Eleutheromania - An Intense And Irresistible Desire For Freedom.
Year - 2161
Bombs began to fall from the skies, gunshots and grenades echoed throughout the land. John, aged 12, sat in complete silence in the bunker. His father had left him, his mother, and two younger sisters while he sat outside fighting off enemies with several other men. Margaret, John’s mother, held onto his sisters tightly, trying to silence their cries while John sat, seemingly unaffected by the horror going on above ground. The fighting had been going on for what seemed like days or even months. John could hear the shouts and screams of the men fighting above but of course, he couldn't even imagine the horrors that awaited his family outside of the bunker.
Despite the pure chaos raging on outside, the bombs being dropped were not nuclear nor atomic. Thanks to the 2057 Act of Arms, all nuclear weapons had been destroyed. Each country came together and dug a great ravine in which they packed their weapons into and had them buried. All documentation of the location of the burial was destroyed so as to ensure that later generations would not find the weapons. If the Act of Arms had not been signed, allying all countries together then the Earth would have certainly been completely destroyed by now. After a century of peace, the leaders of the different countries came to a disagreement on how to handle resources and the Third World War broke out.
“John, come here please,” Margaret spoke softly, catching her son’s attention. John crawled to his mother’s side, sitting in her place as she sat his sisters next to him, “I’m going to go check on your father, yeah?” She spoke softly to her children so as not to alarm them before walking up the wooden steps and to the shelter door. She knocked on the door softly, waiting for her husband to answer but when the door remained shut she grew anxious before pushing it open just enough for her to peak outside. Margaret gasped softly when she saw her husband lying dead on the ground, the other men nowhere insight. She hurriedly shut the door, locking the hatch over the door before making her way back to her children.
“Your father is fine. Hopefully, the air raids will come to an end soon.” Margaret smiled, trying to hide her lie from her children as best she could. She pulled her daughters into her lap once more and hummed softly, just hoping to calm her children down. John moved away from his mother to another corner of the bunker, sitting silently with his knees drawn up and pressed into his chest. He was tired of the war and tired of sitting in a dark, hot bunker.
Day in and day out, time passed and the bombs continued to drop, guns continued to fire, grenades were continuously tossed back and forth. The fighting had slowed a little but not by much as shouts and screams could still be heard through the metal door. John spent most of his time sleeping or rereading the children’s books his mother had brought down for his sisters’ amusement. They were eventually going to run out of food so Margaret had been strictly rationing it between her and her three children, often times she’d give the children their rations but she, herself, would not eat. Time went slowly but it did indeed pass.
During the night when the fighting would come to a halt, John would sneak out of the bunker. That was when he discovered the truth about his father. John didn’t dare mention it around his mother or sisters. Instead, John would ignore the corpse, walking around looking for food to bring to his mother. Though he didn’t venture far, he would find little food, with each trip to the surface, he’d go a little further in hopes of finding more supplies.
After months of the same, boring routine, the fighting came to an end for a short while. Margaret led her children out of the bunker, shielding the girls’ eyes away from their decomposed father and towards the dirt road that had once been paved. Other survivors were following behind a single man. He was dressed in militaristic clothing with guards surrounding him, and he had to be around 35 to 40 years in age.
“Come, follow Brion. He shall create a new life for us all. Brion knows the way, he shall bring peace, prosperity, and plenty to us as a civilization. We shall win the war with Brion as our leader.”
The soldiers were chanting the same lines over and over, survivors coming from the wreckage to see what the men were shouting about. Some of them followed, others stayed behind. Margaret saw no other choice. Grabbing her daughters’ hands, she led her children into the group of people.
“John, stay close to me. Hang onto my dress or grab one your sisters’ hands. Just don’t get separated, yeah?” John grabbed Gracie’s hand. She being his youngest sister at age 7. Scarlet, aged 10, was only two years younger than John; she was looking around at the group of people following Brion. She did not understand why so many people had come together and put all their trust in one man. But John did.
John understood that every man and woman in this group had lost the life they knew; they had lost loved ones and their homes to the war and had nowhere else to turn. John understood that his family had also lost everything; their home, his father, anything from the life they once knew was gone, was destroyed. His family had nowhere else to turn and definitely did not know how to live on their own without any supplies. People followed Brion in hope that he would be able to scavenge up enough supplies to help these people get their lives back together.
