The Souls That are Wasted

The Souls That are Wasted

Matthew Heffer, Contributing Writer

“To keep the electricity running, to keep the water supply moving, to keep the economy prosperous, citizens are hereby required to mine fifteen minutes worth of Lanthium Ore from Mt. Mireclith everyday”Lanthium Act- Moraine Village Law 28, section 4.3B– Governor Williams- March 2, 2134  

            Lines of gravestones filled her universe. Molecules of snow were drifting like ashes from a stark white sky. “Mother Nancy Appleton… Oh how you’ve guided me into the woman I have become. May you rest in peace,” Wendy Appleton grieved. Sobs of sorrow and misery echoed through the graveyard as Mrs. Appleton’s coffin was hauled into the dirt.  “It’s all my fault,” Wendy thought. Whisks of wind sent chills across her face. “She easily could have lived past a hundred,” Wendy whispered aloud. “I should have hidden her, kept them from taking her into old Mt. Mireclith. But alas, it is too late”

Of course, Mrs. Appleton’s death was to be expected. Everyone knew that a lifetime of Lanthium Ore mining would plague their brains once they turned one hundred years old. But hardly anyone thought about this fact when Governor Williams passed the Lanthium Act. Life in Moraine Village was frugal with Lanthium production, after all. Cheap electricity, cheap water, decent housing for everybody, were common facets of life. Yet, it was only now, amongst the tombs, that Wendy Appleton began to think of Lanthium’s consequences.

She sat, underneath an oak, weighing the good side of Lanthium against her own current reality. And as she reflected, she found hatred. Hatred towards Lanthium, hatred towards Mt. Mireclith, and hatred towards Governor Williams. “It really wasn’t my fault at all,” Wendy thought. “Mother wouldn’t have died if it weren’t for his stupid law,” her mind raged. “We don’t even need this Lanthium Act.” A swarm of birds flocked overhead. “I can’t let others suffer my pain,” Wendy thought as she stood up, coming to her decision. “Yes, Wendy Appleton was going to save lives.” She stormed away from the tomb, kicking up dirt behind her. “I am going to put an end to the Lanthium Act,” raced Wendy’s mind as she made her way up the hill towards Mt. Mireclith.

The clinking and clanking of pickaxes droned on monotonously as citizens on their fifteen minute shifts toiled. However, all the heads turned and faced her as Wendy screamed from the fifty-foot-tall entrance, “Everybody stop!” A few reluctant citizens returned to their mining, unthreatened by Wendy. “Mr. Governor Williams tells us that we wouldn’t be able to live well without Lanthium. But Lanthium just killed my mother!” her cries reverberated throughout. “This can go on no longer. We must protest the Lanthium Act and save the lives of ourselves and our loved ones.”

“Yeah!” a miner replied. A rumble shook the cavern as, like an avalanche, hundreds of citizens began dropping their pickaxes. The fear of death in their families caused a cluster of people to gather at the back of their new leader. Out of the mountain the band marched, their chaotic footsteps shaking the terrain. The sun of high noon hit their foreheads as they clobbered into town.

Past Austin Street, along Marvin Drive, through Grover Path, the mob cruised. Like a snowball rolling down a mountain, the protestors grew. Citizens on their doorstep, curious about the noise, came out and were convinced into joining. “HOW DARE THE GOVERNMENT!” screamed one of the militants. “WE DESERVE TO LIVE!” responded another. Distant sirens became closer as Daniel Bard, the town sheriff, pulled around the corner on a moped.

“Well, what seems to be going on here? I might have to put an end to this,” said Mr. Bard gruffly.

“Your mom is going to die!” Wendy stammered hysterically. “Lanthium! Aren’t you worried? Who cares if your electricity is cheaper? Your gonna die when you turn one hundred,” she sputtered, tugging at her hair.

As Wendy talked, a child, no more than twelve or thirteen appeared on the horizon. The youth sprinted down Conklin Street, like a fearsome bull, towards the pack, kicking up stray pebbles. She squirmed through the dense group of protestors until she made her way to the front.

“Mrs. Wendy!” she shouted. “Mrs. Wendy!”

“That’s why you need to join us Offic-,” Wendy stopped. “Lindy? I’m in the middle of something Lindy,” she said sternly.

“But Mrs. Wendy I thought you said I could come to your house to make cookies after school,” said Wendy’s neighbor, her eyes starting to tear up.

“I’m sorry Lindy but Mrs. Wendy is doing something important right now. Please go to your home,” Lindy turned around hesitantly and stamped off in the direction she came. “Sorry officer,” Wendy said flustered. The crowd waited patiently as Wendy and the officer continued discussing.

