The Anthropolis Files: Rain

We never saw it coming. Not surprising, really. Too caught up in our own business, the heat of the moment, to pay attention to the others. Freaks and dreamers, always chasing some vision of the future while the present shifted around us. A few saw the storm on the horizon, tried to warn us. Few listened.

I did. But by then events had run their course.

At first they were like the others, the uncountable sects and factions that had sprung up over the years. Everybody looking for something. Some found it in drugs, others in god, others in society. They seemed like just another gang selling eternity. But there was something different about them right from the start. Something.

I apologise if I am being vague. My memory is not what it was.

It was little things at first. Nobody knew who they were, where they had come from, what they had planned. They spoke our language and many more, languages of the ancient days, languages of lands beyond our own. They gave us insights, performed strange and impossible feats for all to see. They promised wisdom beyond wisdom, art beyond art, freedom beyond freedom.

One by one the men and women of the City would disappear and join with them, leaving friends, family, their lives. Preachers would spread the word in the marketplaces and squares, while those who came back week after week would be identified and brought into the fold.

And it changed them. Took something from them. They became more productive, more useful, more pliable and driven, but at a terrible cost. It’s hard to explain, hard to put into words. The years have only dulled some of the memories. People just stopped smiling. One by one, they all stopped smiling.

We may have been insecure, but we were happy. In our own, silly little way, we were happy. Sitting and dreaming of the future, doing good where we could, trying to help one another. Yet they offered something. A future, perhaps. A future of bleakness and drugery, perhaps, but one of security and predictability. Of stability, perhaps.

They would send out a preacher for a set period, have them bring the most dedicated followers, train them, and send them out to other areas of the City. Always somewhere as far from home as could be. Helped stop people being distracted by other concerns, I guess. Things like their families and loved ones.

And then came the rallies, of course. Huge, vast affairs, enormous lights, banners, masses upon masses of people. What they said didn’t matter, it was the experience, being part of a movement, part of something larger. Something with a purpose. Something with hope.

They grew in number, faster than any of us could have expected. And they meant business. Nothing open at first, no threats, no fights. But we learned to keep out heads down, to stay out of trouble, to only trust our nearest and dearest. And only them up to a point. When one of the local lads began ranting and raving against them in the marketplace, many looked on in silent admiration. And when he disappeared without a trace, few were surprised.

It is hard to look back now, through the pain of time, and wonder what we could have done. Perhaps we could have stopped them, cut short their power in its infancy. Perhaps doing so would have cost us our own souls, the evil needed to fight evil becoming too much to bear. Perhaps that is the true meaning of sacrifice – to sacrifice one’s principles, one’s self-worth, one’s humanity, to do the unthinkable to save many. Or perhaps it would have been a fool’s errand, the vice of history contracting with its hateful inevitability, they simply turning its wheel.

Perhaps we did all we could. We fogut, we ran, we sabotaged, we resisted. Most importantly, in a time when few could, we survived.

And we never stopped smiling.

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Published in: on February 24, 2009 at 4:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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