Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

The Perfect Ones

This is a short story I wrote for a class assignment in 11th grade (I think it was to write a Canterbury Tale) that a friend recently dug up to remind me about. She says she likes it, so I'm posting it here unedited. I think it's okayish. I may go back to this world and do a Part Two. Note that while I still share a significant number of the underlying views presented here, my 11th grade self (only a few years ago too!) is almost a completely different person to me now.

There once was a country, larger than any, full of people of all sizes and colors and opinions. The ruling force was well-begun, but by this time the whispers and shadows of its crumbling were near certainty for a large group of people. These people gathered together, discussed the situation, and debated on a course of action. War was no solution, for their country possessed the mightiest troops and machines designed for a hundred years with the sole purpose of killing in masses. Yet nor was a passive resistance the answer, as the government had suppressed many uprisings in the past (with rebel forces far outnumbering their own) and the general population was so deceived and mindless that they did not give a second thought, if they heard of it at all.

Then one day a group of five individuals approached the leaders of this other group of dissented people. They spoke long and firm, urging them to instead of forcing others to see an d join their mind, let them behold it through examples. They told of a corner of the nation that no one inhabited, but which was plentiful in animals and plants. They welcomed the leaders and all others to come and join them, under the condition that they destroyed all notions of rank and authority, discarded their emotions, and came to live in a struggle toward perfection and achieving their goals to escape human nature and become something more for an example to all the peoples in the nation, and later the world.

After saying their piece, the five perfect ones rose and departed, seemingly undisturbed if all of them or none of them would come. The leaders debated for many days and nights, and even posed the question to their followers: would they go or would they stay? Some had already left, drawn in by the appearance of the seemingly flawless beings that had graced them with their presence; others contemplated, but, as the perfect ones required they lose, were bound by the decisions of the leaders. Eventually, though, the leaders decided to give up their great power and asked their followers to quit following, and if they chose, to come with them to the new land.

When the group arrived, they were greeted by the five sages, as well as the others who had gone before. They were shown around, but were given no instructions as to what they must do. So when night came, some slept out in the open, others joined together in erected huts with many beds inside. In the morning, no formal breakfast was held, but provisions were given out freely to those who did not have any. Then some hung about, adjusting to their new environment, some went to gather food for all or tend to gardens, others hunted, and some read many books and listened to tales. The perfect ones meditated, sitting underneath a tree, and seemed to sleep for most of the day. Yet whenever anyone wandered over to them they felt that they were in the presence of different beings, beings that could not possibly be like them yet looked the same. The days progressed as such, with no one really leading, and no one really caring about what others did. This new group did talk to their neighbors, and also offered them to live with them and seek perfection. All who desired to meet with the perfect ones were granted the ability, and the community slowly grew outward, converting others to their cause. After many years, most of the original people who had settled there had attained their perfection, and served as examples to all others who strove to achieve it themselves.

It was more than a century later when that small group had spread to cover half of that once mighty nation, and their neighbor had long since determined it fruitless to try and control them. Of the five original sages only one remained, an ancient in his own right. The first two had passed on, finally succumbing to age, and the other two had been killed by people from the old nation. Those deaths had caused much unrest among those who thought themselves perfect and those who sought it; they wished to arm themselves and attack the other country, and kill many for allowing one of their own to do such an act. But the copious amounts of truly perfect ones gave their thoughts before backing away: their neighbors had not personally done any harm, just several among them, and in any case the act of revenge was not the way to perfection. Killing did none good, and thus the killers should not be punished as such. The perfect ones proposed the offenders come to live and be with them, for at least a month, and then if they so chose they could return to their land and suffer from their laws.

It so happened that only one of those murderers decided to leave, and he became a powerful influence in the old nation. In an attempt to limit the spread of the other side, he ordered a magnificent fence to be built between them, which would be so high to be unsurmountable, and so deep to prevent a casual tunnel. The wall was hastily built, as the government offered much money to those who contributed in the building. Those on the boarders were given trees to plant to hide the sight of the fence, and they lived on much as before, some even forgetting that others lived beyond those trees.

