Postman Diaries

Postman Diaries is an interactive fiction, told through the medium of letters. You can read more about it here. 

You can find below the letters (without possible replies and divergent story-lines) from the different characters. The work is still under development.

Letters by Peter Hall

 

(Where Peter Hall is introduced. We find out the most defining part of his personality- his ambition. We are also shown the inkling of trouble, and his desire to reach out. He is still a stubborn person, and demands to know what his teacher meant when he said that becoming rich and famous won't still be enough.)

Dear Mr. Locke,

It has been years since I was a student in your class. You probably don't remember me. I used to be a measly little kid back then. Perhaps you remember Riley Jones? His father was the Chief Superintendent of Police. I used to sit next to him. Him and Alfred Bloom- the son of Richard Bloom, the richest man of our town back then.

I remember you once asked us to write an essay on what we wanted to be when we grew up. I was excited to write this essay.I was not as smart as Margret or as thoughtful as Julie but I was ambitious and I wanted to show how much in that essay . I had written about becoming an important man; I wanted everyone to quiver when they heard my name, to look at me as my father looked at Mr. Bloom. I wrote about wanting to be rich and powerful. I remember because I had expected to be rewarded for writing well. However, you called me to your room and looked at me, not speaking. Then you asked me a question, "Who will you be after you become an important person?". I did not expect this question. In fact, this question made no sense to me. What did it matter who I would be as long as I was important? I did not think too highly of you; "What does a school teacher know about being important?", I thought to myself. It was the first time I had openly talked about my ambitions and not being rewarded for it made me bitter.

For 17 years, I worked hard- harder than anyone can imagine. I did everything that I needed to do to make me richer. Things had to be done that way. Now I'm the owner of the largest private munitions factory. I control men of power: I can have anyone arrested or released. I can make or break any man. But somehow I find myself coming back to the question you asked me all those years ago.

You must tell me what you meant by that question you asked me, Mr. Locke. Why did you ask me that question? What did you want to say to me? I implore you to write to me and tell me what it was that you wanted to say.

Yours Sincerely,
Peter Hall
Owner, Hall Explosives

 

 

(Where Peter Hall categorically rejects the opinion of his teacher/ postman. We are shown that he is still too influenced by his life's goals.)

Dear Mr. Locke,

I am dismayed by the lack of depth of the answer you gave me. Perhaps I was expecting something else, something that would give me a stronger reason for this emptiness. Were I to follow your advice, I would find myself bereft of everything I have worked so hard for in the hands of men who want caviar in exchange for work that wouldn't even get them a crumb of bread. I am no philanthropist, Mr. Locke. I have worked hard for everything I own today. I did not let myself fall to the level of the common people; those fools who think that they deserve everything. It is my work that gets the men and women in my factory the means to pay for their food. Would there be as many people fed and clothed were it not for my ambition?

You tell me that riches aren't everything. That I should strive towards becoming a 'good' man instead. What makes a man a good man? I know horrid men, men who do unthinkable things be called 'good' because they are rich. The society treats the rich with respect. When I was younger, I would go with my father who was a <name of profession>. He was no different than the walls in the rich mens' homes. No one would give a second look at him, and he would just stand there waiting to be ordered around. I would watch from a corner, worried that if someone discovered me, they would beat me up. I was ashamed of my own father. The way he used to look at Richard Bloom made me realize that only rich men exist. I didn't want to be like my father, just a fly on the wall, so I did everything I needed to do to become rich. I was cruel because it was required. The men with money want to keep it all to themselves. I used cunning and force to get them to part with it. Now I'm rich and everyone calls me a 'good' man, because the weak cannot muster the courage to call me for who I really am. They are worried of being devoured like a rabbit by an eagle. They fear my power. I am the way I am because this society rewards those who are powerful.

I feel both enslaved by and fascinated by the craziness of this society. A part of me feels like nothing really matters, and the other craves for some emotion, anything to make me feel more... common. I cannot comprehend whether this emptiness is fleeting or a part of my life. Perhaps you can help me find a way.

 

(WHERE HE TALKS ABOUT HIS FAMILY WHICH CONSISTS OF HIS NIECE 'CELIA'. HE GIVES A BACKGROUND OF HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH EVERYBODY ELSE IN HIS LIFE WHICH MAKES US PITY HIM; THAT MONEY ISN'T EVERYTHING.)

Dear Mr. Locke,

I was surprised to find myself taking a break from the misery of feeling empty in the presence of my niece. Celia is a bright young girl, brilliant for someone just seven years old. She is in my care, and presently back home from her boarding school. She is the only family I have left. My younger brother, Phillip, was a weak man; he occupied his time gambling away whatever money he made from his labour. He would show up at my door from time to time, begging for money. I despised the man he had become. He was not worthy of the money I had worked so hard to make and so I turned him away every time. With time he grew more resentful of me. I had not heard from him for the longest time, but I knew he had gotten married and had a child from his marriage. The gambling made a demon out of him. One day he got into an argument with his wife and stabbed her in anger. He was caught, and then shot as he tried to escape.

The court ordered me to take care of his daughter. I had no option but to do as bidden by law. I was ashamed of her-- the society saw her as a proof of my not belonging with them. She was proof of my poverty, of my family's denigration, my brother's weakness. I put her in a boarding school to keep her away from the society. I needed to preserve my image if I were ever to become successful.

This year, things seem different though. I was surprised to find myself looking forward to seeing her. She smiled on seeing me and ran towards me shouting "I'm home, Uncle Peter". No one ever truly smiles on seeing me. The rich ones smile an icy cold smile, a forced hard smile that doesn't reach their eyes. The poor ones are too scared to even look into my eyes. Celia does not seem to understand my power yet. I am glad she doesn't. She is here only for a week. A part of me wants to keep her home and the other is thinking about what the society will say. I have an important deal coming up, and I don't want to jeopardize that for a fleeting moment of emotional weakness.

 

(A small situation arises and he decides to take the player's opinion. It only sort of works but he is surprised by the joy it gives him. The motivation for doing the action was purely money minded, but even if small, it makes a difference in his world. He thinks of doing the same thing again sometime to make more money.)

Dear Mr. Locke,

I took your advice and decided to keep Celia with me. She was ecstatic when I told her that she would be studying from here. I was surprised to hear her talk so much. She declared her hate for one Mrs. Welsh, her english teacher who punished her rather severely for walking inside the classroom without permission. I know it must have been her duty, but I felt indignant. I told Celia that I intend to speak to this Mrs. Walsh and let her know my mind. She giggled when she heard me say this. She kept smiling at me all day and I returned the gesture. I felt glad to be a part of her life, and more so to have her be a part of mine.

I was little worried too-- worried about her finding out the real miserable wretch I am. That is why I decided to consider your advice on being kind. On my way to work, I passed a homeless man on the street. I had never noticed this person before. I went to him and started talking about why he didn't work instead. This man had a grey beard, wore a tattered blue overcoat and a dark trouser. His shoes were worn out; I could see his toe sticking out. I had never really thought about how really poor people might sound like. I expected a fearful, timid voice. Yet when he spoke, it was in a surprisingly deep, smooth voice. He told me that his name was Julian Sanders and that he had worked. Intrigued by this turn of events, I pressed for more information. I was so engrossed in his story that I forgot all about the divide between our social statuses and of what people might think if they saw me talk to someone like him. He was a <insert name of profession> and was married with three children. He showed me some of the <insert name of thing related with packing here> that he had done. It was very well done, the best workers in my factory couldn't do it as well as he did. He said that he worked very hard at his profession for the 35 years he was there, earning enough to buy a home for himself and his children. His children weren't grateful for the life he had dedicated to them and turned him out of his own home in his twilight years. For a few years he along with his wife survived by staying in cheap rented places. Then his wife fell ill and all the money he had saved up went towards her treatment. Unfortunately, his wife passed away and he was left penniless, with no one willing to offer him a job. Moved by his story and by the quality of his work, I gave the man a little money and offered him a job in my factory. Julian had tears in his eyes and thanked me profusely. I felt strange-- did he not realize that I wasn't really doing him a favor? I was happy to have found someone as talented as him with such a lot of experience. I was about to say this when I noticed Mr. Meades across the road. Mr. Meades is the president of the National Filling Factories. He certainly would not have appreciated my talking to Julian, so I nodded to Julian and went away to receive Mr. Meades.

It was nice to have been kind to someone like Julian. In the evening I thought about Julian's tragedy. Perhaps not everyone who is poor deserves to be poor.

 

(Where we see that he is still rocking back and forth between who he used to be and who the player wants him to be.)

Dear Mr. Locke,

Celia has been giving me good company. I arranged for a private tutor for her as well as some piano lessons. Someone might as well use that piano. It has been lying unused for so long. Households without a piano aren't considered worthy of hosting wealthy guests, so I had to buy one. It is rather expensive and quite useless. Celia too is having a hard time playing the keys-- her hands are too small to play properly. She'll be able to manage soon though. She is more persistent than I was at the piano. She managed to play the children's poem "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" all by herself which delighted me to no ends.

I'm not too sure about the kindness business though. Julian came into work and without a doubt his work was exceptional. I called him up to my office and asked him how he was doing. The look on his face was that of veneration. I felt a little embarrassed to be in that situation. Then he asked me if I could give a job to one of his "friends", a young boy of 12, an orphan living off the streets. I told him that I ran a business, and not a charity. Julian nodded silently and left the room. Kindness can have no place in the office, I repeated to myself, and yet I found myself thinking about whether I took the right decision. I have never thought about a business decision twice before. Indecisiveness spells death in business.

Julian seems to be a trustworthy person so he wouldn't recommend anyone just for the sake of it, and listening to your advice hasn't lost me my business yet. Perhaps I'll make an exception just this once. I'll talk to Julian tomorrow and arrange for the boy to work on odd jobs around the house and the factory. Celia could also use the company of someone her age.

(We are given a clue about a deal he has been wanting to clinch forever and that the decision will come soon.)

Dear Mr. Locke,

I met Mr. Meades. He invited me to bid for the deal of a lifetime. This is the deal I had been waiting for-- the contract for the manufacture of <amount> of <name of substance> for the National Filling Factories. The government seems to be ramping up production of explosives. This means more business and more money for me. If I am able to clinch this deal, I'll be sitting next to the who's who of our country. I had been waiting for such an opportunity for a very long time. There isn't anyone in this country who'll be able to surpass me in my production value, and as soon as I get the deal, I'll crush all my opponents.

I can hardly believe my luck. Things seem to be taking a turn for the good. Celia is at home with me. I read to hear every night and even manage to find some time to play with her. She is a wonderful little child. Julian came home and introduced me to the boy he wanted to get the job for. The boy's name is Sean. He doesn't use a last name, said that he didn't even know if he has one. At first I was a little uneasy to have an orphan from the streets in my home. The boy, though, wasn't interested in stealing or anything of the sort. He was only a few years older than Celia, and the two took to each other at once. I told Julian that I would hire Sean for odd-jobs around the house and the factory. Julian was very pleased. For a while I looked at Celia, Julian and Sean while they played. Julian treated the boy like his grandchild. I saw him perform a magic trick to impress the children. Both Celia and Sean were watching him with awe. I felt a little jealous of Julian at being able to impress my Celia.

It's good that Celia will have Sean to give her company now. I'm going to be busy charting up a plan for the bid and won't have too much time to spend with her. I absolutely must get this deal. Winning this deal will get me on the board of the National Filling Factory. I cannot tell you how much I want to be on the board. The installation of new board members is a private ceremony attended by the cream of the society. A board member of the NFF is seen more favorably than even <name of some rank>. The money from the deal will ensure that I will become the richest man south of <part of country>.

(Where he manages to win the deal and is ecstatic. He tells about starting work, but we start to see just a sliver of a doubt, which he quickly erases away. More about the work (exposition; war related))

Dear Mr. Locke,

I am rather pleased with myself. I managed to clinch the explosives deal, and will be installed as a member of the board within the week. I relished the look on Timothy Haven's face when the deal was announced-- he's the owner of Haven Laboratories and my main competitor. He had it coming to him; he had been supplying at lower than market rates and eating into my profits, but it was beyond him to pull off his cheap tricks on a deal this big. He shuffled off out of the building as other people clambered to congratulate me. The rest of the board was there along with Mr. Meades, all men of power who now look at me as an equal. Mr. Meades shook my hand and told me that there was no one more deserving than me. Then he took me aside and in confidentiality told me about the rumors of war. "If this war breaks out, these mustard gas explosives will prove to be a gold mine. Being the only producer of the explosives will most definitely make you the richest man of this country", he said. I tried hard to hide the smile of satisfaction on my face. I hope war does break out.

I am eagerly looking forward to my ceremony. Do you know that the premier will be attending as well? Every worthwhile person you have seen in the newspapers will be there, accepting me as one of their own. It will be a gala event and I intend to present Celia at the occasion as well. She was extremely excited to know that her Uncle would be in the papers. I overheard her tell Sean that the men from the papers took my picture to publish tomorrow. Her cheerfulness makes this victory feel sweeter than I had imagined.

As for the work on the deal, it has already started. The new mustard gas explosives are something rather incredible. One of them could kill about a hundred people. I have started recruiting more men and women to start making the shells. The women aren't trained well, but it isn't too hard a job to do. It took Julian only a few minutes to finish off making the shell. I put him anchorage of overseeing the making of shells by the others.

 

(He's beginning to get an inkling of what the new work will get him into. But he still pushes on. We see more doubt creeping in, his new values are beginning to show form.)

The ceremony was more of a let-down. The premier was present only for a very short duration. He was caught up in the whole war business. Most people wore a more somber look owing to the rumors about the war. I had expected more people to show up, but there were only a few, none of whom I really liked.

I had brought Celia along to present her to the world. Somehow, people had found put about Phillip and I heard his name whispered every where I took Celia. This angered me. Neither Celia nor I are nothing like Phillip. These people didn't care though. To them, we were just like them-- pretentious beings with murky pasts. I snapped when I found Mrs. Brown talking to Celia asking her why she didn't go back to her father and to the poor house where she belonged. My Celia is worth a thousand of you, I told her and took Celia's hand and left the ceremony. Celia was eerily quiet on the way back. I was scared to look at her face. I didn't know what I could say to her to make her feel better. She didn't deserve to be judged for who her father had been, and especially not by the pretentious people in that place.

There is truth in what you wrote. Men less ambitious and much poorer are less vicious than these hounds. I find myself wishing more than ever to be with people like Julian and Sean. Being there made me feel hollow inside. I felt like the shell of a person; appearing in all mannerisms like one of them, but hollow on the inside. Celia made me more than what I thought possible, and yet I couldn't help her understand that she was the one who really mattered, not the press, not those rich people, not even the premier. After we reached home, I tucked her to bed and went out for a cigar. Sean was still working so I called him to me. He was still excited to have the opportunity to handle the shells. I felt torn-- the poor boy did not realize that one of those could take away the parents of so many children like himself. I didn't want to tear him from his childhood and talk to him about the horrors of war, so I kept silent and listened to him talk. I discovered that he loved <insert name of food here>, which was what I really loved too.

The past few days have been very occupying. I have been spending more time at work now. The government needs to ramp up its munitions production if it wants to have a chance at winning the war. My workers are working around the clock to build more mustard gas shells.

 

(Where a major accident with Celia forces him to reconsider the reason for doing everything he is doing. Realizes the demon he had become but starts to correct himself. Deeply regrets what he has done.)

A terrible tragedy has struck, Mr. Locke.

