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The True Santa's Factory
The cold, rigid wind blew the snow across the barren streets that were lined with frost. The children stood bundled up, freezing, lined up side by side in the factory, working on various tasks, from assembling toys to making a computer. I stood amongst their ranks, the ranks of this camp for children. I was just six. This environment is all I have known.
The men there were terrible to us. One time, a boy just like me, except a little older, around 8 years old, tried running away from this horrid and hopeless world we were stuck in. A bearded man brought him back and handed him over to the leader of the camp, and was brought to a room, the room known as the most horrid place of all. Sometimes, they just sent random kids there, or at least it seemed like that. They did something to all the kids who entered there, and when they returned, they were never the same. It seemed as if their memories were wiped out.
Everyday, there were some disappearances in the community. I do not know how or why, but I saw some kids one day who were not there the next day or the day after that or even the week after that. I hope they got to a better place, which shouldn’t have been too hard; what place could be worse? I hoped I was leaving soon. I knew that this could not be all that there is to life. I knew there was more. Something better. But it seemed as if everyone else around me saw this as a regular place, as if they were oblivious to the horrors.
One day, I was playing with my fingers instead of making a stupid toy, since I was bored. Then I got mad, and for some reason, I don’t remember why, I threw the toy across the room, and the other kids working around me stared. The supervisor, a huge tan bearded man, came up to me and grabbed me. He took out a knife, and cut my finger off. My ring finger. The one on my left hand. The least important. The most precious. How did I know that? Why did I keep having these thoughts? It’s because I was not from here.
I guess this was all caused by this one man, the scariest, the one that I mentioned before: the leader. No, he was not huge, muscular, bearded. He was clean shaved, lean, and long. I feared him the most: he was different. He wore a suit around, ordering the bearded men; he was the controller.
Some days, I heard shots in the distance, noises that seemed like they should be scary; I still had no idea what they were.
At first, I tried counting the days that passed. And then I gave up when I realized there was no point. When nobody else is taking efforts around you, you want to fit in, you don’t want to take initiative. That’s how I felt; there was no point in keeping track if no one else was? When I suggested this idea to one of the boys, he just looked at me as if I was crazy. Why was I thinking differently? I still couldn’t find out.
The solemn looks on our faces. This was all so cruel and unreal, yet this was reality itself. But I knew it was not reality. Reality could not be like this. This could not be all there was to life. It was not normal. But this was all I knew, so why I was thinking like this?
Then one day, they called me along with a group of kids inside one of the buildings. I noticed the leader look at me for a few seconds, right at my eyes, like I was special, but he looked away quickly and announced that it was time for our one-week vacation.
My memory of this event is very hazy. All I remember was that I went on a crowded, murky, horrific, vehicle: a train; I only remember trains from the toy ones that we had built. This one that we were boarding did not seem anything like the colorful and clean ones we had built. Apparently, we were going to see our “families”. At that time, I didn’t even know what families were.
When we reached our destination, we were introduced to some adults who I had never seen before. Then we were directed to some rooms with white walls. It looked like a place where people were healed, except on a much larger scale than the confined areas we were treated in when we fell ill back home. A man in a white coat with came into my room to see me. I was wondering who he was, and for some reason, I asked him to diagnose me with a psychological disorder. Where did that come from? What was a psychological disorder? As soon as I did that, the man went back outside and the leader came in the room and took me away. I don’t remember the rest of the week; it was all a blur.
The next thing that sticks clearly in my mind was a memory of me looking hard at a window; I had grown taller and had facial hair. I was wondering how I changed, when I changed. Me and three other people, older than any of the kids I had ever seen before, were standing by a glass window, watching; I looked outside, and realized that the teens next to me were mocking the kids who were laboring in the factories, toiling like I had when I was a child. We were mocking kids who were toiling in a cruel world. Why were they laughing? Well, I guess that’s what you do when that’s all you have seen your whole life. I guess we’d grown out of that stage where you worked and work.
But why didn’t I feel this way? Did they know something that I didn’t? Did I know something that they didn’t? Maybe they were under some kind of control. Or maybe I was from elsewhere, maybe there was somewhere better.
Then it hit me. Memories flooded into my brain like water flowing down a stream. They had taken me, captured me from my parents. I saw my parents pick me up when I was a baby. So kind, so loving, so tender. How could the world have come to this? I was Ahmad, the little beautiful boy. I remembered being grabbed from my parents at a young age, taken by the leader. The leader said I was “special” and that I “needed to be taken”; I didn’t know why.
I came back to reality. My friends were leaving and moving into some other room, but I knew that they couldn’t be my friends; they were just people, brainwashed people.
I didn’t know what to do. This place was wrong. The train was wrong. The place the train led to was wrong.
The next thing I knew, I was right outside of the factories on the streets, in the perfect place to stage an escape attempt, to try to leave, go over the snow capped mountains in the distance that I had always seen from so far away. I looked both ways, and bolted down the hill. As I was running, I looked down at my hands, and they were much smaller. I was a kid again. How?
