The Tragedy in Man: a short story

BY ANDREW NGUYEN
Staff Writer

           They are poor–my people. Men, women, and children barely dressed in disheveled rags of clothing, and anything they can scavenge. The city omits stenches of garbage that rustle throughout the streets, and people have no choice but to bathe themselves in the toxicity. Barely any clean water is offered to the common people, and any clean water offered would better be used drinking. Food is no different. The world doesn’t lack food. Rationed distribution of food and water is just the primary means in which The Administration controls the people.   

        Life, to men and women, is no more than labor. We are slaves, but The Administration never advertises it that way. Consequently, people pull their muscles and break their backs, unknowingly succumbing to a system run by tyrants. And so people trot on with their lives to which they believe is created with a definite purpose to work. Literature, romance, and other luxuries are only available to the affluent, which is comprised of The Administration and their families. However, they are sheltered away from the commons. That way, the common people would never see a glimpse of the life they could have been living- a life unshackled by the monsters of greed and power. The Administration lives like gods, and my neighbors, my friends, my family, we are all poor.

        This is the first day I log into this journal. And for good reason: it is dusk before the new dawn, and history is to be made.

“Do you feel it in the air, Marcus? By this time tomorrow, my people–our people will get the chance to know living beyond this ash.”

        “At last, truly. Your uprising will finally liberate.”

        “I suppose it’s a matter of time now. Within hours you and I both will be screened in front of The Administration. Only you, really, will understand how far I’ve longed for this day. To have been living my life a lie as a loyalist, it is liberating on my own part to release this burden.”

        “Of course. Do you fear The Administration, Jay?”

        “Fear what? They have no suspicion of our plans, of our liberation. Once accepted into The Administration, we can gradually nurture and hone our credibility. They will believe in us. And thus we will plant the seed that is our future, and await the day the Lord passes of old age so that the coup d’état and liberation may bloom. Soon, you and I will upset this status quo. We’ll tear down the established order and give back the people what is there’s. Our people will know more than slavery and rationing.”

        “Right, right. You wield no doubt; it is admirable.”

        “How can I possibly? You have been my trusted companion since youth.”

        The first day of The Administration screening process has terminated, and it is difficult to say things could have been executed better. To every analytical question proposed, I approached with grace, and every subtle misstep, Marcus would catch me. It has been one day, and yet I feel as though I have already been accepted. I am confident Marcus feels no different. Within two more days, Marcus and I will be notified of whether The Administration has accepted us, and I cannot see any other outcome cross our paths.

Yesterday, I rested in the confines of my dim room haunted by the shadowing woes and disparities of my neighbors. Tonight, I close my eyes in a room lit with a newfound hope of a brighter tomorrow.

“Jay Comus, It is with our utmost honor and felicity that we, The Administration, welcome you to our politics.” That is how it read – the single-line key to a new life. It has been one week in my stay at The Administration’s palace, and I have treated myself a fair amount, all the while gaining popularity among the others. Within the dinner hall, thunderous laughter fills the air, and I am Zeus. In the discussions and meetings at the round table, new frontiers of solution to the issues of our society are explored, and I am Columbus. History books of a slow revolution are being written, and I am the author. It troubles me that I do not see Marcus as much as I would like to in the palace, but I am in complete belief he is enjoying himself more than myself, if not the same.

Despite my seemingly easy and fitting assimilation into The Administration, I have not forgotten my true purpose here, but the time must be right. The Lord needs to step down, and I need to have gained the full throttle trust of the other members. I see The Lord feeble in and out of his bed each night and day. One cannot help but to imagine that his night’s toil into his bed will be his last.

“Marcus, have you heard?  The Lord – he’s passed.”

“I have indeed, Jay. When do you plan on commencing the coup d’état?”

        “Within an hour, precisely. I will head into the announcement quarters during supper, and barricade the doors from inside. Then I’ll send out the broadcast, exposing every single privilege that The Administration indulges and ushering our people to commence the coup d’état after they have been enlightened upon their potential. Prepare to open the palace doors for the onslaught of angry souls. Our people will be liberated, and you and I will be their emancipators, their gods.”

And so I move. I slid between the walls and slipped in the shadows of this great palace until I reached the announcement quarters. Now, I stand here in this dark room with a command board and its hopeful bright-green button that initiates broadcasts. This emerald button is the only source of light in the room, and the final bridge to tomorrow. And so I push it, and speak.

“My great people, my name is Jay Comus, and I am speaking on behalf of the Administration…”

“It’s not broadcasting, Jay.”

“Marcus?”

“You’ve committed treason against this state, and your consequences will be dire. The Administration has already been informed of your crime, and enforcement units are arriving.”

“Marcus, what are you saying? The coup d’état, you mustn’t be childish with me right now. Tomorrow must arrive, and time is of the essence.”

“This is no bluff, Jay. There will be no tomorrow, not one you speak of.”

“Our people, Marcus! They’re enslaved, and we were supposed to liberate them. We were supposed bring upon the new dawn, the new future.”

“The future you envision is the schematics of a greater evil. You wish to bring chaos, anarchy, and disorder to the homes of our people where no law exists, and the innocent are to be susceptible to assault, left defenseless against the rage and evils of men. A time ago you criticized The Administration for disguising themselves as gods among humans, yet here I watch you indulge yourself and parade around like Dionysus. I am bewildered by the sight of your self-pampering, and how you feast upon your own delusion that your work up to this point has been driven by the disparities of our people. The matter of truth, Jay, is that our people were never as helpless as you cast them off to be. They are brilliant people that will arise from this abyss constructed by man, greedy and hungry men: men who prey upon the weak, and drink wine to their false pride; men who blame and castigate, and lack understanding and compassion; men who believe in an chaotic uprising rather than the people; men like you. The Lord is dead, and a new way of life is to begin: a way of life that adheres to a legitimate and formal system, not a life that adheres to the anarchy, treachery, and fear of a coup d’état. This is a city, brilliant composed of and by brilliant people, and so as long as people die, a new way of life can be underway.”

“A new way of life that adheres to a legitimate and formal system? A system and way created by whom, Marcus? Who is to be the architect and artist of the future you envision?”

“Why, myself, of course.”

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