Monument to Ignorance

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


A short story about the life of several thousand abandoned people after the exodus.



** I consider this to be my first official piece of work so don't expect too much from it. That said, I will be glad for any questions and (even though i may regret this :D) constructive criticism
Also, I am not a native English speaker so any grammar suggestions/corrections will be appreciated :)

Submitted: October 27, 2017

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Submitted: October 27, 2017

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Monument to Ignorance
 

Another day of suffering. Aiden opened his dry eyes and squinted into the painfuly bright sunlight shining through the holes in his tent. Outside, hundreds of feet were shuffling towards a single destination - the Monolith. Aiden raised a piece of cloth separating indoors from the outside world and stepped out - stumbling. "Goddamn knees." He looked at the procession flowing amongst the ragged tents and improvised shelters. Torn up pieces of cloth as dresses, skinny colorless cheeks, dry skin with ill-red spots, limping and deformations. Nobody was over forty years old. "This is no way to live. The day of salvation better come soon." He kept the thoughts to himself and went with the flow.

The dark blue Monolith towered towards the heavens and his massive rounded construction seemed like it was made from a single piece of stone. During the hottest days, the Monolith casted a shadow in which several thousands souls could find shelter from the scorching Sun. From the clouds it looked down upon the pitiful crowd and it reminded each and every one of them of their little lives and their crimes.

A singular mass of remaining survivors slowly surrounded the Monolith. They stood obediently. Aiden heard whispered conversations all around him. Nobody dared to step on the elevated platform surrounding the Monolith. Suddenly all the doors around the Monolith's perimeter opened as one and from each, three priests came out. Their shiny black robes contrasted with the faded and ragged dresses of the people underneath them. 
 
The priests looked over the eager mass and begun reciting their everyday words. "Nobody remembers the time before. Before the ones before us envenomed the air and made the rivers poison which invites a thirsty wanderer for just a few last sips. After their war, they united and in their Monoliths fled the land they destroyed. Everyone except our ancestors. They were left behind because their crimes were too great and the weight was too much for the Monolith to bear. Thirst, hunger and burning dead soil as far as eyes can see. That is our punishment of the guilty. We must suffer for the sins of our predecessors, but there is hope, there is a better future in store for us." The crowd didn't move a muscle, they all stood there in anticipation for their only words of hope. "Our ancestors taught our parents and our parents taught us - their children, the needs and desires of the Monolith so we could lead you towards the path of salvation." Aiden didn't listen any further. Those words lost their meaning a long time ago. They now were the words with which the priests calmed their fading herd so that it wouldn't lose all hope, or something worse. Aiden looked at the crowd around him, all of them stared at the priests with unhidden admiration and gratitude for all the things they have done for them, whatever those were. He would spit on the ground if it wasn't wasting fluids. 
 
After the words of salvation people dispersed to get their bowls ready for their subsistence for the day and aligned themselves into lines. Fewer people than usual died the night before, it was going to be another hungry day. Aiden sighed and waited for his portion of meat and blood. Today it was a slice of thigh.
 
After they finished eating, they embarked into nearby ruins of a long lost city. Some skeletons of destroyed buidligns towered almost as high as the Monolith and pieces of twisted metal stretched upwards, like if they too wanted to escape this place. The survivors immediately got to work. They picked through the rubble searching for anything they could bring back to the priests to "diminish their sins," as they were told. "Bullshit." One boy next to Aiden, about sixteen years of age, collapsed to the ground. Nobody even looked, they all thought the same thing - more meat.
As soon as they returned back to the Monolith, they piled up all the things they found - jewelry, interesting looking rubble, scrap and old devices. For his evening meal, Aiden got a cheek of they boy he saw collapse. He didn't give it a single thought.
 
The next day Aiden found himself in one of the front rows of the gathered crowd, but something was different. Other times punctual priests didn't come out of the Monolith. People started getting restless. Occasional whispers turned into quiet urgent conversations. "Where are they? Did something happen to them? Have we sinned in some way?"
 
Suddenly the Monolith emitted a low rumbling tone, which shook every organ and every bone in the body. People fell down to the ground, some of them grasped their ears, some their stomachs. Others were fanatically bowing on their knees to the only prospect of salvation they have ever known - their god.
 
When the sound finally stopped the Monolith started shaking and from his walls, dust of dozens of years fell down in one massive cloud. People were screaming with excitement, their hands reaching for their savior, but none of them found the courage to climb those two steps onto the platfom around the Monolith. Aiden stood there like a statue and with mouth wide open he stared with disbelief. "Is this really possible? Is this really the day of salvation?" His hope was quickly replaced with a cold grip around his insides "Why haven't the priests opened the doors yet?" He looked at all the happy faces and tears of joy around him. All of their faith driving them forward was set on this single moment. "No one knows what's really in store for them." 
 
Aiden was completely calm as he watched the Monolith slowly climb up into the sky with a deafening roar. The ovation of the crowd quickly stopped when they started to realize the truth. The priests abandoned them, deceived them, used them. When the Monolith was so high it was only a tiny speck, the abandoned were silent as a grave. Aiden started laughing. He laughed so hard he fell to the ground holding his painfuly empty stomach. Tears - precious liquid, streamed down his face and as soon as they touched the arid ground, disappeared into nothing. 


© Copyright 2018 Matthew Dacey. All rights reserved.

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