Mr. Puggle Fish

Quietly swimming, all alone

Through a sea of madness and blue

A tiny creature sighs to itself

And wishes it’s dreams would come true
“What’s wrong?” You might ask

“What makes this fish sad?”

“Oh why does this creature feel blue?”

It’s simple, my friend

This fish is alone

Just one, out looking for two
Struggling, searching, with tears in its eyes

The creature has only one wish

To someday be whole, to one day be loved

To find it a Miss Puggle Fish
“How sad!” You will say

“This cannot be so!”

“We must find a two to his one”

You’re right, I would add

So what do we do?

Oh what can be did or be done?
Well while he was swimming, just darting about

Our Puggle swam into a girl

Who stopped on the spot, and lovingly thought

“He’s cute, let’s give him a whirl”
“At last!” We all cheer

The fish has found love

He’s filled that small void in his soul

Alas, all my friends

This Puggle Fish tale

Illuminates life’s greatest goal

On the Eve: 9

Hadrian Merlfang – Lord of the North

I told him it would end this way, the fool.

How many years now? Things never end as we intend. No, not ever. Our fresh, inexperienced selves, energized with the fervor of youth, see nothing but the ideal and the desired. Then, as it always is, the bitch that is reality bears its teeth; sinking its fangs into our ignorant dreams of yesteryear.

What is worse – knowing that Jocasta is on a false errand, yet I still participate as if I am none the wiser, or the fact that Jordain might actually come out on top after all this? I cannot say. I’ve grown tired of these earthly quarrels. My only role left to fill at this old, rotting age is to write the ending to a story that has far too long been authored. The time has come to usher our tired souls into the unknown darkness that lies beyond our meaningless comprehension.

I told him it would end this way, the fool.

On the Eve: 6

King Jordain

She knows exactly where my heart lies. Buried deep within that sheath of angst, she knows the truth.

She knows I cannot raise my blade to her. This foolhardy campaign is fueled by her insatiable desire for revenge; her misguided malfeasance. Yet reality continues to elude her. The entirety of her army’s morale rests upon the simple assertion that I, King Jordain, committed the treacherous act for which I was accused. Why choose now to invade – does she wish to reunite East with West? Her accusations, ones which she herself believed to be true, were the very catalyst that ripped these lands apart to begin with.

And now, here I sit with the watchful eye above penetrating my soul. On my honor, woman, nothing occurred between the vice-regent and myself those many years ago. This divisive plot was a meticulously crafted story by that scum of a Hand, Ulric. The same Hand who deceived her, my Queen, for all these years. Slicing his throat was the greatest gift our God could ever bestow upon me, and for that I am eternally grateful.

We will hold these lands. God willing, we will reunite.  Jocasta shall at last hear the truth.

On the Eve: 5

Antony – Commander of Queen Jocasta’s Army

An emissary arrived today with a most perplexing message. He hurriedly navigated his way through Clarmont’s cobblestone streets and somehow obtained an audience with Queen Jocasta herself. The dispatch appeared to be one of grave import, as he was quickly ushered into Jocasta’s inner chambers following the delivery. No one yet knows what information was contained in the message.

Morale is still elevated. Tomorrow we meet with Hadrian, who has offered his assistance for our efforts at taking the East. Hadrian may be crass, but his Northern legions will surely add much needed strength to our rallying attack. These lands must again be united, as our Queen is the only hope of rebuilding the future we so desire.

Much planning is required if we are to rise victorious. Perhaps I will ask for an audience with this emissary, seeing what games Jordain attempts to play.

That man is more manipulative than the misleading colors of a chameleon.

 

On the Eve: 4

Favian, Royal Record-Keeper & Historian of the East

The West shall never comprehend the world the way we Easterners do.

What ire could have possibly made Jocasta think she could overtake us? The East and West have co-existed, as agreed, for twelve winters now. Why is she suddenly afflicted with the desire to destroy? I cannot make sense of it.

I desperately long for the sensibility which we enjoyed many years ago. An era of peace. A time when Jordain and Joscasta ruled with the passion and love that this world deserves. Their deep affection for one another poured out over all these lands. It was a time of joy; true, unabridged happiness.

And then that awful, destructive separation. To this very day, I still find pause when asked if my recollections of the event are truly complete. The realm relies on my accounts for candidacy of what transpired, but I shall forever foster my internal doubts. I have written what I know to be true; Jocasta assuming the role of primary aggressor. She betrayed Jordain, this is well known. Yet it is a reluctant truth that confuses, for I still do not fully understand his decision to allow her sovereignty in the West. The splitting of these lands was perhaps a more hurtful dagger than the one Jocasta cast into the heart of my liege through her betrayal.

I have seen families ripped apart. I have witnessed brothers fighting brothers; sons fighting fathers. The darkest depths of depravity, all surfacing in the name of East versus West.

The gaping wound which separates these lands must once again be mended, this much I know. We cannot go on as warring factions.

The clarity of this shines with blinding abundance.

On the Eve: 3

Antony – Commander of Queen Jocasta’s Army

We have taken refuge in Clarmont, the first safe village we crossed following our withdrawal. If one can even call it a village, that is. There is little more than battered huts and peasant farmers here. Far less than what one would deem an ideal location for which to retreat.

My lieutenants, those fortunate enough to survive the onslaught, are stricken with frustration and shame for failing our Queen. Jocasta has not spoken since our arrival, save her initial introduction to the village elders – who were so shocked upon meeting her they could hardly muster a word. There is little to speak of in terms of provisions, and much guilt felt among the soldiers for what resources the elders have provided. The occupants here have been more than generous, as they are vehemently supportive of the Queen’s campaign to overtake that pig of a man who calls himself King of the East. Jordain is a foolhardy dictator and disgusting excuse for a ruler. I find it astonishing that he ever had a place in her heart to begin with; his reputation of merciless tyranny well abound in these lands.