I heard a yell behind me and looked back at the cursed Hell for a split second. The leader was coming after me with a shotgun in his hand; I thought that was unusual, because the leader didn’t usually do any dirty work, as far as I knew. But I couldn’t let him shoot me; I had to run away.
I raced down the road, faster and faster, until I was moving faster than time, not bothering to look at the forest to my right or the cruel world I was leaving behind. I didn’t know where I was running to, but anywhere was better than there. I wanted to go anywhere but there. The snow tipped mountains that I had always viewed from so far grew larger; they were closer, more palpable, more real, than ever before. I saw that the road ahead of me come to an end, the gray desolate thing that led to nowhere was coming to a close. There must be something over the mountains. But first I had to cross the open tundra with sparse bushes and rivers, full of dead grass still visible through the thin layer of snow. I could see that the mountains lay behind this frozen valley.
As I was going off into the desolate wild, I turned around one last time, and my heart stopped in mid-beat. Two bearded, rough, dark skinned men appeared in the distance behind me, and after a second, I bolted into the wild, towards the mountains, as I heard one of them say to the other,
“I’ll tell him about this rat.”
I knew one of the men was chasing after me, but I guess that he did not know that the leader was also coming after me; I ran into a cover of snowy bushes and held my breath for a few seconds. The closest escape was a lake in front of me. I ran and plunged myself into the forsaken waters, and my world went pitch black.
The next thing I knew, I was in a confined room with gray walls, the same shade I had seen for my whole life. I looked at my reflection in a window. It seemed as if I was a teenager again. I was a teenager again. What was happening? How long had I been here? I suddenly started shivering as the leader entered the room, with the most evil smile ever on his face.
“I see you’ve awoken. Finally.”
I saw a device that looked funky, with a glass circle pointing at me from the corner of the room, and I stared at the man in fear.
“So you’ve discovered the secret. We’re going to wipe you out.”
The next thing I knew, I woke up from a bed. It was more comfortable than anything I’d ever felt in my whole life. I got up from this soft, plush, bed and looked outside of a window. You’d never guess what I saw. I saw a new world. Something totally different. I could feel it. It was so peaceful, so much calmer. Somehow I knew that I had arrived at the better world. But the question was how. How did I end up here? What happened back at that place. I got up and saw my reflection. I was much older, no longer a teenager, but a young adult. What had happened? I reached into my pants pocket to find any clues. When I looked down, I realized that they were different pants, some blue type of denim, not the gray straight messy cotton pants that I wore in what seemed like yesterday. And on my bed I found a piece of paper that was folded up, and I opened it and read it.
Jaden, if you’re reading this right now, know that all went well. I can’t explain everything right now, but if we meet again, you’ll learn everything. Anyways, when I found you I named you Jaden; that was the name of my son before he was taken away by the man you know as the leader. The memories must have started to flow back to you, and after reading this letter, you’ll remember everything. You managed to escape from that camp, led by that evil leader. The leader is a cruel leader, a crazy man. He’s trying to control a whole new generation of kids; he’s trying to rule the world, but you managed to stop him. He gained so much power during the time of trouble and chaos in the world; people actually listened to him. He took you because you had the mark of the chosen one, because you were destined to defeat him and thwart his plan. He thought that if he took you and wiped out your memory and controlled you from an early age, you would not be able to stop him. Anyways, there was a mark that the leader feared. The mark of the chosen one. That same mark appeared on your back after you were born, and he came to take you away; he thought he might be able to harness you’re powers. Everyone in the outside world (the camp was separate from the rest) knew about it. Anyways, despite his actions, you fulfilled it anyway. You took down his business when you left. You managed to escape the tied up knots. If you wake up, you won’t know that you pulled away from the reigns, escaped with a knife and bombed their site; despite this, the leader escaped. You won’t remember the confused looks on the kids faces after you saved them from what would have been a treacherous life. Once you escaped, they were out to get you. You ran as far as possible, and then you came to a small town, and I saw you. You were confused, and in trouble, so I picked you up because you reminded me of my son who was taken away. All was quiet for a year or so until the leader and his minions entered our village in search of you; they thought that they could gain their power back once they found you (by now, everyone knew about the teenager who defeated the leader and rebelled against him). I told you to run out the back door, and both of us ran in search of the next town, a place we could stay. We jumped towns, trying to avoid the leader and his crowd of rebels, but we were finally caught up at one pub. They forced you to eat a pill and they were about to kill me, but some man came to our rescue and shot the leader, and while they were distracted, we shot the rest of the men and escaped. The leader had said the pill would make you forget everything once you slept. That is why you are here. I waited for days, and you did not wake up. I left to tell your story of how you defeated the oppressors, and if you wake up and read this letter, I hope you are all right. Just know that the world is safe now.
Hope to see you again, Myron.
A tear fell down from Jaden’s eyes as he tried to process the information. But at least he knew the real world, the good world, the world where everything was alright. And that was all he ever wanted. And then Jaden heard some knocks at the door, and when he opened it, it was a man with thin gray hair, a wispy beard, and wrinkles on his face. Jaden knew him. It was Myron. They embraced, and that was the end. The end of the evil world, and the start of something new.