"Faith in the Planet of the Apes"
The following is a plot summary for an imaginary prequel to the original 1968 film Planet of the Apes. It is also a follow-up to my previously posted story "Deception on Planet of the Apes." This story occurs after the human race has devolved into speechless savages, and takes place only a couple decades before the arrival of Colonel Taylor in the original film.
In this final chapter of the Apes saga, the main character is a near-adult orangutan named Lemuel whose father is one of the highest leaders in Ape Society. Like most apes in this era, Lemuel has grown up with a religious belief that humans were never intelligent or able to speak and that apes alone were made in the image of God. Soon, however, Lemuel learns that his father has been hiding secret documents which reveal the "real truth" about how apes were once slaves to intelligent humans and eventually overthrew their masters. Lemuel further learns that his beloved religion only formed after the humans devolved into speechless savages and that the Apes Leaders have been keeping these truths hidden from the masses ever since.
When confronted, Lemuel's father tries to explain that the reason these documents were hidden and the new religion was formed was so that apes would continue to evolve into intelligent and benevolent beings. The father's main argument comes from recalling the fact that the intelligent humans of the past also believed that they were the only ones made in God's image and thus believed themselves superior to other animals, including apes. But as humans gradually accepted evolution as fact, they came to believe and accept that they were in actuality mere animals with no divine providence. As a result, they discontinued their efforts to be better than other animals and instead began living and acting like them, which ultimately led to their "devolution." Hence, Lemuel's father argues that if the apes of this era also learn about evolution and begin to accept it as truth, they too may reverse course and devolve back into mindless animals like the humans did. This, therefore, is why the highest ranking Ape Leaders are hiding this truth and are instead letting the masses be influenced by religious dogma.
Although Lemuel can see some logic in this argument, he ultimately does not believe that this is the true reason why the documents are being kept hidden and why the religious lies are being told. Instead, he believes the real reason is so that the few apes who know the truth can use religion to control the masses and obtain more power and wealth for themselves. Hence, Lemuel feels that he must expose the truth no matter the cost, and consults with a young chimpanzee friend named Silas who is studying to be a lawyer.
[Production Note: Since this story is clearly designed to contain social commentary on religion, the characters are named after minor characters in the Bible. Lemuel is named after the king who wrote the last chapter in the book of Proverbs, while Silas is named after a companion of the Apostle Paul].
When Silas attempts to get a subpoena that would order Lemuel's father to hand over the documents, the two young apes are arrested and threatened with charges of heresy if they don't drop the matter at once. After being released on bail, Lemuel and Silas realize that if they want to acquire the proof they need, they must flee to the Forbidden Zone and search for evidence there. When Lemuel's father realizes where they have gone, he sends a troop of gorillas to pursue them.
Shortly after arriving in the Forbidden Zone, Lemuel and Silas are found and captured by the still-intelligent human mutants who live underground. Soon, the two apes realise that these human mutants can provide all the evidence needed to expose the truth about the planet's past. However, the mutants do not want their existence known for fear that the apes will invade the Forbidden Zone with lethal intentions. Hence, when the mutants are alerted to the presence of the pursuing gorilla troop, they use their evolved telepathic powers to lead the gorillas into believing that Lemuel and Silas died in a recent rock slide.
The gorillas then return home and the two fugitive apes are forced to remain with the mutants. While there, Lemuel observes that the mutants are a benevolent society and he soon takes an interest in their religion which states that they evolved with the help of their god. Although he doesn't believe the part about their god taking on the form of a gigantic bomb, Lemuel is nevertheless pleased to find a society that can believe in evolution and still be civilized. Lemuel thus realizes that if he and Silas could only convince the mutants to reveal themselves to the apes, they can all embrace a new religion which teaches that both species evolved under the guidance of God, and thus live in peace together.
Unfortunately, the mutants want none of this and eventually feel that the two apes will pose a great threat to them if kept alive. Hence, with their newly discovered power to telepathically control the physical actions of others, the mutants make the two apes fight each other to the death. Eventually, Lemuel kills Silas, but not before being mortally wounded himself. In his final scene, the dying Lemuel falls to his knees prays to God for forgiveness and for the salvation of his and Silas's souls.
The epilogue segment of this film takes place sometime later when Lemuel's father is dying and must choose a successor to continue guarding the secret documents. The father's choice is another young orangutan who has always known the true history of apes and man, and who has recently earned a PhD in both Religion and Science. The successor's name: Dr. Zaius.