Howlyn  KEFTS

Howlyn KEFTS

Username: mindeye

Silence is blood

Copyright © 2011 Howlyn KEFTS

The thumping growl of the judge made me start, dragging me back to nightmare.

This reality I loathed was going on over and over again, always the same though each day more monstrous. And each night, the same silent hope would fall upon the people, the hope that in the morning, all this would be over and the awakening would come as a merciful release for most of them. All this would have been deception. Reality would be back, with all its light, its warmth, its colours… just a dream … a horrible dream.

That won't happen.

This story I'm going to tell you is not mine. I have none. I had never known anything in my life, save the headquarters of the Brigade where it all started. This story is hers, Hope's story.




One morning, an order was received from the Upper Authorities, breaking the news of some grave deviance developing among the Masses. The request said that the Thought-net system had been reporting with regularity 'the unusual emission of peculiar ideas by an Element apparently located in Sector 7275'. Despite its acknowledged efficiency, the system had proved unable to find out the identity of the deviant and this case thus became a first. The missions were usually short for if the thoughts were detected, the element that was emitting them would be detected too. That was all it needed.

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But as I said, this case became a first. Never had the Elements encoded to work for the Brigade been required to investigate. They had not been shaped for the task. They were made for catching the criminals and nothing else. And yet, because this criminal was clouding the issue, showing an unprecedented strong will to dodge the system and displaying a tremendous ability to avoid thinking for too long, or thinking about anything that would orient the search, the system had failed to identify it and a new deal was set up. For the first time, a team was constituted to lead an investigation. I was selected to be part of it.

However, the Authorities being displeased by both the forms and contents of the deviant's thinking, had decided to keep secret the nature of the crime 'for public safety'. Hence the vagueness of the order that was sent at the headquarters. Even the team was not to be given any detail about the matter, the aftermath being that a couple of months later, the lack of actual instructions reduced us to wander aimlessly, like a lost flock without a/its shepherd. Yet, the fences were there and their oppression vivid, until we were granted one month and not a single second more. Should it fail, the elements involved in the mission would be found Useless and deleted from the Community's system.

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The way the search developed does not matter though. What matters is how it ended. They smuggled me into this sector as an administrator. That was a rational thing to do. If I could hear the thoughts myself, it would be easier to find out the thinker. And it worked. Some days later, something stood out of the messy ferment that formed the Thought-net in my mind. You'll be here soon enough, there's no need to hurry. It was an acute, frail, trembling voice which I trusted beyond doubt, belonged to a female. What it said was not standard. It was not communication, in the sense the Community understood the word to encompass. She was directly addressing someone and there was the tinge of an emotion that an Element like me could not comprehend. All that was peculiar and suspicious. She thought differently and in a different way.
Immediately, my mind connected to the headquarters: 'Map this thought “You'll be here soon enough, there's no need to hurry”. Emitted at 12:45 pm by a female element. Quick. Leave out files related to male. Deviant is female'

Waiting for further information, I listened with greater attention to try and catch something else. But there was nothing. Mute.

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Got the number, Element 73774, located in the Community Feeding Hall.

I headed toward that building, moderating my speed not to arouse suspicion, walking with a careful disinterest. Found her file, chestnut hair, 5.7 feet tall, white, skinny, dark brown eyes. Belongs to the Scientists' system, microbiologist. Nothing to report.




A minute later, I entered the halls and pretended to get feeding pills.

'Not feeding-time for Civil workers', the attendant grunted in my head.

In a surreptitious gesture, I revealed the swipe card that was in the pocket of my uniform, glancing fiercely at him. His blank pigsty eyes moved aside to let me come in.

Cautiously, I carried my glass of water, glancing furtively around, trying not to think. There was many white skinny woman in sight, some with chestnut hair but none of that size I swallowed the pills and turned around to leave the place, determined to put an end to the hunting.

Look the element's office number into the file.

Zone B, room 142.

