The End of the Old Order
We get to the outer settlement of Yerusalom just as the sun drops below the horizon. It won’t be long before the King sends his special forces to capture us. We quickly come across an abandoned cargo depot. I tell Avir and Trina to go inside and wait until I can find a suitable transport to take us where we need to go.
Avir thinks Salen is hiding in a small village in New Iyandia, just over the Erabian border. The village has sentimental meaning to Ayesha and Salen. I don’t ask Avir a lot of questions about why she thinks Salen is there. I have asked her enough already. The least I can do is offer her my trust.
I run on foot looking for a supply store. Just as I pass a hydrocarbon station, I find a small out-of-the-way mercantile exchange which is closed for the evening. I head to the rear of the store and break the glass of a basement window. I climb through the broken window and jump down to the basement floor. I pass a few small offices and make my way up the stairs. It’s not a large store, but it has almost everything I need. I grab a shopping container, and take fresh clothes for all of us, soap, ointment for Trina’s infected thumb, bandages, food, water, and Erabian currency from a nearby register. There are no guns and no mobile devices, two things I will eventually need.
As I head back down to the basement, I notice that one of the small offices, the one just to the right of the broken window, has a door with a sign on it that says, “Delivery Services.” I go inside and find starter keys to three delivery transports. I grab one. I leave through the broken window and find the delivery transport located at the side of the mercantile exchange sitting outside a delivery bay. I immediately rip out the global positioning instrument. If the King’s forces find out we stole this vehicle, I don’t want to make it any easier for them to find us.
I drive back to Trina and Avir. At the cargo depot, we change our clothes, clean ourselves with soap and water, and tend to Trina’s wound. We quickly eat some of the packaged goods I stole and jump into the delivery transport. I don’t have a mobile device or global positioning instrument. All I know is that I need to head east. I find an east-west thoroughfare and head in the opposite direction of the place the sun set. I need to quickly find a mobile device to guide us.
After a few kilometers, we stop at a rest station where freight movers congregate. There are modest sleeping quarters and a drinking hall. Freight movers go there to drink, sleep, and from the look of the prostitutes outside, have meaningless sex. I swiftly make my way to the drunkest freight mover I can find and lift his Roamer without him, or anyone else, ever knowing it. I slip a sufficient amount of Erabian currency into his coat pocket so he can replace his device. I then disable most of the functionality that would allow us to be traced. But I’m sure some whiz-kid at Prescient Labs or a master hacker who works with Mother Suri could find me.
The Roamer now directs us to where we hope Salen is hiding. After a few hours of driving, I pull off the road and find a remote campsite to park the transport. We sleep and dream. I have that same dream I had when I was locked up with the prince. These nightmares are not quite done with me.
The next morning, we wake up feeling far more rested than we have in weeks. Our lives are still spinning out of control, but those rotations have slowed just a bit. We still don’t have our children, but we will. I will murder anyone who gets in the way of me getting back my or Avir’s children.
We head out on the thoroughfare. We are traveling to the border between the Holy Muzlim State of Irinia, and the free state of New Iyandia. We have to travel some 5,000 kilometers to reach our destination. If we average 100 kilometers an hour and drive 12 hours a day, we will get to our destination in about five days. As much as I would like to, I cannot be the remorseful, trusting type for five long days. My trust was short-lived, but Avir should understand who I am by now. She knows I’m far too controlling to trust anyone for long periods of time. I need to know everything.
As I drive, Avir tells Trina and me what she knows. “Salen and Ayesha’s favorite place on earth is this scenic village in New Iyandia,” Avir says. “It sits atop a windy plateau just over the Erabian border. The village is called Vayu, named after the ancient Iyandian God of Wind. The village has a handful of inns that cater to tourists who want to see the world’s tallest wind turbines.”
