[Original Novel] The Beautiful Ones, Part 6

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Previous parts: 1 2 3 4 5

Mark flinched, but said nothing. He looked confused, then suddenly angry.

It was unclear what he meant by that. Andrew realized Mark hadn’t yet seen them vote, and in his mind there was no other possible structure than the one he’d forced on the second group. Anything seemingly different was, to him, some sort of ruse.

He subtly straightened his posture and puffed out his chest, then began listing demands. Of course he’d actually banished himself, but it was hardly the time to say so.

This didn’t satisfy him. For the first time Andrew noticed the various buckets lined up along one of the shelving units and surmised what they were for. That made sense of the stench, at least. Andrew sighed.

Mark mulled it over. Then narrowed his eyes and smiled. Andrew puzzled over that until he clarified his meaning.

With a new avenue now open to him, Andrew didn’t hesitate, falling to his knees and saying what he desperately hoped would do the trick. Mark appeared profoundly satisfied

Then, the woman in the hijab called out from behind: Mark abruptly pivoted and shouted at her. Khayrah steeled herself and set to arguing.

Mark sputtered indignantly, creating an opening for Khayrah to press on.

Mark now found room to get a word in.

Khayrah looked wounded and increasingly angry. Mark snapped back that of course he did those things, as it says so right in the Bible.

Mark laughed. Khayra asked if that was not also true of the prophecies in the Bible. Mark scowled, then insisted that was completely different.

While they were distracted, Andrew snuck up to Hugh and untied his bonds, gesturing to the second group not to alert Mark of it. He soon noticed they were all staring at something and turned to see a freed Hugh standing among Andrew and the rest. he cried, rage boiling over.

There’d been no such collusion, but again, it wasn’t the time to say so. Mark seemed ready to throw himself at Andrew for a moment, but after sizing up the first group he instead ran off into the vast maze of shelving towers leaving the second group frightened and bewildered.

Khayrah pleaded for forgiveness but was quickly assured by Sarah that they knew full well who was to blame. She nodded, relating that he’d claimed they were cannibals. Sarah joked that veganism precludes cannibalism. Andrew then chimed in.

With the ice broken, the second group rapidly integrated with the first. Aside from Khayra, there was Ernesto, Wanda, Natasha, Jordyn, Ralph and Domingo. With tensions now defused, they were all welcomed to come join the settlement and begin constructing their own shelters. Khayra inquired. Sarah said.

With everyone assembled, Andrew presented the folders he’d found. Stunned silence followed his recitation of the research log. Fran objected that it could still be demons, just ones who perform experiments on people. offered Khayra.

Fran laughed. Just as the two seemed on the verge of fighting, Andrew stepped in.

It proved effective. Andrew felt pleased with himself. Ever since the stairwell he’d been trying to work out how things went sour with Mark, and how to prevent reoccurrence. It seemed like everybody’s got some sort of personal indulgence that they want validated. Something they know is a trespass, either against rationality, social norms, or some other establishment. Some aspect of the world intimidates, injures or humiliates them, so they seek refuge in denial of it.

If you submit to their desire for validation, you become a wonderful person in their eyes. One of the good ones. Somebody who “gets it”. If you don’t, you’re just another one of the ‘sheeple’. Monsters, kuffar, muggles, heretics, statists, shitlords or whatever else.

That small concession, to step into their fantasy and live it with them if only for a moment, is how you signal to them that you’re on their side. That you mean them no harm and unreservedly accept them, idiosyncracies included. A principle Andrew suspected must be intuitively obvious to everyone else, but which he was only now discovering.

, he continued,

The rest nodded in silent agreement.

Ernesto, Hugh, Ralph and Domingo shouted excitedly, some thumping their chests. Jordyn, Khayra and the rest cheered. There was a vote anyway, as many in the original group had grown accustomed to it. At first, it was proposed that everyone take a shift hammering at the wall. Melissa griped.

Andrew asked if this meant that some people perform more or less effectively at certain tasks than others. She scowled and said something about socially constructed expectations causing men to exercise more. Ernesto complained.

Melissa disagreed, defining fairness as everyone being assigned as much work as they can handle, and receiving as much as they need. Domingo pointed out that there’s a difference between fairness and justice.

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