There are around 30 workers involved in the casing of the shells. One of them, a young woman named Jane, was very inexperienced and Julian was teaching her to handle the shell. The casing of one of her mustard gas shell wasn't sealed properly when she dropped it by accident. The impact was instantaneous and catastrophic. The gas leaked as soon as the shell hit the ground. It burned away the exposed parts of the skins of the workers. The young woman along with Julian and 2 others received grave burns and are in the hospital. I told Sean about the accident and he wanted desperately to see Julian but I was worried that he might get traumatized looking at the burns. He hasn't stopped crying since.

 

I was aware of the risks of building mustard gas explosives, yet I had never before been worried about answering a young orphan's question of why the only man he loved might not live long enough to even say goodbye. There was no way I could absolve myself of the responsibility of this accident. I suspended work at the factory, and went out for a walk with my cigar thinking about what had happened.

Mr. Meades came in to the factory upon hearing the news the next day and told me the accident was just a part of work. He kept talking about how the war will make us rich which made me sicker still. I felt nauseated and walked out of the room to get some fresh air. This did not sit well with him-- he isn't used to having men walk out when he's talking, but I couldn't care less. The whole illusion is crumbling away to show me the truth. No amount of money will compensate a young orphan's grief. I was just a liar, and my greatest feat was conning myself. I tricked myself into believing that only money and fame mattered. I was blinded by others' perception of myself.

I do not want to be a part of this charade anymore.

 

(At significant financial, personal and political risk decides to face the ethical dilemma he is facing. Stands true to his word and we start to see a new person emerging. Starts to lose business, reputation, but still persists in what he believes)

Dear Mr. Locke,

Julian passed away this morning. I stood there in the cold rain, holding young Sean close as he wept silently. It was just us at the funeral. The loss each of us felt was tremendous, more overpowering than what I had ever experienced at the funerals of the many rich people. After returning from the funeral, I went to the factory and ordered the production to be shut down. The government representatives raised a huge ruckus, but I had them escorted out.

Mr. Meades came rushing to the factory upon hearing this news. He tried to cajole me with his 'richest man of the country' speech, but I would have none of it. Then he threatened me that the government had a right to take away all of my property that I had staked as security when filing for the deal. I knew he would do this of course. However, I got the raw material for the mustard gas disposed off the previous night. They could charge me for whatever they wanted. Nothing would force me to be a part of the madness of this war any longer. I will no longer be making explosives that kill another Julian or render a boy an orphan, be it anywhere in the world.

 

(The war has broken out. He finds meaning and joy in the knowledge that he was not a part of the horror.)

Dear Mr. Locke,

The government seized my factory and restarted the manufacture of explosives. I am only a partner in name now, with no power or stake in the manufacturing. I might not become the richest man of the country, but I feel liberated now. I do not need to pretend anymore in front of those hollow men and women. I chose not to be part of the monstrosity. They may pretend that the war is reason for making all the munition, but the truth is that the war is just a way for the rich to get richer while the poor die fighting the rich men's fights. It's a strange world, isn't it?

I have taken Celia and Sean with me and we are going to take shelter in my country home. I extend to you the same invitation. You must not stay in town any longer. The war is upon us. 

 

 

 

 

Letters by Adrian Finch

Story: A letter to Beth? She recently was diagnosed for depression and amnesia from what I remember. I do remember her being anxious about her brother who had gone to the city to be a writer but that was long ago. One sure can’t be a writer in this town, is it him writing back? His letters stopped quite a while ago and he never wrote from any one address ever, always a new one for every letter. Did Beth even tell Adrian about her deteriorating condition? Mrs. Becker sure had no kind words for Adrian when she took Beth to the asylum all on her own.

Letter 1: The intro

Hi Beth,

I am sure you would be surprised to receive this letter after so long. Yes, your little brother is fine and dandy and dreaming his usual dreams just as you last remember him. So, you can rest assured that I and my madness are still alive. :)

So why this letter after a long time? Well to let you know that you and your methodical practical way of life has won, in a small way , but yes, won. So, a congratulatory note from a budding author to his realist sister: your reality has one more point than my dreams in this sibling rivalry. Maybe this is what my book should be about rather than the stories that no one seems to care about, at least till now. 

So, what is the mighty win you may ask and well, prepare for it:  I have decided to look for a day job now! Yes, yes, that very thing that you had been asking me to do for so long. You won Beth, as always my dear sis knew best, even if it is of matters of the big city, the city of dreams. Apparently, your, or shall we say our, little town realities of life persist even in places where humanity has risen above just toiling for the daily needs of food and shelter. Have to agree for a bit that the city isn't what I used to prophesize in our late night discussions around the hearth. Now don't get too smug, it does value art and artists unlike our town and people actually earn their livelihood by doing things like painting pictures and writing stories, it just seems that maybe my craft is not upto the standards of the publishers yet. Or so it seems because no publisher has yet decided to publish my stories even in the local papers, my book seems like a dream much further down the road now. 

So, dearest Beth, I have decided to take up a job while I hone my skills to a shine and write better and that is where this city is perfect actually ! Everywhere I look there are people and events and things happening. Things that inspire you, that make you excited, enthused and intrigued. Once in the city, you can never run out of things to write about. Ah, such a change from our little town, Beth. This place is always bustling with life, smoke, soot, people and energy ! Its like I am in the very den of inspiration all the time.

And now its time I put my energy to work. Off I go to find that perfect job for me, wonder if my skills with the language can help me out here. I can hear you wishing me luck already. Hoping by the time you get this letter I already would have landed a job and would have tummy full of juicy steak ( oh I wish ! )Will be waiting for your reply, with your ever present advice and no less than a victory song over my decision to take up a job ! Ha Ha, oh Beth, I do miss your care a lot, but don't you worry, one day your brother shall be a world renowned author and all of your sacrifices and hard work that you put in for me, for us, will be worth it. Mom and Dad will be proud of us when the look down, I will make sure of that, Beth.

Wishing you well,

Your little brother,

Adrian Finch.

//

So, I have finally found a job. It wasn’t as easy to get one, to be honest which came as a surprise to me. I finally have been taken up as a saleshand in a grocery shop. I won’t bore you with the details, it’s like just any grocery shop and so is the work. The owner doesn’t like books at all, nosurprise at all, but he says “As long as you don’t offend the customers I will let you be”. Wonder what he means by that , surely talking well in good language could not offend anyone but he finds it discomforting maybe to see a small town boy using eloquent words and manners. Maybe I showed off too much of my vocabulary skills while demonstrating my ability to convince customers to him , ha ha! Maybe, I do get carried away in the beauty of English language sometimes, it’s my one and only muse!

   So, I am bonafide Grocer now, Beth, how do you like the sounds of that ?  I like to call it my day job as my evenings and nights are still for the love of my life: Stories. And I get time for that , quite a lot actually, thanks to this very “day job” of mine. Did I tell you that this shop where I work, Makensaw Grocers, is in the suburban areas outside the city ? Quite like our town but sparse.  Anyways ,  so I travel out of the city each morn to go there and come back each night. I could leave the city and just move there but I don’t want to. The only chance of publishing my book is in this city and meeting publishers is still part of my week, so I won’t abandon it and I love the city anyways. So, I hitch a ride on this train that leaves really early in the morning from the city, Ren told me about it, and while returning I take the favours of another one which comes to the city late in the evening. Favours because I don’t pay for it! I can hear you complain already but sis it’s just so very exciting to just let the morning breeze through your hair in this weather !  I just climb on between bogeys (funny name for boxes full of people) wherever I can and watch the stone and tiles give way to rolling fields. A man must have his little joys or risk becoming a machine just like these trains. These trains, they do seem to accentuate dreams with their loud rhythmic rolling sounds or maybe its morning breeze that plays with my head. Sometimes I think I can spot a castle far away and think someday I might just have one of my own.

 These rides are the best times of my day!

I will write again Beth, I have to leave now or I will miss my dream ride for today ! J

Wishing you well,

Adrian

//

Letter 03:

How are you Beth? I realised it’s been a while since you talked about your life at all. I know my letters haven’t been very regular either. You must find me so inconsiderate, in all my letters I just keep going on about me and my life in the city. Forgive the oversight, how has your life been treating you all this while? How is your work at the laundry and church? Is Mrs. Becker still the same, the old Owlfang as I call her? She really should treat you better, you literally run the whole place. All she ever does is whine! Does the town miss me? No way can that happen!

I am fine. Mr. Mackensaw seems to be getting more and more jittery every week or he just wants to get his money’s worth from me. I don’t really know but I sure am washing up that place a few more times than it is required andmore times than customers actually visit the shop. “A grocery needs to be spick and span!” I think I have heard that a bit too many times for my liking this month. Strangely it’s the trains that seem to keep me going to that place more than my hunger. The evening trains are exceptionally interesting. You know that look on people’s faces when they are alone or with best friends, Beth, when no one is watching you and your eyes and smiles are not being put on for perfect judgement by others? The look little children have when they are playing sand castles without a care in the world? I see such faces all along in the trains, especially in the evening trains but what is amazing is the fact that these people are in the thickest of crowds and surrounded by complete strangers ! Isn’t it amazing ? I get to see the most private faces of people in the most exposed place, a place is which is the very opposite, the antithesis of private. Humans are the most surprising creatures ! For the writer in me, its heaven! I see people, their stories, their expressions in a way that would require months of acquaintance for me to see, maybe years! I am mesmerized all the way by this performance each day, so much so that I have started buying tickets for the evening trains so that I can watch people closely.

Just yesterday, there was this lady that was crying the most graceful tears I have ever seen and when I moved in closer to them to hear their conversation, it turned out she was crying tears of happiness over her young son’s enlistment in the army! What a proud, dignified English mother that was! And as I turned around a man noticing my smile, held me up and called the woman a fool, a naïve housewife who is too simple to think for her own. He said he got his Son delisted from the army so that he can now come home and live for his family rather than join a foolish profession of paid death !  I tell you, Beth, I have found a treasure trove of stories thanks to this realist-practical “day job” that you suggested. Once more its Beth to the rescue of Adrian! How many more favours are you going to bestow on my life, Beth, Dear Beth. I cannot thank you enough for everything you have already done and I tell you , Beth, one of these stories I pick up is going to be my ticket to fame and our ride to the fortune ! Just you wait Beth, this world is yet to hear Adrian Finch’s voice !

Wishing you well,

Brother Adrian.

 

LETTER 4:

//A very optimist high before the incident.

Its very unlike you to not reply Beth? Is everything alright with Mrs. Becker, the Owlfang? Or have you run away with an old lover, eh? You know you should someday, now that I am on my own, its time you lived your own life too. I am thankful you did not marry and abandon me but you should stop worrying for me now. However late, I am sure there is a man willing to marry my lovely sister. In fact, every man would die to have a companion like you Beth. No one really does what you have done for us, no, for me! I should write to Mr. Ladle in the Church, he sees so many people every Sunday, he can introduce you to someone nice. Live your life Beth, make the best of it now. I wish I had the means to call you here, the city is full of people. Sometimes I feel I fail you. You took care of me all along and now I am just …..

I have to go now, it’s time for my train. You take care of yourself, sis.

Brother Adrian.

//

LETTER 5:

Hello Beth,

I know you would panic so I didn’t tell earlier, I lost the job. No, it’s not Mr.Mackensaw’s fault, not really anything he could do about it otherwise. You know, its strange, this city , its full of people, all mingle and merge into a sea of heads, but one ripple and each rides the little waves to get as far away into his own corner as possible. One ripple and the sea breaks into drops, individual and alone until they find drops similar in colour or sound of dripping and drip together. These huddled drops form little puddles and move along rejecting the idea of the sea in a fickle moment of unfounded fear. Just one drop creating a ripple with its isolated movement and everyone feels threatened, fragile as if the sea would engulf itself and swallow all the drops. The sea can swallow any storm in its wake but the fickle fear of the drops cannot comprehend a single ripple of doubt! The one who creates the ripple is always forgotten but one who is the centre of the ripple is never forgotten or forgiven! I became the centre of ripple, Beth, who created the ripple was forgotten in an instant, but I was told to leave to avoid any more “incidents”. Incidents? incident of someone’s misplaced anger on me? Incident of someone’s misplaced apprehensions about people from a certain place? The sea wants the centre of the ripple to leave, yet the one who was agitating the sea is still in the sea. His misplaced, misrepresented outburst can create a ripple anywhere, it doesn’t need me, the next centre of the ripple could be anyone who has certain, voice, colour or hair!

Fickle, fickle fickle and afraid of what? What a society ! Our cities which show the future of society, whose fabric tears at the slightest touch and the gullible dreamers we are, we dream of wearing it to protect ourselves from the vagaries of the world.

I sound cynical, if I must say it, but the anonymity of the city has been a great tool, comfort and its biggest failing too. It brings a sense of freedom as well as of non-responsibility to all. “We are the sea and yet, I am just a drop.” How grand, magnanimous and conveniently evasive! I tell you what it is, Beth, it’s sick! Plain and simple: Sick !

Adrian

 

//A gap

LETTER 6:

Hello Beth,

Been a long time. I haven’t found another job yet but I have been eating, and eating well. Maybe even better than earlier. What a marvel, you might say! Have you turned a thief, Adrian? Are you a city fraudster now? Has your book been published? I can already hear you say all this and much more, Beth. In fact, it even makes me long to hear your voice. But no, I have not turned a thief, fraudster or liar or fallen into the infernal pit of failure nor have I hit upon massive success yet ! As of now I have just beat this society at its own game. How?

Well, a few days back I fell sick. I had a high fever, nothing of much consequence normally, but here it took up important proportions because since I had no job, I had no money to either get medicines or eat. ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ and this precarious situation of a simple fever sent my thoughts dizzying about dying dreams, death and failure and delirious that I was, I hit upon a crazy idea. This will be revolting to you, but I assure you it was perfectly practical, life-saving and eye opening in the end. In fact, this might just be the most important experience of my life.

I gathered all my strength, took a coin from Ren and boarded my evening train to its last stop. It was the farthest the train went and I was sure that the insignificant creature that I was, no one would recognise me there. And so, after finding a pillar where the wind wouldn’t bother my feverish body too much, I sat down on the floor and waited for the frivolous world to feel good about itself. I gave them all the time in the world and predictable as they were, it began. The shower of righteousness! Some loved to pity me, feel mighty by celebrating my destitution while others felt they could be oblivious to whatever nefarious things they did for a meal if they gave one to me for free. The society fell head over heels to feel better about itself by celebrating my despicable state. Needless to say, I had a full stomach that night and a few pills of paracetamol to bring my fever down. The world hadn’t let me earn honestly,so I would beat it at its own game and earned by doing nothing at all ! After the third day, I was already feeling better and I had the juicy steak I always wanted. Not earned from my talent, hardwork or perseverance Beth… but by conforming to this twisted mob’s mentality of self-glorification. Rats, all of them ! That day I was rewarded by humanity for celebrating my destitution and for giving up on myself. Not one wanted me to get better, not one was concerned about this dying man, they were busy making themselves feel better. On that day, my being from a ‘different place’ made them feel better as this “different” drop had given up and they, in contrast, were still carrying on, the better drops as they were. This drop was where it belonged, helpless and at our mercy. No ripple was created at this event. No drop agitated over it or sought a solution. I was right where they wanted. A lesser form of water? I don’t think so, Bet h. I feel that this drop wants its own existence now. This drop is not as afraid, fickle or feeble minded as this sea to need to feel the need for comfort of acceptance and submission. These people need to be part of the sea, not for the togetherness or the beauty of the sea, but because they are afraid of their own insignificance. Their sea is as fickle as their own frugal minds. I am not and I shall not be part of this sea, which looks glorious from the surface as a celebration of humanity but is just a bunch of drops afraid to let go.

