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It had been the same for as long as either Victoria or James could remember. The citizens of Erewon aged gracefully, paid their dues and when they were inches away from the clutches of Death, they threw their trust, and themselves, into the Heart of the planet that had sustained them for years. It made perfect sense to them. A kind of recycling system, a self-sustaining planet that harboured human life and reclaimed it just as it was running thin.

It sounds barbaric, unbelievable - horrific even. But in its own beautiful way, it was perfect. It worked – everyone was happy, everyone had exactly what they needed. You were born, you thrived, you lived, you loved and you died for the planet that allowed you these privileges in the first place. Full circle. Life is only borrowed after all.

But Erewon had begun to show signs of weakness. The condition of the planet had begun to deteriorate at a frightening rate. There were only so many mouths that it could feed, only so many lives it could cater for. And the weaker it was getting, the stronger the people of Erewon became. They began living longer, wanting more from their time. They were no longer so happy to die for their creator. They began using words that they didn’t know the true meaning of – they thought they “deserved” prosperity and happiness – how can we decipher how much someone truly deserves? Deserves is a tainted word and it was playing a part in the slow destruction of Erewon.

Victoria had seen the signs of the early stages of degradation and deterioration. They weren’t easy to spot, but it was unquestionable that the people of Erewon were slowly but surely killing it. Water levels were gradually decreasing, the Summer months were stretching over the Autumn weeks and the crops that once flourished on Erewon’s plains were struggling to sustain the mouths they needed to feed. Victoria’s greatest strength was what many often saw as a weakness – her refusal to feel. Her unusually cold, mathematical rationale made her the ideal figurehead for an establishment such as this. She thought in numbers, spoke in limited words and cared not for trivialities.

That’s how she knew.

“The sacrifices, James. They must be younger. They need to have more life left in them to give”.

Her words hung in the air, suspended above the two as they came to a stop in front of a large, aged red timber door. The door was unimposing, easy to miss against the back drop of ancient relics that surrounded it. It was totally unassuming and perfectly hidden. Victoria didn’t wait for a response – she didn’t need to. She slid the cast iron bolt back from the door allowing it to swing open freely, releasing a cool breeze and the faint smell of earth.

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