women for obvious reasons, but as his harem of minions increased in size they had more needs than he, himself, was able to supply, and they began abducting men and indoctrinating them the same way he’d done his initial captives. All were given names - which of course they couldn’t remember - and maps back to the cache. Their instructions became more involved, their missions more complex, they began more arcane missions driven by curiosity rather than survival, and standing orders gradually evolved.
Standing order number one: Do what the paper says.
Standing order number two: No one is ever to be alone, everyone must always go in twos at least.
Standing order number three: If what the paper says doesn’t make sense, follow the map to home.
And so on. These were written on every paper for every person, regardless of the mission. He was not their leader, though; they didn’t and couldn’t have one since their situation was too unstable for any form of hierarchy to evolve. Instead the written word was their leader, even though they couldn’t remember who gave them instructions just moments after they’d been written. Their society was basic and rough and barely functional, and it certainly couldn’t deal with any kind of prolonged crisis lasting longer than a few minutes, but it was a working solution to an untenable problem.
How long this happy state of affairs continued no one can recall, but eventually they reached a tipover event: Attacks, fighting, rapes, and murders began to decline. More and more people went out to follow their written instructions and came back. First only some of them came back, then they started coming back bloodied and bruised, but they always made it back. Presently the teams started coming back without having any incidents of note at all - neither ones they could remember, nor otherwise. Eventually there were more people in his ad hoc community than out of it, and from that point on things progressed rapidly and safely. The endless violence disappeared, the written word had saved them and the pen had become their sword.
The lions operating entirely on aggression and instinct had been subverted, defeated, by the lambs operating on organization and something akin to compassion. Primate curiosity re-asserted itself: They mapped out the entire airport, they traveled in twos, they had enough to eat, and a basic code of behavior had evolved that prevented most crisis and strife. Anything that couldn’t be handled by the standing orders was resolved by their short attention span and shorter memory. Fights erupted, degenerated in to chaos, the same as before, but when the chaos degenerated in to exhaustion the fights fizzled out, the combatants surrounded by rings of people shouting “Check your paper! Check your paper!”
True, the food was running out, but as it was intended as disaster relief for a town somewhere, and there were less than a thousand of them. It would last a while yet. There was time. When the food ran out, all bets were off, but for the time being they were safe. More than safe, they were curious. ‘we can’t get out of here - WHY can’t we get out of here?’
When the next airliner landed, it was met by him and a group of his minions in the terminal. New people - so clean! - came from the boarding gangway, already looking confused and panicky. His people met them and gave them papers: ‘do what these say at all times’ they said, ‘or else bad things happen.’ They couldn’t remember exactly what the bad things were, but there were enough scars and missing teeth and limbs and gouged out eyes that no one had any real doubts about the existence of the bad things.
He went down the gangway and spoke with a nervous man standing by the door of the plane. The smell of stale coffee and half-cooked airline food washed over him with a sensuality he’d never before experienced.
“I’m sorry, sir, you can’t go back on the plane,” the flight attendant said.
“I don’t want to, I just wanted to tell you something…uhm…odd.” he said.
“Is there a problem?” asked the flight attendant, who had been told simply to keep his passengers from re-boarding. He hadn’t been told what to do about this crusty, half-naked, disgusting, hairy mass of a man who smelled like a sewer.
“Problem?” he said, absently to the flight attendant.
“Yes sir,” the attendant said with fake cheefulness, “just follow this hallway to the terminal,