Co-created and contributed by: Clayton Pace
Publish Date: 10/3/2017 8:07:32 PM
Type: Reflexive Short Stories
…thirteen, just this week alone. We truly live up to our name”, protested a rugged young man whose dirty appearance was only outdone by the sparkle in his hazel-coloured eyes. “It’s always the children that effortlessly die” retorted Nikko, a nearby soldier, as he lit a cigarette and walked towards the man. “Raise your voice more and we’ll be sure to join them” he continued, “Now, Toji, be gone, before you raise any further suspicions”.
Toji smirked and shrugged his shoulders in defeat, admitting to himself how he could never get through to his friend.
“What have you done with my childhood buddy Nikko?” grumbled young Toji. “I heard that T… you still fail to see how lucky you are. You’re strong, healthy… yet you won’t let dreams be dreams. Wake up” snapped Nikko in a manner which reminded Toji of his own mother.
Thoughts of his mother connected to other memories that echoed distant bitterness of childhood; of how his mother was one of many in a line of family and friends he watched dying of hunger, poverty and ill-health in the desolate slums of Luxshima. As the young man felt rage fuel itself on the desperation of such thoughts, eagerness soon dissipated as images of his brother entangled in barbed wire resurfaced, shot dead by the state for his act of desperation in trying to escape.
Toji could still hear the mechanical rhythm and riddle of bullets that tore apart his brother’s life almost as if the sound itself merged perfectly with the present coughing of children and the repetitive crashes of nearby machinery. A constant reminder of past and present misery. Torn between desperation and rebellion Toji still did not ache for the rich life that bloomed in the city. He desired to go beyond the walls, beyond the impossibility brought about in ‘Oblitus’, a slang term for the citizens of the slums, meaning ‘the forgotten’.
As he glanced on each face that he came across he almost knew that each one was ill-fated, and that it was only a matter of time until his own luck lost favour. For Toji, Luxshima’s order and security stood in the way of hope, of a release into the world he deserved, a release which has yet to be gained by any citizen of ‘the forgotten’. Yet on the same desperate faces Toji could perceive solidarity amongst the poor, an evident hope based on support yet this hope felt withdrawn and scattered.
“Nikko was right! ” exclaimed Toji to himself, “I do need to wake up”.
The longest three hours in Toji’s life followed as he continued to contemplate further and patiently waited for Nikko as he rehearsed his own thoughts until he spotted the tired soldier in the distance. Prior to the soldier settling down, the young lad began his outburst “Ni, Nikko! You were always right, no one ever has managed to get out of Oblitus… alone” spoke Toji. “T, what are you on about? ” Nikko replied in a confused state.
“Hope, hope is the key. ” Toji answered as he continued “we’ve all been stuck, pitying ourselves, upset over our situation, scared and alone. Yet we rarely do anything about it, and when we do, it’s reckless action or blind obedience, causing fear and anger. ”
“What have you done with my childhood buddy T? ” chuckled Nikko in amusement and interest. “Go on…” Nikko said, as he gestured Toji to continue. “Hope in Oblitus is already out there, waiting to be gathered. It was never created from nothing, but from the strength and determination in living already present in each one of us. ”
“The people of Oblitus might have never made it out of the city, but neither have the city folk. One person alone has never amounted to anything, but if we all play our role, our true role and not the one expected and demanded of us we can continue to create hope and perhaps do something as one. ”
“Our story might not end here” he grinned, as he perceived a strong smile from his childhood friend.
Wow, I was immersed by the characters’ interactions and the detail. I felt very familiar with the image I tried to portray, more than I thought. - Clayton Pace Co-creator of Beyond Liberty