No Father of Mine
The world is a terrible place. Split into regions, dominated by deplorable leaders. Life is in chaos and Fate is having her fun watching mankind descend into darkness. Communities are always in fear of being ambushed by other communities; civilians young and old, men and women live day by day avoiding attention, fearing the law, and cowering each time a CMP – Community Military Police, soldiers who enforce the law – passes them by.
Out of all the leaders in this corrupted world, the leader of my region is by far the most deranged and inhumane. The worst part about him, forgiving his adoration of inflicting horror upon his subjects and torturing all who upset him, is that he is my father.
Father or not, I hate him more than I hate all of the other despicable leaders combined. Any man who treats his subordinates as ignorant, sub-sequential pawns is no father of mine. He has never viewed me as a son either. I was born premature, my mother had died during labor, and as a result, I am quite short and skinny for my size and tend to have more health problems than other people my age. Consequentially, I have never been up to par with the standards my father has set for me.
I am not the only one who is mistreated; my father has never treated any of his subjects kindly. If one were to speak to him while he was in a particularly bad mood or forget to season his juicy slab of tenderloin, the perpetrator would find themselves locked in a dungeon for an indefinite amount of time facing daily torture. I have spent many months of my seventeen year long life in the dungeon, my punishment for saying or doing something that had displeased my father. If one were to correct my father or suggest a more strategic or wise plan concerning the never ending war between the different region leaders, one would soon find himself in the leading role of a play set in the execution arena for all to view. I had learned not to question my father early on in life after sitting in on a strategy meeting and watching the CMP Commander be killed on the spot, courtesy a slit throat. He had suggested sending his soldiers on a different route to attack the neighboring region's capitol to ensure that the troops would arrive undetected, but my father was not fond of being corrected or told he was wrong. Have you heard of the saying that goes 'Kill or be killed, that's the way of life?' Well, for everyone under my father's rule that phrase sounds more like 'Do what you're told or you will live the rest of your life in misery or not at all, that is the law.'
My father's servants were treated much worse than his commanders, advisors, and I. Men were treated as insufferable animals that were to be yelled at and commanded and beaten when they performed poorly. Maids were the targets for my father's demented lust and advances. When I was a mere four years old, I had witnessed my father make love with his most beautiful maid, Catrina. Nine months later I had acquired a healthy baby brother. My father killed the woman not long after when she had unsuccessfully tried to end the newborn's life in order to save him from the tyrant called my father.
I had thought that having a younger brother would hold so many new things for me and would be a fun adventure; I was right in one aspect, having a brother changed my life. My brother had grown up well. He was strong, intelligent, charismatic, and had developed the appalling joy of instilling fear into people's minds and had no reservations when it came to a living being's life. He soon became my father's favorite, he, possessing all of the characteristics my father had hoped for in a son while I was small, fairly quiet, somewhat sickly, and cared for the feelings and well being of others, something that both my father and younger brother looked down upon. By the time my younger brother had reached the age seven, and I eleven, my father had officially declared my dear sibling as his successor. Ever since I have been treated as a nuisance, a person they kept around merely out of obligation, while my brother was treated as royalty, as a prince, always at my father's side.
"Finally," Tannor spat. He crossed his arms and studied me as I joined him outside the doors to the meeting room, "you're ten minutes late. Father will be angry."
As if I didn't already know.
My instructor had kept me in class and made me practice my penmanship by rewriting the region's laws, put in place by my father. Of course, I already knew the ruthless rules my father had set and my penmanship was one of the best in the whole community, but I swear, my professors like to make me miserable nearly as much as my father does. I kept my mouth shut though as explaining myself would do nothing to help my situation.
Tannor turned and pushed open both doors to the meeting room, making a grand entrance as the large double doors slammed against the wall with force. For a thirteen year old, my brother sure knew how to gain the room's attention as the twelve men seated at a long, rectangular table and my father looked up from their conversation at us. I followed, quietly shutting both doors and taking my seat among the twelve men as Tannor stormed up to his throne next to Father's, which was raised on several steps and overlooked the room.
"Father," Tanner exclaimed as he plopped down in his royal seat and lifted his arm to point accusingly at me, "Nathan was late, again!"
Obviously; everything that ever happens is my fault.
My father gave me a threatening stare that promised later punishment. "I see." He said simply and quietly, his icy coldness spoke loudest in my ear. A moment later, his gaze swept all the other men seated at the table and he continued his conversation. "Our neighboring leader, Westar, is gathering Foot Soldiers near our eastern border; why?"
A man at the far end of the table stood, his chair made an unimaginably loud screech. "CMPs have reported some of Westar's soldiers crossing our border into the nearest community, Cardiff, and recruiting civilians to join together and attack our capitol community."
My father scowled fiercely. "Thompson, send half our Foot Soldiers across the border to obliterate their encampment."
The man directly opposite me stood up and stuttered, "But, but half sir?" After a second thought he spoke again, "Yes sir, half sir," and sat down quickly, not wanting to meet a tragic end like our dearly departed CMP Commander.
"Also," My father continued, leaning back in his chair and resting his chin against his hand, "send ten Soldiers into Cardiff to kill the rogue civilians and any remaining soldiers."
Thompson stood and muttered "Yes sir," before promptly sitting back down.
"Oh, Father, please let me go; you promised you would let me join the Foot Soldiers on an official assignment!" Tannor shouted, nearly jumping up and down in his seat.
Father pursed his lips before they broke into a snide grin. "Very well, you may go." Turning back to the table he spoke, "What else have you to tell me?"
The man on my immediate right stood and reported of people in the different communities who had broken various, pointless laws.
"You know what to do." My father replied automatically to the list of criminals.
You know what to do.
My father's most frequent and favorite words; for civilians who broke the law, punishment was always severe so that it would threaten other civilians, and terrify them into obeying the laws. Usually civilians earned death no matter the crime, although sometimes my father would find it more suitable to lock a person up and let them rot and wither away in their despair and misery.
I cringed at my father's words. Most criminals did not deserved to be killed, such as the last person that was on the list, a young boy who had stolen a loaf of bread from the market. Many people, now-a-times, could barely afford to feed their families three meals a day, and I was convinced that in the young boy's mind, his act was justified. Sure, the family should refund the store for the stolen merchandise and the boy's father should lecture his son about morals and give him a few good beatings with a leather belt, but death? That was a heinous sentence that no man should deal out.
My father's deep, reverberating, wicked laugh broke through the room and drew me out of my thoughts.
"Nathan, my son, I have decided on the perfect punishment for you…"
My eyes bulged and my breath caught in my throat as Father told me what I was to do. He knew my weakness and apparently, he had noticed me wince. Indeed, he was no father of mine.
Beta Read by Lavender Quill