Yesterday’s miscalculations are surely to ignite fury within the deepest depths of Jocasta’s very being. Yet we, her loyal defenders, shall not falter. We shall remain resolute in our entirety, as every last one of us salivate in anticipation for our next opportunity to face them on the battlefield. Our leader will surely find solace amidst the unwavering faith of the entire regiment.

I swear it, that man will rue the day he clamored out of his whore of a mother. Our arrows will rain pure Hell next we meet, casting a darkness blacker than the evil residing in the soul we shall soon strip from Jordain’s body.

These lands shall once again be united as my Queen rises victorious, or so help me God we will tear this world apart trying.

On The Eve: 2

King Jordain – Lord of the East

Fools.

I foster no sympathy for the slaughtered. The foul. The wretched, sniveling swine. I swear to God himself this day was ordained by the truest forces overseeing this realm. She dared challenge me? Of all living, breathing occupants of this once revered land, she called it upon herself to prove my equal?

All these years. All this time, spent in a wondrous stupor of remorse and regret. The pitiful nights. The restless thoughts, wandering incessantly to depths I shudder to fathom. The pain of uncertainty. The constant dream of squandered potential. The sheer, genuine hurt accumulated through years of heartbreak. And this is her decision?

I relished the kill. The soft, soothing slice of my blade stripping the pathetic soul from his trembling corpse. The look on her pale, bloodied face as my gaze lifted to observe those mortified eyes.

My armies need not pursue her.

A sweeter, more satisfying sensation this world shall never produce.

Love & Loss: 12

My dearest Adalasia.

You changed the world for me. There are so many things I want to write to you that explain how important you are. But my words would never do it justice. I found myself when I met you. You were the most important piece of my life. I love you. More than anything in this God Forsaken world, I love you. 

I’m bleeding, my love. I was shot as I ran toward the bakery when I heard the Germans were launching their attack. I’m not going to survive. My body is resting upon a small hill of broken cobblestone. I am going to die. This I know.

I beg you, whoever finds my body, deliver this parchment to my Adalasia. Please. Axis, or ally. Please. Give this letter to my love so she knows how much she meant to me.  

She changed my life. 

Adalasia. I love you so, so much. Please don’t forget me. You are my everything, and if there is another side to this life, I will do everything in my power to find you. 

Please, my love. Remember me.

Love & Loss: 5

July, 1943. Sicily.

He is the greatest man I will ever know.

Adam returned today. His first instinct was to barricade the wall, because he knew exactly what artillery strike would be taking place. He came in with that gleaming hair and shimmering smile and told me that he would never let me be harmed. That even though his unit would be bombarding this part of the city, he could not let harm fall to me. He came to me with such love, firmly holding the locks of my hair and kissed me so passionately that I will never forget his grasp. He said he would protect me that night. That he would make sure the bombs landed far away from me. And he did. The bombs landed further away than ever that night.

All because of this Adam…a deeper love I will never find.

Good & Evil

Good & Evil
Chapter 1

I can’t believe this is actually happening!

Well, sort of. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been waiting for ages, but tonight…well, tonight is just filled with excitement! Father says I’m sure to go Right, which makes sense because Mother did too. He told me when she went through the Filing that she was ninety seven percent pure. Ninety seven percent! Can you believe that? I bet I’ll be lucky to be in the eighties.

I should probably be trying to get some rest, but my eyes are wide open right now. I cannot stop thinking of the ceremony tomorrow and how beautiful my gown will look and how proud Father will be and of oh the so many things that are going through my head right now!

I hope Mikal is Filed right too, I can’t imagine what I would do in his absence. He and I have spent such a long time as Youngers together and I cannot fathom a life with him not in it.

Chapter 2

I suppose you’re wondering what that was all about.

Allow me to shed some light. What you just read was an excerpt from the diary of a nice little lady who is about to go through a pivotal point in her life, the Filing. She will be assigned social duties and expectations, a residence, and will become eligible for marital affairs.

You and I should be getting close in the future, as I’ll be guiding you through the goings on at Resurrection. What’s that, you may ask? You probably know it as Planet Earth. See, a group of forward thinking humanitarians thought it would be a good idea to rename the planet, since they started civilization anew. But we’ll get to that later.

Centuries ago, the world was changed in a way that shattered the fabric of society. There are conflicting records of what exactly transpired, but the end result was that the world was conquered and reshaped into one governing culture – an ideaology that favored simplicity, sustainability, and justice. There are a lot of holes in the bits and pieces of information we’ve been able to dig up, but it’s been fascinating to study how humans used to live.

The most commonly accepted recollection is that a conflict began in response to an energy crises thousands of years ago. Evidently the foundation of human civilization back then was built upon the use of scarce,  natural resources. Almost everything that the ancients used relied on these “fossil fuels” to function, which were mined and extracted from within the Earth. The problem was that these resources eventually began to run out and when that happened…well, let’s just say that when that happened, the world was forced to change.

Records show that during this time, Earth was split into separate regions or territories called “countries”. Each of these was run by their own governing bodies, and thus they made their own laws and rules. It sounds chaotic, I know – and it was. The different countries were constantly disagreeing with one another, leading to many violent conflicts which were called “wars”. War seems to dominate the historical records, and can basically be summarized by the following. A country (or one of its inhabitants) comes up with an ideology and tries to spread it across the world through diplomacy. Eventually, they clash with a conflicting ideology, which would lead to the conquering country invading the defending country to win over its constituents and spread its ideals. And so it was for many years it seems, as these conflicts happened all the time. Until, of course, the crises that halted everything else.

The day the energy ran out.

Chapter 3

It happened!

Just like Father said, I was Filed Right! And sure enough, my purity score was in the 80s…but so what?! I went Right! Oh this truly is the best feeling ever.

Now I must wait and see if Mikal will be joining me. He has to! He’s one of the purest boys in our whole annex! He’s always helping people and doing everything he can to be as pure as possible.

I wonder what job I’ll take, now that I’m Right. There’s so many exciting things I could be, I just can’t decide on one! Maybe I’ll join the theater. I think I would love a life on stage! Or maybe I’ll be a teacher, I could help our kids appreciate how wonderful our community is! Oh, there are so many options I just don’t know what to do with myself.

