Swift. Like a seasonal stream swishing down the side of a mountain after a spring downpour. That’s what it felt like. The world changed in an instant. The stream turned into a torrent and the torrent turned into a flood and the flood turned into a tsunami that drowned us in a putrid pool of excessive violence and seething hatred.
I stood beneath the executioner’s platform, watching the headless bodies crash to the ground below, impotent to scream in anger at the injustice to which they had just been subjected. None of those people deserved to die. None of them should have witnessed the last moments of their lives in terror, extinguished as the blade of the executioner’s sword sliced through their necks. But that was the time in which we were living. That was the New Middle Ages, the culmination of that ugly episode in human history that caused Sperling Infuria to argue, persuasively and with almost complete success, that humankind should be eradicated. Infuria asserted that, if allowed to survive, humanity would lead—as it always had—to unending suffering, ceaseless hatred, and increasingly monstrous acts committed in the name of one bankrupt political or religious entity or another. The only one with any significant influence over Infuria who rejected his arguments was his wife, Claudia Apollonia. And Apollonia’s repudiation of Infuria’s contentions led to what we now know as the Cleansing.
The earth’s population, today, is just under seven hundred million, less than one-tenth of what it was before The Cleansing. Schools today memorialize the terrors of the New Middle Ages in mandatory classes designed to inculcate in students an understanding of what happened and what could happen again if we were to fail to honor the Modern Creed and the behaviors it requires. But details of the Cleansing do not find their way into classes. In fact, the Modern Creed prohibits discussion of the Cleansing beyond acknowledging that it occurred and led to the peace we enjoy today.
One day I may tell you what I know about how the New Middle Ages ended. I may explain the Cleansing to you. But not now, because I wish to live more of my life before it is taken from me for breaking the prohibitions of the Modern Creed. Ach, there’s an Enforcer at the door, demanding to read my thoughts. Perhaps I will not tell you what I know, after all. And you mustn’t let them read your thoughts of this exchange or you, too, will fall victim to the Modern Creed.