Do not worry about me Beth, i will survive.

 

(This letter will be sent from a new address as if from the place he went to beg)

 

//

Letter 7:

(This letter will take a while to arrive)

Hello Beth,

                I hope I did not disturb you too much with my last letter. I would not deny my feelings or say that all I said was untrue but I was a bit delirious with fever and hunger in those three days and my thoughts and my mind may have drifted a wee bit too far from the apparent truth of the situation. Rest assured now, I returned on the 4th day and I am back in the city, all hale and hearty. Ren helped me a lot in tiding over the bout of fever and delirium. A doctor was summoned, medicines placed at my bed and off he disappeared like the first rate chap he is.I hope I can repay all the kindness he has shown me all along since I came to Empire City. He is like you Beth, always there when I land myself in a soup and then, unlike you, he vanishes. Wait, that sounds better than Beth ! Ha Ha, just a jest, my good sister, no one can be better than old Beth, I mean Beth, oops! 

                So, I havent yet told you about the most important event that happened since I last wrote to you. On the fourth day at the station, once my fever subsided with the paracetamol and I had a full stomach, I could think clearly again and I awoke to the fact that if I stayed here a day longer, i would risk falling in the trap of begging as a profession ! Funny as it may sound I am not joking. Steak can do wonders in breaking a man's integrity ! jokes apart, I took the train back to the city and breathed the familiar smoky air again. The paperboy at the station was ecstatic about some political development and was shoving the evening newspaper into everyone's face. My interest piqued, and with the newfound money in my pocket, I bought a copy too, to read at home. Tucking the paper in my coat I headed home in th elight drizzle outside and forgot all about it till a few days later, when all thanks to Ren, my illness finally left me.

When I read the newspaper, i bolted right to their office and did exactly as the article on the front page said: I applied for the job ! The Empire is looking for writers, beth, God only knows why, but a writer I sure am and would not pass a chance to be one when the Empire itself is acknowledging writing as a bonafide profession.I havehave sent copies of my best work in poetry and prose along with a letter written in utmost composition. I am just very very worried that the Empire might have already hired someone else while I was blabbering away in my fever. At least, the Empire wanted "writers" and not "A writer", so I am hoping against hope that I still have a chance.

My moment may finally be at hand, Beth, pray for me ! 

 

- Adrian Finch

 

-----

LETTER 8 :

(this letter arrives very quickly, maybe)

 

Yes, Beth, yes ! DO you notice this paper? the ink? You can celebrate already Beht,I am a Writer now! Not a novelist yet, but I am a professional writer for the Empire now and thats a bloody achievement ! Now when I meet people I can greet them as  "Adrian Finch, I am a writer." Ah the feeling in just saying that ! Not that I get to meet many people these days, I am almost always working, but I am not complaining. This is real work, Beth, in a well lit office fit for a gentleman, not washing people's dirty farm produce anymore. never again ! 

 

So what do I write. Beth, i am sure you must have heard rumours that there might be a war soon, or have you not? Its the talk of the town in the whole city here.People are excited and also afraid that we might also be heading for war and what it might mean for the people in the city and the country. Although you may not worry, there is nothing of the sort out there yet. Something sure is afoot though and the Empire is aware of the rumours and stray news dripping amongst the general public.

And that is where we comein: The writers! Our job is to remove the clouds of doubt from the public and instill confidence amongst the masses for their government. We have to ensure that the mood of the nation stays upbeat and positive, come what may, and if th eneed arises, to arouse the sacred patriotic sentiment to such a fervour that each and every citizen stands for the country till he can stand no more ! 

We are to write articles, make pamphlets, radio programs, songs, broadcasts, you name it. I am sure anything and everyhting you will be reading in th epapers or hearing on the radio from now on will have some part of me in there. Your brother, Beth, Adrian Finch will be everywhere you look. Isnt it interesting , Beth, that all it took for the world to acknowledge the power of words was to reach the brink of war. now I am the voice of the Empire and I shall forge what the nation imagines, thinks, desires, dreams and speaks !  I can imagine the smile on your face already, you must and should be proud of both of us, Beth! 

Do write, I can't wait to hear what you think about it all !

 

 

-Adrian Finch (No salutations this time, name as a signature.The signature slowly evolves into more and more abstract and expressive)

 

----

LETTER 9:

 

Hello Beth,

              Work is very demanding and hectic these days. The Empire is happy with the current outcome but there is much yet to be achieved in this time when war seems to be creeping upto all nations. We are still at our very first step as of now. Our first round of propaganda, as they call it here, went well and the analysts say we have managed to make a louder noise than the rumours. The first step of instillling trust in public towards Empire's communications has been achieved. I have not been officially informed but there are talks in the offices that my set of posters that talked about how "our homes are safe under the Empire The Empire stands tall, it is the petty who fight" have resonated with the masses really well and one can even see people putting them up in community gatherings and private properties. Of course, i am thrilled but there is yet a long way to go. I even have the best idea for my next set of posters. I know just the sentiment I want evoked next ! I just hope I get the chance to work on this next set. Going by the rumours, it seems I will but I will have to wwait for official confirmation before I let myself feel elated.

 Its all gossip yet. if they do not select me it will be a huge loss Beth. I will be put on nespaper articles to influence the thinking class, which requires a competely different approach than the masses, I can do that too, but if the posters are not continued in a perfect order, the trust not chanelled to the next step, then all the emotion,that has been aroused will just dissipate and go to waste. There is method to make people care about and feel invested in, affected by and attached to an event that is not their doing. One wrong word here, one out of order comment and the public sentiment can sway, the unity of purpose can break and instead of a dedicated wworkforce and war machinery , one can end up staring at a coup or a civil war! managing the senttiment of a country is not like making upto you wife or parents. The public is in the millions, as long as you can keep the millions behaving as one, the task stays in hand, easy, manageable. The very tact of keeping dissent at bay and th enotion of sacrifice yet sacred and unquestionable are the two most vital aspects of public management as a time as sensitive as now. We cannot in any manner, let these concepts fall fro grace in the collective eyes of the public.

 

I do not know yet if the authorities understand it all as I do. I have trust in the Empire. I hope they see that I understand it all and that my first set of posters building up trust are part of a bigger plan that needs to be seen through. Pray for me, Beth, that I get to continue the posters at this time when the world is tugging at its seams. If the seams burst, we need to be prepared to show the world what it means to be an Empire amongst a world behaving petty and ugly.

 

-Adrian Fionch (Signature)

 

---

 

LETTER 10:

 

The fools ! They spoiled it all! Some soddy bloke, Marcus, got the charge of the next set of posters, becuase the bugger is a bonafide designer and a product of the education of Empire city. Born and bred here , he represents the Empire City like no one else, they say ! Doesn't seem like much to me, Beth. I congratulated him and he couldn't even express his own emotions correctly, let alone sway and control the ebb and flow of those of millions ! The sod cannot write a letter to his mother convincingly if the need arose, I tell you. How can the Empire be so blind? Born and bed in Empire city my foot, I saw him stop to check himself in a mirror before entering the overseer's office, shifted his hankerchief from his left pocket to right, fidgeted like a sissy. This bloke will guide the nation's sentiment during war? I am Exasperated ! What does being born in Empire City even have to do with this job ?!

 

But I wont let this sway me, Beth. My words have a power, a power this spineless imposter of a designer doesn't even have a hint of. His fancy drawings and colours won't sway a child's opinion let alone that of people from all walks of life. It is an idea, an idea that changes a society, Beth, a concept that hits home, a slogan that pierces the heart and becomes a rally cry of one and all ! A song that makes a man lose the fear of death and say "I sacrifice for my country!" His colours and shapes can only amuse a little child and I shall show it to him.

 

I will write again later, Beth. I know what I must do and I have a lot to do.

 

-Adrian Finch (Harsher signature)

 

---

 

LETTER 11:

(comes after a long gap. Comes on a letter head. An official post declaring Adrian as Senior officer of propaganda)

 

Hello Beth,

 

 Its been long since i last wrote. I have to admit I was angry when you did not reply to my last letter. i asked for your advice on the very important matter at hand and I waited for a long time, I wanted to know what you felt about it. I wanted to know if you, my mentor for my whole life, approved or disapproved of my decision. I waited for your letter till the last day. Beth, but then I had no choice. You did not reply and a decision had to be taken. I took it.

A lot has happened since then.

For one, I went to jail for four days for what I did. I was convicted for insubordination and sabotage. These four days and three nights were the longest of my life. I was prepared for it all, I knew my crime, however rash my decision may have seemed. I believed that my anger against what was happening was justified and did not need to be doused by apathy or reason....and you hadn't replied, Beth, so my decision stood as it was. Whether you considered it right or wrong I do not know. But I do know what the Empire thought about it because after four days, i was released, re-instated in office and promoted to the post of Senior Propaganda Officer, though in complete secrecy of the fourth night. Who gave the orders of my release, I do not know and am told not to ask. What I do know is that the Empire was able to pass 5 important orders regarding the impending war in those 4 days thanks to the unequivocal support it received from the masses, the businessmen and the intellectuals alike. The Empire realised what brought that support. I can assume without doubt that my words had weaved their magic well and hit the mark and hit it hard. Why wouldn't they! I knew what I was doing with my posters and articles. I can sense the mood in the air and I know exactly how to mould it.

 

Secondly,something that pains me terribly and I never imagined would ever happen but I must say it as it is: I am very dissappointed in you , Beth! Why, my dear old Beth, why did you abandon me? When your Adrian needed you the most? WHen I banked on you the most? Why did you not reply? How could you? You cannot imagine the torment I went through for each moment of the waiting. I was so tensed about how you would view my decision, what would you say? Right, wrong, justified? What do you think about what happened to me? how I was again discriminated against, was that justified? I wanted to know what you thought of me and if you had said no, I would have said no, however painful it would have been for me, I would not have done it. I was prepared for it, for your disapproval too and would have just stopped. 

   but no, Beth, you just judged me. Judged me as any commoner would and condemned me as an irredeemable lost cause and that was it ! You did not even feel it fit to reply, just loathe from a distance. How could you do this, Beth? How could you of all the people in the world, my only family, give up on me, at the very first test of my life? I don't know if I even want to know your reasons for they will be mustered up explanations and justifications of a deed already done. I was forsaken and that was that. Even so I would not like see my sister in caught in a situation where she feels guilty and needs to apologise, even if she could imagine me as a impardonable cheat and liar so easily.

Anyways, only the weak dwell on th epast. My decision has already proven that it was the right thing to do not just for me, but also for my country. i am exactly where wanted to be: at the helm of it all ! I am still your brother, beth, but now I am Senior Officer Adrian Finch, who now holds a position of power. Men of power do not look unto others for opinions Beth, they play their game and I shall play mine !

 

-Adrian Finch (Very harsh signatures)

 

---

 

LETTER 12:   (Back dated. This is a delayed letter that Adrian had written prior to the Letter 11 but did not reach Beth due to rain or something)

 

Hello Beth,

 

I need your guidance, your advice on this grave matter. I have put in my nights and days into it and I have it all prepared and ready but I do feel that you might have a different view, a different understanding of the matter. Today, I have undertaking the whole nation's sentiment under my care, in the hands of a single citizen. I care deeply for my country, for the Empire and I have a clear plan to take care of its hearts and minds through a troubling period of time looming over it....and i WILL take of them, but I do feel that you have been through a very similar critical situation, a similiar responsibility, though at the smaller scale of our family,but similar nonetheless ,and I want to know your views on what I plan to do. Your views on its rights and wrongs, on the priorities of what must be done versus what can be done. 

It might sound disruptive at first glance, but do hear out your brother first:

 

 As you already know that Marcus, the designer, has been awarded the responsibility of designing and printing the next set of posters and pamphlets to be circulated among the masses. His sorry plan, or an excuse for one, is to follow up pamphlets with a series that reminds th epublic of how the Empire has always helped them, been at their side and protected them through thick and thin. Spheesh ! I have no qualms in saying that he is an utterly incompetent nincompoop! He thinks he binding the nation together by reminding them of the Empire's benevolent nature and their good times in the past. What the little empty head does not see is that he is drawing a clear line between the Empire and the public at the most sensitive time in the history of our nation. At a time when my pamphlets have just aroused a "Us versus th epetty world" sentiment to roaring reception, he is about to remind that "us" isn't really "us", its "us" living usnder the rule of the Empire! The bugger is about to rupture the very nationalistic sentiment that the public is wearing with pride at the moment. A t a time when I binded th enation together by pointing a finger at other countries, at our enemies, for being petty, this Marcus, a fellow with no mental acumen, is about to point two fingers inswards, one at the public and one at the empire, decimating the fragile wave fo unity that is swooping the nation with my pamphlets !!! This will be devastating to the country, Beth, this is not the time for introspection for the country. This is the time to take the  "Superior than the rest of the Wolrd" sentiment to the next podium and make the people feel morally upright and obliged to join the war, if need be, to teachthe world a thing or two about virtue and righteousness !  It is the time to make th emasses feel that by not jooining the war uptill now, their country has shown a class, a patience that is associated with the Justs and the Giants and if the world absolutely needs a Giant, a God , to set them on the correct path, then we will join the War, not as petty soldiers, but as the Guardians of the world! Each man on the street must feel that he IS the Empire, He is the royalty of not judt thid nation, but of this World !! If the need arises, it is THIS VERY wave of heroic fervour that will provide the Empire with the endless stream of footsoldiers that it will need if and when the War hits our shores.

 

And I have just the pamphlets ready for this cause. Pamphlets that will fill this nation with a pride and a zeal that can mobilise the whole world nation as one ! 

 

[Insert Pamphlet in the letter here]

 

But these cannot reach th epublic if Marcus' do. I have tried explaining the seriousness of the situation to Senior Officer Parsons, but instead of taking me directly to th emiister of propaganda to address this grave issue he simply looked at me and asked me where it was I was from. I told him and he asked me to stay the small town guy I was and not worry my head too much about matters of the Empire ! Can you imagine that , Beth? An officer in charge of the country's pulse  and such a pitiable petty mind ! If I was in his place I would have stopped the printing of the posters and deeply discussed the propaganda plan for all possible outcomes! Instead all he did, the Big city empty-head that he is like Marcus, was point out the town I come from. As if that means anything to this job! the same pinheads everywhere I go Beth, from farms to palaces alike !

I am being commanded by buffoons here and the nation's security is at stak ehere. I see only one way to do what is right. I have my pamphlets for the masses and articles for newspapers ready with me. I can replace Marcus' content with mine at last moment when they go for print and distribution. Once the pamphlets are distributed and articles published, there is nothing they can do honestly to recall them. I will put my name on both so that they know who did it. its not a crime I want to hide, I want to show the discrepencies and bring them out before its too late. I am absolutely sure they will have the required effect on the nation and after witnessing that, if the ministry still deems me a culprit they can arrest me and do as they please. Personally, I think it should be Marcus in the jail once all is said and done, for he is the one who is about ot sabotage the whole operation with his incompetence. It is a calamity which can be only addressed by preventing it. My small town head is much more comepetent, contrary to what parsons believes.

 

My preparations are complete. All I do now is wait for th eprinting day and your advice, Beth. It is a huge step, a huge responsibility I intend to take on me , Beth, do you think it is right? It IS right, I know that, but is it moral, ethical, correct, the way I am planing it? Should I abide by the law and let the country commit a grave blunder which can lead to its destruction? or should I commit a crime and take these phony discriminating city snobs by the throat and shake them to their awakening? I wish to do it, Beth, I will not take their pity anymore like I did at the train station. I Know where that will lead me to. You have been my family, my guide all my life Beth, I shall wait for your word. Who do you see as right, Beth?

