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1984 b.c.

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  • 1984 b.c.

       The dim candlelight flickered casting long shadows upon the wooden shelter. Marcus and his team had been traveling for many months toward their commanded destination where they would begin the construction of a new city for the growing empire of Rome. Marcus was tired but he stayed awake regardless with a pen in hand scribing the events of his journey in a worn out journal. He sat staring at the flickering shadows that danced along his wall trying to remember the days events. In his dirty cloths that had not been washed for months and a beard that was infested with lice he had the look of a ragged soul. His posture was slightly slumped over his journal and at first glance one would think Marcus a pathetic looking beast but in his eyes he dreamed of brighter days when he would escape the misery of being a Roman settler.

       He scribbled a date on the header of the wrinkled paper. Marcus was sure the date was inaccurate but he did know the year was approximately 1984 b.c. (Bravura Caesar). Many years ago Roman wise men prophesied the coming of Bravura Caesar who was to be the first ruler of the world when all people of the earth would come under Roman control. Since then the years of Rome were counted backwards until the glorious date of 0 when Bravura was to be born.

       The team was being escorted by a full legion of soldiers loyal to the current dictator of Rome, Julius Caesar. The command was given to the Legions to protect the settlers as they crossed the untamed wilderness outside the safety of the Roman borders, but it was well known that the real reason why the escorts where there was to oversee the settlers activities and make sure no one fell out of line. Marcus had many scars from the brutality of the impatient soldiers as he was punished with their whips for not traveling fast enough although he carried twice the gear of the soldiers. Marcus’ journal was full of such horrible acts of cruelty. If the journal were to ever be found by one of Caesar’s soldiers, Marcus was sure to be put to death for writing in Rome was considered an act of treason. In fact, only scribes were allowed the privilege of writing as they conducted Caesars assigned science research.

       Marcus’ deep stare ended quickly as he jolted to the sound of someone walking outside his shelter. His eyes fell to the last words entered into his journal and with a look of disbelief he read the words aloud in a soft whisper.

    Down with Rome.
    Down with Rome.
    Down with ROME

       Had his hand written such words? Quickly he hid his journal beneath the straw of his bed just as someone burst through the door of the shelter. An enormous man in shiny armor filled the doorway and Marcus jolted to his feet at attention.

        “Settler! Why is thou awake and not obedient to Caesar’s curfew?” the legionary questioned Marcus in a stern voice.

       Marcus did not reply but only stood motionless.

        “If thou is not asleep by the time I exit this horrid looking shack thou shall receive 30 lashing of my whip on the morrow.” The legion said as he exited the room. Marcus hurried to his bed but he did not close his eyes. His encounter with the Legion had terrified him, yet he did not lose his thoughts. Marcus laid in the straw bed repeating the words to himself over and over, down with Rome, down with Rome.
    Marcus was awakened by the morning call of the Legions Horn. Every morning a soldier was assigned to waken the camp by blowing a great horn. A horrible noise it made as the sound traveled waking everything for miles. This morning was no different.

       Marcus stood outside his shelter preparing for morning exercise. The master legion shouted out motions as Marcus had done a hundred times.

       “Not like that! Do not bend your knees. Stand up straight. Move your body like I do.” The master legion continued in his constant nagging way every day for several hours until he felt enough exercise had been done before the team set out.

       Marcus gathered his gear and stepped in line with his fellow settlers. He held no rank over any settlers and no settler held rank over him. To the Roman authorities, Marcus was merely a number, Settler XIII. There were four classes in Rome. The emperor Caesar, the emperor’s military, the settlers, and finally the pee-ons of society, the workers. Marcus was thankful that he was not a worker. Oh the horrors of workers life. The workers job never ends. He is a slave and he knows nothing else beyond his slavery. Workers are the less fortunate in mind and body of Rome. A slight retardation or physical deformity meant a hard life of slavery. Many newborns in Rome were killed by their own parents for they believed death was better than being a worker, and they were right.

      Marcus marched in his assigned position during travel just behind his closest friend. Marcus did not know his name, for he had never spoken to him. He knew this man only by his stagger as he walked that always grew to a very noticeable limp by mid-day. Thus Marcus found it appropriate and named him Hobble. Hobble was a good man. Every day as Marcus passed him he would smile ever so slightly but he would never speak as all the settlers obeyed Caesar’s Code of Silence. The only sounds during travel came from the legions as they discussed various issues among themselves.

       It was extremely hot by mid afternoon when a runner traveling the great distance from Rome arrived to deliver reports of the front lines.

