This is awkward. I probably should update Caught On Camera before I start something else, but I just needed to write this. I was listening to music, and I got inspired, and so this was born. This story was inspired be the song The Dead Can't Testify by Billy Talent, but I don't consider it a songfic. It was just something that I needed to get out of my system. Enjoy.
In this fic, Kate is 16, Reynie and Sticky are 15, and Constance is 7.
Disclaimer- I don't own The Mysterious Benedict Society, or The Dead Can't Testify. Sorry to disappoint.
Summary-The Society had never been formed. Mr. Curtain was never stopped. Four years later, in a world where no one thinks for themselves, is it still possible to bring down the M.A.S.T.E.R?
Book One-Dura Lex, SedLex
(The law is harsh, but it is the law)
"Martin Edmund Lucifer. Convicted of conspiring against the Minister And Secretary of all The Earth's Regions. By order of the law this man is sentenced to-"
Reynie hated this. Standing in the crowd, watching as the man identified as Martin Lucifer stood, trembling at the side of the masked Recruiter. The man was wearing the same thing as every citizen standing in the square, a white tunic and striped trousers. Every person in the crowd also had a light blue sash around their waist. Not the man on the scaffold. His sash was blood red, which meant only one thing."
"-death. He is to be hung by the neck until death." The Recruiter led the man to the gallows pole and draped the thick noose around the man's collar.
Reynie cast his glance to the ground as the man started screaming his innocence in a crazed modus, only to be cut short by a sickening crack. Reynie cringed. At least the man's neck had broken and he wouldn't be left to suffocate. Reynie had seen that happen once, and had nightmares for weeks. It had been almost four years since the first person had been diagnosed with Sudden Amnesia Disease. Four years since the government's decision to make Ledroptha Curtain Minister And Secretary to all The Earth's Regions, or M.A.S.T.E.R. Since then, the country had changed, as if overnight. Suddenly, there were Recruiters on every street corner, enforced dress codes and curfews, but most terrifying, if you were found guilty of "conspiring against the M.A.S.T.E.R." (That is, breaking one of the many, tedious and sometimes ridiculous laws, or talking badly against the M.A.S.T.E.R.), you would undoubtedly be sentenced to death.
Reynie shuddered to think about it. He was clever enough to keep his opinions to himself. He had seen what happened to the people who didn't, even if they were a rarity. It had started out that they would just go missing, or be accused of being insane, and taken to a treatment facility and never heard from again. Almost a year after "the Improvement" as it had been dubbed by Ledroptha Curtain, an announcement was made that left the peoples' blood running cold. Anyone accused of insanity or sedition would be sentenced to public execution by hanging. No one questioned the new law because the M.A.S.T.E.R. was there to protect them, and he knew best. At least that's what they were told. Again, Reynie was too intelligent to express his doubts. He remembered what had happened near the turn of the Emergency. Chaos reigned as people panicked about the voices in their heads, all saying the same things. 'The missing aren't missing, they're only departed. All minds keep all thoughts-so like gold- closely guarded.' The nonsensical phrases just kept coming and repeating all day and all night, until one day a new message stood out.
Feel certain with Curtain.
And soon enough almost everyone was desperately calling out for this mysterious 'Curtain'. Almost a month passed before the man came forward with the cure for Sudden Amnesia Disease. He was appointed Minister And Secretary of all The Earth's Regions, and that was when the changes started happening. Everyone was required to wear a uniform at all time. (A white tunic, striped pants, and a blue sash.)
People who were appointed certain occupations, such as government officials, were given solid pants. The color of the sash was changed depending on certain things. A purple sash meant that the wearer was on trial for a minor crime. Green meant that someone was on parole. The last color of sash meant that there was no hope. Red, the color that marked you for execution.
People with certain jobs, like M.A.S.T.E.R. appointed police officers, would switch the striped pants for solid ones. Recruiters would always be seen wearing suits, and rarely, one would be seen carrying a briefcase, though few people noticed, and even fewer honestly cared. On certain occasions, like executions, one of the men with a briefcase would have masks covering their entire face, except for their eyes and mouth. It was a terrifying image; one of the last ones that those condemned would ever see. The executions were not common. Very few people ever even thought of defying the M.A.S.T.E.R.
