I could feel the heat of the raging flames in my heart. The pillowing smoke choked my thoughts. I watched helplessly and shaking with fury as years of my life and knowledge I held dear melted away, turned to ash and smoldering rubble.
The Imperial Commonality was said to be the safest place in the world – an expansive nation where one could live free of fear – free of banditry and free of the harsh reality of the untamed land – a walled community where the every-day struggle of life would be but a nightmarish memory.
Half-truths, he taught me. Twisted lies to mislead sheep into trading freedom for a life of Comstockery where only the success and un-debated rule of the Commonality were weighed. My parents and I were among these sheep, unknowing and unquestioning, meandering through the days of ‘a fulfilling life.’
My father worked as a baker, as simple men like him were assigned; my mother was designated, and dedicated, as a counselor; my twin sisters, whose names I forget, were “presented with the rare opportunity to attend The Imperial Hall of Vocation where they will have the chance to grow into some of the most important figures in the Commonality.” After my own aptitude test, I was assigned to be a historian and signed to an apprenticeship underneath a curator.
In passing years he had become more of a father than my own. He urged me to think for myself, to question the Commonality and its rules. He taught to me the Pilgrim’s Signs carefully hidden amongst Imperial text. He took me to underground plays and presented me with texts and arts what would be considered avant-garde by most – exposure and commentary on our esteemed righteous government – and when he guided me through the Veil, an ethereal place, to meetings with Pilgrims, I listened and learned their teachings: to protect and to preserve the freedoms of society – the freedom of all things.
“Taber,” he stopped me one evening during lock-up, his face grim. I had worried I had made a mistake during my first night alone managing the archive.
“You need to leave. Now” He urged and bid me leave my things. Despite my burning curiosity I obeyed and took with me little more than what was at hand: the notes and pens I had been keeping for my studies, my anxiety medicine, and, of course, my phone. He forbade me to bring the latter, convinced that it would lead to our capture.
We watched the inferno from the boxcar of a Skytram along with at least a hundred other citizens with their faces pressed to the glass. My lingering gaze slowly trailed to a sector below where I could see a series of hovering crafts approaching the community tower in which my family lived.
“I never meant to drag you into all this.” He muttered to me, hand on my shoulder. I did not blame him. The oozing hatred of the Commonality would do anything to silence free-thinking.
Daily Prompt: Ooze
Word of the Day: Comstockery