I was taken to a room down the hall, thrown into a chair, and bound again by heavy leather straps around my waist and chest, so I could not move.
A man walked behind me and put earphones in my ears around the size of what would connect to an MP3 player, just small enough to fit in my ears.
After one man walked out of the room for a moment, he returned with a heavy set man in a black suit, who walked up to me and stood just out of my reach and smiled.
“So you are our new visitor? Welcome to our town. I am Mayor Phanta. I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is you are now part of our welcoming center, and are glad you will be taking up residency here soon. The bad news is that you’re not going to be the same as you came into the town.”
“I have heard enough to know I don’t want to live here, thank you. I want to leave your town as soon as possible, if you don’t mind,” I replied.
“Oh I do mind, sir. You see, you entered my town and are trespassing. If I let you leave, you may tell others about this place and then things will not go well for this town.”
I retorted, “ The people in your town have the right to try and chase their goals and dreams, just like any other person in the world.”
“Ah, that’s where you are wrong. Not everyone can be what they aspire to be, and therefore comes disappointments and regrets in their later lives. I am protecting them from the future pain of not getting that promotion, raise, or have to deal with losing their finances over pipe dreams. If you have no expectations, there are no regrets.”
I answered, “Who are you to decide? That’s what makes this planet great. People take chances and try and make the place a better world with new technology and songs to sing, paintings to look at, and stories to read.”
The man started to walk towards a small table with a small laptop computer on top. There was a long chord coming from the computer that ran towards the back of my chair.
“No sir, you are wrong. There are few people in this world that think they can become famous or rich and do not know that the number is very slim. People go to their jobs complaining about how little they are paid, while others do nothing in the workplace and get paid a higher wage. If everyone were on equal terms, they would not have to try and make themselves think they can move up society’s ladder and so call ‘better themselves.’ I am making the people here equal and more happy than if they dreamed of being a writer and fail.”
“By telling them they are all useless,” I asked.
“If that’s what it takes. Some people need to know that they are no better than they think and in their minds they cannot be a painter or a business C.E.O. just because they dream they can be. I de-program their insane thoughts and let the voice inside this machine beat them down until they give up, which is what they should have done earlier in life, just like that young girl Abby.”
At that moment, another man ran into the room. “Sir, it’s the young ones. They are invading the front.”
Mayor Phanta shouted. “What are you talking about? How is that possible?”
The man returned, “ I don’t know, but they broke out the one we’ve been trying to conform for weeks. They are heading this way.”
Abby and several others young adults, all around her age burst into the room, while Mayor Phanta escaped through a door behind my chair with the other four men.
The one cut the leather straps from me with the knife she was carrying while another picked up the computer and smashed it onto the ground.
I looked at Abby while she was unlocking the chains from the chair. “What is going on?”
“We have been waiting for a while for our time to break. When you were captured, you were the perfect distraction we needed. But we have to move before they come back.”
I stood up from the chair and followed Abby and the others out the door. As we reached the front to the town hall doors upstairs I said to her, “ I thought everyone was beat down in their trance like the other townspeople.”
Abby laughed as she answered back “ I guess I’m a better acting coach than an actress.”
I laughed as well. “Apparently so Abby. Apparently so.”
We started to run down the street as Mayor Phanta and his four men started after us, shooting as they all came back with guns. As several of the young adults started to fall from being hit by the bullets, I told her to head towards my car.
I ran ahead of them and made it to the car first. As I started the car (the one time I was glad I left the keys in the car unlocked), I opened the passenger side of the car when Abby started to jump in. Right before she made it into the car, she fell to the ground. She yelled in pain as the bullet hit her.
I leaned over to the passenger side of the car to try and grab her hand before she hit the ground, but failed.
Abby yelled to me “Get going! Drive!”
I drove off as fast as my car could drive as I headed out of the town’s limits and never looked back.
As I woke up in bed, I looked at the alarm clock, as it sounded my 6 A.M. wake up after spending half the night trying to finish a story idea I was trying to pitch to a local literary magazine.
I hate writer’s block.
What a nightmare. I could not write about a town that discourages people from having goals and dreams. How bizarre.
After my shower and getting my cup of coffee, I got into my car to head to work, dreading the sound of my boss telling me how worthless I am, which was a constant occurrence with all our employees in the company. If only I could keep a positive inspiration thought that would get me through the day, instead of frustration of dreams of being a writer as a profession.
As I threw my briefcase on the passenger’s seat, I noticed something yellow lying on the seat. It was a bracelet that Abby had on her wrist that read “Believe.”
Was it a dream??
“The Town” was written in June 2014 By Lance Lumley