[PART 5]

WHAT I SAW IN OLD LONDON

I had been asleep for – well, I don’t really know how long. Seemingly endless and fearsome darkness had been all around me. Nothingness commanded my mind. Time had become only a distant blended dream; a soft terrible memory of which I could barely relate and could not understand. I only know that sleep had been forced upon me by an utter exhaustion of which I had never before known. It was a weariness that came from deep within my being and its demands had been relentless – so not being able to continue I slept. On the open ground I lie sleeping raw as we called it. I had simply dropped to the ground with the need so deep for sleep that I had not even bothered to check for any Martians. It would not have mattered for I was all but spent. I could not have run even if I had wanted to. The enemy had taken all of my strength and much of my will. I remember thinking: No human being can keep permanently afraid: fear goes at last to the back of one’s mind, accepted, and shelved, and done with. I was done with it.

When I awoke on that first day in our new world the sweet smell of death was everywhere, burned deep into a devastated landscape as I once again thrust my senses towards a new reality. For a second, just a second mind you, between awakening and my restless sleep, a thought had come to my wounded mind it had all been a dream. It was time to wake up now, time to go to work and earn my keep. After all, there was much work to be done. It was time to throw off this bloody nightmare. I was as if beside myself with a visceral thought that perhaps I would not be able to regain what had once been myself. Was I only dreaming? I knew a tightly controlled mind; a subconscious inner will to survive could create a fantasy world that would be all too real for someone in such a terrible situation. Was my mind projecting a fantasy world for a damaged mind? Was this really happening to me or was I but one of millions held by the Martians for whatever fate had been deemed by the gods?

Smoke and dust choked the air as I coughed and sat up to look around. This was not one of London’s famous perpetual fogs put forth due to the constant burning of soft coal. This was something other worldly. I rubbed my eyes to realize as far as I could understand that this was no dream and I was utterly alone. There was nothing, nothing I could recognize, nothing I could focus on to give me direction, at least not on the wasted ground all around me. I yelled at the top of my voice and found no reply, not even an echo as the damaged atmosphere seemed to smother even this pitiful cry for help. The world was still, damp, cold and utterly alien. I thought, There is not a breath of wind this morning, and everything is strangely still. Even the birds are hushed.

As I surveyed my new alien world I had the overwhelming sense that I was truly on another planet. I was nothing more than a stranger in a strange land. I looked up to see a Sun trying to force its weak rays upon this damaged ground. No, it was not the complete defined disk of our local star giving warm life, only a cold glowing light behind the mask of gray dirty airborne debris desperately struggling to command my sky. My sky? I laughed at the very thought. But, it was enough for a while, even though I could feel the sharp moist chill of the morning biting in this strange land. At least I thought it was morning. My thoughts were confused. Was I insane? But which way was I to go? I needed direction. I needed a plan. I needed to get the hell out of here! I needed to find food and water if I was to survive. My stomach burned. I could not remember the last time I had eaten. It all seemed so unreal.

In my confusion I somehow remembered a lesson I had taken from my days in the military of finding ones way without a compass. Searching around I found a burnt rod of metal about 4 feet long and pushed it into the ground and thus found the shadow of my dim companion. At its tip I placed a small burnt stone and simply waited. After about an hour of rest and sharp observation I placed a second small stone at the tip of the new shadow position. From these I drew a line on the ground. This was east to west. This was the beginning of my journey – the start of my new unknown life.

Life? I wondered if I would ever find any. Was I truly alone? As hard as I could I pushed the thought from my mind. Insanity? No! Such rubbish. There had to be others. There just had to be. I began to sob uncontrollably. No! Stop this nonsense. Get up man, Move. Start acting like a human being. You are no Martian, you are a man and this is your world!    My world?      …Indeed! I laughed uncontrollably.

I understood, as best I could, I had been somewhere southwest of London when utter exhaustion overcame me. No matter what remained there I knew, or at least hoped, there would be something or someone in what remained of Old London to sustain me. It had been after all the most populated city upon this Earth before ‘they’ came. So I began to walk towards the northeast. As I began to pace onward I asked myself, actually asked myself out loud, if I had any fear? Anyone hearing my ‘conversation’ might have surmised I was quite mad. Perhaps I was. Certainly there was nothing I could focus on to challenge that possibility. However, I quickly decided this new world was real and I was not insane and had no actual fear, just a resolve to survive. Fear, after all, at this point at least would have been a luxury I could not afford. At any rate I was far too numb for any fear. I guess my whole being was too shocked for any such feeling – so on I went. And if a Martian found me, well, I would meet my fate to whatever end came as a member of humanity, but I would not face a Martian with any fear. I had that much determination at least. If I found one I would do my best to kill it. Perhaps I was insane. Again I laughed out loud. Perhaps…?

