“Why do you always do that?”
Steven Sheppard looked up from the ratty old book he was reading.
“Why do I always do what?” he said.
“Read that book every morning and night.”
Tegan Attwood always asked stupid questions. It’s not that she was unintelligent; she just had no direction in life. She did what she was told and didn’t question it. Like most people.
Steven looked down at the book, “looking for answers.”
Tegan made to speak again but heard a chime from her wristwatch.
“Whatever Steve, I’ve got to get ready; I’m going to be late for work.”
He laughed as she fled the room desperately seeking a clean change of clothes. His smile slowly disappeared as he began reading again. He scanned each page intently, absorbing as much as he could. The book was bound in dark brown leather and its pages were off-white, proof of its age, it also had numerous spots of yellow where its previous owners had mistreated it. He turned each page very gently.
The Six Commandments,
I. Life is wonderful; live it to its fullest.
II. Your friends and family are your greatest asset. Keep them close.
III. Go about your duties, but have fun doing them.
IV. Be mindful of your wants and needs; do not let them overcome you.
V. Don’t stray outside The Community. It is dangerous.
VI. Be proud to be alive.
Steven had read the book numerous times but no passage intrigued him as much as the six commandments. They seemed logical enough, but there was something strange about them. He didn’t know what it was exactly, but he knew there was something not quite right. He saw the commandments as a guideline, advice on how to live a full life. The Community at large however took the commandments as law; they would not hear a word against them. Everything was built from them. Steven looked at his watch; it was almost time for work. His car would be arriving in an hour.
* * *
Felicity Hamilton: tall, slender, very good looking. Short black hair and a lip piercing. She had attitude to boot. Despite appearances, she was a very romantically oriented person. Most people’s lives revolved around either their career or their need for knowledge. Although she’d never admit to it, hers revolved around love. She’d had a crush on a boy down the road for a long time, but had never made a move. She – Felicity Hamilton – was scared. Scared she would mess things up as she had done so many times before. She’d had many lovers, but none of them she had loved. She didn’t make a move because; Steven might be her last hope.
* * *
It was dark when Steven got home. He hadn’t gotten a promotion in weeks. He spent his days filing paper work and typing on a computer for a measly paycheck, which barely covered his expenditures. He wondered why he had ever wanted to work there. His lack of enthusiasm wasn’t the only reason he hadn’t gotten a promotion, he had been sidetracked by his escalating obsession with The Manual. The leather bound book that kept him up at night.
He got the mail and made his way inside. Tegan was setting the table for dinner, which both surprised and horrified Steven. He admired her enthusiasm but she was a terrible cook. He would have to buy another pot plant to scrape the leftovers into. The other one had died a few days before.
“So how was work?” Tegan said as she began serving Gazpacho soup, which was certainly above room temperature.
“Grueling, I think I’m going to quit,” Steven readied his bowl. How was he going to get out of this one?
“You mean it this time?” she said.
After putting on a rather convincing show about being ill Steven made his way to his room. He located the leather bound book on the top shelf and removed it. He flipped to a page that had been on his mind a lot.