 

-Adrian Finch

 

---

 

LETTER 13:

Beth, 

My clout grows. I have settled in well now in my role of a Senior Propaganda Officer in the office of my predecessor, the insipid Mr. Parsons. The secrecy surrounding my promotion is finally over. I write to tell you that yesterday I was presented to the Emperor in his royal court by the minister of propaganda, Mr. Blighton himself. I met the Emperor, Beth, and the Emperor proclaimed in the court that I , Adrian Finch, can weave magic out of thin air, can conjure mountains with mere words and catch miracles on paper ! It took an Emperor to realise that, Beth, but thanks to that now every man on the street is reading my words, every market square is chanting my slogans, every business is rethinking strategies on my words and the intelligenstia is contemplating what I provoke them to! It would not be an overstatement to say that in the coming days the sway of my pen holds the power to sway the whole nation. To and fro, like a pendulum, I imagine th Empire avoiding or entering the war, as my pen sways. It is fun to thikn what may happen if we , as a nation, go to this way or that. To and fro!  The Emperor sue hasn't decided yet but I have been told to keep the nation's pride aroused and keep the families ready to send their sons to war and daughters to work if the Emperor fancies the war.

 

My next series of pamphlets declaring us as "Gaurdians of light" has done its job quite well uptill now to keep the mood upswing and us morally higher than the enemy. The next challenge is to make people ready to sacrifice their young and able. That would require some thought as I feel people truly sacrifice only for their own family or loved ones and as patriotic as one may feel, our natural instinct guides us to take our family away from danger and not to send them to danger or to leave them and go towards danger of the frontlines of war. Of course, there are those with young blood, those who crave adventure, those with misplaced sense of bravado, those with a family legacy of joining the army and then the naive and the innocent. They would join, yes, but what would be truly revolutionary, a befitting test of my skills, would be if a tidal wave of a new revolutionary thinking swooped th enation that made each able handed person to rise up and say "I will, for the nation ! " I want my next set of pamphlets to do just thatt. If it so happens, and it can, Beth, for I believe that words, when used in the right manner, can evoke an exact emotion or thought. Those emotions and thoughts evoked in a particular sequence are the key to opening up a potent opportune moment in a person in which you can implant any idea in the heart of that person that you want to !

               ...and what better chance can I get to try it out on people than this war ! its pure providence! 

I must get to work now. There is a lot that needs to be done.

 

-Adrian Finch

PS: I am sending you some real cigars. Do try them out, its what the royalty smokes.

 

 

----

 

LETTER 14:

 

Hello Beth,

  Did you know there si a chemical called Mustard Gas that can kill people in the hundreds?  Its amazing what you can learn each day and what these scientists can create out of nothing. Funny that its named after something we eat, I have no idea why. Maybe the inventor hates mustard , who knows! I am getting a little ahead of myself here. Actually, i attended a get together of some industrialists and one of them, a Peter-something fellow, I was told was producing mustard Gas shells in his factory to be sold to players of this war. It is fascinating what people can come up with, can conjure up, if I may say, to make money out of any situation. Mustard gas bombs. I would like to meet Mr. Peter someday if possible to see just how he goes about his life and like. i have never had anyone like him in any of my stories, have I beth? A man who sells poison bombs to one and all to make war ! Sounds like such an intriguing personality.

  Anyways, that also shows how gravely close the war is to our shores. On that front, I must inform you that I, with my propaganda office, have been succesful at slowly steering the intelligentsia towards a mindset which is now aligned with the Empire, if it decides to join the War. In fact, i have managed it such that if the Emperor so decides, I will make it seem as if the impetus to join the war came from the intellectuals of our counrty. My use of Alleghiari Dante's famous statement :

 "The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."

           was pivotal in achieving this turnaround with the thinking class. The feeling of being superior, morally higher than th eworld, that I had planted and groomed till now is paying off now. Dante's statement just worked wonders to steer that superiority towards a call to take responsibility and act. The Emperor is thrilled at the support from the ever dissenting intellectuals. He walked into my office today, unannounced, to congratulate me. The whole staff was excited beyond measure, I must say. It was seen as a sign of unconditional support  of the Emperor towards our work. After all, it is not everydat that royalty makes informal visits outside the royal circles. As you can see I am very excited , Beth and evn more excited to give the final shape to this long running campaign.

 My final stroke will be to top it all off with a mass public movement , a sweeping nationwide sentiment of a selfelss call to action that will provide us with the workforce and the footsoldiers required to win. But that will be unleashed when the pride, the superiority of being and the feeling of moral obligation to correct the world is at its very highest peak. Only then will every segment of society pour in the right thoughts and support when we mobilize the common man's zeal to act !

 

Enough of theorising, Beth, a man can dream forever and forget to act in the present. I must have the posters ready soon. They will have to be very inclusive, something that brings the masses and the Empire together as one. "Royalty and commoner as one !"  to launch the "superiority" aspect to a whole new dimension for the common man on the street ! Somethign sin=mple that is easy to chant on the street and that makes even the rat in the backalleys feel like the frontrunner, the flagbearer, of the Empire !  This has really sparked my imagination Beth. I believe I have just the thing. I must ge tto work now! 

 

-Adrian Finch (very excited signature)

[For some reason Ihave written here that make sure the player cannot reply to this. maintainnece/holidays, rain, anything]

 

------

 

LETTER 15:

 

Why do I even write to you Beth? Does all my talk of sculpting the nation's collective thinking bore you that much? I mention my biggest breakthrough to you and you do not even care to reply. Sometimes I wonder if you even read my letters , you sound so distant and indifferent in some of yours. As if its someone else. Maybe, it all sounds outlandish to you in that little town of yours, where nothing really happens. I never really understood why the Empire even cared to put a post-Office there.

 Do you read the newspapers, Beth?  Did you read about the gas accident and the murder of four people? It has shaken the whole establishment. The war is still a plentyfull number of miles away from us but the fear and the accompanying panic seem to have swept in already. Four people, one of  the a city prostitute I hear, were found murdered near the ship ports a few days back. The bodies of one of one ofthe men and the prostitute were so inhumanly mutilated that I cannot describe it to you in any decent manner. Just find a newspaper I would say. What kind of rage would a man have possessed to cut someone up in such a way? and to think what he did to the girl before killing her? I feel a strange disgust.

 A part of me feels it would be fascinating to meet a man with such a barabric and criminal mind. What emotion can turn a man so maniacal to a deed so beastly? revenge ? I cannot think of any other. Two of the victims have been identified as slave smugglers and the woman, as I said, was a prostitute. Scum of the city, as people would say. I am guessing the culprit belonged to the same group. The police have just hushed up the case for want of evidence but, to be honest, the actual reason seems that the city does not want to acknowledge that it harbours such individuals. Contrary to this , it has sparked a major debate in the newspapers about slavers, smugglers, prosititution and other issues that my office is trying its best to make the society forget about at this time. It seems the girl was trying to flee the country and landed in the hands of slave smugglers. Thoughts of fleeing the country are not to be fostered and allowed to spread at this time and I hope the horror of this brutal murder just puts a lid on anyone else's plans to do so, at least for the general public. The intellectuals that need to be controlled is another task that has fallen ito our hands which are already full. I hope this murderer rots in hell, the rat has put a major dent on all our efforts.

 

and as if that wasn't enough, a mustard gas shell, the ones I told you about, has exploded in Mr. Peter's factory killing a dozen people ! How careless can one be, the dimwit this Peter is ! Like a child playing with fire.|its good I never met him, I am sure  now he is incompetent weakling not worth my time at all. Just another trader who dreams of being big but lacks the acumen. The world is full of average people who cannot handle a deal even if you thrust a bagful of gold in their hands. Here we are toiling day and night to keep the positivity high in the air and in comes this guy and kills his own people with war weaponry meant for "petty nations". The incident has rattled up the business as well as the scholars. All the hardwork I did in portraying the empire taking moral high ground will fall flat if one more such incident crops up ! I am having a tough time controlling these two incidents as it is. I fi i could I would personally throw that damned maniac and Mr. Peter into the gallows just like I was whisked away to jail in the middle of the night. Th e nation doesn't need more idiots, we are already tasked with managing millions of them at one go.

 

heard the guy who taught the workers how to handle the bombs was the one who dropped it. Good riddance, I say, we do not really need your services anymore. Mr. Peter gave him proper burial, what a bunch of jokers, all of them. Atleast, you cannot jeopardise our work from the grave anymore, Mr. bombmaker.

 

Adrian Finch (signature tunrning into harsh shapes)

 

---

 

LETTER 16:(Evidence of treachory)

 

Hello Beth,

 I am very perturbed today and hoping that writing to you might clear my mind. you know the enemy has been dropping their own propaganda in the city too, beth. The pamphlets just show up one morning scattered all over the city sending waves of fear amongst the dwellers. Rumours of silent enemy planes flying over the city at nights swoop the neighbourhoods and get more difficult to control each successive time. Of course, i have been studying these pamphlets to counter them and to deduce what lie the might spread next. But yesterday, Beth, a peculiar specimen came into my hands. It was th emaster copy of the pamphlet, the original that is sent to th epress to be replicated in the thousands. Needless to say I was fascinated by it and studied it in great detail. It felt oddly familiar at first and I could not place what it was that was bothering me till it dawned on me: it was the exact same paper we used in the Empire  city press! No wonder it felt familiar in my hands which shuffle these papers all day and night. flabbergasted by the implications, I ran my fingers over it again and again to be doubly sure. I was chilled ot the core and I rushed to Mr. Blighton immediately and showed him the specimen and though fascinated by the discovery and a bit taken aback just like me, at the implications I am sure, He dismissed it as a co-incidence. He felt it would be too far fetched a theory to accurately point out an act of treachery, considering how serious an allegation that was. 

 he might be right too, maybe I am over reacting, people do make papers with similar techniques everywhere and we cannot afford to instill doubt within the nation at this point in time just because the enemy's paper feels similar to ours.

 

 But as you can see I have been very disturbed the whole day. Its not a feeling I can shake off that easily. What if there is a traitor here ? printing and distributing enemy propaganda under our nose. It does seem too far fetched. I agree I did hijack the press once myself when I switched my posters for Marcus' but then it was no secret that anyone could keep.

I must shake out of it. My next set of posters are ready and I must say  they look very good. Very simple at first glance and thats the very quality that makes it effective ! Mr. Blighton is also very happy at how this has shaped up and we are very excited to see the reaction of the Empire city public once it is out. Godspeed ! 

 

-Adrian Finch

 

---

 

LETTER 17:

 

Hello beth,

 

 "We are the Empire ! " 

Its everywhere , ha ! Every street, every market square you can see the youth, the children strike a pose and gleefully shout "We are the Empire!" It has caught the fancy of the nation, it has brought a cheer to the general public! It has brought them together, made each of them feel important, proud and self reliant ! It has made them feel significant, feel self driven and made them feel th epower of the Empire's whole machinery and might inside them ! They ARE the Empire, they make it run, its THEIR collective energy mmakes it happen ! The were always the citizens of the Empire city, but never acknowledged to be its soul before. They now feel they run the city, the nation, their menial tasks and lives feel important and they feel like royalty in their hearts now ! I can happily say now that it has worked , Beth ! Worked like a perfect puppet show ! Once can see cheerful excited faces moving in groups on the streets now. People have been roused to the very peak of their pride and drive  now. if there has to be any call to action, it has to be now ! There men and children are ready to heed the call of the nation, whatever it may be. Th e Emperor must make haste now for right now they will obey like good disciplined sheep.

 

The Emperor, yes Beth, he called me and Blighton into his private chambers today! the castle I used to dreamily eye from my morning rides on the train long back. I was inside that castle today, Beth. The emperor treated me as an equal, had tea with me and congratulated and thanked me for my impeccable sense of duty and dedication towards this lengthy and sensitive national mission.

 

Beth, do not share this with anyone yet, but I think, and I heard rumours in the palace too, that the Emperor might award me with Knighthood now ! Yes, Beth, the same small town boy who was thrown out of the measly grocery for being an outsider, who people loved to see in his right place in society begging in the walkways, whom Parsons considered too simple minded to understand royal work, the same man shall tower over the whole nation now. I AM the most powerful voice of this nation after the Emperor himself and soon it shall be acknowledged as such ! 

 

Sir Adrian Finch. How do you like the sound of that , madame Beth ! you will read it in the newspapers soon !

 

-Adrian Finch (very confident strokes with a flair of delicate curves)

 

---

 

[A newspaper arrives prior to this or the magazine has an aritcle "Please call me Sir ! Sir Blighton awarded Knighthood by the Emperor."]

 

LETTER 18:

 

Hello Beth, 

 I don't think I have to tell you anything, its the talk of the whole nation. "Sir Edward Blighton ! awarded the Knighthood for his exemplary services to the nation." He is the minister of Propaganda, so the honour is all his and not mine. Well, but I AM the propaganda ! If it wasn't for me , my selfless courageous act of ditching Marcus' posters and printing mine, it iwasn't me going to hell for 4 days with a label of traitor on my head, this whole mission would have fizzled out before it even started !  Blighton, Parsons, Emperor all would have just fumbled in the dark without me. What have they sacrificed for the nation? The nation doesn't even know the humiliation, the torment of the mind I went through for those 4 days in the dark cell, not knowing  if what I did was right, if anyone would see the sense behind it or if I would just languish in jail tortured for treachery forever ! Come to think of it, has Blighton ever put his life on the line ever? All he has done is sit in his office, drink and smile in ceremonies held in honour of my work. If it is anyone who needs to be recognised for his selfless toil, it is me ! If it si anyone who has wrecked his head day and night to solve the riddles of the nation, it is me ! It is plain as the morning sky to see that it is I who needs to be honoured.

 Or am I still the man from the small town? too small in stture to be made a Knight of the order? Is that it, Beth, is that why I was not knighted? again? For all the admiration the Emperor has shown for me, he has always done so in private. Even when i was re instated and promoted as Senior officer, it was all done in secrecy and I was told not to ask who ordered it. Is the Emperor afraid to show himself in public admiring a commoner, a small town migrant ! For all my work that he admired, he could not look past my face? is that all it comes down to, each time, at each place? Now that I think about it , it does seem so! I am still the same old differnet coloured drop in this ocean of drops to them. However powerfull, skillfull magic I may wield, however much clout and power I mat hold, once I have been used I am the same old off-looking outsider in the end. It ended it all for Mr. Mackensaw, for all the spineless worms at the trainstation, for marcus, for Parsons and even Blighton dismissed me when I showed him clear proof of treacheryAm small town guy with his petty thinking, he must have thought! and now its the same with the damned Emperor! Used me all to rally his nation behind him but resent me such that does not want to be seen with me in public ! All that matters in the end, all that defines me is my colour, my face, this body ! Does he not fear th epower I hold over th epeople ? has he not seen what I can do with them at will? or does he so firmly believe that my kind can only meekly obey and do as asked for by the royalty? 

 

 Has the poor Emperor forgotten that the very first time he had even heard of Adrian Finch was when I disobeyed and hijacked the Empire City press to what I thought was right! Is it time to remind him of what Adrian Finch thinks is right now?

 

I had seen a castle from a train once,  Beth, a beautiful castle in a countryside I caressed with my eyes. I don't think I like it anymore.