Within a year, Brion was able to gain over a thousand followers, giving jobs to find supplies, build shelters, build a wall, anything usable to start his own little world. This world, he had named Briorlin. The settlement quickly grew larger as word got out that the settlement had been created. Survivors from the war flocked towards the newfound settlement and Brion admitted them all. They were forced to pledge their allegiance to his terms: No one was to write anything that spoke against his rule; no one was allowed to read: All books within the settlement were thrown into a burning pit. Free-thinking was not allowed and anyone who spoke their mind was beaten by Brion’s uniformed guards and sometimes secret police who scouted throughout the settlement disguised as civilians. The utopia for any survivors quickly became a dystopia that many regretted joining. Outside the settlement; however, the word was still being spread that the settlement was a new start with democracy. When the survivors entered; however, the story quickly changed from happiness to disappointment.
Brion had several men tasked with building apartment complexes and a certain selection of survivors to build his main government building, referred to by citizens as the Ministry of Grey. Brion’s commanding building was 6 stories high with eight rooms on each floor. Brion created laws that the survivors had to follow or they were brought into his ministry for torture, brainwashing, and re-released as new citizens who proclaimed their love for him at every moment of their lives.
Then the screens were created. Television sets were scavenged from the outside world and re-created into screens where Brion could watch every apartment and every street from the comfort of his security rooms within his Ministry. There were other rooms for security screens, each having three guards to watch the screens, periodically switching throughout the day. As years passed, the screens would eventually become robots programmed by high-tech programmers that had survived the war. Once they entered the settlement, Brion interviewed them and learned of their jobs they worked before the war; they were then forced to create new smart robots to keep an eye on people throughout the different sections of the compound.
People began to love Brion out of fear of the harsh punishments, especially when the rebellions began to surface. Several groups of men and women would come out of hiding and try to overthrow Brion and his guards, but their makeshift weapons from knives and glass were no match for the guns and machetes carried by Brion’s guards. The rebels would always fail; sectioned off into rooms and watched for months before they were taken out one by one into the various torture rooms for beatings and brainwashing. The rebels always gave in, if not at first then later; especially after long months of the same schedule which consisted of staring at white walls and receiving beatings. The rebels always came back out, proclaiming love to Brion. The rebels never stirred trouble again, the torture fresh in their minds. Fewer rebels appeared as everyone was too afraid of the thought police to even mutter a word of hatred towards their leader.
As the years passed, Brion showed his face around the settlement less and less, spending more time within his ministry. The rumor was that he was growing old. Brion had, like other soldiers, been wounded in the war and it seemed that though his injuries were healed, the arthritis was beginning to take its toll on his body. Eventually, the police just began to hang posters plastered with Brion’s face, the posters covered every wall and billboard within the settlement.
John lived in a one-room apartment with his mother and two sisters. There were only three beds, one for Margaret and her new husband, Thomas; the second bed was for John, and the third was left for Scarlet and Gracie to share.
John hated Brion with every bone of his body because he had taken away his books, his thoughts, and took away his hope for happiness. All John held within him was malice, awaiting a day when he too could rebel and have the victory of killing Brion himself. He wouldn’t be like the others, he wouldn’t get caught. He would succeed in killing Brion, taking over the settlement and giving everyone their rights back. Because of the thoughts, John had a certain shine to his eyes whenever these thoughts crossed his mind. It was that glimmer that had the soldiers creating their own views on John. The soldiers kept a close eye on John and the other boys his age, hoping to scare them enough so they would just spend their lives listening and following instructions brought down from Brion.
As John grew older, his thoughts became dreams. Dreams he knew he’d never act on. After all the rebellions he’d witnessed, he had decided his plans to assassinate Brion had major flaws in them and there was nothing he could do to make them become reality. But John’s dreams did not completely die until the day he and Scarlet came home from the school to find both their mother and Gracie dead. Thomas was being beaten by a few soldiers and he was dragged out of the apartment.