As we pass Erabian soldiers on the side of the road searching a transport, Avir freezes up. She watches them rummage through some teenagers’ transport and then returns to her explanation. “But there is a small, discreet group of tourists who come to Vayu because it is the village where an obscure, but powerful story was written. The story is called The Farmer Girl’s Windmill. This is why Salen and Ayesha come to Vayu each year. Centuries ago, an anonymous writer created a political fable about a little farmer girl who is orphaned and builds a windmill out of decaying barn wood. The story was an allegory about change and it came with a vivid prophecy. The Old Order—nations, armies, borders, Kings, Ministers, and the like—would soon be coming to an end.”
Avir turns back to Trina. “Word of The Farmer Girl’s Windmill and its message spread quickly and others started anonymously writing political fables in this tradition. Like the first story, each new story was an allegory about the end of the current world order. Each had a message that the time when men would form borders and rule over one another with force was over. Within roughly a decade, there were hundreds of these stories written. Some were worthy of prestigious literary prizes and some were out-and-out rubbish. But they all held to the same set of rules: they were anonymously written; they were identified only by the place they were written; they were fables rich with allegory; and they predicted the end of nations. The stories began to develop a sort of cult following and they took on an almost religious or sanctified status. That, not surprisingly, led the Bishops of the Holy Roman Church of West Yerusalom to convene a secret convocation to decide if these stories were in fact blasphemous.”
“It’s always the fucking church,” Trina shouts out from the backseat.
“Precisely,” Avir says. “As you might expect, the holy Bishops ruled that the stories were blasphemous, but not before one of the Bishops’ underlings stole a transcript of the entire proceedings as well as written versions of every story ever written. Whoever that person was became the truest believer of all. He or she maintained anonymity, but published a compendium of stories with an introduction quoting different Bishops’ arrogant views, and a conclusion explaining why the Old Order needs to come to an end. This anonymous editor chose the 12 best stories and explained how each was like the Son Savior’s apostles, speaking truth where others would not. The editor named the collection of stories the Prophecy of the End of the Old Order and he or she disseminated it to the leaders of every country in the world. He or she naively thought it would bring about immediate reforms. Instead, it led the Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church of Yerusalom to censor the Prophecy and each and every nation quickly followed suit. I honestly had never even heard of the Prophecy before meeting Ayesha. But she has been obsessed with these stories her whole life.”
“We’ve never heard a thing about them,” Trina says. Trina is right. But something Avir said about the Holy Roman Church feels strangely familiar to me.
“Like everyone else, you never heard about it because it was centuries ago, and according to Ayesha, the world’s leaders were very good about using lexes algorithms to scrub any digital remnants of the Prophecy or the underlying stories. An oral tradition developed, but only the most dedicated, like Ayesha’s family, remembered the stories. And if anyone tried to digitize them, they were immediately incarcerated or even killed. This is most likely what happened to Ayesha’s parents. They were low-level diplomats in the Royal Department of State Affairs. They were living abroad in the State of Gento. One day, they were abruptly called back to the capital, thrown in jail, and never seen again. Ayesha was just 11. She was put in a state facility for orphans, and to put it mildly, she was not treated kindly. She probably clung so strongly to the The Farmer Girl’s Windmill because her parents loved the story so much, but also because the heroine in it was also an orphan. Ayesha opened up to me and my family and shared these stories even though it put her at risk. She really loved … loves … all my children. Who would have thought that someday these stories would help me find the people I love? Who would have thought that these stories that Bramir loved so much as a child would help lead me to him?”
The hours turn to days. We drive and drive and drive. All we seem to do is drive, eat, sleep, and dream. The dreams are the worst part of it for me. My nightmares faithfully return each night. They are not done with me. Only now, they want more. Not only do they want to hurt me with my irrational fears—my wife sleeping with my murderer, my children forgetting who I am, nuclear missiles exploding everywhere. Now, they want to hurt me with the truth. Reality wants its due. Each night an image—one I can’t shake—visits me. Over and over again. It’s my father’s body, sliced and stacked in twelve sections and vacuum-packed in a plastic bag with the Son Savior’s cross on it. Each night, this image comes calling. Over and over again. Over and over again.
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