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The Lies Beyond

“Unity through division. From hierarchy, we unite. Save us from the lies beyond.”

By SC WellsPublished 5 months ago 10 min read
2
‘The Lies Beyond’ by SC Wells

The outside world was unknown to her, but she could see a glimpse of it through the window in his room. The problem was that it looked awfully dusty out there.

She peeled back the curtain slightly and warm tungsten light mingled with the particles on the glass’ surface, obscuring what lay beyond. She rubbed it with her glove but the layers of detritus refused to budge.

“You’ll need a cloth for that,” his voice crackled from behind.

She dropped her arm. The curtain fell back into place.

“Have you ever seen a window before?” His voice was steady, considering the situation.

She grunted that she had not.

“I’m sure you’d be interested in what the sky’s like.”

She had never heard the word sky before so she remained silent.

“Please take a seat,” he said.

“I’d rather stand.”

“Do you mind if I do?”

Another grunt from her.

He shuffled to the armchair— covered in leather, or at least an impression of it— and sank. The wrinkles in the material sagged, encasing his equally sagging skin to the point that it was impossible to tell when old man stopped and chair began. He, or the chair, sighed— impossible to tell— as he sank deeper, “My legs get so tired these days.”

It was no surprise, she thought, he had celebrated his two-hundred-and-first birthday the other week.

“You have been suspected of treason against the good of The Party, Our Almighty Leader and, thus, the good of The People,” Her words were straighter than her posture which was impressive seeing how the majority of the public secretly assumed that her sort, inquisitors, had steel rods stuck up their behinds.

“You don’t like to mince words, do you? Go on get on with it.”

“Name?”

“Don’t you know who I am?”

“Of course I do.”

He lugged his identification at her, “Then let’s get past the pleasantries and get on with it.”

She took out her vidicom and held it to the card.

“What’s your name?” He asked.

“I don’t see how that’s relevant.”

“Humour me.”

“Xed.”

“Just the one name?”

“Correct.”

He chewed the words in his mouth, “Ah, so you’re one of those types of Outsiders.”

“Correct. However, I do not allow my status as an Outsider get in the way of my work,” at least the grunts were becoming syllables now.

“The last inquisitor that visited was shorter than you.”

“An Outsider?”

“Yes.”

“A different type to me then.”

“Mm-hmm,” flakes of skin fell as he scratched his cheek, “It was my administration that made that rule, you know.”

“Which rule?”

“That Outsiders like you should not be permitted to have more than one name.”

“Yes.”

“What do you think about it?”

“Think about what?”

“Just having the one name. Doesn’t it make you feel —what’s the word?— othered?”

“Isn’t that the point? Unity through division.”

“That was one of my administration’s mottos.”

“Correct,” She had finished scanning his identification with her vidicom and placed it on his side table.

“Didn’t realise that one would stick quite so well,” He spoke as though there were a bitter taste in his mouth.

“Your crimes—“

“I had a nurse.”

She glanced up from her vidicom.

“Like you, she was a one-named Outsider. Her son had been accused of treason. All I did was give the court proof of his innocence. Fat lot of good that did. You lot shot them both anyway.”

“His mother should have kept better tabs on him. Best to cut out the source of the trouble.”

“We were cruel bastards in my day but that really takes the biscuit.”

“Those who commit crimes must be punished. Our Leader believes it to be a mercy.”

“Do you know her son’s supposed crime? He gave himself two names so he could get a half decent job and put food on the table. I offered the court proof that he and his family were not true one-namers, their genes did not correspond to what are apparently one-namer genes. I Even found paperwork proving that some generations ago his family had owned more than one name.”

“Offering that proof was treason.”

“Of course it bloody well was. It would have proved that this whole Insider/Outsider malarky is a fabrication,” he shifted in his chair, “I suppose it could have been worse. Your lot could’ve tortured them.”

Her face remained stony.

“I’ve heard of your torture methods. Hell, I oversaw the invention a few of the nastier ones and I wouldn’t wish that sort of thing on my worst enemy and, believe me, I put a lot of my enemies through them,” He rubbed his chin, “The anxiety chambers were my invention. Flood some poor sod with just enough carbon dioxide and some other gases to give them a never-ending panic attack while not putting them out of their misery.”

Her mouth twisted. She knew of that one. While not the most effective, it was one of the Leader’s preferred methods for the way it made the prisoners’ eyes bulge.

“The waking nightmare injection— Was that yours as well?” She asked.

“No, no, no. That was Tubby Perkin Jenkins’ idea. He was a useful ally in parliament but a complete psychopath,” He motioned for Xed to pass him his glass of scotch.

“Our Leader has asked after you personally.”

“Oh. Him.”

“He’s asked me to take you to him before your—“ she stifled a cough, “questioning.”

“I knew him when he was a jumped-up back bencher who only got his foot in the door thanks to his ties with Tubby. Even then I couldn’t decide if he had fewer IQ points than I have fingers who really believed my lies, or a genius who saw through them but saw that it benefitted to be on the side of the winners. Now he’s added to the lies. I suppose that’s the key mystery of the universe: Is he really that stupid? Or is he the biggest piece of lying excrement to ever exist?”

“The Almighty Leader only speaks the truth.”

“Yes, yes, yes. He only speaks the truth he’s created or copied from his predecessors. How does his motto go again? The truth must serve our fight. Hierarchy allows us to unite against the outside tides. We unite through our division for we will not allow the floods from beyond ravish our truth. And so on and so forth.”

She nodded.

From hierarchy, we unite. Another of mine. He just changed it around a bit.”

“Mm-hmm.”

“Hierarchy?”

“A key tenet of truth,” she said.

“That’s fact then, is it?”

