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I hold my little brother tightly as we huddle in a corner, afraid to look up. Rebels are everywhere. Some of them with guns, others with melee weapons that look like they could cut through just about anything. No was has bothered to speak to us, to set our minds at ease. In fact, no was has even glanced in my direction. Do they not realize what consequences my brother and I will face for being here? Being in one rebel’s presence could result in fifty lashes. What will become of us when they find out we were in the presence of thousands?
“Smith, quit cowering and stand.” A husky voice pulls me away from my thoughts. Two men are standing before us, one armed with a sophisticated machine gun. Both wearing Rebel uniforms.
“Johnson, that’s no way to treat our guest,” says the unarmed man. I notice he’s wearing a hat much like the generals back home wear. He must be a superior officer here. “You’ll have to excuse Soldier Johnson,” says the man, holding his hand out to me. “He takes great pride in his profession. Tough as a nail.”
I reluctantly take the man’s hand and allow him to help me up. My brother is by my side in an instant, squeezing the life out of my thigh with his scared, little arms. I pick him up and press his face into my sweatshirt. It is then that I find the courage to speak for the first time in days. “Why are we here, Rebels?”
“You could be of great use to our forces, Smith. Your abilities are-”
“I have no abilities,” I hiss. Resentment is beginning to take the place of fear, and the scared little boy in my arms only fuels to my oncoming rage. “This is ridiculous. You’ve kept us here for days and let our worries eat us alive and for what? So you can tell me that I have some use for your forces? I will never fight for you!”
The unarmed man gives a sad sigh and begins pacing back and forth. “I didn’t want to do this. I really didn’t want to do this.”
“Oh you’re wasting time,” yells Johnson furiously. He turns to me and rips my brother from my arms. I plunge for him just as two guards catch and restrain me, forcing me to watch the devil put a pistol to the toddler’s head.
“No!” I scream, kicking the soldiers with all my might. “No! I’ll kill you! I’ll kill all of you! Please!” I thrash violently, desperate to break free. Desperate to rescue my brother, my everything.
A thousand images flash before my eyes. The little boy taking his first steps towards me. The look on his face when I gave him his first taste of ice cream. Me laughing when he tried to imitate the soldiers walking down our street. I’m so immersed in this world of memories that I don’t even notice the tugging on my pant leg. Its when I hear the little voice that I snap back to reality.
“Sissy bad. You no hit, Sissy.”
I regret opening my eyes as soon as they focus onto the scene around me. How many bodies? Hundreds? Thousands? I’m so nocuous. I can’t breath. The smell… I can’t……
“Sissy you wake up! You wake up now! I scared Sissy, pwease!”
I slowly open my eyes. After the blurriness subsides, my eyes focus on my little brother’s face. His tears are enough to tell me that what I had seen was not a dream. I wipe his face and pull him close, bracing myself for what I could not handle before. I pull myself up and use a nearby wall for support when my legs go wobbly. Bodies are everywhere. Blood, broken glass… it all adds to the horrific scene. I fall to my knees, in tears because of what I have done. “I can’t control it,” I whisper to one of the mangled corpses. “I’m so sorry.”
I lie crying for what must be hours before I feel the light tap on my shoulder. I roll over and find myself staring at my brother. How he can even stand to look at me, I don’t know. But his words have no trace of remorse in them when he speaks.
“Don’t cry, Sissy.” He wipes a tear from my face and places a hand on my chest. “You save Bubba from mean man.” He looks over to one of the bodies and scowls, touching the spot on his head where the gun was pressed. “We go home, now?”
I slowly pull myself up and take one last look at the massacred rebels, knowing I will be hated by every body’s family. Knowing they’ll come looking for me, just as the others have. But did I not warn them? And did they really think that threatening my only reason to live would make me fight for them instead of with them? I am not to blame. I will never be the one at wrong as long as those who die are aiming to use me for evil. I smile at my new reasoning and pick my brother up. “Yes, Brother, we go home now.”