       “Glorious news!” He shouted as he ran past the marching settlers towards the Chief Legion and his officers. “The great war between Rome and England is going well. Our mighty Legions under the command of Caesar himself have captured the city of York! Joan of Arc and the French have offered to aid us in the destruction of the evil English.”

       The settlers all turned and smiled at one another and nodded their heads in approval of the good news. Everyone but Marcus.

       “Was it not yesterday that the same runner ran past us announcing the news of Rome and England, our closest allies, attacking the French and Caesar himself beheading Joan of Arc?” Marcus thought to himself. “Surely I was not dreaming.”

       All the Legions cheered while Marcus looked at his fellow settlers with great smiles across their faces.
    “Have they all gone mad? Am I the only one who thinks this news is a lie?” he thought.

       It was not the first time such announcements did not make sense. Marcus could remember many times the news of one day contradicting the news of the day before. Marcus wondered also, how the same runner was getting all the way to the capital of Rome to acquire the news everyday when the team had been traveling for uncountable months far beyond the Roman borders. No one around him, however, showed any sign of confusion to the reports each day. And even if there was something bizarre going on, what was Marcus to do about it?

       It was nighttime, and Marcus was writing in his journal.

        A runner came today announcing the news of another victorious army someplace far away but I have already forgotten the details. Something that the runner did say today really caught my attention and I began thinking as I walked. The runner said that Roman citizens were the happiest people in the world. He said we share the greatest luxuries and more wealth than any other nation.

        Marcus stopped and scratched his beard crawling with lice and continued…

       Yet for some reason I do not believe that. I have never seen another human outside of Rome so I do not know how others live. But I do know how I feel. I feel poor. I feel unhappy.

       Marcus closed his journal and placed it in the same spot under his bed as he had done each night of the long journey and fell asleep. The next morning began as usual. The Legions Horn blared just at sunrise and Marcus stretched his limbs as he crawled out of bed. Reaching under his bed Marcus’ eyes widened in panic.

        “Oh my God!” Marcus said in a terrified voice. His journal was not there. Immediately six soldiers burst through the doorway of Marcus’ shack and filled the room.

        “SETTLER XIII, IS THIS YOUR RUBBISH?” an enormous soldier’s voice echoed throughout the encampment as he held out a worn book. Marcus felt his heart leap out of his chest as he read the words, Down with ROME. Those were his words. It was his journal.

       Marcus lay bound on a stone bed in dark chamber with only a small flickering candle in one corner outlining the dark figure of someone leaning over reading something. The figure approached Marcus. It was the Chief Legion.

       “Quite a collection of stories you have here Settler XIII. Tell me, where did a settler like you find within himself such a vast imagination?”

       Marcus stared back puzzled.

       “Imagination?” He thought.

       “Yes, you heard my question. Have you confused yourself with the scribes of Rome thinking that you, a measly settler, has the privilege of writing?”

       Marcus did not reply but only stared at the dark face in front of him. The Chief Legion’s eyes scolded him through the darkness and his expressionless face was hard like the face of focused warrior. In Marcus’ opinion, the evils of Rome had molded the Chief Legion into a slave just like everyone else. Such a glaring face was quite ugly in his opinion.

       “No settler.” Said the Chief Legion. “You are the ugly one. You are the one who has committed treason to all of Rome. You have a diseased mind settler. Such a disease can be cured and you must focus, but you will be cured.”

       “What disease?” Marcus finally spoke.

       “You have mistaken reality with fantasy. All your life we have been watching you. Watching you eat, sleep, walk, and talk to yourself. We have watched you every night write your silly stories of how you were whipped for not walking fast enough, or how you imagined reports from runners each day. But what you have not realized is that the scars on your back are from self inflicted wounds. You do not realize that there has never been a runner report the news of our front lines. Tell me settler, who is Rome at war with?”

       “Yesterday we were at war with England. The day before that we were at war with France and were allies with England. I do not understand that.” Said Marcus.

       “Rome has no enemies! Rome has never had any enemies other than you Settler XIII. Soon, Rome will again be without enemies and the world will be peaceful once you are cured.”

       The Legion stepped away as a horde of soldiers entered the room and beat Marcus until he was unconscious. For many nights Marcus was beaten. The beatings lasted for hours until his entire body became numb. It became a routine. Marcus had also lost count of time. He could not tell day from night as he lay strapped to the stone bed upon which he was bound. He was certain, though, that he had been there for several months.

       The Master Legion entered the room where Marcus lay as he carried several lit candles upon a bronze tray. The light illuminated the room and Marcus squint his eyes to adjust.

