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The Village (very short story)

The Village had no place to hide. They’d planned it that way from the very beginning. Decades later, the influence of the Company could still be felt.

They’d laid out the streets in an arcane pattern which made sense only to them and ancient alchemists. It was reasonable after all, since they were modern alchemists, no longer trying to convert base elements into gold, but into bombs.

The Company was all about control. It had to be. What with such volatile elements under their purview, control was a matter of life and death. The only problem was that they did not know when to stop.

They thought of their employees the same as the elements that they worked with – unknown, potentially dangerous. The Overseer decided early on to keep them isolated from the city at large and then to further segregate them by function. It was best to keep the workers from mingling with the supervisors, and both from regular citizens. Explosions could not be ruled out.

They’d done their job too well. Even now the people who lived in the Village, no longer a Company town, still were isolated from the rest of the city and suspicious of anyone who had not lived there for at least 20 years. Even that wasn’t a free pass, with any aberrant behavior transforming a “friend” to “foe” at the speed of a post on their neighborhood watch’s Facebook page.

The layout of the neighborhood created invisible walls that focused energy and attention inwards. It was a feedback loop. It was a closed circuit. Day after week after month after year it built up with no release. Like crabs in a pot, they clawed at each other, keeping the whole group down, preventing escape. Little did they know that they were all doomed.

Only the Overseer could have predicted this.
It was his plan all along.

On the surface it seemed like a great place to live. All the houses were built by the Company for their workers. The school, the library, even the gymnasium were provided. All the workers had to do was show up to work and put in eight hours every day excepting Sundays. Everything was paid for through their wages. They didn’t have a lot of money left over for personal needs, but they felt it was a fair trade-off to be able to live in a model community. Here they were told that their children would be safe, protected from the dangerous elements of the rest of the city.

This inward-facing community was their undoing. With no new information, no variety, no challenge to the status quo, the Village stagnated and degenerated. It became inbred, where aberrant and defective ways of thinking became the norm rather than the exception.

They never saw it coming. The wall surrounding their village and their minds was invisible but no less effective because of it. Perhaps it was more effective because it was invisible. They didn’t know they were trapped, thus they had no reason to try to escape. Why would they? It was perfect here, they all agreed. Those that didn’t agree were silenced in the way that works best – by declaring them crazy. Why martyr someone by forcing them to leave the community? Excommunication wasn’t just for the Church. It was far better to keep them as an example of how not to behave.

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