As They All Fell Silent

As They All Fell Silent

Author's Note: Supposed to be only five paragraphs long, ended up writing for an hour straight without stopping. Here's the highly edited version of "As They All Fell Silent," written for my AP English class. I'm still not completely satisfied with it, but honest feedback is appreciated muchly.

Thanks for reading!

-Darlene

Blinded by lies,

I fall for the trap.

Glittering promises,

Always empty.

Open my eyes,

I hope I will soon see.

Monsters are only the reflections

That I now see in the mirror.

As they all fell silent, I watched in horror,

As they paid the price of my darkest sins.

-"As The All Fell Silent" by Darlene Doran

It drove all men to their breaking point. Driving them completely mad, pursuing an empty dream. Covered in shimmering gold, it would cause them to stumble and drown, claiming one victim as easily as the next. Like a cruel maiden's wrath, it would drive them into madness until they were claimed by its shimmering lies. It was the deceptive powers of wealth, and no man escaped its clutches.

Wealth was what drove Nihan K'jorlan to his demise. A modest man, he raised a family in the small district of Balsamo in the country of Takin. Always insecure, however, he tried many schemes in order to provide for his wife and two small children. Every night, he would pray for a way to provide for his small family, if by some miracle, he could secure their future. That dream came true when he found a reserve of Gregris on his property. Gregris was a highly valuable mineral in the world, found to be very beautiful in jewelry and sometimes used as a remedy for stomach pains. However, it was found to cause delusions in people and was therefore banned from being mined. Many smugglers tried to ship it to willing investors who would then sell it for a high profit on the black market. However, the smugglers found selling the mineral faced the highest penalty, paying the highest cost: their lives.

Nihan K'jorlan knew the risks. Nights and nights he struggled with himself as to whether or not to mine the mineral and sell it to smugglers. Should the smugglers be caught, his name could be traced and all his hard work would be destroyed. For the plan to come off smoothly, he would need the help of an expert, one who knew the inner workings of the black market. Nihan turned to Ylayan Mercer, a business man who had dealt with many shady trades over the years, but was never convicted of a crime. Mercer would have the experience to successfully sell and mine his mineral. What Nihan did not know was that mining Gregris was highly dangerous and potentially lethal to people of his race. However, immigrants from the neighboring nation were adequately adjusted to mining such a mineral due to evolutionary differences in the two races.

"I will not allow you to enslave innocent people for our own good." Nihan protested when Mercer proposed the idea of using the immigrants to mine the Gregris.

"They're immigrants, clogging up our government without jobs. Here, we're getting them off the streets and providing them with a job. Isn't that what you want?" Mercer would endlessly counter. It seemed like a logical argument to Nihan. A weak man, Nihan bent easily at the fabricated requests of others. Nihan was ignorant to the truths displayed in front of him. He knew that enslaving the people would be morally wrong, but he felt as though it was right for the benefit of Mercer and his family. After all, Mercer had already done so much for him.

The mine was built slowly, working cautiously at night as to not alert people neighboring on the one hundred and five units of land. Once the mine was considered "operational" and "safe" by Mercer, Nihan immediately ordered people to work in the mine. With a stroke of a pen, Nihan had sentenced many women, children and men, all innocent, to work for his own personal gain. He did not know the atrocities he had just committed with just a stroke of ink.

Nihan was an ignorant man. Having visited the mine only twice, he received many of his tainted reports from Mercer. Mercer praised the work in the mine as the money began rolling in. Nihan was blinded, forced to believe that there was nothing wrong. He saw not the starving children, the beaten women and the rage in the eyes of the men. He did not know of the little girl pulled back to work by her hair, or the elderly woman taunted by a supervisor. Blind, Nihan believed that the success and conditions of the mine were reflected by his bank account. It was not until one fateful day that he realized how wrong he was.

"They're onto us." Mercer stated icily.

"Who is onto us?" Nihan echoed cautiously.

"The trade federations. They have reason to believe we have constructed a Gregris mine here." Mercer replied, turning on his heel. The tension in the room was appallingly evident as the two men considered the brevity of the situation. If caught, both Mercer and Nihan would be sentenced to death for the illegal mining of Gregris, and the enslaving of an innocent people to work for little wages and no fresh water or food. Nihan knew not of these things. Mercer did. And Mercer was not about to risk his life for something that was morally right.

"What shall we do?" Nihan was terrified. Never before had he been put in a situation like this, he was terrible at decision-making. Most of the strategic decisions about the mine came from Mercer. Nihan was weak and spineless. Mercer was ruthless and brazen. Mercer would know what to do.

"We destroy the mine." Mercer replied, turning on his heel to face Nihan. "All evidence destroyed, so the jury can find nothing of fault to us."

"And what of the workers?" Nihan questioned.

"Mister K'jorlan, you might have misunderstood me. I said all the evidence will be destroyed. Including the workers." Mercer replied, his voice completely devoid of any emotion or compassion for the innocent lives in the mine.

Nihan sat down in his red velvet and dark mahogany chair hard, contemplating what Mercer had just suggested. Killing the workers? Destroying the mine?

"How would it be done?" Nihan pondered aloud.

"Explosives. Quick, simple, painless. A very effective method." Mercer reported, as if he were giving details on a dental cleaning rather than the brutal massacre of the enslaved peoples in the mine. Nihan's heart began to race and his head began to pound. He couldn't go through with this! He had already enslaved almost an entire nation of innocents; men, women and children alike. Was providing for his future security and that of those he loved worth the lives of so many?

"The supervising committee has already approved the plan." Mercer said, stepping forward and placing a single sheet of white paper and a gleaming fountain pen onto the desk in front of Nihan. "A majority of them has signed this paper, including myself. In order to authorize immediate blasting, you must sign." Mercer explained.

Nihan stared at the paper incredulously. Was Mercer truly considering this? Did he expect him to go through with all of this?

"You're not having second thoughts, are you?" Mercer asked, almost reading Nihan's mind.

"I cannot do this." Nihan explained simply.

"Cannot? Did I say 'I cannot do this' when you asked me to set up a mine for you? Did I make a worthless excuse when you asked me to find workers for the mine? I have done so much for you, and yet you cannot even commit your signature to paper for me." Mercer said, leaning on the desk. Nihan's hands shook. Mercer was correct, he had done so much for Nihan, and yet Nihan would do nothing in return. Raising the pen to sign, Nihan stopped himself.

"This is wrong, Mercer." he explained. "I cannot murder innocent people."

"They are slaves!" Mercer roared.

"They are people!" Nihan declared loudly, making his position known. "I will not allow this to happen; to mindlessly slaughter countless innocents."

Mercer swallowed hard, considering Nihan's words. They had hit him like a ton of bricks. Stepping behind the desk, he came within mere inches of Nihan's face.

"Do you honestly believe that your life is more important to me than any of those other insolent bastards in the mine?" Mercer asked, cocking the barrel of his revolver. Nihan's knees began to quake in fear. "It is your life or theirs." Mercer icily spat.

"I have made my decision, what is yours?" Mercer demanded.

Shaking, Nihan sat down at the desk once more, feeling Mercer's gun press into the back of his head. So consumed by his greed and lust for money, for providing for his future security; blinded by the lies of Mercer. And now, someone else would pay for the silent sins from which Nihan suffered. Raising the pen, and placing it on the paper, Nihan concentrated, making every stroke slow and accurate, disregarding his pounding heart or shaking hands.

And as he lifted the pen, he was almost certain he heard many things; the blast of explosives, the gavel of a judge pounding out a guilty sentence…

And the screams of a generation not yet born, falling silent, one by one.