Society had split into factions. Governments were dismantled. Nuclear war broke out, and the human race was decimated. The ones with the power, the ones with the bombs, the ones with the privilege – they thought they won. These powers took over a newly-weakened population, and devoted their efforts toward EFFICIENCY, claiming this would protect the earth from war, scarcity, and extinction. Diversity and originality were blamed. After all, diverse minds have opinions. Opinions create dissent. The ones in power elected “the perfect human” to lead their world, their nation, toward maximum efficiency.
The President banished anyone who was deemed “different.” Where did they go? It was a mystery to everyone but him. The people who aligned with his expectations were forced to work in service of the nation, suppress emotion, and obey, no matter what.
I. Art and music was banned.
II. All colors besides black and white were banned.
III. Gender was restricted to man or woman.
IV. Women were to be obedient and feminine. Men were to be leaders, masculine.
V. Men were to be with women and women with men, only.
VI. Love is inefficient. Repopulation is the only priority in couplings.
This time is now known as the Binary Era, which demonized differences and exalted efficiency.
But the President did not know about the secret meetings and gatherings of like-minded individuals who rejected these imposed ideals of society. These individuals, hes, shes, and theys, continued to believe that our differences, our emotions, and our love for one another make us who we are. These things are what bring us happiness. This secret society came to call themselves - The Gaylords.
The Gaylords met secretly in different undisclosed locations. Their emblem of freedom, a feather, was engraved on coins that they carried, not only for good luck, but also so they were able to identify each other safely. If you did not have the coin, you could be a spy, or worse – one of The President’s army.
Humanity continued to suffer from its decimation and The President ordered an extensive cloning effort to repopulate, and The President chose only the humans he considered ideal subjects. He of course chose his own son, Nitsua. But the President did not know that his son was one of the leaders of The Gaylords, and when The President cloned him, he would inadvertently grow their secret society by thousands.
Nitsua’s impending cloning was the most important step of The Gaylords’ plan. They had been organizing for years, working toward their dream of a world where they felt free to be themselves. After the cloning, they knew they would finally have the numbers they needed to overthrow The President and his binary philosophies.
Collectively, The Gaylords asked the universe for guidance. How can we create a world that is safe for all of us to be truly ourselves? And at that very moment, light and forbidden colors flickered in the corner of their eyes. Naej, one of the leaders in the movement, spotted the source of the light in a nearby rockbed. The Gaylords gathered around the rock as Naej unearthed a small rock glowing from within… it was a beautiful glowing rainbow gem - THE rainbow gem.
Color had been forbidden for so long and the beauty of the gem was marvelous and overwhelming to behold. The Gaylords each took a moment to hold the gem and bask in its rainbow light. Curiously, the gem seemed to react uniquely to the individual's touch. Shades of red, orange, green, blue, indigo, and violet would shift, strengthen, or disappear. The gem had a magical ability to reflect and sense the unique personality and vibrations of each person who held it. And when they looked at their reflection in the gem, their eyes glowed beautiful vivid colors.
The Gaylords did not fully understand the power of the gem, but they did know that they had asked The Universe for guidance, and The Universe gave them this magical gem.
It was a beacon of hope for their mission, and it was to be protected at all costs. They knew that if the gem was discovered by anyone outside of their society, they would all be punished, and the gem would be destroyed. So when Nitsua held the gem tightly in his palm and walked toward The President’s cloning chambers, it felt as though time had stopped and his heart’s racing was all he could hear.
The cloning chambers lit up in beautiful colors. The cloning technicians, The President’s men, were confused by this, but they chose to remain silent. After all, color was forbidden. The cloning technicians waited for Nitsua’s clones to step out of the machine, but they never did. Something had gone wrong with the procedure and no one knew what. The door opened and unscathed, Nitsua stepped out, hiding the gem in a pocket.
His father, The President, was furious. Had there been some sort of machine malfunction? Had Nitsua somehow caused it? Each cloning procedure was costly and time-consuming, and creating clones of his own son had been a complete failure. He declared Nitsua unworthy. “Just go. I don’t want to look at you right now,” his father bellowed.
Nitsua obliged, and as he quickly walked away, he could swear he felt the gem pulsing like a heartbeat. Nitsua had always felt, deep down, that he was a disappointment to his father. And this confirmed it. But something about this confirmation brought the realization that no matter what he did – he would never be “good enough.” This was his father’s problem, not his.
A supremely confused, but somehow enlightened Nitsua returned to his fellow Gaylords and recounted the experience. He told them about how when the cloning was supposed to begin, the entire chamber lit up in light, color, and joy. It had been breath-taking, completely unlike the experience other clone-bases had, which he had heard described as severely uncomfortable, nauseating.
He pulled the gem from his pocket, and to everyone’s surprise, the colors were even more vivid than before. He set the gem between them and it glowed so brightly The Gaylords shielded their eyes.
That’s when it happened.
A voice from within the gem spoke… a voice that sounded similar to Nitsua’s, but the cadence was different, softer. “We are safe here,” the voice said.
The Gaylords went silent, until it was Alana that first spoke. Alana was small in stature, but large in personality. She was the best at bringing people together, and there was no other Gaylord who could be more capable of speaking to a mysterious voice inside a gem. “Where are you?” Alana spoke with distinction and confidence.
