The End of the Beginning | The Cycle of Truth #2 | Short Story

Note
This story is the 2nd of a 2 part story.
You can read Part 1 -THE BEGINNING OF THE END here.
The narrative is a little harsh. This can be read by anyone, but be mindful, at times it has some strong content.


Was the truth a lie?

That definitely couldn’t be Vivek. But then, how were we able to snipe those subjects with one shot which need six people to bring it down?

I knew I would regret what I had done or perhaps what I had not done. Not pulling the trigger is not what I would regret though.

I stood there in shock as the Instructor barked something on the radio but I wasn’t listening. I couldn’t come to terms with all that happened within a few seconds.

Why would the Nation and the Army lie? Wasn’t Euthanasia supposed to be painless? Wasn’t it supposed to help rid the students of the disease? Does the One True God know of the lie that is helping citizens sleep peacefully? I had so many questions in my mind and…

My instructor his rifle’s butt into my head and began screaming obscenities at me for not paying attention and ignoring him, but my mind just couldn’t fathom what he was saying. All I could register that the pride he had in me just this morning was gone and when on to scream about why worthless women enlisted in the Army if they couldn’t handle their period pangs.

I was used to this. This wasn’t something new, and this wasn’t supposed to be taken personally as a woman. The men had it harder as well, especially when I outperform them. But why would the army lie?

A kick to my knees got me out of my stupor and I winced in pain. I dared not whimper for I had to be strong. I did not know what was true and what wasn’t right now and I wanted to find out more, but the reality of spending 12 hours in the MTM was dawning on me. I was terrified. I saw someone be killed in front of me for perhaps being the only sensible one around here?

I was separated from the 9 people who got to go back to the training Station and, Ravi the other unlucky one was herded into the building on the opposite side. Crap! Now I had to deal with this pervert too! But, the fact that he would also be facing the MTM gave me a little courage and softened my contempt towards him. At least for a while. When impending hardship and doom is inevitable, I guess even having someone you hate could be a source of comfort. Perhaps familiarity does breed comfort. We were walked along the spotlessly clean corridors of the Medical Corps Building incomplete and if I weren’t walking towards the MTM console, I really wouldn’t want to leave this beautiful place.

I was really confused. My thoughts made no sense. I began to analyse things that Vivek had been telling. I slowly was able to make sense of his claims as the veil of unquestionable blind trust towards the Imperial Father had come off.

We stood in front of an Automatic door. Our Instructor ordered us to go in and report ourselves to the CO of the Medical Corps on the other side. The doors opened and as we stepped inside I heard the instructor sigh, “I was wrong. Shouldn’t have believed in you.”

This was the first time I felt worthless. This was the first time I had seen him shed his walls and be human. This time, he meant it instead of just doing his duty. The CO was a man who perhaps hadn’t learnt to smile. He gave us one cursory glance and with a wave of his hand ordered the Sepoys to take us into the MTM.

This machine was different. It was an upgraded version. This was a kind of a Sensory Deprivation Tank where the fluid was buoyant and also allowed for the experience to be much more immersive. No orders were barked. We knew what had to be done. I unclothed myself and stepped into the tank. The operator was kind enough to just focus on connecting the nodes around my skull and not throw any stray glances. These are the kinds of men who I respect. Or was he even a man? Could he be one of the medical subjects? Could he be one of the Cured ones who did just what they were told? I just couldn’t stop questioning everything around me when he closed the lid.

I was engulfed in darkness. I braced myself for some sort impact but nothing happened. Perhaps the machine took a while to start up. I was priming myself to not think of all the dilemmas brewing inside me all day for everything is recorded and could be used against me.

Am I really free?

I knew I screwed up. This is exactly what I didn’t want to happen. I instinctively tried to curl myself in a ball and the fluid did not make it easy. It stuck to my body. But I knew they had made note of any “stray” thoughts as the liquid began to heat up. And now I was unable to move. The fluid paralysed me. I could do nothing other than scream silent pleas for help. The liquid heated up and the tank began to fill up. The liquid engulfed me and I tried to hold my breath for as long as I could. I struggled, tried to wave my arms and remove the lid, but my body refused to move. My lungs were burning and I finally could no longer hold my breath. The liquid began to find a new home within my lungs without a care in the world that it could potentially kill me.

The liquid did not kill me. The liquid supplied Oxygen to my lungs. But that was hardly comforting. The liquid began to boil and I was locked inside my body. This was no psychological game. This was no simulation. Just as I thought things couldn’t get any worse, I was being electrocuted with a very mild voltage. This began to burn me from the inside and the outside! No part of my body could escape this plight. I could feel my innards squirming and fighting for life.

Is this the first step towards sinning? Is this how my fall begins?