 

-Adrian Finch (Harshest ever)

 

---

 

LETTER 19:

 

Hello Beth,

 All is in place and I will not ask for your advice this time, it didn't mtter last time either. I do not have time and I cannot wait. The public is roaring for action and I hold th ekey. Empire City shall knowth epower of words once and for all. The city that rejected me, my dreams and used me to clean its mess, this city will witness what a handfull of words can do and the royalty will know what a small town commoner with a funny face can do.

 

After all,

[ "We are the Empire,

                    NOT THEM!"

[a pamphlet is pasted in the letter with  the words and visuals of a common man towering over a Empire policeman, the mutilated bodies of Mercy and men in the background]

 "and WE shall run it !"]

 

I will just sow the seeds and leave it for them to reap.....for me ! 

Beth, I am coming home !

 

Adrian Finch

(perfect signatures)

------

After this Lisa's last letter will arrive mentioning the bombs.

After than a newspaper

"Empire City erupts in revolt. Planes bomb North City"

with pictures of the pamphlet "We run the Empire

                                                                      NOT THEM!"

After that the Orphan's last letter arrives.

 

Letters by George Walter

 

// Letter 1

 

My brave brave son,

Forgive me. I should have listened to you when you begged me not to board the cursed SS (Name of ship). I cannot fathom what you might have felt when the news of its sinking reached you. I begged them to just let me tell you that I'm alive, but the swines... They burnt every piece of paper I wrote on, laughing at my tears of despair. They would hold out my hands and hit them with spiked sticks if they found me writing. But nothing hurt me more than thinking about how lonely you must feel. I hope this letter finds its way to you. I might be able to bribe someone to send this letter.

I have still been trying to make sense of what happened. We were sailing peacefully through the <name of ocean> ocean. The crew was upbeat because we were making good time. It seemed like we would reach home in another three or four days. While everyone else seemed blissfully absorbed in their work, the captain seemed a little distant. Captain Lawrence was a man who commanded respect. He had sailed through some of the roughest storms. To see that man perturbed made me feel anxious. It seems like he was worried about the cargo. I think our vessel was secretly carrying firearms and ammunition for the government. The SS (Name of ship) had been constructed with a proviso that it could be converted to an armed merchant cruiser. The crew never gave it another thought and neither did I, until now.

I was on deck when I heard a deafening blast on the starboard side below. The ship rocked violently and I heard shouting and screaming around me. For a moment, I was too stunned to realize what was going on. Williams, who was also on the deck when this happened, hurriedly shook me out of my disbelief  and pointed to a lifeboat. We both ran towards it and managed to somehow jump inside and lower it. That is when we heard the second blast, a much more powerful blast coming from within the SS (Name of ship). Water poured in everywhere and half the ship was already under water. We had to row away from the ship or we would have been dragged to the bottom of the sea with it. We couldn’t do anything to save others. I can still hear the wailing of Jim in my nightmares looking at me with death in his eyes. I couldn’t do anything to help the poor boy. 

We weren’t too far from death’s grasp either. The window for survival was only a few hours if we did not manage to get off the lifeboat. Little did we know that rescue would be worse than death. Soon after the SS (name of ship) had sunk, a submarine appeared right next to us. Already drained by the ordeal, we just looked on as men in uniform emerged carrying weapons with them. Dragged and thrown inside, we were blindfolded and manhandled. We don’t know how long it took us, but we were finally off that devilish thing. We were transported on a lorry to a prison camp somewhere in the middle of a pine forest where we are now. Williams and I are the only survivors from the SS (name of ship) but there are others here from other vessels.

You must not lose hope, John. There must be God’s will in this. If I were destined to die that day, I would not have gotten this chance to write to you. You are the reason I am alive, son. As I ran towards the lifeboat, all I thought about was who would take care of you. I will do everything it takes to come home. I will come back, son, I promise I will. 

I don’t know why they’ve held me but there seems to be some mischief afoot. These soldiers are not men, they are demons. You must be careful when writing to me. Do not write directly, I will let you know where to send the letters.

I comfort myself by thinking of the Serbian white cranes. God cares for their little ones when the cranes are thousands of miles away, as He will comfort and care for you. 

George

 

 

[ Player: Find out that John has not been there for the past few days after his father’s funeral ] 

 

Letter 2

 

# George Walter

 

Oh Dear God,

John has to be home, please, please… You must go and check again. He has nowhere else to go. He will come home. He has to. Please, send someone there, my son will come home.

Where else could he go? John is only 13, he’s too young to be out on his own… What will my poor boy do? What will he eat? Where will he stay? I will never be able to forgive myself if something happens to him. Please, please take everything you want from my home , just find my son.

His best and only friend James would know where John would be. John must be with James! He can’t have gone anywhere else… You’ll find him there, I know you will...

 


 

Letter 3

 

Please tell me you found my son. He must have come back home. Did you make someone stay at my home? Did you ask James? He could have gone to my sister’s place… Someone must know where my son is. Please, I beg you, find my son.

My son has green eyes and deep brown hair. He likes to wear his plaid cap and his green coat, the one I got for him the last time I was out at sea.

HE told me that he would always wear that coat because it made him feel close to me when I wasn’t around. We used to go fishing and he would always wear that coat… He will come back… I know it in my heart. If only I could break away from this prison.

 

 

Letter 4

 

Thank you, thank you so much for finding my son. I’m sorry for the illegible writing buy my hands are shaking from the relief this news brings me.

I don’t know whether I need to be relieved that John isn’t alone or terrified that James and John are both away from home. I think John must have been heartbroken to hear of the news of the sinking of my ship. James might have suggested that they get away from home for a little while. Perhaps James has some relatives in the country they’ve both gone to.

John never even ventures out of home alone, let alone travel through the country. I hope they are both safe. James is a few years older than John so I know he’ll be able to manage. I made John promise to always carry some money with him for emergencies.

You said that James promised to write back to his mother soon? They’ll probably come home soon. I know now… I’m relived to know that John isn’t alone. He is a ray of comfort to me in this hell-hole.

Things are as bad as they could be. New prisoners are being brought in everyday. The soldiers speak in a language that is alien to me and Williams. We are made to dig trenches and work all day. Williams was carrying a heavy stone today and one of the soldiers hit him from behind and made him fall. His fingers were stuck beneath the stone as he fell. We’ve both been brutally tortured, but the scream he let out when his fingers were crushed made my heart shrivel in fear. I fear that I might die here and never get a chance to meet my son. I’ve bandaged Williams’ hand not because it might help heal his wound but just to keep it out of our sights. Our bodies are growing thinner by the day… If only I could get a chance to see my son once.

 

Letter 5

 

Thank God, they are both safe. You must write to them at once at the address James gave you and inform John that I am alive. That will console my son. What I cannot understand is how could John ask James to take him so far from home. John isn’t adventurous: I would urge him to go and play with his friends, but he never left the company of his books. John isn’t the kind of child who would leave home to venture out on an adventure. I cannot understand why they are headed to a port town…

You must write to John at once and implore him and James to return home. Things are too grim to be away from home alone.

More and more prisoners are being added each day. Most of them are from merchant ships and just as clueless as we are. The soldiers are getting more restless and cruel by the day. Some prisoners are kept in separate rooms. I was digging a trench yesterday when a soldier dragged a man by his hair. The man was pleading, begging the soldier to forgive him. He spoke their language mostly, but I thought I heard him say in broken English, “I’m not a spy”.

I didn’t like the sound of that at all. Al of this seems to be a premonition to something more sinister. Williams has been acting rather strange since the day he crushed his fingers. He keeps muttering in his sleep, “I’ll find it” over and over again. The soldiers keep beating him up just to keep themselves amused but he doesn’t even retaliate anymore.

I beg you again… Tell John and James to come back home.  

 

 

Letter 6

 

What has John done! The foolish angel… He set out to find me! Here I am in a prison camp with no way to tell him that I’m alive. If only he’d waited another day before boarding the ship to read news of me. I have failed as a father. I should have been there to protect him. Now, because of me, my son is sailing the seas alone, searching for me in a world that does not care for the measly existence of a father and his son. Martha would never forgive me. She had made me promise that I would never let anything happen to our John.

Everywhere I look, there is death around me. The soldiers shoot at us for game. I am too exhausted to be scared anymore. I do not care whether I live or die, but I need to protect my son.

There is talk of war. A new prisoner came in who speaks their language and he told us about the killings. < insert information about the killings> No one knows yet, but it cannot be kept a secret much longer.

If war breaks out, they will kill my son when he reaches this wretched country. I have no one I can talk to. Williams seems to have gone insane. He doesn’t eat or talk any more. He seems delusional, putting all his food in a bag day after day. He keeps digging at the trench. He doesn’t feel like a human any more, a soul-less being drudging along, oblivious of everything around him.

I cannot have my son see me in this hell. If they find out about him, they’ll surely kill him, or worse make him suffer the fate I am.

 

 

Letters by The Unnamed Orphan 

 

Story: undelivered letter. It was Welma and Adam's house. Both had died in a car crash two weeks back. Their son was sent to an orphanage by some good samaritans in his school. I wonder who is writing to Welma now. Everyone here knows she is no more.

 

Letter 1:

 

Mama, where are you Mama? I want to come home, Mama. Please take me back Mama, i know you are there, these people lie. they are liars, all of them and mean.

 Please take me back ,mama,I want to be home, with you. DOn't write back or they will find out I sent a letter. Come and take me home !

Benny

 

Answer: Benny has asked not to reply. Looks like the child hasn't come to terms with his parents' death yet. If I write back to the orphanage will it even reach him?

 

letter 2:

 

Why didn't you come Mama?  I am very scared here, mama, the bed is cold, the walls are cold. I cry in my bed. They beat me here, mama, I know you will come.  I don't like anyone here, come and take me back, I promise I will never do any mischief, I won't lie, won't play with Cary, won't go out, will go to school. Please take me home.

 

Answer : none

 

Letter 3:

 

Mrs. Albridge caught me writing to you, Mama. She says no one is going to read them. She is a liar, I knowthe address. I know Mr. Postman will give you my letter. Where is Daddy, Mama? They lie that you will never come, that you have forgotten me. Vicky said, you are dead. liar he is a Liar, he lies to all. I am waiting Mama.

 

Story: Benny seems to be coming to terms with the reality now.

 

Letter 4: (envelope will have a little drawing of the street and a home)

 

Mama, they took us all to church yesterday. I prayed to God to make my letter find you. I told Father Brigarius that they keep me away from you here, this is not my home. I told him that I never lie but Mrs. Allbbridge lies, she says my mama and papa are dead. I will show her when you come, Mama. Father Brigarus smiled at me and said God will take care. Now I am sure you will get this letter. Did you see, I have even made the way to our home on the top. I will pray again tonight Mama. I will wait by the window again tomorrow, Mama.

 

Benny.

 

LETTER 5:

 

Mama, are you reading this? I wait everyday at my window for you. Vicky said I am a dimwit and dead people don't come back. He hit me and called me 'Benny the missy, Benny the Sissy.' he said no parents ever come here. Why did you send me here, mama? Why don't you come, they laugh at me.

 

LETTER 6

 

Is no one reading this? This is the only address I know. Are you some other kid's mother? (someone else) Mister Who is reading this can you please , please tell my mother, Mrs Lucy Blighton, in Smalltown Brookville, to come and take me home. She has brown hair. I am near a board which says "EMPIRE CITY ORPHANGE". I can see the sign. My window is to the the left of the iron gate, third from the Big mmain door. They beat me, laugh at me, call me names. Father Brigarius only smiles but does not tell God to tell my parents. Can you please tell mama? I want to go home.

 

LETTER 7:

 

Is no one reading my letters? I waited , I wait everyday.

My letters must be going somewhere, I put them in the postbox at night. Are they not going anywhere. Does Mr. Postman keep them in bag with letters from nowhere that go nowhere. I write the address I know. It is the only i know. You made me remember it, mama, I don't know what I am writing wrong. All the letters with wrong address, where do they go? Maybe the postman gives these letters to his children to play in their home. They tear away the ones with tears, make paper planes out of happy ones and float boats in puddles of the ones lost on their way. If only one of those boats reach my home when it rains or if it is all true, fly to sky to you in the clouds, Mama. Are you with God now, up in the skies, Mama? Is God also dead and up there in the skies?

 

LETTER 8:

 

You are not coming mama, are you? Now I wait less for you and more for the time when I sneak out at night to put these letters in the postbox accross the street. Everyone is inside their homes at that time, having supper. After posting the letter, I stop at the windows and look inside, the window is always warm. I see people eating together in the warm lights and imagine my letter flying to our little town, the postman giving it to you, your shock and tears. You tell Dad that  you have found Benny and papa takes the car out to come and get me. I run out on seeing our blue car pulling in at the gate and I run past Vicky, Mrs. Allbridge, Father Brigarius, the big door and into your arms. We reach home and Papa says "who is hungry!" and we sit at our dining table in our warm house and I watch both of you smile and look at me.

 But then I run, as it is not you Mama, its the lady of that house looking at the window suspiciously. So, I run, afraid that my letter will fall out of the Postman's bag and never reach you, that dogs on the street will tear it to pieces, that beggars on the streets will burn it to light their fires in the cold nights. Afraid, I slip in through my window, push myself in between the grill and fear that Vicky might wake up anytime.

But Vicky sleeps peacefully, he knows his parents are dead. it is so simple for him.

 

-Benny.

 

LETTER 9:

               My bed is always cold here and the blanket I have stinks. I don't use it. Vicky says he cannot wait to grow up and get out of this hell. he says he will join the army and I said the way he sleeps, the enemyy will burn the whole town on his watch. He said "Atleast, it won't be this cold then!" and we laughed.

I stole this page from his notebook while he slept. I don't have anything to tell, mama. I just want to go out and watch the the family accross the street through their window. It is always warm at their window.

 

LETTER 10: (letter comes very next day)

 

Are you an angel now, mama? Do you watch over me, do you read when I write these letters? Was it you , did you leave the sweater for me? I found it lying below the window of the housewhen I stopped to watch them while coming back last time. I felt something soft at my feet , it was a half sweater mama ! I was afraid to take it. What if it is of the boy in the house and he dropped it? What if they find it missing? Did the lady in the house knit it? it was warm and smelt like home, mama. I took it and ran back to my room. I wear it inside my shirt to hide it or they will know. When I sleep,I pull it over my head  and It feels like home. It smells so nice, Mama. I have to make sure no one sees it, not even Vicky.

 

LETTER 11

 

Mama, I am very afraid that they will catch me. Today, when Mrs. Allbridge took us all to church, i saw the lady from the house accorss the street come out and watch us all. She watched us all board the bus. I was so afraid, I never looked up. Was she looking to find the thief?  I was wearing the sweater inside my shirt. She looked at all of us from accross the street. Then she smiled at the Mrs. Aldrich. Will she tell her about it? if she does Mrs. Allbridge will find it on me. I will put the sweater back at the window tonight, back where I found it and I will never never look at her or her house again. I will go now.

 

LETTER 12:

 

Mama, what do people do to grow up? One of the older boys, William from the top floor caught me by my collar after the English classes and took me to the Janitor's room. He said it was time for me to grow up and pushed me to the wall. He pulled at my pants, I was very afraid, but Vicky barged in and started pushing and shoving Willaim. He screamed at me to run and we both ran straight to our room. I asked him about William and he shouted at me to shut up. I shouted back and said didn't he wanted to grow up too and why wont he tell me what William was doing. He started swearing like the older boys and called me a dimwit. I don't understand him but I am very afraid of William now. I am afraid of them all. Why do I have to be here, Mama, Why did you die? God is dead , God is dead up there with you and Father Brigarius doesn't know. He just smiles. Please take me away mama.

