Thetataur's Sandbox

It was 8:30 in the morning. The piercing sounds of alarm clocks began to echo through the simple town. Will woke up. He turned the alarm clock off. He walked over to the bathroom, and slowly showered. He brushed his teeth. He got dressed, putting on the same white robe that he had worn for the past ten years. He came out to the living room, seeing his wife, Lang, sitting on the couch. She seemed to have woken up early. Her hair was combed, and her robe already on. Will went up and sat next to her. Then, he quietly reached out and touched her hand.

After a couple minutes he asked, "How did you sleep?"

"Good. Thank you."

Though they said "Good and "Thank you", neither of them knew what they truly meant - it was an automatic gesture. They knew that a marriage was supposed to make a couple happy in terms of loving each other, and they knew this because they themselves were married. But Will and Lang had forgotten what "happiness" was. They did not know why they loved each other, or what love was or felt like. Their town knew no feeling of joy, of sadness, of anger and surprise. For everyone, their minds were empty, and it was only a thing they could say.

They stayed like this until 9:00. Then, the bell in the left of town began to ring. Will and Lang rose together, walked over to the door, and opened it. They were greeted by the many near-simultaneous opening of other people's doors. Men and women together stepped onto the grass. Will recognized some faces among the moving crowd - Kate, John, May, among others - but had not talked to them much. In many walkings, he had only seen their glances for seconds at a time. For the most part he went silently forward with the rest of them. They moved towards the building in the distance. With its entrance looming closer, the crowd fanned out around it. The people from the other side met them there. Everyone began to kneel as the door opened, and the Guardian stepped out.

The Guardian was the old town watcher. He was responsible of the giving of food and drink every day to the community. Other than that, he rarely came out of his home. Someone once said he had given another person the skills he had used for them. But this could not be proven. He then held up his hand, and began talking.

"You are all the happiest people in the world. In your town, ill feelings do not live in you. Instead, you have love and peace for each other. The food and drink supports your mind and body. It keeps you safe from the outside world. Come, and restore yourself again." With that, his door opened and the many Guardian's Men, with all-black clothing and faces obscured, slowly came out. His Men began to lay some five thousand trays on the grass.

Will, Lang, and the rest of the community did not know the meaning or feeling of love, peace, and ill feelings. But they did understand its importance. Like a silent wave the crowd stood up and moved towards the trays. Each person picked one of the trays up and began to eat. It was like a tradition: the opening of the can. The spooning and swallowing of the thick gray paste. The soft "tsik" as the taller can was opened. The cool feeling of liquid down one's throat. Will cast his tray back down and turned back home. He felt full and refreshed.

When he opened the door and sat down on the couch, Will tried to remember what would come next. He saw Lang open the door and come back in. The area around her mouth was streaked with the food. He took a napkin from a table next to the couch. Then, he stood up and wiped her mouth. She then took the napkin and cleaned his face as well. They sat on the couch and held their hands together. They stared quietly at each other, but not face to face.

Each couple or person in the community had their own special simple activity at home. This was in between the major acts of the day. Kate and Rob lay on their bed. John and Ash held their lips together as if they were kissing. May hugged herself, crossing her hands over hands over her shoulders and pulling tight. Those in the community did not feel any emotional pull. Yet deep in their subconsciousnesses, it meant something special to them. With this, it mattered.

Will and Lang stayed like this for two hours. During this time, they sometimes clenched their hands tightly. Other times, they gently held each other's fingers. Their heads turned slowly back and forth. But their gaze never broke.

"Lying on the grass?" he asked.

"Yes," she said.

Almost five minutes later, the bell from the right of town began to ring. Again, they opened their door. Again, the soft sound of many doors being opened at once greeted them. The five thousand-robed men and women circled widely around the jet-black spire on the right of the town. They began to lay down on the grass around it. The Guardian said that the spire symbolized the mind. Self-thought for an hour was good for their well-being. This was definite for ones that have no sense of ill feelings. Will lay down on the grass. He closed his eyes, and began to think, very slowly:

My name is Will. My wife is Lang. I have lived here for as long as I can remember. The community is at peace. The Guardian provides food and drink for us. The grass is wet. The spire is black. The robe is soft. Our home is warm. It is comfy. Tomorrow we will eat the food and drink. We will lay on the grass again. And the day after that. And the day after that.

My name is Will. My wife is Lang. I have lived here for as long as I can remember. The community is at peace. The Guardian provides food and drink for us. The grass is —

The thoughts went on ceaselessly. When the bell began to ring again, marking the end of the hour, Will was still thinking of the black spire and his community. He found Lang close by, who looked rested. The mass of people slowly streamed away from the spire. Today was the washing day. Today, the Guardian's Men took the robes of the community and disappeared inside their master's home. The next morning the robes would mysteriously appear, clean, by the door. They both took off their robes and dropped them in the basket. Then they went to sit on the couch again. After several minutes, Lang took hold of Will's arm.

She asked him, "Can we visit May?"

He looked at her, and wondered why.

She replied, "I don't know. I just want to see her. Can we?"

Visiting some else in the community was a very rare and unpracticed act. When May opened her door to find Will and Lang standing there, all Will had to do was say

"Hello, May. Can we come in?"

to get her to let them in. May pulled up a chair to sit. Will and Lang sat on her couch. They talked and whispered about various things, from the food to the spire to the community.

At a certain point, Will asked "Who is the Guardian?"

Without stopping, May answered: "The Guardian guides us. He presents us with food and drink to live, which are sent by his men. He is in the building in the left of town. He pays life, and we give to him with our lives."

"Yes, that is true. But I'm asking who the Guardian is, not what he does."

May thought for a second, then answered again: "He is the watcher. He is the giver. He is the community. We are his."

Will stood up abruptly. "Yes, he is all of that. We are his forever. And we are his to save and give. As he says, we are the happiest people in the world. But I have run out of things to say."

He went towards her door. "Thank you, May. I am going now, Lang. Come back when you have run out of things to talk about."

Will opened the door and stepped out onto the grass. Then he did something he had never done before in ten years. He walked over to the wall.

The wall was about 6 meters high. It surrounding the town in a dumbbell shape. The community saw it many times over a day, but always skimmed over it. It did not matter how close they were. To them it was just there. Now, Will looked up at its height. He stared around the sides of it. He also looked back to try if he could see it from the other side. He wondered what the wall meant. Will looked straight at it for a few minutes and felt the rough surface with his hands. Then, he began to think.

He thought about the Guardian. He thought of May's words. They were true, all of them. But something was strange. The building where the Guardian lived was small. It was just a house like in the community. However, it was painted all black. If he lived there, and only there, then where did the Men come from? Where did the food and drink come from? It didn't make any sense. Did the Guardian make it himself? No, no one had stoves or ovens. And what about making it for five thousand? Unless…there was a thing below the house. A thing the community had never been told before. But what was it?

Something rose to the surface of Will's inner mind. The one that had been so quiet and tranquil for many years. It bobbed up and floated there, but did not sink down again.