There’s a festivity inscribed in the calendar of every newborn: their Farewell To Youth.
Every child grows up to know this is of great importance in society. It’s a celebration of acceptance, hard work, study, knowledge of the principles of their society. Often whole districts are involved in celebrating the new member to the Society of Responsibility – the corporate governance required it much like any form of official identification. There was no warning when it would happen, it was not like an 18th birthday of the world of old. Farewells were performed when the child was deemed ready to Face the Lights.
The child was taken to the largest building in the Governance District, said to be as big below ground as it was tall above ground. A vast network of people and infrastructure, testing people who asked to join the Society, taking children when their Farewell to Youth was due. A building covered in floodlights pointing to every known District in the world. A child giving his or her Farewell would quite literally Face the Lights outside and inside the building. It was not just another coming of age, but a fully fledged trial of the individual’s acceptance of society, of its principles, of its truths, of what was known to be false. Failing to give your Farewell was tantamount to expulsion from Society though any means the Governance saw necessary.
Giles had given his Farewell some years ago and he considered it a liberation, a trauma and a lie.
He was taken during a morning break at his academy. No warning, as expected. Someone had probably informed his family and his teachers of his imminent Farewell. Dark, anonymous figures shepherded him into the back of a large armoured vehicle. He knew it time, though he didn’t know what for exactly. The stories seemed to make it easy. All he had to do was tell the Chief of Abandon that everything was well in the Society and he saw no better way to live – but he knew no of it was true. The stories were always told hurriedly and by people either in denial of something or so convinced of what they said that any historical figure would have called it mindless obedience. Giles also was not happy of the way he lived – he wanted more but knew it would not come. Something was off and he made sure he kept his thoughts clear and hidden as he sought his truth. His Farewell to Youth came sooner than he had hoped.
Glaring lights greeted him. The Chief of Adandon spoke from the shadows.
“Don’t fear us, don’t resist, don’t deny your thoughts. Your Farewell will be complete when you have surrendered yourself to the Society.
“What are the Founding Principles?”
“Uphold the Truth. Deny falsities. Be clear within the Guidance of Society. Refuse guidance which breaks from the Principles.”
“What is Truth?”
“Truth is acceptance of Everything and abhorrence of anything”
“What is Everything?”
“Everything is absolute obedience to the Principles and to Truth”
“What is Truth?”
“Trust in all, Trust none”
It went on, all the while Giles stayed within the bounds of everything that he remembered but had questioned more as time went on. He could feel tingling sensations all over his body as the questions progressed. Suddenly a shock broke his clearheadedness and his calmly withheld thoughts. His back would break in two if it didn’t stop soon. The pain was beyond the reality he knew.
“You withhold your thoughts. Who are you?”
“I am Giles…”
Probes shocked him through his temples.
“Who are you?”
“I am a willing member of Society. I abandon all wrong thoughts and accept the Principles entirely…”
The shocks stopped and Giles collapsed breathless.
“You are accepted by Society. A mark will be applied to your record to reflect this. You withheld thoughts. Another mark will be applied to ensure Law is enforced upon you more severely should you stray from the Principles again.”
Lights strobed before his eyes as he was taken out of the room, through corridors, until he reached a waiting area and returned in person to his family.
He had done it. He was accepted into Society. Yet, he had barely survived.
Celebrations back at home with his family and the nearest disctict dwellers to them went well. Nobody seemed to know that he had been one wrong answer from extradition or death. He couldn’t be sure though and swore no one would. It would be buried within his thoughts and memories. It was punishable, but it was necessary. His life would go on and he would become better at withholding thoughts. He would isolate himself.
No one else seemed to notice his behaviour as time went on and his life continued, recovering from the ordeal. He knew it was wrong. There was more beyond the Principles. Truth was a lie. Guidance lacked vision. Everything was a facade to hide the emptiness of Society. There must be a reason for the existence of the Old-Ways Reserve.