Zone One

by Atef Ayadi

Akil woke up with emptiness in his head and no sense of space or time. As he started to take control of himself, he felt the cold of the floor he had been laying on eating his pale naked body.

The darkness had taken over the place, so Akil kept his eyes closed. A few minutes passed; Akil first started to move his heavy head and arms, and then his legs. As he attempted to stand up: a big noise and an annoying light trembled his serene silence. Two men opened the door that separates his dark room and the outside. An intense shock squeezed Akil and made his blood crash against his veins. The intense light that invaded his serenity shaded the two men silhouettes.

\"Stand up and come with us,\" said one of the two men.

Akil stood up with difficulty and followed the two men who were waiting for him outside the dark room, without resistance or questioning, as if he knew his fate.

As Akil stepped out, the two men stopped him and asked him to face the wall with his hands up. One of them splashed Akil's body with water, scrubbed his body, and then flushed him one more time, with a second bucket of cold water from head to toe. Then they handed him a white robe and a pair of sandals to put on.

\\\"Now, follow us. We will take you to your destiny,\\\" said one of the two men.

Akil was still too weak to sustain this sudden disturbance that shook him with no warning in the last past few minutes.

Akil walked through a uniform, flat space. There was no sky, clouds, mountains, hills, trees, or noise. All one could see is white marble all over the place.

The long walk ended when Akil and the two men had to cross a bridge that led to a big golden gate as high as 400 feet. At the entrence, the two men stopped and rang a little bell that one of them took from his pocket.

In a split second and unexpectedly, a man opened a little door was and asked them to come in.

Akil did not react to anything; he was spaced out than cognizant. As the two men and Akil passed the stony little door; Akil felt a shortness of breath as his eyes crossed the new landscape; the place is familiar.

The two men took Akil to a cleric to whom Akil did not identify but his masculine voice.

\"I am going to read you your rights. If you have any questions, I am here to answer them,\" said the cleric.usculin voice

The First Law states: "You are entitled to have a house with a garden, swimming pool, server, food and access to the public library. Now do you have any questions concerning this?\" said the cleric.

\"No,\" Akil replied with a low voice.

The Second Law states: "You are not allowed to make or produce any artifact or make food on your own. If you need anything, just tell your server. Any questions, sir?\" said the voice.

\"No, no\" said Akil.

The Third Law states: "Do not yield to temptation except during the period of full moon. If you get caught, you will be sent to zone two,\" said the cleric.

\"What is zone two?\" asked Akil.

\"This is the fourth law.\" said the cleric, and he continued.

The Fourth Law states: "There are two zones. Zone one is communal, peaceful, and protected by unbreakable laws, and zone two is open for your imagination. If you want the communal life, you stay here. If you change your mind you can go to zone two but you can not come back.\"

\"What is in zone two?\" said Akil.

\"As I said before, it is open for your imagination.\" replied the cleric.

The Fifth Law states: "If you offend any citizen of zone one, you lower your status by becoming a server forever,\" said the cleric.

The cleric looked at Akil and asked \"do you have any questions concerning this before I continue?\"

\"No,\" said Akil.

The Sixth Law states: "Do not write, suggest, propose, or promote ideas concerning the community of zone one's well being and prosperity. If you get caught you will be sent to zone two. Do you have any questions about this?\" said the cleric.

\"No, I am ok.\" said Akil.

The Seventh Law states: "You are prohibited to talk about your past, if you get caught, you pass to zone two.\"

The Eighth Law states: "You can do whatever with the server; if you kill him you will be a server for someone else. Any questions?\" said the cleric.

\"No.\" said Akil.

The Ninth Law states: "If you respect the law of zone one during the period of ten full moons, you will receive an extra server. Any questions?\" said the cleric.

\"No.\" said Akil.

The Tenth Law states: "If you have ten servers you can be a member of the zone one board of trust. Any questions?\" said the cleric.

\"Do I have a key for my place?\" said Akil.

\"No, that is a part of the fifth law.\" replied the cleric.