One day a small child by the name of Hinatok played in those trees, the residents closest to the fence having given up their land for more tree space so that it was now a large forest. He broke a branch from a tree and stabbed in the air, whacked other branches, and yelled at the top of his lungs as he attacked and broke a smaller branch. There were always many soldiers by the fence, patrolling up and down, and they sometimes offered to show the children their skills in weaponry. This they imitated, sometimes hurting each other, but all in the name of fun. Their parents worked most of the day, and the current education for the children consisted of only a few hours each day memorizing the great achievements of their leaders, thus they had plenty of free time.

This day however another child from the other side was walking along the fence, enjoying the presence of the green trees that shadowed all. It was not long when he heard Hinatok, and deciding to see what the other was doing he waited next to the fence. "What are you doing?" he asked in a loud voice as he caught a glimpse of the other.

"I'm playing war," said Hinatok.

"Do you like war?"

"Mhmm, war is great. Sword fights and big explosions and stuff."

The boy stood silent for a time, merely regarding the other. Hinatok, not used to such behavior from his fellow youths, again spoke up.

"What's your name, anyway? I'm Hinatok."

"If you must know me by a name, you may call me Issima. Though I do prefer you simply see me as me, and that we will not need to shout a name to get each other's attention."

Another silence ensued, and Hinatok again broke it. "So what's it like over there?" he asked. "I've never been, it's against the law to wander over; in fact I'm not entirely sure it's legal to even talk with you."

"You would think it bliss over here," said Issima. "As for your opposition of the law by speaking to me, it is nice to see someone from your side who still possesses some intelligence to do so. I will nevertheless tell you a bit more about our lives." He paused a moment for breath, and Hinatok noticed how long and deep the other breathed compared with his own people who took short, quick breaths all the time.

"We have no leader, no government, no one to tell us what we can and cannot do. We do not have them because there is no need; when people are left to do their own thing, they will often do good. We have no murders, theft, or rape because we all hold life in high regards, and we all strive to remove our desire for possessions, thus leaving no motivating to steal. We learn about you, on the other side of the fence, and I can assure you that all of your problems can be traced back to human nature. We seek to transcend that nature, and many of us have already become super human."

Issima stopped, for they both heard the sounds of guards approaching. "Hey, I'll be around here about the same time tomorrow," Hinatok said. Issima simply responded that it was likely he would be there. After their parting words, Hinatok slipped off into the trees, and Issima remained to watch the guards pass by. The guards had been conditioned to not even look at any beyond the fence, and they took no formal notice of him, but in the back of their inactive minds they often wondered why those people would gather by the fence from time to time.

Hinatok returned home soon after his encounter with Issima. He was very intrigued by the words of the other, and he desired to know more about the mysterious society beyond the fence. The other had said that he knew of them; where was that society in his own history books? Once when he ventured back east to the center of the nation he noticed that no one seemed to know of the fence, and that their maps presumed the boarders of the nation the boarders of the world. Hinatok knew about some of the issues in his society, though he rarely ever thought about them as much as he did that evening. It was as if he met with a guiding spirit, an opener of minds, and he greatly wished to understand more. He resolved to take with him a pen and a notebook the following day, and record their conversations. Perhaps he could write the first book about the history of the two people, and with that become a rich one, deserving to live in the capital!

The next day came, and the two boys met once again. Issima talked, and Hinatok mostly listened and took down notes, asking questions here and there for additional information. The days passed, and Hinatok learned much from Issima. He found the story of the people's inception fascinating, and they spent several days going over it. Their sessions became unplanned, more routine, and they both knew when to quit before the guards came too close (for, as Hinatok learned, the punishment with talking at length to another beyond the fence would not stop at death).

Over the course of many months Hinatok organized his notes and learned all he could from Issima, who knew much but pretended to know nothing. It was a long time when he finally had a rough draft of his new history book, detailing the past several decades from the view of the others, but he finished, and the first person he showed it to was a lifelong friend.

