THE MORAL INDIVIDUAL

The Underground

"I'll tell you what the underground is, but it requires a little history," Marten began. "Do they teach you about the underground in your school history?"

"No, but I know about it," Lester said. "My father had lots of books about history, geography, and science. I've read most of them. My mother told me never to tell anyone else about them, because most of them are forbidden. The history in the school books is something like the history in my father's books, but the school history leaves out almost everything that is really interesting."

"The History taught in school is not true history. You may have read some of this, Lester," Martin said, "but I'm sure the rest of you will not."

"I know they teach you about the Awakening, but what they teach is not true. Before the Awakening there were constant wars and they teach you it was the Forbidders who brought about the Awakening and the peace and freedom that followed. The real reason the wars ended was because the Forbidders found a way to have what all the wars were fought over without the wars. What the Forbidders always wanted was power and the Awakening gave them complete power.

"They teach you the reason for your education is to help you become good adults and that reaching adulthood is the most important thing there is. What they do not teach you is what being an adult under the Forbidders actually means. It means becoming totally obedient to the Forbidders' rules."

"Is that why there's a, 'Choice Day?'" Eddy asked.

"Yes, but it should be called 'surrender day.' It is the day one claims their adulthood by choosing to become completely obedient and to never question the authority of the Forbidders."

"I thought it was the day one chose their religion?" Yuwon said.

"It's the same thing," Marten explained. "The religions are how the Forbidders keep their power. As different as the three approved religions, Pleonism, Klomanism, and Shealism seem to be, what makes them all the same is the belief in a 'supernatural power' or cause of things and the belief that some knowledge can only be known by 'revelation.'"

"I'll never choose a religion," Jasmine said defiantly. "They're all hocus-pocus dreary nonsense. If that's what I have to do to be an adult, I'll never be an adult."

"So, do you want to always be a child?" Marten asked her.

Marten and Jasmine had this conversation before, and Jasmine was determined not to make another speech.

"I don't want to stay a young girl. I want to be a grown-up woman living my life the way Lester's mother, or ToyLin live theirs, doing something important and enjoying my life, and accomplishing something. But I don't want to be what they call an, adult," she emphasized with disgust.

"Jasmine, you are already quite grown up and have been ever since I knew you as a little girl. You never stood for any nonsense and had an insatiable desire to learn and live, which is I why I've always love you."

Jasmine said nothing, but was visibly moved.

"We all think the same way as Jasmine," Lester said. "We've talked about it and we all dread 'Choice Day,' but we'd all rather be 'taken away' then to choose a religion."

"Taken away?" Marten said. "Do they still teach that in school?"

"No. We didn't learn about that in school. It is only in some of my Dad's history books. We are taught that everyone chooses a religion, but my Dad's history book says there were many people who refused to choose a religion and were 'taken away.' One of the books explained that those 'taken away' were either made slaves or killed," Lester said.

"They stopped using that 'taken away' threat years ago," Marten said, "and it has been hidden ever sense, but it is very real and is still done today. Shortly after the Awakening when so many refused to make a choice thousands were taken away which is why there was an underground.

"The underground wasn't a thing, actually. It was a system by which all those who refused to make a choice helped each other escape the Forbidders' agents. Some faked a choice and pretended to be 'adults' and used their freedom to hide those who refused even to fake such a choice. For obvious reason, those who refused to choose, were referred to as 'Nochose.' The various ways they were hidden and moved were referred to as, 'Nochose roads,' 'Nochose houses,' or the 'Nochose underground.'

"The underground is all gone today except for one part that is really under the ground, but it is unknown except to a very few. ToyLin knows, and I know, but I'm not sure anyone else outside ChildIsle knows. Your father knew, Lester, but I don't think your mother does, but you might ask her. By the way, Lester, both your father and mother were 'Nochose' who faked their choice. They helped a lot of other 'Nochose.'

"They never told me," Lester said, "but I think I always knew it. They were supposed to be Pleons, or Pleonists, but they never attended anything religious and there were no religious books in our house, and there was never any talk about religion."

"That's why I like your place so much," Jasmine said.

"Oh," Lester said. "I thought there was another reason."

"Well, there is. I really love your mother," Jasmine teased.

Marten cleared his throat to indicate he wished to get back to the subject. Lester and Jasmine looked a little embarrassed and became very attentive.

"The one remaining part of the underground is actually a long tunnel that opens up on ChildIsle. It's a natural tunnel, or cave, created by an ancient underground river. It is about ninety miles long. It begins right here in Plemberton and passes under the ocean ending at the island."

"I've never heard of any caves in Plemberton," Eddy said.

"Actually it's not a cave in Plemberton, it's under Plemberton. Someday geologists will probably discover it. It was originally discovered by those living on the island who explored it and discovered it reached into the mainland. They actually bored their way up from the tunnel to the surface. It came out in Plemberton.

"The tunnel is how you will get to the ChildIsle."

***