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My heart stopped the world before me transformed into a barren wasteland right in front of my eyes.
“We need to begin fresh.” That’s what he told me, had I only known all those years ago what he would do. Bring the world to its knees, literally. If I had known my best friend was going to be an insane psychopath I wouldn’t have followed him down this dark path so foolishly. None of us would’ve… I watched him stare with a smirk of satisfaction on his face at the burning remnants of what was once the city of Chicago. Anyone would’ve thought it would’ve been New York, or some greater city to be the last to fall, but no. It was our home, the City of Chicago that he saved for last, massacring thousands of people at a single time.
“What have you done!?” I yelled getting up from my knee’s tears flowing freely down my cheeks like waterfalls. I ran over to him my best friend springing from behind me snatching my hand trying to hold me back but I ripped it from her and ran up to him crashing in to his back. He was way taller than me now… I still remember the days when he was several inches below me and I had to look down on him and not up. That was a long time ago though, when things were so simple, when I had short blond hair, not the straight long medium blond hair with bangs that I have now that falls all the way down to my waist.
He was such a different boy back then… Always fooling around with all of his friends, just living life to the fullest not letting anyone judge him by how he looked or how he act or even by what he said whether it was good or bad, I guess that’s just something I valued in him. Something I wished I had at the time which he taught me how to do myself later in my life… I stayed by him through thick and thin, we all did, no matter if what he did was good or bad. I admit at times I sabotaged some of his plans, being the best friend, and confident of a neurotic criminal master mind obsessed with leading this world into a new future. None of us thought that he would actually achieve, we doubted him, which now that I look back on it was the worst thing we could’ve done. It gave him a drive, to push himself so he could prove us wrong that he could achieve the goal he set out for, and by God he did.
“What have I done?” He said turning around looking down on me and placing his hand on my waist pulling me in uncomfortably close. “What I’ve done is set up a new world, a new world where there will be no prejudice, sexist, or racist people. Under my reign this will be a utopia for everyone where everyone is happy and fear doesn’t exist. Under our reign Cassie, you’ve always been there for me from the very beginning, and you deserve to be at my side.”
He looked at me shocked; I had slapped him straight across the right cheek with no mercy, making sure that it hurt, whether physically or emotionally it didn’t matter. My voice quivered as I spoke…
“I never asked for this Con… I never asked for any of this! The only thing I’ve ever asked from you is to be therefore me to not ignore me all these years while I stood by you even when I knew it was wrong! I went to jail for you twice! I’ve told you more than once to stop this all!”
I winced as I called him by his pet name. When we were young he was the best liar of our class, and a bit of a conman, no one truly knew his intentions not even I. I’ve called him Con ever since he tricked the dimwit substitute teacher to give him the answer key to a test. I still remember the proud look on his face as he showed me the sheet. He was so proud at himself, that should’ve been the first sign and I should’ve seen that glimmer in his eye.
“I’m… I’m…” He stuttered in shock.
“Acting like a deranged maniac? Yes, Con, yes you are! I don’t know who you are anymore!”
“You know that’s not true Cassidy! You’ve been fully aware of what I’ve been capable of and who I am for years and if you really wanted to stop me you could’ve more than once.” He raised his hand and waved for two of his guards to come over. They grabbed me by the arms and I wrestled to break free screaming as I yelled.
“I won’t let this continue!” Sweat tricked down the side of my face making soot from the fire before us as I struggled, jumped all over the place trying to rip my arms from the guards unsuccessfully.
“I will bring you down Con! I swear it!”
He looked at me for a moment and all that fury that was once in me disappeared as I saw the boy I once saw a long time ago reappear in the feature of his face. He then turned his head and had his back to me all before saying something but what he said I couldn’t hear. I finally gave up the struggle after a while, as they cuffed me and put me into the back of Con’s car who got in the front and started to drive off. I turned and watched as our friends got into several other cars not as fancy as his behind us. As he drove we didn’t say a single word we just sat there in complete and utter silence, and it killed, it really did.
After what felt like hours but what was really about 10 minutes I was ready to puke from all this involuntary silence and we reached the far outskirts of the base. You know by the millions of homeless and starving that have set up camps outside the area. Each camp is given a limited amount of food to eat at late night and early morning to help sustain them for a day of work. It was pitiful, as they begged on their knees for food, especially the new mothers who were desperate to feed their children. Those women did anything for food; even succumb to the foul guard’s perverted requests. My heart wrenched in my chest as we drove past and soon it came to the point where I had to cover my ears and close my eyes to trying to block the guilt that was ravaging through me like a wildfire.
