Manuel was back at the balcony. Staring at the cosmos. The view of the fleet leaving was majestic, as millions of powerful spacecraft entered warp and vanished from sight. But the cosmos was suddenly the least of the object of his attention. A million unfamiliar sensations were playing with his thoughts now. Distraction and doubt were two of them. What if they were lying about leaving? He was positively frustrated now. Is this anger? He had read about it in the Archives, but had not experienced such an emotion. He felt it. It was a hotness within his being. It did not have a temperature, but it burned. It burned, hotter than the City, his fists clenching. In a wild, rapid movement, the first in his life, he flicked his garments off. They faded into the air. The unrest nagged at him, and he finally relented.
He shifted. The Archives loomed over him, featureless and black. It had never occurred to him before that he found it ugly, compared to everything else in the City. Repugnant, even. The fact that it could now contain lies, and it was every People’s duty to write down his or her new learning of a new finding, a new knowledge in it, infuriated him further. How could he have not known? Looking back at everything else, of course lies are very possible. Only liars could have said otherwise.
He strode briskly down the angular hallways. It would not be proper to simply teleport to his actual destination. It goes against the rules of his people, of gestures and ceremonial formalities. He was already on the verge of foregoing such gestures by teleporting to the front of the Archives. Damn these rules. They could have been false rules. More lies. His steps hit the ground with more force than he should be applying. Some of the People were there, staring at him, puzzled at his pace. They never had any cause to be hasty before, especially when it came to Archiveal operations, it was one of the buildings of lesser importance, despite it’s size and proximity to the center.
Language and the written word in the City were efficient. At the featureless cube at the end of the hall, Manuel only had to draw a single symbol in the air. That symbol stood for everything a lie was, all of his deductions on the matter packed into a new symbol. His siblings would look upon it in the newest entries and be instantly made aware. He found Lilea behind him, staring silently.
“I thought I would find you here. You are disturbed. I can understand why. I heard it too.” Her voice was tight, fighting a war within herself like he was.
“It’s most damaging, isn’t it. I am upset not because of the lies told to me in the past, but because, of knowing that lies have been told to me in the past, and I will forever have this sense of doubt for anything new, of disbelief. What that bothers me the most is, why didn’t we know? It’s so simple, it’s so obvious! I can see now where lies could lead us to. It deceives, it leads to secrets, to half-truths, to falsified information. And I am starting to wonder if this actually applies to the Chronicleum as well.” His voice almost broke at the last line.
“You do not question the Chronicleum. It is your existence. And you definitely do not doubt on our father’s words. You were wise to use that new knowledge of lies against the very thing that showed you. You were right to disbelieve the Visitor’s words. You should hold on to that disbelief.” Lilea shifted on her feet impatiently. “Dwelling on it will do you no good, dear brother. Remember who you are, Manuel.” She walked off, not looking back once. She did not notice as Manuel flickered in and out of existence, his eyes dimly glowing red.
Emotions run deep in the People. But the emotions usually experienced were all bright, harmonious emotions of love, joy, serenity. When that same intensity accompanied something that started off as frustration for Manuel, it quickly grew to anger, paranoia, fear, misery. All strange, new emotions. New was good, but he was not fond of this new. This was to be added on to the fact that Lilea’s odd behaviour did not go unnoticed. Manuel had noted her hasty impatience. It might have been due to the fact that he spouted blasphemy, suggesting that the Father had not been truthful with them, but Lilea had been holding back on something. She had her own….secrets. Was there a point for him to confront her about that if she was already capable of lying? All these thoughts raged within Manuel, and he could see no solution or end to them that would bring him satisfaction. Manuel was severely distraught – he did not know of it for it was an emotion he had never experienced before – it was tearing his psyche apart. Clearly, The Chronicleum had harboured it’s own secrets too. It never told of lies, when it should have. This was definitely relevant, useful information to them, unlike the disconnected Archives that was never really necessary. The Chronicleum boasted that it contained all they needed to know, and if answers to discrepancies in the Archive couldn’t be found, then it was unnecessary knowledge. Yes. All we needed to know. Manuel thought bitterly. Enough knowledge to beguile the ignorant into absolute complacency, to commit every act without question. Not nearly enough for them to truly know how deep down the pit they really were. No matter how he tried to deny it, there was a degree of untruth in the Chronicleum. Necessary information that was being kept from them. The Chronicleum was a lie. Was it built to keep them in line? Was it specially tailored to anchor them to one aspect of a false reality? And if the Chronicleum was a lie, so was his existence. He staggered after Lilea, stopping to lean against a pillar when his legs gave way. He groggily looked down, studying his flickering fingers. He tried to call to Lilea’s departing figure, but could not make a sound. Is this what…weakness…feels like? A new sensation. The loss of strength. Again, something he has read of, not experienced. A trait of lesser beings that needed enlightenment.
Father, he pleaded. Am I dying? As his consciousness wavered, he tried to summon his fear in vain. It was the right thing to feel at this moment, instead of this hollow emptiness, and yet, his pathetic self did not even have the energy to be afraid. Father? Save me. There was no answer. Was he not earnest enough? No. Volume or intensity was never an issue on reaching his father. A spark of anger flickered in his emptiness. A new, terrifying revelation, that Manuel knew would damn him. But he no longer cared. As the last of him faded, his furious thoughts went rampant, a final, violent deathly throe. Are you forsaking me? Are you running from your mistakes? Is this your admission of guilt?! Of all the lies? Are you not even going to explain yourself?! You owe me that much! Manuel saw, or heard nothing then, lost in a rage that haunted the air even as he passed into oblivion.