The grassy amphitheatre was overhung by a massive conical ceiling that seemed suspended in midair. Conan had often stared at it, wondering what feat of engineering allowed it to hang there, only connected to the stage’s back wall and nothing else. Its belly was decorated in beautiful frescoes of how they imagined their Maker and the world as it should be. It was beautiful and functional, keeping them dry during meetings on wet days and shaded from the sun’s glare on bright ones.
But from where Conan sat, he could see the smallest part of the old wall beyond the amphitheatre. There was a small gap between the ceiling and the stage wall and through it, if he squinted, he could see the old bricks in the far field beyond. The speaker’s voice rose and fell in a well rehearsed crescendo but Conan ignored him, he had heard plenty of his kind of message before.
Usually, Conan always sat near the bottom of the amphitheatre but that day he had chosen one of the highest seats. It was a beautiful day and some of the top most rows still caught the sunlight, so he had taken a seat there, leaning back against the empty row behind him and enjoying the warmth of the sun. Now, as he stared at the wall, the speaker’s voice becoming merely a background distraction, he thought he might like to see it for himself. Everyone was engrossed, listening attentively to the well-groomed man on the stage and so, without their noticing, he climbed the last empty rows to the top and slipped away.
The field behind the amphitheatre was badly overgrown. Conan waded through the grasses that reached under his arms and realised that no one had come this way for ages. It surprised him. The speakers often spoke of the world beyond the wall and how much it needed them and the love of the Maker. He remembered some men who had come back from assignments over the wall and when they had spoken in the amphitheatre their voice was full of an unrehearsed passion, almost desperation for them all to join the search over the wall, for those who would like to have that love. Some had nodded their agreement and then gone home, never to think about it again. Never to breech the wall or meet the people who lived there.
The wall was old and crumbling in some places. At one point it was low enough for Conan to see over, if he stood on his tip-toes. He stared a long time, for the world outside the wall seemed very similar to the world inside it. As he began to climb, the stones began to fall away; gently at first and then cascading down, taking him with them. He lay on top of the pile, seeing the huge hole he had made in the wall. He supposed it could be repaired but suddenly he wondered why it was there at all. If the world beyond the wall needed them so badly, why hadn’t they taken the wall down? Why hadn’t they practised what they taught?
Conan worked tirelessly in the noon sun, fuelled by a sudden inclination that the wall should not be there. He dragged away every last stone in the pile until there was a good sized through-fare between the worlds. He stood where the pile had been, staring at the world beyond. It was very much like their own, perhaps a bit more stark but salvageable. A slight woman walked out from the trees a little way off and seeing Conan, she lowered her eyes and began walking in the other direction.
“Wait!” Conan cried and she turned. It was then that she noticed the hole in the wall. Her mouth dropped.
“Would you like to come and visit?” he smiled hesitantly.
The woman eyed him suspiciously, “what have you done to the wall?”
“Someone will have to fix that now.”
“Or not,” he grinned and the woman couldn’t help the slight smile that played on her lips.
“You mean, just leave it like that?”
“Then you – and others – could come in… and visit.”
“Are there more like you in there?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, kind and friendly? I’ve been told all of you over that wall are a little… well, eccentric.”
“We are a little, I suppose but for a good reason.”
“What’s the reason?”
“Come and find out…”
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