 

 

Letter 13: (This letter comes quickly again)

 

I am sorry that I said God is dead. Are you reading my letters God. maybe I am  a dimwit but when I was coming back from posting the last letter I was very afraid crossing the lady's house across the street but I quickly glanced that way at the window and there it was hanging by the window: the sweater again ! I stopped right there. I had given it back and she put it out there again! Slowly I made my way back to the window and looked inside her house. There she was, smiling and pouring soup to her son. She had put the sweater back again for me, Mama. I picked up the sweater and neatly rolled up inside was a cap! A gift ! the window was foggy  but I saw her smile to her boy, mama, just like you. I could not see clearly , mama, my eyes were wet but I think she looks like you. Are you an Angel mama? I am sorry I said God is dead.

 I ran back with my gifts and I wore both the cap and sweater to bed. I wear them in my bed every night. 

 

LETTER 14:

 

i do not know what to do. She watched us again as we were going to church today. Is she trying to find me? why? Does she love me? can she take me out of here? No one has ever left this place except the boys who grow up and go for jobs. I will have to wait many many years for that. Can I live in her house? maybe if I run away and don't come back, but Mrs. Albridge will see me in her house. Does the lady want me to live with them? Maybe if I wear the cap to church she will know and take me home with her. I don't know Mama, and I don't know who to ask. If I tell anyone they will know I have been sneaking out at night and beat me.

 I asked Vicky if someone could take one of us out. Didn't tell him about the sweater or cap. He took out his hankerchief and showed it to me. his name was embroidered on it. He looked me striaght in the eyes and said "There is only one mother". I asked if anyone else could take us out of here but he just sat in the bed after that with this hankerchief in hand. 

I clutched my sweater under my shirt. Can there be a new mother?

 

LETTER 15: (Comes after some time)

What do I do , Mama? I went to her window again, no not for more gifts, no, I wanted to see her. When she smiles for her son I imagine she smiles for me. Does she know I am out there in the night at the window. Should I wear the cap and sweater to church and tell her who I am. What if she is not looking for me? What will I tell the others then? Mrs Albridge will kill me. 

I went to the window again, Mama, to see if she was looking for me by the window. I looked in and there they were, having supper late again, but all together, a family. The lady, the man and son. Her husband was talking to her boy and she was listening to both of them lovingly. Clutching the sweater between my fingers I was trying to imagine my self with them, eating with mother and father? I must have gone too close to the window as the man noticed something and came over to the check. It happened so suddenly, I fell back on the grass as he opened the window and shouted "Who goes there!" I got up to run. "Maria, call the guards!" he shouted.....Maria, mama, her name was Maria ! Maria looked out of the window, I was crying by then but I saw a gun in the man's hand. Maria screamed as the gun roared in the darkness. I fell over and ran, falling and running as I crossed the street in the darkness. Maria screamed to him to stop shooting , she said she knew me! I was shocked Mama, I looked back to see her, she said she knew me. The man slapped her hard and fired the gun again towards me. I ran back as hard as I could. Everyone was getting out of their homes on hearing the gun fire. Vicky was wide eyed like an owl and white as a sheet as he saw me squeeze in through the grill of our window. I quickly wiped my tears and wrapped myself up in the blanket to hide all the dirt on me. I jumped into my bed and asked Vicky to not tell anyone. Mrs. Albridge was out at the gate and there was police accross the street. The older boy supstairs were shouting and hooting loudly. I and vicky were quite as the night. Vicky kept staring at me and then took my woollen cap off my head, looked at it for a while and then told me to hide it quickly.

I was very scared all night.

 The warden told us all next day that we should stay cautious. There were multiple murders at the Ship port of the south city and the slavers were also involved. So, all kids are to stay under supervision at all times after last night's ruckus in the street. It might be the work of slavers, the police had said. But mama, Maria had told her husband that she knew me. Did they not tell the police? Is she saving me again?Does she love me mama, she hasn't even seen me yet. Should I wear the cap next Sunday to the church. I hope they take us to church soon. She will know then, she will take me out of here, but her husband had slapped her ! Will he throw me out ! 

What do i do?

 

LETTER 16:

 

I wore the cap Mama, I am out of the Orphanage. Out of it all, I am free now. Free from all of it, all of it.

 

A lot has happened in a few days, and if someone has been reading my letters uptill now I am sure this war will end that now. So I will let this be the last:

 

I wore my cap for the church but as we were lining up to board the bus, people with sticks and guns came and said the Orphanage is closed, the Empire can cage no one anymore. They held boards saying "We run the Empire, Not them!" and cheerfully told us that this is a revolution and all are free now. I cried with joy and decided to run to Maria, Older boys were hooting and jeering. Mrs. Albridge was furious. Vicky just stood there numb as they started putting us in trucks. It all happened so suddenly. I wanted to run to Maria's house but I saw the men take all families out too. They announced that we were all to move to some shelters as the Empire may harm us out here. Maria and her boy came out too but they were not happy like us boys, they were crying. I wanted to rush into her arms, show her my face, tell her I was the sweater boy. My heart was beating so heard I could not see clearly. Before I could do anything, they took her boy away from her and sent him to our bus with all the boys. Maria was sent into a truck with the women. The boy looked very different with the tear filled face, I wonder now if I looked like that when I came here in this orphanage. He saw my cap and just stood there looking at me. I took off the cap and offered it to him, he slowly came over and sat next to me, clutching the cap tightly in his hands. I could not understand much,  i everyone was being taken to some shelter. As soon as the bus stopped, we were let out. I started looking for Maria, and so did the boy, after all she was his  mother. Now that I was free , I took off my shirt and the sweater and wore it above my shirt now. I wanted maria to recognise me as soon as she saw me. The boy, his name is Renault, started staring at the sweater and I told him his mother had given it to me and we should find her together. We searched the whole shelter for Maria, for his "Mom". Renault stayed around me all the time, I think he felt at home with me wearing this sweater from his home. We spent the whole day asking around but could not find maria, no one knew where she was taken. We slept at the shelter, me and Renault, and he asked me about who I was, where my parents were. All I remember is I was thinking hard that How do i tell him I want his mother to be mine too? How do I ask him for his mother? Can there be another mother, mama?

 

Then one morning I saw her, I saw Maria. Two of the revolution men with guns were taking her towards a police car. I felt something was wrong. I followed them to see where they taking her. As she reached the car, two men in uniforms, but with blindfolds, came out of the car. They started walking towards the shelter with the revolution men as Maria was pushed into the car by two policemen from the car.Afraid of losing her again , I ran out and called her name ......and then, then the world turned inside out. A siren wailed loudly and planes appeared in the sky. Everyone started running towards the shelters as bombs fell from the sky somewhere with a deafening sound. I saw Maria fall out of the car. I ran towards her calling her name again and again. She looked up but the policemen pushed her back into the car. I screamed her name again "Maria!"  as bombs tore open the ground somewhere very near.  I ran behind the car madly, crying her name, "Maria! Maria!" I ran behind her car calling for you again " Maria! Mama ! Mama ! " she turned around to see me, she reached out her hand and cried out. From somewhere out in the sky, the bombs fell again ....this time on the car.

 

I was thrown far back. Far away from her car. I don't know if she saw my sweater, I don't know if she saw the boy behind her car, I don't know if she saw the boy at her window, I don't know if she saw the boy in the dark....I don't know if she saw me before it was very bright. So bright it burnt her eyes. I don't know.

 

I am free now, Mama, free from it all. Renault stays around me, the sweater makes him feel at home. He says he will find his Mama one day and I look at small boy clutching the sweater.

 

Can there be another mother, Mama? I don't think so.....

 

Letters by Lisa

 

LETTER 01:

 

          "Unspoken tales of the forsaken girls", as we used to call them, our little adventures, that ended all of a sudden thanks to one girl who ran away from it all, her home, her town, her stories and her life. I am no stranger to life, I know the town must have celebrated that I finally caved in and ran away from life. I do not want them to know I am alive and well. it will only sadden them, lessen their victory over a little girl. I only want you to know, Beth, because I know you were the only one bitter and sad when I ran away and I know your heart is racing right now while reading this letter. I just hope you will forgive me for running away from you too. Believe me, but I was afraid that if I told you, you might join me in my escape. that little "home"town hadn't been kind to you either. Hometown, what a weird name for a place where you are born out of fate and not out of choice. Honestly, to think of it, nothing  would have been nicer than running away together, beth, it may just have been perfect, but no, I could not put little Adrian into the danger of living a runaway's life. i am sure you would have thought the same, the Beth that you always were, loving and caring even to me. Oh, how many times I have gone through that moment in my head, beth, when I passed your cold little house on my way to the train station that night. I saw you and Adrian inside and I saw you get up as if you knew I was around. Afraid you would see me peeking in, I kissed your window and ran, Beth, ran tearing through the wind so hard that my tears dried before they could hit the ground. i did not want to leave the slightest trail behind me, not even my tears, for I was afraid it would make you weak and you might follow me. I ran through the tears, I ran through the wind, I ran with the train, I ran till I fell and broke my arm and then I ran withh the pain. Atleast now my tears had a real pain to draw from and I could cry my heart out. I wanted to be empty, Beth, empty before I reached the city. Empty of all the past hate, pain, regrets and loves. So, i cried, I cried that night out of my life.

 I left the town as Eugene and reached the city as Lisa, from our "unspoken tales". Lisa, a new person with a new destiny of her won. God had made Eugene, I made Lisa. God had no work here, i was my own creator. I dropped everything of my old life, of Eugene, in Lisa but I kept you, Beth. that one flicker of light to keep me anchored in this new world and knowing you, you are not one that can be erased so easily. I had decided then that I would write back to you once Lisa would have her own existence and here I am beth, after more than 10 years. Only now, I am Lisa Monarch. 

           As I said earlier. I am "alive and well", and its true in the objective sense of both the words. Also, Beth, I am a prostitute in th ebiggest brothel of the city and that is how Lisa's "tale" begins.

 

Yours,

Eugene.

Call me Lisa now.

LETTER 02:

 

Hello Beth,

 

 I cannot tell you how good it feels to just know you are there in life again, however far you may be. I do not know how you feel about me being a broad in the city but, I guess, one of the easiest way to think around it would be to think it's Lisa who is a broad, the friend from a previous life was Eugene. That sure helped me in the beginning. Running away from reality was never your way of life, I know, for that gave me the most strength even back then. You showed me that the easiest way to conquer fear was to drop the wish to run away from it....and yet I ran away. What a whack I am. But I  ran from that life Beth, not from myself. If I even once wished to run away from myself, from what I am, then I would have been a wreck by now. Being a broad in the city isn't something you can be if you cannot look yourself in the eye. if you even slightly wish to not be yourself here, you  will crumble like a bowl full of a dust in a single moment.  This brothel cannot kill me and this world cannot keep me alive, it is only I, Lisa Monarch, that can ! 

          I choose to be here, beth. I wonder if the thought repulses you, makes you vomit your sanity out for a moment, like it does to the world. I hope it doesn't or I will have to assume that the world got you too and I find that impossible to believe. The beth I know was an anchor even when she was a child and I am sure you are anchor to many even now.

The brothel is not as bad as the world or lets say the world isn't much better than this brothel.  You can read that again the other way around too. Out there, there are no rules for an outsider like me, no rooms, no food, only animals on the prowl. In here, I get paid and I choose to be paid only when I am hungry. Even if it is rape,  am raped only when I ask to be raped. Even in all this madness, there is a  "consent" that is missing in the world outside and there is food, a room to call home and warm nights at the other end of the rape. Out on the streets, it is just rape and the only mercy that may follow is that someone might just kill you at the end of it all. its wolves inside and out, wherever you may go beth. The brothel is a sanctuary in this jungle called the world.

               No, i do not worry foor a single moment about what I have become, physically or mentally. I am as sane a person as I always was and as sick and disfigured a mind as I always was to the world. i work and I eat, like all who come to eat me here, If anyone is to be judged, I would judge the jingle, not myself.

 

-Lisa Monarch.

 

LETTER 3:

 

Hello Beth,

          How is it with you and Adrian? I am not the least bit worried about Adrian, you know, after all he is under your care. But how are you ? DO you find it strange that I never asked about you? You aren't the judgemental kind or has the world made you one?I will not ask, Beth, because its all small talk. When someone wants to tell, all one needs is a listener. I did not ask you if you would listen to me after all these years, I spoke and I feel I don't have to ask you to talk. If you want to, I will always listen.

I always listen, Beth, because everyone seems to be dying to tell. Everyone has the answers untill you actually sit down to listen, because when you do, they feel powerless, deflated,as they have none.

 Its a lie everyone tells oneself and wants others to believe, that they know. I am no stranger to life, Beth, they know nothing, all of them, no one. and I find it wonderfully entertaining when I agree to listen only for them to realise they have nothing to tell. A few lines of excited babble, passionate outburts, self-pitying drama and their words dry up and fall down like empty shells, ringing in the silence. They are left gaping at the walls or floor or the window, powerless and lost....and for that moment I feel such a rush, a palpable satisfaction ! For that one moment this city broad, a prostitute, sits at a higher pedestal and looks down at the spent shell in front of her. The powerplay turns around, just a moment ago he had bought me out and trodden over me and now here he sits, empty and hollow. Outplayed by a prostitute. Lisa is ruthless sometimes, Beth, and it is beautiful. They see themselves in the mirror for a moment in life and you see the pretence and ego crumble like dust. 

          Of course, all doesn't go well all the time. SOme of them even fail to see their own failings, pitiable creatures that they are and some cannot take this feeling of being stripped naked in front of a woman of low repute, to come face to face with their truth in a place as disgusting as a brothel and they storm out. Some beat me back but I always charge money for my time and in that I win again.

 

          It is always a fancy to see them returning later, if they do. Most do not but, when they rape me the next time, I watch closely whether they keep their eyes shut or they stare at me. I have won the ones who do and those who don't. For those who close their eyes have surrendered to my game and come here to seek solace, to shed the pretence. They are mine now and will keep coming to me. I am their temple, their church,their truth.. Those who stare at me are playing again to see this broad crack up and they will keep trying, and I will always charge for my time.

 

          ...and I will always listen, Beth, if people have something to say....and they always have.

 

-Lisa Monarch

 

LETTER 4:

 

Ho Beth,

 Who says broads can't have fun ! We just had a party, a party full of whores, Ha ha ! The ones people dream of, I am sure. Well, I can tell the world now that it is ever bit fun ! Maybe not the way they want but with all the business going on around here all the time, it was a relief to realise that even a brothel can rise above the "clawing of life at one's innards" to actual carefree happiness ! 

               It is amazing to see them all happy, beth, it is a revelation of sorts. It sure takes a push of elixirs of different kinds to make the girls replace the cynic, sarcastic, lusty smiles with ones of carefree gay abandon, the smiles of their childhood and ones of old age. The girls were real today, Clara, the seductress of the rich and old, was a little girl today and I couldn't make her stop dancing. She tripped and fell and got right back up to dance ! Oh , the darling she is, no one understood what she was singing, some song she remembered from her home, a song she wanted to be when she grew up. I think she is still that little girl waiting to grow up when she gets out of here. Living her dreams, she was today. Is that all that remains of us after we shed ourselves: our dreams ?

Leena was talking of business empires and what not, guess she might head a brothel someday. Melisaa said, brothels were temples of fullfillment and joy and someday htey shall be the temples of love too. Ah, how noble! That set out a collective wave of laughter so hard that it shook the whole party and renewed it with a new found vigour. The poor Goddess of the temple started crying though, she couldn't take the happiness ? eh !