“What is the meaning of this? Why did you kill our mother and sister but let him live?” John had hot tears of anger running down his cheeks, the rats were already beginning to sneak into the apartment and eat away at the bodies of his mother and sister.
“Your father was plotting rebellions against Brion. The rest of your miserable family paid. Do not make us kill you too, boy.” The soldier simply pushed John to the side and made his way out of the apartment.
“John...what are we going to do? We’re orphans!” Scarlet cried.
“Don’t worry. We still have the apartment. I’ll get a job and you continue going to school. I’m 16 now so I should be able to work.” John walked further into the apartment, shooing the rats away and he picked up his mother’s corpse. “Bring Gracie too. We’ll have to bury them or we will surely be infested with rats.” John walked out of the apartment and down the three stories of stairs. He made his way to the open field of rocks and dirt, laying his mother gently on the ground as he searched for something to use as a shovel. Once he found the remains of a shovel, the handle broken, he made his way back to his mother where Scarlet was now laying Gracie on the ground.
“I’ll dig the graves, you go and clean the apartment.” John simply ordered and began to dig the two plots. At this moment, John began to realize that freedom is foolishness. To be ignorant of the things the police do is to be lost in bliss. To dream is to lure yourself to your death. The only way left is to go by what Brion commands. Brion is the God of this settlement and nothing goes on without him knowing all about it.
John lost all hope of freedom from Brion that day. He didn’t even know his stepfather had been plotting against their leader. John felt that if he and Scarlet had no knowledge of his betrayal, then how would his mother and Gracie have known? Why did they pay with their lives for crimes that they themselves did not commit? It seemed that no matter how well he hid his plans against Brion and his ministry, there will always be a way they find out and they will punish him.
John worked hard from that day forward to take care of himself and his sister. Eventually, he met a girl, a lovely girl named Susan.
Susan was the same age as John. She too had a mind full of thoughts of freedom and longing for how the world was before the war. Susan worked in the same warehouse as John, helping to create new screens that would then be edited by the robotics engineers in the ministry. The engineers would add better speakers and cameras that the normal workers did not have access to. Susan wore a mask of ignorance, acting as though her heart belonged solely to Brion, acting as if she did not want the attention of another man. She was good at hiding her emotions but only spoke of her love for John when they were alone. Even then, she would whisper into his ear so quietly that John had trouble hearing. Within three years, Susan was living with John and Scarlet. Together, John and Susan were able to work up enough money to buy a two-room apartment in a slightly better part of the settlement.
By the time Susan and John were 25, they had worked hard enough to be given higher-paying jobs. Susan worked in the newspaper section of Warehouse Nine, changing the words about to support Brion’s thoughts and claims on the war to keep citizens oblivious to the truth of what was happening within the war and the world outside of the settlement. John worked within the building industry in Warehouse Eleven, where the robotics engineers would come from the ministry to train the works in designing new screens to be fitted into robots. This gave the robotics engineers a smaller load of work to do in the ministry; they wouldn’t have to do as much editing to the new screening robots. These robots had new features that would allow people to interact with the soldiers through the screen and type in messages on both sides. If someone suspected another settler of being a thought-criminal you could type in a message with the apartment coordinates and their room number. When the soldier arrests the thought-criminal you would be awarded five dollars if it is proven they had thoughts against Brion.
The robots being built took several days as it was a very time-consuming process. First, in Warehouse Eleven, the civilians would be taught, as mentioned before, by the robotics specialists of the ministry how to create the screens and bodies for the robots. The products are then delivered to the ministry where the robotics specialists put them together and added in motherboard hard-drives that were then coded with special sentences so it is able to tell who is and isn’t a rebel plotting against Brion. The robots, when completely put together, are built onto a stand containing four wheels to allow it to move around freely in the streets and in buildings; buildings containing stairs have robots with functional legs to wander up and down the stairwells. Whether on wheels or functioning legs, the robots stand at a height of 3 feet. Other robots, made to look like small bugs, fly around in the settlement and stick onto buildings in heavily populated areas of the compounds.