I hope Mikal joins me soon!!

Chapter 4

Here we are again. I presume most of that didn’t make sense to you either.

Well, here ya go.

When Earth was finally stripped of her last little bits of natural resources, people descended into havoc. There was a several year period where folks reverted to their animal instincts, completely shedding cultural “sophistication” and acting like beasts. Quite literally. And it wasn’t even due to the fact that we’d run out of oil. It was simply because we did nothing to prepare ourselves for the inevitable shortage. The masses looked to global leaders as enemies, power hungry sociopaths who controlled the industry so they could line their pockets.

The social collapse wasn’t based on lack of oil. It was based on revenge. Revenge on those who said we would never see this day, that by the time oil ran out we’d be using something else for our energy. No, the collapse wasn’t driven by the knowledge that there’s no more fuel.

It was driven by hatred and malice for the leaders they trusted.

 

Chapter 5

I hate this place.

Mother told me I’m being too harsh. I know better. This place was created out of fire and brimstone, I’m sure of it. Where else on this God forsaken planet can I go? It’s as if the entire world is brainless.

The Filing was yesterday. I went Left.

At first, I was numb. I’ve spent sixteen years doing everything I was told to do. My entire life, meaninglessly spent in an attempt to appease others. How could the city do this to me? How could they assign me to a life of servitude and labor after all the sacrifices I’ve made?

I hate this world we live in. With every fiber within me, I hate it. I have to act. Something must be done to change things for those like me. I am not a bad person, and I do not foster the malice with which I’ve been branded.

I simply cannot allow this to happen

 

Chapter 6

Well he sure doesn’t sound happy, does he?

Rightfully so, I may add. But I digress. After all, you don’t want my opinion, right? You want context. Here you are.

After the collapse we spoke of previously, the world took awhile to get back on its feet, so to speak. Chaos and depravity were the trend for quite some time. Until, that is, a group of leaders came along and seized the opportunity which was laying there for the taking. The chance to rebuild the world, from its deepest roots all the way to its highest levels. And so they did.

Again, it’s difficult to organize the precise events, since it was so long ago. Not to mention that truth is difficult to decipher through the biases of historical record keepers. But the basic story is this:

Four people had a vision for the world. So, after a lengthy battle to the top of society (or what was left of it), they organized the entire globe’s population into self-sustaining, strictly governed semi-cities. Each with its own Enforcer to ascertain that the constituency obeyed the doctrines passed down by the Founders.

The hate-inspired diary excerpt you read a moment ago was one of the people who caught the short end of their society’s stick.

You see, the Founders tapped into the brightest minds of their time, and with the help of some records salvaged from the World Before, were able to pinpoint the chemical processes in the brain that cause individuals to exhibit (what they interpreted) as benevolent actions. Of course this also meant that they were able to isolate the chemicals that caused people to exhibit malicious behavior.

Thus, armed with the knowledge obtained from monitoring their citizens via devices embedded at birth, they rebuilt civilization on the simplest of frameworks. At the tender age of sixteen, all members of society are ushered through what they dubbed the Filing. Those who have “purity ratings” over 75% – meaning three fourths of the chemicals produced by their brains tend to lean toward behavior deemed “good” – are filed to the Right. These members of the community move on to enjoy the more luxurious positions that life offers. They receive higher educations, frequently obtain prominent political status, and maintain voting rights. Those who are not fortunate enough to display these levels of benevolence, however, are filed to the Left. They are separated from their Right peers and live lives of manufacturing, service, and production. Their daily social interactions vary substantially from their old schoolmates, something which we will undoubtedly get to at a later date.

I expect you, my friend, to form your own opinion of this system as you learn more and our relationship deepens.

Such is the world. Until, of course, it’s not.

 

Chapter 7

I don’t know what I’m going to tell Estella.

We were both so sure of ourselves. What am I going to do when we’re separated? I cannot stand the thought of it. We love each other so, so much. How could this have happened? How could they strip us apart, like we’re…subhuman? I hate the Filing. I said it in my last entry, and I’ll say it again. I hate it with everything in me. Someone has to do something.

Our entire childhood has been spent together. The image still burns my mind; her, silently walking to the front of that massive, ornate room. The rest of us, the ones whose names had yet to be called, all sitting in silence as we waited for her to be Filed. My heart warmed as the Panelist shouted “Right”!

I knew I would be standing with her shortly. I knew I would be Filed Right, along with her and the rest of the Pure. I can still see her, slowly turning around as she looked for me in the mass of motionless, sitting bodies still waiting to be called. I can still see her as she was ushered through the doors to wait with the others.

Now, two tortuous days later, I find myself locked in my room with a heart filled with hatred. I refuse to leave, refuse to report to the Overseers in charge of introducing me to my new, pathetic life. Mother tells me that these thoughts are exactly what have put me in this predicament to begin with. But these thoughts are foreign to me. I’ve always kept a Pure heart…always did the right thing. Who is anyone else to say I did good acts solely for the sake of appearance. My intentions were never misguided. I don’t care what they say.

I must face Estella before I leave. I just don’t know how.

God give me strength. I’m going to need it.

Chapter 8

The plot thickens!

Forgive me- you must excuse my whimsical recounts of these sad, passion-infused diary posts. I find it hard to entertain myself after reading such depressing recollections of heartbreak, injustice, and the like. Not to mention the fact that there are millions of other stories just like the one you’re reading. Not because people during this time and age enjoyed keeping diaries, mind you. On the contrary, most people hated keeping one. Unfortunately for them, maintaining a daily journal was a requirement passed down by the Four Founders I mentioned. In an attempt to instill a more accurate view of ones self-awareness, it was law for all citizens to write about their days, thoughts, desires, dislikes, etc. Perhaps even more annoying to most, they were required to read said journal entries often – the intent being that any opportunity to observe your own thoughts from a third person perspective, you learn more accurately who you truly are. Thus, obviously, giving you a better idea of how you can change and become the model human that the Founders thought you should be.

