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The Journal of William Autry
August 17, 1802
6:48 - I’m tired of this smoke. When the factory was first finished a few months ago we were all overjoyed. More business and people showed our city was growing; but now the sound of grinding metal hangs over us like a cloud of sadness and the townspeople feel its effects every day. The musicians who used to have the most colourful attitudes now trudge through the streets, playing downing songs and begging for money. I think my shop is the only one that still makes its employees smile. Among all of this though, the women and children seem the worst off. Those who aren’t constantly sick from the smog have to work in the factories to weave cloth, or assemble furniture. I hear how monotonous their jobs are every day when they come to my bakery to buy their daily bread. My profits are exceeding everything I expected when I began this business, but is it worth the sadness of everyone I ever knew? I opened up the shop about an hour ago and the window was broken in. There was flour everywhere and the donations box was shredded to pieces along with anywhere else money could’ve been kept. This is the third time this week. I think I’ll pay the blacksmith for some window bars - the investment is probably worth it at this point.
August 20, 1802
16:59 - The wind whistles through the trees surrounding the clearing. The man’s foot shifts slightly, pointing a bit more towards the woman. I don’t know his name, but it’s obvious he works with the furnaces. His hair is dark brown, stained darker by ash. I see a cold shudder begin at his arm, moving quickly to the tip of the gun his hand lays on in it’s holster. A woman stands but a few feet away, her face frozen in a serious deadly stare. A doctor stands beside each of them, backs turned and eyes closed. The gathered crowd stands in a circle around them, silent. No one but the two combatants and their seconds know why the duel started, but the seconds argue and debate furiously by the river bed. Every minute feels like a second. The snowfall around us seems almost still. A murmur parades down the crowd, piercing the silence. The seconds have just shook hands and walked back to their seconds. In a duel the seconds would generally announce the result of a peaceful resolution proudly, but no words are spoken. The sad eyes of the seconds can even be seen from my place in the middle of the crown as they nod to the duelers. The man and the woman immediately turn on their heels and start walking backwards. The crown is silent, but I know we’re all counting to ten in our heads.
1…2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...dust billows around each of them as they flick their heels and spin, but no gunshot can be heard. The smoke billows away and we can see each of their guns pointed at each other, neither lowering their weapon. The woman smiles, it seems that this will be a peaceful resolution.
17:30 - I just saw a man die for the first time, and in the worst way. As the dust cleared the man gave the woman a respectful look and lowered his weapon to face the ground. He clearly was aiming for a warning shot but his gun backfired. He looked fine, but the ground around him was red with blood. As he fell forwards we could see that the shrapnel from the gun had gone right through him, blood splattered on the tree behind him. The girl looked stunned; her friend led her away from the site and it looked like the started sobbing as they left. I felt so much like vomiting that I left. I’ll return to pay for my drinks tomorrow, but for tonight I need to think. An experience like that changes a man. I think the toll the factory is taking on this city is greater than we thought. It’s strange though, I’ve never seen a gun explode like that; there was almost nothing but the handle left.
August 21, 1802
15:00 - I asked a friend working in the factory for details on what happened yesterday. She said that the man’s name was Bill, and that the girl, Mara, had been on a date with him. They’d gotten in an argument about women working in factories, and it had gotten quite a bit too heated. The bartender kicked them out and that’s when the duel started. When I asked what the man’s stance was; she said she didn’t know. I’ll have to dig more into this. I can’t stop the image of that man dying from bouncing through my head. During work, sleep, everything that man’s blood splattered across the ground haunts me.
August 22, 1802
14:06 - I asked Sheriff Anolion about the duel today but he didn’t say much. At the mention of it he looked sick to his stomach. All he said was that in all his time in the military he’d never seen a musket explode like that, not even when overpowdered - which the man’s wasn’t. That peaked my interest; I’ve never heard of a musket exploding when properly powdered. I think I may ask around more about this, I may not have known the man but he deserves a solution to his death.
August 23, 1802
16:09 - Something inhumane has taken over the people of this town. Men, women, and children die every day but no one seems to care. Last night a worker ran through the streets, his arm cut off, screaming. No one even blinked in his direction, no one cared. It’s almost like we have to give up the life in us in order to live.
20:30 - My Pa would be so disappointed in me. He was a successful businessman, entrepreneur, and veteran of the war. And I’m the some who just lost his last business. The factory just bought the entire block for new buildings. I shouldn’t have sold my Pa’s store, but the factory has its ways of getting you to sell no matter what. I’ve heard of enough mysterious deaths and strange bodies to know that one way or another I would’ve sold - it was better for me to just accept the money, I think.
