“Uhh. I’ve heard bits and pieces. Nothing substantial.” I said meekly, looking him in the eye.
“Follow me.” He said, turning on his heel and leading me down another cavernous hall. We walked for a whole two minutes. With each passing second, the business died down and less and less people were to be seen carrying boxes or cleaning their guns. I was led to a small door. It had a single small window near the top. He opened it and a crisp, cool breeze flowed past me. Inside was a desk and a bookshelf, packed with texts.
"Through our endeavors, we’ve acquired some artifacts of the forgotten past. Things that many people would kill to see, and many more would kill to destroy. These books are a representation of what used to exist. The world that we’re punished for knowing about.
“You have books? How did you manage to get them?” I asked, my interests piqued. He smiled and led me to the bookshelf. I looked over it with great interest. I read the bindings carefully, most of them were books that wouldn’t yield any sort of relevant information. They seemed to run the gamut. Educational material, some sort of commercial flyers, odd magazines that seemed to portray sporting matches. I was astounded at the selection.
"There’s no rhyme or reason to it. Mostly whatever the government misses, falls into our hands. Sometimes we get a cheap magazine, other times, a pamphlet, we save all artifact texts we acquire, but once in a great while we get something like this. He grabbed a book from the very top shelf with a blue binding. It was grungy and tattered, only small pieces of the front cover remaining, but from what could be deciphered, read ‘9th Grade World History’.
“This is gold. I…can I read it?” I stammered, rubbing my now excited fingertips together in anticipation of reading its priceless words.
“You sure may…”he said, beginning to hand the book to me. But as I reached for it, he took it away from me. And placed it back on the top shelf.
“But not now. There is business to be done. Come with me.” He said, leading me out of the room. He walked into the cave once more, a large clearing where groups of insurgent men and women congregated.
“Have you read it? The book?” I asked excitedly. My mind was churning with what invaluable information could be extracted.
“Yes, I have. Along with two other people.” He said as he picked up the pace.
“Why only three people?” I followed up. His demeanor was unsettling.
He stopped and put his hand on my shoulder.
“Aluxio, that book is beyond priceless. It is beyond comprehension how important it is to us that we keep some if it secret. The truth is what you seek, but I do not think you are ready to hear what our origins are. Not yet, anyway. Sure, you’ll know where we come from, how we were and more importantly, you’ll learn about yourself as a human, and come to a conclusion that you, are in fact…human.”
“How can you withhold such information from the people who are so willing to know and learn? That’s as bad as Tylias.” I spoke up, angered at both his ability to keep people ignorant as well as for him to judge my character.
“Don’t ever compare me to that establishment!” He said with a stern finger in my chest. “I read that book from cover to cover, and listened to everything it had to say. And I didn’t like it. At all. You want to know who we are, what we were? Well I’ll tell you. We’re no different. We’re no more intelligent than they were, and they were almost forced to extinction, by their own hand. I realized all too quickly that I am the same exact person that they were when they decided to murder each other to oblivion. It was a stroke of luck that some people made it through that horror and survived to repopulate and move on. You will be able to read the book when I feel you are ready to handle what it has to tell you.” He grunted.
“So then why even let me know you have it at all?” I asked.
“Incentive. You now have something to work for and I have leverage. It’s a deal. You do good work for me, and in exchange, I get to open the gates of knowledge for you. Fair?” He asked his hand out. I shook it, slightly unnerved by the cold calculations of this man. Cold, but smart.
There was one more door, a heavy iron one with an enormous lock and two men with guns on each side. He walked up to them and motioned for them to open it. One of the guards took a key from his necklace and opened unlocked the door and opened it for Khodia, who swiftly entered. It was a long hallway, at least fifty meters deep. It looked like a storeroom, and each shelf was loaded with boxes. Boxes of guns. Ammunition. Explosives, armored vests, tactical gear, among other things. He walked to a small locker near the door and opened it, motioning for me to look inside.
