This is a sequel to My Eyes Have Seen You, my Speakeasy entry from last week.
“I need to understand what I’m fighting for,” I said as I looked, wide-eyed, from the crowd back to Melis that morning in the ruins.
“Fighting? You’re not a fighter. I will protect you but there may come a time that you will have to get far away from me. For your own safety.”
“Melis, you may see me as a naïve little girl, but you have taught me much. And I’m tougher than you think.”
We left it at that for the time being. The people were waiting and he couldn’t let them stand there in the grey lull while we worked out what he was going to do with me. I knew, though, that his silence did not mean he agreed.
He may have taught me basic survival, and to be wary, but he never involved me in any of the training. “There is more to a rebellion than fighting,” he often said. To him, I was still the girl he found that first day, the girl who had trusted her parents as they blinded her to the truth about the world.
Maybe he wanted to keep me that way, a piece of a lost world, but I was eager to grow, to leave the past behind.
Over time, Melis had explained all about the war that had been averted, the war I hadn’t known anything about. There had, indeed, been more than a few battles in Europe. Before the Great Disaster, the world had become a web of hate, held fast by many battles; North vs. South, East vs. West, old rivalries and new. No allies were true allies, nothing was as it seemed and every leader had a backroom deal going on with the most unexpected of partners.
On the eve of what surely would have been a full-fledged armageddon, the Earth had saved herself. It was as though every natural disaster hit at once.
No war. But the world was still shattered.
Before the dust had settled, The Absolute was there, seizing power when no one was organized enough to stop it. Countries, governments, were in disarray, unable to fend off this power. Those who understood what was happening realized it was wiser, for the time being, to lay low and stay out of sight.
Melis had explained all this to me as we, too, lay low.
I could see the planning and plotting in his eyes. I had a vague notion that they were spying on The Absolute, trying to find weak spots they could exploit without loosing anyone. Beyond that, I knew little and though I asked, Melis wouldn’t share anything. “It’s safer if you don’t know,” he’d say.
Instead, he put me in charge of the compound. I had at least proven myself by managing the transformation of the ruins into a headquarters. I was glad to have a chance to lead in my own way.
And still our numbers swelled, the cries of “Melisizwe!” growing louder as the days passed.
I knew the training and minor expeditions wouldn’t last forever. I knew something more had to happen. But despite the fire I saw in his eyes one morning, I barely looked up to watch as the familiar sway of his back disappeared across the drab, grassy plain at the edge of the abandoned town.
When I first saw the glint of silver in the sky, I thought it was a bird. But there was no birdsong to go with it. When I looked again, I noticed the shining circle of rotating blades; still it made no sound. As it got close enough to land, it whipped up a frenzied wind but the machine itself remained eerily silent.
Remembering everything Melis had taught me, I stayed in the shadows, unseen. I knew they would find those who tried to hide, and there were many. For them – the taken – the sweet air of freedom was locked away forever.
I desperately hoped they hadn’t found Melis. I wouldn’t know until he returned – if he returned.
Among the captives was a young girl, Sam. They chose her as the one to release, to send back to us as a message. She brought with her a list of those who had been killed and those imprisoned for future use. Her return showed that they knew who and where we were.