I used to have powers. I had the power to control. Control anything I want, everything I want. I could control what people say, I could control what they think, I could control what they do, I could control how they feel, and in an instant, I could control the decisions they make.
What are you thinking? That I had the powers of some weird X-Men? Telekinesis? Or do you think I am the human form of the Imperius Curse, as written in the Harry Potter books? I dislike that boy on many counts. But I dislike sparkly bloodsuckers even more. What a disgrace to men. I was way better than that. You might need convincing. Usually people are convinced even before I start on anything, but since you are new here, I’ll just tell you what I’m capable of. By the end, you’ll believe me.
I became a soldier when I was just fourteen. My nation went to war with other nations. I fought hard for the war. I was not one of the most capable ones, but I usually fared well. I got praises more often than not. In my camp there was this boy, he was thirteen. A year younger than me, blond hair, pale skin but brilliant. He looked a bit like Captain America before he was buffed up by steroids. He knew how to make good use of his size: dug holes, hid in small spaces to spy on enemy’s etc. Once, he scouted in enemy’s territories. Once he discovered the safest route in, we often snuck in to their base camps and stole food, taking their maps together with us. I let him claim the credit even though it was my idea. We shared food in camp and when his tent flooded in the rain, I let him sleep in mine. He was way smaller than I was, even weaker than he seemed. Often he cried for his mama during his sleep.
“You could be a great leader, you know. You’re smart,” I told him once, hoping that it would stop the crying.
“But… I’m weak.”
“I’ll help you.”
“You will?” His eyes brightened and my face cracked into a smile.
“Of course I will. From now on, you’re my brother.”
I trained with him. “More pushups! Run faster! Run further! Climb higher! Climb faster!” One year later, he was stronger than anybody else but me. I was considered one of the strongest in camp. He was so outstanding and he had huge ambitions; I had to do something about it. All we needed was an opportunity.
One day, I thought I saw something move in the fields just a mile away from our camp. It was a man. I shot him without warning and hastily ran back to camp, telling him what I saw.
“This is your chance! Tell them you’ve seen their scout. I saw him, he was there. They’re coming! They’re attacking tonight.”
“Really? You saw the scout? Didn’t you do anything?”
“I shot him. He’s dead. Just tell them you did it!”
“You’d be a war hero. You’d be the one who prepped us for it. You’d be the one who saved our lives. You could be given a medal of honor at the end of the war. You would bring your family pride and honor. Didn’t your father look down on you? Now is the time to prove you are better than he thinks you are. You can be capable. Didn’t your father own a jewellery company? After the war, he would give it to you.”
“Why aren’t you reporting it yourself?”
“Because I think you’ll make a better leader than I am, my brother.”
I patted him on the back and beamed like a proud elder brother of a successful man.
He took my word for it and did as I suggested: reported to our commanders about the surprise attack that night and that their scout was dead in the field. We spent the afternoon coming up with a plan for a defense and worked up a plan for a counter-attack. Everything was prepared, well and ready to go, but by nightfall and almost dawn, there was nothing. Not even a rabbit was in sight. Upon searching, no scouts were found dead in the fields. In fact, the man shot dead was one of our own. They found the bullet that belonged to my rifle lodged in his neck, but I had already reported that someone had stolen my rifle the moment I got back to camp after shooting our soldier dead. I hid the rifle in his blanket. With him claiming credit for the death of the soldier and the rifle found in his possession, the commanders had no choice but to punish him for it. They sent him to the barracks to do manual labor for raising a false alarm and killing our own man, much to my disappointment. When he left, he stared. The anguish in his eyes was hard to forget.
“Why?” was the last word he uttered before leaving the camp.
“Because you would be a better leader than I am” were the last words he heard. From me, at least. And at least they were praises. I was kind enough.
He died when the famine hit. I was promoted to be the first sergeant shortly after for managing to tide my comrades through the famine with no deaths. I had snuck into the enemy’s base camp to steal food using the methods he showed me before. It was one of my most glorious days back then, and I aimed to climb higher than that. I did.
But you see, this is what I can do. I can make people believe me, I can make them succeed, and I can make them fail. Their fates lie within my control. And these went on years later.
When I was eighteen, I was in prison. I could paint, very well, in fact. When I was young I tried enrolling myself into an Art school. They rejected me twice, and I ended up selling postcards on the streets to earn a living. I could not earn much and in anger, I had set fire to the school, which was why I ended up in prison. Here, we were given a choice to do something that we could help earn a living for ourselves. I chose postcards again. On different days, I slipped postcards into different cells: cheerful pictures of naked women to the Klars and other clans, and paintings of fire, demons, Hell and skulls and crossbones to the Gelbs. The Gelbs were one of the seven clans that we have in our nation. They talked loudly, they were rich and they think they were so smart. They usually shoved at meal lines.
Whenever their family members visit, I paid the guards with the money I made from selling postcards to tell me what they had heard. They usually told me everything. They were not as well-paid and well-treated as some of you might think. The guards pitied them, telling me stories of how these family members abandoned the prisoners one after another.
“These people need encouragement.” The guards empathized with their situation.
I agreed, and came up with a plan that could help everyone: both inmates and the Gelbs themselves. I sent those Gelbs more postcards after that. They needed a little push to escape their agony.
