by LewisC


I am John-29754-B. I am innocent and yet they come for me.

I live in the white. We all live in the white. We are all named John. Except for the Host, we are all 5’9″ and weigh almost 75 kilos; we all have light brown hair and hazel eyes.

There are never more than 131 Johns. On Birth Day, the John-A of 43 years goes to Celebration. John-29754-A, John of my triad, has already gone. Celebration is death. My brothers do not know this.

We have always believed that on Retribution Day, John-B and John-C go to Celebration. Today is Retribution Day. John-C will not go to Celebration.

Once a year, new brothers are added to replace the triad that has gone to Celebration. They are young and small. They will grow. They will join us. They will learn that from birth to death, only Celebration matters.

We have computers to play music and games. We have secretly taught ourselves to read; we pass that on, triad to triad. I have learned how to use the computers in ways that were not intended. I should share that.

We eat in the white, sleep in the white, bathe in the white. The white is the only world we know until Celebration. We exist only for Celebration.

The Host is many. The Host feeds us. The Host does not speak. The Host wears white; all parts of the body, the head, and the limbs are covered. The Host does not call itself the Host; we give it that name. I know its real name. I have seen its face.

The brothers believe that the Host is different than us. They are not. The Host is many; we are many. I am individual. The Johns all look the same and speak the same but we have different feelings and different thoughts. The Host always acts the same, looks the same, responds the same. The brothers believe the Host is not an individual but a single being with many bodies. This is a theory passed down triad to triad. The theory is wrong.

Our computers are linked so that the brothers can play with or against each other. The Host never plays. I discovered that our computers can access Host computers—computers outside the white. I have accessed Host computers. I know what none of the brothers know. I should tell them but I can’t.

I discovered pictures of the Host. They are different from us but like us. The Host is not one, it is many and individual. Their skin is scabrous and scarred; their bones are weak. They are hairless. The Host calls itself Humanity. Humanity burns with hatred. Humanity has been so very angry for so very long. I could tell my brothers this but have not.

Humanity exists among the stars. I found pictures of the skies from a thousand worlds. Humanity has existed among the stars for many years. In the early days they existed amongst just a single star system. They populated space stations. They lived on planets, moons, asteroids and comets. I was fascinated to learn this.

Before Humanity reached beyond a star named Sol, a virus struck them down, seventeen billion dead. Humanity fell from the skies, dying of a fire inside the body. The virus rewrote DNA. The virus in the secondary generations caused uncontrolled tissue generation, cancers, and porous bones. The virus was created by a single madman. I am not that madman. I am John but I am not John.

The Madman John was caught and executed in his 43rd year. One death was not enough for John. Twice a year, Humanity celebrates the death of John. John’s painful death is broadcast to the stars for all to see. From the computers, I learned of a place called Hell. It’s where evil burns for eternity. What is evil?

The Host Celebrates the execution of John. He is executed by his own virus. He slowly burns from the inside out. Humanity will make him burn once for every life he took; an eye for an eye. Seventeen billion Johns will only take 8.5 billion years. Humanity will be angry for a long time. Celebration is death is retribution.

I could tell my brothers this; we could pass it from triad to triad. We would know that we live only to die for retribution. We would know we are madmen. We would know we will burn. Would our lives change with that knowledge? For brothers A and B, no. But what of C?

I learned of C’s role from the computers. C only exists in case sickness or accident takes A or B. When A and B go to Celebration, C is disposed of. Neck snapped, thrown away with the garbage, invisibly rejected. No broadcast of his death, only disposal; no retribution, no justice, no Celebration. Where is hell?

I cannot tell my brothers of this. They will ask questions. C is dead, this morning, from a terrible accident. John-29754-B will receive retribution. Retribution is a noble cause; being garbage is not. I cannot explain how C died. I can never say. What is existence if not Celebration/retribution?

I am John-29754-B. I am innocent and yet they come for me.


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