Reality has infinite possibilities, at least some of the more esoteric sectors of scientific study can lead one to believe this, as my own observations persuaded me. I was not always an observer, though I did observe and comment in my previous life. Ever since that event, those seventeen years ago, life has seen fit to force me into the role. Seventeen years spent placed in this dreary bitter condition, as humans repeat the same mistakes I noticed in my previous existence, and even my star pupils managed to make a mess of things, but alas they came from the same bitter and shallow time as I. It was a different world than we live in now. There was no hope, and without hope, there was no possibility for a better future.
The beauty of the system, our “humanity” (or lack-there-of) at that time, was that it isolated everyone. Each person sitting in front of a television or computer, was disjointed, fractional, alone- tuned in and turned on, but decidedly unplugged. It’s very hard to have innovative ideas or cohesive thoughts with the grey cesspool of modernity bombarding your brain; you can’t fight the world alone. Although I wasn’t there to witness, I now know that on July 12, at 3:43 am, Walter Berlin sat alone with very similar thoughts.
He sat in the portico outside his apartment, staring at the neon blue brick walls lined with cracks from which cockroaches crawled. The portico was still warm despite the natural wind-tunnel that was created by the other buildings in the complex, and as he polished off his sixth beer of the evening he contemplated decisions that had placed him here.
He knew the educational system had failed him, and he had realized at an early age that its purpose was to manufacture ignorance and create debt. The driving force of his society was individual material gain, which was accepted as legitimate, on the grounds that the vice of greed could yield public benefits. He understood that his society would destroy itself due to this principle, the only question was whether humankind would ever take control of its own destiny, or remove the possibility of any future destination altogether.
He placed his beer on the cheap plastic table next to him, as a woman came into view. Due to his southern upbringing, he unthinkingly raised his hand in greeting as she passed, although he had long ago learned that this would rarely garner a response in the city. Two men followed behind her, and he waved at them as well. The two men stopped, and the shorter of the two asked “Hey brother, you have a light?” Walter dug into his pocket, pulled out a lighter, and passed it to the man. Neither of them seem interested in talking to him once they lit their cigarettes, returning the lighter with a nod and a smile, so Walter returned to his thoughts.
The heavy Texas air reminded him of the hotter nights back in his hometown in Virginia, even the hiss of the cicadas filling the air with their discordant hum. The cultures of the two states were fairly similar, both paying lip-service to the concept of Democracy and Freedom. He believed in this possibly-terminal stage in history they would be more than values to treasure, but essential to humanity’s survival. Although these sentiments sound stereotypical knowing who he would become, at this point in history they were uncommonly heartfelt, derivative, and profoundly unwavering.
It was at 3:45 AM when Walter saw a fist come crashing towards his head, and he thought “Jesus Christ, I’m not dealing with this bullshit again.”
* * * * *
The reeds swung lazily in the slow breeze, waltzing to the song of a nearby babbling brook. The heavy summer air was filled with the cries of the varied fauna, which nearly drove the young woman, sitting on a nearby hill, to distraction. Next to her sat an older man, dark skin worn by years spent out in the world. His hand darted out to shoot a stone towards the brook. The young woman quickly threw a rock of her own, neatly skipping it across the brook, to almost collide with the man’s stone.
“Ahsha, my little monkey child, why do you keep missing the stone?” The older man smiled down at the young woman. A petulant look began to appear on her face, hardened in complexity, and petrified for a moment, vainly, then began to fissure ferociously leaving no signs of sediment, only a barrage of questions.
“Why Uncle Ray Ray? There’s no reason for me to have to go there, they both know others who can do this work, right? Am I really ready to be out there on my own? I haven’t learned enough, you can still train me more, right Uncle? I mean it doesn’t really mean I have to leave you? I don’t want to pretend to…” Ray Ray held his fingers to his lips and smiled at her.
“You know you can trust your Sensei, and Elder will always do what is best for you. You know they love you just as much as I do.”
