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Color War

by Amber Olson about a year ago in Script
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By Amber Olson

Color causes coveting or condemnation. That is eliminated here, where we are safe from the racial wars that brought about the world’s ruin. Our compound asks only that we banish all signs of color. We cover ourselves completely so that we are judged solely on our merits and do not fight over pettiness such as skin, hair, eye, or any other color. We eat in the dark, so that our palates make the distinction between foods. Each person is given a domicile and garments, tailored to your size; an identity patch will be given after your assessment. Everyone has a role to play and we have Assessors to help decide your categorization.

Mona stands motionless at the end of the conveyor belt. Upon exiting the Explainatron, a Receiver, charged with assimilating new arrivals, escorts her. The Receiver asks, “You see that person with white ears painted on the side of their head? That’s the Listener; they listen and sometimes give advice. And the ones with the eyes on the back of their heads are Watchers, responsible for making sure everything stays in order. Be wary of the one with a magnifying glass outlined on his chest, the Interrogator; if you're ever in their company, you're in trouble!”

“Who are the two standing next to the doors?”

“They’re Hunter-Gatherers, kinda like soldiers protecting us all, going outside for resources, determining threats, and collecting survivors. Their symbol is an intersecting rifle and shovel.”

Geral, the senior commander of the Hunter-Gatherers, tells his troops, “Today we’ll go out a little farther. The drones brought back some footage to the west of what looks like an orchard and there may be a few survivors, so let’s move out.”

Outside the compound, a pair of scissors dangle from the loop of a young woman’s shorts. Pieces of string are overstuffed inside her pockets. She periodically grabs bits of rubbish, cutting out shapes and folding them into easily recognizable origamied items. Layla ties her creation to one of the "trees" she fashioned from foraged bric-a-brac. Several more "ornaments'' hang like silent wind chimes.

Amongst the rubble, Layla grabs a sledgehammer and brings it down upon a mirror, shattering it. She then pauses, seeing people wearing full-body uniforms, pointing rifles at her.

“What the heck are you wearing?”

“Come with us and you’ll find out.”

“No thanks.”

Geral turns to the Hunter-Gatherers. “She's deranged from living so long without people. Take her for her own good.”

The Hunter-Gatherers besiege Layla as she attempts to fight back, frantically waving the sledgehammer, shouting, “Stay back you rapists! No means no! I said I’m not going!”

One manages to pry the sledgehammer from her. Others grab her arms and legs as she kicks and screams, fighting to break free.

Injected with a tranquilizer, Layla loses consciousness.

Arriving home, Tsiku tiptoes into his mother's room and kisses her forehead, waking Seraphim. “I have something for you.” He presents her with a purple origami crane.

“It's beautiful! Where did you get it?”

“Out on patrol. We found a girl. She had this warehouse full of remarkable things. You would've loved it!”

“I have something for you also.” Seraphim carefully places a heart shaped locket in Tsiku’s hand.

Tsikus runs his finger over the ruby rose before prying it open. Inside houses an old photo of Seraphim and Thaddius.

“We weren't supposed to keep anything, but I couldn't let them take it. Now it's your secret to keep.” Her voice strains. “I miss colors. That’s where I’m headed- to a world full of color.” Seraphim closes her eyes, taking her last breath.

“Let me outta here!” Layla demands, groggily.

“Only the Hunter-Gatherers leave the compound, however, you’re free to engage in activities here during leisure time.”

“How does one become a Hunter-Gatherer?”

“They’re chosen by our high council.”

“Can I meet them?”

“Maybe... if you behave. For now, I’ll give you five minutes of leisure time. Please be careful what you do and say… you will be watched.”

Approaching Hunter-Gatherers/BFFs, Tsiku and Bik, Layla asks, “Who you kidnapping today?”

Bik exclaims, “This one's a real firecracker!”

“Bang!”

Tsiku says, “We don't normally encounter people who don't willingly come with us.”

“So I'm your first?”

Bik chuckles, “Not yet, but maybe you will be.” He nudges Tsiku.

“Most welcome our help. They're often starving, needing food, shelter, and/or medical care. If you feel like we took you unjustly, what can I do to make things right?”

“You can take me back.”

“I'm afraid that's impossible.”

“Then make me a Hunter-Gatherer, so I can go outside.”

“Can you believe this firecracker?!”

“I couldn't make you a Hunter-Gatherer even if I wanted to.”

“How did you get chosen?”

“His father's on the high council.”

“And you?”

“My father runs the high council. You have to be nominated by a council member. And for that to happen, you have to get close to one.”

“Either of you wanna help get me an introduction?”

“Oooh- you gonna show me what this firecracker's made of?”

“Honey, you couldn't handle this stick of dynamite!”

“I'll introduce you to my father, Thaddius, okay? One introduction- that's all you're getting. Then you're on your own.”

Layla glances over at her Receiver, gesturing that her time is up. “And that's my cue.”

“Be careful with that firecracker.”

At dusk, Layla approaches Tsiku and Bik slowly, like a tiger stalking its prey. She silently leans between them. “BANG!”

They jump, startled.

Layla laughs triumphantly. “So when do I meet Daddio?”

“I can introduce you after the night bell rings.”

At the aforementioned time, Tsiku stealthily advances, whispering into Layla’s ear, “Bang.”

She flinches. “Trying to get me back?”

He opens the door, offering Layla a seat inside. “Can I get you anything?”

“Just your father, as promised.”

Thaddius, busy at work in the garden, sees Tsiku.“What’s up, my son?”