Curfews were strictly enforced. Anyone outside after 9:30 on any given night would immediately be given a purple sash and a court date. The only people allowed out after curfew were the Recruiters, who would always be seen patrolling the streets at night in pairs. The though brought comfort to many. Recruiters (though no one knew why they were called Recruiters, or who had started calling them that) patrolling the streets, keeping them safe, and keeping the peace. For such reasons, Recruiters were highly respected. Reynie, however, was weary of the men, especially the ones that carried their mysterious briefcases.
Reynie spent the night after the execution deep in thought. He was in the library, alone, as always. He used to spend the days with Miss Perumal, his former tutor, but she had been taken to a treatment facility after the Improvement, and Reynie never knew what became of her, so he spent his days in almost complete solitude. He had read most of the books in the library, but he still spent most of his time in the dusty room to avoid the relentless teasing from his peers. It wasn't hard for them to tell that he was different, they just couldn't tell how so. For that Reynie was thankful. If someone found out that he was thinking against the M.A.S.T.E.R. he would surely be executed.
He still remembered the first days of the Improvement, where the entire world's population had been in treatment centers. Everyone had spent months waiting and wondering until the voices suddenly stopped, and they had been released. No one questioned it. They had just been thankful, for this strange Mr. Curtain had seemingly saved the world from the brink of insanity. How fitting it had seemed to reward him with such a majestic title of Minister And Secretary of all The Earth's Regions. He did deserve it after all. Or so everyone said. The few people who disagreed were largely ignored at first. Then their numbers slowly diminished until the Anti-Supremacy movement, as they had dubbed themselves, was no more. No one knew what had happened to them, but they were certainly glad that they were gone.
That's just how it was. The M.A.S.T.E.R. was considered by many the closest thing to a god as humanly possible. He had saved them, and anyone who dared speak otherwise could hardly be considered undeserving vermin at his feet. It was frightening the lack of sympathy or compassion people had nowadays. Anyone with even a vaguely rude comment about the M.A.S.T.E.R. would immediately be thrown to the dogs and ratted out to the Recruiters, who were never merciful. The punishment was always the same. Execution was the only way to prevent disloyalty. Execution was considered a harsh, but necessary evil.
The next day Reynie, along with everyone else rose with the sun. All of the children in the orphanage dressed and went down for breakfast. As usual, Reynie ate his breakfast in solitude and hurried down to the library. He went about his reading as usual when something unusual happened. The bell used to summon the citizens rang out for the second day in a row. Two executions in two days? Executions were extremely rare, and two in such close succession was unheard of. Reynie felt sick to his stomach. Still, he got up sullenly from the couch and replaced his book to the shelf. As he joined the crowd of people in front of the city hall, he thought about the poor person who was about to be slaughtered. Were they a man or a woman? Did they have a family? Had someone they cared deeply about been the person to turn them in? Reynie's mind flared with anger. Why was this happening? He looked around him at all of the people in the square. Mindless sheep, they were. Sheep who believed anything and everything that they were told. The entire world had been brainwashed into believing that anyone with a different opinion deserved to be exterminated, simply for thinking.
"This is horrifying." A look of horror overtook his face as he realized that his thoughts had somehow made their way into words and fell from his mouth. Had someone heard? He looked around wildly, but much to his relief, no one was looking at him. He took a minute to calm himself from his panic as a few people made their way into the square. A girl pushed past him rather rudely and promptly disappeared into the throng of identically dressed people, but Reynie hardly reacted. He was used to such behavior from the children at the orphanage, and continued his downward gaze, lost in his thoughts.
When at last the stream of people entering the square merged into the chattering crowd, two masked executioners climbed onto the gallows, leading a woman to the large center pole. The crowd fell silent, and Reynie looked up in spite of himself. His mouth fell open and his face paled. No! It can't be possible!
"Afreen Tavishi (1) Perumal. Convicted of conspiring against the Minister And Secretary of all The Earth's Regions. By order of the law this woman is sentenced to death. She is to be hung by the neck until death."
