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I am familiar with the typical forum process... The typical internet user, *Scrolls down* and thinks to himself, *Hmmm... no interesting threads here* and moves on. Hopefully, I have bypassed this way of action, by playing upon the human brain itself. Because, I'm quite sure that you clicked on the this thread out of burgeoning curiosity. If it wouldn't be to much to ask, I'd like a critique of my book's first chapter. It is titled, "These Times". Much thanks!
CHAPTER1 On the Brink It was an idyllic evening in Andros. The Mediterranean breeze weaved softly through the Grecian hills. Men were gathered in the streets, conversing of parochial affairs. Women were huddled inside with the company of their thoughts. Fresh faced children scurried about, their minds still malleable and their hearts filled with acceptance. One might think that in such a town innovation and philosophical muse would thrive. Yet, in the sleepy Grecian town of Andros, expansive thinking was frowned upon. No man seemed to care in the slightest for philosophical affairs. Those who had the audacity to touch the topic were swiftly ostracized by the common society, left to live amongst the “possessed” and the “troubled”. Societal structure in Andros was straightforward—the winner of the yearly drawing of names held the title of sovereign. This “political” drawing was held for the benefit of the citizens, at least that is what the tables of Ago stated. The tables of Ago consisted of three pillars of quartz stacked horizontally in the north western corner of Andros. In times of need, citizens would flock to the tables and seek guidance. It was a widely held belief that being in the presence of the tables brought good fortune. Many a man lived out his final days lying beside the tables, only to die painfully. Many people, when asked why the tables were sacred, clichéd that no man shall ever know. But, even in absence of full knowledge of their origins, the Grecian town’s entire way of life was based solely upon them. Engraved into the top pillar read, “Citizens shall engage in a political drawing once a year.” Engraved into the middle table read, “The winner of the political drawing may not retain full control of his people.” And engraved into the lower-most table read, “Every man may seek what he so chooses.” In this society, the tables were interpreted in significance from top to bottom. The people of Andros believed that, above everything, the words engraved into the top table must be adhered to. Often, so much societal emphasis was placed upon the top table that the bottom two were neglected. The citizens concerned so much of their lives with the annual “election” that after one drawing, they began to prepare for the next. Caught up in the festivities of drawing day, the citizens would forget whose name was drawn in the first place. The man who was “elected”, isolated and neglected by the occupied citizens, often became despondent. Left in a solitary state, the elected man often had an abundance of time to reflect upon his thoughts. But, the people of Andros didn’t take kindly to philosophical musing of any sort, fearful that some overly thoughtful soul would attempt to overthrow the tables’ sovereignty. If the people decided that the elected man had become too immersed in his thoughts, they would devise a plan to kill him. Often these plans ultimately failed, due to lack of unified support, but, every so often, they would be executed perfectly. The citizens would hold a secretive meeting, plotting as to how the elected man would be assassinated. Many times, their plan was straightforward, as those who were preparing for the next drawing and not involved in the killing would be unlikely to notice the elected man’s absence. If the assassination attempt was successful, life would continue and the elected man would be forgotten; if the attempt was unsuccessful, the elected man would often flee to the hills, never to return. This aspect frightened the citizens; many people feared that the elected man would one day return, seeking his revenge. The people were especially afraid that the man would somehow find his way back to Andros and manage to alter the tables of Ago. For, if someone were to change the engraving on a table other than the first one, it would take the citizens years to take notice. It could take so long for them to realize the alterations that they would be accepted as the original engravings. Eventually, however, the citizens assured themselves that such an idea was unlikely and went about their daily routine. *** Cosmas, the son of a traditional Grecian family, was raised to submit to authority and adhere to the tables at all times. Throughout his early life his instructors filled his mind with petty facts and doctrines of apprehension. The students of Andros were taught in a pedantic manner, urged by their instructors to not question the social structure of Andros. However, not every student imbibed this instruction. Although his mind was flooded with submission from an early age, Cosmas developed a raging curiosity of