"We’ve made some small preparations for your arrival. It’s not much yet, as you are not a combat suited member. And I can’t imagine you’d want to be. But you still need a firearm, the basics. He handed me a pistol, a vest, some boots and a jacket.
“The weapon that you really need to rely on is your mouth. This pistol is in the event we get discovered and attacked. One more gun in a hand that’s on our side.” He said, handing it to me. I was unsure what to do with it, and he could tell. He shook his head with a smile.
“I think we have a lot to teach you.”
I spent a lot of time in the bunker anticipating spending time with that book. One of the most coveted items in modern times, any sort of texts from before the apocalypse. Insight into who we are, where we came from, and what the apocalypse was about. A considerable amount of my childhood was spent wondering what the apocalypse was about. Every once in a while, we would hear a story, imaginary or not, pertaining to the old world, stories of enormous battles, massively devastating weapons, enormous populations. All of this changed in the transition. By the time people began to get curious about what happened, most of the surviving members had died, some of the republics had begun to cover it up, or subsequent generations had not passed down the story. Soon it was lost forever, until people began to discover these tomes of ancient wisdom. Of course, people who came into possession of such knowledge were quickly dispatched and eliminated. Though I was not alive to witness the enormous book burnings, I heard about them, as the tales passed down to me were as grizzly as if I were to observe it in person. People were murdered. Slaughtered. Hunted. Certain people acquired notoriety among the people for obtaining books and hiding them in small, in ground safe-rooms, where they, along with a small number of people, made copies of the texts. They of course, had a horribly short lifespan. We could not resist the assimilation, and soon, all records and evidence of a world before were eliminated. This was at least fifty years ago.
From what we’ve learned from such rebellion, certain things had been passed down, and other things had been completely replaced. Most measurement units had remained the same, meters and liters. Units of time have also remained the same. The people had become aware that in the old world, people remained relatively monogamous when choosing a sexual and marital partner.
Despite this radical change in lifestyle (as we’ve been led to believe), we are still aware of the evil of mankind. We are very capable of being horrible people, as exemplified by our horribly religious tyrannical government. Such things should not be tolerated by the people who exist in that domain.
But we are not alone in our struggle. Many miles away, people in Hkloia are experiencing similar, if not, worse treatment from an identically vulgar oppression. Though our governments have deemed them as our enemy, we, as a people, should become one. An alliance. Unified in the face of domination. They know as well as we do, the terror and cruelty to be experienced by a controlling, ruthless authority.
Unfortunately, we do not have the means to assemble and launch any sort of attack. We are almost powerless in the face of the government. It has access to endless resources, a very adept and strong military presence. How are small pockets of rebellion going to face such a powerful enemy? Only time will tell.
This was started as a practice writing to help sharpen some vocabulary. I gave up that goal almost immediately and began writing for the hell of it. This story was supposed to be about two countries who oppress their people, and two respective rebel forces in each country communicating with each other and working out a plan to get both countries to go to war and destroy each other. Aluxio (Which means ‘light’ in another language) is a activist in a futuristic (think 2090) North-America type continent which suffers from a religious based governing body who heavily censors media and punishes those who disobey, oftentimes with death. Not much has changed since now. A major war has destroyed 94% of literature and art that was made from the 19th, 20th, and 21st century. Remnants occasionally are discovered and are immediately destroyed by the government to keep the people ignorant and under their control. If people were to read that there once existed a world where community were free and could speak their minds without the fear of death looming over them, they would revolt. As a result from this terribly destructive war, domestic technology has not advanced much. Combustion engines are still a major form of transportation, television, though heavily monitored and technologically advanced, is still the same concept as before. Some new forms of urban warfare are introduced, mainly guns and weaponry have advanced. Aluxio is sent to prison by this tyrannical government and for two years remains there until he is broken out by the FHC (Free Human Coalition) as the final piece in their plan to free the oppressed people and return the planet into the world that they had only heard stories of.