Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Burning


It's the only way a Grotian could even hope to have access to things they may want or need, and even then there is no guarantee they will get it. The Party certainly tries makes sure anything they do not want anymore does not end up in our hands.

But, apparently, they don't try hard enough. Whether they believe us to be so stupid as to not bother to look in certain places, or they just don't think of us at all (a mix of the two, I'm sure), ways can be found to acquire that which we wish for so deeply.

Namely, reading material.

Classic literature, poetry, newspapers, biographies, even picture books (that one with the great actor Archie Rebel and a free cutout mustache is a favorite among us). Anything with words on/in it is greatly valued by most of us in the tunnels, as we are not allowed anything considered too "high class" for us. The ability to read, it seems, is only deemed necessary for those who live above the ground, who are able to use the Sun to read by, who look upon us as nothing more that ignorant fools.

Smuggling only took place before The Burning, however.

One day, (or night, can't be too sure in these damn tunnels) I was sitting in my living area, quietly reading a book, making sure no Party member finds and catches me with this "contraband." My brother bursts in, yelling something about a great fire. I immediately think that maybe the dragons have come back, to wreak havoc once again. Wanting to know more, I follow him into the main tunnel, which is bigger than the rest, and I soon catch a glimpse of crimson red in the distance. As I approach, it becomes apparent that no dragon caused this. Unless this particular dragon had a penchant for book burning, of course.

In the fireplace of the main chamber of the tunnel, a pile...no, a mountain, of books, newspapers, any sort of reading material lay burning. I was mesmerized by the sight of it; I could not look away. When I finally did, I looked around and noticed there were others watching it too. Watching, and crying. Crying, for there lay their only form of knowledge and entertainment in this miserable life we live. Crying, for there lay their only hope for a normal life, for them and their children. Crying... crying, for there lay the only thing that connected them to the outside world which they so desperately wish to see, to feel, to hear. To live in.

The Party took all that away from us.

I vaguely remember reading about something like this happening in a novel. The title started with an F... I am sorry, I cannot remember what it was. My memory of it is already starting to fade. With time, I am sure memory of all books will fade, in a world without them.

Editor's Note: The writer refers to Ray Bradbuy's novel Fahrenheit 451.
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