“There’s this girl here that wants to meet you.”

“Yours?”

“She’s the artist we gathered the other day.”

“What does she want with me?”

“I promised her I’d introduce you. She wants to be a Hunter-Gatherer.”

“And she thinks that by meeting me, I’ll make it happen?”

“I only promised to introduce you, so all you have to do is meet her.”

“Very well.”

“I am Thaddius, Gardener, and member of the high council.” He greets her with palms open. “My son tells me that you wish to be a Hunter-Gatherer, and think you can persuade me to convince the council.”

“I’d never assume. It seems like permission is needed for most things here.”

“Many things can disrupt the order, which is in fine balance. That balance, you wish to upset?”

“My desire is not to corrupt your ways, merely the freedom to return to mine.”

“Becoming a Hunter-Gatherer will not allow you to return to your ways. It is granted only to those who preserve and uphold ours.”

Tsiku enters the room, with his face and head bare. “I saw you in your home uncovered. I thought it’d only be fair for you to see me the same.”

“Boy, go to your chambers. I’ll see our guest out and make sure nobody else sees you in this state.”

Tsiku hangs his head, silently obeying.

“I apologize for my son’s behavior- he’s clearly not in his right mind. If you forget this indiscretion, I’ll see to your proposition.”

The following morning, Bik asks Tsiku, “So how’d it go with your Dad and Firecracker?”

“A blast,” Tsiku replies, sarcastically.

“Poor Firecracker. She might need somebody to console her,” Bik shoves Tsiku.

Layla enters the line of people with a large black question mark on her uniform and names of colors listed throughout.

Onlookers glance at the Interrogator, expectantly.

The Receiver intercepts Layla, taking her by the arm. “What are you doing? Are you trying to get yourself executed?”

Layla wiggles her arm free. “For what?”

The crowd parts as the Interrogator approaches.

“I was just taking her to change.”

“No need. Come with me.”

“She’s new- just arrived this week. She doesn’t yet understand.”

“I can see that. I’ll make her understand.”

“I haven’t done anything wrong. Everything’s in black and white, right?”

“Your intent is subversive. Come with me.”

“I’m not going anywhere with you!”

Tsiku steps forward, bowing to the Interrogator. “That’s not necessary. The high council wishes to see her.” Tsiku takes Layla by the elbow, nodding to Bik.

“Can’t believe how soon your dad has me meeting the council!”

“You’re not meeting them.”

“But you just said-”

“I did that to save your life. Now we’re both in peril.”

Tsiku pulls Layla into his family library, where she surveys the black and white books. Attempting to pull one off the shelf, Tsiku stops her. “We’re not here to read!”

He moves a framed picture, placing his hand on the scanner underneath. The door opens and Tsiku pulls her inside, where his father stands, horrified.

“Everyone, including the Interrogator, saw her like this. He was gonna take her to be tortured and likely executed, so I told him the high council wanted to see her.”

Thaddius pauses in deliberation. “Alright. I’ll keep the council occupied while the two of you make your escape. Stay here while Tsiku fetches a patch for your uniform; I guess you’re about to become a Hunter-Gatherer after all.”

“What about you? I don’t wanna leave without you, Dad.”

“Don’t worry about me. Go and live your life outside these walls like She would’ve wanted.”

They embrace, fighting back tears and pains of goodbye.

Thaddius abruptly leaves.

“Gather as much food as you can carry... I don’t know how long it’ll have to last.”

“I’m sorry, I never meant to”-

“No time for sorries.”

The door swooshes shut.

When Tsiku returns, he tosses Layla the uniform, which she hurriedly puts on. He gathers the bags of food, then eyes her up and down. “That’ll have to do.”

They rush out, toward the elevator.

When the doors open, Tsiku tells Layla, “Grab those rifles off the shelf and whatever else is of use. I don’t have the keys, so I'm gonna have to hot-wire the van.”

Layla busies herself, loading all the weapons and supplies she can find.

Tsiku tries repeatedly to start the ignition.

They both freeze when they hear the whir of the elevator begin its descent.

Layla climbs into the passenger seat beside Tsiku, looking back at the elevator, now making its ascent. She repeatedly prays for the car to start as Tsiku fiddles with the wires.

The elevator doors open, revealing Bik. He walks towards the van, waving.

Tsiku frantically tries to start the car.

“You were just gonna leave and not even say goodbye?!”

“I’m sorry. There was no time and I panicked. We can't stay. We'll have signed our own death warrants.”

“But you could at least take us with you.”

With Bik’s whistle, Mona emerges from the elevator.

“Wouldn’t it be easier with these?” Bik dangles the van's keys.

“Alright, you win,” Tsiku says, taking the keys. “Get in.”

Bik and Mona climb in and Tsiku starts the engine. He pulls out the locket, opening it and running his thumb over the photos. Closing it, Tsiku gives the necklace a kiss before driving off into a world full of color.

A loud speaker cries out, “Thaddius, Gardener, and member of the high council will be executed tomorrow evening for helping subversives escape.”

This announcement was projected outside, in order to goad the others to return.

At the moment of execution, an explosion blows the roof off the compound, letting rain and colors come flooding in.

Citizens pull off their helmets, awestruck at the sight.

It would be a colorless world no more.

Script

About the author

Amber Olson

Fan of the weird, macabre, & occult. My writing usually falls into these themes as well, but can also have a wide range, as can life. We are all reflections of what we see and experience and art is what makes life worth living. Go & create.

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