The Journal of Yempick Mingal

I tried to remember something today. A simple thing. A memory just for memory’s sake. I tried to recall the gentle stroke of a summer breeze on my skin. And I almost had it. Almost. But just as my imaginary zephyr curled itself around my body, just as the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, the room darkened and the ventilation fans juddered and ground to a halt. Within a handful of heartbeats, every breath became a struggle.

My chest heaved but it was no use. My lungs burned. A film of sweat coated my brow, trickled down to sting the corners of my eyes. A wave of cold panic surged through me.

But it wasn’t the sudden lack of good air that chilled me to the core. It was something worse than that. Much worse.

I was alone.

I curled my fingers tight around the armrests on my chair, dug my fingernails into the wood, and screwed my eyes tight shut. But it was no use. There was only one voice in my mind – my own.

“No,” I said, my throat dry, my voice hoarse. “Bring them back.” I took a slow, shallow breath and pushed my foolish imaginings away. I should’ve known better, should’ve restrained myself from those reckless, self-indulgent daydreams. “I’m sorry,” I whispered. “Only bring them back and I’ll do better, I’ll be better.”

A pause. A long, drawn out pause with no sound but the wheezing of my futile gasps for air and the shrill whisper of blood hissing in my ears. I hung my head. I’ve failed you. I’ve failed you all. And that was when the lights burst back into life and the fans whirred and droned once more. And yes – you were with me again my brothers and sisters. I could hear you, feel you in my mind.

I breathed deep, filled my lungs with air. But I didn’t waste a second in feelings of relief or recrimination. The machine’s message was clear. For a moment, I’d forgotten my duty to the Collective, and I’d been punished. To be a Scribe is to work, to create. To be a Scribe is to write. Together with my brothers and sisters we must unfurl our words to resonate across reality. There is no alternative.

And so I picked up my quill and leaned forward over my ancient battered desk. I chewed my lip and concentrated, listening to the whisper of a million mingled imaginings. Yes. There it is – the first subtle hints of a shared idea we must make real; the beginning that every story must have. And I began to write…

A young man walks alone down a silent road. The concrete beneath his canvas shoes is cracked and worn. And with every step he takes, a swirl of dust is kicked up into the air, where it hangs for only a moment, and then it whirls and is whisked away by the gentlest summer breeze.

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