Matthew learns about Familiarity and Commune Correction from another Matthew
Members of the commune of a high rank.
Boys in the commune aged between five and thirteen.
Girls in the commune aged between five and thirteen.
Commune Members aged fourteen years and older, ranked by colour (similar to that of belts in marshal arts)
Instructors that initiate and induct potential members into the commune.
Nasty nickname for potential members who are classed in the lowest rank of green.
Commune Gardens where nefarious Scallerenes and Scallerina's work off their transgressions.
Mail was helicopter into a restricted forest behind the commune, called The Bos van Het Kwaad (the forest of evil) and Matthew and Jamie (his Guardian's eight year old nephew) were given the responsibility of delivering various packages to the cabins. Nothing went wrong until they arrived at a cabin occupied by four girls. One of them was upset that her package had not arrived and forced Jamie to research the mail cycle-rickshaw for it while Matthew stayed behind and speaks at length to the other girls. Time passed and Matthew became concerned that Jamie had not come back from searching the rickshaw. He checked outside and was surprised to see no sign of the boy. He frantically searched the commune to no avail then heard some sort of commotion coming from the southern sector of the commune and was more than shocked by what he discovered.
My heart froze when I rounded the left-hand corner and saw what was going on. At the far end of the yard, tied to a fence writhed and shrilled Jamie, while one by one members of the commune dunked tennis balls in water and threw them at him. His bare back was littered with scarlet welts and track-pants sported the tell-tale wet patches where had obviously peed himself with terror.
The violence sickened me and I felt infuriated by the cheering crowd that took such sadistic pleasure in seeing this helpless little boy being so cruelly treated. Was this the commune justice that Pedro had spoken of? This was not justice; it could not possibly be justice. It was cold calculated retribution designed not only to punish the guilty but to control the Scallies and Teen Serenes with fear of such vicious reprimands.
Urged by ever intensifying rage I fought my way through the mass of excited spectators and participants and started toward Jamie hoping to free him, but was quickly tackled to the ground by two bulky Teen Serenes.
They lifted me up and I was dragged to the left of the crowd where they held securely in place whilst a third Serene joined us. I recognised him instantly as Pedro; the one who had threatened Jamie in the Commune/Naughty Gardens.
“Leave Jamie alone,” I implored “he’s just a little kid.”
“Beat it Snotbot” retorted Pedro with the same air of control-freak arrogance. “This don’t concern you.”
“He’s Petra’s cousin and my friend. I have an obligation to protect him.” I retorted with indifference to His grading and misplaced allusions of authority.
“Jamie’s a traitor to this commune. He’s getting no more than he deserves.”
“Deserves? He doesn’t deserve to suffer at the hands of some sadistic asshole like you!”
Pedro seemed taken back by my insolence. It was obvious he had become accustomed to the kowtowing of his conditioned subordinates. He snorted angrily like an enraged bull then snatched my left earlobe and twisted it clockwise.
A number of sirens abruptly shrilled into action. Seconds later a half-dozen four wheel motor bikes roared around the same corner of the gymnasium that I had, closely followed by a two late model utilities and a red van. The vehicles screeched to a halt and a company of Supreme Serenes rushed toward us with their batons unsheathed.
“I’ll get you later,” promised Pedro, releasing my lobe and fleeing along with the rest of the scattering crowd; abandoning the saturated tennis balls and traumatised alleged traitor.
Taking advantage of the chaos I hastened once again to free Jamie but got less than twenty meters before I was apprehend by the Supreme Serenes and escorted forcefully back to their waiting vehicles.
I was placed on the back of a utility with three others and endured an uncomfortable ride, as it bounced along uneven terrain until finally reached the South Eastern Sector of the commune. It came to an abrupt halt and several Supreme Serenes dragged us off and escorted us to where the rest of the mob was assembled. Some had teary eyes and ashen faces, while others were smirking and nudging one another playfully, as though it was all part of the fun. Among them stood Pedro and his thugs; threatening and securing allegiances from random Scallerenes.
Before us stood a three meter high wire mesh fence, with razor wire on top, running fifteen hundred meters from left to right then veering 90 degree either side, before becoming lost in an array of Marcocarpa trees. Behind it was a wooden observation tower, elevated several meters above the fence. Looking up, I could see someone observing us with binoculars. I also noticed a number of cameras positioned in various angles, and what I thought looked to be several siren horns.
Some distance from the fence was a single story brick bunker lodged in the midst of the trees, with a solid green metal door. Standing to the left of the door were another two Supremes. They wore grey denim jackets, camouflage pants and brown leather boots. Both held batons, as if baseball players awaiting their turn on the mound. One was middle aged, thickset, with the chiselled jaw of a boot-camp instructor, while the other seemed a lot young, perhaps no fifteen or sixteen years of age, with short ginger hair and acne. He had the dull countenance of a minion beaten into submission; ill at ease, stressed and absent of cheer. Beside them sat a German shepherd, observing us with an aggressive expression that suggested it’s bite may very well be worse that it’s bark.
“It’s deaf and partially blind in one eye.” sounded a voice beside me. I turned and saw a fair haired girl. She had a scar under his right eye and bandage on her left knee.
“Who is?” I asked.
“The bot-biter puppy dog sitting next to Logan.”
“It bites bots….you know bottoms, butts you know, that sort of thing...well, more like a nip, and if you’re being naughty.”
“What would it consider naughty?”
The girl ceased talking, placed an index finger to her lips. A hush ascended the small gathering and I turned back to the brick structure. The metal door slowly opened and a large bulky man with a shaven emerged. He marched towards us and stopped just short of the gate. Seconds later his two henchmen joined him. Banshee stayed where it was.
