The Symbols of Our Community
It appeared one day. As if installed in the cover of darkness, no one in the village could determine the origin. The object in question was a door, or at least a threshold, that was covered in symbols. The symbols ultimately formed an image of man. The people of the village and the surrounding towns knew nothing of this man.
Each symbol provided a pictogram of a human action. Some pictograms showed a person waving, a person stretching, or some included multiple people.
One of the more brazen villagers walked up to the structure. He pressed his hands to his side and observed.
A symbol which illustrated a pictogram of a man standing in the same position.
“Look!” the villager exclaimed. “It lit up.”
He looked at new symbol and attempted to mimic it. He leaned and he stretched, but nothing. The existing symbol remained illuminated.
“You’re doing it wrong!” shouted another.
“If you’re so smart, why don’t you have a try?”
The accusatory villager took center stage in front of the threshold and struck a pose.
“There! Now lemme get one more.” he said.
Try as he would, no additional symbols lit.
The two men remained confused as they twirled and twisted, but not illuminating any other symbols.
A young girl approached.
“Can I try?” she said.
Reluctantly, the two men agreed with equal parts stubbornness and caution. They were concerned for her safety, but more concerned she might accomplish something two grown men were failing to do.
The girl noticed a pictogram which illustrated a smaller person in between two larger people, each holding the adjacent person’s hands. She grabbed one of their hands each.
The symbol lit up. Excited, she jumped into a new pose. No response. The men observed with some relief that she only achieved what they had, but remained confused.
“You’ve already done one.” Someone yelled from the crowd that had begun to form around this spectacle. “Let someone else have a go, yeah?”
One by one, each villager stepped up to the threshold and posed.
Bing. Bing. Bing.
One by one, each character illuminated.
The village worked tirelessly for hours, each taking a turn and lighting up a symbol.
Bing. Bing. Bing.
The crowd cheered when a symbol lit up. Everyone was able to be a star, if even for just a moment.
“There’s only three left!” an observer yelled.
The crowd groaned. All of the villagers had taken a turn.
“Who didn’t go?”
“This is everyone, right?”
“Mr. Wilker,” someone whispered, “he didn’t take a turn.”
Whoever made that statement was right, the curmudgeonly old man, Mr. BEnedict Wilker stood on his porch observing, but refused to participate.
“Mr. Wilker, please!” the kids shouted.
The entire village wanted to know what was behind the threshold, assuming the final symbol would open the door.
“Don’t you want to know what’s inside?”
“The whole community came together for this.”
“We each worked together to achieve something. If you take part in this, we will share the reward with everyone.”
“I’ll do it, if you would just leave me alone.”
The crowd cheered. Mr. Wilker walked slowly to the center of the village and stood at the threshold.
The remaining pictogram was a person with one arm raised over its head.
Mr. Wilker raised his arm in compliance.
The onlookers erupted in excitement.
Slowly the doors opened to reveal… well… nothing.
The room was absolutely empty.
“What the—?” someone gasped in confusion.
“Thanks for wasting my time.” Wilker complained.
The crowd started dispersing.
“Wait!” one man shouted, “Don’t you see? This puzzle brought us together. The prize wasn’t on the inside, the prize was the journey. We all took time from our days to be here, to make each other feel special. This was our chance to prove that we could be a community and we did it!”
The passionate, well dressed, man paused as murmurs in the crowd.
“Now isn’t that something we should be proud of? That’s our prize!”
They thought about what he said. What an eloquent statement had been made.
“Well that’s not a prize at all.”
The crowd fully cleared. Shaking their heads and shrugging their shoulders.
“The impassioned man turned to threshold, looked up into a small peephole camera and said, “Well, there you have it.”
Across the nation, streaming live across computers and mobile devices, the man was seen.
“It appears that this week’s contestant village on Secret Fortune: Community Edition has been voted unfavorably in the category of graciousness. Therefore they will not be receiving the grand prize and we will move on to our next community and see if they can meet our criteria. Thanks for tuning in! Until next time on Secret Fortune: Community Edition.”