Oh, idealism. Isn’t it wonderful?

Anyway, back to our two lovebirds. I presume by now that you’ve picked up on whose diaries we’ve been reading. Estella, our (sometimes too) bubbly, kind-hearted damsel; and Mikal, her perhaps not-so-self aware love interest. It would be quite a warming tale to be perfectly honest, were it not for a society structured to destroy any hope of them having a life together. I suppose the lingering question at the moment is pretty simple: did that structure succeed in keeping them apart? Oh, the tingle and excitement of uncertainty…don’t you just love it?!

I know I do.

Chapter 9

Oh, what shall I do?!

There must have been a mistake. I cannot accept this. Mikal has been Filed left! I shan’t see him again, and my heart aches when I think of it. All this time we’ve spent in anticipation, patiently waiting for the day when we would be Filed together. How could this have happened? He is pure! More so than me, I know it!

I asked Father what could be done. He says there is nothing we can do to change the decision. Mikal will live a life of production and servitude. It isn’t fair! He always did what was right. Always! How can they possibly say he was not pure enough? He was more genuine than any of the others. And there are so many who were Filed right who are surely less so than my Mikal.

Oh, I know not what to do. My heart yearns for him. The constant pain I feel when he occupies my thoughts is just unbearable.

What can I do?

Chapter 10

Almost makes you feel sorry for the girl, huh?

Funny thing, love. It’s different in everyone’s eyes, wouldn’t you say? After all, are we sure our good friend Mikal here was intent on the benevolence of his little fling with Estella? Or did he just play the game the right way so he could land the beautiful girl? Is that love? Surely something sinister had to be going on under the hood for him to be Filed left, right? If the higher ups had all that science stuff going on, isolating all those “good” and “bad” chemicals, could one really argue the result?

That’s a load of questions, I know. I just can’t help but find myself asking them as I read through these diaries. I often ask myself where the line should be drawn, in fact.

Who’s to say what’s good and bad anyway?

Chapter 11

A curious thing happened today.

I was visited by a Younger who had just completed his Filing. He has graduated from his childish status and was Filed Left to become a Contributor. I recall him approaching me this morning, slowly opening the door to my office as he peered inside with a strange glint in his eye. It was most odd. But he excitedly sat down and actually thanked me for my duties of being an Overseer. He told me he appreciated the Filing and that he now understood why he was Filed Left. He told me our process has opened his eyes, and made him realize what true “purity” is.

It is strange. I cannot recall a time before when a child who was filed Left showed such gratitude. Without fail, my experience with those who are Left has been one of contempt. After all, the process is designed precisely for that very reason. They are bad people, therefore their response when being Filed Left is that of contempt and resentment. Those who instead appreciate our process, and are good, would see their Filing as a lesson, and would respond positively – which is precisely why they are Filed Right to begin with. Isn’t it clear that one’s internal thought process and response to adversity defines one’s true moral value?

The Bad deserve to be Contributors. This is known. They should produce consumables and services for the Good, until it is they who grow to be Good. But it is for this that I am at an impasse. This newly Filed Contributor has shown the trait of one that is good. Has our process failed? Have we condemned someone who is Good? He is the only positive thinker in a group that has never failed to foster anger, remorse, and contempt.

What can I do with this Mikal?

Chapter 12

Damn.

That’s all I have to say at the moment. Because to be perfectly honest, my mind is sort of bamboozled. Okay, so let’s get this straight. That was the journal entry of one of the Overseers that make the rules in this place, I’m assuming. Sounds like our boy is making some moves, huh? Isn’t it cool to be able to just sit back and observe as people’s sly little manipulations play out in front of you? Because I’m guessing Mikal’s a smart dude. And I’m guessing he knows that his only ticket to the girl is gaming the system. So sure, why not pretend that you’re a changed man? I mean Hell, he must’ve done a bang-up job if that Overseer dude wrote that wonderful little entry about him, right?

Yeah, I’m thinking Mikal knows how to play. Which again, makes me wonder what his intentions were with our girl in the first place, but I digress. Maybe its possible to simultaneously be good at the game and be able to love after all.

….or is it? I don’t know.

Chapter 13

She’s going to be mine. I cannot stand the thought of Donavan having her. I must find a way to convince them that I have become Good. That I’m pure.

Today I spoke with the Overseer. I told him how much I appreciated this process, and for opening my eyes. It was something I believe none have done before me. I must do what is necessary to convince them that I am good. The rest just complain, they sit back and they plot their ways of how to break their system. They always fail. They never succeed. It is so much easier, to me, to navigate this system and act the way I am expected so I can turn my misfortune into opportunity. Yes, I will use their system against them. I will make it my own, and through my efforts return to my love…my Estella.

Chapter 14

Well well well, what have we here? Does he love her? What do you think? She’s going to be mine. Sort of an odd term to use, right? Almost sounds like he views her as property. Property he doesn’t want to share, as it seems.

So, here’s what I wonder: does Mikal love Estella? How does he even define it? If Estella’s future was brighter, hypothetically, with someone else, shouldn’t that be a good thing? Because when you love someone, its unconditional. You want them to be happy don’t you? Or is love only present when it serves our own ends?

Its a question that could persist forever. And truthfully one for which I doubt we will ever have a really good answer. Because no one wants to admit these things, for some reason, but they’re true. I think its safe to say that Mikal is only going to “love” Estella if she loves him back. Which clearly she does, based on previous readings.

Either way, he’s a sneaky little bugger isn’t he? Manipulating the manipulators.

Good for him.

Chapter 15

Days and days of work. Raw hands, tattered hair, and dry, cracking skin.

I find pause in my attempts to deceive my arbitrators. My plan to prove my purity has gone awry. The Overseer of my block is not content with the work that we are doing, and he takes out his frustrations on us frequently. The project with which we are tasked, of course,  is that of building their monument. A monument that is dedicated to our Founders. Once complete, it shall overlook the entire community.

