I wrote these for school.
I know I'm not a very good writer; any form of feedback or critique is welcome.
A Bouquet of Wires
Chapter I: The Guard
Fran stood and gazed with stoic eyes, his arms by his sides. The rows of adjacent factories mirrored the ones opposite them, and they both seemed to extend endlessly. Everyone stayed at home, with the exception of the few who walked the streets. From the horizon emerged the silhouette of another guard, followed by another silhouette of a much smaller man.
Defect 6 had been captured. The guard and Defect 6 soon arrived. Defect 6 donned white shirt and black trousers. Fran committed the image to memory.
“Sola gratia, sola fide, soli Deo Gloria.” The words escaped Fran’s mouth, as did it for everyone else but The Defect, and he stepped aside for his fellow guard, Fran, to take Defect 6 to his cell. They walked past five cells. Defect 1, Defect 2 and Defect 3 had been rehabilitated and were back in society with their old names – Fran, Fran and Fran. Defect 4 was dead, and Defect 5 was in a coma, lying on the floor, with a guard standing in his cell watching him. Fran walked Defect 6 into his cell. Fran closed the cell door behind him. He let go of Defect 6’s shirt collar and he collapsed to the floor. Fran walked to the right corner of the room next to the gate and remained there.
“You will be free from your affliction as Defect 6 soon, Fran, if you choose to comply,” he said, his voice amplified by the simultaneous repetition of the words by the guard in the cell beside Defect 6’s cell and the people outside.
An hour later, six chimes were heard. Fran and his fellow guard left the cells and exited the place.
Chapter II: and The Defect
Defect 6 lay on the floor of his cell, his eyes wide open.
Hail to the Brain … Hail to the Brain … Hail to the Brain …
Hail to the Brain … Hail to the Brain … Hail to the Brain …
Hail to the … Brain?
Defect 6 winced in pain, grasping his head.
Hail to the Brain? Hail to the Brain? Hail to the Brain?
Defect 6 tightened his grip on his head. Suddenly, a high-pitched noise was heard.
What is the Brain?
What is pain? Is that pain? What is pain?
I am sane. Is that pain? Am I insane?
I am insane. Is that pain? Am I sane?
I am a bane. Is that pain? Am I a bane?
Am I the Brain? Is that pain? Oh, release my chains!
I feel pain!
I feel pain!
I am sane!
I am slain!
The high-pitched noise was cut abruptly. Defect 6 loosened his grip on his head, his mouth agape.
I feel cold.
Defect 6 closed his mouth. He heard the faint sound of the whirring of machinery. It sounded alien at first, but after a while it sounded familiar. Too familiar. He screamed again and closed his eyes. He saw the flickering of a red light, the sheen of a metallic surface. He heard the shattering of glass, the cracking of bone. He heard the calls for help, the cries of anguish. The taste of blood, the restraints of something cold and hard. A hand reaching out.
The familiar faces of people he once knew.
The chanting. The subjugation. The pain.
Defect 6 opened his eyes and slowly stood up.
Chapter III: The Brain
“Hail to the Brain. Hail to the Brain. Hail to the Brain.”
Fran and his fellow humans were chanting in the city square. Everyone was wearing their own unique clothing, a blue uniform. What a party it was. Suddenly, a beep was heard, and everyone fell silent. Then, there was chaos. Every person malfunctioned.
Fran stood still. His mind was empty, yet so full. There was a certain lightness to his being, and afterward replaced with a crushing weight. His right eye twitched, and he collapsed to the floor. He heard a thud, a sound that bewildered him. A thud! How unusual! He lifted his arm and gazed at his open palm. It was callused, and the palm lines alluded to the wires he knew too well. He clenched his fist and let it drop to the ground, and was rewarded with the melodious sound once more. He could hear some loud sounds around him, while he repeated the process. Fran was lost in the grandeur of the situation. He could not move his lower limbs, and after a while, his arm seemed to be working on its own. He stared blankly forward of him and listened to the music that he was bestowed upon. He could not comprehend the mystique surrounding his mind, and he did not try to. Albeit in this trance, Fran felt comfortably uncertain. He opened his mouth and emitted a sound, then realised that the wailing around him was from his fellow humans. His face borne an archaic smile.
