Light Seekers #2 - Light

“Get your hand out of my pocket,” the words leave my mouth as soon as I awake.

I grip the man’s hand and he stares back at me as if I’ve wronged him, his nostrils flaring and eyes wide with rage. He was looking for money, but I always pin my money to the inside of my shirt, so nobody can take it from me. I had to learn that the hard way. I toss his hand to the side and sit up from my mat on the floor. I strike a match and light the candle on top of the chest holding my few belongings.

The light grew weaker and weaker over the last few days. Most of the migrants have already left, moving on, following the light, trying to find a new city to work in once the light settles elsewhere. The light didn’t even come yesterday, everyone tried to act as if nothing was wrong. Judging by the darkness beyond the windows, it didn’t come again today. I dress quickly and make my way to the chow line, but there’s nothing left. Without the light I slept through the first call for food, I’ll just survive until dinner tonight. Levi might have some food to spare, he always seems to have snacks.

Outside the pungent burnt smell of fuel fills the air. The street lights have come on for the first time I can remember, powered by generator. They light flickers from each of the tall posts, illuminating a few shops or homes on each block as I make my way to the town center. I’m sure the council of elders will have convened there by now to discuss what happens next. I don’t know how much fuel we have, but it isn’t enough to last forever, or for everyone to have some. Most of us will have to make due with candles. The bigger questions is what happens when we run out of food?

“We are here to listen to your concerns, to ease your pain and quell your confusion,” one of the elders speaks.

The five sit on a podium erected in the town square, matching dark green robes and black masks with no holes for eyes, nose or mouths. The whole thing looks as if they’re being suffocated behind those masks. I’m not sure how they became our elders. Nobody knows who is behind which mask, and they have their own process of selecting replaces from the high born within the city. It sounds nice, but they don’t really care about people like me. People who aren’t born with money and need to work every day. So much stuff happens in the dark that they never see. Maybe they do see, but just don’t care.

“Are we going to war or not? We don’t have enough supplies to last forever,” a woman from the crowd yells. Many yell in support of her declaration. There’s no enemy to fight, she’s just calling for war and they support it.

I wouldn’t say Privacity is a peaceful town, I’ve been robbed more than I can count. But, it’s weird that people are eager to go to war against some unknown town. The real enemy is the sorcerers who keep the light from us. I thought about Aaron’s story a lot lately and it seems to be true. Nobody ever investigated or tried to bring the light back. Perhaps the sorcerers gave up on bringing the light back.

“This is crazy right,” Levi approaches me from the side.

“At least nobody has gotten murdered yet.”


“You think we’ll go to war?”

“I don’t know. My dad seems to think so,” Levi pulls a piece of dehydrated meat from a bag and offers me a piece.

“Thanks,” it’s got a heavy salt flavor, but I’m glad he shared with me.

We watch as the town discusses what happens next. I doubt their opinions matter. Levi and I are both sure they’ve already made up their minds. One man assures us we can survive without the light. We can power artificial light to grow plants, the plants will feed the cattle. He’s adamant about having tested his experiment but nobody seems to believe him. If he had been from a family with a meaningful name, they might have taken his word for it.

“Many of you are too young to remember a time when we did not have the light. A time when we did not live in the prosperity that we do now,” one of the elders speaks, her voice muffled from behind the mask. “You did not fight in the war to secure agreements for fuel or food. We guided the town through that, and we shall guide us through this,” her words seem to calm some and anger others.

“Shut your mouth,” a woman muscles her way through the crowd. “You will not lead us until the light returns, you will not lead us to the light. In my eyes you are unworthy to lead,” the woman lifts a gun and fires several shots.

One of the elders screams out in pain and grips his shoulder. A thick white smoke quickly binds the woman, ending her rampage before anyone else can be hurt. One of the elders has used their magic to hold her in place. She’s taken into custody but this hearing is done. She doesn’t seem crazy to me, she seems desperate. She had to know that wouldn’t work. Even if she had perfect aim, she’d only have one good shot. There’s no way to regain order after a man has been shot. I’m sure she’ll be executed, secretly and we’ll be told she killed herself in a cell. That’s the way things go.

Nobody suggested trying to bring the light back. We know it originates from the Phaethon Mountains, but nobody is ever willing to go there. I don’t have many options, if I stay here, I’ll probably starve to death by the end of the year. I can’t survive on Levi’s scraps forever. The life of a migrant worker isn’t for me. Maybe I should climb the mountain. Even if there’s nothing there, I can probably find some better way to live, a better place to live. I just need something more than trying not to be robbed every day or running off to fight some war I don’t want to.

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