The hand that feeds, indeed. For that is how they view themselves. If only they knew how brittle their structure truly is. Recently I’ve made attempts to speak reason to those I know I can trust. Oliver, the bread makers son, agrees that we are living as livestock. He sees our rulers chains for what they are. He knows, as I do, that this way of life cannot go on. We must change this. For there is no greater sin than that of idle hands. This is what must be done. There is no longer a choice. For me. For you. For them.

For my Estella.

Chapter 16

Well now!

Sounds like our guy is falling a little deeper into the depths of depravity, no? Openly acknowledging his attempts of deceit and manipulation? Ballsy move, if you ask me. What if these Overseer people busted his door down and found his journal? He’d be screwed, right? Not that he’s given them reason to, I imagine, but still. You never know.

Anyway! I suppose I should eventually fill you in on a little more background here. Because according to what I’ve dug up, Mikal ends up causing quite a stink. It’s funny, don’t you think? It’s like…you look back at history, and the people we tend to remember are the annoying ones who didn’t wanna follow the rules anymore. Those guys who just got pushed a liiiiiittle bit too far, and then bam. They snap and end up changing everything.

Weird how the world works, no?

Chapter 17

I must say, I now understand why Mikal was Filed to the Left.

Today the Overseer collected all of the town’s new Files, and took us into a room in the Capitol Building where much was revealed. He explained the process of deceit, and how those who are Filed left falsify their behaviors to project the image they believe others desire. It was a taxing day for me mentally, as I never imagined the mind of someone such as my Mikal to be so sinister. He always seemed so…good. Could it truly be that his behavior was not aligned with his intentions?

It is a worrisome thought, and one not without grave consequences. For if it is true, I shall find myself partial to Donovan, which will surely break Mikal’s heart were he to ever learn of my affection. After all, Donovan has been adamant about striking a relation with me and was awarded an honorable position after being filed Right with the Office of Entertainment. The union would be a logical one.

I must think on this for some time, I’m afraid. The thought that my Mikal is capable of such evil is vastly disheartening, yet I cannot turn on him just yet. I must consider the validity of the Overseer’s methods of determining his true character.

Mikals love is complicated, to be sure.

Chapter 18

Oh, Estella.

They’re funny things, these journals. The goal was to obtain the unfiltered thoughts of what’s going on in the heads of individuals. What resulted is a treasure trove of deep seeded, unabridged thought. It really helped those pulling the strings, as being able to purloin entries at will gave them a very accurate picture of public perception.

….oops. Did I just give away a much bigger plot? Forgive me. One story at a time.

It’s the gray area that I’m most concerned with. Why does Estella think Mikal is evil simply for being deceptive? After all, he only wants to return to a life with the one person he truly loves. Is his manipulation indicative of malice? I think not. Sure, misleading others to obtain things we want is an unavoidable component of the human condition that many people frown upon – but in this case, he just wants a life with his love.

Is that evil?

Chapter 19

Pain. It’s all I feel. It’s the only thing that keeps me going in this life of Left. Every day I wonder what Estella is doing. Every day I yearn to convince the Overseers that my mind is pure. But how can I? How can I, when they say they have the tools to look into my thoughts? To measure chemicals and observe reactions. It’s a system I cannot overcome. How can they possibly know what I think? Their faith in this technology will be my undoing.

And yet I cannot concede. My life has but one purpose; I must be with my Estella. My love for her shall never cease. I must find a way to break the chains that bind me, to free myself from this lifetime of servitude.

And so I shall.

Chapter 20

You know, I generally try to maintain a neutral feeling when I sift through these journal entries. Helps keep me sane, ya know? But I have to admit, I’m sort of feeling for Mikal. It sounds like he played his cards just a bit too poorly and ended up getting the shit end of the stick.

Maybe he doesn’t see the good in other men. Maybe he views the world as a blank canvas that’s just waiting to be painted on, and whoever paints the best wins. Is this how life is supposed to be? A constant attempt of trying to outdo the other guy so we can parade our marketability? Depth is a dwindling trait, indeed. But I choose to believe that life is more than that. It’s the experience of experiences; the short window where we get to cram in as much happiness as we can. Because ultimately that should be the goal in all endeavors. To generate happiness. Everything we produce, everything we create, everything we imagine…should be conceptualized to further and better the lives of us as biological organisms. Create happiness. That is the key to life.

Oh, and yes, I know that was a rant.

Sue me.

Chapter 21

I miss him. I miss him so, so much. Earlier today I took a walk along the river and sat at the spot Mikal and I used to catch fish. I recall the time he brought me there for an actual picnic…where we could eat outside without worry of the Overseers finding us.
He set it all up, the crazy boy. We snuck out after curfew and he had everything all planned out. There was even a stocked basket waiting for us when we got to our spot.

And yet I’m now told that Mikal was fostering sadistic thoughts toward me the whole time, and that’s why he was Filed left. They tell me he doesn’t truly care for me, that he merely pretends so he can have me. It just cannot be! He always respected me.

Father is pressuring me to obtain a husband. He clearly favors Donovan. I shan’t argue, but I wish so, so deeply that my Mikal would be the one I wed.

I miss him so much.

Chapter 22

Blah.

Oh, Estella. In spite of my usually whimsical self, I feel for that girl. Imagine it. The one person you love more than anything in the world, stripped from you without pause or cause for concern. Just like that – gone. Not even a goodbye. Now, I say imagine it….but can you really? Truly consider this: who is the one person on the planet you most assuredly could not fathom life without? Think of their name. Think of their face, greeting you with a warm mug of coffee as you waltz into the kitchen after a hot, fresh shower. Think of their smile as they tell you to have a good day, and the image in your head as you think of them while you’re gone.

And then imagine life without them.

I don’t know what’s good. I couldn’t tell you what’s evil. What I do know, however, through my time sifting through your historical records – is that humans have a grand capacity to feel. Now you might be questioning what I mean by that. But I would urge you to instead focus on that statement. What do you think constitutes good and evil? Is it our actions? Or rather, our intentions? Because the two most certainly do not correlate often.

