Ten Steps to Freedom

Manying Yan

PureInsight | November 28, 2005

[PureInsight.org] This is a work of fiction, but the story is based on facts that have occurred during the brutal persecution of Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist Party in mainland China.

"Seven hundred and twenty two…"
"Seven hundred and twenty three…"
"Seven hundred…"

He paused, but his legs trod on.

He watched white planks slipping under his feet. In front, they stretched into railway tracks, beyond, a white infinity.

Where was he again?

Chewing his lip he winced, cruelly reminded that it was cracked and bleeding. He stopped and the cold kept biting at his lips. Soon the pain was numb, numbed by the monotony of repetition, numbed by the thick swirling whiteness around him … numb again.

Finally he gave a futile shrug. Tugging at the old jacket around his frail figure and repositioning the cloth bag that was sawing at his left shoulder, he kept going.



His mother always told him, count to ten, all will be well.

Forbearance, Xing. Zhen Shan Ren, truth, compassion and forbearance, the principles of Falun Dafa … remember?

When did he come into Falun Dafa?

Seven years ago? When he was ten?

A smile touched his lips.


Mother was on her deathbed, Doctors said that her death was two months away. Mother was clutching a blue book given by his father's friend in her pale hands.

"Mum please rest, it's late." Xing observed, glancing at the white hospital clock on the wall. Soothing back his mother's milky white bed sheets and trying to lay her to sleep, he ignored her attempts to brush him aside.

"Xing," she finally commanded sternly, "let me read, I'm feeling better already."

He let go of his mother's hand reluctantly, feeling better? When was the last time he heard something like that?

She read the whole night through. He knew that she was still reading when he woke at dawn, her face calm, lips gently moving, her cheeks pink, relieved of the ghastly hue that had discoloured it for the past five months.

The book was called Zhuan Falun.

The meditation was called Falun Gong.


That was when, he recalled, his whole family began practicing Falun Dafa.

"Two hundred and thirty five…" "Two hundred…."

Or was it three hundred already?

People brushed past him, wheels whirred by, in a dull scenery painted with gray, gray of the sky, gray of towering hotels, gray telegraph poles, gray bicycles, gray cement, gray people, gray of the snowflakes piling up on his shoulder.

"four… five… six…"

He felt sorry for the little people in gray, felt sorry that they had to listen to lies that needed little intelligence to see through, and to believe them … the sorrow fueled his determination.

Go on.


Probably seven million steps now, but he liked starting again.

Overnight on 25th of April 1999, when he was 16, the government shattered the sanctuary he had lived in for the past six years and had turned against Falun Dafa, with figures that Falun Dafa practitioners were outnumbering the Chinese Communist Party. In their paranoia and jealousy of power they sent out propaganda showing atrocities that had never happened, stating that the culprits were Falun Dafa practitioners.

Overnight, the whole population turned against Falun Gong.

On 20th July 1999, the first practitioners died. Tortured to death.

And after that the death toll escalated. His parents became more figures in the ever increasing numbers.

And the hatred against Falun Gong only seemed to rise since the self-immolation…

He smiled wryly: how much common sense does it take to see that a bottle of petrol would not stay intact through a three-minute blaze?

But they don't want to see it.


He rubbed his index finger on his right hand where his nail should have been, but there was no nail.


He couldn't see his mother, or his father for that matter … he just acknowledged their existence by hearing their periodic screams that, for some reason, even the insulated walls of the prison or labour camp that he had been thrown into with his mom and dad could not contain.

And one day, the screaming just stopped.

He dreaded the silence even more than the sounds of torture, and his hopes fell even lower when another woman was dragged in a day later. Screaming started again.

The door of his cell unlocked and the rusty creak of unoiled hinges announced the presence of a gray uniformed policeman.

"Your parents have both renounced Falun Dafa young man, when are you going to do it?"

If there was anything he started to dislike about the human standing in front of him, it was the smell of the gray substance coming from his mouth.

The policeman took another long drag on his cigarette and continued.

"You know that we will not release you until you sign this document stating that you will not practice Falun Dafa…"

"I won't." He was surprised how squeaky his own voice was. Maybe it was the lack of food and water.

"We would hate to resort to… other means."

"I still won't renounce my belief. Why are you wasting time with people you know are innocent? Is this why the streets of China are awash with more criminals than ever?"

Surprisingly, the man did not take this as an insult.

"I do my work using the easiest way that gets me to the best place, boy. Why would I bother roaming the streets looking for common criminals when you Falun Dafa practitioners admit to practicing when asked?" He smirked, "Though, come to think of it, I think it's time I treated you like a criminal."

Xing would never what came next forget what came next, as a bamboo stick was stuck under his fingernail, making him scream in agony at the pain.

His parents had died in that cell next to his … force-feeding, was what some drug-addicts in his cell told him.


"One thousand and two." This had to be the first time in his life he was counting in quadruple digits.

Then, he was suddenly there. It opened before him like another chapter in a book.

Tiananmen Square.

He strode towards the center.

The sky was dark. Not born of the night, nor of the black storm clouds.
He thought they were.

He could feel eyes on him, black unfriendly eyes. He saw the black heads of people, filtering by him like ants for shelter, and he strode on.

His frozen hands fumbled at the knot of his bag. White snow fell on his hands, hands that were long past being numb of all sensations. White snow fell past his hands onto gold.

How long it took to get it out, he didn't know. But he got it out.

He noticed the owners of those unfriendly black eyes holding unfriendly shiny black weapons running for him and the piece of golden cloth that he held in his hands.

He shook the material and felt it unfold.
Into a banner, into a message, into the sun on a stormy day.
And held it like a shield towards the impeding policemen.

He was going to tell the whole world.
What was written on the banner:
"Falun Dafa is good."

[This story was written by a 16-year-old Chinese-Australian practitioner for her high-school English class. ]

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