This short story contains themes that can also be found in Robin Murarka’s ‘AKIN‘
His head spun, facing the door. He held his breath and his pen. He listened for anything, almost out of the vestigial human need for stimulus, for he knew they were finally here. He placed his pen down and took a deep breath. He had awaited this day, knowing it would come. There were many things he could have done differently to avoid it. But these things were only theoretical, for he was bound.
It was too late to hide it.
The door opened and two armed nocti secured the room, then stood behind him. A tall man in a robe walked in and paused beside the table.
There was a brief silence after which the man reached forward, picking up a roughly bound stack of papers.
“The Jesuit Doctrine,” he read out loud. He took a deep breath. He leaned forward and picked up the pen, examining it. It was cracked and was loosely held together with pieces of old string. The ink had almost run out.
“I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it must have been to create this, Adami. I condemn you, but I understand the effort you have placed into your endeavor, misplaced as it may be. How many nights have you painstakingly scribed this document? No doubt fearing every sound and silence?”
Adami did not make eye contact with him. He stared directly at the blank wall in front of him. “Too many, minister.”
The minister nodded. “You are a hardened man Adami. Your dedication is commendable. These items will be incinerated and you will be atoned. It is a pity your passions cannot be put towards a more legitimate task. We will have to settle for an expiated worker. I’m sure you will make a good worker, given your resolve.”
Adami looked up at the minister for the first time. “You’ll have to kill me, minister.”
The minister stared at him sternly and leaned forward slowly, whispering into his ear. “Only a young fool, like you, could think death is the worst fate the living can endure.”
The minister stood upright and walked out, carrying the pen and book. The nocti grabbed Adami and vacated the room.
Adami shook his head groggily and opened his eyes. He couldn’t see anything and felt his hands and feet clasped. He took a few deep breaths in and calmed down, attempting to prepare himself. He noticed an odd pungent smell, like rotting flesh. His stomach began to feel ill as his mind started racing. He tried to control himself as he had practiced hundreds of times before but it did not work. Something took a hold of him and he could not control it. Suddenly, the hood over his head was whisked off and his eyes adjusted to the light.
The room was entirely clean and there stood a man in a hooded robe directly in front of him. The light shone directly at him from above, hiding his face. He held a book in his hand.
“Adami. You have been found guilty of fore-thought. You have violated the Nation’s law against scribing in the old tongue. You have violated the Nation’s law against the scribing of personal memory. You have violated the Nation’s law of communicating immoral thought known as fore-thought. Your atonement will begin shortly. You have been gifted with an atonement grade of four.”
The man in the robe moved silently to a podium and stood behind it, placing the book on it. He opened it and began flipping pages.
Adami’s eyes were wide and his neck was extended. He began mumbling. “Four… four… it’s not supposed to be a four… I’m a two… my offence is a two. Four… what have you people done… four…”
He took another breath in and started to become erratic. “Please… say it’s a two… it can’t be… what’s behind me? You bastards… please… tell me it’s a mistake…” His eyes began to well up as he started rambling unintelligently. His body extended and rested oddly in place and he started having muscular spasms.
A large man in black appeared from the darkness and grabbed Adami by the head. His hands clasped Adami’s face on each side, turning him to face the man in the robe.
He read: “The fourth pillar of atonement. Consume the atonement of those before you so that you may more readily accept the love of the Nation.”
Adami began to shake his head. “No, no, no, no… I am supposed to be a two…”
The man in black began turning a lever which forced Adami’s chair to rotate.
“You will now be purified with the knowledge of those before you who were gifted the same fate.”
Adami did not hear anything. His eyes widened – he began to secrete fluid unintentionally from his mouth as he stared at the mutilated bodies of his mother, father, and younger sister.