All entries for Friday 12 November 2004

November 12, 2004

Chapter 10

It was obvious that the van was not designed to carry a ton of explosives, and eight rebels. If any evidence was required, it could be seen in the disturbing tilt it took on when taking a corner, and the cramped conditions on board which left sardine cans to shame. Wedged as they were, it was impossible to move the slightest bit, even to wriggle a toe, and air came in a tiny whistle, though a nail-sized hole in the the vehicle's bodywork.

But it was not as though they expected any real luxury. Perhaps, it was even intended that the ride be as uncomfortable as it was, to dissuade any potential searchers from suspecting what lay within. Halting a little, its engines struggling, they made their way haphazardly to the rendezvous point, just next to the Wall, trying not to get killed in the process.

Kyra, squeezed between two drums, was next to him, separated from him only by some piping, some sheets of cloth, some other detritus. Risking a scraped limb, he had reached towards here, and she had reached back, so that their hands touched somewhere in the middle. When the van rocked, the forces involved would near rip their arms from their sockets. But at least they were together.

“You think it will work?” he asked. The question was addressed to Kyra, but in the cramped interior, noises travelled far, and each of the other passengers heard him too, realised that this was the question they had on their minds, that they dared not ask.

“Yes,” she said. “Of course it will work. We've tried to hard, made so many plans. It can't possibly fail now. What we have done can't possibly be worth nothing. You've help us set the schedule yourself. You know how much effort came into this.”

“But do you think people really want to be freed?”

A long silence followed. He was sure she didn't hear the question, was about to repeat it when she answered.

“Yes. Don't you prefer to be free than enslaved, now that the IH is off? Everyone here has taken the choice, and no one ever chooses anything else. That's because freedom is something that is valuable beyond all else, even life itself. Everyone wants to be freed, once they are given the choice.”

Well recited, he thought suddenly. But she had not finished.

“It is a matter of hope, if there is any hope for the world, then people will see the truth the moment they can. And then they will embrace reality, embrace the values and rights we gift them, because they are what is right, and what is right is obvious to everyone. Today is going to be a historic day. It would be the making of a new world.”

“But what if it is dangerous? What if whatever is behind the Wall really belongs there?”

“You trust the government about that? The fact they say it is so is evidence of the opposite. We must get over that Wall, precisely because they don't want us to.”

The tyres screeched as the van skidded a little across wet ground, and in the back, they swayed and fought and wrestled to stay upright.

“That doesn't make any sense,” he said.

“Don't be stupid.”

“How can you expect things to be stable, if you are just going to do this for no real reason at all? Isn't it better than we live in peace than for some concept that we don't really need? The vast majority of people find life fine as it is.”

“Sacrifices must be made. Whose side are you on, anyways?”

He snapped to full attention. Their voices had grown loud indeed, and he feared for a moment that they may be heard, that their plans would be revealed too early. But he was afraid too of what he heard in her voice. Afraid that the next time she said 'Don't try to find me', she would mean it.

“Oh, oh, on your side of course. I'm just talking. You know, just to liven up the day.”

A pause, and he heard her laughter like peals of tiny bells.

“You're incorrigible, Frank.”

He decided to say nothing further, but another thought crossed his mind.

“Kyra, do you remember when we first met?” he said, casually.

“Not really. We were what? Ten? Six?”

“Twelve.”

“I'm sorry,” she said. “I can't remember that far back. It all goes kinda hazy. It's not something I think about often. Why? Why are you so suddenly interested in ancient history? Has our revival of good old fashioned values finally gotten to you?”

“No, I mean… yes. I mean… Whatever. It's just something just came to me. Some parallels, or something.”

“So you were a student revolutionary, eh?”

He quietened. She did not remember, did not even care. But he did, and for some reason it became clearer even as the other scattered memories faded back into their places. That with every metre they drove, the sense of remembrance grew stronger. Vague thoughts, a startled concept. Something was going to happen. Soon.

*

He walked back up the overgrown edging, the fence to his right side, a feeling of emptiness in his mind. Words had been said, events decided, and they were great, too great for him to understand without further thought. The world seemed a little different with each passing step, such that the school felt now to be a mere veneer on a real world, a dream overwriting a vision. He paused, wondering if he could wake up, but did not.

He climbed again through the hole in the fence, back into the safety of the playground, the bounded zone of his past existence. Somehow, it seemed to be false, now, that the squabbles and struggles of his life so far appeared so much a mere game, and a game he could no longer understand. Somewhere somehow, that connection had been lost, and he wished to remake it.

There was something, yes, a small thing. An appointment the headmaster had made for him, half in jest. But in this world, appointments must still be kept. So, he sauntered off, casting his eyes around in inexplicable wonder.

*

The van shook again, and something solid in front of him smashed backwards into his face. He rubbed the spot of impact ruefully. A micro sleep, then. It did not seem to have lasted long, and the sound outside remained the same. He resisted the urge to ask where they were. They further they went, the more dangerous it was. 'Are we there yet' in the middle of a routine check would be catastrophic. They had planned the mission to happen at the low point in each soldier's day, at that stage when they only worked because of the forcing pressure of the IH. But there was no reason to take unnecessary risks.

The van stopped.

He tensed himself, ready to leap out. He had not expected to arrive so quickly. Outside, the click as the cab door opened. Crunching gravel, moving slowly from front to back. Fumbling, the clatter of keys on a chain. Tinny clicks as it was inserted. And then the scraping noise as the door opened, as a field of light moved across their faces.

“We are there,” the driver said.

Aaron jumped out, landing outside.

“Hurry up, kids. We need to get this stuff unpacked and set up now. We have no time to waste.”

Kyra loosened her hand from Frank's, tugging, struggling to get free. But he did not relinquish his grip, but grabbed her hardly, pulling her towards him.

“Hey, that hurts!” she protested.

“Then relax and listen to me.”

“Listening…”

“When you leave the van, get as far away from here as you can. I don't think it is safe for you to be here.”

“But why? Do you think we will fail?” she accused.

“No. But I am scared for you. I care about you, and don't want anything to happen.”

“It's a moment of history. Some of us had worked our whole lives, just for this moment. I can't walk away now.”

The pressure on his was loosening. The other rogues, bustling, were unloading the cargo rapidly. Out of a corner of his eye, he could see them moved onto pushcarts, and wheeled towards the wall. There were no guards, no security activity at all. Things were going to plan.

“Please,” he said. “Do it for me. Do it, if you trust me, and trust my love for you. I just have a feeling about this. Get away from here, please.”

The hand was suddenly wrenched from his grasp. Listening intently, he thought he could just here her voice.

“Try to find me later, then.”

With a colossal effort, the box which had held him in place was removed. Trying to limber up his arms, he walked uncertainly off the back of the van, jumped down unto the gravel floor of the parking area.

The Wall was just in front of him, its black mass reaching up into the infinite sky. It never changed, it was almost burned into his sense of perception. But today, the clouds atop it was black, inky black like the smoke of hell. He suppressed an involuntary shudder, took the opportunity for a look around. Kyra was nowhere to be seen. He sighed a little in relief and sadness.

Aaron was staring at the Wall. Frank could guess why. He must be trying to imagine the Wall, imagining what the world would be like when it was gone, when the borders were unsealed. A frown crossed the man's face.

He must be finding it difficult, Frank decided. He couldn't imagine it, either.


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