Chapter-3: Meadow of Metals

 "The Machinist, Monk, & Mesmerizer Chronicles"

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In the near future, a machinist, a monk, and a mesmerizer are looking for the Source of the universe, but among the ancient scriptures, they only find the devil …

Few humans in the future find the secrets of what words and sounds can do, for the Apocalypse and war have led them to evolve in mind and physique. Two of them end World War III with just a four-minute speech. Some say they did mass hypnosis. Others say it was their voice and will. Fifty years later in South Asia, KUSHA, a twenty-three-year-old machine-geek with social awkwardness and amnesia, tries to get the Devil’s Book with secrets of voice. But her idol of voice and everyone's beloved war heroes, YUAN and RUEM, are also after it for power.

TITLE: The High Auction (Wisdom Revolution #1)


No of Pages (Paperback): 180

Inside Illustrations & Cover Art: Misba

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3. Meadow of Metals




The green letters flash above a scanner the gatekeeper holds; Kusha doesn’t bother looking at the letters. She waits in the driving seat of her truck in front of the West Gate—a fifty-foot-high steel door punched into the thick wall of Alpha—the first city of the New World. Taha sitting beside her in the passenger seat. Time to exit the wall. Her right wrist, extended through its window, shows her CRAB—her identity, her only proof of being a human; its limbs embedded into her skin.

“Never miss a chance, do ya?” says Old Mark, the gatekeeper, finishing with scanning both of their identities. His eyes twinkle the way when someone catches you at things you’re not supposed to do. He must’ve seen Rashad and Meera leaving Gaumont Manor earlier in the morning. He couldn’t have missed it. The manor territory stands right beside the road leading to the West Gate. From here, anyone can see Gaumont Manor’s two main entrances—the airbase side and the garage side.

“They won’t welcome the citizens today.” He states the obvious, closing the scanner. The green hologram letters disappear from the air above it. “Still wanna go?” he asks.

Kusha only smiles. Old Mark knows she goes outside the walls and brings back machine parts and old cars to rebuild them, to heal them in her unevolved, Ungraded sort of way. But today is not just about healing cars. Today is about the High Auction. She has to tell Magic Mama about the omen, the prophetic alarm she received about death in the auction. You can discuss anything with Magic Mama. He won’t judge or warn or start a series of lectures like Meera and Rashad do.

“Looks like this big fella still works!” Old Mark blabbers. He admires her truck and its monster tires, as he does every time Kusha exits through the West Gate.

Kusha says nothing. Old Mark is used to it: never a proper full-sentence reply, only a weak smile and a confused gaze from her. “Haf’ta tell Commander Rashad later! Jus’ reminding ya’, ladies. Stay safe!” he yells as Kusha pulls away from the gate.

“Thanks, Old Mark!” Taha shouts, peeking through the truck window and looking back at the giant entrance to the city Alpha.

Kusha frowns at Taha. Rude! Old Mark isn’t that old. Living around the West Alpha among the High Grades who age exceptionally slowly, one or two wrinkles around the eyes, a few greyed hairs along your ears are enough to call you old. Even if your spine is still strong and straight.

“He’ll tell dad!” Taha shrugs.

Old Mark always tells Rashad, but that doesn’t concern Kusha now. She glares as Taha opens the news portals in her CRAB, connecting it with a tab screen. It’s not necessary to connect a CRAB with a tablet screen. You can watch or listen to things directly in it. It not only sends the data to the brain, but it also has a nano-scale microphone and a tiny hologram projector.

“What?” Taha defensively says, widening her eyes—big almond shaped like those of Meera; her skin brown like that of her mother, too. “It’s the 50th Independence Day! All my crushes will give speeches today!” she adds as if no one should need to explain such an obvious thing.

“You can listen in your mind.” Kusha nods at Taha’s CRAB.

“War heroes’ speech without a quality sound?” Taha shakes her head. “No, no. It won’t work!”

Kusha frowns—one rumor makes everyone want to hear war heroes’ speeches. That rumor. That they have the voice. Only the rarest High Grades have voice, and the rarest of them all are those two war heroes, the ones who ended the war with a four-minute-speech.

Kusha checks the forest on both sides of the road. Listening to war heroes’ speeches here is riskier than just exploring Junk Land with a pickup truck. Not everyone fancies the war heroes, especially not the rogues—the ex-High-Grade citizens. “Someone might hear us!” Kusha says. She usually senses trouble ahead with her alarmsdoesn’t mean she would deliberately court danger. Listening to war hero speeches here is asking for danger.

“You have all their audio files from the wartime!” Taha teases, batting her eyes. “Even the very recent ones, the ones Mom didn’t give you for speech training.” She says ‘recent’ as if it’s as forbidden as uttering ‘snogging’ in front of Meera. As if it should be said only secretly, deliciously. Her mother gives both of them the same books and audio files for voice studies. Taha knows which ones adults won’t refer to for studying.

