Chosen to Rule

Avleen gritted her teeth while sweat poured down her face, straining her muscles to lift the weighted bar. Centering all her energy and willpower, she slowly managed to push the heavy bar upward, finally letting it fall into place in its holders. Trembling from exhaustion, she forced herself to breath more slowly and easily. She didn’t want to end up vomiting from the over exertion.

Vinmus, an older man, walked over to her and commented, “Careful now Avleen, you don’t want to over do it and hurt yourself. Remember the testing is tomorrow. I understand that you want to try and push yourself right up until the end to try and get an edge over your competition. However, if you hurt yourself now your years and years of hard work will have been wasted.”

Avleen nodded at Vinmus, still not having caught her breath enough to respond in words. She sat and rested a while longer, letting her perspiration course down her perfect body. She had worked hard perfecting her body. Like every young person who passed the early tests, she had spent her entire childhood and adolescence exercising almost constantly. Everyone in her group of peers was pushing themselves, trying to become one of the Rulers. The only way one could join the elite Rulers was to have the proper mental properties and a perfected body.

Avleen’s friends and she had always thought it rather odd that they had been giving stringent tests of their intellectual capacity when young. It seemed so odd that, having demonstrated their high mental potential, they spent all their time from then on ignoring their minds and focusing all their energies on perfecting their physiques, trying to obtain perfect physical health.

They had wondered why the children with lesser minds had been the ones that had gone on to be educated. Why were the children with the greatest minds not even taught to read? Why was their health so important? How could they be expected to know how to be a Ruler when they had never received any training in anything except fitness?

However, the system seemed to work. On the few occasions that they had been able to be in the presence of any of the Rulers, it had been obvious to them that the Rulers were truly brilliant. The Rulers obviously possessed knowledge far beyond what was taught to the children with lesser minds.

The mystery was how did the Rulers learn it all so fast? From the rumors they had heard, when someone became a Ruler, they somehow acquired vast knowledge overnight. People had said that the children that were to be tested had gone off to the tests and the next day those that had passed had changed completely. They suddenly possessed the seemingly infinite knowledge with which all the Rulers were gifted.

Avleen and her friends had eventually come to the conclusion that the Rulers must have some sort of technology that allowed a person to learn everything they needed to know overnight. Of course, the possession of this type of wondrous technological knowledge was what made the difference between a Ruler and a common worker.

Avleen dreamed of the day that she might experience the wonder of suddenly understanding all the mysteries of the universe. It was hard for her to imagine, especially due to the fact that she knew so very little now. Almost everything was a mystery to her. All she really knew how to do was exercise.

Tomorrow would be the day of which she had been dreaming for so long. Tomorrow she would be given the tests that determined if she had perfected her body to the point where she would be allowed to become a Ruler.

She felt dread curdling in the pit of her stomach. What if she failed? What if she was rejected and sent to the remedial training courses where the rejects learned the bare minimum of reading and math before being sent out to work at some drudgery for the rest of their lives? She didn’t think she could go on living if she failed. She was afraid that she would just curl up somewhere and die from the horror of coming so close to being one of the great Rulers and then losing it all.

She decided she had better try to work out just a bit more.

***

The next day, Avleen was taken to the hall of testing.

She was placed in various machines that examined every aspect of her health and fitness. She was examined to determine if her body was strong enough, if it was graceful enough, if it was beautiful enough.

As far as Avleen could tell, the testers seemed pleased at the results of all the tests. She hoped that she was passing, but there was no way she could know. She wondered if even her perfect heart would be able to survive all the stress she was suffering.

Finally, the tester told her that she had reached the last test. She was told to sit in a fairly normal looking chair. Another tester entered the chamber carrying a strange looking little device that seemed to be composed of all shiny tubes and mirrors and crystals. The tester set the odd device on a table in front of her. She was instructed to look directly into the device until they told her to stop. Then they switched the device on….

***

Sometime later, Avleen wasn’t sure when, she awoke. She was lying on a cot in a small room. She instantly realized that something had gone wrong. She felt horrible. She felt weak and sick. Her breathing was labored and she ached in all her joints. She wheezed and gasped as she forced herself to sit up.

Then she saw her hands. She froze in horror. She stared. This was wrong, this was all wrong. Those couldn’t be her hands. They looked nothing like her hands. These hands were old and wrinkled. The joints were knobby and ached when she tried to move her fingers. Blue veins protruded from the backs of her hands and the skin had strange brown spots on it.

