Okay. This is a story I wrote about a year ago for English class. We had to write a continuation for the book Gathering Blue, and, well... here it is, I guess.

"In the beginning
When the world was born
Like a crying child
It went up in water

"Dad?" The boy paused in the recitation of his poem, waiting for his father to look up from his work. He was absorbed in notching fastens in the wood and metal that would become, someday, a sink for the central building. Though the boy had never seen a properly functioning one, he had heard the stories and had a vague understanding of the science behind it. Gran often told stories of the days past.

"We mustn't lose the knowledge," she had whispered to him just the day before. "Now, go find your friends. You've done enough here today." She shooed him away, even though he was reluctant to leave, wanting to help.

Instead of finding his friends, he had begun writing the poem. It came from the stories Gran had told. Not the stories of aliens or monsters, but the true ones. The ones of the world in the ruins.

His father looked up and smiled wearily. "I'm listening," he said. "I can listen and work."


"The sky engulfed in flame
Poison in the ground
We don't deserve our name
Until humanity's been found"

The poem was recited oftentimes at gatherings and meetings. Many who had come before had added to in until it was long and descriptive. Its style varied and twisted, but it had a sense of flow and pattern. It gave a place for the people, the descendants of the long-ago refugees. It gave reflection and wonderment.

The man sitting in an office in the Edifice building was chewing on the back of his pen, deep in thought. The more he reflected on the history of the song, the more daunting his task seemed. It was an honor to have been commissioned to write for the song, but he feared he never would find the adequate words.

He knew what he yearned to express: fulfillment of pasts hopes and the beauty of the world. The villages had come so far over such a perilous time. Though they had faced innumerable setbacks, look at them now! He put his ink to paper, but all that came to his mind were abstract emotionless colors. He shook his head, trying to disperse the frustration and anxiety and just leave the words. Words came so easily to him for the little things, when he wrote for amusement.

Pushing aside the paper covered with nervous scribblings, he sat straighter and breathed as calmly as he could, hoping to find enough resolve to continue. Then he began to write.

"Here the beasts
From lost in infinite time
By the man
The world does grow"

The Singer sat in his room, humming, and pondered the chains around his ankles. He was proud of them, he decided. They were concrete proof of what he had always felt. Hate, that is. This was an injustice.

The time for singing the Song was rapidly approaching. In less than an hour, he would have to go in front of people he didn't know and sing about a future that he would not get to experience and a past that wasn't his. No, this Song wasn't his at all.

Maybe it could have been, had they not hurt him. If he could have been a part of the audience and seen this world he sung about... No. He strained against his fetters, the sharp pain making him angrier. They had promised their removal after the Song, as long as it went perfectly well. Though they were most uncomfortable, he thought he would rather wear them than let them be the ones to remove them, just to replace them again and again.

He had not always been chained. In fact, he almost remembered a time he had been cared for here. It was before he had begun to question life, to question the world outside the window of his confining room. So many little people went though their lives down there, so different from his own. He didn't want to sing, but they made it his life. He tried to take it back and make it his own.

The first time he ran away, he was brought back an hour later and punished with a sharp slap and carefully crafted words designed to induce guilt and shame. This was not enough to hold him back. He got past the guards, and the bars on his window, but not the chains. He was a lot older than he was then, but he still longed to be free.

He had not even done anything to deserve his fetters this time, but they would not risk his disappearance so close to the day of the Song, no. His ankles were scarred and disfigured from the gratuitous use of the thick metal cuffs. This had stopped being about him, or about music, long ago. This was about power.

"And the world dies"

Some things were harder than they first appeared. The young revolutionary had thought that it would have been easier to get here. It was a lot more than just finding new threads; she had to weave them in with the colors already there. Somehow, though, she had made a change... a thousand little changes.

The Gathering was here again. She was sitting near the stage, looking for Matt and the old Singer in the crowd. His name was Alistair, she had learned. He had lived in the other village, now, not wanting to stay here any longer, but he had said he wanted to see the Gathering again. At her sides sat Thomas and Jo, who was chanting the lyrics of her own song.

On the surface, much was the same. Familiar faces filled the room, bowed toward the Worship-Object as was the custom, and sat in the seats. However, there was a quiet sense of apprehension for what was to be different this year. Beyond the walls of the Gathering, it was much the same; power was shifting, and the culture was being either gently molded or forced through a cheese slicer, depending on who you asked. Almost all agreed it was positive, and everyone thought it inevitable.

There was no great miracle, no giant war. There was just a slow, steady change only now becoming apparent. It was far from over, if it even could end.

A hush fell across the room as the Chief Guardian of the Council stood to begin the ceremony, as he always did. Everyone, even her sightless father, turned toward the stage.

"The ceremony begins," he said. "We worship the Object." The crowd bowed in respect toward the symbol. "I present the Council of Guardians." The Council stood then. "The Threader of the robe, Kira." She stood, and scanned the crowd to find Matt. "And I present the Carver, Thomas." He stood and nodded. "And, of course, I present the Singer, Jo." He step aside for her to take the stage, but did not sit yet.

Jo, climbed up onto the platform from her chair, and spoke to the audience. "I be Jo," she stated confidently. A ripple of laughter flowed through the audience, as well as confusion, that a child so young could be the one to sing a Song that spanned hours. She explained, though, "We all gonna sing, see? I got the first bit, and be sure you got some too."

So they sang. It was messy and nonsensical, but they had all the Gatherings in the world to get it right. Anyway, it was just a song.

"Ravaged all
Bogo tabal
Timore toron
Totoo now gone"

If there was one thing to learned from the Song, it was the meaninglessness of hope. The whole history of the world was just a circle of chaos and order, opposing forces clashing and shattering until an inevitable end.

If there was another thing to learn from the Song, it was the definitiveness of hope. No matter how many times society was pushed down, it rose again. Tomorrow it will fall, and we will remember no one is alone in the Ruin.