His friend read the first few pages, chuckled, and handed it back. He said that it was a fine piece of fiction, and that some people might find it more enjoyable than he. Hinatok attempted to explain that it was a history book, but his friend merely laughed again, declaring that such a tale could not possibly happen, nor had ever happened. He said that over the course of the decades covered by the book, nothing had really changed except for the fence to keep out the savages.

A little less encouraged, Hinatok still resolved to have his book reviewed by a professional in the History category. He sent away a manuscript and waited for several weeks, still visiting Issima, who enjoyed letting the other speak about the events in his nation. Unbeknown to both, however, the book had reached far beyond the simple publisher, and found its way into the hands of those in power in the government. They read it, they debated a little, and they decided it was best to burn it and get rid of those troublesome people once and for all, who despite a fence and a clear showing of disapproval still were determined to convert others to their society and thus expand and control the world. This wasn't an extremely new idea, for they had been contemplating the extinction for a few years, and had even made plans to evacuate those closest to the fence. As for the boy, he was just a boy after all, and if they eliminated further contact with him and the others he would grow up and become a wonderful person like everyone else.

Word spread through the populace by the fence that they would be temporarily removed, as their government wished to test some powerful weapons on the other side that could still endanger those close by. Hinatok told Issima of this, who instantly understood the implications.

"It is time that we say our final farewells, friend," Issima said. "It would be good if I have made an impact on you and kept our idea alive. Needless to say, many among us have known this time would come, and we do not fear it. Death is just another stage, and there will most likely be imperfect things to conquer in that realm as well. My people have always striven toward perfection, and those who have attained it are truly a sight to behold. I expect that in death we shall also seek for a more perfect existence, and it would be good if I attained it there, as I have not yet achieved it in this life."

"Friend, you are the most perfect being I have ever seen," said Hinatok. "From an imperfect mind, you are truly extraordinary."

"If you are amazed by my simple actions to proceed, I believe you would be stunned should you see a truly perfect being. Nevertheless, it is comforting for us to know that a few, like you, have learned about us and our ideals, and that our ideas will never die so long as you spread them as well. I warn you that humanity is fast approaching its darkest stages, where you will be ruled by brute force and not even know it to be able to object. These ideas will help you, I think, and the others who still make use of their brains, as you struggle through this new age to overturn the disasters of jealous humans."

"I have little more to say; I'm not as vocal as you. I just wish we had more time, and that this fence wasn't here so that I could go over there."

"Your desire is well-thought, and I would share it too, but desire is an emotion that is very difficult to conquer. Always beware of desire, for it lurks behind almost all human actions, and it is one of the last that we who seek perfection are able to conquer. As for the fence, there was a time when you could have come, but it is gone."

"I guess this is goodbye then, Issima."

"Yes. I can say humanly that I am pleased that we have not succumbed to pointless griefs and regrets, meaningless apologies, and that after all this time we require no more from each other than the company of another mind. I may have influenced you, but you have also influenced me, and I can see the goodness of humanity in you. I look at the perfect ones, and I know that they understand something that I do not; I think one thing would be what I understand now: even super, perfect humans are still part human. Goodbye, Hinatok."


They each departed back toward their homes, both soon to leave that part of the world forever. Hinatok and his family and friends were taken away the next day, and the day after that the government approved the attack. Hundreds of projectiles rained down upon all of the land west of the fence, some even on the fence itself, destroying it. These weapons exploded when they hit the ground and made terrific noise, but also carried an intense inferno, burning and exterminating everything. That group of people who sought and achieved perfection was extinguished, and only a few people who lived closest even knew. The explosives were so effective that none survived, and not long afterwards that corrupt government sent citizens beyond the old boarder of the fence to settle and remake the land. The predictions of the Perfect People came to pass after many years, and though the future looked bleak, a small group of dissented people was gathering in secret, unconsciously waiting for someone who had achieved perfection to come and guide them, to help them find the answers they were looking for to deal with their government who dictated how their lives were run every minute of the day. So it was that Hinatok, by now an old man, arrived with his book and read it to the people, telling them that although there was a previous society founded by five perfect ones, everyone could still seek it without a living example present.

Posted on 2010-06-30 by Jach

Tags: fiction


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