       “You once judged my face and your opinion of it was that it was ugly.” The Master Legion said as he unstraped Marcus from the bed. “The time has come for you to see the world through your newly cured mind.”

       He held Marcus over a large bowl of water and pressed his face close. The reflection was horrid. Marcus’ eyes bulged out of their sockets. He was bald with sunken cheeks and was missing many teeth. He had the look of a dying man, frail, and malnourished. Obviously he had been strapped to that bed far longer than he thought.

       “You see settler, yours is the face of disgust.”

       Marcus closed his eyes. He could not look any longer.

       “I come to you today because there are more important matters at hand. Peace in our time has come to an end as the evil French have declared war upon Rome. Our Legions are fighting the Frenchmen as we speak and are not faring well. You and your team of settlers will be exchanged for our safe passage home to Rome. You will be captured by the French but you must remember that you are Roman. You will always be Roman. One day we will come with our forces and return you to Roman society. I bid you farewell.”

       The Master Legion exited. Marcus stood there in a state of confusion. He hated Rome and its selfish soldiers but the thought of capture scared him. Moments later several men wearing pink uniforms entered and carried Marcus away and joined him with his group of settlers. The French soldiers asked many questions of the settlers but no one answered. Finally Marcus spoke up.

       “Thank you France from freeing us from the bondage of Rome. Rome is an evil society that brainwashes its people filling their minds full of lies. We are prepared to fight alongside the French soldiers in our gratitude for your saving us from a lifetime of Roman cruelty.”

       The French soldiers and the rest of the setter camp look at Marcus in confusion.

       “France has planned glorious things for you. Come with us settlers, and we will make great things of you.” The French commander said.

       The journey to the French borders was far but Marcus entertained himself with dreams of his wonderful new life as a French citizen. He would write a book perhaps and make many new friends whom he could actually carry on a conversation with. The life of being a Frenchman would be a joyous time for Marcus.

       “Settlers. The journey to the French borders was far and difficult. The terrain is rocky and overgrown. You job is to clear the path for French expansion. You will build roads, mines, and fortresses. You will clear jungles and forests. You are hereby declared workers for the empire of France.” Said the French Commander.

       For the rest of his life, Marcus shoveled and worked the earth for the French empire. He kept alive on a slaves ration of food and by dreaming and hoping of the return of the Roman armies to free him, though they never came. He worked and toiled or many years always singing his song.

    Down with France.
    Down with France.
    Down with France.

       Marcus always remembered his life as a Roman. He missed Rome. He loved Rome.
    Last edited by ike0481; December 9, 2001, 18:33.
    "Those of you who think you know everything are annoying those of us who do."

  • #2

    Bravo! Very creative. Reminds me that I haven't read Orwell since I was a teenager -- got to go back and re-read 1984. In between games of Civ, of course...



    • #3

      I’m glad you appreciate my CivIII and Orwell’s 1984 combo. I’m a big fan of George Orwell and I thought mixing his work in with a short CivIII story would be fun. Glad you liked it.
      "Those of you who think you know everything are annoying those of us who do."


      • #4
        Great Work

        clap clap clap clap clap clap (applause)

        googol... this is a number!
        "Silence Ming. I will let you know when I feel you are needed." - HappySunShine
        "Classic Eyes...But in reality, it works the other way around." - Ming


        • #5

          Hey, I made it into this weeks story contest! Thanks for you kind words/claps. If you like my story please go vote for me at:

          Thanks a bunch!
          "Those of you who think you know everything are annoying those of us who do."


          • #6
            Good Job, Ike

            There are 2 stories I am torn between voting on, and this is one of them

            You did defend my grammar from a poster on one of my stories, so I am leaning toward this one
            'Ice cream makes computers work better! Just spoon it in..."


            • #7
              Oh man I love this story, great job! Or wait... this story was not ungood...

              Must read 1984 (the A.D. variety) again soon...


              • #8
                Excellent story Ike. I would have voted for it if I was on 'poly 4 years ago.
                Do you believe in Evil? The Nefarious Mr. Butts
                The continuing saga of The Five Nations
                A seductress, an evil priest, a young woman and The Barbarian King


                • #9
                  Hmm, not bad- It really sums up 1984 in a much simpler way too- when you think about it

                  All the loss, all the desparation, and the inevitability of it all comes across- in much less text.

                  -->Visit CGN!
                  -->"Production! More Production! Production creates Wealth! Production creates more Jobs!"-Wendell Willkie -1944


                  • #10
                    not bad at all
                    Hi, I'm RAH and I'm a Benaholic.-rah