As I walked closer to what I thought was old London, the smoke which had become my constant companion became thicker. Keeping to the high ground knowing I had to keep away from lower depressed areas for these may yet hold the deadly Martian Black Smoke. In areas where it had once been a sticky gray/black ash could be seen. More and more buildings or rather their haphazard stone debris that had once been buildings, appeared, many still on fire or smoldering. I remember wondering what we would do with all of these bricks and who was going to sweep up this mess. My mind was clearly not yet set to any kind of reality. I became angry at the world and then at myself for not doing a better job in dealing with these, these bloody Martians. My anger had turned inward and had no other place to go. I thought: What had I done? What could I have done other than fight alongside the rest of a suffering humanity? Press on – keep walking. There is danger here.

Fire, smoke and the sweet smelling dust of death were my world now. Charred pieces of bone and flesh could be seen from time to time half-covered by dust and smoke partials still raining from the evil skies above. Then I saw it, and it was magnificent. I had never realized how much this small yet greatly significant edifice meant to me and perhaps many others who had for the most part generally ignored it before the war. Yet, there it was, standing defiantly with its proud colors literally the only non-gray/black I could see. And even though it had dust upon its proud and stately surface for me it was a monument of great importance. My emotions suddenly burst upon me as I ran, stumbled, fell, ran again and reached out, crying, sobbing,   …to touch the top of the bright red postbox! All was not lost in Old London. That I knew, for at arm’s length was proof, proof that something, something by the gods, had survived the onslaught. There had to be more. There had to be. I sat down and laughed as hard as I ever had. To this day I know not why. Insanity seemed to rule my brave new world.

I carved my name on the side of this monument to an earlier time so as to let anyone else who may have survived know that they were not alone, that another human had passed this way. I carved an arrow dictating my direction of travel. I pressed on. I kept walking. Kept moving. No Martians to be seen – not here at least.

Moving ever forward through more piles of rubble I knew I was passing the temporary graves of thousands, no, tens of thousands of people. I could not see a single one, but I could easily smell the corpses of these war crafted mass graves. All was gray and black. Dust and then more dust and even more bloody dust! The smell, if I passed too close to one area or another burnt pile, was overwhelming. So was so much so it made my eyes burn. Or perhaps it was just the gas and dust which was swirling about. The chill was still in the air as I continued on. As I did a sheet of half-burnt newspaper blew against my legs and I picked it up. “British government moves east out of London to…” It reported nothing but old news from a time when mankind faced its greatest mortality. Is it all over?

I was getting weaker now, very weak. The thought had finally crossed my mind that I might not make it. I still had not found any food even though there had been a few sources of water, but not many. I kept my eyes open as I carefully picked my way around a sunken wall. I must have placed my feet in a soft spot for it was here that I lost my balance, rolling down a small embankment of debris landing hard at the bottom. I had fallen into a pit and as I rolled over and opened my eyes I found I was looking directly at the steel cowl of a Martian Walking Machine!

I tried to pick myself up, but I soon found myself back in the pit desperately trying to escape when I suddenly realized the Martian machine was not moving. Turning to face the machine I saw that its cold steel frame was covered with a fine layer of dust half buried in the same pit as I. There was no need to escape for the creatures that had commanded this deadly machine were themselves quite dead. After the machine had fallen the crew had opened the small lower hatch to what end they probably did not even know. I doubt they even knew what was killing them. I had come to believe they did not even care. All that remained were the dusty skeletal remains of three Martians scattered on top of each other near the hatch.

Looking at the hatch I could see the crows had taken most of what had remained from what had probably been a meal for a starving pack of dogs. Their discarded feathers had said as much. The few crows which remained did not have so much as a small piece of gray flesh left for them to tear off. There was nothing more to see in this small space which had witnessed the end of three who would be the masters of Earth. Godless Martian bastards. I dusted myself off, pulled myself out of the pit and continued on my way. Nothing to see here.

