The Forbidden History
The Armageddon Clause - The Forbidden History


The waves came in under the black sky, creeping toward the shoreline with a weary inevitability. The dark sea crashed sluggishly onto the rubbish-strewn beaches of the island continent, swirling between the rusted remains of a time that didn't exist, the symmetry eroded by the film of filthy oil that covered the water, turning it into a slow-motion parody of itself. The stench of the scum floating gleefully on the surface of the rotting ocean tainted the air and drifted like poisonous smog over the grey sands before settling over the distant fields of decayed vegetation.

Above the squalid waves, the far horizon was lost in a depressing darkness that created a permanent twilight world of gloom, the line between dark sky and dark sea merging as if a black wall surrounded the world. The skies rolled inland, emptying their relentless clouds of blackened rain onto the desolate soil, climbing over the sodden hills that stretched away under the mantle of the rainfall as it hissed down and covered everything in filth.

No lights shone over sea or land. No birds flew through the dismal skies. Creatures that had dared dwell near the shores had been engulfed and killed, slowly burnt by the acidic rain as they suffocated on the noxious gases, and too starved and weakened by the rarity of life that swam the poisonous seas, to survive for more than a few years. Together they had perished to the sounds of a dying ocean until only the rain remained.

Even beyond the hills, far inland from the dangerous coasts, most winged creatures had long since perished, the poisoned air decimating the population. Instinct may have informed evolution that it needed to make changes quickly, but it was slow to react, and adjustments had taken far too many years for salvation to be possible. The rapid speed with which the pollution encroached upon the environment gave nature no real chance of making so many genetic modifications.

Some had heard tell of wild birds that flew inland, far to the north where only the savages of the Winterland lived, but few had ever seen them to corroborate these sightings, and such tales were dismissed as myths and the ravings of madmen. Everyone knew that birds were exotic and expensive creatures that were carefully bred by experts and came only in cages. Sparrow stew was a delicacy that few had savoured.

But then Time, unreliable at the best of times, had decided to move backward, and the harshness this regime instilled in the people at least stopped the further rot of society into nothing worse than barbaric anarchy. They at least kept the trucks moving, the beer flowing, and the Certified Therapists & Torturers in gainful employment, and they delivered the Party doctrine: Purity and Citizenship. Then they wiped clean the poisoned pages of yesterday and started again.

Welcome to YEAR ZERO.

Sometimes a few of the inhabitants of this island would make the long arduous journey from the Endless City, and come down to the bleak shore to sit among the debris of history in the black rain, and stare out over the deadly angry ocean. Perhaps somewhere deep in their minds they remembered yesterday, passed to them as genetic memories. They seemed to sense that there was something else out there somewhere across those dark seas. Something important that was essential they recall, but was too elusive to rise to memory. Something that was vital to the future. Something their lives depended on.

Something that was waiting."

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The Forbidden History

This book is the story of the Forbidden History, and itself forms part of the evidence of the existence of the Forbidden History. It is said, by those who should know better, that it contains the instructions needed to find the Forbidden History as it exists today. Most sensible people dismiss this, the State has banned it, and the Authorised Religions hold purifying parties where they righteously burn it. That leaves only you left to explain everything to.

Documents such as these are banned in the State, the nation that consists of the flat plains of ancient fields and the rotted lands of the south, rumoured to have once been the seat of civilisation and wealth in antiquity but now only one vast sprawling city surrounded by the Outlands, a bleak vista of dead foliage, howling winds, and isolated outposts of hamlets and villages. The Common State is governed by the Party of Puritans, the single permitted political organisation and the embodiment of austerity and total control. At the head of the state is the Supreme Ruler, appointed by the Party and whose power is absolute. The Party is everything. It is your friend, your confessor, your priest, and your teacher.

Sedgwick Xavier Bottoms is a young man who came to the City at the request of his father, the village mayor and landlord of their bleak home in the Outlands. It is his duty to pave the righteous way for the rest of the villages in his local collective. His mission is to find evidence that will overthrow the Supreme Ruler, Lord Protector Cromwell, and bring about the collapse of the Party.

His father has always been a good Party man, but he thinks the Party has lost its way and become soft and corrupt. It is time for a hard-liner to take the reins and Restore Order. His son is instrumental in his plans for domination. The plot is hatched among the six sprawling villages on the far edges of the Outland that form the local branch of the Party. The Ruttingland Local Party Collective has finally awoken and is making its bid for control of the Party Executive.

Sedgwick's work is that of a Witche Finder, and a good Witche Finder can make a decent living roaming the villages of the superstitious Outlands. It is also a highly respected profession in keeping with a Party Official, a Doctor of Medicinal Remedies, or a Priest of an Authorised Religion. Such pillars of the community and state are treated with respect and fear wherever they tread. In the City things are quite different, a strange place where many Citizens act like dissidents. Some don't even believe the world is flat and live next door to witches and printers of seditious pamphlets without even burning them.

