They came at night. They always came at night. The darkness cloaked them in mystery, terror, and fear. It also disguised their already masked heads and bodies wrapped in dark robes. I was sleeping. Not deeply. I hadn’t slept deeply since the Passion took power. I shuffled through the day on the verge of madness. I needed sleep but I feared them. There was no reasoning behind who they took. At work, the secretary disappeared, which was strange because she was a supporter of the Passion and had read their manifesto – The Passion of All. Then my neighbor disappeared. She was a loud woman but she had a herd mentality. She was always swayed by any large and powerful group. I had never read the manifesto. It had been distributed by government authorities at work. I worked in a legal publishing company. I was a proofreader. I read through case after case. Opinion through opinion. I looked for errors. Missing commas, hyphens, inappropriate capitalizations. I never absorbed the content of the statements. I was a mere gardener pulling up grammar weeds. I was not the owner of the garden and I had no say in what was planted. My only job was to correct so that the law of the land was clear and devoid of error. As the Passion rose, I realized I should have paid more attention to the content of the cases. When The Passion of All was slammed on my desk by a man in uniform I jumped.
“Read it. Read all of it. It’s required reading by the government. You may be rounded up and quizzed on its contents at any time.”
I shivered. When I went home, I took off my dress and low heels and wrapped myself in a robe. I poured some gin and stared at the book. I couldn’t read it. There was something blocking me from turning the pages. I had a few books. Alice in Wonderland. Animal Farm. The Brothers Karamazov. The Little Prince. And then The Passion of All.
It wasn’t long after the book was distributed that the Purge began. The government was weeding out unnecessary people like I weeded out commas from court cases. I knew they would come for me. I hadn’t read their manifesto and seeing them on the streets and on the TV made me physically ill. There was only gin. For some reason, the price of alcohol had decreased drastically so I drank more and more. It calmed me but I still could not sleep deeply no matter how much I drank.
And then they came for me. I was half drunk. Desirous of sleep. They dragged me out in my nightgown and bare feet and flung into the back of a van where there were four other people, also in pajamas. None of them would look at me. One of the men was crying. Silently. But his tears were copious. After some time, the van had stopped. I was pulled by the guards. The Passion. The placed me up against a wall and then handed me the manifesto.
“Read it,” said the guard viciously. With shaky hands, I opened it.
“The Passion is all. The Passion is the truth. Without Passion you are dead…” It went on. The same three sentences repeated for 700 pages. I looked at the masked guard.
“I don’t understand,” I said.
“That is why you must die. Those that understand the Passion live.”
I dropped the book. “Okay.” I was suddenly fine with dying. The country had gone mad. I needed deep sleep. I needed a release from fear. What difference did it make if I died now against the stone wall or decades later neglected in an elderly home?
When the bullets pierced me I noted blood replaced the taste of gin in my mouth. My last thought was why alcohol prices had dropped. I wasn’t sure. Do you know why?