Justin Lo


The government had long since grown out of hand, and so it was brought to its knees.  It all happened in just one day, just one evening, in fact.  There were massive explosions all across the nation as the anarchists gambled everything on a single plan.

The government had, of course, caught wind of the plan a few weeks prior.  However, it was dismissed as being “far-fetched” and “foolhardy.”  Indeed, it would have been all of those and more had it not been for one thing: the lack of doubt and finality that had overtaken the participants’ minds.  Almost nothing stops a murder before it happens.  Only the fear of punishment and regret stands in the way of the dreadful deed, but there was no pity left in the hearts of the anarchists, and there wouldn’t be a government left to punish them.  And that was how it happened.

But this is not a story about the fall of government.  It should be taken for granted as a fact right out of your fourth grade textbook that absolute, unmitigated anarchy befell this nation in 2016.  As always, people had their own ways of dealing with the abrupt helping of chaos; some started tending to their basic needs of food and shelter, others tried to restore the government, some tried to create their own government, and many committed suicide.  But the vast majority of people felt that since there were no laws, there was no point in holding back.  Stealing was simple – as long as the person did not see you, you were free forever.  Skipping class was no problem – there were no teachers, anyway, because there were no taxes to pay them with. 

But this is not a story about anarchy, either.  It suffices to say that we no longer live in one.  It is within human nature to wish to be a part of something greater, to serve in the name of something greater.  Like domestic cats and dogs, the members of the human race never stop being pathetic overgrown kitties and puppies, subordinate creatures that would serve any hand that feeds them.  That is why, out of the greatest anarchy, rises the greatest dictator.

In this fifteenth year since the end of anarchy, which some scholars insist on calling ‘2036,’ although the system is rather archaic (the years are easily counted, but very few people actually know which day it is in the Gregorian calendar), something restless is brewing in the streets of Greenville, unbeknownst to Pharaoh who rules us all.



“Mom, who are we visiting?” asked little Corey.

“Uncle Dominic,” said Mrs. Naile simply, her eyes looking so distant that if it were not for her hand clasped onto Corey’s, one would think that she was only a projection from far away.

“Mom, they say Uncle Dominic is an Idealist.  What’s an Idealist?” said Corey.

Mrs. Naile tightened her grip on Corey’s hand, most likely out of a fear that washed over her at that instant.

“Corey, please do not say things like that in public,” chided the young mother, who seemed only in her late twenties.

Corey whined, “Why not?”

“It’s like how you should not say words like ‘shit,’” explained Mrs. Naile.

“But you just said it, Mom!  So what then?  What is an Idealist anyway?”

Mrs. Naile sighed, hoping that she was not making a huge mistake.  The seeds of rebellion had been planted into her, but her instincts of self-preservation still endured strongly.  Going to visit her elder brother was, for the most part, contrary to any protocol of self-preservation.

“Corey, please, no more about that,” replied Mrs. Naile, “I’ll let you say ‘shit’ as much as you please if you promise not to speak a word more about the Idealists.”

“Okay!” shouted Corey, not sure what to do with his newfound privilege.   He decided to simply wear a smug smile at having negotiated something out of his mother without having to really give up anything at all.

He was still wearing that grin when they arrived at the checkpoint.

“ID, ma’am,” grunted the guard dressed in an olive green uniform.  “What is your purpose in visiting Greenville Residential District G-1089?”

Mrs. Naile handed over her ID card as well as Corey’s, relaying that she wished to discuss plans for the next Celebration holiday with her relatives.

“Alright, ma’am, go on through.  Don’t forget to update your belongings list for the monthly tax tomorrow, alright?”

“Already there,” said Mrs. Naile with an endearing smile that made the guard blush.

Together, the mother and child scaled the ten flights of creaky, rusting steps to reach Dominic’s apartment.  They rang the doorbell twice, then paused, then rang it twice again.  The door opened, and a round, warm face greeted them.

“Merry!  And Corey!  Oh, you two are too kind, visiting this recluse at such a splendid time of day!” cried Dominic, hugging his sister and his nephew.  “Corey, would you like to play with Ruth?  Your mother and I have some catching up to do.”

Ruth, Dominic’s adoptive daughter of sixteen years, appeared out of the kitchen, a bowl of cereal in her hand.  “Yo, what’s up, Corey?”

“I want to watch TV!” shouted Corey excitedly.  He, Ruth remembered, didn’t have one of his own.

“But of course, only for little Corey!”  Corey rushed into the kitchen as Ruth darted towards the playroom, leaving Mrs. Naile and Dominic in the foyer.

“Come, please have a seat in the living room.  I’ll bring something to drink.”

Mrs. Naile sat down on the old sofa, one of the last of its kind.  She ran her fingers through her short brown hair, reminiscing about how long and silky it had been during the dark years.  Not to mention how pink it was, she thought with a sad smile.

“Meredith,” said Dominic, handing his sister a cup of iced tea.

“I don’t know,” replied his sister, fidgeting a little.  “I know what the Ideals are, but I can’t get over the fact that it seems … fragile and narrowminded.  The whole idea of it, I mean.  Idealist.

“In the old days – I mean, when I was still in primary school and all that – I remember first learning that word as something of the derogatory sort.  It was someone who did not have the courage to grasp reality, who chased after dreams that would never befall this world.  How can I commit myself to becoming something like that?”

Dominic frowned, his renewal of resolve manifesting itself physically.  “No, Sis, you have to see that the only courage left in this world is in the hearts of the Idealists, though we may be few in number at the moment.  The easy way out is to accept the status quo, to let things go on as they always have.  Anyone – no, anything – can accept imperfection, half-realized dreams, compromises.  What takes courage is the thought that dreams are meant to be had, that nothing short of perfection can be tolerated, that the upper ideals can no longer be perverted, that everything wrong can be uprooted and repaired.

“To be realistic is the first and most fatal step to self-destruction.  Every plan must, of course, be pragmatic when it is to deal with earthly matters.  But behind it must stand the great pinnacle, the great shadow cast by one of the upper ideals.  Only then will it have the approval of the honor and dignity that is essential to every bit and scrap of this world that dares to call itself ‘humanity.’  And that is the only way we can defeat this organization of weaklings that controls its even weaker citizens.  Pharaoh, fifteen years strong, has unimaginable power over us.  As I see it, we have two choices if we wish to survive: suck up to him, or hand him the most devastating defeat this world has ever witnessed, to crush him until he has fallen far into antiquity.”

Dominic stopped, breathing heavily and sipping from his cup of tea between breaths.

Meredith rubbed the rough fabric of her work-pants, feeling bits of warmth from the friction in her fingertips.  She allowed the ambient noise to reign for a minute before speaking.

“And what sort of sound do you hope to achieve when Pharaoh falls?  The same extravagant detonation when the Republic fell?” questioned the young woman.

“On the contrary, Meredith.  All around the world, when the Pharaoh falls, there will be nothing but silence.”

Meredith smiled, standing up.  “Thank you for the tea.”  More loudly, she shouted, “Hey, Corey!  Are you ready?  It’s about time to be going home!”

“Mom, just five more minutes!”

“Okay, I have your word!” said Corey’s mother.