‘Awaken, followers! It’s the dawn of a new era!’
The prophet Jeremy frowns with disapproval at his disciples from his pulpit. Last night, he’d discovered a group, hidden behind the supply shed, whispering. Immediately, he saw they’d broken two rules: the supply shed was out of bounds, and no groups after 9PM. He assumed they were making plans of dissent, so he’d organised Corrections dealt by Roger, following which they’d spend the next three days in Recovery, deep in the tunnels.
Now, his loyal followers in the congregation gaze back at him. Punishment in a lesser form is to be doled to them all. In no way is Jeremy tolerating objection to his leadership. He’s the Chosen One, and anyone else with aspirations will be dealt with accordingly.
‘Many of you might notice we’re missing five of our cherished members. Unfortunately they are in Recovery.’
Gasps from his followers as the full meaning sinks in. Murmuring grows in intensity.
‘Quiet, please!’ Prophet Jeremy raises his hands up to the sky. A hush falls over the crowd, and the followers each stare back at their leader.
‘I will not sanction dispute among any of you. I must therefore instigate a climate of retribution.’ He waits a beat, eyes narrow while he scans his apostles and listens for any whispers or moans. A collective stillness floats towards Jeremy.
He nods, continues, ‘After this meeting, each of you will receive five lashes to the back and placed on food restrictions for the day. New rosters for cleaning, cooking, and building are to be drawn up. An additional vegetable patch must be built today, with fresh soil and seeds planted. Three sleeping huts are to be built, and partner allocations for the week written and advised in due course. As per usual circumstances, I will individually seek out my partner based on the work output and deference to my leadership.’
Jeremy watches as the faces of his followers remain impassive and at peace.
‘In closing, when the Objectioners are released they will undergo additional tasks to ensure Repurposing. No one is to communicate with them for a total of two weeks. Understood?’
The disciples stand, placing their hands against their hips. In a slight, but well-practised movement, each follower turns their palms to face Prophet Jeremy, then slowly raises their arms in an act of exaltation.
Collectively, they chant, ‘All hail Prophet Jeremy. We exalt and praise thee, our leader.’
Jeremy feels the familiar stirring in his groin. He must make his partner choice urgently. His gaze rests on Hettie.