“Your father looks down on you. He told the others he never had a son. That was why he refused to visit you. Your sister is now the only child he has. Your mother doesn’t even dare to look you in the eyes when she talks. You’re left with nothing. There’s nothing for you to hang on to in the world anymore.” This was accompanied by a painting of a family of three – a mother, a father and a daughter. No son.
“Your parents gave the bakery to your younger brother in the will. You should have gotten it. You are the eldest son. You yourself know the tradition best. Why do you think they do that? Because they hate you.” This was accompanied by a painting of the bakery and a man who looked nothing like him manning the counter.
“Why are you still here? Just go. We hear you crying every night. Leaving is a better option. Save your tears, liberate yourself of agony. You’ll feel better. Trust me.” This was accompanied by a painting of the heaven. The only time I ever painted Heaven for the Gelbs.
Often a week of daily postcards later, a few new graves were dug, new bodies were buried. They usually tried to escape but got caught, shot and executed, or they just cut the drama and hung themselves from a noose made from the rope I gave them together with the postcards. It was essential they leave the world, not just the prison. They might just annoy other people. I was doing the world a favor. No more yelling, no more shoving at meal lines. I liberated them from their pain; I freed the world from their annoyance. Alas, peace. Everyone should thank me.
About half of the Gelbs died under my ‘reign’ in the prison. I did not have to do anything myself. It was like they were under my control. I was talented in that way. I was good in it. I saw no reason why I should not continue what I did. I was liberating the world of evil, liberating the evil of their pain. Not many could do this. In fact, I knew no one who could do the same things as I could. I was a gift from God. Manipulation was my power. It was given to me for a reason. And as I grew and learnt after my release from prison, I found a good way to exercise my talent. I went into politics.
I worked hard in politics and I became a leader among the Klars at the age of twenty-five.I was even given the power to pass laws and legislations. Some leaders of other clans gave me their support. Some others were against me. I made sure that they had their houses burnt down, their wives caught and their children sent to military camps. Some leaders gave their support only half-heartedly and turned their backs on me when I needed certain laws passed. So they were sent to jail after interrogations, often for crimes which I had made up and charged with the laws I passed myself. Often, they pleaded guilty to avoid torture.
I made these traitors deal with the Gelbs as punishment. They helped me round them up in chambers and shower them with water that gave them blisters on their bodies and blinded their eyes, water which filled their lungs and suffocate them. The traitors would help me bury these dead bodies into the walls of the prison cells which they live in. More often than not, I made them leave cracks open just so these traitors could see their eyes staring at them permanently. Then they had to deal with the stench. Sometimes, I dropped hints that that would be the way they would die if they did not obey my orders. Most of them go crazy in there and killed themselves, so I had the other traitors wall their bodies to the chambers where the Gelbs would take their last shower. Word spread and they thought I did not know. I did, I just pretended I did not so I could catch them off guard and send them into the showers too. These fools called my strategies atrocities. But I thought it was beautiful, poetic even, where the dead and the dying knew they were not alone. At least they had company.
As you can see, my power is undeniable. I had power over the district when I passed certain laws. I had power over the lives of thousands of people. It was no surprise then when I managed to rise to become the leader of the entire district at the mere age of thirty. I was the youngest politician to hold that position in my entire nation. What was more, I had more control over all other leaders in the nation.
You see, I could make leaders of other clans give me their land. Sometimes, they believed in the contracts I signed with them, only to realize it was a fraud and they had given me their land. Sometimes, I promised to go into a peace agreement with them and attacked them from the other end. Well, I had agreed not to attack them from my front, but I didn’t agree not to attack them from the other end. Did they not receive the news that I had already taken over the other clan? Oh, probably not. Maybe, I had forgotten to mention that I had control over the media as well. By the age of thirty-two, all clans came under me. Naturally, I was the leader of my nation. The great leader.
But that was in the past. All in the past.
Now I’m sitting in my cell. The cells I had built for the traitors. What happened, you might ask. Long story short, I was defeated by a betrayer. In a night, all my clans had come crumbling down – all weapons destroyed, all bridges burnt, all communication lines cut. I was surrounded by other Gelbs in my office, led by my most trusted comrade, one whom I had known since I was a soldier. They took away my house, my wife, my children, even my favorite Snow White tapes. They let the Gelbs stay in my mansion, sent my children to work in mine fields. They took away my grand architecture plans and called it their own. They took over my army and made them suffer in other cells which I had created. They sent me my old postcards every day, alongside with ropes for me to hang from my ceiling. The cell was cold, wet, humid, not to mention the smell of the rotten flesh coming through the walls. They thought they would imprison me in the own cells I had created for as long as they wanted before they sent me to my execution, just to give me a taste of what I had given them. Would I be so easily defeated? Of course not. After all, I had not killed these people to be buried in these walls for no reason. The moment they threw me in here, they had lost.
The eyes between the cracks blinked as I stared at them.
“This is not the end, my comrades.”
They blinked twice in recognition of my voice, red mist fogging up their pupils in understanding of my words. Then the ceiling began to crumble, the walls began to crack.
My name is Adi. And this is just the beginning.
Adi © 2012 by Aubystories. All rights reserved.