You see, we all justify our actions, as good or bad as they may be. We all have a story we tell ourselves as we lay our heads down which allows us to purge our guilt and remorse from our thoughts. None of us would ever admit to being evil, would we? Of course not. That wouldn’t bode well for our facade, after all.

And as we all know, that’s what matters….right?

Chapter 23

He came into my office again today.

This Mikal, I am sure we have failed him. His attitude deviates so much from that of his peers. He displays behaviors clearly indicative of one who should have been Filed Right. Upon entering, he promptly informed me that the quartermaster of his block was not rationing food properly. At first, I was admittedly tired of the accusation as I assumed it was a ploy to obtain more rations. But what struck me was the fact that once leveled, he was afforded less than before, were he not to bring the mishap to my attention.

Why did he do this? The commissary’s oversight was to his benefit. There was nothing to be gained for his exposure of this error. It is most puzzling. I find myself tempted to submit a revaluation request to this ward’s Governor. I believe our system has failed us, and if we are to accept this society in which we live, we must act when we see egregious errors such as this.

There is much to consider.

Chapter 24

Oh boy.

Seems like Mikal is getting hotter. Sounds to me like he’s playing the game the right way. Even in the midst of all the labor, the hovels, the dregs of society that he’s forced to associate with…it sounds like our boy is maintaining a pretty convincing image out there. Exactly what he needs to convince the Overseers to give him a second look.

Does that make him fake? Does that make him a sell out? I would say no. I mean who actually wants to manufacture gadgets and serve salads all day to people who think they’re better than they are? I most definitely don’t blame the guy for scheming his way out.

And yet, there are those who would say Mikal is a bad person for doing so. That he’s bad for taking advantage of those not willing to modify their image in the aim of bettering his own position. So, my friend (surely I can call you that by now, right?), what do you think? Is it immoral to desire a better position in life, if it’s at the expense of another? If, of course, that person would do the same to you, given they have the capacity. Is it bad to exploit opportunities when others overlook them?

Personally, I believe there is one constant in this torrential equation of morality: that of Estella. She is the only relevant variable amidst all of this, in Mikal’s eyes. Call it Good or call it Evil, but one things for damn sure.

The kid is passionate.

Chapter 25

I’ve decided to go through with the wedding ceremony. With Donovan.

Father tells me that there is no better match for me. That Donovan is in a highly respected position, and is of Pure thought. And while that may be so, I dearly miss my Mikal. They continue to tell me that he misled me, that he only wanted to control me, but I cannot cleanse him from my mind. Mikal and I were friends. We loved one another dearly. I remember, as a child, imagining the day when we would join hands in our own wedding ceremonies.

But now that image is gone. I am left with but one option; that of Donovan. He is a sweet boy, and there are no doubts to his intentions. But there is so much missing, so much more that I long for that my Mikal could provide. We had adventures! We took risks. Walks, runs. There was no obstacle we could not overcome. Until the Filing. That awful Filing.

Oh, Mikal…how I miss you.

Chapter 26

Geez.

All these changes of perspectives keep confusing me. One second I pick up an entry from our girl, the next I’m reading something scribbled by our man. And then there’s a random Overseer entry sprinkled in every now and then. It’s hard to keep up, dammit!

Breathe. I should’ve known that this wouldn’t be easy. That I’d be spending all sorts of time trying to catalogue my thoughts and organize these events. Because it’s not easy, you see. No, not easy at all. As a matter of fact it’s taken quite some time in the warehouse of my fragmented mind to put together these entries in such a timely fashion. And I’m not even kidding. Can you imagine how difficult it would be if you stumbled upon a chest full of single journal pages, no order whatsoever and then to read them, file them by writer and then put them in chronological order?! It’s hard!

Breathe. Phew. Alas…such is the struggle of a story teller, you see. It is the mining of thoughts from the deepest chasms of twisted and tormented minds. The perpetual search for the innermost truths, and the endeavor to expose them in the brightest, most radiant light imaginable.

That is the story of Mikal and Estella.

Because at the end of the day, who are we? Or better yet, what are we? Complex, certainly. We are our thoughts. That is our genuine self. And ironically, the only person who ever knows one’s thoughts…is one’s very own self. Sounds lonely, don’t you think? You will be the only individual who ever truly, viscerally knows you.

And for these two, their thoughts drift to each other even in the most unlikely of circumstances.

That is what it means to be truly, in love.

Chapter 27

I’ve done it.

I’ve been called the Office of the Overseers.They intend to evaluate me for the first Refiling ever. This is my chance. This is my opportunity to return to Estellla. The others have told me how misguided it was to conform to their system, to show appreciation for the hardened conditions we are put under. But I have resisted. I have maintained my strength. My Love. The desire to share my life with that of Estella.I have made history. And I’ve done it for the heart of my one true love. I knew I was capable. I knew it. I just had to persevere. I had to be patient. Now, all my work and sacrifice has paid off. I have controlled my inner thoughts to fool the technology of the Overseers. Now I can take my place on the Right, which has been justifiably earned.

I have outsmarted them, and it is a grand feeling. Tomorrow cannot come too soon.

Chapter 28

Well I’ll be damned, he did it!

Now I’m sure there’s a lot of other stuff that transpired to prove to the higher ups that this guy wasn’t fit to be filed Left, but I suppose the beauty of partial journal entries is that you don’t have to read through all that junk to get to the good stuff. Point is, he did it! Good for him. He manipulated his way out of that horrible life and launched himself into life that he dreamed of.

Or did he?

Blast it. I need to dig through more of this junk. You ancients really should have worked  harder on your record-keeping.

Chapter 29

My God, what do I do?

Mikal has returned!! My wedding ceremony with Donovan has already been completed and consecrated. How is this possible? All those things they told me about Mikal were untrue? He was pure this whole time?  I knew it! But Donovan…I know he loves me. He is such a gentle, respected man. But surely he understands the matter. What am I to do? There is no route available to me which does not end in heartbreak!

