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I write this from a prison cell. Everything that I hoped my life would mean is now in ruins. I had a choice, and I all I can do now is pray that it I was not weak. I can only hope that my legacy will live on in those who believe in the cause. Freedom, truth, these do not seem like too much to ask. In a few short hours my life will be over, and while I have accepted it, I wish to leave a memorandum so that those who follow will know the dangers of this life and the…
She broke off, quickly stashing the precious sheets of paper under her pillow as the fearsome sound of boots reverberated through the hallway. The guard strutted past her cell, looking away as she attempted to make eye contact. As he disappeared around the corner, she covertly recovered the papers and continued her account.
…consequences that are certain to occur if you fail. I never asked for much, only for information to be available to those who needed it. The strides our society has made have enabled great advances in technology, but our simple human conscience has all but been destroyed. I am one of the few who are left, who see the world as it truly is, not as what the government claims it is. And my fate now is proof of the total corruption this world has suffered.
For those who seek them, there are stories of the old times. Stories of happiness, of good conquering evil are numerous, although discovering them is dangerous in itself. I was fifteen when I happened upon the dusty box of books made of real paper in my great-grandmother’s musty old attic. There were fairy tales, children’s stories, but there was also so much more than that. First-hand accounts of human kindness, all with the titles carefully replaced with those of government-issued books, were stacked by the dozens. There were tales of those who had selflessly risked their lives to help escaping slaves flee to safety, narratives of whole families who had chanced everything to hide persecuted Jews. I was overwhelmed. How could human nature change so completely in so short a time? From that day on I vowed to bring back kindness to the world.
Her hand curled around the pen, twisted with rheumatism. She lifted the other hand to her face, running her fingertips over the hills and valleys of her ancient face. Her mind, old, but still sharp, wandered back to the time when the world seemed still to have hope. There had been arrests then too, but all were for charges that were easily forgotten. Little had she known that they had all been piling up for decades…
At first it seemed as if nothing could be done. How do you re-teach kindness? But then there were the Bohemians, named after the rebellious artists of old, who changed everything. They were undercover, doing all they could to bring change without ever being noticed. To the average eye they seemed no different from every other desensitized civilian. Oh, but how very different they were.
Those were the golden days. We felt as though we were immortal. How could we be stopped? We were changing the world, and there was no one who could shut us down. It was only a few weeks after I had joined the cause when the first arrest was made. We were tired of operating in secrecy, and we felt that the time was ripe for a stand. For days we had painstakingly hand-painted protest signs, and we were planning to storm the capitol.
Her eyes were beginning to flutter from exhaustion, but she had no intention of spending her last night on earth asleep. Laboriously she stood up, grasping desperately at the headboard. Once she reached am upright position she shook out her arms, hoping to reawaken the feeling in them. She stumbled over to the water pitcher and scooped out a handful of murky water to splash on her face. Feeling slightly revived, she made her way back to the straight-backed chair and sat back down.
How could we have known that the government not only knew every move we were making, but had continually been mocking us in secret for our feeble attempts to change the way things were. We woke up the morning of the planned rebellion in an unfamiliar stark white room. Everyone was there, and we were all confused about what had happened the night before. Later we managed to piece together the facts. Government agents had snuck among our headquarters, drugged us, then piled us into a van and shipped like animals to the state prison. We spent a few days there, received a stern talking to from the wardens, and were released. The whole incident was soon forgotten. We should have known better. The government never forgets.
For quite a while we were scared into submission. The Bohemians lay low, and any mutinous acts were performed with the utmost secrecy. But we were young, and we soon grew restless. With that grew recklessness, and we were quickly back to our usual deeds.
The cycle repeated endlessly. For years and years we would do something a little too daring for the government, we would be arrested, then released. For a little while we were frightened into keeping a low profile, then some outrage inflamed us into action. If only we could have foreseen what was to come…
I have no time for the details now. They have said I will be executed at sunrise, and the night is beginning to come to an end. I can only tell you the last part of my story.
I grew old, and my helpfulness waned. I was resentful of my uselessness, and I decided to make one last stand- to prove to everyone that my name would be remembered. After months and months of thought, attempting to stumble upon the perfect plan, I believed I had found it. You see, the main source of the misinformation imparted by the government was the all-encompassing Daily News. The paper had its home in the rural areas outside of what used to be known as New York City.
The building’s exterior was a modest façade of faded red brick, and it gave no hint of the monstrosities produced within. The building was unoccupied (but fiercely protected by stringent security measures) at night.
My plan was simple. Luckily our organization had control of the latest in weapons technology, and I managed to obtain a nearly invisible nano bomb. The bomb was no bigger than a contact lens, and nearly as transparent. There was only a faint sheen of gold leaf on the outer rim.
It was too easy. I should have known better. There were no guards patrolling the property, but as soon as I pressed the detonate button and the edifice erupted in flames they appeared as if from nowhere. The Bohemians were right about me. I had gotten too used to the old way of fighting, and had underestimated the capabilities of the modern government.
Without her realization, tears began to spring from her eyes as she recalled that night. How simple it had been, to press the button, and how dearly she was going to pay for it. Of course, there had been an alternative.
I suppose I looked innocent, standing there by a burning building with no discernible sign of guilt. Nevertheless the agents surrounded me, asked me questions thinly veiled by threats. At that moment, if no other, I am proud of what I did. I admitted it was I who had destroyed that ancient symbol of government control. I stood tall. For now at least, I will be remembered for my beliefs, for never giving in to the seemingly unshakeable hold of authority. It would have been easy for me to get away with it. I could have simply assured them that I had nothing to do with it. But I didn’t, and for that reason if none other I feel my life has been worth it.
She signed her name at the close of her story with a flourish, hoping someday someone would read her tale and understand that she had given up everything in a final stand for justice. Quickly, for the sun was peeking above the horizon now, she rolled up the sheaf of paper, and stashed it in a mouse-hole near the floor.
The clanging echo of boots preceded the entry of six guards, who firmly escorted her from the cell. She did not protest, but looked behind her one last time at the only home she had known for years. The corner of a stark white sheet of paper was visible, but only if you knew it was there. Turning her head resolutely, she marched toward the end of her days with a defiant look on her face and a secret left behind.