November 6, 1802
15:00 - I haven’t written in this for too long. I’ve been too busy wasting away my money I guess. The city has grown more than we ever thought possible. Building as tall as five stories - skyscrapers they call them - have risen up in place of my old block and cast a shadow of chains over the town. Those bastards deceived all of us. They payed us for our houses and made sure we could never receive the money. They new none of us would read the contract, although we should’ve known to do so. The house I live in now is tiny and small, but it’s cheap, and that’s what I need right now. I can only get that money if I work for that confounded company, the scoundrels enslave white people with contracts, money, and power.
November 10, 1802
14:49 - The debt is getting too high. I can’t pay for my food, my clothes, or my wood for the winter. There is no way for me to last without a job, but the damned contract forces me to only have a factory job or none at all. I have to take the job, I have to give in to the power of those inhuman men.
November 12, 1802
12:47 - It’s my first day at the factory, and I’ve started at the bottom - the coal burning. I walked in before dawn this morning and the foreman shoved me down a staircase without even asking my name. I’m trying to take as long as I can going down the stairs, trying to find some way out, trying to at least finish this entry. The bottom of the staircase is approaching faster than I like. I’ll have to continue this later.
13:10 - Station 41B. That’s where I’ve been set. The machines around me grind endlessly. The woman next to me didn’t even glance at me when I approached, she just kept on working. I suppose that’s the effect that this time has on people though, we’re just in a rut. We’re so used to our life now we don’t even notice the things we should. This room is turned dark now, I can hardly see the pages of my journal.
16:37 - The girl’s name is Mara, and she’s beautiful. Once I left the factory I ran into her at the pub. Her eyes are a gorgeous shimmering brown, her face adorably freckled with orange, her brown hair falls perfectly over her shoulders. We chatted over some water and she is just the most Supercalifragilambunctiosnesserest girl I’ve ever met. She seems so familiar though, it’s slightly off-putting that I can’t tell why.
November 15, 1802
13:27 - Mara approached me today with a petition for women’s right to work. She asked if it would be a good idea to go around to all the workers and ask them to sign and I didn’t know what to say. She seems like the full reincarnation of that old philosopher my Ma used to follow - Mary Wollstonecraft. She started spouting about how women deserve an opportunity to work any job like men - not just housework and factory work. I tried to talk some sense into her by embodying my inner Rousseau, citing his papers on how women are less intelligent than men, but she wouldn’t talk it. In the end we agreed to disagree and left it at that.
November 17, 1802
19:33 - I think I solved a few mysteries today, not that that’s a good thing. First off I finally figured out why that woman is so familiar to me. My machine broke down today, and on the bottom I found a heart etched into the metal. The heart said “Bill+Mara”. She’s got to be the woman from that tragic duel all those months ago. Second I think I figured out why the man died so explosively in the duel. Today I tried to light a cigar and the flame blew up. By that I mean it literally exploded in a fireball - singing off my eyebrows and making my hand feel very raw. The coal dust from the furnaces seems to be highly explosive. It must have gotten into his barrel while they were at a standstill. When he fired it just blew everything up. I’m not sure if I’m happier now, or If I liked it better before I knew my job made me combustible.
November 20, 1802
12:27 - Mara and I got in another debate over women's rights today. She’s just so stubborn, why can’t se see reality? Women aren’t meant to work, they’re meant to tend the house. No one in their right mind could disagree with that, yet Mara does, she continually disagrees and disagree with it, not stop over and over. Why will she not see cold hard fact?
15:23 - A little girl in the factory just died, and in the worst possible way. I wish I hadn’t seen it, but I did and I regret looking. The scream itself was enough to freeze your blood cold. The girl fell off of a balcony right into one of the furnaces, her shrieks echoed through the entire factory. They still echo in most of our minds. I’ve heard that within minutes her station in sewing was filled by another child. These people don’t learn anything from the deaths that keep happening, they just keep on letting people die.
November 25, 1802
13:19 - I think I’m starting to see some of Mara’s view of things. If everyone is able to contribute to the society, then rebellions would be lessened and laws would be followed, but since the society doesn’t respect the women, they don’t follow the laws of society. I don’t agree with her on the women front of the argument, but now I can see why she thinks it.
17:48 - A new factory was just built - in place of an orphanage. That takes the final riverside property, no one can even see the river anymore; not that we could through all the smoke and smog. It was still comforting to know that there was some nature left in this city. That it wasn’t just endless cobblestone and metal. All the tailors are gone now, we can only buy clothes from the factory. I hate this town.
January 17, 1803
10:16 - The marriage is in two weeks! We’ll be so busy, but it’s so worth it. Mara and I are in love, and we want to make it official. We do have to keep it secret though; the factory tries to prevent any marriage among it’s workers. I’m so happy; this takes so many preparations, but I know it’ll be worth it. I don’t think I’ll be able to write in here for the next two weeks - so much to do, so little time.