At more than one area along my route I saw areas where sparsely covered corpse had been dug up and devoured by dogs. Bits and pieces of which could not be taken as food for these packs of now wild animals remained.

I had been walking for half a day, best I could guess, when a small pack of dogs crossed my path. It crossed my mind that this was the first life I had seen for days. Then the cruel reality pushed forward in my damaged mind. They looked hungry and most desperate, but a few rocks placed well into the pack removed their attempt to use me as a new meal – all that is accept one. It was not the largest but it was nevertheless the most determined. I dare not turn my back on this one – no not this one as it sized me up. Making its final decision it came snarling directly at me. To me it seemed nearly a lifetime before it came into range of the metal pipe I had with me from my Sun direction work. The crack of the skull full breath decided the moment as the animal died before it stopped moving, knocking me over with its momentum. The pack moved on – no meal today. They needed easier pray. Life or death was the only struggle now. This time it was man who held the high ground. The thought made me laugh – man indeed.

For some strange reason the words of Charles Darwin flashed upon my wounded mind. “With all his noble qualities, with all these exalted powers, man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.” What would the great man make of humanity now? Once again I looked around for any Martians dead or alive and could see none. Where were these deadly creatures? It seemed strange not to see or at least hear another one of their beastly machines. Perhaps they had moved on. What part of this world were they terrifying now?

As I stared at my kill I found another use for the sharp end of my primitive weapon. I was now truly the primitive. Strange as it sounds, even today as I speak these words, I took the raw meat that had been the beast to sustain myself. It was as if I stood aside and watched myself do the work and then watched myself eat. I remember thinking: Is this then only a dream after all? Is this what it meant to be truly insane? Press on. Keep moving or die.

It was two more hours by my reckoning before I saw the first dust covered corpse of what had been a man, half crushed and covered with dust. Poor sod – never had a chance. Moving slowly past I could see that the bottom half had been completely eaten away. Wild dogs no doubt. Just beyond, more corpses – more pieces gone to wild animals. I kept my weapons very handy; my primitive spear and club. I was nothing more than Iron Age man on the hunt. The Martians had deemed it so. I was thinking that it could very well be a bit dicey finding a safe place to sleep tonight. Dogs! Damned dogs! Fog now began to move all around me. It was a real fog – no Martian Black Smoke was this. It was a London fog and it almost seemed, well… safe… familiar. Keep moving.

A DUST COVERED MAN IN THE FOG

As I continued to make my way towards what I now knew would be a devastated London it was not the dogs that I heard next. These new sounds were the mad cries of a man in the fog. I was no longer alone. At first I could not see him even in the generally light fog, but his voice was sharp and very distressed. This at least was not too surprising considering the circumstance we found ourselves in.

I was about to cry out to him when I heard him say, “This oafish crowd, gaping, stinking, bombing, shooting, throat-slitting, cringing brawl of gawky under-nourished riff-raff. Clear the Earth of them.”

His words did not make any sense to me. As I held my crude weapons with even greater determination I remember thinking it somehow seemed appropriate that the first of humanity I should discover alive in my shattered world should be one as mad as I surely was. I could hear him still as he came closer talking to himself with determined force.

“Our universe is not merely bankrupt; there remains no dividend at all; it has not simply liquidated; it is going clean out of existence, leaving not a wreck behind.”

With that he stopped, cold in his tracks, as we faced each other not ten yards away.

“Stop!” He said even though I was not moving. “There is no food about here. This is my country. All this hill down to the river, and back to Clapham, and up to the edge of the common. There is only food for one.”

I told the dust covered man in the torn uniform of a Home guard artilleryman that I had no desire to stay here. I told him that I was moving on to the center of London; what was left of it at any rate. Neither of us knew at the time that the Martians were finished – at least for now.

“I have no interest in your area my good man. London proper is where I am headed.”

He reported that he had been there and had seen some of their work.

“They’ve gone away across London. I guess they’ve got a bigger camp there. Of a night, all over there, Hampstead way, the sky is alive with their lights. By day light you can’t. But nearer – I haven’t seen them, five days. They kept on coming. These green stars – I’ve seen none these five or six days, but I’ve no doubt they’re falling somewhere every night. Nothing to be done. We’re under! We’re beat!”

I was far too tired to argue with him as I sat down to rest even as I kept my eyes firmly planted on my surroundings and on the dust covered man. “No Martians, as you say, for a few days.”