I was soon taken from the car, the sounds of the tears dropping on the infertile land they sat on amplifying in my ears and their sobs like the sound of a fork being dragged down the side of a chalkboard. When I entered the base the sound was blocked, Con didn’t like the noises as much as I did. The sounds of his depravity can be heard outside of these walls and he knows it! I was led through the courtyard and down into the catacombs that are now served as the prison for anyone who bothered to rebel. Though the guards didn’t bring me into the catacombs right away, first they brought me to the persuasion room. I had heard about what had happened in that room that they inflicted your greatest fears upon you. I expected to be tortured, but they sat me down behind a large steel table hooked up to the chair so I couldn’t escape.
I’m sure I was sitting there for several minutes before an older man and Con came in. This man’s name… I honestly don’t know his name, after all these years I’ve only known him by the title Mr. Howl, Con’s surrogate father. You see Con’s parents were shot at point blank one night at a bank when they of five individuals tried to stop the robbery in progress, they were killed right in front of his eyes. After that Con was tossed through several uncaring foster homes till Mr. Howl adopted him, knowing of the deep animosity towards life in his head. Mr. Howl taught him how to lie, cheat, and steal. He became quite a Con-man which is where his name came from.
Con wasn’t originally his name, his original name was Jacob a name he loathed since birth, so when I made up the name Con for him he was ecstatic and asked Mr. Howl if he could change it permanently.
“Been a while hasn’t it Cassidy?” He said. I spat at the floor before him, this man was the devil’s right hand in my mind and I wouldn’t dare show him any respect.
“Not long enough obviously.” He started to pace across the room, left to right, with his hands placed superiorly behind his back.
“What do you want?” I spat out.
“What do I want? More like what do we want?” He said looking to Con who nodded silently. “We want you to give up. Give up this sorry little resistance of yours, we know you’ve been working in the shadows with them leading them while you went on your little escapades with my son. To the far ends of the world, all the places you’ve never seen, the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Egypt, Sydney Opera House. I’m sure you spent a great time in Sydney I hear you love Sydney.”
“Well what’s not to like, great blue ocean, sunshine, it’s your own little piece of heaven to bad within the next month it’s going to be a barren wasteland...” I choked out with venom in each and every word I spoke aloud.
“There are sacrifices to be made Cassidy, if you want you can have the entire continent of Australia for yourself and your friends, that is if you swear your allegiance to us.”
“Rot in hell Howl!” I spat out.
“Charming girl you have here Con.” He said turning to a displeased looking Con who cracked a faux grin. He was disturbed and I could tell, almost as if he was dreading something that was going to happen if I did not surrender. But I didn’t care what he did to me, I wouldn’t give in, I’m not weak and I never will be. That’s what Con liked in me after all my strong will, and boisterous opinion that I would always shoot out there even if it wasn’t my right to. He liked how even when I knew I was wrong I wouldn’t admit to my mistakes, that self pride I had for myself and my peers that wasn’t easily extinguished.
“I guess we’re going to have to turn to alternative reasoning.” He snapped his fingers and the guards left the room. I swear if my heart wasn’t already beating faster than 60 mph I was probably around 550 by now. I swallowed hard ready to take whatever it was he was going to do to me, the thing that Con was so afraid of happening.
“Do whatever you want to me, I won’t betray my friends no matter what you say or do!” I didn’t sound too convincing. I was shaking in my boots so hard I was sure they were going to burn right off from all the friction. Then he let out a bone chilling laugh, that made shivers go up and down my back and goose bumps on my arms appear.
“My dear whatever makes you think that I’m going to hurt you? No, I’ve found that over the years certain person with strong will’s such as yourself tend to bend to another person will easier when another variable is added to the equation.” I blinked, that’s all it took a simple blink for my heart to turn into a pile of ash, my stomach to clench, my brain to explode, my eyes to sear with tears, my ears to hear the beast of drums, and ever skin cell in my body to become numb as I watched Con recoiled from the punch to the gut.
