Author : Steve Zabaldo

“Cerell, come on, the Departure Gathering begins shortly. We don’t want to miss the launch.”

“Is it true a citizen is passing?”

“Yes, that is why today’s departure is special. Citizen Herald has chosen to pass off-isle and journey the Feralands.”

“Will we be told of his adventures?”

“No Cerell, you know when a citizen chooses to pass, he can never return. We cannot foresee how the Feralands may sway any citizen and we cannot upend Balance.”

“But we are told nothing of the Feralands besides their danger. What is so dangerous? Why are we not told?”

“Cerell, do you question the Providers?

“No, it’s just…”

“It’s just? We have peace, bounty, health? Isltopia is Balance Cerell, and cannot tolerate Upenders.”

Loading the trading craft, the laborers hurried, glancing up at the Traders or out to the gathering crowd. They, as much as any citizen, excitedly await the ceremonies of the Departure Gathering; food, music, speeches, games, and the Pronouncement of the Providers from behind the Veil. The Providers are never seen in their official capacity; nobody knows who they are, only that they exist. They walk among the citizens anonymously and objectively. They are immune from Undue influence, they cannot be swayed with personal appeals, and therefore remain unbiased in the maintenance of Balance.

“Herald, why must you pass?”

“Mother, we have discussed this to its end. I want for answers, for things The Providers begrudge us.”

“The Providers begrudge us nothing; they protect us from the Undue and further the vision of The Founder.”

“I wish not to suffer the portion of an Upender, so I choose to pass.”

“You will be missed.”

“I will think of you always. Fear not, I enter my Bliss.”

Herald boards the trading craft disappearing into the hold. The Traders prepare for launch, silent and efficient, no movement unneeded. Herald makes for his cabin seemingly unnoticed by the machine-like Traders. Arriving at his cabin Herald is greeted by a man of stately stature.

“You have questions citizen Herald.”

“I, I do. Um, and you are sir?”

“I am Provider Prime. What questions would you like answered?”

“What is life like beyond our borders? Why are we not told of the Feralands? Why can we not return? Why—“

“There are many communities beyond Isltopia with many ways of life. Most live much as we do, but without Balance…people decide many issues for themselves and make many errors in judgment that cost many lives. They do not benefit from the wisdom of the Founder and the protection of Balance.”

“There is much Undue?”

“They exist in Undue and do not learn from their mistakes. There is no stability; therefore, there is anguish and pain. These are the wants that you desire?”

“No…I do not know…I, I want knowledge. I want purpose. I want to bring new ideas to Isltopia, new experiences—“

“You wish to Upend.”


Provider Prime’s memory activates his Principal Protocol. He approaches Citizen Herald. “Two-hundred sixty-five years ago The Founder, who we call The Creator, issued me his final directive; ‘Without Balance,’ he said, ‘there is no point in living. Prime, always maintain Balance.’ Citizen Herald you upend Balance.” With a single motion, swift and precise, Provider Prime humanely fractures Herald’s third cervical vertebrae rendering him lifeless, which, in turn initiates The Provider’s emotion chip. “I am sorry citizen Herald—Balance must be maintained.”


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