“Correct. It is observed within the natural world. Thus, it is fact.”

“Poppycock. Please show me the natural world. Go on then. Show it to me. Have you ever seen a flash of green in this dead, concrete world? Witnessed a flutter of wings illuminated by a fluorescent sign advertising a marjinally less unfulfilling life? Heard the call of a beast through the drone of the sirens arresting some poor soul addicted to forgetting their situation?”

She had not.

“Go on. Show me.”

“I cannot do that.”

“Because it’s gone. There is no natural state anymore. We destroyed it and we never truly observed any hierarchy when it did exist. Show me a creature which is not a monstrous food factory produced for our consumption and I’ll show you a fairytale.”

“That is hierarchy: By providing us with sustenance, the Livestock serve us in our fight against the Outsiders who hope to destroy our truth and way of life.”

“It’s not a natural truth. We used to have these things called pigs, chickens, cows, etcetera before we had the Livestock. Now we’ve got these chimeric lumps that have no purpose other than to fatten types like me who can afford so-called real meat.”

Her face was unchanging except for a twitch in one of her strong and perfectly formed eyebrows.

“Stop spouting nonsense that I created for my own benefit,” He continued, “It was me who invented the idea of hierarchy as a law of nature for my own benefit. I lied a very long time ago and now you carry on spouting my lies not for your benefit but for those who control you.”

“You can tell your lies to The Leader.”

“Time to go?” He finished the last of his scotch.

“Correct.”

“At least let me have a port first.”

She stood there, unmoving.

“There’s an excellent vintage I’ve been saving. You’d allow an old man a glass or two of port, wouldn’t you?”

“If it weren’t for who you are, your name, I would have dragged you away before you’d heard my knock at the door.”

“That’s kind of you, Xed.”

She did not like that he had remembered her name— Her one syllable, one word name. It was nearly the sound of a single letter if not for the confusion it would have caused on paperwork. No one remembered her name because that was the way it should be. But he, their previous Almighty Leader, had.

“That one,” he prodded a shaking finger at the mantelpiece— concrete, painted to simulate mahogany.

She passed him the bottle.

“Open it for me, would you Xed? My arthritis.”

She studied the bottle. Glass. Definitely glass. She had ever only seen glass once before and that had been the window. This was covered in detritus like the window, too. So much so she could hardly make out the label. Paper. Real paper. Scratched beyond recognition.

“You’ll need a corkscrew.”

She raised an eyebrow.

“On the mantelpiece. Stab it in, screw it, and pull the whole thing out,” he acted it out for her.

She did so and the cork crumbled as she pulled.

“Don’t worry about that. It’s so old that it’s a surprise there’s any cork left at all. No, don’t pour it into that glass. Two of the small ones. Would you care for some?”

She shook her head.

“Just the one then.”

The liquid inside was dark and thick with sediment and lumps from the cork. Impure. Her eyes drifted to the window.

“So you don’t care to see what the sky’s like?” His eyes followed her gaze, “Run a cloth under a tap and take a look.”

Passing him the glass she said she would rather not.

“Cheers,” he raised the glass and put the ruby blackness to his lips.

Even from where she stood, the scent of fruity sweetness, bitter notes, and even almonds reached her.

“Or should I say, to Our Almighty Leader?” He chuckled.

“Yes, to Our Almighty Leader,” her mouth twisted into a smile. He was pulling her leg but she pretended to raise a glass regardless. Soon, justice would find him. She could nearly hear him as his voice cracked from screaming.

We unify through division for we must save our way of life from the hordes beyond paradise’s walls. Make slaves of the outside devils for they hope to invade us, defile our women and children, and enslave our truth,” he spoke through chuckles that became hacking, glugging, drowning coughs, “What utter nonsense. None errhuff of it even makes any sense ackem. Verbal diarrhoea made to sound pro-gack-hah-found. Oh Leader, slay the outsiders and rescue our innocence from the lies beyond.”

She watched as viscous ruby liquid spilled down his chin and then poured from his nose. Her stomach twisted as blood filled his watery eyes and ran. His leathery face twisted between pain and mockery.

The traitorous old fool had tricked her.

She watched as his heart gave up and the poison saved him from painful, endless torture.

His eyes became glass as they stared in her direction.

Picking up the cloth, Xed ran it under the tap and got to scrubbing the window. The shadows fell in on her and bile rose in her throat as she recognised her treachery.

She continued anyway.

Dropping the cloth, she thumped the window with her fist, wiped leaking eyes — what had she expected to see anyway?— and clawed at the window with her fingernails. Surely that old fool had painted it. But no. There was no outside or at least not the outside she had imagined with the hordes of writhing, dirty bodies screaming to get inside her Leader’s paradise.

Instead there was emptiness— an impression of infinite space but nothing surrounding their walls except for a ball of light in the far distance.

She shot a glance at the armchair encased corpse and back to the window and told herself it was a lie, a final joke from a twisted old bastard. But the sickness deep inside her told her otherwise.

“Oh, Almighty Leader,” Xed said, “But nothing lies beyond.”

Short StorySci Fi
2

About the Creator

SC Wells

Thank you so much for reading my stuff!

I love travel, photography, and writing speculative fiction.

I’m also on a never-ending quest to improve my storytelling so any feedback is massively appreciated.

Instagram * Ockelwog * Other Links

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Outstanding

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (2)

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  • Kenny Penn5 months ago

    Fantastic read! I really enjoyed the world you built and both characters were well fleshed out. Thanks for sharing!

  • R. J. Rani5 months ago

    I couldn’t set it down - brilliant worldbuilding and Ana entirely unique take on the prompt. Nicely done, SC Wells! Thanks for this 🤗

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