“Of course I understand. Dialogue is precious. I’m not wasting it on him. Just chuck him over and be done with it.”
The conversation was short. They usually were. To the point. Succinct. Victoria, as always, had somewhere more important to be. She barely looked the older man in the eye as she slurred her demands at him, her words laboured and drunk with overbearing perfume and expensive bourbon.
She was drunk with the power that Erewon had won her. Drunk with the prowess that power had filled her with and the exponentially growing following of people that now gathered at her heels. She marched around the Council Buildings with her head held constantly high, her shoulders always poised and her face stern.
She had worked tirelessly to get to the position of power she now possessed, and she would be damned if she was going to risk it for anyone. She had gained a large group of followers on the planet, a large, wealthy back-up who obeyed her every wish and whole-heartedly agreed with her opinions and mission. There was strength in numbers and strength was easy to attain when the majority of the population were blissfully unaware that there was any threat to protect themselves against.
Victoria thought about this often, whilst marching through the halls that she had built her pedestal on. Everything she saw here was here because of her actions and beliefs. The rare red marble floors, the original stained glass windows torn from various European Cathedrals from the ancient Earths, the elegant slashes of lapis lazuli – this place was her personal collection of forgotten artefacts. Snippets of culture rippedfrom days past. Her very own collectible fortress.
“Normally it’s all through volunteers, y’know. Those who feel they could have done more with their lives so want to go out with a bang. They’ve normally given up on life, no hope left, nothing to lose. Not young, fresh ones. Not the ones who still have a chance, still have something to prove. Are – Victoria? Are you even listening to me?”
Victoria didn’t respond in words; she never used words lightly. Words were expensive to her, a waste of words was a waste of time - a waste of breath. She glanced at James, shrugged her acknowledgement and continued walking towards the end of the hall. James followed closely behind her. James always followed. James was still desperate to prove his allegiance.
Victoria had known James from the later years of her childhood. He was a good few years her senior and was quite infamous for being the adolescent with some very peculiar views. He harped on about freedom and wanting change and progression for the race of Erewon and so ended up working for the Council at the tender age of 22. He’d never worked anywhere else since and so never experienced anything different than the everyday life in the Council buildings of Erewon.
“They’ve got to get younger, James. Don’t you see?”
Her words were elongated, extended, as if it exhausted her to speak.
“Erewon needs them to. Old blood just wont do anymore”, she slurred.
“But Victoria, you can’t—“
James’ speech trailed off. He knew Victoria wasn’t listening. She had developed an unhealthy habit of only listening to the information and ideas that benefited her – that she agreed with. James thought it best not to test her patience. Instead he followed her in silence through the cool white halls, past the relics and memories collected from the old Earths. The juxtaposition of the beauty of the old relics and the cold, hyper-modern efficiency of Erewon was never lost on James. In silence they marched through endless winding corridors bursting with cold white statues, paintings stacked high to the ceiling, reminders of past humanity. James’ astonishment at the volume of the collection stored in the meanders of the hallways never wore thin, but he was certain his awe was no longer mirrored by Victoria. She hardly glanced at the invaluable antiques that clung to the walls of the Council, for they really were just a collection to her now – a symbol of her power hanging behind metres of polished glass.
James’ mind continued to drift as they marched idly down the corridors. He had never foreseen himself working directly under the leader of the planet, as the First Advisor, and it still confused him to this day that this is where he landed. His position had come at a great cost. He had had to sacrifice a lot of his views which once burned passionately in the pit of his stomach. He knew of the fate of the people of Erewon, just as they knew. It had become a natural cycle of most unnatural circumstances. And though he had known nothing different for all of his life, he could not swallow what was due to happen to him as he edged closer towards death along with the rest of the population. At a young age, he had taken to spreading his views and desperately trying to convince people that there must be another way to sustain this planet. And though his views were readily received by an angrily voiced minority, the majority of the population of Erewon was not ready for change. They simply did not want to listen.
As the memories and past passions cleared from James’ mind, he regained a sense of where he must be headed. There is, after all, only one thing that rests at the end of the longest corridor of the Council.