When did it start?
The craze started slowly and at first appeared no threat but gradually as time passed, we noticed more of the Games were becoming easier to obtain and users were less secretive. Who started the craze we never found out nor did we find the reason ever, all we knew is the Games took over and soon books would become hard to obtain; little did we realise what lay ahead.
Reports from the main cities appeared on line; telling of mass burning of reading material and executions of readers seen in public places but these things don’t happen in a civilised world - or do they? And anyway we are miles from the nearest city, out here in the deserts, so, nobody would bother about us, or so we thought.
The beginning of the end of free reading and the beginning of the resistance group “The Word” are masked in the flames of the libraries and halls of learning; which now ring to the noise of the Game Lords – people living in vast towers – who produce and sell the games which corrupt the minds of the young and force them away from the pleasures of reading.
The evening was hot and humid – aren’t they always – and we decided to visit our library. While we were there we witnessed the horrors we read about as Firemen charged through the halls gathering as many books as they could and yelling, “Everybody out! Anybody found with reading material will be shot on sight by order of the Game Lords.”
The next thing I remember is standing outside watching the books and papers burning in piles as the Firemen turned their flamethrowers on them. I wept at the sight of such fine works ending up as ashes in the skies; I looked around and spotted figures moving in the shadows cast by the orange glow of the fires and forming a huddled group.
Slowly, I walked across to the group, as I approached them I saw them back away in terror, “Don’t worry, I’m a reader too,” I whispered, my voice only just audible over the fire’s roar
Whispers in the flames
We hid in the shadow of the fires, watching as the Firemen tore the shelves down and came out carrying armfuls of books. Once in a while, one would fall on the ground unnoticed, except by our group. Tears flowed as we watched our beloved reading go up in smoke. The blackened pages rising like sparks of genius in the dark skies aglow with the hope, someday we would be free to read again.
For the moment, we had to stay out of sight and watch for the missed books. What they couldn’t carry out was being burned inside and we were able to view the carnage at close hand. The heat became so intense it cracked the glass and melted the iron shelving but books take a lot before they burn. The dryness of the air was cloying as we forced ourselves to watch the flames devour our passions, never sure if we would be able to freely read.
We were lost in thoughts and almost missed the shout, “Move along now, nothing to see hear!”
We turned to see who had called out and saw an elderly man carrying what appeared to be a pile of book. Scared to be seen, he too was hiding in the shadows. At first glance, we failed to take notice of him properly. As he came into the half light we saw he wore a Fireman’s tunic and his shirt bulged, “It’s a trap!”
Not quite understanding the portent of what we were about to learn, one of our group yelled, “Run, before we get trapped and shot like rats. I read reports from other cities and these men are killers.”
The old man stumbled. When he rose he called out to us, “Cripes, keep your mouth shut or we’ll all get killed!”
The bewilderment grew as the man rose and spoke again, “Within the Firemen, there is a growing belief that what we are doing in not right and some of us are trying to save some books. The trouble is we are a tiny group and not organised, so, we’re easily put down.”