I couldn’t understand, I felt like someone just opened up Pandora’s Box. What was in front of me was unbelievable, indescribable, if laws were still upheld this day and age this would be labeled worse than child abuse. Howl would certainly be sent to death row without trial if this had happened. And if anything could possibly get worse it did when Howl took out a pocket knife. Finally Con defended himself, but it didn’t last long since Con was knocked out easily. I felt like I was watching, no, I felt like I was in a horror movie was Howl walked over to Con. I watched as he raised the knife ready to plunge in into Con, and as the dagger fell I screamed for not only his mercy but for my own. I gave in, I caved, I swore I would stop, I would stop the resistance as long as he stopped all this madness.
Suddenly his hand stopped with creepy precision only inches away from his throat. A smug smile appeared on his face as a cloth came over my mouth knocking me out, well not completely. I was going in and out, when I woke up the first time. I was being lifted up into warm arms, though I don’t know who’s, the second time around I saw the face of my carrier. It was Con, holding me close to his chest, carrying me. I looked around quickly before I passed out again; I knew the hall we were traveling down. It’s the one that passes by the Prisoners Block. My heart quickened for a moment but I lost consciousness once again till I awoke to voices.
“I’m sorry…” It was Con’s voice I’d know it anywhere. “I’m going to give you three days to change your minds.”
“And Cassidy? What are you going to do with her?” My friend, Jason, asked.
“She’s decided to join us… A smart decision might I say.”
“Then why is she lying unconscious, I don’t think she made the choice herself.”
“Oh she did… She had a stress attack, if her blood pressure had gone any higher she would’ve most likely suffered a heart attack.”
I heard Addie gasp in the back of the room, what a softie, my total opposite, maybe that’s what made us best friends too, the fact that we can tell each other our views from both sides of our spectrum. That was the last thing I heard before I once again slipped unconscious for the last time. When I awoke I was in a plush room, well actually it was a really plush purple bed, filled with at the least 20 pillows, the room looked like my dream room. There was light color fabrics hanging from the ceiling, oranges, light reds, yellows, pinks, and purple that all blended together splendidly so that no ceiling was shown at all, not one bit. It looked like something taken out of the movie Aladdin. I got up quickly and walked out to the balcony. It was still dark, like I expected it to be because of all the smoke from the burning.
I stayed in that room for weeks on end, Con would come and visit, to bring me food, water, etc. he would talk to me, read to me all my favorite stories, he would argue with me even though he did all the yelling, all while I stared out that window at the burning, Chicago was a big place I didn’t expect it to end for quite a while now, and since it never rained I didn’t expect to be drowned out by that. So I sat there in silence for those weeks till something happened! This fortress that I was living in was being attacked and I knew by who, so in a matter of minutes. Con was up in my room, it was only then did I finally speak to him.
“Do I know you?” I asked.
“Come along Cassidy this is no time for your games, my father is dead.” My heart leaped to joy which suddenly made me have this twisted feeling in my stomach.
“I said do I know you?” I walked closer to him.
“You know who I am Cassidy, Con, remember, you gave me the name!” He said patronizing me. I slapped him and then quickly said,
“No, you’re not Con, not by a long shot. The Con I know, knew, is only a shadow in your existence.” I then leaned down right next to him. “You’re not the one I love, Jacob.”
I hit him in the back of the head knocking him to the floor. I then departed running down the halls till I found a familiar face, Adam. My soul brother so to say, this boy was one of the closest people I’ve ever gotten to besides Con. Though while I loved Con I’ll never be able to love Adam the way I loved Con, because Adam held a different place in my heart, though I didn’t think for much longer.
“Adam!” I yelled and jumped into his arms, he spun me around hugging me so hard I was sure my bones were going to break underneath all this strength. He was leading this rebellion I could just tell.
“What happened to that weak bumbling little boy who was just trying to make his way in the world?” I asked as we began to run out.
“He grew up!” He said with his usual charming smile.
We claimed victory that day, the rule of Howl was short lived, not as long as it could’ve been anyways. Things changed after that, survivors started up democracy; they built new cities, far away from the burnings, especially the burning in Chicago, which still, months later thrives. I honestly don’t know how but it reminds us the great evils that were committed, and that we must always be vigilant for such people similar to Howl.
I, on the other hand, asked to become the Head of Prisons, and Justice. I over see the inmates of the Prison, especially a certain one. I watch over Con who is locked up tight within the facilities. He refuses to talk to me, and I know why. A part of my heart will forever belong with Con but now I’ve fallen for someone better for me, better for everyone, Adam. And to spite me, he just sits in silence, and every day when I visit him at exactly the same time, I always see him sitting there, staring through his small window. He watched his mistake, his fault, his undoing; he just sits there and watches Chicago, his former home, burn.