 Oh and me, I drank and I smoked and I swam through the whole ocean otday, knocking at each door and shouting, "Ahoy ! murky ones, wash ye self in the air ye breathe ! For the murk is of the ones who fish here, not of the fish ye see ! Cheers !" I wonder where that came from. Maybe the whiskey helped the swashbuckling pirate Capn' inside me to take over ! Ahoy, Beth, lets charge ! It was like the "unspoken Tales" again ! 

         A fine day it was and is, till the dawn of tomorrow dawns ! Oh, I forgot to tell you what it was all about. We were celebrating the escape of Merkel, the witch, who was bought by some Duke with some big name to serve as his mistress wherever it is he lives. Merkel says she will get a new name and a title and all the bullshit that comes with a life in the outside society. All we could imagine was her with diapers, potties and bosoms full of milk ! Oh, how she spat at us ! ha Ha ! But here's not much you can do to stop a brothel full of  braods when they decide to have fun at your expense. I just hope Merkel, the witch, gets all that and more before wrinkles show up and her witchcraft fades. A wench is a wench, in here or out there and Merkel will be no exception. Only, in here are we oblivious to the edicts and ethics of the society and immune to their judgements. In here, in our home. 

 

Lisa Monarch

 

 LETTER 5:

 

Hello beth,

 The only reason I am writing today is because there is nothing to do here tonight. Don't even need to have dinner , well, because there is none. No man to feast on me and none for me to eat off. Two hungers that feed off each other, one of opulence and other of oppression. If I don't feel hunger, the wolf doesn't get to satiate his and if the wolf doesn't feel his vile hunger, I don't get to eat. Someday, this may turn into a fine ballad or a classic ! ha !

Maybe you should ask Adrian to write a story on this. Wouldn't that be a strange one: The World through the Eyes of a Prostitute! Imagine that. i am sure people will prefer to poke the eyes on the cover and burn the book than read through it. Laughing that maniacal laugh that you hear when the wolf crucifies the sheep. Denial is all that they have for us outside and yet the pour into our brothel everyday. 

What am I thinking, this is definitely not what we would want to happen to Adrian's first book, would we. Now that I think of it, How is Adrian doing , beth? Does his writing appear in any magazines? Do tell me, I can ask Terry to get it for me or grab one when I am out on the errands for woman-things. He did have a nasty little head, the little bugger that he was. I would love to read his poems, its been a long time. Remember the one he wrote during better days and wouldn't stop chanting while playing int that backyard? I would go on and on untill I would agree to join in the singing :

 

"There is a spring in my stride,

A swell in my pride,

A future unshaken i see...

Of applauses and ovations,

Hands shaken and salutations,

For Adrian, a cheery fellow,

Thats me !"

 

Oh, the big words of the little guy. I was sure he understood none of it and he would get all winded up at that. Oh that gave us a good laugh back then. Good old times, can i say? At least for me yyes, these memories provide a good respite from hunger. Maybe, remembering Eugene once in a while isn't that bad. I keep it limited to only when I write to you though. You never know ehn you lose the grip on reality. For the rest of the day and night, swimming in the delirium of grunts and pushes of themen, I stay the steely and cold Lisa  Monarch: Chin High, neckline deep, a mirk on th elips and a body still as a stone. Not an ounce of emotion except now, when I write to you. You know, I will stop writing if it even as much as hints of making me weak in my work. It doesn't yet, in fact, it re-instates, rejuvenates the Lisa inside me.  I guess, just like my body sleeps in the bed, my mind and heart sleep in these letters to you, Beth. Its my own little bed time ! funny, that its you who gets to hear all the stories !

Do you also read me at bedtime, Beth?

 

----------------------

LETTER 6:

(arrives with a delay)

 

Hello Beth,

Took sometime to write this one because, well, I got beaten up a bit. A bit isn't the right word perhaps, getting beaten up in a brothel isn't about a slap or two, mind you. Terry didn't know, of course, but the bastard paid for my time only to beat me up. I took off my bottoms and removed his belt and , oh boy. The rascal took the belt and started. Was here just to beat a protitute, so brave! Wonder what kindof redemption he was looking for in his sick pious mind. Clara joked later that he must have caught his own visiting paradise to have set him off on this quest to pass judgement. I say, why does th emuck of the world come here to us to clean themselves? Don't they bloody have churches for that?

Broke my arm and was such a righteous knight of the lightthat he did not even have a go at me ! Oh come on, you shrimp, this is a brothel not a place to show off your piousness. Fucking me isn't a crime here, that is what I give consent for, but beating me up is ! That is a crime and he was guilty here not the others whoi did I what gave permission for. Told him right in his face, the empty cannon that he was ,went white as a sheet. The look on his face, Beth. Guess he didn't realise that a wench is a woman and not a piece of furniture and can have a mind and speak it too. I made sure his silly redemption turned into mine. Confounded, he ran out breathing a storm, huffing and puffing. I guess, he lost his voice trying to make sense of the world in here...or maybe out there. Who knows what made the buffoon puff like an engine as he sotmed out maidst the hullabulloo.

Broke my arm, this damned world, again they broke my arm. I am not afraid of pain, beth, I can stop feeling pain at will, that is the way of our world. its the arm, it is the same arm , Eugene's arm, that broke all those years ago. An this pain brings back Eugene. Lisa can numb her pain, but Eugene can't....and it hurts the whole night. 

 Clara is sleeping by my feet as I write this. The little darling she is, she brought me some whiskey to dull my pain. Why o why do you care for em so much,Clara? You are a wench, Clara, don't be a woman now.

 

-Lisa Monarch

 

------

 

LETTER 7:

 

Dear Beth,

Like I told you, Beth, I listen, I listen a lot. Even when people think I am done for with their pounding, I keep listening. and we hear such things here, Beth, sitting int this cocoon though we are. Its funny how the whole world unfolds itself here, one way or the other. No one wants us to know anything, yet here they tell us all. Though not one comes here for love, one cannot really separate the act from the emotion totally. Patrons can't help but feel a bit soft in their heads after their bodies let go of the leashes that the world binds them to. As their bodies soften after the stiff jostling, so do their minds. Sometimes the sight of tender skin breathing after the effort is enough to make them feel its harmless to talk, considering we never leave the place. Other times we are considered too dumb to comprehend,the lumps of meat that we are, and the secrets flow. All of them are weak in one or the other, I don't think I have ever seen a real man of substance in here, visited by all the ranks of the world as we are. Come to think of it, a man who is truly strong in head wouldn't succumb to such a meaningless desire, to rub himself with another person, to take control of him, to take power over him, as to force him to such a  place. Wimps s they all are who visit here, they speak. We hear batting our eyelids if we want to hear more or we hear like a dusty doormat if that suits the speaker. We hear, as it provides us with needed entertainment, and they speak. SOmetimes it takes a few visits for them to begin, but eventually we see as much of their minds as they get to see our bodies. Tales of ambition, mockery, wives, girlslove, egos, work, bosses, travels and, for sometime now, a War! The war that seems to spreading all over the world. The Empire is not in it yet, but out there the wWorld seems to have gotten down to business. Men talk of it regularly now. Terry says that the Empire should join in too. He says it will bring chaos and that is what the world needs. I told him to bring ghe world to us, they can have their choas here and we shall get fat as pigs for once. 

 Terry was joking, I am sure, why would anyone want to join a fight? Atleast, I won't. It is never worth it, unless its your own, even then it just hurts. I am sure our dear Terry doesn't even what the world is fighting for, all gung ho to join nonetheless. Did you hear about it yet, beth? Is it in th e newspapers?

 

-Lisa Monarch

 

-------

LETTER 8:

 

Dear Beth,

 

I may not write for some time now. It is getting difficult to get money out of men these days, they just won't pay! Its the war they say, it has made all people misers in apprehension of difficult times. Doesn't stop them from coming here though, the bastards are just using the excuse to pay less and less each day. I don't know what to think, on one hand I am angry they are using the excuse of war to pay less, on the other hand I just hope the urge to enter a woman stays strong even in the shadow of looming death. THe Empire hasn't even joined the frugal war yet , Beth,  I  wonder if the bastards will ask us to do them for free if it happens. "In the name of Empire, offer your services to the distraught citizens pained by war ! Ha !" Come to think of it, what if they actually ask us to, can they? No, no, I sure hope they cannot. I am sure a dying man only values food and shelter and flaunts all possible virtues to please the keeper of the next life and not desire naked women. BUt what if we are made to work soldiers? Will the empire provide us with food if we serve our beleaguered soldiers? It wouldn't be bad at all, after all what purpose does a brothel in a time of war when you can rape whatever you want anyways. We will know only when the war becomes our business. I hope if it is to happen, it happens soon and ends sooner. I don't like this new equation. I like to be in command of my life and business.

 

-Lisa Monarch

 

 

------------------

 

LETTER 9:

Hello Beth,

  Looks like the games of the world are reaching our shores now. Clara, Bennet, Melissa, all brood over what would happen if the enemy enters the city. What they would do. There was this odd cuckoo two days back who got the idea that he was screwing over the nemey while screwing Leena and wne t just a bit overboard in the pushing and shoving. Leena, th warrior princess, awoke from her enslaved slumber and knocked him out cold "Just like our soldiers would knock out the Enemy!", to say it in her own words. The poor sod had to be carried out by Terry and his men. We have all been calling her Coporal General Leena since then and Terry proclaimed her as a perfect example of why the Empire should join the war :because we can win it. Even our women can knock the enemy out cold with bare hands! What do you say to that, Beth? A regiment of the Wenches ! I am ready to enlist I say.  We anyways know best how to survive even when the world doesn't want you around. It would be anyways  much better than what is in store for us if it really rains wars here. 

 

Just yesterday, I took Terry's bicycle to go get some women-things for myself and caught some old men staring at me with glaring eyes. Guess who I saw among them, the old righteous bum who had beaten me up at brothel the other day. To be honest,Beth, I was scared . I wasn't in the brothel, I was out there in the jungle, amongst the wolf with their vicious rules about any and everyone. They were glaring at me, Beth, like they would put me up on a stake and burn me. For a moment I was scared, Beth, but then I did not make Lisa to get scared. So I gathered my tampoons, turned around and walked straight towards them staring right back into the righteous eyes of the city. They went limp like the spent guns they were , scurried like little rats as I neared them ready to give them my piece of mind. As if I was some plague ! Heard murmurs of "whore! slut !" rising out of air around me.The righteous old men didn't want to be talked to by a whore in full public view, I guess I also must have made a impression on him back at the brothel. They skittled, fell and ran as Empire's propaganda papers fell from the sky proclaiming 

"The Empire stands tall,          

                    Its the petty who fight" 

What amazing timing Empire? 

Heard a few laughs from kids and young boys as they saw the old rats scuttle. I hope he was some big shot in the locality. it would make me very happy if his image takes a hit from running away from a broad in full public view. Will ask Terry about it, might just spread some word around that the old man visits here often to add fuel to the fire. Wouldn't that be fun? "through the eyes of a city broad", aye, another one for Adrian, eh, beth?

 

Need to go now, this war might have made misers out of men, but i am no less hungry than the more opulent days of the world. 

 

-Lisa Monarch.

 

--------

 

LETTER 10:

 

Hello Beth,

     The brothel is abuzz with activity today. You can hear the hushed whispers and occassional loud shouts slithering along the walls and roofs of the corridors. The brothel is not a pace of  whispers and hushed tones, Beth, the brothel is about losing all pretences, being unabashed, thikning naked in full public view. Its where you do not fake, where you show what you feel unjudged by others, where you grunt and squeal, where you shout and scream. It is NOt a place of conversations, apprehensions and doubt. Yet, today the brothel is draped in a new unknown feeling, a feeling that belongs to the mundane and the ordinary who have families and lives to care about: the feeling of wide eyes and clasped hands, the feeling of fear ! 

          The whole city woke up to streets full of pamphlets of the enemy proclaiming the end of the Empire by their hands. that the Empire was an empty casing, a spent shell past its glory and with no might to actually fight the war and how their army would just romp over the feeble forces of the Empire. The pamphlets even extort people to ask the Empire to surrender to avoid needless death of their own families for a Emperor that does not give a damn about them. We had been reading our own pamphlets for quite a while now about how it were the foolish nations, the petty ones, that are fighting this war but this onslaught of enemy pamphlets right in our streets claiming weakness of the Empire has hit the people hard. How did thier papers reach here? Had th enemy planes flown over the city last night? If so then is the Empire really so weak that they did not even know or could not stop them? Enemy right under our nose? The Empire sure is headed by the Royal family, in their fancy palaces up north, do they even see us toiling in the streets down here across the river? 

The place si full of whspers oof enemy showing up in the streets next morning just like the papers have shown up today. Ridiculous if you ask me! Leena says its all business for her, no matter  who the client. Someone tell that wimp that the enemy  won't pay for a stay between her legs. All kinds of strange talks around, of the kind thats shouldn't be. Some girls say its better to kill oneself than be raped by the enemy, some say its the same enemy or not. Cheryl proclaimed at the top of her voice that she won't offer her treasures to th eenemy and she is to serve only and only her own countrymen. Oh, what noble patriotic feelings from Chery. The old hag she is the only countrymen that ever visited her were either blind or nearly so. I guess sheis feeling relevant again in some way. 

          I have nothing to say. Once a broad, alway a broad, Beth. Thats all I know, enemy or no enemy.

 

Terry says if the enemy reaches our gates its time up for us all. Prostitution is not a wartime business, he says, and if the enemy does show up, they would romp through the whole place, ploughing and shooting any wench they like. Said it like it is but I old him what a coward he was. he just said he would change to wartime business or maybe spy for the enemy if that makes him some money. He throws away all caution in my company sometimes. We chat pretty openly, beth, he knows what I am and he knows I don't plan a runaway every night like other girls and that sets us at ease, at a different position than the rest of us here. Everyone needs to loosen up a bit sometimes and he does in my company. Me and Clara, he knows we have no where to go and no desire to go either. Did I tell you Clara's tale, Beth, I will someday. The little one has unspoken tale of her own, the little one shares her room with me.

 

 

----------------------

 

LETTER 11:

 

Hello Beth,

  I have never really told you about this place I call home, Beth, have I? Its a small half of a room, an envy of all others because its not the same room in which we do our "business". By "we" I mean me and Clara who sleeps on the bunker bed above mine. Like the little girl she always is, she wanted the upper bed when Terry offered us this little room to stay in that was used to store coal earlier. The walls and the floor are as black as the desires of this world and the room just swallowed me up in its darkness when we first entered it. We were both delighted, to the surprise of Terry. You see, Terry is a bit more generous to us because he doesn't worry about us running away from the brothel. So he gave us a separate room to "Live" in and that is a luxury no one else gets here: A bunker bed, a mirror right opposite and all enveloping darkness! When i come here to sleep it gets so dark that I cannot even see my hands. I close my eyes, open them, close them again and it feels the same. The darkness is complete, the same with eyes closed or open. No wonder both of us loved it instantly. Its like an anonymous nameless place right in the middle of the all the muck.  There I go dreaming again, eh, Beth.

 

So, me and Clara, like I said both have nowhere to go, so to speak. I, because I know I will not be accepted wherever I may go. There is no place I can be Eugene, only you know that and now Terry does. As for Clara, well, that little girl was plaucked from her home when she was so young that she has no idea where she is from. The only memory she carries of herself is the song she remembers from her home, the one she sings and no one understands. Her sultry hazel coloured eyes and her foreign accent makes her feel exotic to the lusty wolves and she always sells for a higher price than  all of us and to the more wealthier of the hounds that pound us. Her mystery makes her a more tantalising catch to plunder.

