The International Writers Magazine: It's all in the mind
Fall of the Human Spirit
Joshua A. Lineberry
lights were blinding.
I can do this, Alejandro thought to himself. The human spirit
must be capable of anything.
do it." Two men in black suits stood in the control room, overlooking
the gymnasium. Great white lights, suspended high above the room, illuminated
a single figure atop an elevated platform in the gymnasium. Alejandro
was nervous, visibly shaken. His dark hair dripped with sweat. His brown
eyes were fixed upon a single goal, which was thirty feet from where
he stood. It was another platform, higher and very far away. Alejandro
clenched his hands into fists.
"He isnt ready," said one of the black suited men, peering
out the glass windows of the control room. "He will fall."
"Give him time," said the other. His voice was deeper, and
his skin was dark like the room.
"Anymore time given will be time wasted."
"Have faith in humanity, Carl. You are foolish to underestimate
"Oh, believe me. I have no doubts about us. It's him Im worried
The man with lighter skin wore sun glasses, even in the dark. They were
actually reading glasses. They were used to monitor Alejandros
heart rate, anxiety levels, brain activity, and other various health-related
"Is he going to jump or what?" The man in the sun glasses
"You are one of the most impatient people I know, Carl." The
dark-skinned man stated, sitting down in a nearby leather chair. Brandon
was his name. He had first met Alejandro years ago, when he was seven
years younger. To the day.
Carl suddenly threw his fist at the glass, giving a grunt when the two
met. The glass was several inches thick. Practically impenetrable. But
Carl had only meant to relieve his frustration. "Its been
hours, Brandon," Carl fidgeted with his sun glasses.
"No," Brandon seemed thoughtful, "Its been years."
"Itll be decades if we keep sitting here," Carl murmured.
He stared at a few sheets of paper on a desk near the window.
"Alejandro Soto," Carl read the subjects name, which
was in black ink upon the top sheet of paper on the desk. "Born:
April 17th, 2153," Carl smirked, "Died: Standing on the gymnasium
platform." Brandon offered no reply. He didnt look at Alejandro
"You act as if you dont care," Carl kept on talking,
"As if youd stay here forever if he didnt jump."
Suddenly, without warning, Alejandro gave a shout that echoed throughout
the gymnasium. Carl whirled around and pressed his face and fingers
against the window glass. Brandon leapt from where he was seated. They
watched carefully as Alejandro began to rise into the air. Higher and
higher he went.
A determined scowl was etched across Alejandros face. 'The human
spirit must be capable of anything', he said to himself. He continued
rising into the air. He had never jumped so high before. His concentration
hadnt failed him. He was going to make it. Alejandro outstretched
his arms to catch the ledge of the other platform. His fingers were
extended as far as they would reach. They are watching me, Alejandro
thought. Soon, they will know.
Carl and Brandon watched as Alejandro fell, several feet from his expected
destination, into a defeated heap upon the matted Gymnasium floor. "15
feet," Carl read the data his sun glasses had collected, "We
waited three hours to see him fail."
"He is hurt," Brandon said as women in white uniforms rushed
to Alejandros aid. "They usually are," Carl replied.
He looked at his watch, "Ten oclock."
"Im going to go see him," Brandon said. "Its
the least I can do. I had assured him of success."
Carl shrugged, "Whatever. Ill be in the lobby." Brandon
straightened his coat and strode through the control rooms exit.
Two metal doors slid open to allow him to leave.
Alejandro felt himself being lifted onto a table with white sheets.
He tried to open his eyes. They wouldnt cooperate. How uncomfortable!
Alejandro had lost his self control.
The human spirit must be capable of anything. Alejandro remembered the
words of his teacher, the meager Mister Toro. He didnt recall
what Mister Toro had said afterwards. There was always something that
followed those words. It was the punch line, Alejandro was sure. He
had only remembered the first part, because it sounded so appropriate.
With newfound psychic and strength enhancing powers, humanity was more
potent that it had ever been before. Only individualistic principles
were taught. Machines were looked down upon. They were used only for
what men and women could not do themselves. And, it seemed that list
was getting smaller each day.
Mister Toro had taught Alejandro the principles of self -determinism.
It was a new ideology, replacing what it had formerly defined. There
was a call for humanity to take care of itself. Each person was responsible
for fulfilling his or her own potential. Everyone could succeed. But
Alejandro had fallen.
"I am sorry, Alejandro," said a deep, bass voice.
Alejandros eyes slowly opened. It was some time later. Alejandro
tried to sit up, but he had been bound to the top of a cold, metal plated
table. "Relax, Alejandro," said the voice. It was Brandon,
but Alejandro could not turn his head to see. They had met years ago
and had talked a few times since, but neither knew the other well enough
to recognize the person by voice alone.
"Whats going on?" Alejandro asked. His voice was tinged
with fear. "You fell," Brandon replied, bleakly. "Why
am I being held here?" Alejandros voice became increasingly
hostile, "You have no right to hold me here!"
Brandon shook his head. Slowly, he stood and took a few steps towards
the metal table so that Alejandro could see his face. Alejandros
eyes widened as he recognized a man from his past. "Youre
the recruiter," Alejandro gasped.