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The corridor was empty. I sneaked into the room. At first sight, it was a very conventional office: dilapidated walls, an iron chair, a computer on a grey desk, metallic tools neatly disposed on it. Nothing looked suspicious. No decoration, no personal object, no mirror, no plant, nothing. I walked around, scrutinizing everything, scanning every corner and finally, headed toward the desk. I opened the first drawer: files, reports on experiments, protocols. Nothing special. But the second was locked. No-one nowadays would dare locking something up. Literally no-one. I determined to force the lock and, a second later, the drawer sprang open. I was far from expecting what I found. I had not been encoded or prepared for this. And that's how I knew it was illegal. Hidden under a scarf, a pencil was tied to a sort of notebook.

She had written in it. She was guilty. Instinctively, I emitted the warrant of arrest.

Element number 73774 is wanted. A warrant is ordered.

That was the protocol.




In the end, the mission was over. I would to go back to the headquarters. But as I was about to leave the room, I paused, unable to ignore the confusion stirred by my incomprehension, by all the things I wondered about, unable to bring an answer. Deviants usually rebelled violently. Many were food-dealers. Others stirred up the masses' wild inclinations spreading prohibited articles.

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But she had written. Why? Why would she write? That was something new to me, and as such, it disconcerted my logic. Should I read it? Why would I? These were questions to which I had never been prepared. I had never been encoded with the right answer. There should be more information about her illegal activities in this thing and in this sense, I decided that it was for the mission's sake. That was the first decision I had ever taken.

I turned around and sat in the chair, still hesitating. I could not be sure whether or not I was allowed to take such a liberty but, with shaking hands, I opened it and took a deep breath before I started reading.




“March, the 5th, 2046

I would never have expected progress to be nothing but black and white.

When I was a child, I'd often dreamed of having telepathic powers. I imagined I was a hero who would hear everyone's thoughts, who would use this precious gift on behalf of peace or justice or something similarly meaningless … how silly I was.

I assume that's the reason why you call this a dream. If only I had been aware of all the evil it could do ... Today, we all hear others' thoughts

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at the same time in 4 or 5 miles around. So that they deaden your mind.

But with some practise, you manage to think out of the mess. I'm not a puppet. And I am no number. My name is Hope.




March, the 12th, 2046

My breathing hurts terribly these days. I am more and more of a living dead.

I loathe their stupid nutritional pills. I dream of food. Roasted chicken, with mashed potatoes … Real food like my mother used to cook before things started to turn badly. Pills! That's the only solution to scarcity. So they say. Pills, just enough to maintain the last supplies, just enough to grant you survival. Barely enough for you to be conscious while the pain burns the remains of your body and consume the last threads of your mind.

Hardly enough until you finally die of exhaustion or whatever. It doesn't matter once you're dead.
I've often dreamed of how it would be for me. I am not afraid of it. I just keep hoping it won't take long. Actually, death is the best I can hope. A curtain falling. A black one, falling for ever. And it does not matter, because there is no character anymore in their play. Just lifeless puppets.”

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What did she mean? A play? Curtain falling? I had never heard of such terms

“March, the 15th, 2046

I think I'm actually losing my mind. Something happened today. It could be the first symptoms of some illness or … I don't know … there's obviously something wrong with me. But I don't care. After all dying is my best chance to flee this world, isn't it ?

I was queuing for my water ration and as usual, there weren't enough supplies for everyone. The last ones would have to suck their mouldy walls for a chance to survive. It was my case that evening. The people at the end of the line was growing agitated and started to jostle, causing inevitable physical contacts. And even if it was not deliberate, it still wasn't allowed.

In front of me, there was a man. We were standing so close that our bodies almost touched. His warm breath felt so real on my dry yellowish skin that I thrilled. I can remember feeling it when I close my eyes. Just for a second. A million of things happened during this tiny, insignificant second. I can remember nothing of him but his bright eyes, the hopeful green shade, full of something I could not comprehend … and the wet haze that blinded me … I blinked and felt a wet tickling on my cheeks as tears swept away the image. Yes, I felt … The first contact I have had with a human being, the first I remember since ages.