The fluid began to cool. And now I was being frozen and electrocuted and locked in my body what was burning. Then began the MTM simulations. The cycle of heating and freezing me continued for an eternity and I endured all of the pain. I was not allowed to sleep and neither was my brain allowed to faint.

This perpetual agony finally came to an end. The mental torture ended. The liquid came back to normal temperature. The electrocution stopped. The lid opened. But I was no longer the same. I was hollow. I felt nothing. I did not care for anything. I was numb.

I was sent to rehabilitation for a few weeks. I had lost all will to live. They had broken me. I was weak. I am a girl. I was over-ambitious.

But, these were the days when Ravi was my only true companion. He was there by my side all the time. I no longer felt irritated around me. It is true, hardship breeds true friendship. I began to trust him more than anyone. He somehow seemed to not be affected by the MTM. I guess he was stronger after all. When I was cleared for retraining, I no longer felt happy.

I had begun doubting everything around me.

Am I fighting for the wrong side of the war?

When we stepped back into the Training Academy, we were looked at like heroes. No one until now had cleared the upgraded version of the MTM ever. This did move me. But I doubted if it was even worth it.

I needed answers. I wanted to know the truth. But I wasn’t supposed to question.

All my life I’ve been told that the Imperial Father is the container of the truth of the One True God. But, what was the truth?

We reached the mess and people carried us on their shoulders. It was a huge deal for everyone here. I somehow managed to smile. My coursemates had passed out of the academy and were posted. We would be drafted into respective units after four-month retraining. Our Instructor walked into the mess and ordered us to his chambers. I was asked to wait outside and Ravi was called inside.

After standing in attention for an hour I was called in and asked to sit down. The instructor asked me to open the envelope on the desk. It looked like the posting orders to the unit we had to go after the retraining. I opened it and in it was the letter Vivek had sent to me. They found it as they cleared my bunk for the new cadets.

All life gave way. The officer looked disappointed. Without saying a word, he pressed a button and two Sepoys whisked me away and put me in a cell. They tattoed a number on my arm. I was a Student of the Imperial Father now.

I was tormented and tortured for days. I do not even wish to think of the things they did to me. I had surrendered my mind and body to them. And they did all they pleased and left me in agonizing pain. So, this is what they did to students? All I knew was a Lie! They lied about everything!

I couldn’t believe the fact that I sent Vivek into this. I ruined his life thinking I was doing the right thing. All he did was question the Imperial Father.

If questioning the truth is a sin… How does one learn the truth without as questions? Was this truth so weak that it could break apart when questioned? Why do we need to protect such a truth that is a secret and known to just the Imperial Father.

I began to wonder if there was any truth at all? Does the One True God exist? Where is this One True God? If there were any truth, wouldn’t they tell it? I began to see things clearly with each bone they broke and healed just to break them again. I began to widen my horizons. I began to understand the truth.

I had begun to connect the dots from the history textbook each time they pulled my hair, electrocuted me, used my body as a toilet and a mop.

I see. The Imperial Father was born during the War of Freedom. Vivek called it the Third World War. I really don’t know why that was the third and what the first two wars were about. Those were times of extreme drought, plague, disease. People had begun to follow corrupt leaders. They placed their faith blindly in them and began fighting for the land within their borders. The enemies were just not on the outside. They fought from within for their Gods. They had fought in the name of the flags they protected. They fought for the colours they represented blue, green, saffron, white and whatnot. They fought for Crosses, Moons, Swastikas, Pentagons, Stars and countless symbols. They fought over everything.

The Imperial father was born to show the world the true power of the One True God. The One True God was the one who rose above the other gods and brought peace. The Imperial Father built a border to protect his folk from the impure ones, which we now call the Aliens. He set up a world with no corruption. A world where all were aligned to the same goal. To Protect the Truth. The Imperial Father told all of us, his children that the old leaders and the Aliens couldn’t handle the truth. Our truth was superior to theirs for the new truth was based on what we do and not based on how and where we were born. We have all the freedom to fight for our truth, the truth of the One True God.

Is it freedom where the only choices were unquestioning alliance to the Imperial Father and death? That hardly is any freedom.

It became clear to me that the Imperial father is doing the same what the people before the War of Freedom did. The only difference was, the Imperial father was successful in taming all the people within. And culled those who weren’t. He built a culture of pride for punishing those who did not listen to him. This wasn’t freedom when we have to fight for a truth we do not even know. It is interesting how one person managed to sway 2.5 Billion people to protect truth and not speak of what they were even protecting. The biggest news before my sniping test was that the Nation had developed a prediction system that targeted potential threats to the truth and the ways of like of the Imperial Father. They were waiting for the results of the test.

Ha! So much for freedom! I spat on the faces of those who tormented me. Each time I spat they wrenched a tooth off. Once my teeth were gone they came for my tongue. I could no longer speak or taste. But I was at peace. I had finally seen the truth.

The truth was that all we believe to be the truth is a lie.

