Author: ladyylazarus PM
The binding was rough. Dry, dead leather came off in her hands like black snowflakes, but they didn't melt – they fell apart; the will to cling together gone with the tide. She didn't open it. There was no reason to – she wouldn't be able to read it. Not many would. But he could... - An allegory about blind obedience -Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama/Tragedy - Words: 877 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 2 - Published: 12-04-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3080086
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They reminded her of what she had found in one of the baker's barrels last fall. They'd grown out of the sticky warmth that crawled over the dock and huddled fog-like in the streets. She wondered how they'd gotten to be so many. It's just a matter of time.
From the rafters where she hid, the gathering looked like those tiny larvae: a helpless wriggling mass milling about aimlessly in that clinging, muggy air.
Formidable black insects drifted purposefully among the white, green, red, blue, yellow. Their black wings billowed out behind them in great shadows of authority. The others followed them in droves all converging in a teeming horde around him. His gravity pulled everyone around him into concentric orbits like tiny moons.
He'd called them there for something important. She knew vaguely that she was a part of it, but it didn't matter because if she were in trouble they'd have come looking for her. They would've found her and taken her to him. Still, when the call had come, she thought it best to be invisible.
She watched the drones revolving around and around in their hive. It was clotted with the viscous air that came in from the sea and made everything hazy and harder to hear. Suddenly, everything was quiet but for the rustle of wings and legs and antennae. He was holding it aloft, gently, reverently; the binding crumbling in his hands. But for the first time, the assembly dissolved into deafening whispers and their intensity flowed through everyone there. So different from when he'd first shown it. Everyone had loved it then, treasured it, hungered for its knowledge and power and opportunity.
The way they'd sanctified it had always mystified. In fact, when she'd found it, she probably would've thrown it back into the ocean rather than pick it up. But he'd been with her. They were walking on the sand. She was stumbling backwards, watching their footprints being disintegrated by the tide. He was talking to her. "You understand, don't you?" She watched his footprints disappear behind him. He stepped out of the way just in time. "I can't always be there." The water brushed his heel. "I have responsibilities." She stopped. The water rushed over his feet; gray, sticky foam clinging to his ankles. There was something behind him, where his footprints had been. Something the sea brought in.
The binding was rough. Dry, dead leather came off in her hands like black snowflakes, but they didn't melt – they fell apart; the will to cling together gone with the tide. They reminded her of the walls in her bedroom, the way they sometimes bubbled and peeled because the dampness had seeped in through the paper. She didn't open it. There was no reason to – she wouldn't be able to read it. Not many would. But he could.
He took it from her and held it gently. And she began to see it as something precious, something to be respected and cherished.
He brought it home, showed it to everyone. A sign, he said. The world is changing around us. They couldn't see it, because they were blinded by tradition and ritual. There was a resonance in his voice; an authority in his words that ensnared the last free few. A gateway into a new world.
She paid little attention to their proceedings. She saw little need. As they changed and learned and saw, she noticed no difference. They still ate, and slept, and spoke to each other. They still argued, and laughed, and loved.
One day, from her perch in a nearby tree, above the suffocating sea stench, she heard a stray voice ask, "Can I see it?" There was a murmuring and tense shuffling among them. Though it was never said, No hung in the air; a thick, rippling curtain.
"But we want to see it," some said.
"You can't even read it," others pointed out.
"Shouldn't we learn?"
"Of course not."
"Isn't that what it says?"
"Of course not."
"Then what does it say?"
"It says –
And from her high place, she noticed that what one person said, another person contradicted. What one person believed, another disregarded. And at the heart of the throng, he was slowly being disintegrated by a great tide of questions, demands, pleas.
What was left?
They were upon him in a writhing mass of hunger; searching. He was engulfed by this sea, with its own sticky atmosphere that slithered in an oppressive wave around him. From above, she couldn't see him anymore; his gravity swallowed by the voracious horde.
The fog hit her face, her mouth and drove her back. She trudged through it, toward the mutinous hive. As they saw her, there was a lull; a distracted stillness. Waves parted to let her pass.
He lay there, still. The stone steps curved around his body like a giant' hands, crushing.
The tide subsided. And it was left behind where he had been.
Lying there, open, pages ruffling. Some had torn loose and were floating aimlessly about – dead leaves in winter.
They were blank.