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But sadness take hold of me as I realise that starvation, or the lack of water, or something like that, was certainly the reason of my hallucination.

I'm so upset these days … I don't know how long I'll be able to hold my sensibility.”




If the first messages had no impact on me but that of questioning, that one gave me a lot more to reflect on. It emitted something I'd never experienced before. That was another kind of communication, a foreign language to which my body answered. A jolt ran along my spine and discharged an electron flow through my chest, before it deeply lodged, somewhere near my entrails. It went through various indescribable states before it finally relieved me from the tension. Breathing was hard and it took me some time before I got my rhythm back.

More than anything, I needed to speak to this person. She had to explain. What was that? What was the meaning of it? I hid the mysterious notebook under my shirt and promptly left the room.




When I reached the headquarters, the woman had already been dragged to her jail.

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The warder was there, standing straight, with an expression of canine ferocity in his countenance.

'Number 616366. Here to question the deviant.'

After gazing instantly at the card I had taken out of my pocket, he finally left the room. We were alone. Nothing could escape the walls of the jail, not even a thought. Nobody would hear us.

I called her:

“Number 73774?”

“...”.

She ignored me, holding her knees tight against her chest, staring at the opposite wall, perfectly still.

“NUMBER 73774?”, I groaned.

“...”

Nothing. But I remembered what I had read in the notebook and asked:

“Hope?”

She instantly turned her face to me, looking both astonished and horrified. There was something impressive and vivid in her eyes.

“Yes, I have found your notebook.”, I said, dragging the evidence from under my shirt before I went on. She stared at it and I could see the anger filling her eyes. Very slowly, she released her knees.

“Tell me … why did you do that? You know it's illegal. What's wrong with you? … ”

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Her wild sniggering interrupted me before she shrieked:

“What's wrong with me. There's nothing wrong with me. Nothing! But you, you … what's wrong with YOU?”

“Stop that. Now.”, I snarled, “Why don't you conform? I've read bits of what you've written. I know what you think. I know what a wild being you are.”

“Don't pretend you know what's in my mind,” she snapped, “You don't. You do not understand any of it. I'm not wilder than you are, certainly even less. You know bloody nothing. Otherwise you wouldn't be here. ”

“Elaborate then.”

“Why? To give you satisfaction? No. I refuse.”

A glint of madness sparkled in her eyes while she uttered the words. Her manners warmed me up and I started to bark at her:

“Confess. Do it. Now. Do it or you shall die. Right now!”

“Don't waste your death threats upon me. It's been a while now that I've been longing for it,” she snarled with an evil smile twisting the corner of her mouth. My blood was boiling inside and the only thing I could think of was to slap this smile off her face:

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“Maybe pain can convince you then.”

I took a tool out of my pocket. It was the kind of electrifier that would make all your muscles burn in pain. She knew it. She stared at it in awe and raised her eyes to mine, scared.

“Please, you know I've done nothing.”

But I was determined to make her speak.

“No! Don't, please, don't ...”

She started howling under the jolts, emitting acute shrieks louder and louder until I finally stopped.

Her convulsing body emitted pathetic squeaks before she ended coughing, sorely, lying around on the concrete ground of the jail like a slackened rubber band. I was about to giver her another convincing blow, but she interrupted me, begging in a cry:

“Don't you dare do that to me again! I'll explain everything. Not to satisfy you, for I doubt you will understand anyway, but because I need your help.”

“I don't think you are in a position to seek help,” I retorted, pointing to her the passage that had had this weird impression on me, “What does it mean? And don't even try to fool me around, or I swear this first blow will feel like a tickling after what I'll do to you.”

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Her eyes were reddened with silent tears, rolling all their way down her cheeks. She rested her hand on her belly, as if to soothe it. Taking a deep breath, her face head down, she began to tell her story in a frail voice:

“That's what happened to me. It was the first time I had a real contact with someone. It had been ages since the last. I did not even remember how it felt. What you've read, is what I had felt that day,” she said in a sigh.

I took advantage of her pausing to ask:

“What do you mean felt?”