Each robot has a built-in monitoring system which records conversations that have anything to do with Brion, killing, or rebelling and sends it to one of the main offices within the ministry where the tapes are downloaded and listened to by several guards at one time. The guards then go into a deep discussion that can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours on whether or not the conversation shows any proof of supporting a rebellion or plot against Brion. Once the guards reach their conclusion, they either delete the tapes or go out to make an arrest. Anyone involved in the tapes that contributed to the conversation can be arrested whether they are the rebel or not. Those that are arrested are then put into a five-day interrogation in which the guards will continuously ask them questions until they break down and spill out any information they may have.
When John and Susan were 29, Susan became pregnant. When she began to show, the soldiers allowed her to stay home throughout the remainder of her pregnancy. After Elias was born, Susan spent a week at home with him then went back to work. Scarlet, who was a teacher, taught a class in her room in the apartment and stayed home with Elias. Scarlet would watch over Elias as she taught her students about Brion’s laws and codes.
Brion had made trips to meet Scarlet because he was very interested in her work. She was the only teacher who taught the children his exact protocols while other teachers taught from the dictionary Brion’s soldiers gave out to the settlers. After several trips, two months between each, Brion felt himself falling in love with John’s only remaining sister.
When Elias was three, John was called to the Ministry of Grey and taken to Brion’s office. It was the first time since he was 12 that John had seen the man close-up in person.
“John Lyell, you are the only surviving member of Scarlet Lyell’s family, are you not?” Brion asked, his face grim with all the stress he’d been under due to the long years of being in charge.
“I am. My wife Susan and I, along with our son, are the only remaining relatives of my sister.” John spoke calmly, trying his best to hide his resentment for the older man. “And I know you visit her during her classes, teaching the children of your laws. Tell me, are you unhappy with her? If so, punish me instead.”
“You’ve got it all wrong, John. It seems your sister has become the woman to claim my heart after all these years.” Brion stood from his chair, even with arthritis from war-wounds, he stood tall. “I’d like to have her hand in marriage, if you’ll give me your blessing.”
“Sir, what happens if I deny? After all, I do have several reasons to deny. Your soldiers killed my mother and our youngest sister, both innocent and ignorant of the dangers within your society. They died due to my stepfather conspiring against you. We had no clue he was going against your law, and yet you punished us for his stupidity. It was hard for my sister and me to carry on without our mother since biological father died during the first few months of the war. I remember you coming through and my mother trusting your word.” John shifted from one foot to the other, watching intently as Brion processed his words.
“I am terribly sorry for the events that happened under my judgment. My men were not supposed to harm anyone but the conspirators.” Brion walked to his bookshelf, looking at the different dictionaries his workers had created.
“Sir, I had to carry my mother from our apartment to bury. Scarlet had to carry our sister, Gracie, out and place her with mother. I spent four hours digging plots for them and burying them afterward. My sister and I have been through the greatest loss possible. So, if my sister returns your feelings, I want to decline your offer. I do not think she’d be able to bare you dying in any way whether it be old age or assassination. I could not bear seeing her go through the pain of losing a loved one ever again.”
“I admire your love for your sister, Johnathan, I really do. So thoughtful. But as you may know, when I pass I will indeed need an heir to take over as I doubt I could ever trust any of my soldiers that much.” Brion made his way back to his own chair, sitting down and facing John. “I’d be damned if even one of my soldiers decided to undo what has been done to help this settlement survive or even if they add terms far more harsh than the ones I have placed on you and the others now.” Brion poured two glasses of wine from a bottle he had pulled out of the drawer of his desk. He handed one of the glasses to John and leaned back in his seat, “I’m getting old, Johnathan. I understand your sister, Scarlet...she’s a pretty little rosebud. I understand she is a lot younger than I. She would have been merely a child when I started this settlement. Tell me, how old is your sister, John?” Brion finished, picking up his own glass of wine and taking a sip.
“She is two years younger than I, she is 31.” John tasted the wine, savoring the taste. The wine was the sweetest and yet the bitterest thing he had tasted since he was a boy.
“Ah, so she was only...10 when the settlement started, am I correct?” Brion sat down his glass, eyeing John and awaiting the answer.
“Yes, Scarlet was 10 and I was only 12. Gracie was 7.” John took another sip of the wine, not wanting to drink it too quickly.
