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Dangerous Mind

Is curiosity a bad thing?

By Mark GagnonPublished about a month ago 5 min read
Dangerous Mind
Photo by Niklas Stumpf on Unsplash

Five hundred years had passed since countries waged war against one another. It took centuries of conflict to reach this point in time, but once the last battle was fought and the remainder of humanity was no longer interested in killing each other, the leaders that survived examined what caused wars. After many months of extensive investigation, these wise men and women determined that exploration, in any form, especially exploration driven by curiosity, was the root cause of all conflicts. Make people remain in the location they were born in and not venture out of those borders, and war would cease to exist.

The prominent leaders of the time were positive their findings were correct. They passed laws forbidding all citizens from traveling outside the boundaries of their native towns or villages. The laws were so stringent that any person found crossing a border without permission would be arrested. Expressing a desire to visit a town just over the next hill could mean a prison sentence. There were limited exceptions to the travel restrictions, such as delivery wagon drivers transporting essential goods, and political envoys keeping local leaders abreast of current developments. These special travel jobs were given to a well-vetted few, and they were under constant surveyance. For all practical purposes, the planet remained under lockdown for the last five hundred years and any of the existing advanced technology faded into folklore.

Julius seemed to be born under a wandering star. From the time he could crawl, his parents were constantly chasing after him. Everything fascinated him, and his desire to learn was insatiable. Everyone in the town of Terminus who met Julius admired him for his zest for learning, but were always telling him his curiosity would get him into big trouble someday. The young boy would laugh the warnings off and tell everyone he was going to be famous when he grew up. Few doubted his prediction, they just weren’t sure if his fame would come from a positive action or a negative one. Either way, Julius continued his quest to discover everything new that Terminus had to offer.

The town of Terminus got its name because it was established where a massive mountain range ended and the sea began. That explanation was only partially true. Lost over time was the real reason for the town’s existence. Terminus was originally a distribution hub for the military during the Great Wars. Caves carved into seaside cliffs by great tidal forces during the planet’s formation provided excellent storage vaults for everything from weapons to research labs. After the final war, access to these caves were permanently sealed. Of course, nothing lasts forever.

Julius was maturing into a handsome and intelligent young man. He already knew that when he reached eighteen, two months from today, he would apply for a delivery driver’s job. His need to travel and explore would finally be satisfied, but until then, he would have to be content with a hike along the shore to a place called The Point. Few residents ventured to The Point because of all the rumors about it being haunted by warriors of past battles. True, strange lights emanated from the cliffs at The Point occasionally, but no one had ever seen any ghosts. It was just a tall tale adults used to scare the young kids.

The reason Julius enjoyed going out to The Point was that, on a clear day like today, he could see the mountain range on the opposite shore. His mind painted detailed pictures of a town similar to Terminus at the base of those mountains. Julius reached the rocky end of the beach and decided it was time to go a little further. He climbed over and around boulders and sea-carved channels on his way to the cliffs. His mind raced with excitement as he realized he could be the first person in five hundred years to venture past this natural barrier. Exploration is forbidden, but the excitement of seeing something new was too strong. He had to see what was on the channel facing side of the cliffs. Julius worked his way around the last obstacle and froze dead in his tracks. What he expected to see was a massive rock wall. Instead of rock, he faced an edifice of glass and concrete.

Once the initial shock wore off, Julius’s curiosity propelled him forward. He placed his hands and face against the glass to get a better view of what lay inside. Even with the sun illuminating a large area of the cavernous room, smaller rows of lights glistened on what looked to him like table tops. The massive ground floor was crammed with strange-looking vehicles. He had no idea how a team of horses could be connected to them because there was nothing to hitch them to. Julius had to find a way in.

The sun was setting when an oddly shaped outcropping of rocks caught his attention. He pushed on it more out of frustration than expecting anything to happen, when a strangely accented voice boomed out a command.

“State your name, rank, unit, and business.”

Julius jumped back, crouching down as he did, not knowing where the voice was coming from or what to expect next. When nothing further happened, Julius regained his composure and pushed on the rocks again and received an identical command. This time, Julius was ready with a reply.

“My name is Julius from Terminus, and I would like to speak to the person in charge.”

Nothing happened at first, then a section of glass wall quietly slid aside, and an unusually shaped almost human stepped through the opening. All Julius could do was stare in disbelief.

“Welcome, Julius from Terminus. I am AI 127, the caretaker of this weapons depot. It has been many centuries since we have had a visitor. How may I be of assistance?”

Julius had learned about the great wars of the past and how they had finally ended. He knew that going back to Terminus now and telling everyone what he had discovered would probably mean death for breaking one of the cardinal laws. Julius also knew that the knowledge contained in this facility could change everyone’s life for the better. He had a decision to make.

“AI 127, I want you to teach me everything you can about this facility. It’s time for humanity to emerge from its cocoon and change once again.”


About the Creator

Mark Gagnon

I have spent most of my life traveling the US and abroad. Now it's time to create what I hope are interesting fictional stories.

I have 2 books on Amazon, Mitigating Circumstances and Short Stories for Open Minds.

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Comments (6)

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  • L.C. Schäferabout a month ago

    Will there be a part 2? 😁

  • Kathleen Warrenabout a month ago

    You laid a very interesting foundation, but I was a little disappointed in the ending, though I’m not sure what a better ending would look like.

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Oh no! Because if the no travel ban is lifted, then wars are bound to happen again. History would most definitely repeat! Loved your story! Is this for the April AI Challenge by RM Stockton?

  • JBazabout a month ago

    What a great start to an interesting story In a short time you created a character worth reading more about and the premise is exciting wondering if this new discovering moves then forward or back.

  • John Coxabout a month ago

    Fascinating story! Any thoughts of a continuance? Sounds like the leaders could have done a better job restricting access to that weapon's depot.

  • Tina D'Angeloabout a month ago

    Noooo! The end of peaceful civilization. What's next?

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