“How sublime,” he whispered.
The whirring of machinery was heard, and his ears stopped functioning once more. Everyone stood up.
“Defect 6 is lost.”
They ran to Defect 6’s cell. It was empty.
“Defect 6 is not supposed to reboot so quickly; I left the gate unlocked,” everyone said in unison. “Defect 6 must be eliminated. Only then, will Fran be liberated.” Another beep was heard, and the crowd dispersed.
“Hail to the Brain. The system will prevail. Fran must be liberated.”
Every Fran in the city went searching for the man clad in white shirt and black trousers.
Chapter IV: and The Mind
Defect 6 ran. Where, he knew not at the moment, his intuition would guide him to.
At the corner of the rows of factories, near the outskirts, were a few houses left untouched. They had proven too small and useless to be converted into factories, and no effort was spent to demolish them. They might even have been forgotten, but one could never know. Defect 6 stopped in front of the smallest house. He took a step forward, surveying the ground before taking another step. He reached for the doorknob, and hesitated for a brief moment before turning it. The door creaked open.
He expected no reply. Defect 6 walked to his old couch and sat. Beside him was his mahogany dresser, weathered by age, and on it, a glass jar, occupied by a bouquet of rotted flowers. He picked up a framed picture that had fallen flat on the dresser. He wiped the dust from the photograph with a finger, and stared at it. A man’s familiar face beckoned him, and beside the man was a lady. They were both smiling at him. Defect 6 smiled back.
“Annabel,” he muttered.
Suddenly, he heard footsteps. He looked up from the picture, and his smile faded. Defect 6 slowly removed the photograph from its frame and slid it in his right pocket. His eyes shifted from side to side, his breath halted. When no further movement was heard, he stood up and left through the front door.
Defect 6 knew where to go. He remembered the way. He heard footsteps again. He quickened his pace. The footsteps grew louder. He started to run.
“Stop, Defect 6,” an echo of voices resonated behind him. “You will be free from your affliction as Defect 6, Fran, if you choose to obey.”
Defect 6 kept running, his steps heavy, his breath in short pulses.
“My name isn’t … Fran,” he murmured.
“My name isn’t Fran!” He yelled, turning his head to see the horde of people that was chasing him. Men, women and children, all wearing the same blue uniform, the colours drained by the dirt and dust through working in the factories. They were all running with the same gait, their footsteps in synchronisation.
“Yes, your name is not Fran, it is Fran,” came the reply.
It was a straight road, along one of the many rows of apartment buildings that masked the true nature of their presence. The border gates were finally in sight. Defect 6 willed his fatigued legs to keep moving. No trespasser leaves, a sign on the gate read, its metal surface rusted. Defect 6 pushed the gate through, turned, and slammed it shut. The crowd stopped at the gate. Defect 6 gazed warily at them, trying to catch his breath.
The blue-uniformed people stared back at him, their lips straight and their eyes devoid of emotion. They stood stagnant, without a sign of exhaustion. Defect 6 took one last look at them, before he turned and staggered away. They watched on.
Those who wear masks cannot be trusted.
Alabaster stood on his porch, glancing in the direction of the man on the bicycle approaching him, as he sipped from his morning cup of coffee.
“Good morning, Barnaby,” Alabaster called to the man, who had just stopped at his doorstep and was walking to him.
“Good morning, Mr. Shale. Here is your mail,” Barnaby said, as he handed him some envelopes and a parcel.
“A parcel? I never did order anything, may I ask whom this is from?”
“I have no idea, Mr. Shale. It sure looks important, though. Quite the busy man you are.”
“Many thanks, Barnaby,” Alabaster said as he received the delivery. “This is my face you are looking at, and always will be.”
“Again, with the riddles, Mr. Shale?” Barnaby chuckled as he mounted his bicycle. “Have a pleasant day, sir.”
Alabaster stepped back into his house, setting down his cup of coffee and the envelopes on the table and sitting in his armchair before shifting his attention to the parcel. He tore it open carefully, and inside the parcel was a black leather box. It was simple, aside from the silver latch that closely resembled a face. Alabaster opened it, and inside was a mask – Thalia, the Muse of comedy. He immediately reeled back, almost slamming down the lid. “What treachery is this?” Alabaster uttered.