“You might just have a point there Wendy,” stated Mr. Bard after some time. “I think I’m gonna join your little rally.” Cheers erupted from the protest, but they continued moving.

Like a plague spreading, thousands of villagers were infected by the movement. The roar of the crowd got feistier and more aggressive as it grew.

Gerald Richard made a pitstop at the local grocer’s market. He returned with a wheelbarrow filled of egg cartons.

“Let’s get these suckers!” he exclaimed. From that point on, every ten or so complacent houses could be seen with a new coat of oozing yellow paint.

The march continued, all throughout the day. Past Berlin Street, through Martin Avenue, to Ministry Road the crowd went. Pastel streaks of pink and orange began splattering the sky to the east. Looming darkness of the vast universe answered to the west. The great palace of Governor Williams appeared on the horizon, at the end of the long road, about one hundred yards away from the pack. As the group advanced, a majestic gate, ten feet tall, stood between the protestors and their target.

Out the man stepped. His aged white hair billowed in the breeze. They were confronting the beast. The cluster of protestors congregated at the gate, ready for battle.

“I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not going to change the law,” said Governor Williams decisively from across the way.

The crowd lost it. “YOU SHOULD GO ROT!” screamed a protestor. The crowd was seething from the mouth like a rabid dog. “Let us live! Let us live! Let us live!” they chanted. It was moving as one. Each member getting fueled off another to produce more rage.

The governor countered, “But don’t you understand? We need Lanthium. There’s no way we could live so frugally without it.”

“Lies, I tell you,” howled Wendy.  As if transforming into a demon, her eyes became tinged with red. “Don’t you dare listen to him,” she shrieked. “It is you who do not understand, Mr. Williams. People are dying because of your stupid law.” A mix of cheers for Wendy and anger for the governor erupted from the crowd.

“Without Lanthium, our lives would be horrible,” he battled. The crowd booed.

“None of us care if our lives are miserable,” she yelled. The crowd cheered. “If people are dying, the law needs to be stopped!” The governor stood, motionless, staring into the increasingly agitated sea of protestors.

He took a breath in and for a moment, the battlefield was calm. Then war. “Get him!” Gerald Richard yelled. Wendy shoved open the gate. Hundreds of eggs flew into the sky like swans. Splatters of yolk, the color of the rotting puss, soaked the road and palace. The Governor ducked for cover.

In all the chaos, an adolescent charged. He sprinted towards the marble platform on which the Governor was standing. Swaying this way and that, the boy narrowly dodged the hurling eggs. The blaring anger of the crowd became white noise for the boy as he climbed his way up to the Governor. He screamed into the night, “If you’re going to kill us Governor, then I might as well do this!” The boy stood next to the governor, smirking, proud of his decision Governor Williams directed his attention from the terrifying swarm to the boy. The breeze slowed to a whisper as the boy pulled out a gun. There was a sound of thunder. The boy’s blood and brains flew amidst the yolk covered platform and onto the jacket of the Governor. The boy’s corpse fell hastily to the floor.

Yet, no one seemed to notice, or even car. The crowd continued chucking eggs all about. Even as they ran out of ammunition, and as the pink and orange splatters faded into darkness, they remained at the palace, determined. And on the next day, they returned to try the protest again. And for the next week, they kept coming back, attempting to change the Governor’s mind. And for the next forty years, as Wendy Appleton’s skin became wrinkly and her hair withered, they continued to fight, but to no avail.

Now, after all the years, lines of gravestones filled her universe. Wendy Appleton stood, a concrete tower, as tears dripped down her weathered face in the dark of night. A cloud shifted away, letting a ray of light from the harvest moon hit a few of the stones in front of her. Martha Pringles- Congestive Heart Failure- 76 years. Daniel Bard-Lung Cancer- 68 years. Gerald Richard- Car Accident- 59 years, read the tombstones.

“Oh! Oh!” Wendy cried. “Oh, poor Martha and Daniel. And loyal Gerald. Oh, poor, loyal Gerald! He spent half of his life protesting for my cause, JUST TO DIE IN A CAR ACCIDENT?” screamed Wendy’s soul. Tears were now gushing down her face, watering the luscious grass below. “What have I done to these people? What have I done to myself?” raced Wendy’s mind. “How silly this whole damn thing was,” she thought. “All the chaos and damage we’ve caused over the years. All the days of our lives spent. It was pure ignorance.” The clouds returned over the moon, leaving the world in complete shadow. “I’ve killed all my supporters,” cried Wendy. “I’ve killed myself!” Her universe became dark. A cluster of crows shrieked into the vast night. The crash of her head on the grass was a mere pin drop in the graveyard.