Reynie's beloved tutor stood tall on the gallows as the masked man slid the noose around her neck. Tears sprang up in Reynie's eyes and he couldn't stop himself from calling out. "No!"
The crowd's eyes swiveled to him and people began to pull away from him, as if afraid of being guilty by association, and he noticed out the outskirts of his vision that Recruiters-the one with briefcases- were slowly walking towards him. The executioner's eyes were narrow slits through his mask as he scanned the crowd until his gaze fell on Reynie. Miss Perumal's tall proud stance crumpled as her eyes met Reynie's and she saw the Recruiters were making their way towards Reynie.
In the next instant, two things happened. A tall blonde girl-Reynie recognized her as the one who pushed him earlier- vaulted herself onto the platform and rammed into the executioner, and two Recruiters grabbed onto Reynie. As Reynie fought to throw the strong men off of him, his eyes followed the girl as she pulled the noose from Miss Perumal's neck and dragged the stunned woman off of the platform. When on the ground, the older woman seemed to get her bearings and said something to the girl with a stern look on her face. The girl just shrugged before turning herself to Reynie's struggling form. She then grabbed Miss Perumal's arm and sprinted full speed towards the scuffle as one of the men began to open his briefcase.
The crowd, who only just seemed to notice that something had happened up on the gallows as well as in the square was too shocked to stop the girl as she pulled the older woman behind her, plowing over citizens as she went. Before Reynie could react, one of the Recruiters was pulled off of him. The other, who seemed shocked that a child could yank his partner off of the troublemaker was then knocked upside the head with something heavy. Reynie turned to see the unconscious Recruiter on the ground and Miss Perumal holding a briefcase. She then grabbed his hand and pulled the distraught boy over to where the girl was fighting the other Recruiter. With another swing of the briefcase, the other man was rendered unconscious as well.
The girl grabbed both Miss Perumal's and Reynie's arms and sprinted out of the square. It took Reynie a moment to realize that they were being pursued. He then, powered by a new wave of adrenalin, started to run a little faster. Soon the girl dragged them into an alley, where she pounded on a door in an odd pattern. The door opened as soon as she finished the knock (which Reynie noted, must be a code of some sort), and the girl pushed Reynie and Miss Perumal through the door and quickly whispered to the person who opened it.
"If I'm not at the meeting place by midnight then I'm probably dead." The door then slammed close, shrouding the place in darkness.
The words sent a shiver down Reynie's spine. So many questions raced through his mind. Who was that girl? Where was he? What was going to happen to him? His mind raced as he stood next to his former tutor in the dark. No one said a word as they heard the girl's quick footsteps fade away, soon accompanied with more footsteps. The Recruiters, Reynie realized. They were after the mysterious girl who had just saved him. He knew the girl was unbelievably fast, but was she fast enough? And he thought about her words. What meeting place? She surely wasn't going to die was she? And had she actually saved him? Here he was, standing in the dark with a stranger, and a woman he hadn't seen in years, while he was now considered a criminal. Did Miss Perumal know these people? Could he actually trust them? He just stood there trying to figure out what to think as the footsteps faded, and the sound of a match being struck came from a corner of the room. The little flame was soon set to a candle.
The flickering light was not enough to comfort Reynie as shadows danced around the room.
So how was it? This idea flitted its way into my head and I just had to write it out. I wrote this on a plane, so it might be the air pressure getting to me. Please do review, I would rather like to know what you think.
(1) Afreen Tavishi Perumal. I got this name by finding out that Tamil (the language Miss Perumal was teaching Reynie in book one) was an Indian (India Indian, not Native American Indian) language. Then I googled some Indian names. Afreen means encouragement and Tavishi means courage. I think that that suits Miss Perumal, but that's just me. It doesn't matter I suppose, I doubt that she'll be called anything but Miss Perumal from here on out. I just needed a full name for the Executioner's speech.
Thanks you for reading. Please review! Oh, and do feel free to message me if you want to ask me anything. I'd love to talk to you!