“I don’t want to go to the Academy though!” Ahsha threw up her arms, and fell back with a sigh, “I’ve spent my whole life around you guys. I’ve never been away for longer than a month at a time, and this will be the first time I’ll be completely alone.”
“You know your father will be watching over you like he always does, he’s like your guardian angel.”
“I know Uncle Ray Ray, and I take comfort in that, I really do, but…you guys are my real family.”
Ray Ray burst out laughing and fell back into the grass as well, “Oh you better never let your papa hear you say that!” He slapped his thighs with great animation and notable force, then continued to laugh uproariously.
Ahsha turned away and pondered her coming future. She was about to be off to Fort Worth, and while she was completely confident in her abilities normally, she had never been on her own like this before. Sure she’d been all over the world, Berlin, Bangkok, Brazil and back again, but she’d never left the sight of the men who had raised her. Sensei had taught her everything she knew about how to survive and excel in this world, and throughout all her years of practice and training Eldest had been there for poignant guidance and timely support. Uncle Ray Ray had shown her the simple pleasures of the world: the joys of nature, the endless bounties of the land, the smell of the flowers, the sounds of the forest; he had also always been there to push her to better herself, feeding her increasingly nourishing meals, driving her appetite to acquire a taste for the large and lavish game. They had been more than teachers, they had been her world, her eyes, her ears, her confidants and companions. She had long made it her duty to do anything to repay them, but to be without them was almost too much to handle. It was certainly an outcome she had never considered plausible, possible, and definitely not necessary. No one else in the world knew the whole truth of her, or so she imagined.
“You will be fine at the Academy, my little monkey child. You will be able to easily trick them all into thinking you are some weakling like them, in need of ‘training’, HA, you will probably be tricking them boys too, eh.” He nudged her shoulder, and then began laughing again. Ahsha heard the sound of the grass parting behind her, and she looked up to see Sensei and Elder.
“Hello little one,” Sensei bent over her and smiled, “are you ready to go to the new home of class and sophistication in America?” Elder snorted at this comment, and held his hand out to her so she could stand.
“I know you miss New York Sensei, but there’s no need to belittle Texas, it’s my place of birth.” Ahsha said as she lifted herself from the ground with Elder’s assistance.
“Your birthplace was Austin, little one, not Fort Worth. The only reason that terrible two-horse town became anything was because Dallas had to be fenced off. If it weren’t for all those offices and factories still there, Fort Worth would’ve shriveled up and disappeared during the reconstruction.”
Uncle Ray Ray burst out laughing as Elder said, “I thought you said it was because they build all those highways for no people? I knew you should’ve given more credit to those city planners.”
“You’d think some of the owners of that city would’ve died in the massacres, all the exceedingly well-to-do in Austin did.”
“People were too busy elsewhere to deal with such a small city, and of course some of them managed to escape.”
“I still think it’s ridiculous,” Sensei chuckled, then turned back to Ahsha, “Well little one, are you ready to begin your new life as an Academy student, and your new double life as a TCU student…would you call that a triple life? You aren’t an actual Academy student, but…”
“Sensei, you’re stupid. Let me grab my bags, and you can get me to orientation, I only have five minutes till I need to be there.” With those words, Ahsha strode purposefully towards a small cottage sitting atop a nearby hill crest. There were no roads leading to the building, and no other buildings visible for miles.
Once Ahsha was out of earshot, Ray Ray turned up to the other two and asked, “Do ya’ll really think she’ll be ok there? She seems really worried, and I know some of our brothers are there, but they can’t be watching her back all the time.”
The man Ahsha knew as Sensei turned to the other, his eyebrows raised inquisitively. Ahsha had always placed much faith in what the Elder said, but he knew that his word was still doubted by the others, “From what I’ve seen, there’s only a sixty-five percent chance of there being anyone who could recognize her there. There is only a ten percent chance of any of the other students being able to catch her off guard. Only two students stand better than a twenty-percent chance of beating her in any form of combat, as long as she keeps the full extent of her abilities unknown, which I see to be a greater than ninety percent probability of never becoming common knowledge.”
“But there are always outliers…”