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A War Won by Truth

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In my head, I built a room, in which I kept the truths I could not speak. In this room, sometimes, I spoke of all the things that had been building up for years: the faults with our government, and how we had sat on the sidelines of our own country for too long.
I spoke of how the time to act was now, before it was too late. I spoke silently in the confines of my own mind, but my words were powerful. I knew that men would hang me for such treason as this, but that also, in their hearts they would know that I spoke the complete and absolute truth.
In this little room, I nurtured these truths. They took root in my mind and began to grow, to flourish, under my care. Soon those once small and weak seedlings raised their branches tall and proud. They battled the lies that had grown without restraint, and yet also without roots.
In time, I exposed the viciousness and corruption that the Republic had tried to conceal right under our feet. When news reached the National Peace Keepers Association about the mass graves in the catacombs beneath our city, they finally realized that someone had to intervene. As disturbingly enlightening as the secrets were to the rest of the world, my own people were just as shocked by how far the brutality had stemmed since our democratic party had been overthrown decades ago by a communist organization ironically known as the Republic.
The masses of people disappearing recently had been justified as an influx of volunteers to go overseas and spread the policies of the Republic. Thousands of docile citizens accepted this as a fact, but I knew better. I knew that I could not be one of the only dissenters in this realm, and I did not believe for a minute that two of my very close friends had instantaneously decided to accept the beliefs of the Republic and had so hastily departed overseas, without even saying farewell or packing their valuables. Nor did it make sense that federal soldiers had come the next day to pick up said valuables, to be ‘sent to my neighbors’.
I investigated these suspicious activities, and was frustrated for years, as I made no headway. I was met with smiles and unnatural cheer by officials at every turn and none of my snooping unearthed anything viable. It was not until I stumbled upon the entrance to the catacombs of our ancient forbearers in despair, when I suddenly realized the perfect place to hide hundreds of bodies was in a place filled with crumbling skeletons and dusty books. After that, all it took was to get a friend who previously resided over the catacombs as a silent brother to map out secret entrances to the underground that even the Republic officials were unaware of.
The piles of stark white bones I found among their yellowed, cracked counterparts only confirmed my fears that many people had been dumped in the newly desecrated tombs. I took picture after picture of these horrors, and the records I found shortly after—one such picture that now dominates the top of a yellowed newspaper that lies in our archives.
With the help of some well-placed words, more effective than the thousands of bullets wasted by our brothers before us, we triumphed, truth and I, by appealing to mans’ better nature. Thus, the seemingly infinite war was won, not by the brute force of a massive army, but by the wise words of a deceptively unimportant peasant who revealed the atrocity of the Republic to the world and pleaded for their aid.
Now, I raise a hand, placing it upon the gold-clad bible and proclaiming to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, as I am stared down by those I fought to protect my people from.
I hold the truth in my mind, allowing myself a small amount of joy and pride as I watch it flower and bear fruit, bringing justice to those who were wronged. I stare them down, letting my wrinkled hand linger on the textured leather of the cover, holding their gaze with a strength I did not know I had, until their eyes finally turn away in discomfort. I wipe my hand on my trousers, sweating with the intensity of the room.
Their faces are now lined with wrinkles—a testimony to both their age and the many years they spent on the run after their reign as tyrants—but none of the three are as old or weary as I am. I run my fingers over the gray stubble on my chin, contemplating how long I have waited for this day.
As I speak, I hold the audience in rapture, and somehow I am still amazed at the power that my words carry, how strong the winding roots of my resistance have grown, twining into an inescapable choke hold for the Republic’s sovereignty. The bullets of truth that spring from my mouth smack into the consciences of the justly accused, and slowly lower their snide arrogance until they are nothing but a heap of bundled emotions. The shame and desperation run down their faces, melting their disfigured masks of resolution.
I stand taller; my voice grows stronger. My evidence is irrefutable; I open the door to my mind and the truths that I once nurtured fly out eagerly from their prison. With these truths in hand, their conviction is inevitable. I know it, and so do they. I see it in the resignation reflected in their eyes, in the feebleness with which they hold themselves and in the ever-growing tremble of their weary hands. They understand that this can only end one way, so they do not even try to defend their actions, despondently waiving their rights to give testimony on their own behalf. They know that their crimes are unforgivable. The masses will not let them leave here alive. I will not let them leave here alive.
By the end of the day, it will be their wild eyes contemplating the noose, their pleading and begging and yelling, desperately trying to wheedle out of their fate. They will experience the fear that they inflicted upon their citizens as they waited for the torture to cease. But their end will be just, so very unlike the end they brought to my wife, a woman who had done no wrong but try to save her baby from the fate of being ripped from his mother’s arms and thrust into the cold embrace of the Republic. Who can fault a mother for not wanting her son to be turned into a monster: a brainwashed, brutal soldier, who in fifteen years would as likely kill his own mother than utter a word of defiance against his masters?
But now, they no longer have the power of life and death. They are no longer totalitarian leaders, leaving a wake of ever-growing desperation and death in their paths. The power is no longer in their hands, but in mine instead. And I have come here today to see them hang for the atrocious crimes they have committed. I can only rest when they are swinging in time with the wind; when I see their mottled faces on the pendulum of justice. This and only this will grant me the permission to finally rest, after all these years of battling their corruption. And as I sink into the welcome oblivion, I will know that my people are now free from the fear that consumed their lives, leaving room for little else.
The pound of the gravel awakens me from my reveries, and I sink into my chair knowing that the truths I once hid inside have now run their course.I have changed the future of my people into something that they had never dreamed they would see: a realm without constraints and oppression, a future in which they could do more than furtively exist, a life worth living.



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