And I, Lisa Monarch, well, I attract all the headstrong power-mongers and the ones out not to play but to conquer. All who plough me get a pair of legs as firm as steel and eyes that plough them back. They come to break me again and again and again. I know they return to see if Lisa, the arrogant, has given up yet.Has she broken yet, has her steely glare softened yet. Has she been conquered? I know th eheady mix of lust and power that I serve, th eones who find it intoxicating return, those who want to win th ebattle return, those who like to be won over return and Lisa stays as steely hard as ever, works tirelessly, cold as steel, numb as a rock. At the end of it all Lisa comes into the all embracing darkness of this room which becomes as big as you want once the door closes and the darkness opens up. Its as if this body, the one that hungers and the one that feeds, just vanishes, melts away...and for once, i become alone, just me, Eugene. No lisa, no prostitute, just this river of thoughts floating in the darkness. I imagine this is what I must be, my soul, my mind, my memories, me which dips in and out of dreams, me that loves , hates, wishes and smiles. Just me, floating in the darkness. I do not know if I close my eyes or keep them open when I dream here. Do I see the dreams or dream them? in that infinite darkness, Lisa goes soft and sleeps for while and Eugene, she wanders like a lost child. Sometimes she kisses a cold window and runs, Sometimes she falls and breaks her arm. Sometimes she just looks at a cold house from afar.....

in that darkness that is Eugene, the arm pains through the night.

 

 

-----------------------

 

LETTER 12:

 

Hell this world is a pitysome piece of hell! We are our own worst enemies, we don't really need any enemies. In fact, it feels right that we have the enemy sniffing around the walls for now we can see the true nature of our patriotic and caring countrymen. Ever since the threat of the war seememd more and more real, men have been offering us safe passages to other places to save ourselves from the inevitable rapes and deaths once the war is here. I am counting on the prowess of the Empire but you cannot deny  that it will be a fate worse than death for us prostitutes if th enemy managed to enter the city and even I would want to be as far away from here as possible than be a plunder-ground of a man who has a right to plunder with nothing to fear.

The men here know our fear and quite a few have ploughed broads for free with offers that htey would sneak them away later. Terry has been warning all girls against any such foolhardiness but ,lets be honest, we cannot really fall on Terry, our pimp, to save us when all hell breaks lose. He maybe honest to us but outside of that he is as much a pimp as any other. or atleast thats how I always thought he was but today he showed something I did not know he was capable of: Compassion, and for us broads to boot. But the circumstances were not what I would have ever imagined.

 

This is what happened:

Remember Leena, the goddess of Love and joy? Apparently she could not take the fear any longer and she begged one of her wealthier visitors to get her out of the brothel for a sum of money. He left but on his next visit he said he could not only get hor out of the brothel but out of the city to a little known village in the mountians, where war has no business to reach. But he said he would need more than one woman to agree for him to arrange the escape and buy off the people at the port. So, Leena and her girlfriends gave him their savings and I imagined the guy would never show up again, but he did and surprised us all by buying the girlss off Terry with the very money they had given him! Terry was furious,of course , and there was quite a din in the brothel that day, but eventually , after multiple Leena's outbursts, he agreed and took the money. I imagined he realised it was out of his control now anyways. The res of the girls were noticably nasty all that day. One could hear abuses and heated fights writhing out of corners and crevices of our brothel. Who wouldn't want to run away from the slavery? Except,Me and Clara, we don't seem to have any lofty dreams of life somehow. We seem to feel at home in the solace of that infinite darkness of our room now. But it is true that others do not even get that here.

 

Our waking darkness was torn apart today when someone with a panting breath, sweat as heavy as a dark cloudy sky and glinting wide open eyes, barged in suddenly. I heard Clara huddle up above me, she didn't scream. I saw the eyes dart around trying to make something out of the pitch darkness. They were Terry's eyes and I asked him what he was upto and to stop breathing like a bull and calm down. He asked us to hush up and just go back to sleep, but we couldn't. We could see something was up. The darkness of our room provides a comforting solace as you cannot feel anyone's eyes on you. Even with three of us in the room, each could feel as if he was alone, lest for the breathing of Terry, but it was his own and that helped him calm down. Alone in the darkness, he told us all.

As Terry had suspected, the generous man had taken Leena and girls to the ship port to sell them off to slavers. Terry and his men saw him take Mercy out of the carriage at the port, to show her to the slavers. She was blindfolded and clam, oblivious to what was happening, probably just happy to breathe real air for once. They made jokes about catching a prized bunch of broads and obviously, felt like testing out whether they would make good slaves or not. They gagged Mercy and took turns together on her as Mercy tried to scream. Two of them pressed her face and knees down into the dirt with their shoes to silence her as the third took his turn to rape and kick her while laughing the maniacal laugh of the rabid wolf. He joked about how he was making sure she remembered hr last job before leaving shores lest she forgets what it was like to be a broad in the city. The bastards were so busy laughing and raping her that they forgot that even a prostitute needs to breathe to keep that bottom firm to enter. They stopped with bewilderment when Mercy, or the part of her that was propped up for their madness, fell limp and she fell to one side, all twisted with the knees and face still clamped under firm boots. They jumped back in horror and the body collapsed to the ground. With Mercy finally free, they could not understand who to slave. The wolf, Beth, the wolf prowls the city. The brothel is a sanctuary in this jungle.

 The sight and the act was too much even for Terry. As the slaves shouted at each other in confusion and fought with the generous man that they won't pay for the dead girl, the rest of the girls in the carriage started making a commotion. Amidst all this Terry and his men slipped in to the scene. Terry slit the throat of the generous man, clean from side to side as the blood sprayed the slavers with the colour of their deeds. Terry's knife sliced two more throats , as his men propped the third one up for plunder, just like they had propped up Mercy just a while back. As Leena and the girls freed themselves from the carriage, Terry made one slash and the red knife went redder slitting open the belly, the crotch, the arse and the back, in one ruthless swoop. The shriek that erupted was chilling to the bone and the loudest the night had heard tonight. Blood erupted onto Terry as The girls stepped back in horror. The warm blood rose into the air like little wisps of clouds in the cold night, as if souls rising from the dead. Terry, drenched as he was in the blood of Mercy, a generous man and 3 slavers was carrying the souls of the city on him tonight. the stupor broke with the sound of a police wagon and the girls panicked, creamed and ran from the red man heavy with clotting blood and warm with the wisps of rising souls. Terry's men scuttled as the police wagon neared. Breaking out of the trance Terry took a good look at what was Mercy and her tormentors, indistinguishable as one, and ran, tearing through the wind so hard that the blood dried before the drops could hit the ground. he did not want to to leavev a trail for th eplice to follow. he ran wide eyed at what he had become, he ran with the warm souls rising from his flesh, he ran with the wind, he ran till he fell through my door into this waking darkness that envelopes us all. Where we are all together, yet all alone. Terry asked many questions that night, only the darkness answered.....we are all used to it now.

 

----------------------

 

LETTER 13:

 

Hello Beth,

 There is a suffocation in the whole brothel now. War hasn't even reached us yet and a pall of gloom has already descended on us all. There is no news of Lenna and the others or what happened to them. Where are they? Each day I imagine them coming back here but why would they? Its a bloody brothel and God knows what kind of monster Leena imagines Terry to be. Does she think Terry was with those guys in the deal and they had a fight that ended like that? After all it was Terry's place she was escaping in the first place.  I don't know how Leena sees it all and doubt I will ever know. Terry is also awfully quiet these days, I don't thikn he knew he was capable of ...you know what. Or is he more troubled now that he knows he cares, cares about us wenches. A pimp is not supposed to, we are objects to be sold, and yet his blood boiled when he saw Mercy being raped that night. What was he even doing there if he didn't care? He doesn't look me in the eye now, nor do I want to see anything there. I am not even sure what to feel right now. Lisa has to stay firm and cold as steel, as always.

But Clara, I do want to know what she is feeling. She stayed huddled up in the bed as Terry told it all in the darkness that night. I did not hear even a gasp from her. Maybe it is good that she heard it all, its something lesser than the madness of war that is yet to come. On the other hand its very scary to know what men can do even without a war to instigate them. I mean, why do we even need an enemy to demonise, we are pretty capable of the deeds ourselves in the Empire city.

I have told Clara to keep shut though, as a precaution, as its a secret only we know here. The papers ran the story of the murder and all the girls here have been unsettled since then. It has dashed the dreams of escape everyone had  been fostering. It is as if someone has just put a cage on their thoughts too and that is the most stifling feeling one can have. I have had to go through it ever since I grew up, beth. So stifling that I had to run away.

 I might have to do some thinking myself. Everyone is trying to decide what to do when the war hits and I think its a possibility I will have to prepare for too. What should I do before its hell all around? What if I come back to the town, to you? (What would that serve though, except for destroying your life too.)

 

-Lisa Monarch

 

---------------

LETTER 14:

 

Hello beth,

 

Clara decided what she wanted to do before the war came to our shores, Beth. I found her with her wish fullfilled. She killed herself. The little canary sings no more.

 

I don't know what to write , beth, the darkness of my room has lost its magic. It doesn't envelope me anymore, i feel alone in here. Why are men like this , Beth? Why is the world like this? We were never meant o have glorious ends to our lives, we are prostitutes, but why like this? She could have talked to me in the darkness but she talked to the darkness alone and embraced it. The Empire is showering pamphlets delcaring that we, the people of the Empire, are the bearers of the light of the world . What light? the light that shone on Mercy and Leena or the light that blinded the soul of Terry.

 

We are the bearers of Embers, if anything at all, ready to flare up into a fire at the touch of air. Fire that lights, fire that burns.

 

-Lisa Monarch.

 

------------------------

LETTER 15:

 

Hello Beth,

 

I have finally decided what I want to do before the enemy arrives at our gates. I spent a lot of time awake in the darkness tihning about it , about my life, about myself and what I can get back from the world, if I wished to. My life, my time are not something anyone can bring back and my beautiful memories, none can take away. My dignity in society was long before I became Lisa, long ago when the world realised I do not desire like them. I thought and thought a lot till one thought brought a rush to my mind, to my blood. A rush that brought my scattered pieces together and I felt my being relax. I knew what I wanted and it is rare that a man knows what he truly wants at any particular moment and even rares that he wants just one and only one wish to be fullfilled. It is purely pristine that what I wish is within my reach too !

I will need to give a few free rides for it, but I think I can manage to get what I need. 

Beth, I am getting a gun.

 

-Lisa Monarch

 

--------------------

LETTER 16:

 

Hello Beth, my dearest,

 

The darkness that I embraced in my life has always been around me, it gave me a loneliness that was my only real comfort, to be away from this society's ever prying, ever judging eyes. But now I find comfort that I am not alone, now I feel re assured in this new company. In the pitch black darkness of my room , there is a cold bluw glint beside me now. The gun, it sleeps with me now. A little hint of light of light in this dakness of Lisa Monarch. There is a rush of red in the the cold eyes of Lisa, the unrelenting arrogant wench of Empire City.

Don't worry, beth, I know what I am upto. Making enquiries is easy and hard at the same time as a prostitute, One has acces to all who matter but one is too derided to be taken seriously by them. I had to do all I could but I have found what I was looking for. I hope our valiant patriots keep the enemy away for a few more days. I do not want this to go sour now. For the first time in life, I know what I want and I shall get it.

 

-Lisa Monarch

 

-----------

LETTER 17

 

Beth, my dearest Beth, it is done.

it is done and I reminisce how when we used to be together, you used to be all around me and yet I never felt any eyes straining to read my thoughts. We used to be alone in the world, together.I have my room here: a piece of the dark night plucked fro the sky by Terry. I sat here alone, together with the darkness, for hours and hours today. My wish fullfilled, having done what I set out to do, for once, I felt a pause in my life....and I thought of you ! I thought of you for an eternity today, Beth, I thought of you because after my gun had spoken, my lips spoke your name !

          earlier today, I found him in a street behind the trainyard. The one who started it all 9 years ago. 9 years of tormentloathing, abuse and ....Lisa. I stalked the fucker through the alleys, my fellow bearer of the light, the swine, the scum from hell ! The old hag that he was now, he was still doing what he did 9 years  ago when he pranced on me behind the train station. There he was again, the same wrinkles of kindness circling around the caring eyes , now perfected with a stoop that came with the age. The perfect image of a kind man. he was sweet talking another hungry and overwhelmed immigrant girl inot eating out of his hands. The wolf at the city gates, the gutter of mankind ! I did not wait for a second, I aimed and shot but missed. The damn gun kicked so high. The girl screamed, just Leena must have too at Terry. The old wolf's eyes went wild. he ran, but I was not going to let my friend run away today ! He must accept my kindness like I did all those years ago. "Lisa! No!" he cried as he fled into the back alleys. Empire city took a new colour in my eyes, all I saw was black and more black and all I craved was red, oh the red ! He ran like the sewers, slipping and slithering, he ran like an insect , scuttling and tripping and i followed like a hound, I followed like the wolf, eyes followig him like a hawk. Boom ! I heard the bombs fall far away at the horizon but all I saw whas him falling headlong in the middle od the market square, slithering among the feet of the people gathering to watch the bombs fall from the sky. There we were, the wolf and the sheep together, alone in the middle of the world. The pomp and show of fire raining from the sky was more interesting to the world than a prostitute standing over an old man shoving a gun into his face. Alone in a crowd again.  Bombs pounded the palaces accross the river drowning the cries for help of a disheveled old man gone mad with fear. He did not repent as I stared into him, he knew his deeds well. Maybe he knew he would end like a rabid dog on the street someday. But all the knowledge and forebodig cannot stop fear, the fear of death that made people forget him and look accross the river. The fear of death  that made his eyes dance wild, that turned them blood red in a last flash of life. Of the red, the red that I craved so much ! The bombs fell again accross the river and the gun spoke my wish three times. The red sprang forth from his eyes and drenched me in its warmth. My heart pounded in rhythm with the bombs drowning the screams of the people around me. I let myself loose finally, I felt soft and warm, tender and light. Is this how the men feel ? I felt spent, I felt cleansed. The legs of steel buckled and I sat down in the warm wisps of his soul. the bombs fell yet again and all around me people hugged each other, sobbing, heads resting in each other's bosoms. Maybe we care , caress and clean ourselves only when we fear . A fear greater than hunger or of ridicule from the society. Maybe th e world needs these bombs to do what needs to be done, what is right, what feels right and yet we do not do. Maybe we need to bombs to nest ourselves in each other's arms. All my life I saw these people walk uneasy and alone on these streets and today, today they stood holding hands, hugging faces, each clasping the other as the bombs weaved their careless melody over the palaces. Love soaked in tears and fear all around me, is this what heaven feels like? Does the world need a bigger fear to make us love each other?  Do we need a bigger fear to stop us from instilling our own fear on others?  If so, then let there be a war, let there be a all pervading fear of death for all. For in that the world my forget to hate my love. Let the bombs fall, let the world rain bullets  for with the world busy in its fear of death, I may have my one moment of love, Beth. We may have our moment of love!  Let the tales be unspoken no more, Beth.

The world is ending and so is its fear on me. I am coming home, to that cold little window I miss each night. 

I am coming home to kiss my beautiful Beth ! 

 

Yours forever,

Eugene .

Jivitesh DhaliwalComment