A Red Written Short Story by P.T. Mayes
Copyright © 2014 by P.T. Mayes
(Note: This short story is set about five years after the events as described in "The Account of Michael Wells" and "Eva's Story" in my novel Red Written, but several years before the events depicted in the prologue/epilogue. You don't need to have read Red Written to enjoy this short story.)
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On the 9th of July, 20??, everyone wakes to find their sins written across their bodies and faces. It is called the Revealing. The sins are written in strange alien language that everybody can read. Society quickly breaks down but just as quickly begins to rebuild itself, split along fault lines of morality and guilt, or lack of. Nobody knows why or how the Revealing happened; all they know is that nothing will be the same again. Some sin sigils are plain, giving very little away about the sin committed, while others are more detailed (you can almost read between the lines), and a few - a very few - exhibit strange behaviour.
"Come and sit by the fire," said #25, beckoning. "It's chilly outside and the fire's warm."
#666 seated himself beside #197 and #321, who gave him welcoming nods. He did not return the compliment. They had not yet earned that honour.
"Auspicious number," said #422, who was sat across from him on the opposite side of the fire, eating a sausage he'd been roasting on a stick. He'd peeled the regulation grey mask up to his nose and a hint of ABUSE could clearly be seen. He didn't close his mouth as he chewed.
"Doesn't mean a thing," #501 piped up. "Just an old Roman number game, if I remember rightly. They liked playing number games back in those days. The number of the beast is either Nero or Caligula, or someone; or at least that's what I've heard. Ain't got nuttin' to do with the devil."
"Just like the number 13 isn't unlucky, unless they're a Knights Templar that is," added #296 with a laugh. "I guess nobody here's a Templar, are they?"
There was a great shaking of heads at this, accompanied by the rustling of much fabric.
"666 and 13 are just numbers," said #422, taking another bite of his sausage. "Nothing to be afraid of. Numbers can't hurt us."
So I'm in educated company, thought #666. Bunch of arseholes.
"Why's your number red?" he asked #25.
"'Because I'm the original #25. One of the founders." He proudly indicated to the front of his mask with a jab of his thumb, where the number 25 had been painted. "You're green, so that means you're the third to have carried that number."
"What happened to the other two?"
#25 shrugged his meaty shoulders. "They left, I guess. We don't stop people leaving if they want to, unlike some of the others. People here are free to come and go as many times as they want, just as long as they abide by our rules and regulations while they're here."
"I knew the original 666 for a time," chipped in #501. "He went south to join the Fivers at Canterbury. That's before they got hit by the Twenties, of course. Damn Twenties always had a big chip on their shoulder. Heard they've become the Thirties now." He laughed hard at this and most of the masked men around the fire joined in.
YOU ARE READING
On Halloween a group of people in a highly unusual society gather to play a very unusual game, only one of them has an ulterior motive. This short story is set about five years after the events as described in “The Account of Michael Wells” and “Eva...