OK, shutting up now!
It's Not Over Yet
"I was never meant to be a soldier.
I should have been a housewife, a mother, something like that. I guess if everybody hadn't started dying around me, I might've gone that way.
As a little girl I wore pretty dresses with flowers on them, I played with plastic figurines of ladies—Barbies, they were called—and I daydreamed of the day I'd wear white and totter down an aisle in sparkling white heels. I was a bit of a weirdo by that point—most of the other little girls liked what I liked, or wanted what I wanted. But I stuck to my guns—god, that's a terrible pun, and I didn't even intend it to be one—and clung to my girliness.
Everything changed, of course.
It's a well-known fact that civil war changes a woman. It bends her, twists her up a little inside. My mind isn't the same as it once was. Nor is my heart, or any part of me for that matter. I've got scars on the outside, remnants of battle wounds, but the ones inside are what never leave me, even when I dream. Did I mention I turned all emo? Yeah, I resent that in a big way, but I've accepted it. I've accepted a lot of things I never thought I would, especially in the last few days. Because there's a point in every rebel soldier's life when she just can't deny any of it anymore—she realises once and for all that she lives in hell and she's going to die there too.
The really good soldiers decide that they might as well do what they can, while they're still standing.
I'm still standing, hard as that is to believe. I'm still standing, but the machines are my last chance, the only chance I have to get the message out, beyond these walls. I don't trust machines, but they're all I've got. They're all the outside world has got."
Red light ticks to green and I open my mouth to start talking.
I've planned it all out in my head, but now that I'm really here, now that the machine is on and I've got the chance to speak, my voice conks out on me. On the very first word it catches, and I choke, cough, splutter. It's one of those coughs that doubles me over—working the abs, you know?
As if I need more of a workout than I've had lately.
Somewhere in the middle of the hacking fit I start to laugh. Things get worse, like my face turning red—I can't see it but I can feel it burning…pretty soon it's got to turn purple; that's a sight I know well. Am I really going to die here, squeezed of all air and of the strength to keep my feet? Because that would be really ironic.
That's when it happens: I stop, gasping for air—filling my lungs with the desperation of a woman who knows her days are far more numbered than her hours. Anger flashes through me at the thought of how much time I've wasted already. I grip the console and steady myself, taking a few long, deep breaths to regain my equilibrium. Then I begin to hum, testing my voice.
"I'm reporting from Sector Fourteen, it's…" I tap my watch to bring up the date and time. "February thirteenth, time is eighteen-twenty-two. I estimate I have an hour before the machines die here as well. I'm not sure who this message will reach, if anyone, but I can only hope it goes somewhere. The truth has to be known because you're not going to hear it from anyone in red or gold, I can assure you of that…"
My voice is trembling, just like my hands. I grip my knees to stop the latter, but there's nothing much I can do about my voice. This has to be done, but I'm still not happy about being the one to do it.
How did I end up here?
I talk for thirty-seven minutes before the machinery gives out. There is so much to document but it doesn't much matter if I fail to relate it all. I start with the best examples, and they are good ones indeed. The rest can be construed—I make it clear with every word I utter that we're only scratching the surface here. To really understand what has happened, a person would have to live through what I did. There are always going to be facts that are lost to history.
But I can give them something, at least.
Some idea of how our nation has been betrayed.
It happens so quietly that at first I don't really believe it. Green light flickers, and my voice falters. Green light flickers and begins to fade. My voice gives out entirely. I stare at the dull shiny orb that used to be lit, just stand there and stare. Then I brace myself against the console, bowing my head. I close my eyes and let myself be. Just for one moment.
The time has come for me to leave this place. I fought hard to get here and now I'm leaving. But I can't execute my plan from here.
They won't feel me if I strike from this far back.
I need to go and meet them.
The further I walk, the more my thoughts tangle in my head. My veins rush with energy and vengeance fuels my motion. Still, I can't help thinking.
For me, thinking has never been a comfort.
I pass countless graffitied walls, and on one I see long-dried drips of paint that form the words, taller than my head but similarly messy:
My thoughts take a turn in that direction, and I start to contemplate the meaning of hell as I know it. I used to be religious. I used to fear hell.
I'm not so scared now, though, because I know you can find hell on earth.
You only have to know where to look.
Hell is realising that the people you trusted, the ones you wanted nothing more than to please, are the same ones who got you into this mess to begin with. Hell is learning that, contrary to popular opinion, you and your comrades just don't matter. You're utterly expendable, and quite frankly, the sooner you go down the better.
The more of you that die, the less resistance there will be in the end—resistance to the Revolution.
And god, I hate that word—Revolution. It's got all these connotations, like it's something amazing. Something wonderful.
It's not wonderful. It's not amazing.
"They turned on us at the worst possible moment. I guess that was the idea, right? Cut us off at the knees. Go for the jugular. Sever the spine.
So many clichés, so little time to make them all come true. But they did a good job.
I lay in a pile of bodies. Some of them twitched for hours, others were still in an instant. They grew cold around me but I stayed warm. They made a great windshield.
My comrades and my enemies all around me, friend and foe alike dead as last week's rancid meat. But there was an upside to lying there pinned by the weight of human flesh—it gave me time to think, really think. It gave me time to formulate a plan."