I thought about his remark about the food, “It seems they want us for food. First, they’ll smash us up – ships, machines, guns, cities, all the order and organization. All that will go.”

The artilleryman’s mind seemed to wander about for a thought as he stared blankly about the still thinning fog. As he spoke again it was as if I was not even there. He looked right past me, eyes glazed over. He seemed to be losing his grip on reality. He was not alone in that aspect.

“A Martian has only to go a few miles to get a crowd on the run. And I saw one, one day, out by Wandsworth, picking houses to pieces and routing among the wreckage.” He began to laugh. “But they won’t keep on doing that. So, soon as they’ve settled all our guns and ships and smashed our railways and done all the things they are doing over there, they will begin catching us systematic, picking the best and storing us in cages and things. That’s what they will start doing in a bit.”

I started to say something but as he walked away towards the west he continued to speak as to himself. I was no longer part of his new world. Once again he was utterly alone. So was I.

“I tell you,” he said waving his arms in front of him, “I’m grim set on living. We aren’t going to be exterminated. And I don’t mean to be caught either, and tamed and fattened and bred like a thundering ox. Ugh! Fancy those brown creepers…”

As he walked off into the moving damp ground fog his voice faded. I wondered if this was all that was left of humanity; a few wondering souls just trying to stay alive for one more day. Is this really all there was left? I put it out of my mind as I continued my trek towards Old London. For some reason I felt my destiny lie there.

THE ENCAMPMENT

When I saw the banner at first I did not believe what I was seeing. There was no reason to. I had pulled myself up the side of a half destroyed brick building – more of a two side wall pile of rubble than a true structure, but climb I did. I needed to survey my new world. I had not known it at the time but I had been very close to my salvation. I rubbed my eyes – they still burned. But burn as they did they did not prevent me from seeing the white sheet some 250 meters away. The white sheet had as its center piece a large red cross – and there were people, people – dozens of them! There were no Martians. I was not alone – there were others and beyond the cross I could see what must have been a government building half in ruin, to the south of the River Thames. Survivors had set up an encampment near the river on the edge of Old London with an International Red Cross team working and gathering up people. I went to my knees to rest for a while and simply look at the scene for a time. No emotion now as I took in the view. I was all and truly spent.

Soon I found myself walking – fast. Then I ran and shouted to them. I must surely have been half mad, in a dream-like world which was completely insane as far as I could tell. I laughed and cried at the same time, uncontrollably; tears streaming down. I had the thought that if I did not get there soon perhaps this would all end; it would all fade to a dream. 200 meters, 100 meters to go. More people and tents – by the gods they had tents!

Red Cross tents north of the Thames River
Red Cross tents north of the Thames River

At 20 meters I suddenly stopped. At first I did not know why. I did not understand. For some reason I suddenly felt I was intruding, as if I did not belong. I only vaguely, very vaguely, remember someone holding my arm and placing me on a bench of some sort. I was inside a tent, and people; people were talking to me, but I could not answer. Was this all just a dream?

“Are you all right, sir? Are you injured?”

“My name is… My… my name is…”

“That’s all right, sir. Let’s get you some tea and a bite to eat. You’re safe now. We can sort that all out later after a bit of rest then.”

I somehow remember a man nearby screaming to no one in particular. “Cities, nations, civilization, progress – it’s all over…” I was cold to his world and to his words. They did not fit my great need for normalcy.

“Yes. Yes that would be right. That’s right. Some tea please. That would be the ticket. A nice hot cup of tea would be just the ticket. Yes. Just right…” I was no longer alone in my brave new world. For some reason I felt warm for the first time in days. There seemed to be no reason to believe that this was real. I don’t recall anything else of that first day. Sleep…per chance to dream… release…

THE LOCAL WORK BEGINS

When I woke up the next day I felt much better. A bit of a wash, some breakfast in a nearby eating tent and I was ready to go. For the first time in weeks I felt like a man. The Red Cross had a command tent on the north side of the Thames, but the main control came from a large tug docked or rather beached near one of the many stairs which led to the river bank from above. I asked if there was anything I could do to help and was immediately rewarded by being placed with a group who were going out to locate survivors. It was going to be a long day, but I needed to do something constructive and this was just what I needed to do. Somewhere still out there, there were lives to save during this very confusing time.

