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His demeanor is formal, yet inviting. All eyes gaze into his smiling face, which seems to be encumbered by years of stress and responsibility.
“You chose me as a leader of our people many years ago, before I had any idea what chaos I was signed up for.” He says this light-heartedly. The crowd faintly chuckles.
A man calls out, “Bet you would go back and say ‘Hell no’ to leading now!”
The leader gives him a grin, and then his relaxed expression hardens. A more serious tone rushes over the people, all seeing a pained look in his soft eyes.
“There are many regrets I have had. Rising up and fighting like a true leader should is not one of them. To have intruders enthrall our families like hostages is not accepted now and will never be. We…will…fight!”
With a fist raised in the air, everyone begins chanting blatantly. No one can hear themselves over the noise.
“We will fight! We will fight! We will…”
Shots suddenly are fired from all directions. Children scream. Parents lean over, trying to shield their young ones. Each person’s ears ring with every enhanced shot. It sounds like whole armies of Red Dawn are closing in on their border. Their invasion was contingent, but of course, the enemy wouldn’t miss a chance to attack.
Innocent civilians drop to the ground like flies, their bodies mingled and bloodied.
“Everyone run! Get your guns!” The leader calls out to those remaining. Anger and fear is so strong in the air; it is palpable.
Several men help a teenage girl with deep gun wounds in one leg hobble off to the side. Before getting around a shabby building, bullets find their place in the back of her head. It is one of those grisly sights one will have nightmares of for years. The olive-skinned man assisting is her father, who collapses on the ground next to her limp body. He cries hysterically before another bullet sinks into his chest.
The father and daughter lay silently together.
*Days before war began…*
“We are done with it, Sir. The most pernicious explosive anyone has seen. We will launch.”
Dr. O’Neal, with a mouth large and peculiar, stares up at his boss. Being a short, half-bald man may have had no advantages for him with scoring women, but his mind is sharp as knives.
“Ah, you never do fail me, Oscar. Arrange all preparations for the launch, including a back-up generator. This beauty’s an energy hog,” the taller man exclaims.
One of his dark, rugged hands rests on the “package.” It is feet thick of steel, with a redundant ability to resist temperature differences- perfect for air travel. O’Neal’s excitement was radiating, as he bit his lip to hold back a smirk. This was the inception of war that would harshly distort the future.
Their strong, dedicated leader has fallen. His body lays limp, eyes bulge, and yet his message keeps the people pushing forward. Although the attack was impromptu, several hundred of the Rebels have remained alive. Red Dawn has retracted into the surrounding woods. Rebel survivors gather in the main building.
“Let’s kill them all! No mercy. Women, children, and elderly included,” a middle-aged man yells out. Several other heads nod in agreement and some scold.
“So, what, we don’t even take prisoners? We’re still humans, not monsters. Where’s our humanity or morals?” The lady speaking up, a former pre-school teacher now armed with a long-barrel rifle, chokes up. Tears flow down her pale, dirt-smudged cheeks.
“Well,” another lady points out, “I’d say our morals went out the window when we started killing people.”
The room quiets. No one attempts to corroborate that comment. They all know it’s true, for it weighs heavily in the back of every sane mind.
The man who first spoke of no mercy stands up, faces his peers, and talks in a strained voice. He is incisive and straight-forward.
“It’s them or us. You all choose.” With that, he sits back down on a faded couch, not saying another word for hours.
Just like their fallen leader, several people raise their hands in the air, form a fist, and accentuate three words- we will fight.
They set out at dawn.
It’s time to launch. All preparations have been made; less than five minutes remains on the countdown. Each minute makes the scientists grow antsy. A definitive contract is laid out by Dr. O’Neal. He invites his boss over with a hand gesture.
“Lovely day, isn’t it Mr. President?”
“I’ll need something to write with.”
“Ah, right here, Sir.” Dr. O’Neal reaches in his chest pocket, ironically pulling out a “world peace” labeled pen.
The President takes it, quickly signs the consent form to launch, and gives his old friend an implicit nod. They’re well aware of what the next thirty seconds means. One miscalculation will deplete the wrong population. A computer-automated voice activates over nearby speakers.
“Launch beings in 3…2…1.”
Silence overcomes all. They wait; the President’s hands fold neatly on his sleek suit. Vibration is felt, and then passes.
“Mr. President, mission is in progress. Grade A nuclear missile- headed for target. Mr. President, Sir! Won’t you stay until it detonates?” Dr. O’Neal shouts after his boss, but the lab doors slam shut, leaving him and the thirty other respected officials in confusion.
Russia will be in flames.
The Rebels are inauspicious this time. Like decided, they set out at dawn to fight. By mid-day, half lay cold, half are imprisoned.
Red Dawn proved successful. Their leaders are sadistic as they take away women to be fondled and men to be whipped the old-fashioned way. Some remain locked in the over-sized cell, waiting for fate to call.
A little girl falls to her knees, reciting paraphrased parts of the Holy Bible, unable to remember exact verses.
“And thus Jesus, Lord and Savior of man, is shepherd and man shall be sheep of the shepherd…” She goes on for hours, until she is taken. Others recite the Lord’s Prayer.
Guards speaking in heavy Russian dialect constantly berate their captives.
“You stop that now! We kill next time!”
With that, the cell falls quiet.
One push of a button and the world seems to crumble. An adamant weapon lands in the wrong borders. Explosions like that of a super-volcano wipe out people by thousands, if not millions. Plush, green forests are blazing. Birds flying turn to ash, falling softly to join the other mounds of debris. The sky is one ball of smoke and fire. It’s extraordinarily stunning.
One miscalculation- this began World War III. No remitting could possibly make up for the casualties, with China and parts of surrounding countries mistakenly in ruins.
“Mr. President” of the United States has gone into hiding. His people fight amongst each other over the destruction of their allies like packs of starving wolves. Military leaders must take charge.
Aimed for corrupt and recently hated Russia, a nuclear missile has gone off the intended path and detonated. Civil War breaks out in Russia instead. Red Dawn rises up as the government, whose leader becomes a connoisseur with mass power, while the Rebels rise up against Red Dawn.
Every country closes their borders, bracing themselves for the worst.
“The making of our missile is precocious. We will now be ready for launch within weeks, Your Honor.”
The woman dressed in black peers over her shoulder. She dismisses the white-coated scientist with a head nod.
It’s 2060. War broke out only months ago, yet she wonders if it had been years. Her followers are credulous; what she says goes.
Weeks later, just as promised, the missile is prepared. Its wrath upon the United States is to come, and it did. No survivors. Their forbearance of owed riches and lives to the Asian countries decided an unlikely fate.
But, it wasn’t the victims themselves who wiped out the Americans. Who is the woman in black? This is enigmatic. Her identity would remain unknown.
Russia sends a missile to Argentina, who was to send a missile to Russia.
Bombs erupt in the Middle East, while Australia is wiped out.
Just like a firework show, the humans go out with a bang, and then fall silent.
All is fair in love and war, right?