??:?? - I don’t even know what’s happened over the last few weeks, but I know It’s been too much. The day after out wedding a revolt broke out against the factories. The gunfire and explosions could be heard echoing through the streets at all times of day and night. The glow of fire burned through our souls, and people seemed to have a new sense of purpose. Then came the war. First it was just about a hundred soldiers to stabilize the violence. Then they sent in the army. The crest of the hills bordering out city were crowned with the shadows of thousands of soldiers. Cannonballs flew into the city, musket shots could be heard echoing through the canyon like a tidal wave, it was all out fighting. Anyone involved in the revolt, and most people not involved too, were either arrested or killed. No we’re hiding in a cave about a kilometre out from the city. Our sleeping bags get soaked by the tide rising every day and the entrance is under constant threat of a mudslide, but we’re alive. Miserable, yes, but we are alive, and that’s what matters here.There’s no clocks, no light, no nothing here. I can’t tell how long it’s been since we got here. It could’ve been a week it could’ve been a month. We’re stranded and on our own now. I pray we survive another day, much less enough time to escape.
April 3, 1803
12:00 - We’re organized, we’re capable, and we’re a true rebellion. I have to write here more now, God knows I have the time. Mara is leading the rebellion and I am left to just sit here on the side tending to the house. Hah, the irony in that - A woman leading the charge while a man watches the house. I guess I can get Mara’s viewpoint now though, this is boring beyond words. I wish I was working something else, anything else. I think we’ll win this though. We’ve already taken the surrounding towns. Mara says we don’t want war, just equal rights; but I can’t help but doubt that when we’ve been killing soldiers left and right.
July 12, 1803
16:27 - I think this is goodbye my dear old journal. There’s no way I can survive this now. They’ve taken our northern guards, the gates are blown and I can see them marching for the main estate now. I’m running away but they’ll catch me. I can’t outrun a bullet. Mara is next to me. At least we’ll die together.
23:11 - I’m alone now. Our rebellion’s dead. Mara’s dead. Everyone’s dead. The soldiers marched through the estate. Mara drew her pistol and told me to run. The last thing I heard was what sounded like a thousand guns firing at once. There’s no one left. We’ve fallen and there’s no going back.
July 27, 1803
06:43 - I’m the most wanted man in the surrounding area. I can’t live like this for long. Jumping from town to town, stealing what I need for survival. I need to end this. Why did my city have to grow, why did i have to lose my bakery. I can’t go on.
July 30, 1803
19:25 - I have no one. Everyone’s gone. I can’t go on, but I must...for her.
123:490 - MARA’S GONE. I MUST AVENGE HER. THE FACTORIES DID THIS TO ME, THEY WILL PAY FOR IT.
54735:457467 - SHE WILL BE AVENGED, AND I KNOW EXACTLY HOW. THE COAL POWDER AND GUNPOWDER WILL BE PERFECT.
-92:50 - The bomb is created, all it takes now is to set it off. THEY KNOW I’M COMING BUT I DON’T CARE, NOTHING CAN STOP ME.
--:-- - I’m approaching the mansion of the men who killed her. They will feel the wrath of a thousand burning hearts when I get to them. I have left bodies in my wake. There is no going back. This is my last entry. Signing off - Zorro the revenger.
DEATH FOR THE MEN.
-------------------------------------------- End of Journal
He approached the estate with careless steps, the gun and bomb weighing him down past the point of stealth. He knew he was expected, but he didn’t care. He was already too close to be stopped. One match was all he needed to avenge the one he lost. His eyes fixed on the house with a fiery anger and determination. The factory and rebellion had broken him, and now they would pay for it.
The house slowly grew closer, and he only walked faster. He prepared to be ambushed by soldiers and removed his gun from it’s holster. However, only one person left the house. A woman. The fire in his eyes faded in an instant, replaced with the recognition of love.
“Mara? Is it really you?”
“Stand down William, please”
“Mara? How...How are you alive?”
“WILLIAM. Please. STAND DOWN”
“Why are you standing in my way? Look at what these people did to you. You’ve been brainwashed. You should want this.”
“I run the factories now William. There is no ‘them’ anymore...just me”
“But...But...WHy? You hated them! *We* hated them! How could you become that?”
“I had to survive.”
“You….you’re...YOU’RE ONE OF THEM. YOU AREN’T MY MARA. YOU MUST DIE.”
“William Please don’t!” The desperation dripped from Mara’s words like honey, but William’s eyes has lost all emotion. He was cold, emotionless, broken. He reached into his pocket for a striker and placed it next to the fuse on his back, and struck it.
A bang echoed through the estate grounds, birds flew in every direction. Yet Mara just stood there. The bomb hadn’t gone off. Mara fell to her knees in the dirt, sobbing.
“This would have achieved nothing William, I had to stop you.”
Mara sat there for a while and just cried over the body. This was the end of his story. It was all over.