Unfortunately Sedgwick comes from a rather warped lineage. His heritage is of generations of combined village mayor and pub landlord, and it is his destiny to hold this position, as his father does now, when his brothers leave home and his father retires. The problem is that Sedgwick is completely insane, as is his father, and was his father before him. The only real difference is that now his father is thinking bigger.

In the past the rest of the village have always just let them get on with it, as they have never had a lot of say in the matter anyway. There also wasn't another pub in the village and a thirst is a terrible thing to have. Now they may have to rethink their tacit involvement, as it's all getting a little too dangerous, and no one wants The Enquirers breaking down the door in the middle of the night and their families and friends disappearing.

Sedgwick has no such doubts. He believes passionately that he is on a mission of faith on behalf of Purity and God. Sedgwick needs to find evidence of the Forbidden History that will topple the power at the top of the Party of Puritans. If he can prove one mistake it would destroy their Infallibility; the doctrine that says all truth is their truth and gives them the mandate to rule. If he succeeds, his father can lead a Pure Revolution and the Reformation can begin.

Unfortunately his father's ambitions are all in his head, but his brainwashed son isn't of the mind to realise this.

Macintyre 'Fingers' McPorkhouse is a builder. He has spent his entire life in the company of spanners, screwdrivers and other assorted tools and he had always been quite happy that way. He doesn't like people very much. He spent most of his working life building and renovating, forgetting to invoice and do his paperwork, moving every time the Ministry of Taxes and Burden get too near, and waiting for the day The Big Job will come in. In his private life, he, well, works. He doesn't know how to anything else.

Then Fingers got the call from the Palace, the Party Headquarters. There is extensive renovation required on the Palace dungeons. They're starting to fall to pieces and more than a few Citizens that have been sent for some Corrective Therapy have been killed by falling debris and crumbling masonry. The Licensed Torturers are not happy about this at all. They are on piece-work and if someone dies on their shift they lose their bonus. As full Party members, they have made a complaint to their shop steward, and the renovation committee has been inaugurated.

Fingers doesn't care for politics or anything else not directly related to the building trade. The only things he has ever read are the one hundred and seven volumes of the State Building Regulations, and his weekly copy of Builder Today! Fingers has a problem. He knows something that he isn't supposed to, and if they find out he knows, he will simply disappear. And he's heard that only the lucky ones get killed. For the rest it's much worse.

The Forbidden History is a rumour within the State, a whisper of gossip and a tale to enchant. In the official eyes of the state and the Authorised Religions, all time and civilisation began at Year Zero. Before this there was nothing. The Forbidden History is thought by some to be evidence of a time before Year Zero, a document recording a history of a people and a civilisation that disappeared.

Most people do not believe it exists.

But if the Forbidden History does exist, it is the book that chronicles the link between then and now, and describes the time before Year Zero and the destruction of the old world.

There are instructions for finding this book that have been printed and bound and passed from hand to hand, hidden below the words. It is the Keepers whose work it is to stop people reading these instructions. The Forbidden History must stay secret and its location must remain unknown. The Keepers of History are everywhere. They are eyes that follow you from the shadows. They are the silent hands that take what you should not have in your possession when you turn your back. They are the person sitting next to you as you sit on your train. They are the strangers sitting behind you when you are on the bus. They are the friend you haven't seen for a long time until you picked up this book and started to read. They are the neighbours who smile when you don't know their name. They are the people you will meet tomorrow.

In your hands is the book of instruction that will take you to the Forbidden History. But you must read quickly. You must finish before it is discovered and taken away.

The Keepers are everywhere. They are watching you right now.

The Party knows all.






The Forbidden History ©Antony Kershaw 2000-2003

metal /"mEt(@)l/ n. & a.
[(O)Fr. métal, †metail or its source L metallum mine, quarry, metal]
Any of the class of substances including the elements gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, and tin, and certain alloys (as brass and bronze), characteristically lustrous, ductile, fusible, malleable solids that are good conductors of heat and electricity; music. Material of this nature; spec. (a) as that of arms and armour; (b) cast iron.

gods /gQd/ n.
A superhuman person regarded as having power over nature and human fortunes; a deity. Also, the deity of a specified area of nature, human activity, etc. An image or object (as a plant or an animal) worshipped as symbolizing or constituting the visible habitation of a divinity or as itself possessing divine power; an idol. Singular: The supreme being, the great architect.

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The Armageddon Clause - Copyright Antony Kershaw © 2002