I shall consider this heavily. Much is at stake; I do not intend for my own desires to hurt others.

Chapter 30

Hmm.

Seems our girl is in a bit of a pickle, wouldn’t you say? This is tough. What would you do? Mikal, the guy she’s spent pretty much her whole childhood life with, dealt with Hell and deceived his way out the bad hand that society had dealt him. Seemed to me he loved her quite a bit, from what I’ve read at least. Then there’s the other guy. The safe pick. The guy with the clean record, who has all the right connections and can undoubtedly provide a very comfortable life.

So which is it? Do we go Right or do we go Left? Do we attempt to break the system and rekindle a fiery love or do we simply let the cards fall as they will?

I suppose the ramifications must be considered first. You see, this society that these people created was intended to work seamlessly.These kinds of scenarios should have been ironed out, during the original Filing. A mistake has never been made. And yet now, on the dawn of the very first hiccup this Utopia has ever gurgled, we must consider the most profound decision one can make: who’s heart shall I tear apart?

One will see Good, another will see Evil, indeed.

Good & Evil: Chapter 30

Hmm.

Seems our girl is in a bit of a pickle, wouldn’t you say? This is tough. What would you do? Mikal, the guy she’s spent pretty much her whole childhood life with, dealt with Hell and deceived his way out the bad hand that society had dealt him. Seemed to me he loved her quite a bit, from what I’ve read at least. Then there’s the other guy. The safe pick. The guy with the clean record, who has all the right connections and can undoubtedly provide a very comfortable life.

So which is it? Do we go Right or do we go Left? Do we attempt to break the system and rekindle a fiery love or do we simply let the cards fall as they will?

I suppose the ramifications must be considered first. You see, this society that these people created was intended to work seamlessly.These kinds of scenarios should have been ironed out, during the original Filing. A mistake has never been made. And yet now, on the dawn of the very first hiccup this Utopia has ever gurgled, we must consider the most profound decision one can make: who’s heart shall I tear apart?

One will see Good, another will see Evil, indeed.

Good & Evil: Chapter 29

My God, what do I do?

Mikal has returned!! My wedding ceremony with Donovan has already been completed and consecrated. How is this possible? All those things they told me about Mikal were untrue? He was pure this whole time?  I knew it! But Donovan…I know he loves me. He is such a gentle, respected man. But surely he understands the matter. What am I to do? There is no route available to me which does not end in heartbreak!

I shall consider this heavily. Much is at stake; I do not intend for my own desires to hurt others.

Good & Evil: Chapter 27

I’ve done it.

I’ve been called the Office of the Overseers.They intend to evaluate me for the first Refiling ever. This is my chance. This is my opportunity to return to Estellla. The others have told me how misguided it was to conform to their system, to show appreciation for the hardened conditions we are put under. But I have resisted. I have maintained my strength. My Love. The desire to share my life with that of Estella.I have made history. And I’ve done it for the heart of my one true love. I knew I was capable. I knew it. I just had to persevere. I had to be patient. Now, all my work and sacrifice has paid off. I have controlled my inner thoughts to fool the technology of the Overseers. Now I can take my place on the Right, which has been justifiably earned.

I have outsmarted them, and it is a grand feeling. Tomorrow cannot come too soon.

Good & Evil: Chapter 26

Geez.

All these changes of perspectives keep confusing me. One second I pick up an entry from our girl, the next I’m reading something scribbled by our man. And then there’s a random Overseer entry sprinkled in every now and then. It’s hard to keep up, dammit!

Breathe. I should’ve known that this wouldn’t be easy. That I’d be spending all sorts of time trying to catalogue my thoughts and organize these events. Because it’s not easy, you see. No, not easy at all. As a matter of fact it’s taken quite some time in the warehouse of my fragmented mind to put together these entries in such a timely fashion. And I’m not even kidding. Can you imagine how difficult it would be if you stumbled upon a chest full of single journal pages, no order whatsoever and then to read them, file them by writer and then put them in chronological order?! It’s hard!

Breathe. Phew. But alas…this is the mind of a story teller, you see. It is the mining of thoughts from the deepest chasms of twisted and tormented minds. The perpetual search for the innermost truths, and the endeavor to expose them in the brightest, most radiant light imaginable.

That is the story of Mikal and Estella.

Because at the end of the day, who are we? Or better yet, what are we? Complex, certainly. We are our thoughts. That is our genuine self. And ironically, the only person who ever knows one’s thoughts…is one’s very own self. Sounds lonely, don’t you think? You will be the only individual who ever truly, viscerally knows you.

And for these two, their thoughts drift to each other even in the most unlikely of circumstances.

That is what it means to be truly, in love.

Good & Evil: Chapter 24

Oh boy.

Seems like Mikal is getting hotter. Sounds to me like he’s playing the game the right way. Even in the midst of all the labor, the hovels, the dregs of society that he’s forced to associate with…it sounds like our boy is maintaining a pretty convincing image out there. Exactly what he needs to convince the Overseers to give him a second look. 

Does that make him fake? Does that make him a sell out? I would say no. I mean who actually wants to manufacture gadgets and serve salads all day to people who think they’re better than they are? I most definitely don’t blame the guy for scheming his way out. 

And yet, there are those who would say Mikal is a bad person for doing so. That he’s bad for taking advantage of those not willing to modify their image in the aim of bettering his own position. So, my friend (surely I can call you that by now, right?), what do you think? Is it immoral to desire a better position in life, if it’s at the expense of another? If, of course, that person would do the same to you, given they have the capacity. Is it bad to exploit opportunities when others overlook them?

Personally, I believe there is one constant in this torrential equation of morality: that of Estella. She is the only relevant variable amidst all of this, in Mikal’s eyes. Call it Good or call it Evil, but one things for damn sure. 

The kid is passionate. 

