6. Division

6. Division

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



Most people hadn’t noticed the terrible silence, but next morning they did notice when the lights failed.

We knew when night should have been over. Most of us had a sort of second sense that told us, but Timmy had an old watch that marked the passing of time if he kept winding it up, and every week or so he checked it against the master timepiece on the wall of the hovel where we assumed our Master lived, though until this very week that Master had been no more than a voice that rolled round and round Paradise Hell, giving us what news there was (so and so has died and so and so has had a baby boy which the surgeon has snipped) and very occasionally issuing a chastisement and ordering a punishment.

Dear Diary, I need to explain punishments because although they are rare events they are administered publicly and those associated with the wrong-doer are obliged to witness the proceedings, which to my mind are excessive and brutal but must certainly do the job if that job is to demonstrate to one and all that punishments should never be earned.

I witnessed one once because we have to, by edict, when we reach twelve years of age. A woman was to be punished for failing to produce a son, though how she could be expected to if she happened to be one of those who was obliged to swallow pills that I discovered last night are there to prevent pregnancy, I don’t know A member of our people, the Steward of Discipline he is called, administered it and to my eye he enjoyed every moment of it. It was like an old fashioned drama with the miscreant stripped to the waist and struck a predetermined number of times with a thin cane which cut into the skin and soon turned a healthy back into a mass of blood and torn skin. I was sickened by it and never want to see its like again. But I suppose it meant that because of a sickening fear we were a controlled society and therefore safer because of it.

You see, there is so much that is irrational within our laws, but acceptance of what we are told has always been makes us fail to ask questions.

When I was little I was taught about the beginning, but as I said I was little and very little went in and of that which did, most I could not understand. But apparently there was to be a terrible conflict between the two mighty nations that dominated the human population. Weapons that could annihilate great areas called continents were primed and ready to be launched and our forefathers were gathered together in what was called a cathedral, laws were designed and our people lead to safety from the conflict, a long way to the depths, to Paradise Hell.

And it is those laws that control everything about our lives to this very day. Or, rather, until yesterday, for chief amongst the laws is that there shall be light from waking in the morning and sleeping at night, and everyone must endeavour to sleep when the lights are dimmed and be awake when they are bright.

This morning came and the lights remained dimmed.

There are no pedallers,” almost shouted Timmy. “We men pedal all through the day, and that gives power to our Paradise Hell. It makes the lights come on, and when we leave and go to our cots the lights fade off! There must be some system for storing the energy for short bursts, but if it isn’t replaced by pedalling then it will eventually run out, and I believe that’s what’s happened now.”

And the machine that led us is dead,” I concluded for him.

Dead,” he agreed, soberly.

You two talk such twaddle!” laughed the ugly girl, Tilly. “How can you know such stuff? We only know what he are told, and we weren’t told that!”

Timmy was angry when he turned to her. “To think I thought that I liked you,” he snarled, “for there is a second way of knowing things and that’s by seeing what is happening all around us and working out the reasons for ourselves. And if you are too thick to understand that much then I pity you!”

It might have turned into a fully fledged row, but at that moment the Surgeon Simon stood at the front of our group with all of us facing him, and clapped his hands.

He looked bold as he stood there. Bold and brave and on his face was a kind of wisdom that must be the product of age.

People,” he said in a voice that was loud and clear and in no way betrayed his age, “we have come to a time that should have been foretold, but wasn’t. Our controlling Master has ceased to function, the power generated by those who pedal has all been used up and we are without knowledge and assistance, for we are in a Stygian place into which little light can shine. We can go back, the pedallers can strain at their pedals until the power may be returned, or we can proceed in the direction we were going until we come to the world beyond our Paradise.”

And a never-ending war,” sneered a thick-set bald bully boy, probably a Steward of Discipline, with no orders to do anything, which left him confused in his far from perfect head.

You’d like that, though,” sneered a woman, “you and your punishments and destruction! You’d be happy to see a world on fire with babies burning and smoke and motes everywhere, like filth in the air!”

The bully lacked the intellect to reply, so he reached out for her, fists clenched.

Stop!” ordered the Surgeon, “If this is the level we have reached, with brainless clots striking out at women, then it would be best for creation if we all lay down and died!”

And who are you?” raged the Steward, apparently forgetting that he was about to thump a delicate female.

I am the surgeon who snipped your balls, and there’s nothing you can do about it!” The surgeon’s voice was strong as he spoke, and he continued, “and I am the surgeon who just may have the skill, at happier times, to reverse that snipping.”

Then let’s carry on!” roared the steward, “let’s go for victory! Let’s join a war with fire in our hearts and hope in our spirits!”

And ignorance in our empty heads,” sighed Timmy.

Then there was a haphazard debate and the people from Paradise Hell gradually seemed to divide into two groups. One of those groups, led by the Steward of Discipline averred thair right to return to their hovels so that the men might take their pedals again, and the others, Timmy, myself, even the unpleasant Tilly, agreed to follow the Surgeon ahead and to a future none could imagine.

And it was at that point that the roof above our heads started to fall in upon us as though titanic forces were at play, tormenting us.

© Peter Rogerson 18.02.21


© 2021 Peter Rogerson

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Added on February 18, 2021
Last Updated on February 18, 2021
Tags: collapse, division, disagreement


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..