She looked at her arms and legs, they were old looking too. Her stomach was paunchy and sagging. Her breasts, which had been prefect and firm, were sagging and wrinkled. She couldn’t understand what had happened. It looked as if she had suddenly aged 60 years!

She sat there staring into space in shock. She was unable to move, she was unable to think.

Suddenly a woman entered the room. The woman looked at Avleen and checked a paper she was carrying.

Then woman sat down next to Avleen and said, “You must be Avleen. I’m very sorry, but the last test went wrong for you, very badly wrong. Sometimes this happens, its very unfortunate. I’m afraid that the device was not able to interact properly with your body’s cells. The unfortunate result was extreme premature aging.”

“You will also notice that your features have become unrecognizable. It’s a very strange effect, but it’s as if the machine somehow ends up changing some people so completely that they are almost a totally different person…”

“But, you are still the same person inside at least. Now, I don’t want you to worry. The Rulers have provided well for people that suffer from your condition. There are special homes set up to take care of you. You will live out the rest of your days in luxury. At least you won’t have to spend years doing drudgework. The Rulers are very sorry that this sometimes happens to people. It’s a terrible thing to so suddenly lose all of your health and so many years of life. But we will do what we can to make it up to you. You will find yourself living much, much better than you ever could have if you had been a common worker.”

The woman squeezed Avleen’s hand. Then she gave Avleen a small bottle and said, “Here, try to drink just a sip of this, it will help you relax.”

***

Avleen woke later in the “home” that the woman had told her about. Avleen found that the woman had been truthful, the accommodations were extremely comfortable. She even had workers to wait on her. The countryside around the home was beautiful, although completely isolated. She and the other people who had suffered her fate were able to enjoy themselves in leisure.

She was still devastated that she had lost her youth. She sunk into a horrible depression when she allowed herself to think about how close she had come to becoming one of the Rulers. She tried not to think about it.

One day, several years into her premature dotage, she met an elderly man at the home. He and she became rather good friends. She suspected that they might have become lovers if they hadn’t been so far past their prime.

As they shuffled along together one afternoon, on one of the pleasant paths surrounded by the lush countryside, she said to him, “It certainly is beautiful here. I suppose we shouldn’t feel so horrible about what happened to us. Tell me, do you ever think about what it would have been like to have become a Ruler? Do you ever wonder what it would have been like to have passed the test?”

Her close friend stopped and stared at her for a moment. He had an odd look on his face. He seemed to be considering how to respond to her. Then he pulled her a little ways off the path into a stand of trees.

He looked all around carefully, then he said, “Avleen, I have something that I would like to tell you. However, this is a secret. A very dangerous secret. I think that, if the Rulers knew that you had been told this, they would kill you. Do you want to know? I’ll understand if you don’t…”

Avleen was shocked. She stood staring for a second and then answered, “Yes, tell me. I won’t ever let anyone know that you told me anything. You can trust me”.

Her friend nodded and then, very quietly, he began, “I’m not quite sure how people found this out. Apparently, the person who first learned of it disappeared suddenly. No one knows how he found it out. Everyone since then, anyone that has ever been overheard saying anything about it, has suddenly disappeared too.”

“According to the story, the Rulers aren’t actually human. They are supposedly some sort of colony of creatures that can travel through time. They cannot travel physically through time; they can only send their minds through time. From what was heard, it appears that many generations ago, the creatures came to the modern times from long, long ago. They came from a time before humans existed. They originally were something else, not human. No one knows what they were.”

“At any rate, a group of people back then just suddenly changed completely. Mentally, they became completely different than they used to be. They suddenly knew how to build incredible machines and perform miraculous feats. That group quickly created machines that allowed them to take control and rule everyone else. They were the first Rulers.”

“Ever since then, as the Rulers grow old and die, they are replaced by young people. There is always the same number of Rulers. One young person takes the place of one old Ruler. As you know, when the young person becomes a Ruler, they suddenly seem to know everything. What you probably haven’t heard is that they also suddenly have the personality of the Ruler that they are replacing.”

“Avleen, the reason that we suddenly became old and looked completely different wasn’t because something went wrong during the testing. The reason we are like this is because one of the Rulers took our healthy, young body and put us into the old, worn out body that they no longer wanted. They are living forever that way. They steal young bodies when they get old.”

“Avleen, we aren’t like this because we failed the test, we’re like this because we passed…”


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