She looked up with a desolate expression stamped on her face:

“You were born after everything changed, after the Great Shift. You were born after they prohibited and denied our species' emotional disposition. They adopted treatises and theories according to which feeling is a sin against the Community's welfare. That's the reason why people cannot have families, friends or emotional ties of any kind anymore. That's why you have no idea what it is. Unlike what you think, computers, numerical powers and machines have not always existed. There used to be forests, animals, crops and human beings. Or rather, we used to be human beings, and not mere biological systems.”

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That was beyond my understanding. That was against everything I had been taught. And that's why it could not be

“You lie. We're created by machines. You can't pretend it's otherwise.”

“That's the way it is today. I know it's hard to believe for someone like you who has been conditioned to believe in their lies. But for your own sake, please, open your eyes. Everyone has a mother and father, that's how it has always worked, and even if they deny it, it will always be thus. Why do you think they decimate people of my generation? We are the last memories left of this era, the last to know the truth. And because of that we constitute a 'danger'. Didn't you notice that their deviants were always people above 35 years old …” She suddenly broke up, wailing and tumbling against the wall, her hands clutched to her belly.

“What happens? Is it the jolt?” I asked, not really caring for the answer. She was breathing hard, speaking in a clipped manner:

“I don't think so. But you shall see, I swear I'll prove my point. Do you know how they create “elements” as you would have it? They confine females and take their ovums from them. Then, they are all fecundated with what they call appropriate semen. They create people who possess the genetic characteristics they need for the community. They shape creatures who are genetically strong. And they call it being civilized. But I call it barbarism.

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They think that rationality is the key to civilization but they are mistaken. Their rationality lacks reasonable, moderation, sanity and everything that goes with it … ”

Because she was yelling, she started coughing. When she could breath again, she said, holding her head between her hands:

“Listen, this man I had met when I was queuing, I saw him again in the feeding halls once. And something similar happened. We looked into the eyes of one another and it was as if there was another world. We did that several times, at different places, without any communication, just sheltering in the comfort of the other's iris until …, until that day. He followed me to my office. I remember he remained there, standing at the door, locking his eyes on mine. I remember he asked who I was. I even remember his mellow laugh when I gave him my number. He wanted me to say my name. Then, we spoke of the past, never overtly though, always taking the hint to avoid suspicions. It went on for some days and weeks. It helped us to suffer this new existence we had been thrown into. But the 25th of March, something happened. To the comfort of the look, we added that of physical closeness. He came nearer to me, very slowly, as if afraid I would escape. We did not touch yet but it felt as if some kind of energy was flowing between our bodies. We felt attracted, like two magnets. Then he kissed me …”

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“Kissed?”

She buried her head in her hands, as if desperate:

“Of course you don't know what it is.”

She stood up, and with slow gesture started to walk toward me, as if to tame a scared, dangerous wild beast.

“What are you doing?,” I asked.

“I’m explaining. I swear there is nothing dangerous in a kiss. But I can't make you understand what it is with words.” She stopped in front of me.

“Don't move.”

Her face was now so close to mine that I could feel the whiff coming in and out of her body, warm and soft. I was scared. With a careful slowness, she put her hand on my shoulder to make her steady while she rose on her tiptoes. Something warm was spreading from somewhere in my body, disturbing my heartbeat and turning my innards inside out. I could see her eyes were golden brown before they close. And then came into contact her lips and mine. I did not expect it. It was weak, warm and wet. It was a million of things at the same time. A million of unknown things that troubled me, disturbed my sight, blinding me with a wet fog that turned into drops whose ticklish course ended at the corner of my mouth. It was salty. I ringed briskly. I needed to sit down. I needed my breathing to be steady again.

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“This is kissing”, she said, “and it upsets you. You're weeping because it upsets you, because it makes you feel, because you are human, ...”.