At least the Aliens fought for what they believed to be true. And there lies the freedom to live and the freedom to die. And we live in this world with a false sense of freedom. We were never free. We only think we were free. And this liberated me.

They threatened that if I wouldn’t right myself they would send me off across the border. They would leave me to die with the Aliens. That’s when a thought struck me.

What if all the Aliens are doing is trying to save us from the Imperial Father and his lies?

The Imperial Father made us fear the Aliens by design when all the while we should have feared him by default.

I smiled. I smiled in the dark and I felt free for the first time in my life bound to the shackles and locked in a …

There was a blinding light and I shut my eyes. I was wet and naked. I opened my eyes slowly and began to cover myself under the harsh light. A familiar voice threw a towel and clothes at me and said coldly, “So, that is what you think of the Imperial Father. You Impure whore.”

I dried myself and wore the clothes. I looked at my hand and I had no tattoo. I touched my jaw and my teeth were intact. I could speak. I looked around and I found myself in the MTM chamber with Ravi in a uniform worn by the Intelligence Corps.

He drew closer menacingly, “You do know everything inside the Module is recorded?”

This was a surprise, but I no longer was scared. “Yes”, I replied calmly.

“It’s ‘Yes Sir’ to you, bitch. I had waited for this day for so long. Do you know how insulting it is for a Major to be spending time with a cadet and as a cadet?” he sighed, contempt in his eyes.

I said nothing. I pitied these people.

“You have done a great service to the nation. You would go down in the Annals of history of our Nation to be the first Cretin to be predicted by our Threat Protection Police.” He looked away and asked two Sepoys to escort me.

I was moved around for an hour while changing multiple cars in a blindfold. The car finally stopped and they got me out. They pushed me through an automatic door and ordered me to take off the black bag over my head and drop it in the vacuum bin to the right. I complied.

They ordered me to walk until the end of the corridor. I walked through the brightly lit corridor. The walls were perfectly smooth and spotlessly white and glossy. I stopped and looked at myself at a wall. I saw that I wore a white shirt and a white trouser and a wide smile. The only thing that was not white was my Brown skin and black hair. I wasn’t sure why it felt funny but I laughed. I do not remember laughing so heartily ever before!

Just then the wall I was looking at began to roll upwards revealing a transparent glass wall. I could see the Platinum tree through it. There was something etched on its trunk. I walked closer to the glass and squinted to see what was written.

Correction Facility A

Everything turned black.

When I gained my consciousness, I found myself in a closed space with a trapdoor on the top. I was wearing Orange overalls and there was a number tattooed on my hand. A voice ordered me to open the trapdoor after the countdown. The voice began to countdown from 20.

3… 2… 1… Open!

The floor began to move up and would crush me if I did not open the trapdoor. I instinctively opened it and got out.

I was back where everything began -The Sniping Pavillion. Except, this time I was on the other side.

I saw 9 other Cretins scamper around to find somewhere to hide. I had ten minutes to do so. But I stood there. This was a game that I cannot win. The Imperial Father had won. The Imperial has always won.

My realisation of the Truth would die with me. But it wasn’t in vain. I was a free woman. But, this was my truth and it would be buried with me. I didn’t mind that.

There was just one thing that irked me.

I do not know about the One True God or of God’s existence. I do not know what role the One True God plays in this game. Would the One true God protect this nation from the Imperial Father or was the One True God behind all of this.

I guess I would never know.

I hear the sound of a gunshot.


Inspiration

I need to mention Ian’s Cyberspace to motivate me to write stories in episodes!

I was frustrated about quite a lot of things that have been going around in the world and tried to bring out a story which talks about these underlying motives!

  1. The paradox of the open mind is willing to learn and boxing the mind with what is right and curtailing the freedom to learn in our educational system.
  2. The Chinese internment camps.
  3. The problems when people believe in the government/leaders without questioning or looking for intent.
  4. Westworld
  5. The Matrix
  6. Far Cry 5
  7. How about you try to guess which book inspired the background setting?

This was the first time I came out of my comfort zone to try this style of writing!

It would mean most to me if you could drop in a comment with feedback on this story! Please do let me know how you felt after reading the story. You can also send me an email at: kushal@barelywise.com . I would love to have a conversation!

Cover Pic: Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels

3 thoughts on “The End of the Beginning | The Cycle of Truth #2 | Short Story

  1. I’m a graduate of IMDR Pune among other professional qualifications. I was also a member of ICSI India but gave up membership after leaving India so I rubbed shoulders with a few engineers there in academic circles. You are the first one who has an interest in writing fiction I’ve come across. 🙂 You raise questions in your story that people have raised from the earliest times. The idea of a true spiritual God as opposed to a pretender comes across in many religions. I accept the Christian viewpoint and respect those who continue to search. Jai Hind.

    Liked by 1 person

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