy cafeteria. Dominic wrote under his covers, apologizing to each of his 19 co-workers for the messy, almost illegible handwriting, but he had to keep quiet.
All of the articles were sent out within a month. The same greasy postmaster that read Dominic's initial letter was demoted out of Erazeh's rage about the entire situation. He now was ordered to read all of Dominic's outgoing mail to make sure that they didn't contain plans for another demonstration and colour change. So far, the worker had only blipped through random paragraphs concerning fairly common newspaper topics.
Dominic was never told about how far his efforts had reached; whether he had brought green only to Block or the entire World. Hardly anyone travelled and countries rarely exchanged news, so even the common folk didn't know. Nevertheless, it was the fact that he had done something monumental in his life that benefited Block, if not the World, that always made Dominic feel satisfied when he drifted off to sleep every night. He had discovered a cool shade that relaxed everyone's moods and gave personality and beauty to the streets, especially when the words were of different shades. Dominic trudged through his fifty year sentence utterly slowly, but his reliant optimism returned and brought him a secret happiness inside. An immeasurable happiness. A priceless happiness. The happiness derived from making his mark on part of the World in green ink: a mark that no one could ever erase.