Once again, she wailed a moment. Taking deep breaths, she managed to sit down and resumed:

“I have to finish the story quickly now. You kiss when you love, and this man and me, we were in love. That night, we did it. We turned the feeling into the deed. I remember every single second. I shall always remember. You know, I told you we all have a mother and a father. That's what I meant. Human beings are not born from progress, they are born from love.”

She took a another deep breath, clutching her belly, her face distorted by the pain. I was listening, too upset to say anything.

“The day after life took him back as quickly as it had thrown him on my path. He was arrested for anti-rational thinking motives. They dragged him when he was in the feeding halls. I was there. I watched them beat him because he refused to follow them. I saw the hatred in their eyes while they were crushing his skull under their feet. I heard it when he called my name, when his yelling died … ”

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Her voice died with the word. Stirring up this memory made her break down. However, whispering through her sobs, she kept going on:

“Soon after, I was making plans to kill myself. There was nothing left for me in this world and I wanted to enjoy the last liberty that was left to me. I wanted my death to be both an act of freedom and release. But I found out I was pregnant. I could not kill it. I could not kill love and what was left of it. So I hid it.”

She fell silent.

“I don't understand. What do you mean pregnant?”

“I mean that I am expecting a baby. His child. I told you, that's how we come into this world. I mean that I have a human being, naturally conceived, growing up in my womb. I mean that he is going to be born anytime now.”

She had hardly finished her sentence when something made her wail once again.

“Its coming”, she said.

I was so confused. Could she really give life? No, that was impossible.

She dragged herself to the wall and half-lied there, her head against it. The racket of her breathing was distressing. It echoed in my head like a painful hammering.

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“Help me,” she moaned, “Take my trouser off. Hold my knee firm. I can't do it alone,”

Beads of sweat were appearing on her brow. She seemed to struggle a lot, emitting loud moans and groans. And there I was, staring, absent.

“Please,” she begged, while I executed the deed without fully realising. I was like a ghost. Pointing at her organ she said:

“See, there is an opening. It is supposed to get larger and larger.”

“Yes, I cried, stupefied, “yes, I see something getting out.”

“Help it. The head is coming first. Be careful, check if there's anything tied around his neck”.

“The head is ...”

The door flung open. I had forgotten where we were. Two members of the Upper Authorities blew in and rushed toward us.

Get off her”, they said.

They threw me aside with a tremendous force. I hit the wall and fall on the ground, where I remained, harmed and powerless. One of the men was holding Hope while the other ripped the baby out of her womb with a terrifying crack. The tiny being started to yell. The brute had hurt it.

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“No!” she was howling, desperate and weeping through her fury,“No. Don't you touch him. No, no, please. I beg you don't touch her. I'll do whatever you want.”

Indifferent, the butcher took the baby out of the room but we could still hear his cries. Hope was fighting against the other. She tried to get out of his grip with all the strength love could give her, but in vain. She was too exhausted. Fed up with her restlessness, the merciless beast started to beat her up.

I stared, petrified. He thumped her face a thousand times and kicked her belly until blood flowed from her mouth. I could hear the thud cracks her bones made under his fists. I could see the distress in her imploring eyes until the last sparkle of life was blown off, until the last drop of blood was drained off, until they went blank and her body relaxed under the last blows.

Silence was back. Oppressive. Bloody.




They pretend talking is a loss of time. Your time is theirs. Shut up.

The very second I had chosen to launch the order of arrest, I had become the author of her story. A blind author who had doomed the main character when he could have saved her and who now discovers what freedom and the power to choose imply. It implies responsibilities and the risk of being mistaken, as well as the duty to face the aftermaths, whether good or bad.

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But today I choose to speak because I think you ought to know the truth, because that's what an investigation should be about.

There are no monsters in this world, not even ghosts. Only men. And here I am, facing them and their justice.

There's no need to listen to the sentence. From the very first word I had traced on that blank page, I knew I would die. Because truth is an offence, because writing is illegal and taking the liberty to write about the truth is a greater crime. Like love and freedom, writing is tinged with the weaknesses of humanity. My death should be nothing but tinged with the flawed humanity of a free choice. This last sentence I am writing is a full stop to my life.

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