“You make me sick!” he bellowed. “Such unlawful savagery goes against everything our commune stands for. There is no excuse for such thuggery, and you’re all going to be punished accordingly.”
“I didn’t do anything sir.” I told him, but he seemed disinterested in my protest. The presumption of innocence did not seem to feature on the list of his priorities. “I was trying to stop them.”
“Go tell it to someone that gives a shit, Snotbot” he retorted “Quit grousing or you’ll get a smack across the ears.”
The older of the Supreme Serenes smirked, whilst Logan shifted his attention back and forward, between the bulky man and me. His lips parted a couple of times but no words came out. I got the impression that his opinions would have mattered even if he had found the courage to express them.
A low pitched buzzing sounded, followed by a clank. Seconds later the gate slid sideways and we were escorted into the enclosure then it slid shut after us. My fear increased as we ambled toward the brick bunker. I slowed my pace.
“Don’t be scared,” said the girl. “Just do as they say and you’ll out before you know it.”
“Out from where?” I asked feeling less than comforted by her optimism.
“The Correction sheds.”
We entered the bunker in single file and I found myself in a spacious carpeted office, with expensive furnishings. A tall woman greeted us and handed out small cards with numbers on them. She was tall lanky woman with long dark hair and an aquiline nose handed. She wore a long azure robe tied with a thick cord, like that of a monk and a pair of red sandals. Each of her toenails had been painted a different colour.
The Supreme Serenes then arranged the mob by gender and started escorting the males through a blue door, with a golden sign saying “Scallerenes”, and the females through another door rear right, with a sign saying “Scallerinas”. I was made to stay behind with the bulky man, Logan and Banshee; who had followed everyone in.
The bulky man stared at me without saying anything for a brief period, then he shook his head and sat down behind a large mahogany desk.
“You’re new here, aren’t you, Boy?” he stated in a gruff tone.
“Yes sir,” I answered, then gulped nervously and added “My name’s Matthew…sir.”
“Matthew? My name is Matthew also, but you are to address me as Sir. Familiarity breeds contempt. Contempt diminishes respect and the Fellowship has stringent penalties for those that show disrespect. Are you respectful?”
“What would you get if you called me Matthew?”
“A smack across the ears?”
“And don’t you forget it, boy. As a potential member of the Fellowship and are not subject to incarceration protocols, so we will need to contact your Guardian regarding this transgression. Who is your Guardian?”
“What did I just tell you about familiarity?”
“Sorry I mean Miss Petra Moore, Sir.”
I slumped down on a black leather couch toward the front left of the office and pondered Petra’s response, while Matthew Sir made a few phone calls. My mind drifted back distain she had shown when I had neglected to lock the cabin door. If hers was a wrath so easily provoked over such trivialities then I shuddered to imagine its extent when scorned by a transgression this major.
Banshee trotted over and gently placed his chin on my lap. He looked up with his good eye and whimpered with emphatic solidarity. Dogs seem to have an instinctive intuition when someone is in need of a special cyanine hug. I patted his massive head and felt a little better, but tensed again as soon as Matthew Sir announced he had contacted Petra.
He handed me a map of the commune, showing how to get to the Infirmary, where she was looking after Ricky. My stomach churned and I started wishing I had been incarcerated with the others after all. I thanked him for his lecture on the vices of familiarity, and gave Banshee a couple more pats before leaving the office. The gate slid open automatically as I approached, then closed again once I was on the other side.
The Serene Infirmary was a three story brick building with white trimmed windows. A narrow pathway led past a large fountain and continued to the glass doors at the main entrance. To the left of the door was a speaker and mic to speak into; similar to that of a fast food drive through. I stated the nature of my visit. There was a brief pause then the doors slid open and shut after me, like they had at the Correction facility. Two orderlies met and escorted me through a labyrinth of corridors, and access ways requiring swipe cards to enter. Ten minutes later they reached a restricted area with a sign stating "Admittance by Medical Hierarchy Authorisation only."
“You get three goes to punch in the right code,” said one of the orderlies “After that access is denied and an alarm rings.”
“The doors behind us lock, and can only be unlocked by Designated Security Officers Swipe Cards,” added the other, punching in a seven digit code. “There are a dozen security guards here at any given time but only two of them will have the correct swipe cards.”
“This place has tighter security than the Fort Knox,” I said, an expression one of my uncles was in the habit of using.
“You’re not wrong,” agreed the first orderly. “An undisclosed computer has a copy of the coding of each security officer on duty. Each day it choses two codes at random. So even if one of the security officers, for some reason, wanted to help someone escape, they couldn’t be sure their swipe cards would be of any help.”
They let me into the ward where I was met by a young attractive looking nurse with a Sweedish accent. She showed to Jamie’s room, and left us to talk. He welcomed me from his hospital bed and explained that
"Petra's been called away on some unexpected errand" he told me."she'll would be back soon.
“No worries?” I asked, sitting in a chair beside his bed. "How are you feeling?"
“Box of fluffy ducks,” he professed “all feathers and poop.”
“I’m sorry this happened to you. It’s my fault.”
“You weren’t to know what they were going to do.”
“If you had of told me I would have…”
“Hey don’t beat yourself up about it. I take it your did not end up doing time in the Correction Sheds."
"Nah...but met Banshee. Very affectionate dog, despite what someone said about it being a what they called a Bot-biter."
'Two Supremes were walking around the compound one night and they see something lying on the ground. One stops the other and goes “careful that looks like dog poo.” The other picks it up and sniffs it and says “smells like dog poo” the first one sticks his finger in it and then licks it and goes “Even tastes like dog poo.” The put it back on the ground and they say to each other “good thing we didn’t step in it.”"
“Ricky!” sounded a voice from behind.
We both turned round and saw Petra.
She was not amused.
Next: The Serene Fellowship 1 Green Serene 6