Short Story: 'Leader' Part 3

“Get Up”, “Eat”, and “Sleep” from prison guards was the only kind of communication he had now. Not only was it driving him crazy, but it also reminded him of his childhood, and the way his father often talked to him. His father was the second Leader of the Nation. At the time of his rule, the Empire was in its adolescence so, a lot of funding was put into education for the better understanding of the new country’s values and ideology. Unlike the Western Empire’s meaningless consumption and freedom--which he saw as the first step to chaos--he wanted to give to his people something more. Therefore, he came up with the idea of writing a book that would give his people moral guidance as well as teach them about the history of the Homeland. In the second year of his rule, the book titled Perestroika was published. The book explained that every citizen of the Eastern Empire should value modesty the most (the lack of the basic necessities such as a toilet paper wasn’t a big deal). It also told the story of the Western Empire's past attempts to use the Eastern Empire’s oil resources, as well as the history of the “Revolution of Dignity”; during which the pro-Western government was overthrown and the book was placed in schools. The teaching of minor subjects like physics and algebra was abolished to give more time to the new subject. Later, the book was launched into space, in hopes to conquer it and spread its message to other planets in case of the existence of extraterrestrial life. Every high schooler had to pass the exam on the contents of the book in order to get to the university. The current Leader wasn’t an exception--in fact, his father made him learn it by heart. He had spent countless sleepless nights reading it, but the result was worth it; he got into the most prestigious university in the country. Feeling proud of himself, he wasn’t mad at his father at all.

Photo by Elijah O'Donnell on Unsplash

The resemblance to his childhood made his life in prison a little bit easier. After all, he had been through the same calamities before. The Minister of Foreign Affairs still visited him from time to time, but the Leader didn’t pay much attention to him. He understood that even the most brilliant minds of the Eastern Empire couldn't resurrect the dead in the form of a rat, so it must of had something to do with his mind. He wished he hadn’t banned psychology just because of its Western origins, a good doctor could have been helpful. The Leader also managed to find someone to talk to – a young dissident who was sentenced for smuggling Western books on politics and philosophy. They had passionate discussions about Perestroika that gave the Leader some fresh perspective, and he was surprised at how open he become in this place. He was yet to openly criticize the book that his beloved father wrote. He has spent years reading it after all, but he learned how to listen to other people's opinions without wanting to hit them in the face. He wondered what the reason behind it could be . Was it the absence of power he used to carry on his shoulders? Or, was it because of the dissident?

To be continued...