Author’s Note: Hi! Sorry I’ve been posting much less lately, I’ve been really busy. I don’t know what this is, or why, but I enjoyed writing it and I hope you enjoy reading it!
Ashes to Ashes
A Dystopian Short Story by Ana Govindasamy
Trigger Warnings & Disclaimers: General Violence, War Themes
Storm clouds roll over us. I pull my hood up, and in the distance I see Marli and Jasmine do the same.
Ash and charred wood lie at our feet, a reminder of that first failed uprising.
I feel Avery on my side. We both hold our flags.
Well…not exactly flags.
Since the first failed uprising, the government banned the sales of paper, stationary and fabrics to the general public. Only to government monitored schools, offices, and clothes and bedding stores.
Doesn’t mean word couldn’t still get round by mouth.
Doesn’t mean we weren’t creative.
We’d gotten old, broken tennis rackets and wrapped shoelaces around the netting.
An Uprising Flag. Complete with a light.
Jasmine is coming from the North. Marli from the East. Me from the West. The South was where the Border Wall was.
We’d never go there. No matter how much we outnumbered the soldiers.
No human could outrun a sniper.
And that’s a fact.
Rain starts to fall, faster, harder, plastering my hair to my face. But then Avery’s watch rings out.
I flash the light and raise the flag.
Two blink back at me, cutting through the darkness.
I raise my hand.
I would call it our salute, but in reality it’s just the Vulcan Salute. When you’re preparing for battle, you don’t have time to be original.
Live Long and Prosper, fellow soldiers.
Live Long and Prosper.
Then we run.
Let the guns open fire.
Let The Uprising begin
Wind blows harder, as I run against the current. Rain lashes my face. I run. Avery gets up a broken building, holding his gun.
He opens fire on the government building.
I run further, leading my own army.
Who’ve guessed, I would’ve led an army. I run past the trails of ash, of flying charcoal and it punctures my nose. Suddenly, I’m back at the first Uprising.
The one where I lost my brother.
I can smell the burning flesh now, beneath the charred wood and rain and concrete. I can hear the screams.
Until I realise they’re real.
I’ve gotten to the frontline. The heart of the battle. Bullets and fire are actually around me.
We meet in the middle.
The true fire begins.
I lock eyes with Marli.
He just nods back at the tower, but we let Jasmine take the lead. She has the pistol. We just have knives. And wit.
I look back at the army, trusting them to hold off the rest of the soldiers. Then I
Our lights spark and flicker. Then they go dead. I can’t help but shiver. This is how close we’d gotten last time.
My subconscious knows before I do. I start to hang back, want to stop. Alert. Attentive.
The battle rages outside these sterile halls.
I feel like this is a lockdown. An ambush.
And I have an instinct of something else. I don’t know what it is, but it leads me away from the others.
It’s dark. Too dark. I hit my flashlight. It gives a weak flicker. Then dies for real.
I don’t know where I’m going, yet some invisible pull is telling me;
This is right.
Jasmine and Marli haven’t noticed my disappearance. Although, statistically, biologically, that should make me scared, should make me vulnerable, trigger a flight response, it makes me stronger.
I’m here to fight.
Staircase after staircase, I blindly feel my way around the dark passages.
Just like the others.
But it’s not.
The instinct tells me to go down the hallway. To open a locked door.
I remember the knife in my pocket. The rusted lock is like a racket’s string, falling away with one, swift, slice. It creaks opens.
A soft, scared whimper escapes the room.
I can’t see his face, not when I can barely see my own hands.
But then sirens start. Alarms, lights start their swirling, deafening, song.
The figure whines louder.
But then I see his face. And he sees mine.
It’s my brother.
I look at Taron, eyes wide.
He wasn’t dead that day. Just shot. And I’d left him for dead on the battlefield, let him be taken.
But he just stands up, and allows me to cut his chains. Soldiers are appearing every corner now. He takes my hand and runs. He’s weak, he’s starved, but he runs.
I want to run back to Marli and Jasmine, but if I know them, they’ve succeeded. And if I know the government, Taron was not treated well. I need to get home.
I press a knife into his hand. Guards, guns, we run.
I feel my foot shatter beneath me, in mid air. I smash it down on the ground, and go flying. Blood fills my shoes, bones shaking in the loose cavity that was once filled by skin and muscle. I collapse, knowing Taron won’t have the strength to help me up. I tell him to run, tell him I’ll be fine. But I know I won’t.
Then I see Jasmine and Marli tear down the stairs, and towards us. Jasmine protects Taron, shooting into the crowd of guards.
Marli helps me up, and I savour the feel of our hands in each other’s. He has his own gun, and places one in my hand. As hard as it is for our hands to part, our eyes to be cast upon anything that’s not the other’s, we need to.
He supports me and my foot. We run. We shoot. And we stumble out onto a flaming wasteland of victory.
Whatever paint was created by the rain and ash has been painted everywhere, in our symbol. And everything else is ablaze.
Our army holds their rackets, as the flags of the government burn. They hold matches, gasoline, oil.
And the sun sets upon our final, flaming victory.