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Short Story: Below

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It had been ever so many years since Adelaide had seen the sky but that was to be expected. Children of the Lights were to be treasured, kept far underground- Adelaide knew this. Being a Child of the Lights was an honor- a true honor- and Adelaide was eternally grateful that the Lights had chosen her that fateful day, under the dim light of an eclipsed sun. They had waded through the crowd, gazing through their thick veils upon the crowd of worshippers. The villagers sang, heads bowed, wailing infants raised in reverence. They had seen the hope in each and every mother’s eyes that their child would be chosen, gifted, blessed. And the Lights had picked her- the child hidden behind a pair of whimpering heretics, falsely believing they could deny the Lights their judgement. Adelaide was not sad that her father had died. She was sad that he had died for nothing. Couldn’t he see the purity behind the Lights? Couldn’t he see what they meant not just to the American States or their Eastern Colonies, but to the whole world? If he was so foolish as to throw in with the Insurgency, getting himself killed and leaving her younger brother an orphan, he deserved everything he got. Her only regret was that Andrew would grow up without a father.

Being a Child of the Light was prestigious- it meant you had the opportunity to serve the American States: ruling as a Chancellor, policing as a Lightkeeper, and possibly even ascending to be a Light yourself. Adelaide couldn’t imagine staring into the Truth. She had too many impurities- she knew and accepted this. Her hair was thin and stringy, her face pale and freckled. Adelaide had never been meant to be anything special. She would take whatever the Lights gave her, and she would take it gladly.

Still, embarking down the narrow corridor which connected her living quarters to the rest of the compound, so dark and dismal, a strain of melancholy found its way into Adelaide’s heart. The cold, unforgiving steel made her miss the fragile, springy earth; the flickering yellowish lights reminded her of the warm, friendly sun. This was her fatal impurity- doubt. Adelaide was sure that a true Child of the Light would worship these tinny halls, wreathed in blessed shadows. They would relish the strength suffering offered to them.

But, Lights forgive her, sometimes Adelaide just felt lonely.

Another figure approached and Adelaide paused, nodding respectfully as she had been taught while keeping her eyes fixed upon the ground. All Children of the Light were trained to avoid eye contact- this was because coming face to face with a Light, even for an instant, cursed mere mortals to perish an unimaginably painful death. It was best to avoid the possibility; there was only so much the veils could do.

Sometimes Adelaide wondered if it hurt, having the weakness burned out of you. It couldn’t hurt any more than living imperfectly, day after day, decaying slowly by nature’s design.

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