“That’s rude!” Kusha almost shouts. “Breaking privacy is—”

“—an offense of manner?” Taha finishes Kusha’s line. “Saw them three years ago.” She shrugs. “You were a bitch back then.”

“I … I didn’t talk enough to be a … a bitch.” Kusha holds back eye-rolling. Eye-rolling is rude.

“Well. Not-talking-enough equals bitch.”

Sometimes, it’s hard not to slap Taha. But such desire is way more than just rude. “O,” Kusha says O instead of Oh like the few native South Asians here. She isn’t a native. Her blue hair and blue eyes look nothing like those of Rashad and Meera, which pains her sometimes. The climate has made her golden-brown skin tanned and coarse in the last seven years. Natives here always boast: We started the revolution; our heroes freed the world. Though Rashad isn’t originally from here, Meera’s family used to live in this part of the earth before the Apocalypse.

At least Rashad knows where he is from.

The Apocalypse and the war scrambled all the races and cultures. The prosperous cities are all now a diverse mix. You don’t want to live among the ruins of the Old World, do you? You’d rather unite with the minds who took oaths to live again, to dream again, no matter what color skin they’re wrapped with or which book they believe in. You’d always want to be a part of the New World.

Still, knowing your origin gives you half your purpose sometimes, builds its base. Kusha feels her base missing when she looks in the mirror. Her list of endless desires never fills the missing base, never lights her purpose.

Why was she born? What is she here to do?

Will the Devil’s Book show the purpose? (a) Yes (b) No.

Will it unfold any secrets? (a) Yes (b) No.

Will I see it? (a) Yes (b) No.

No answer comes when both options can be right. The Devil’s Book is a book of knowledge. The secret displayed and reader-seeing-it are different. Such books hold the wisdom bared. It’s all on how your brain, your mind react with the wisdom chemistry. A book guides; the same book can deceive.

“You didn’t see their faces yet, did you?” Taha interrupts her thoughts.

“No,” Kusha replies, knowing what Taha is talking about. Like most Low Grades, she listens to the war heroes’ voices, the records of their speeches from World War III. There’s something different in their speeches: the resonance, the frequency, the melody, and the pauses. They’re poetry of breath and air. She’ll never move a mass or give revolutionary speeches, standing on bamboo poles as they did. They know the secret. She knows little of that secret. ‘Little knowledge makes people superstitiously defensive,’ she read in Mob Psychology.

She never saw the war heroes’ faces. Not yet. She never wants to. Meera says they are true mesmerizers. It’s scary to be dazzled by mesmerizers.

Kusha silently drives along the inter-city highways. Taha’s tablet gets louder; a war hero’s speech has started. The speech sounds strange; as if something is wrong with it.

Is there anything wrong with it? (a) Yes (b) No. Yes.

What’s wrong? Kusha brainstorms possible options for the question that may be the right answer or, at least, closer to the right answer.

* * *

JUNK LAND—most of it is trees, hills, and old broken things. It spreads all over the world like swollen veins crawling through the flesh. If the graded citizens with evolved minds and bodies live inside the cities, the ones who haven’t evolved yet live in the Junk Land. And the Low Grade citizens in the process of evolution are the universe’s exceptions who are allowed to breathe inside the cities, even though the latter two groups comprise the majority of the world population.

“Are they monsters?” Kusha once asked Meera about the ones living in the Junk Land. Meera didn’t answer. Not directly anyway. She skeptically avoided it like the expert politician she is—the kind of politician who owns half the entertainment channels of Alpha, (also the one who craftily cultures out medicine from her garden herbs as a hobby—a popular hobby). She said, “When you don’t evolve your mind enough, in a way, you grow your own monsters, sweetie.”

“But I’m not evolved. Am I a monster?”

“No, sweetie. Evolution is an endless thread. And you’re already in the process.”

Kusha gulps. This evolution isn’t physical, rather cognitive, spiritual. It’s a process where prana strengthens the body and mind. Kusha hopes she really is in the process. However, in the depth of her mind, Meera’s unsaid words always roar like a sudden sandstorm in a desert—

They live like beasts, sweetie.

They slang, they bark, they rape.

They kill for a solar panel or the copper ring they find in the junk. They don’t think about art and culture or how the universe exists as the High Grades do. They are lowly, earthly monsters

Meera never speaks such words aloud, but Magic Mama told her once what the High Grades think of anyone unevolved, no matter if they’re outside the walls or inside them.

“I don’t understand the reasons for the walls sometimes,” Taha says, just because she has to break the long silence.

