Genre: Magical Realism
The last shrill notes of The Lockdown alarm faded away leaving room for only silence and darkness; it would have been a silent and dark night were it not for the red moon; a slowly ascending omen of the firestorm to come.
Life had not always been this interesting. Life before the virus [BV] was said to be normal and ordinary then after the virus, things had changed, gradually at first then gaining momentum similar to the way you pull at a loose thread of a favourite jumper and then the whole fabric unravels.
Taku often tried to imagine what it must have been like to witness the end of an era and the rise of a new age. Taku was a FreeBorn which meant that his parents had been born after the virus [AV] As with most FreeBorns Taku had a burning curiosity on all things about life before the virus, it was what had lead him down the path to become a Book Hunter.
In the evening’s waning light, he had flashes from childhood memories; his parents telling him the fabled Coronial Tales. When the virus had first manifested, the mandatory quarantine imposed had yielded unforeseen consequences, while some had simply had nervous breakdowns from the isolation and solitary confinement, in others it had awakened a keen sense of imagination. Researchers and archivers would argue on how humans had always had this ability but the advancement of Audio Visual Media had lessened the need and the ability had de-evolved.
Then The Gifted Ones had been born. Children born in the first wave of lockdowns, back when they thought the virus was simply a phase that would pass and life would go back to normal.
A conspiracy theorist known as T Ruth had a channel on a popular streaming service and had a notoriety for revealing shocking facts. T Ruth’s trademark look was a plain black masquerade mask written TRUTH. T Ruth had a viral video about how the virus was not caused by an ordinary bug but was instead a result of exposure to radiation from subliminal brainwashing technology embedded in Audio Visual Media.
Televisions, computers, mobile phones, radios even something as seemingly benign as a smart watch and other wearable wireless enabled devices were not only overloading our visual cortex with sensory stimulation but they also carried maliciously coded programming designed to create legions of mind controlled humans. From something as simple your favourite breakfast cereal to what you thought was your favourite colour every decision you thought you made, may have be subliminally suggested to you. The internal conflict between the conscious and the unconscious mind is what had resulted in the weakened immunity the opportunistic virus had exploited. Other schools of thought argued that the virus had been a direct manifestation of this inner turmoil.
Societies worldwide had already begun protesting and rioting the imposed quarantine while world governments enforced compliance with authoritarian military discipline. T Ruth’s conspiracy had been the spark needed to combust an already volatile situation, it did not matter whether the conspiracy theory was confirmed an already fevered population revolted against their governments. All sorts of broadcasting equipment was destroyed, tv and radio stations, cell signal towers, internet control centers.
Taku could imagine the air being thick with the acrid smell of burning electronics as people had bonfires burning the devices as they emancipated themselves from the shackles of technology. He could almost feel the jubilation and if he concentrated he could hear the masses singing songs of redemption and liberation. What a time to have been alive.
In one last act of rebellion, believing that the virus was finally over, T Ruth had staged a global street carnival dubbed The Maskarade. People in every city in the world twirling their face masks like flags chanting Freedom! Freedom! The maskarade went well into the night with the night sky lit orange by thousands upon thousands of burning face masks. It was beautiful and historic, a perfect moment and what followed is the part in history Taku preferred not to dwell on
Turns out the virus was not done.
With neither governance structures nor world leaders for guidance, people individually came to the collective decision to return to a quarantine or self-isolation state of existence. Countless lives were lost as if the earth was purging itself of the sickness that was humanity, had humans not being making the planet sick was global warming not the a fever?
For a population that relied on TV and internet services for communication and entertainment this wave of lockdown and quarantine had been torture, many of the survivors had succumbed to boredom, literally bored to death. This is when the Gifted Ones started thriving for all along while the world had been losing its head they had stayed indoors reading books. Book Clubs had remained the only organised community and later would actively run the world based on an awakened discovery.
When you are reading a book and a scan is done of your brain it will reveal that all the sensory centers of your brain will be active, neurons firing a thousand times a second, almost as if you are being physically active or in a rapid eye movement sleep phase where you dream. There’s also a part of brain that only fires when you read a book and this is where the magic happens.
A part of the world you imagine as you read becomes a real solid existence.
Most readers only imagine short bursts of the things they read focusing on the very words they reading while a large portion of your imaginary world remains a blank slate until you read the words that build the world. For example you read that the sun is shining then you start to see the sun and feel its warmth, you read that the summer breeze carried the scent of pines and you can smell it, you read about the birds chirping merrily, then you hear them.
The Gifted Ones were able to not only conjure up a more elaborate world it became a very real physical you could go and even get lost in.
The magic was strongest at night which is why there was a lockdown curfew, you never knew what the outside would be like, thousand upon thousand of readers, all reading different books and some of them with ability to transform this world into that.
Taku glanced a final time at the page he still held as if to familiarize himself with the opening lines
On the red moon will come a firestorm
The risen moon shone a deep red which gave the sky a reddish hue as Taku wrapped his face in a plain black masquerade mask with the words TRUTH faintly visible and he stepped into the firestorm.
This was his world now.
A fictional tale continued from The Book Hunter click link below if you are curious