Static: Blue is the fifth story in the Industrial Anthology. This is a chapter sample and the second editing so you might encounter a typo or two.
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|It was the nomad’s turn to smile at me, at my misconceptions. “You have found a grand city. Just not a city as you’ve become used to. Such a city would offer no protection from our enemies. Such a place would allow us no protection from ourselves. If we could fool ourselves into believing we still lived in our old world, would we not become complacent? Subdued? We would forget what we’re fighting for.”
“And what are we fighting for, if not our old world?”
“We’re fighting for the freedom to live as we choose. The freedom to have our memories, to breath the air. Do you know that there are places in the world where they’re poisoning the air so they can sell breathable air to their people? Places where the water has already been dragged from the rivers and put into wells in the ground. The atmosphere is already feeling the effects of this type of control, this warfare against our species.
“What do we care about the old cities? What? Cable television, radio with its inane music and commercials? How can we begin to care about such trivial pursuits if we are denied the very basic principles of this world? The freedom to live. The freedom to think. The freedom to remember! To care, to love!”
My mind pondered this. Of course it was all true. My first instinct was to believe this was simply another group who would try to force their beliefs on those weary travelers who found them at the end of their quest. That they may not be the Ministry, but perhaps instead the Nomads? Same line of thought, just different methods, different goals. One fought to scare us, bully us out of our freedom. Perhaps the other simply did the opposite: Removed us from our any hope of freedom by promising us freedom was to be had again through them.
I realized these things must have been very nakedly passing over my face as I thought them. The nomad in front of me looked distressed and I could tell he was trying to find more words, a better explanation. Those words didn’t come from him though. They came from the black haired woman who moved away from the small crowd to come towards me.
She smiled at me, sweetly and sincerely. “We are creating a cult of memory.” she said simply.
“Saravoe! No! Not yet!” the nomad snapped.
The woman looked at him as if he were little more than a silly man and she’d had her fill of waiting for silly men to make everything understood. She waved him off and came closer to me.
I, of course, knew the name. The very mention of it made my heart swell and my eyes become red. I thought of Miss Blue. I thought of the words from the renegade ghost. I thought of my own collection of thoughts kept in the sewer, some still back there in that sewer. I thought of my father with hope. But I still clung to my suspicions just to be safe.
“Give me a memory then.” I challenged her, as weak a challenge as it might be to offer something as simple as a memory, but such times were making this an exercise in fear.
She pulled something from the small pouch she wore at her waist. She held up two photos for me to see. Both photos were fading, cracked, looking as though they’d seen better days. I could tell such damage had been done from them being handled too often, by fingers depositing their oils on them. One photo seemed to be little more than a color copy, judging by the paper. It was just a young woman with brightly dyed hair, cut in a modern version of an exaggerated bob. She was cute and happy looking. The other photo was of a woman who had plain features, but was very pretty. This one looked more handled than the other.
“This photo,” she held up the color copy “is one I stole from the son of the man who owned me by the Ministry’s permission. I don’t know who she is, or even her real name. He called her Moulon. I took this photo and all the letters from her the son saved. I read them daily so that no one will forget her. This photo,” she held up the image of the pretty and plain woman. The mere act brought tears to the woman’s eyes “this is a photo of the woman who died for me. She was my lover for one night, but she means more to me than any person I’ve shared my time with. She saved me from a bomb, and she… she saved me from myself.” The last statement seemed to bring her a mix of pain and shame.
The woman put the photos back into her pouch to save them from the wind, which had kicked up in the last few moments. She closed the pouch tightly, turning her reddened black eyes on me.
“The woman’s name was Mirabye. One day, should you decide to stay, I will tell you her whole story and let you listen to the tapes she left me. If you want, you can help me keep her memory alive. The ghost you spoke of, this Sivil, she belonged to Mirabye. She is the reason I originally decided to meet with the woman. She is the new incarnation of a dead woman, one of the first taken by the ghost catchers. But she has been one of the loudest voices in what we do, what we’re trying to keep alive.
“If you have doubts, there is little we can say to persuade you. You won’t find a utopia here to save you from the dystopia you’re running from. All you will find are survivors who cling to their memories. Each of us has become a part of the process of keeping our memories so the Ministry doesn’t have a chance to wipe clean the human collective of memories. All you need to help us is to simply hold on to your memories and what’s in your heart. And to listen to the rest of us. To help us when we forget.”
She said these things with such elegance and candor, but weariness was in her voice. It was obvious in her voice alone the road she must have traveled to have gotten to this point. She wasn’t going to waste much breath to convince me of things I should have known before coming here.
The woman Saravoe turned away from me and began moving back to the invisible door they’d all come from. The wind was getting unruly, kicking up the sand and dirt. I watched as she moved away from me, the way her hair blew and waved in the wind, the same as the loose material of her dress. She walked with her head up, letting the wind and sand lash at her face as if to say she was afraid of nothing and would bow down to nothing. It was that walk of hers which convinced me. She walked away from me not caring if I ran away threatening to tell someone of what I’d found. What did she care? She’d continue to remember. She wouldn’t be afraid anymore or seek protection she couldn‘t provide herself with. I might have been reading too much into her words and movements, but it gave me a feeling of strength either way. I moved to follow her.
I jogged through the group of people, catching up to the woman. I walked along side of her, digging into my own bag. I withdrew a photo and handed it to her. My photo wasn’t in much better shape than hers. She took it from me, staring at it as we walked.
“This is my father. His name was Roger. Will you remember his face?” I asked her.
She smiled, studying the photo before handing it back to me. “I’ll remember him.” she said softly as she slipped her arm around my shoulders. I heard the people following behind us.
I walked along side of her, slipping my arm around her waist. I hadn’t realized how badly I missed the simple sensation of touching another person. Her warmth, her comfort, it seeped from her into me and for the first time in many months I found my eyes welling up with tears. There were a lot of things I wanted to be rid of which I had kept tightly held within myself so I didn’t give my grief and fears away. They were coming out now. She held me a little tighter as the tears came. For a moment I was allowed to be a sad twelve year old girl again.
We moved towards the place they’d come from. It was a door in the ground which could only be seen when we were almost on top of it. Saravoe started down and I quickly followed after, not allowing myself to give a look back to all those things I’d left behind me.