The White Kingdom

There was once a young boy who lived in a white kingdom.  The citizens of this kingdom were known as the whites.  The whites all wore white and only white, to symbolize their commitment to a higher good, which was said to be locked away forever in the white palace, but guided them all.

The boy had many pets and friends, but he grew up on stories of fictional worlds, and felt trapped by the walls of the kingdom.  Outside was described as a mysterious and desolate wasteland, where lost human beings roamed alone, sometimes to the point of changing shape and becoming monsters.  And it was said by traveling merchants to the white kingdom that the monsters, strong, large, and lumbering, rarely traveled in packs, and only ever in one direction.

As the boy got older he lost most of his pets to age and illness, and he lost most of his friends by neglecting them, and he began to question the higher good, and why the higher good left vagrants and monsters to the wastes outside, rather than trying to understand why they became vagrants and monsters.  And his curiosity created a force in the universe, a call to the outside, which would one day appear as a dark merchant.

One day, this dark merchant crept into the white kingdom amongst other white and grey merchants, like a sliver in the skin, his eyes like shadowy staircases, leading to attics or basements with dead bodies which he was not responsible for, but secretly aware of.  The burden of the dark merchant's presence was the burden of truth, and so he resigned himself to the simple and fair trade of goods and services, and left the shadows of his mind to stay behind him, pushing his back like an unfair wind.

But the boy knew none of this, and only saw the man as different.  And this man, this dark merchant, noticed the boy on this day, spying through an eyeglass at the clouds above and beyond, and tapped the child on the shoulder.

"Yes?" The boy said.

"I can sell you passage to the outside," The merchant was like an old crooked tree with vocal chords. "You need only ask the price."

"What is the price?" The boy asked, skeptical but intrigued.

"You will lose your heart, and have to find it again."

The boy accepted the merchant's offer and was given a map to an abandoned place in the kingdom where an exit was said to be; and when the night passed over the sky, the boy found and crept through a small hole in the white wall hiding behind overgrowth.  He found a stretch of desolate orange dirt in front of him in all directions, a blanket of stars lighting up the sky above-- it was scary and empty, but the air never felt more free.

The boy wandered the wastes, never knowing where it would take him, living off of strange plants and animals, and trading his findings with traveling merchants.  He passed enough monsters from afar, but they were all usually indifferent to him, heads often bowed under sunlight or moonlight, ugly and strong.. and maybe, once human.

Days passed into months, and months into years, and the boy had grown to become a young man.  And he grew tired of the endless dark orange desert apart from a single shack here or there, and so he decided to follow the next monster he saw.. to go the other way, to go in the most feared direction, the path of the wastes that turned men into monsters.

The first monster the young man saw looked as though its back was a brown, rotting tarp, its face so detailed with ugliness and despair that its eyes were hard to spot, its dark claws dragging across the sand as though there was no water left for its arms.  The young man followed it, slept when it slept, almost lost it a few times over the dunes in a panic, but it was an irrational panic.  The boy, now a young man, always knew the direction of the monsters, after all, they only had one direction.

As time went on, the young man got close enough to the monster to realize it didn't care if he walked alongside it.  The young man was afraid of being murdered, so he did not speak.  But he noticed that the wastes changed, in one week they passed a white kingdom, different from the one he grew up in.  In the second week, they passed two more, one more on the left, and one more on the right.  And in the third week, the young man must've seen five kingdoms, taller and wider than what he had seen before, and the traveling merchants began to dwindle-- but the monster never ate, as though it was being digested by despair; and the young man had begun to feel his appetite wane as well, and his skin grow course under some increasing heat of the sun.

The man tried to talk to the monster at this point but it never replied.  And one day as he walked alongside the monster there was a horrible feeling in the pit of the man's stomach, but he didn't know why.  And in this same day as the sun was dropping from the sky, the two came to a giant mass grave, filled with the dead; most of the bodies were skeletons, and bones stretched to the darkening horizon, but the bodies that were still rotting showed that they were monsters.

"What are you going to do!?" The man asked the monster, reaching out to stop the monster from walking into the massive pit, the mass grave.

The man would've grabbed the monster but realized that his fingers had turned to claws, and his arm was like the twisted branch of a tree, scorched by the sun, and that his voice had become ugly and unrecognizable.  This put him in a state of shock, and he watched as the monster he had spent the past month or so following, plummet to its death.  And the man who was now a monster, fell into the dirt and stared over the miles of bones, and mourned.

After some time the monster saw some whites approaching from the distance, but then quickly disregarded them, and continued sitting and staring at the bodies all around him in despair.  The whites approached the monster carefully, fearful for their lives.  Then one of the older whites spoke to the monster, "We want no trouble with you, monster.  Please get out of our way.  We only wish to use these bones to build a new kingdom. "

The monster stood up slowly, turned to the whites with the endless stretch of bones behind him, and spoke, "You cannot touch this grave, because it is my heart."

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