\"Now, sign here and you are free to go to your place at the address inside this envelope.\" said the cleric.

Zone one is populated with adults of both sexes and different races; Akil did not understand why people wear common uniforms if they have all kind of clothes. What caught Akil's attention is the fact that it is rare to see people outside of their houses; or they they make eyes contact, if they do they smile and walk away.

Akil's house is big and comfortable. He has a fancy swimming pool and tropical garden around it. A marble wall thirty feet high, separates Akil's property from the neighbors' from all sides.

Akil was surprised that his server is a woman and does not talk except nodding her head. She obeys his instruction verbally. She is allowed to go with him outside if he asks her to do so; but she does not have to smile or receive instructions or help anyone else.

Akil spent the first half of his day discovering his property and exploring a part of zone one with his server.

\"Reason\" is the name Akil gave to his server. He talks to her even she does not reply. She acknowledges him and satisfies his needs silently. He asked her many times to act like him, sit and eat with him rather than standing up and watching him. He urged her, and then ordered her to sit and eat with him.

Akil is attracted by Reason's eye the most. He still can't explain this attraction. She is the only person in zone one he is comfortable with and he can talk to even though nothing comes out of mouth. From her eyes, he could see easily whether she is in grief, if she is anxious, angry, bored, or excited about something.

He still could not understand the reason why she became a server? His willingness to know about her is as important as knowing what is going on in zone one and zone two. In fact, he never acted as a master to her.

Every time she moves around him, she gets his attention. The spark from her eyes attracts him more and more like a ship to a light house. She is moving him and steering his inside more then he does.

As days passed, Akil recovered most of his strength, but he got bored from his loneliness and solitude. He could not find anyone to talk to except Reason.

He looked at her standing up while he is lying on his luxurious couch. Too many questions and thoughts pop up;

\\\"If Reason could talk and tell me what is on her mind, that would make me the happiest person in zone one. The law allows me to do whatever I want with her. I will make her talk and I do not care what language she may speak.\\\" said Akil to himself.

\"I won't stay here eating and resting like a retiree. I have to better understand this place. By making Reason communicate with me, I will avoid troubles. This is the first thing I ought to do. It is not just a need. A single spontaneous offense will put my life in jeopardy.\"

While he was hanging around, Akil identified three citizens of zone one. They smiled to him and kept looking at him for period of time. Strange thoughts came to his mind: \"Did they try to tell me something indirectly? Maybe they got bored like me and they tried to figure something out to get away from this routine. I think, I will ask Reason to hand them a written message or invite them to my place in order to check out their senses. This will help me to know better about citizens of zone one and have some friends one can trust.\" Akil said to himself.

Akil thought about a message to send to the two men the woman he just met last time. He made three drawings of the same ancient picture of the cave hunters found carved on an ancient cave wall. He also intentionally did not sign them. Then, he asked Reason to take them to his friends. He slicked a note on top the package:

\"Hope the three of you may like the painting. I am inviting the three of you for a cup of tea tomorrow at noon at my place.

All my best wishes.\"

Reason came back, and Akil realized that her face expresses an extreme anxiety; her face is usually very relaxed. He smiled to her and asked her if the three people had their painting. She answered by yes by nodding her head; but she gave him the impression that something went wrong.

The next day two people come to Akil's house and knocked his door asking him to go with them to zone one authority office. There, Akil learned that he broke two of zone one laws. First they find him guilty of producing artwork that is not allowed by the law, second he broke the fifth law but hopefully the three citizens dropped the charges against him. Consequently he will be departed to zone two. He was asked to sign a paper, and then one guard asked him to follow him to the gate that leads to zone two. Akil asked the guard if he can see Reason for the last time; the guard told him that he lost all rights in zone one and he had to leave now.

As Akil was heading to cross the gate that separates the two zones, he stopped to look back; a flash of memories of Reason flooded his mind.

The guard opened the gate and asked him to pass. Akil left zone one with no sense of any attachment only some images of Reason remains vivid in his head.

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