‘Boy, they’ll be no prayers here. You’re done with prayers now.’
Kruge’s eyebrows were raised. It was the law you had to pray three times a day. Failure to comply meant public censorship, a flogging in some cases. The Keeper looked at Kruge awaiting some kind of response. Kruge just shrugged. If he never prayed again he’d done enough for one lifetime already.
‘Any more coffee? Any damn sugar? Look in the nail can.’
Kruge found something that looked like brown rock sugar in the tin and pried some out, putting it in the man’s mug. The Keeper drank it right off, didn’t wait for it to cool. ‘Got one rule here you need to get memorized,’ the Keeper said, setting the mug down hard. ‘Repeat after me. Nothing is prohibited.’
Kruge looked at the Keeper with a rising sense of hope and then anxiety. Was this a trick? Was someone hiding somewhere, taking notes, seeing what Kruge would do so they could drag him back and flog him to death? Because saying such a blasphemous thing as that would certainly end his life.
The Keeper could see Kruge’s eyes darting around the small cabin and he smiled, rubbing his face to wake himself up good now. ‘No one is watching. No one is listening. You’ve been banished boy. Don’t you get it? They don’t like smart ones. They don’t like a boy they can’t control. Repeat after me, ‘Nothing is prohibited’.’
This was the most terrible thing to utter in the whole world. To believe it; the most terrifying.
‘Nothing is prohibited,’ Kruge whispered. He waited a second to see if anyone burst through the door to arrest him. Nothing happened at all. The old man stuck out his hand for Kruge to shake. ‘Welcome, boy. Welcome to the real world.’
Review: An amazing sweet love story in the bleak wastelands - C Thomas
First Chapter here