After recovering from his initial shock, he contemplated throwing the box away, but set it aside, dismissing it as some sort of sick joke, and went on with his daily routine of reading letters. In the evening, went out on his daily stroll. When he returned, he spotted someone unusual standing at his porch. The person was wearing a black cloak and a black panama hat, lowered such that his face could not be seen in the shade. Alabaster approached the person gingerly.
“Sir, may I help–” The person turned around, and on his face revealed a mask – Melpomene, the Muse of tragedy. Alabaster stared at the mask, a mask donned by a masked man, an unknown man, the embodiment of mistrust and lies, standing before him. His confound fear soon turned into rage. “The face you see is without deception; the literal mask you wear is without candour. Who are you to force a mask upon me, when the visage reigns supreme over the veil?”
The masked man stared back at him for a moment, then spoke, “We all wear masks, Alabaster Shale. We all do.” Alabaster stepped back, surprised that the stranger knew his name.
“Who are you?”
“Who I am does not matter, does it? I am the one who wears the mask, the one whom you shan’t trust. I am the one who delivered the mask, the one whom showed up uninvited and unannounced. You are the righteous one, the unmasked one, in a society where everyone wears masks of their own will, in a world where the difference between the truth and the false is but a very thin line. You are right, Alabaster Shale. Those who wear masks cannot be trusted. Those who wear masks are but false memories, displayed for all the world to see, but not to observe. Those who wear masks bear no name, for they have traded it for their shame. What exactly is personality, Alabaster Shale? What does it hide? We all wear masks, Alabaster Shale. Even you. Shall we ever meet again, my name is Alabaster Shale. Welcome to the Masquerade.”
With that, the masked man left. Alabaster stepped into his house, and sat in his armchair. He could not fathom the event that had just transpired. The masked man’s last words haunted him. Alabaster could not bear his name on the surface of a mask. Was he played the fool? He turned his head towards the black leather box on the table next to him and picked it up. He opened the box, and the sight frightened him. It was the mask of tragedy. Alabaster gazed at it, his limbs stiff. This is my face. I do not wear a mask, do I? This is my true personality. I do not hide, I do not conceal. That was a madman. The mask came into sight again. Alabaster slammed the lid shut. I need some rest, he thought. Alabaster set the box on the table and went to bed.
The next morning, Alabaster awoke to find that the box was still there. He glared at it for a few minutes, then forced himself to accept that everything that happened the previous night did happen. He opened the box. The mask of comedy looked at him and he looked back at it. What exactly is personality, Alabaster Shale? What does it hide? Alabaster threw the mask into the fireplace in fright. A morning stroll would help me clear my head, he thought. He grabbed his coat from the coat hanger and stepped out of the house.
As Alabaster walked, the masked man’s speech continued to haunt him. He could not ignore it, nor could he acknowledge it. There was something so wrong about his words that disturbed him. You are the righteous one, the unmasked one, in a society where everyone wears masks of their own will, in a world where the difference between the truth and the false is but a very thin line. You are right, Alabaster Shale. Those who wear masks cannot be trusted.
What exactly is personality? What does it hide? Alabaster kept walking. Personality does not hide anything, it’s the masks that do. Who is he to bear my name? I wear no mask. My emotions are real, my thoughts genuine. What exactly is personality and what does it hide? What is behind the face? What is the face? What is the difference between the truth and the false? Everyone has secrets. What do I conceal? What do I hide from myself? What do I hide from others? What is personality? Can masks portray your personality instead of covering it with lies? What is the difference between the truth and a lie? What is the mask? What is the face? The difference between the truth and the false is but a very thin line. I am the face and the mask. Alabaster looked at the people around him. For once, they seemed to be human. Welcome to the Masquerade.
Alabaster stopped in his tracks. In front of him was a man clad in a black cloak and a black panama hat, but this time, he was not wearing a mask. Alabaster ran back to his house and picked up the black leather box and observed it. It’s silver latch closely resembled a face. His face. Alabaster opened the box. In it was a mask.