“Outerspace? I think? We’re not sure, but it’s just…. us.” The voice laughed, oozing with genuineness. “And there’s color. And beauty. And plants! And there’s no President. No hate. We’re safe.”
The more the voice from the gem spoke, the more similar to Nitsua it sounded. Ali continued, “Are you one of Nitsua’s clones?”
“I don’t know who Nitsua is. But we are all hot as hell! So if we are his clones, thanks for that!”
Alana spoke, asking her fellow Gaylords. “Could the cloning machine have acted as a portal?”
Nitsua scoffed, “That doesn’t make sense…”
Naej chimed in, “It was the gem. It had to be the gem.”
The gem glittered in the sun, sassy, as if it knew exactly what it had done.
Alana asked the voice inside of the gem, “Do you have a gem there? A rainbow gem?”
The voice remarked, “Girl, we have tons of gems!”
“Rainbow gems?” Alana asked.
“Red gems,” said the voice.
“Rainbow gems?” Alana asked.
“Red gems,” said the voice.
The Earth-bound Gaylords erupted into a symphony of questions, opinions, ideas, suspicions… had the cloning machine somehow fragmented the stone and sent the clones to outerspace? Maybe they needed to break the gem into fragments? Maybe they needed to clone more Gaylords? Maybe they needed to clone more gems? If the gem could be cloned, could they each have their own gem? What if the gem really was a portal to a better place? A safe place? Could they all go there?
“Everyone, quiet!” Alana’s voice boomed over the crowd, and there was silence. “We asked The Universe to send us hope! And now, there is a person, a human on the other side of this gem saying there is a place where there is hope, where we can be safe, where we can live our lives free of the suffocating binary.”
Nitsua grabbed the gem and put it back into his pocket, protecting it. “Tonight, we rest. Tomorrow, we plan our next steps. We all want the same thing… we will work together to get it, to create the world we deserve. And we will succeed. I know it. But first, rest.”
The next morning, The Gaylords created a master plan. They would sneak into the cloning chambers, and attempt to clone the gem. Nitsua needed to distract The President and his associates.
Alana and Naej snuck the gem into the chamber and followed the directions Nitsua had given them. When the machine was activated with the gem inside of it, the chamber lit up with beautiful colors, the same way Nitsua had described. Naej grabbed Alana’s hand and they basked in the joy and beauty. When the machine beeped, indicating the job was complete, the door opened, and the rainbow gem remained, glittering - the single rainbow gem.
“It must only work on humans,” Naej theorized.
So Naej and Alana carefully begun the process of cloning Alana. They closed the machine’s door and Naej pressed the button. The room lit up in beautiful shades of blue… and when the machine beeped, indicating its completion, Alana stepped out. Her clones did not.
Alana pulled out the gem and held it to her lips, “Hello? Is someone there?”
A voice similar to her own responded, “It’s… cold.”
Alana and Naej’s hearts beat faster than they ever had and Alana continued, “Where are you? Are you… in space? What do you see?”
The voice came from the gem, “Snow, mountains, an ice lake… it’s beautiful. But. Cold.”
“Who all is there?”
The voice responded, “There’s a lot of us… but we’re safe. It’s safe here.”
Whispers came from the gem as Naej and Alana’s eyes met in fear, excitement, and wonder. Then the voice continued, “They said you can come too.”
“Who is… they?”
“Friends. Allies. You can come too. Close your eyes, hold the gem, and simply ask the Universe to bring you to safety.”
Alana’s thoughts ran wild, but Naej spoke, “Do it. Go, Alana.”
“But the others…”
“If the gem works for you, it should work for all of us... right?”
Alana held the gem to her heart. She closed her eyes. “Universe… please. I’m suffocating here. There has to be more than the binary. There has to be a better place, a safe space… bring me there. Please.”
And in a haze of blue, Alana had disappeared, the gem falling where her feet had been. Naej had never seen anything like it. It was like magic. He picked up the gem slowly… it vibrated, its colors shifting in reaction to his touch, and Alana’s voice echoed from within, “Naej! Naej are you there?”
Naej took a deep breath. “Alana, is that you?”
“Yes, and, it’s… amazing.” the lightness in her voice warmed Naejs’ heart and he knew exactly what to do. He slipped the gem into his pocket and sprinted back to the Gaylord’s secret meeting place.
One by one, The Gaylords said hopeful goodbyes and wrapped their fingers tightly around the gem. And one by one, they asked the Universe for safety and the air around them lit up in different colors and they were transported to a galaxy far away.
Then, there was the sound of marching and military bells in the distance, growing closer and louder. The Gaylords illegal use of the chamber had been discovered; and just as the last of them was transported, The President approached. Only Nitsua remained.
Nitsua held the gem tight in his palm, with the wish that The Universe would provide guidance and save anyone else that needed respite.The President came face to face with Nitsua, and Nitsua’s final words echoed: “There is so much more to life than this, Father... May the Universe bring me to safety, and provide guidance to all who remain trapped here. And one day, I hope you can see how wrong you are. About everything. Goodbye.” He closed his eyes and disappeared in a haze of red.
The President picked up the rainbow gem, and all color disappeared. It turned black. “No one will speak of this,” said The President to the men who had accompanied him. “And no one will lay a hand on this abominable rock. Ever again.”