Our tiny corner of the world ended not with a bang, but with a whisper of words. Ugly words that spread like a plague. It ended with men coming in the night for the innocent, with protests and anger, martial law and border walls.
It ended with fear.
The strange thing, we saw it coming and let it happen, as if we couldn’t believe the chaos. Sure there were protests, and people speaking out, but most sat back and waited. Until it was too late. Until they were herded and segregated and culled.
I was fourteen.
It was my mother and me back then. We tried to run, like so many.
And like so many we failed to escape.
They caught us fleeing the city, dozens of groups with the same idea. I remember people running and screaming and the sounds of shots. Of my mother being yanked away by the force of the panicking crowd and her hand slipping from mine. I remember the look of horror on her face as we separated.
They rounded up the survivors and took them back. I can still see the bodies of the dead lying in the streets as the guards dragged us away. One woman had her head bashed in with rivers of blood flowing from her skull.
I never saw my mother again.
It doesn’t matter anymore. It’s too late.
Our hope died that day.
Some still tried for a while after that, appealed to other places for aid, salvation, anything.
But the rest of the world had enough of us.
No one came to help.
We stand alone now, in a cesspool of hate, other countries turning their backs on us with sanctions and restrictions and closed borders. The government runs everything, food and clothing distribution, medical aid, housing, and it’s all rationed. Except the authorized religion, there’s plenty of that. And no music, books, or art that isn’t approved by them.
Nobody protests anymore, they’re too busy trying to survive. Every citizen belongs to an affiliation, little more than gangs, holed up in apartment blocks or old city sections surviving day to day on their government allotments and defending their territories. Their strength lies in numbers as they manage a meager existence. Sometimes there are wars between factions, but they don’t last long. There is order in their lives, brutal, visceral, but order.
Outside the affiliations, life is different.
Anarchy reigns out here. It’s home to criminals, crazies, and other nut jobs. We’re always on the move, living in abandoned homes and other buildings, looting for what scraps remain and willing to knife anyone in the back for a morsel of bread or the wrong word. The patrol guards keep the status quo, keep us out of the affiliation zones and from making a mess in their order.
But people still leave their safe, ordered pens. Trying to run from their own existence, escape to a better life, or live dangerously, there are many motivations. I had one. I made a home out here.
Most don’t. Most are only fools. They think they’ll be free, yet there’s nothing here but killers and streets lined with closed shops and empty houses.
That’s why I came.
That’s why I love all the fools.
If they’re lucky, the guards will arrest them. If they’re not lucky…
They’ll meet me.
I’m the shark in the cesspool, the butcher in the chaos.
You see, my old world ended but I’ve grown to like the new one. No one cares if I kill, or if I paint the streets a scarlet red. No one hears the futile screams that echo from the helpless and the foolish.
No one cares what I do anymore.
And I can stand in the rivers of blood with a smile.
~ A. F. Stewart
© Copyright 2019 A. F. Stewart. All Rights Reserved.