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A note from blackflame17

Enjoy!

Martial law would remain in effect until thirty days after the next Tolling. For now, the government was choosing a light touch. Habeus corpus would not be suspended, but "peacekeeping" forces would remain deployed acting primarily as additional reinforcements for the police. There would, however, be a mandatory curfew, and the right to assembly was temporarily eliminated. Groups of more than five people would be dispersed. Any individual or group found outside after curfew would be detained and questioned. Consequences ranged from a fine to imprisonment.

Mitch was most concerned with a piece of news that was basically glossed over, probably due to the fact that telling the story was almost a violation of the new stricture it was covering. Stories deemed excessively inflammatory and likely to cause unrest would be prohibited. Phrasing it that way it seemed practically innocuous, but what it boiled down to was a violation of the freedom of the press: read a breach of the first amendment. Essentially, the media had to get approval from the military before running any story that may be controversial.

An informed populace is essential to maintaining the balance between citizen and government. Without free access to information, the government could easily control the narrative to fit its desires. Without the free press, Nixon would have served his term out, Vietnam would be remembered as a glorious victory over communism, no one would have ever known that Iraq didn't actually have weapons of mass destruction.

Without a free press, even a democratically elected government can become totalitarian. Even overly biased news that puts ratings above accuracy and social media that is programmed to show you only things you will "like" are so dangerous. Fox News and MSNBC, Facebook and Twitter; all of these portray a limited view of reality as seen through a single lens. Fox from the perspective of the right, MSNBC through the lens of the left, Facebook and Twitter through an algorithmically generated parody of the user's own worldview.

Impartiality used to be the responsibility of the journalists, but now it fell upon the citizen to seek out and evaluate multiple opposing viewpoints which, let's be honest, the majority of American's were not willing to do.

All of this pointed to a rather perilous period ahead. It might all be in the name of maintaining peace now, but how long before it turned to propagandizing, disinformation, and perspective programming?

Mitch couldn't do anything about that, although it concerned him greatly. His real debate was: should he tell the anyone that a person could actively affect their score? Should he go public on the benefits of acupressure and acupuncture? Show his formation and explain the exposure meditation cycle?

If he gave away the secrets he had been holding, and the higher rated people started using his techniques, he would always be behind; perpetually be on the bottom of the proverbial totem pole. Society was hanging on for now, but what would happen during the next Tollings, particularly when new stages are reached? If modern society collapsed and they reverted to the might makes right, only what you can keep is yours, style of living, his training methods would be the only thing that might give him an advantage.

At the same time, thousands, if not millions, of lives might be saved if he were to get the message out. Half of the work was already done. The general public already believed what the scores meant; all he would have to do would be to tell his personal story, the changes in his own score and the probable, if unproven, benefits of his training techniques.

Mitch looked up the number for the local branches of the national news chains. He took out his cellphone and set it next to him. He stared at the computer screen. He kept staring.

Unable to sit still anymore he stood and started pacing about his apartment. Selfishness or righteousness? People always liked to think that what benefited the majority benefited all, but was this really the case? There would inevitably be a fringe that would be left behind. Social systems helped a great many people but were never enough to eliminate poverty. Standardized testing created a baseline for all people to be measured against, but negatively impacted those with test anxiety or those who didn't test well for other reasons.

Sharing his knowledge would reduce deaths now, but would increase the gap between the weak and the strong making it easier for strong to impose their will upon the weak.

Not sharing the skills he had acquired would make him the greatest mass murderer of all time. Nearly six hundred million people stood to lose their lives at the next Tolling. Even if his knowledge could only save a quarter of those, that still would put a death toll at his feet of around one-hundred-fifty million. That number would put both Mao and Stalin to shame, and all he would have to do is nothing.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Shut up, Edmund.

The image three unfamiliar people formed in Mitch's mind. A young boy, an adolescent girl, and woman in her late twenties or early thirties. The boy and the girl both began to glow in his mind's eye and vanished in the fashion of the Tolling. The woman's wrists started to bleed and didn't stop until she became ghostly pale and also disappeared. The image tore violently at his heart to the point that he had trouble breathing. His victims.

Heaving breaths in and out, trying to control it and failing, Mitch became light headed and collapsed on his side. Gasping he crawled aimlessly across the floor one hand clutching his heart, the other scrabbling on the floor looking for anything to hold on to. The image of the woman and children replayed again and again in his mind now accompanied by an endless crowd of disappearing people and the wreckage of the souls they left behind; families and loved ones choosing to join them rather than exist in the empty chaos that remained. He could viscerally feel the ripples of destruction coursing through all of the lives it touched.