Rescue teams were moving out in all directions combing and calling out at the ruins for anyone who may still be alive trapped in the debris. Mostly we came upon only silence yet every once in a while we miraculously found a survivor. But time was running out for those trapped in the rubble. Digging with whatever we could find and with bare hands we pulled one then another – on and on. More often than not when we found a living person we also found a number of dead. As we searched for more life other teams went about pushing clear paths around the rubble in order to expand our capabilities to maneuver around. Brick by brick they were pushing the war aside so that life could once again find room to breathe.

Digging out
Digging out

As we worked one man beside me began to bemoan the situation. “There won’t be any more blessed concerts for a million years or so; there won’t be any Royal Academy of Arts and no more nice little feeds at restaurants…” I did not have the energy to debate the issue as he continued to ramble on.

On many of the broken and burnt walls one could find notes posted by people hoping to reconnect with lost loved ones, most would never find the ones they were searching for. It had been all too much.

As we worked we made no attempt to identify any of the corpses. What we found we burned as soon as possible. The dead needed to be dealt with speed. This was a must. Many were not whole bodies. At times only a bone or two or perhaps a leg or an arm badly displaced. This was to be sure, an unprecedented situation, and we had no time for ceremony – that could come later. Our work was for the living. We knew however, as we found survivors we were also finding people who could join our ranks and our work would speed up, but only for a while. For the most part we had no more than seven or eight days to find survivors in the rubble – one can only live so long without vital food and water. We needed to press on. At least the river was functioning at least for the most part if one got past the flow of bodies. We had no cleared roads to any great distance save those we could push through locally.

During a rest period I sat next to a man who had recently come from the center of London near Piccadilly Circus. He had hidden for a while in the ruins of Regents Park. Like many he had a tale to tell.

“One night last week some fools got the electric light in order and there was all Regent Street and the Circus ablaze, crowded with painted and ragged drunkards, men and women, dancing and shouting till dawn. A man who was there told me. And as the day came they became aware of a fighting-machine standing near by the Langham Hotel on Portland Place or what remains of it looking down at them. Heaven knows how long it had been there. It must have given some of them a nasty turn. He came down the road towards them, and picking up nearly a hundred too drunk or frightened to run away. Everything was going right until they started the war. Everything was going like clockwork. Everybody was busy and everybody was ‘appy and everybody got a good square meal every day. If you couldn’t get it anywhere else, you could get it in the workhuss, a nice ‘ot bowl of soup – skilly, and bread better ‘n anyone knows ‘ow to make now, reg’lar white bread, gov’ment bread.”

Before long more ships were docking at many rushed and patched together points all along the Thames. Building small docks was becoming common place. A few pieces of charred wood a few large stones to walk upon. The river had become a lifeline once again for the survivors of old London with vessels of all kinds lining its muddy banks. Food supplies were being brought in from outlying areas less devastated than the most populated areas of London. One situation perhaps not too shocking was the overall cooperation of the local people. There was no real security other than the riflemen situated at several points to keep away the packs of dogs; no central police or military, yet that did not seem to matter. People in London just helped each other and the work somehow got done. What we did not have the people simply went without or improvised a local solution.

After a few days at the Red Cross camp I knew that I needed to move on so I said my goodbyes to those good people and began to walk once again towards central London. There I located a few more buildings that had more or less survived somewhat intact. There were also many more people moving about trying to clear roadways and set up temporary shelters. Around noon on the second day of my new wanderings I stood on a large pile of rubble to see a devastated central London. Even with all the damage there were several partial buildings I could identify barely. It was while I stood overlooking Old London that church bells began to ring. A few at first but before long those churches which still functioned rang their bells as hard as they could. As I came down from my perch a man greatly agitated ran past. He stopped briefly to tell me the news.

“It’s over. The Martians, they’re all dead! Some type of disease they say got them all.”

I looked around and was surprised to find a damaged, but still usable notebook so I began to write. “The bells of London are ringing. The war is over. The Martians had been repulsed; they were not invulnerable…” Man would once again command the high ground of Earth, at least for the foreseeable future. I was too numb to comment.

AN OLD FRIEND

Later that day as I began to survey and understand the true extent of the damage locally I came to a cross roads just off of the Thames where several buildings were mostly still standing. They were being used as a type of combined headquarters. People were busy with all manner of work and it was indeed a very mixed group of civilians, military and what remained of government officials. It was here I ran into a young friend of mine, Winston Churchill. He had a minor role in government before the war. As I recall he had entered Parliament in early 1901 as a Conservative. We had met years earlier at Sandhurst but only after he had failed to be admitted twice! He did not like to be reminded of those early failures.