philosophy. At times when his peers felt despair about their hectic daily schedules, Cosmas would remind them that their woes were temporary. But, he had to be wary of spying instructors. The instructors of Andros “maintained” their students’ submission by instituting nightly check-ups. Upon the sunset of every evening the instructors would knock on the door of every student’s dwelling, requesting that he or she recite the Anthropic Code. This code stood since the dawn of Grecian society. It proclaimed the inherent responsibilities of the human race. “For all men under the influence of society, thoughts must be tamed for the betterment of human life.” Cosmas uttered the code with scorn, fully knowing that it was based upon nonsense. But, although Cosmas’s classmates were aware of his ideologies, his father remained blissfully unaware of his precocious mind. His father, Angelos was raised at the height of 1100th annual drawing, a time when the people of Andros struggled greatly. The 1100th year marked the beginning of a new ideological era for the town. For the first time in history, the “political” drawing did not occur. The economy of Andros was on verge of total collapse; food was scarce and the people were seeking drastic societal change. Great minds came about in the 1100th generation, eager to institute political change and ideological “awakening”. Many people argued that the absence of the yearly drawing made no difference in the town’s affairs; after all, the “winner” of the drawing never fully retained his sovereignty. Some went so far as to say that the town should destroy the tables altogether and devise a new code of life. But the majority of the citizens were indoctrinated into a life of submission. Thus, the nascent revolution never came to pass. Angelos, at the time, was an instructor at the most prestigious institution in Andros. He fervently taught his son the rules of a successful society and urged him to follow in his footsteps and become an instructor, but the intuitive Cosmas would have nothing to do with his father’s ideals. Cosmas longed to someday break away from the shackles of his restrictive life; he thought endlessly about how he would someday revolutionize the town of Andros. Fortunately, Cosmas was not completely alone in his ideologies. His mother, Europe gave him inspiration, telling him stories of her past. “It was a time of great awakening, my boy. Anything could have happened.” Cosmas’s mother coaxed his curiosity and urged him to challenge everything, but the head of the household, Angelos would have none of Europe’s nonsense. Cosmas often went to sleep with the discordant shrieks of his parents ringing in his ears. Cosmas’s father threatened many times to kick his wife out of the household. And as time went on, the animosity only grew. And one quiet spring morning, Angelos did something that Cosmas had subconsciously feared he would do for a long time. Cosmas woke up and tip-toed downstairs, half expecting his father to yell, “Is my pupil ready for instruction?!” as he routinely would. Alas, on this memorable morning, nobody was home. Cosmas poked his head out into the streets; nobody was there. He began walking along the street, calling for his mother. He sensed something sinister in the air, a feeling that he would never forget. And as he became filled with angst, he began to run. As he ran, he lost all sense of time, all sense of value. For all he knew or cared, he was trapped in a simulation, sustained within imagination. With this feeling intact, he felt as though he could run for eternity. As he was hopelessly scurrying about, something caught his eye. It was his father, atop a marble bridge in the outskirts of town. “Father?!” Cosmas shrieked. His father stood steely eyed with his lips pursed. Cosmas knew his mother was dead; he knew it. His mind spinning, Cosmas didn’t think he had the courage within him to say what he did next. “Father… I have seen it within you all along. It is something known by me all too well; the rage you hold is no enigma. But think not that you can impart your wicked mores upon me, for I shall embark on my own journey throughout life!” His father did not budge, but managed to utter, “Ah, to your own it shall be. But remember my son, all that you have known and all that you will ever know lies in this town; the tables have your soul.” With that, Cosmas picked up the nearest stone and heaved it at his father’s head and ran as far away from town as his legs could carry him. He ran until the town of Andros was a mere splotch of light from atop the hills. He would live amongst the nomads and shepherds, he had decided. It would be a life in which he could ponder humanity to his heart’s content and never have to adhere to the tables of Ago ever again. And as he nestled down for the night in a dwelling amongst the sheep, he felt as if he had finally found peace. Yet, deep inside, he knew that this feeling would surely pass, and that his mind would never be the same. “Let me seek what lies beneath. Let me see what this life is.” These words he repeated, as his consciousness drifted far off into the abyss.