"Relax, Alejandro. I have a lot to say," Brandon swallowed
and straightened his coat. "You have failed your test. The test
can only be taken once. There are no second chances." Alejandros
face creased in confusion. "Forget what you have been told during
your training," Brandon said quickly, "They may have told
you that the test would be given multiple times. They may have told
you a lot of things. But forget it, okay?" Alejandro nodded, nervously.
"When you fail," Brandon grimaced, "Its over. Everything
ends, get it? Those preaching the doctrines of Individualism and self-determinism
pack up their suitcases and take the first flight home. They stop observing
you. They stop teaching you." Brandon sighed, "Youve
been given up on. Dont look at me that way, Alejandro. Dont
look at me like Im a bad person. Im not. I wanted you to
win, Alejandro. But you didnt. And theres nothing left for
me to do now but to show you the reality of your situation."
"When do I get to go home?" Alejandro asked, "If Ive
failed, I want to go back to my life."
"Your life is over," Brandon said bluntly, "There is
no life but preparation for your test. When you fail, its over.
Those whove passed move on and are accepted into society. But
those like you disappear. They go away."
"I want to go home," Alejandros voice was
shaking. Brandon returned to his chair away from the metal table and
rested his arms against his knees. He sighed again. "We cant
let you leave."
Alejandro cried out, thrashing about. It was no use. His restraints
could not be broken, especially by those who couldnt even pass
their tests. Brandon sat in his chair and said nothing. Eventually,
Alejandro gave up. His tired arms fell at his sides and he leaned his
head back in failure.
Finally, Brandon broke the silence.
"Its a trainers job to prepare you for the test. Sometimes
they must weave in a few falsehoods to hook the youths, Alejandro. There
is no bridge for those who fail. There was once something we called
low class. But they were sad souls. They were perpetual failures at
everything they tried in life. As a result, their existence only was
felt by the crimes they committed or the drugs they championed. Can
you believe it, Alejandro? Would you want your children to succumb to
the temptations of self-defeating drugs? Neither did we.
We wanted bright futures for our sons and daughters, separate from those
that would bring them down. Separate from those that would steal what
they have rightfully earned and supply what would be their destruction.
Poverty has always been the seed of all things terrible in civilization,
Alejandro. Surely, you were taught that in your training."
"Have they told you of the American dream, Alejandro? This dream
is for the number capable of passing the test. All others that fall
must be removed from society, lest they corrupt what we intend to create.
It will take time. So far, weve had mixed results. But utopias
arent built overnight, Alejandro. They are groomed to mature over
time, just like those that take the test. Think of the stock market.
Some cant measure up. We understand. But you must also understand
why we cannot allow you into our world. You dont see it now, Alejandro,
but there would be nothing for you if you remained here."
"We are taking the next step forward into a glorious future. Humanity
is evolving. If you and the others that fail were allowed to continue
in society, it would stall our development. It's people like you who
brought our civilization to the brink of self-destruction. Thousands
of intellectuals have mulled over possible solutions to this problem
for centuries. People began pointing to low-income families. There was
a war on poverty. Social programs were tried. But none of it worked.
Crime continued to rise. Did you know that, during this time, we had
a murder rate of almost 20%? 20%! Armed robberies, theft, and rapes
were on the rise as well. Im sure you can guess who was at the
center of these problems. Those poor souls whose lives were so pitiful
that they had to steal from and ravage others were everywhere. Even
worse, they had a tendency to breed rapidly. Something had to be done."
"Then, it became painfully obvious. To create a perfect picture,
you must remove blemishes. You are a blemish, Alejandro. A failure.
Youve failed today, once, and will fail again many times if we
allow you to continue onward. Scientists have said that 5 out of every
10 infants will someday fail their tests. 7 years ago, you were summoned
to this facility to begin training for your test just like everyone
else your age. You were taught the same material as those who have passed
the test. You were given the same training. But, unlike half the others,
Brandon stood slowly, straightening his coat once more. "Im
sorry, Alejandro. I really am. Ive followed your progress. I wanted
you to succeed. But theres nothing more I can do for you. Think
of these last moments as your contribution to a higher cause. Remember,
its for a greater good." Brandon stared at Alejandro, inviting
a response. He waited for some sort of closure. He longed for an answer
that would relieve the guilt that weighed his heart. Then, Alejandro
crushed his hopes. Twisting about, Alejandro shouted, "I want to
Brandon exited the Texas Training facility with his head hanging low.
Carl stood waiting, his hands shoved in his pockets. "No luck,
huh?" Carl prodded. Brandon said nothing, but continued walking.
"Whats for breakfast today?" Brandon said finally, "I
think we should try something new."
"New?" Carl laughed, "And pass up those all-American
slices of sausage? Those world famous pancakes? Freshly squeezed orange
juice?" They were nearing the parking lot now. "Yeah, I guess
youre right," Brandon gave in. "Course Im right,"
Carl shot back. For a moment, Carl stared back at the facility. "Another
day, another dollar," he grinned.
Inside the facility, women in white uniforms were preparing an IV for
Alejandro. Terrified, Alejandro could no longer fight to break free.
He laid there, limp. He thought of his home. It seemed so long ago.
His mothers face had seemed so hopeful when he left for Texas.
He had been so sure he would pass the test.
The human spirit must be capable of anything, Alejandro considered the
words of Mister Toro once more. What had come next? Then, he remembered.
Even its own destruction.
Alejandro began to cry.
© Joshua A. Lineberry
all rights reserved