Part One: Declaration

“No . . . more . . . masks . . . !!!”

The group shouted its demand while spilling across the sidewalk and into the street. It roared and bellowed in many voices and languages.

“No . . . more . . . masks . . . !!!”

They mocked still-wearing pedestrians and threatened to snatch face coverings if not removed voluntarily.

“No . . . more . . . masks . . . !!!”

The scope of genders and geographies, and incomes and insights was a census taker’s delight.

Capturing the Great Uprising were broadcasters, cablers, live streamers, influenzers, and those capable of pointing a camera phone and pressing the RECORD button.

From the crowd, an individual professing knowledge and wisdom lifted a hypodermic needle of fluid. Science had triumphed and the great plague had been vanquished.

A chant of “I got the shot. I got the shot,” erupted.

Another soloist, shrieking of government coverups and international conspiracies, waved a banner with the word “Truth.”

Dozens waved banners and roared, “Give us the truth. Give us the truth.”

Civilization’s volume had peaked.

Meanwhile, in a shop at the edge of the echoes, an ancient figure reviewed its conclusions.

Part Two: Preparation

Only a few minutes were left.

The Keeper checked, double-checked, and triple-checked centuries and millennia of numbers and charts. The results never varied.

The Apprentice stood nearby. Save for the eyes, its face was covered by a mask and hoodie. Each bore the emblem of three slashes.

The Keeper gestured to begin and seven thousand years of history unfolded.

A barrage of attacks, counter-attacks, and counter counter-attacks was unleashed. A staff crushed unseen enemies and a sword warned of carnage in waiting.

The exhibition ended with back crouched, legs planted, and gloved fists clenched.

The Keeper motioned “At ease” and evaluated the performance:

“You have learned much. Your command of the sword and staff is complete and your training is finished. You are ready to Crusade.”

The corners of the Apprentice’s eyes curled up betraying a smile.

“However, you must not rely on your weapons.”

A protest was begun but halted by the Keeper’s raised hand.

“They will only provoke the monster. Trigger an attack. Use them as a last resort.”

The terms were accepted.

The clock chimed. They bowed and the Apprentice stepped from the shop as the No More Maskers appeared.

Part Three: Initiation

The group turned to face the masked and hoodied figure. “No more masks,” it bellowed in voices as diverse as its membership.

The figure showed no emotion, locked its gaze, and walked to the street. The group swallowed it.

Needle Waver emerged and coolly offered assurances. Truther countered a face covering was not needed. The figure stood firm.

Needle Waver spoke of accepting science and re-joining civilization. Truther encouraged standing up to government conspiracies.

“Get the shot,” called out and “Lose the mask,” responded. “Get the shot!” “Lose the mask!” The figure breathed deeply and closed its eyes.

BAM! A faceless coward kicked out its left knee. CRACK! An anonymous assailant kicked out the right. It was crouched on all fours and the crowd roared its approval.

Truther bent over and reached, “You don’t need that anymore.” Needle Waver tapped the hypodermic, “Welcome back.”

A lightning strike from the figure’s staff halted the assaults. Three slicing sweeps of its sword convinced the crowd to retreat with all available haste.

The withdrawal was led by the broadcasters, cablers, live streamers, influenzers, and camera phone RECORD button pressers.

The figure stood, re-sheathed its weapons, and disappeared into the night.

From inside the shop, The Keeper returned to its numbers and charts. The bottom “Apprentice” entry in the eighth volume, on the twenty-first page, was amended with “Crusader” and three slashes.

The End.

Author: William Spear

William E. Spear has written for audio since 1994. His book, "Lit Between the Ears, Volume One: Chekhov, O. Henry, Spear and Tarkington On the Air," was released on July 31, 2006. He founded Two Plus Plus Productions LLC in 2006 and is President. He founded Hunterdon Radio Theatre in 1999 and has written over 15 plays since. Spear's work has been broadcast in New York and New Jersey and his plays have been published on web sites across the country.

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