“Heretics Have No Souls”: a dystopian science fiction story by Lynna Merrill
Part 14 :
He laughed. “Herminia said you were a bright one. She is fine, before you have asked, in the City where many of the likes of me abide. Or should I say the likes of you. You know that heretics have no souls, I am sure. What you do not know is that People only have souls because heretics make sure that they do.”
Then he told me, and it took the whole day, until the sun had swam away and shadows had risen outside the window of the room he had set for me. He told me that once People were all like Riddic, that deep down inside even the nice ones carried an urge to destroy. For five years I had been proud to be a heretic, thinking heretics were all inquisitive, creative, and misunderstood. It is only a part of the truth. Whitby does not have the urge to destroy, neither do my bland fellow students or my mother. Darryl, Herminia, Riddic, my father and I do.
Exploration, creation, and destruction are all parts of Magic, and Magic is all these and more. Once, People’s ancestors were all born with some of it, but for centuries Magic was not truly known. It was often denied, ridiculed, or prosecuted, but it was always there—when the ancestors learned to fly with dirty autos, when they wrote books or painted pictures, when they reached new continents, caused earthquakes, or waged wars. But People are weak, and so were the ancestors, and Magic, it has its own ways. Destruction often overcame inquisitiveness and creation, and thus at the last war the World would have ended in ruins—but for someone who discovered that Magic could be chained.
Normal People have souls instead of Magic in the Free World, but the Magic they would have had is put to good use. It makes water turn to steam in the Factories, it guides and fuels the flying autos, it creates food so that we do not eat animals or plants. Without Magic’s destruction, People live happily and in Peace in the Free World. Without Magic’s inquisitiveness and creation, they never search or make something new.
It is heretics who make the new things—those rare few who throughout centuries have been born with Magic stronger that that of the rest. Those who have always made the greatest impact, whose Magic even souls cannot chain and exploit. In the Free World, there are rules that heretics be caught and purged, and People always obey. What People do not know is that the rules themselves are imposed by heretics. Those purged ones more creative than destructive are taken to Free City 0 and taught how to rule, maintain, and continue the vision of the Free World.
Darryl says I am the first heretic ever to doubt if she wants to go to Free City 0.
I stand up and open the window, fluffs of steam drifting between my fingers, caressing my face. I can now learn all about the Factory or flying autos I have ever wanted. My rebellion towards the World but resistance to the want for destruction has raised me to the privileged class of those with the right to make a choice.
Only, I feel something is missing. They gave me the right to choose only because I made the choice they wanted me to make. Darryl was there to make sure I would not destroy the Factory. I was there to stop Riddic from destroying the ants. Yes, I feel these were the right choices. But what if one day my choices differ from those the heretics in Free City 0 deem to be right? I said the Free World of normal People was to me like a cage for unfortunate animals. Am I offered Freedom, or just a bigger cage now?
Darryl wants me to go, and I want to go with him. I like talking to him. I want to fly with him, although even for heretics flying an auto with your own Magic, without fueling it with Factory-refined Magic, is not usually done. Defying not usually done is the second reason I want to do it. The first is I want to do it with him.
I want to see Herminia, too, and I do not want to leave my father. One day I will come back for him, even if he has not yet rebelled by himself.
I will go to Free City 0, but I will always watch out for the walls of a cage. And I will take the auto parts I have secretly been trying to combine for five years. Even heretics have not yet reached the stars.