We don’t want to see what we’ve done to the planet?—Kusha wants to reply, but she doesn’t.

Walls are covers.

Walls are human’s instinct to hide their sins.

Walls are society’s collective guilt.

Saying them aloud will only gain two nods from Taha, the kind of nods that make you feel lonely in a crowd.

Kusha doesn’t reply. Her eyes tremble as the too-familiar forest road passes. Sometimes, she wishes something would happen in her life. Something more unexpected than very willingly venturing into the Junk Land to act like a rebellious twenty-three-year-old adult. But still not adult enough compared to the rest of the evolved adults. Is a venture meaningful if it’s all planned? If it turns into a habit?

Habit is a poison: it sprouts only among the Low Grades. Aging and dying early feel like a blessing sometimes. At least boring days die with a predictable death.

“Careful of what you wish for …” Kusha mutters to herself next second, making sure Taha doesn’t notice. Life is a series of crests and troughs. The higher a crest, the steeper is the trough next to it. In a world erected with mathematics, there’s no way to skip either. ‘If your days are too peaceful, be alarmed for what’s coming.’ Kusha tends to skim it when she reads Spirituality With Monk Minakshi. For some reason, she remembers it now. Kusha looks at Taha—a carefree face, eyes lost in whatever the tablet screen is showing her. Kusha looks back at the forest road.

She has a flawless sense of alarms; it’ll tell her whether any danger is coming, she thinks. Her tomorrow is predictable, she believes. She never wondered if she could be wrong.

Not even today.

* * *

WITHIN AN HOUR, Kusha stops the monster truck in a meadow full of ancient cars: mostly metals, triumphing over time, pressed and stacked on one another. They reach where Kusha keeps her collected treasures—a secret workshop at the edge of the deeper forest near the junkyard.

Taha lifts everything Kusha saved in the last few weeks onto a shabby tin disc—it has a do-it-yourself hover tech under it. The disc then rises from the ground, hovers in the air, and flies back to the truck, like an unbending magic-carpet passing through big trees. Kusha empties the disc and sends it back to Taha again.

“Why junk?” Taha shouts. “Why not use your talent properly? You know you’ll get a job in a car industry the moment you apply, don’t you?”

“You talk like Rash … um—” Kusha doesn’t finish. No one expects her to call Rashad Dad or Father. Even Meera didn’t teach her to call them ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad’ seven years ago. Perhaps, having an adopted teenager was awkward then, which Kusha didn’t know until she learned what family or parents meant. Until she realized Taha didn’t call them by their names. Then one day, calling them by names, too, became uncomfortable. The thought of calling them ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ is now absurd. Especially after an event years ago. An event that changed her entire perspective about the world she found herself in. So, Kusha uses ‘you’ or other pronouns instead. Not Mom or Dad.

“Dad offers you a job at IF every day!” Taha says, mentioning Immunity Forces and not hiding her annoyance that her lottery-guessing sister is making her do all those physical labors: lifting heavy machines, removing junks from above them, and leaping around several cars one by one just to get that faultless steering wheel. “IF is my dreeeeeam!” Taha’s roar echoes among the hundreds of acres of junks.

“Shh!” Kusha hisses. “That’s a wrong thing to say here!” She looks around. Apart from most of the obvious agendas of why everyone inside the walls dream about joining the IF, Kusha senses different reasons motivating Rashad to want her in his office. She doesn’t want to dwell on it. Whatever she may guess about him will be the truth. Sometimes, accidentally discovering people’s secret feels rude and not just a burden.

Later, when Taha says she’s done for today, Kusha decides to stop. Standing on her truck, she straightens her back; it aches. Her weak muscles strain, thanks to being unevolved and still not graded—an Ungraded. She frowns at a new-found engine. It might need excellent research laboratories and tools to heal it—unaffordable even in dreams! Not that she can’t ask for money from her rich guardians, but the Gaumonts have done enough.

* * *

WHEN THEY LEAVE the largest meadow of metals in the forest, driving the truck through the narrow alleys among the junk, Kusha checks her ether-com instead of her CRAB. Magic Mama isn’t replying. He said he’d come. What is he doing? After brainstorming for minutes, Kusha finds no options. It’s impossible to guess what Magic Mama may be doing.

Natives call their mother’s brother Mama, and they make nearly everyone their mother’s brother once befriended. Sometimes on the first day they meet you. And, no. Mama means uncle in most of the native languages here in South Asia. Not mother. No one knows Magic Mama’s real name, not even his wife. He could be doing anything right now: solving a native dispute or collecting tiger’s milk or melting scrapped coppers to make a dagger or maybe simply playing with his little kids.

