Tenet, Book One: The Foundation (third revision)

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

The air was warm in the present night scene, classic for early in the growing season. “Let’s head over there!” One man shouted. Another man from this group in a small tent followed up with the previous statement, “Yeah, all eight of us can just march on over and ask if we can negotiate. Let’s not get ahead of yourselves, Leo.” The statement was directed toward Leo Malen, the man who called this illegal meeting in session on this night. Malen sat in a corner in the tent with his famous thinking face presented to his fellow Kirks. “Hey, let him have his space.” One man said quietly. “He’s thinking.” The man giving this advice to friends was Christoper Phillips, Leo’s closet companion. “Why do we need his approval of anything?” James Phillips passionately asked. “Shut up, boy!” An angry voice from his father came flying back at him. “Yeah, shut up!” Mitchell Kennelly added. Christopher Phillips gave Kennelly a mean and pissed look. “How about we all shut up and leave my father alone so he can have his time?” A demanding question that came from Polaris Malen. James Phillips, Mitchell Kennelly, Hiram Matthews, Simon Morgan and Frederick Newt all followed Polaris out the tent leaving just two remaining.

 Christopher sat in the opposite corner of the tent from the man he had known for his entire life in complete silence, just as he knew Leo liked it. “You know what I want.” Leo broke the silent thinking. “This isn’t about me, not about you, this is about my son. Your son. They’re finally here. They have finally been picked, we knew this was coming someday. I’m not going to speak for you but when it comes to my family in an evil situation like this, you bet I’ll go ape-shit.” The two men sat in silence again but after a few seconds the silence was now broken by the man listening, which was his speciality, “And you know what I want. We’ve been together for too long.” Phillips stopped himself before he could call their connection a friendship bond, then continued. “We don’t see eye to eye every time man, but here and now you’re absolutely right. Our boys and those three hundred other men out there” Phillips pointing outside the tent. “they need a drive, let’s give them all the push.” Malen rolled his eyes slightly at the mention of three hundred men. “I saw that.” Phillips said. “What?” Malen asked in confusion. “What about everyone else? You don’t care if they're away from their families too? You’ve never been adamant about a breakout before this season, now all the sudden Aris was drafted you decide this season is the season?” Phillips angrily went at Malen. “I wanted to fight all this time and you’ve never even heard me out once. Candace and Shelby have been gone before this crap started and I wanted the first men free from the beginning.” Malen responded, “And who was the only person picked all eleven times? I had to work my ass off all year round. First here during growing seasons doing this slave work for those pieces of shit and I kept working non-stop back home making sure they survived shelter season without me. Eleven fucking years straight of work all day, every day! And now my son is here? I’m not letting my flesh be a slave for anything or anyone!” Silence had come back between the two men but it was slightly shorter with Phillips coming to his feet and rubbing his hands together. “Let’s call them back and go get those sons of bitches!” 


“What are we doing?” Frederick Newt asked the five men with him sitting on Oak Hill. “Are we seriously waiting for two guys to determine what we’re going to do? I thought the whole idea was to evade this kind of shit, but I guess I’m the odd one out here.” Aris stepped right in. “They’ve known each other forever, man and they have been picked so many times. If two people ought to determine our next move it’s my father and his.” Aris pointing at James sitting across from him. The others began small chatter but James broke this silence. “I never thought I’d be here. My dad always told me I’ll be okay and never be taken away.” Aris exploded. “Grow the hell up, Phillips! Look around, you’re here, I’m here! He’s here! He’s here!” Pointing at the circle and back at the resting camp. “It happened, now do something about it. Stop letting yourself be fed wishful thinking.” James was on the verge of tears but used all his strength to hold back “I thought we were just sharing our feelings.” “Hey!” Foreign voices came from nowhere toward the six men on the hill. “Back to the tents immediately, curfew.” “Don’t want to work us all night?” Aris whispered.

A sequence of loudness and light flickering defined the night that took place after all men in camp hit the hay. “Today?” James turned in his pile of sleep hay toward his father waking up in his own pile just a few feet away. “I don’t know, we’re not sure yet.” Christopher responded, turning toward his son. “But soon. I promise.” It was a usual morning, the sweet touch of sun catching woken skin. Water level from the Munch River was high. And screams of Suess guards violently getting every man out of his resting quarters to get ready for another long day of labor. Today, fifty men were assigned tilling more fertile soil alongside the river flowing into the enormous Bull Sea, including newcomers Aris and James. “What do we do?” James asked the man he’d known for his entire life. “How do we till? What does that mean?” Aris exploded. “Fuck! Just watch everyone else. Watch what I do.” James wanted to catch fire quickly on this lifestyle. He and his father lived as part of a decent wealth class in the Kirk Tribe, unlike the seventy percent of Kirks living below quantity standard living. Aris and his father were a part of that poor class and had been for decades. Leo’s father had debts from Suess and other Kirks in terms of loans for food, tools and land to farm. The Malen’s were hurt beyond measure, just like everyone else on Score Island, after the terrible Salf disease outbreak thirteen years ago. The disease had almost taken the life of Aris’ mother Leah. Hard life was all Aris knew and he couldn’t escape it, especially being the one who provided daily meals for he and his mother during growing season when his father was back on his forced labor. James appreciated the well lifestyle he resided in despite losing his mother Candance and sister Shelby. However, was targeted multiple times by other Kirk boys in the poor class. They wanted his life and felt what he had and what they had was not fair. Work was spread out over the wide land divided the labor as equal as possible except seasoned and trusted laborers Leo Malen Christpher Phillips, Mitchell Kennelly, Hiram Matthews, Simon Morgan and Frederick Newt were all together giving off the impression of cutting down trees in the nearby forest for their job today. “What’s the news?” Simon asked Leo and Malen. The two men looked at each other in understanding and Leo took the lead. “Our suffering ends tonight. Yesterday we were labeled “‘tenant farmers’’’ by those damn Suess. Tonight, we take that name and make it Tenet. A group devoted to each other that will define us as one people. Tonight is Tenet’s night!”


Submitted: August 16, 2021

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