note: A very rough draft. The final copy will follow in a couple weeks. This story began as a joke between myself and a friend that I then took to an excess and wrote a full short story off of. I also decided to include Christmas and an over aubundance of my recent political musings. Enjoy!
He coughed into his sleeve. The shirt might has well have been dyed red at this point. He was about to continue on, but decided to have one last sit, reclined against a tree, and pulled out his radio:
After the rebels made an early advance into the Capitol with a surprise of chemical weapons, the Republic Army has begun to ward them off. Notorious terrorist and rebel leader, Father McKinley, was seen being taken into the Capitol.
The radio fell silent. Something was different; the broadcaster’s voice was steady; he believed what he was saying. The lie he told just now came from higher up than the media room. The Republic was scared by the rebellion for the first time since it began.
The man looked around. He knew the radio would give up his location, but the drones were only so fast. He still had time to think back.
“And what kind of freedom is this?” the man asked. His voice echoed on the sanitized, white walls.
“Better than the republic,” McKinley responded.
“Is it? The men’s speech has to be so encoded at this point to remain hidden that you may as well begin enforcing your own speech laws. We’re so low on resources that we don’t even have a choice in what we eat. Our men look at you more as a savior than a leader.”
A jiggle of the assault rifle gave it away: the guard at the entrance was struck by the truth of that comment.
“And what would you prefer? We let President Gaviria win?” McKinley’s rhetoric failed him.
“Fuck ‘who wins.’ We’re set to replace a power-hungry maniac with a despot convinced his religious rhetoric is actually different.”
“We’ve been through this. I’d prefer to drop the religiosity, but it’s the only thing that keeps our men going at this point.”
“Ya know what? Fuck all this. This rebellion and the Republic have blurred into one. I’m leaving.”
“You’ll die. If the Republic doesn’t kill you, the plague will. Six months at most.”
The two men were out of emotion, the words stopped. Behind McKinley a clock without any numbers ticked away.
“I will,” the man continued. “But at least I’ll be free and equal.”
“How do you mean?” McKinley asked.
“Human’s are no different. I’ll finally be equal with the rest of nature. Free to die of my own volition.”
“Well, if you must.”
The man got up and left.
McKinley was alone in his room that night. So well made, his weight didn’t much rumple the sheets of his bed. His friend walked in the door.
“Emmanuel, I’d thought you’d left already,” McKinley didn’t hold back the surprised joy.
“It’ll be easiest to slip past the fence when it’s dark out. It may still be lit up, but the guards will be sleepy.”
He sat on the lone metal chair in the room, the only other decor present aside from the bed.
“Would you care for one last drink?” McKinely asked.
“I thought we lost it all in the last raid?”
“I managed to sneak this out.”
“You had the men haul that around?”
“I never said I was a perfect leader. Hell, this is why we have democracy in the first place.”
McKinley pulled out an old, dusty coke bottle.
“What is it?”
“Peppermint Schnapps,” McKinley replied.
“You’re fucking with me.”
“It is Christmas after all. Our savior is born, Emmanuel.”
“You just won’t let it drop. You really are a bastard.”
Emmanuel grabbed the glass and took a sip, then handed it back to his friend. McKinley noticed that they had begun to breath in unison.
“I’ve spent all day considering the things you’ve said, Emmanuel. All my life, this rebellion is all I’ve known. A continual us versus them. The men have lost hope. What you’re doing right now. Leaving. Leaving the system entirely, that’s more rebellious than anything this rebellion has ever done. The Republic will come after you, with all their oppressive force.”
“I know,” Emmanuel replied.
“What you’re doing, Emmanuel, will give the men hope. They’ll see the future in what you do. A world where a system still exists, but space for every man to be his own rebel.”
“Will you have the strength to give up the power once you’ve taken it, Jack?” Emmanuel asked. He gave no response. Both took a few more sips of the drink in silence.
“Who would have thought?” McKinley finished. “I guess it makes sense. In a world of us versus them, the most rebellious thing you can do is make for yourself a ‘me.’”
Eight months had passed since that conversation. Emmanuel had lived on berries and whatever he saw fit to kill and cook. He changed the station to the rebellion’s station. It was static, but hidden in the hiss and mumble was an ever subtle Morse code.
Capitol building taken.
Mourn with us.
Father MicKinley dead.
Long live the spirit of rebellion.
Emmanuel could feel his fever rising. He’d watch enough men die this way to know what was coming. Then he heard and echo, in the distance, the noise bounced all around the forest. The drones had found his radio signal. Though the Republic had lost, they’d get their one last revenge, but Emmanuel was happy. He laid down to sleep, one last time, with a smile on his face.