“Down it quickly if you want, I’ll be more than happy to give you another glass. That John is called wine. As for Scarlet, she is just 16 years younger than I. I thought surely she was much younger.” Brion took another drink of his own wine before opening his desk and taking out a pen and paper.
“Sir, you’re only 47? Meaning you were-”
“Yes John, I was only 26 when I started this settlement. The war aged me mentally and so my appearance changed too. I looked older than what I was. Despite being in my twenties I looked twice my age. It’s been 21 long years since then and the old war wounds are beginning to take a toll on me, Johnathan. I don’t know how much longer I can push on. I need an heir. That’s why I’ve been visiting throughout the settlement. I was looking for someone to give me an heir. The only woman to catch my eye and slowly steal my heart was your sister.” Brion offered the wine bottle to John, “I’ll give you a few of the bottles to share with your wife and some other extra rations for your son. Just give me your blessing and I’ll go speak with Scarlet. If she denies me, then I’ll leave her alone. I won’t allow the soldiers to take her away from you like your mother.”
John finished the wine in his glass and took the bottle. “Alright, I give you my blessing.” John nodded his head and stood, “But if my sister does deny, please allow her to continue to live as she had before you proposed.”
Brion stood and held out his hand, John grabbed the hand and the two men shook hands in agreement, “as you wish, John.”
Three days later, Brion did go to Scarlet’s class and proposed, Scarlet accepted the proposal and continued to teach her class. Once the class was over, Brion took Scarlet to his ministry and had soldiers deliver the promised rations to John’s home. Whether Scarlet had accepted the proposal or not, Brion would have sent the rations anyway as a thank you for John giving his blessing in the first place.
Four years passed, Scarlet was 35, Brion was 51, the two were expecting a child, two to be exact, a boy and a girl. During childbirth, Scarlet and the girl died. Two months later, the boy, who Brion had named Johnathan, died from a fever. Brion went into a deep depression, sitting within his office and drinking his wine alone. Brion had lost the light of his life and the only surviving child. After this, people were limited to three children. After the law was made, if a citizen had more than three children, the extras were taken and given to childless families but were still allowed to see their original parents. Brion had started taking less and less trips into the settlement. On one said trip, he found an orphaned boy and took him in as his own, raising the boy as he saw fit. Brion expressed little love, merely teaching the boy his ideas and telling him how he was expected to run the settlement if Brion were to pass. Brion named the boy Brion Jr.
Brion, Sr. told the boy that once he passed he was to take the Jr. out of his name and lead as if he were the original Brion. Little of the settlers knew any of this was going on, Brion keeping it a secret so as people would not start to rebel again.
Brion, Sr. died at age 59, when Brion Jr. was only 19. Brion did as his father had ordered, rising as the new head and ruling as if he himself were his father. The laws stayed the same and he even added laws that Brion, Sr. had written down in a book within his desk. Brion led the settlement and even commanded the soldiers the same way his father had. This transition from old to new confused the soldiers, but they thought nothing of it as nothing had changed except the face of their leader. Brion, Jr. had posters of himself made and had them put up on every building and billboard. That’s when everyone found out that a new, younger Brion had taken over as the leader. For a while, everything was the same but soon, laws became stricter and soldiers began to appear more often.
By this time, John was 45, Elias was 15 with twin siblings, a 12-year-old sister, and brother. Elias’s sister was named Scarlett after their aunt though they had no idea that she’d die in four short years. Scarlett’s twin brother was named Will, after John’s father, William. At age 42, Susan had become pregnant with her fourth child with John. During birth, Susan and the boy both died just as Scarlet had with her daughter. After Susan died, John was sure he would have gone insane if not for his children. He had thanked God within his mind for allowing him to keep his three children. John knew that Brion, whether it was the original or his son, would kill him for believing in God. God was a powerful divinity everyone prayed to before the war but now, they prayed to Brion and he was the only divine. Brion was their god.
The years went by quickly, the settlement seemed to be running smoothly, but Brion seemed to become harsher by each passing day. Brion seemed to have forgotten what his father had taught him and soon he too would be looking for a wife to give him an heir.