I was born into this remote commune. Same as every family here.
There hasn’t been an interloper for longer than our history has been recorded. I checked.
If I hadn’t overheard our Sainted Leader talking about the good and bad people of the world, I would have always thought that we few hundred were the world.
After that, I began to search for information. Anything that smacked of the truth, because it felt like I’d been fed a lie my whole life.
A lie to keep me quiet, content and most importantly, working. In our commune we spend 364 days a year working our fingers to the bone. We are taught that hard work and doing our immortal leader’s bidding is the only way to the Haven of Rest. “Hard work leads you to Rest in the hereafter” , is actually stitched into a pillow on my mother’s chair. Sums up our culture pretty clearly, I think.
I hid my curiosity as well as I could but when you live and work with the same people every day, they notice when something’s off about you. That’s when the trouble began.
One elder came to talk with me about my spiritual duty and went on about how I could speak with him about anything. I acted like I had no idea what could have spurred the conversation and we both went back to work unapeased. The next day, I was moved to a latrine sector. Then a whole group of elders visited my room one night, offering “help” that came across more like a threat to my life.
I backed off on my campaign for truth to throw them off and after a couple weeks they stopped worrying and giving me hostile glances.
Finally it was our annual day of rest and I decided to investigate on where exactly our eternal leader went every year while we feasted and danced.
He packed all the products of our hardwork into bags and bundled himself against the cold. Meanwhile, I crept in, hid amongst the boxes and bags, and waited.
The ride was horribly bumpy and uncomfortable, but I kept silent. I didn’t want to know what our leader would do to me if he found me stowed away. Nothing good I’m sure.
As the vehicle lurched to a stop, I felt the weight of one bag being lifted away. This was my chance!
I peeked out and saw a vast land filled with many magical lights and devoid of snow. The sight brought tears to my eyes and I knew right away, I had to learn more.
I wiggled my way back under the boxes once more. But this time, when Sainted Leader made his next stop and went inside, I took my first steps in a new world. I hid, just out of sight and silent. It was difficult, stifling the fear of being left alone in the unknown. It ate at me and made me want to call out to him, but the need to know what was out there was greater.