While keeping the truck steady, Kusha tries to refresh the screen on her ether-com. It’s tedious, unlike the CRAB, but what can she do? Non-citizens in the Junk Lands don’t have CRAB. Ether-com is the only way they communicate here, apart from the internet, which is not free for them as it is for the citizens. Magic Mama gave her this ether-com. He said he’d used it during the war when he was a child. Getting no reply, Kusha puts it back in her backpack and decides to stop on the forest road near a narrow waterfall. Because Taha won’t shut up about making her work for free without taking her to somewhere ‘not junk.’

The mist of the deep forest, the vapor from the fall, and the towering hills keep the tropical air fresh. The afternoon sunlight poking through the trees. Sitting on a giant, mossed log, Kusha watches Taha practicing her leaping footwork while playing catch-the-bunnies. If Taha had another pink sign on her door, it’d say: No one needs to stop playing with bunnies to act adult.

Kusha breathes deeply. With the moist air touching her tanned skin, she doesn’t realize what’s coming. For the first time in her seven years’ memory, her intuition doesn’t alert her of the very incident that’ll change her regular, unsocial, insecure days of being an unevolved, untouchable Low Grade.

On the log, her hand brushes something right beside her. Kusha turns her neck, frowning.

A black envelope. It wasn’t there earlier. She looks around in the woods. Someone is there—she knows.

Impossible! She didn’t feel any alarm: not before leaving the Manor, not before leaving the West Gate, not even a minute ago. She checks Taha, finds her busy with bunnies. Then she turns her attention back to the envelope—too neat to be random trash in the woods. It’s for her; she just knows it.

Is it for me? (a) Yes (b) No. Yes. Kusha confirms.

Her hands shake; her heart beats faster. No one in the world knows her, not enough for written correspondence. How many times did she want to meet someone from her past? Could anyone tell her who she was? Before everything? Before she found herself at the Gaumont Manor? Before she lost her memories?

Kusha opens the envelope: one yellowish, textured, neatly folded parchment. She unfolds it. Nothing is written. Except …

A symbol: black ink, an abstract, asymmetric shape with an eye at the center. Strange! Why did she think it was an eye? It’s actually a spiral, the kind that the shells of Shombuk—snailshave. Kusha freezes without reason. She simply knows she has to be frightened. Her body convulses. She bends over the log, emptying the contents of her stomach, her focus drifting away from reality. She falls, but she can’t feel herself falling. Energy from everywhere rushes to her core. Her body feels weightless, her face and eyes burn, her skin tightens. She holds her pulsating hands in front of her eyes. The skin on her hands smoothens.

It’s prana, making her body younger.

‘Prana heals, prana kills, prana helps you evolve,’ she chants in her mind, a line from Book Of Prana that she always reads like people read the divine books in temples and mosques.

Taha must’ve said something; Kusha doesn’t hear. “Don’t look at it, don’t look at it …” Kusha keeps mumbling.

“Look at what? Kusha, don’t look at what?” Taha screams.

“The envelope,” Kusha says, her voice fading. Her body feels drained as the prana stops entering after a while. Her unconscious mind wants her to access the vast source of energy: the universe, the unified field. She needs prana again. It’s bliss. An unevolved, Ungraded, like her, can get it in a limited version only through sleep. But she can’t fall asleep. Not yet.

A voice comes, either from this world or from an old memory. A vision where everything looks flawless, bright; yet it feels heavy, full of desolate darkness. The forest and the mountains disappear. Kusha feels naked, both in mind and body. She looks down and finds, indeed, she is naked. Yet, she loses all her will to react.

A pair of cold, still eyes look into hers. She wants to scream, but she can’t. Each eye has a weird shaped, muddy-blue iris—two overlapping circles around a dark pupil. How could someone human have such eerie eyes? Is it a human?—Kusha finds no answer; her brain can’t calculate even a simple yes-or-no. Those eyes grab her, slip inside her.

She hears a female voice—distant and elusive:

“Believe me.

Suffering rewrites the codes in you. Constant learning installs new software, evolving you faster. You’re a new version of you every day when you eat, when you sleep, when you read a book or watch that porn. Maybe you’re in a café, laughing over a video. You probably wouldn’t have laughed if you watched it alone.

Mob psychology blinds you. You’re not observant enough …”

“I’m not observant enough,” Kusha mumbles before fainting; the venomous voice in her head drifts off. And her brain ignores Taha’s words in the middle of nowhere on the 50th Independence Day of the New World.

Thanks for reading it! 
It's the first chapter of "THE HIGH AUCTION" of the series "WISDOM REVOLUTION"... I'll soon Add the book on Goodreads with a publishing date and test-covers. Right now, if you find any mistakes or confusion about the prose or any comments about it, say it here in the comment section or anywhere in the social media. If you like it, please share, I need more reader-opinions. 

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