Curling in upon himself Mitch began to shiver and shake. So many, so much ruin. So much pain. Mitch vomited sideways onto the floor and passed out.

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A note from blackflame17

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About the author

blackflame17

  • Indiana, USA

Bio: I've been a reader since I can remember. I remember reading late into the night using just the light I could get from cracking my bedroom door to the hallway, much to my parents frustration I'm sure. Animorphs, Where the Red Fern Grows, Call of the Wild, Ender's Game, Dune, The Wheel of Time and many more than I can name here all defined my childhood. To a certain point I remember the stories from the books I read better than my actual youth. Recently I felt a strong desire to write something. To pour out a bit of what I have built up over the years. I had always had a kind of formless "one day" kind of desire to write, but this was different: persistent. Thus is born my first fiction, Rescendence, begun some random weekday night when an extra nightcap gave me the courage to finally put fingers to keys and see what happened. This is my first serious attempt at writing anything, and is proving more exciting and more difficult than I anticipated. I hope that through it all I can give you, dear reader, something that you enjoy and can look forward to.

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Moon Wolf 96
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Moon Wolf 96 @Moon Wolf 96 ago

I'm a little confused on the previous chapters. You've written that there has been two Tollings, but there has only meen one, right?

From this I'm getting that He's lost his children to the first and his wife due to the loss of the children?

    blackflame17
    Premium
    Author

    blackflame17 @blackflame17 ago

    I will have to go back and make sure it is still clear after the rewrites, but the first chapter actually starts just after the second Tolling; so about a year after the prologue. I wanted to avoid the whole "X months later" banner thing and just address that in the text of the story, but if i need to do that to make it clear I will.

    I thought about starting the story immediately after the prologue but thought it would be too boring/there would be too much ground to cover to get to the meat of the story.

bob16 @bob16 ago

Only one tolling was clearly mentioned...

the other just popped up outa nowhere

i didn’t mind it as some Chinese authors are horrible at math to the point of mixing up numbers such as 1,000 or 10,000 and turning them into 10,000,000 or something...

but if your willing to clarify wtf is going on and where we are in the story that would help...

    blackflame17
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    Author

    blackflame17 @blackflame17 ago

    It goes all the way back to Chap 1. It's mentioned in the text when Narrator starts explaining why people are having to go get tested, but if we need to start with a 14 months later banner to call out the gap from the prologue I can do that.

    Just for reference I excerpted the line from Chap 1.

    "'Yeah, my test is tomorrow, but I didn't want to be late and have someone put a warrant out on me.'

    The second Tolling had happened a couple of months ago, and all of the changes they had seen from the first Tolling were exacerbated."

      bob16 @bob16 ago

      For new readers you should definitely clarify such as “it has been 3 months since the second toll and I am required at a government building for testing”

      bob16 @bob16 ago

      “3” months was just an example I don’t actually know how many months it was

      blackflame17
      Premium
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      blackflame17 @blackflame17 ago

      I can see what you mean. I'll take another look at that and see if I can make it more obvious

      bob16 @bob16 ago

      Anyways it’s not too big of a problem but because I read so many stories of different types I naturally have to automatically fix grammar or fill in the gaps for missing information multiple times a day. I don’t even notice when I do it anymore. i wouldn’t have noticed the problem of not knowing the exact time without reading the comments below the chapter where someone pointed it out.

      btw plz make it so that if talent was compared his would be one of the best across the realms and the absolute best in the category of cultivating/cultivation. Otherwise it would make no sense for a the old man just to be so shocked over the smooth current. You made it sound quite easy when he was fixing his problems after all. And if it was that simple it should be something widespread and known by everyone, not something to be shocked about.

      SILVERIS @SILVERIS ago

      Thanks for clarify the time gaps and how is it that nobody else find out about the meditation and about the circles if they are alot of people doing those things now a days, everyone that do those alternative stuff for years will notice any changes after the tolling, especially after see a guy running ki blasthibg people on the street, no once else researching ? He is in the internet era alot of people will be shearing info.

xeroxedechidna @xeroxedechidna ago

Just so you know, there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Even the New York Times reported on it, though they buried it deep within the paper. It isn't that hard to find their articles if you search for it though.

Also, while I certainly wouldn't call it glorious, the Vietnam war did originally end in a victory for the United States with a split Nation like in Korea, but then Congress voted to abandon the promised military supply the South Vietnamese forces had been promised in the peace treaty. As a direct result, the North Vietnamese restarted hostilities knowing but the South Vietnamese had no possible way of resupplying their ammunition since they had been cut off. A few weeks later, South Vietnam fell.

Highfist @Highfist ago

oh god please tell me he isnt going to do something stupid and be a goody two shoes!