Good & Evil: Chapter 21

I miss him. I miss him so, so much. Earlier today I took a walk along the river and sat at the spot Mikal and I used to catch fish. I recall the time he brought me there for an actual picnic…where we could eat outside without worry of the Overseers finding us. 
He set it all up, the crazy boy. We snuck out after curfew and he had everything all planned out. There was even a stocked basket waiting for us when we got to our spot. 

And yet I’m now told that Mikal was fostering sadistic thoughts toward me the whole time, and that’s why he was Filed left. They tell me he doesn’t truly care for me, that he merely pretends so he can have me. It just cannot be! He always respected me. 

Father is pressuring me to obtain a husband. He clearly favors Donovan. I shan’t argue, but I wish so, so deeply that my Mikal would be the one I wed. 

I miss him so much.

Good & Evil: Chapter 19

Pain. It’s all I feel. It’s the only thing that keeps me going in this life of Left. Every day I wonder what Estella is doing. Every day I yearn to convince the Overseers that my mind is pure. But how can I? How can I, when they say they have the tools to look into my thoughts? To measure chemicals and observe reactions. It’s a system I cannot overcome. How can they possibly know what I think? Their faith in this technology will be my undoing.

And yet I cannot concede. My life has but one purpose; I must be with my Estella. My love for her shall never cease. I must find a way to break the chains that bind me, to free myself from this lifetime of servitude.

And so I shall.

Good & Evil: Chapter 17

I must say, I now understand why Mikal was Filed to the Left. 

Today the Overseer collected all of the town’s new Files, and took us into a room in the Capitol Building where much was revealed. He explained the process of deceit, and how those who are Filed left falsify their behaviors to project the image they believe others desire. It was a taxing day for me mentally, as I never imagined the mind of someone such as my Mikal to be so unpure. He always seemed so…good. Could it truly be that his behavior was not aligned with his intentions?

It is a worrisome thought, and one not without grave consequences. For if it is true, I shall find myself partial to Donovan, which will surely break Mikal’s heart were he to ever learn of my affection. After all, Donovan has been adamant about striking a relation with me and was awarded an honorable position after being filed Right with the Office of Entertainment. The union would be a logical one.

I must think on this for some time, I’m afraid. The thought that my Mikal is capable of such evil is vastly disheartening, yet I cannot turn on him just yet. I must consider the validity of the Overseer’s methods of determining his true character.

Mikals love is complicated, to be sure.

MVCs – What is the Most Valuable Characteristic You Look For?

When I was a child, I never would have thought this way – but after studying economics and corporate strategy in college, I learned that (as odd it it might sound) there are actual methods of “quantifying” human beings. That’s right –  legitimate methods exist which essentially break a person’s personality, monetary worth, and other traits down to a bulleted word document; their tangible, measurable character profile and worth if you will.

Now if you’re anything like me, your response after reading that is probably something like this: “um…what?” After all, the thought of reducing a human being down to a simple sheet of paper sounds somewhat monstrous, don’t you think? 

As time went on, however, I began to understand why these metrics exist. I’ve spoken with relationship counselors who do this to aide with matchmaking, for example. I even used these methods during my career as an insurance agent, quantifying my clients monetary worth over their lifetime to determine the amount of life insurance they need. Despite how offputting it was at first, things became clear that these analytics weren’t, in fact, a way of thinking totally devoid of personal sensitivity and compassion. 

Recently I’ve experienced significant changes in my life which have reminded me of these lessons. In my torturous attempts to move on after a breakup, for instance, I created a five page list of bullet points which helped me understand why I was struggling so badly. Eventually, going back and referencing that list helped me realize that the characteristics which I was so in love with actually exist in other people. It may not have switched off the lingering feelings which we all maintain after long relationships, but it certainly helped with the tornado making its way through my head. It was therapeutic, if I had to label the sensation. 

With so many changes in my life both personally and professionally, I’ve been thinking a lot about this method of quantifying our reality. My main curiousity lies in the characteristics that people most commonly look for in other people. 

So I’d like to propose a question:

If you had to list the top two or three traits you desire in a person, what would your answer be? Particularly when it comes to a relationship, since those tend to be our most dynamic interactions, and in my opinion surely the one that dictates the majority of our happiness. 

My answer would be this: trust, open-mindedness, and depth. Trust is an obvious one; no one likes to constantly question their companions motives or actions. Open-mindedness is vital because with my personality profile, it’s a necessity. I love to try new things, take calculated risks and enjoy a diverse, sometimes unpredictable life. Depth is perhaps the most unconventional trait of the list. To me, having substance is one of the most valuable characteristics we can display. I like people who have deeply held convictions, are good critical thinkers, and who can have solid conversation about a lot of different things. 

Undoubtedly there are many who have, and many who have not thought of their relationships in this manner. Despite the apprehension some may feel with what might seem to be a “cold” school of thought, I encourage you to give this a try. Think of what you value most in your relationships, and apply that to the ones you currently have. Are you surrounding yourself with those who truly mesh with you? You’d be amazed at how much you can learn about yourself if you just give it a shot.

Your Life, as a Book

There have been a lot of things in the past few years that have significantly impacted my life. Like, big things. Moving back to Nashville from West Virginia was one. Deciding to pursue writing was another. Breakups. Mom passing, obviously, was yet another.

As I look back, all of these things have resulted in substantial shifts in my life. Whether it’s a new location, a new endeavor, or a new perspective on life in general, I’ve come to learn that our lives are merely a continuing path of significant events. And our reaction to these events is what dictates our happiness.

For example, when you buy or adopt an animal, that’s a significant event. That little guy or girl will be with you for the foreseeable future, and will always have an impact on your thought process and your inner world. That character has been inserted into your story, and it will be there until you part. Such is life.

It’s strange to think of life that way, I know. In a perfect world, everything would be just fine and dandy and nothing would get in our way. But this is reality. And we live out whatever story we decide to write. We should always, always remember that. We are all the authors of our own, individual lives, and we should always strive to write each chapter as well and as happily as we can. Because we only get to write one book.

Make it a good one.