“Winston! Hello Winston. How are you?”

“My god man, is it really you? I see you survived this bloody devastation.”

“Yes, but only by a hair’s breath.”

We shook hands about as strongly as two men ever could.

“Indeed, my man as many of us have. Listen old chap it’s quite amazing to see you at this time. You are just the sort of man I have been looking for.”

“Oh! How’s that?”

As we forcefully shook hands he told me that a new world organization was going to be formed with London as its base. He also asked me if I would be interested in joining in the work. I naturally agreed more because I had nowhere else to go or do than any other reason. I thought I would do the work for a few months or perhaps a year or two before moving on to other things. It didn’t turn out that way.

“We are forming a new group, a world government and all that. With what remains of our world-wide possessions and with the efforts of those American chaps across the pond we feel it can be properly done. We need an historical writer who can put everything down. Will you do it old chap, at least for a while? We could really use someone like yourself.”

As I was well acquainted with the writing arts I felt that this could very well be the best way I could contribute to the overall effort needed for the recovery. On the more practical side of the equation, what the hell else was there to do?

“How can I refuse? My work is gone, my home and papers all destroyed and there does not seem to be much more I can do out in this rubble.”

“Splendid old boy. Come on inside and let me introduce you to the group. There are some superb minds in there and we are calling together as many bright minds as we can from the four corners of the Earth. It’s time to put this old world of ours back together again. Maybe we will do it right this time.”

As we entered the large room I could see several telegraph operators, some in ragged military dress, tapping out the news that the Martian War was over. I did not know it at the time, but among the telegraph operators was none other than Dr. Nikola Tesla. He is an extraordinary man who had been visiting Old London at the start of the war, and one who would come to mean so much to our recovery efforts in the years ahead. He is a truly gifted individual. At the time however, he looked as weather worn as the rest of us. Only later would I remember that this place, this St. Martins-le-Grand, had once entertained Guglielmo Marconi years earlier when he demonstrated to the people of London his wireless devices. It seemed most fitting to be in this place. I wondered at the time if Marconi had made it or had he been lost to the Martians?

Our work was just beginning as we informed the world of our plans for recovery. I later recalled, “Thence the joyful news had flashed all over the world; a thousand cities, chilled by ghastly apprehension, suddenly flashed into frantic illuminations…” At the same time I could not take my mind off the fact that only a few minutes earlier we had walked past a group of uniformed men preparing to execute a man who had been found to have raped and then murdered a woman. It seemed to be a simple act to execute someone yet it was more than a little disturbing to note that my friend Winston had barely taken any notice. Was this to be our “brave new world”? And who were we going to chose to control it? Who along with myself would record these events for future generations? As the shots rang out I sat down and put a few scribbled words to the paper I held, “This had truly been the war of the worlds…”

We now knew through the hard lesson of a bloody interplanetary war that we needed to be much better prepared than we had been in 1901. That was clear enough. What we did not know was how long we had to prepare or any real idea of how that work could ever be accomplished. We did know this much; recovery would not be made by quite soles; it would come from men who would be able to make cold ruthless calculations at times costing many lives. It would take men who could make life and death decisions, and then retire for the rest needed to face the next day, ready to command the next series of crises. With that mind set we survivors called together a group of individuals who would be tasked to lead the world away from the abyss and back to what had passed for civilization.

Using what remained of the beaten and bruised British Empire, the largest organization on Earth at the beginning of the First Martian War, and as such the one organization with enough surviving assets to make a real effort possible we would press on. Matched with the known resources and proven capabilities and industrial might of the rising Americans we began the work. This would be the boldest rebuilding plan ever conceived by man.

It was time to put our planet back together again if we could and we would write the rulebook as we went along. That at least was the plan put forth by a group of men calling themselves the Executive Committee of Twelve. For me it was time to enter a very dark world few would ever know and none could ever leave, and in the end it would consume much of my life and reach down to my very sole. In the deep wells of my mind a thought was stirring. Did we not learn from history that centralizing absolute power in the hands of a small group was a failure that we had yet to learn from history? With my eyes wide open and my head held high I had willingly entered my private little hell with a silly little smile firmly planted on my face.

[END PART 5]

Copyright © R. Michael Gordon, 2020

[Next week: Part 6: The Committee of Twelve.]

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