“You have been found guilty of murder and treason. You are to be executed at dawn by firing squad. Sergeant?” There was a collective gasp from the group.
Kayla felt strangely detached – She watched the scene from a distance, as if removed from her body. The actors all moved around below her. The four accused, their shoulders slumped, staring in disbelief. The armed soldiers surrounding them and the flabby, transgender Officer who behaved like a bored town clerk handing out a parking violation. Kayla heard her own voice in the distance,
“We don’t get a trial?”
“It’s Martial Law. Terrorists are executed immediately after interrogation,” the officer lectured her, as if it were basic knowledge everybody should be aware of. “Those are our orders,” she said smugly, a grin giving her blank officious face a hint of perverted pleasure.
“We’re not Rebels…” Started Kayla, the officer silenced her with a dismissive wave.
Hands grasped her tightly and she was forced along with the others toward the door.”
Zoey began screaming, “No. No. No.”
“God bless America,” shouted Noah, coming to his senses, “God bless the real US army.” Their captors ignored them as they dragged them down a hallway, past what appeared to be abandoned offices to a small cell, with a single bare concrete bed on one side and a toilet in the corner. They were roughly pushed inside and the door slammed, plunging the room into near darkness. There’s no electricity, thought Kayla, slumping on the concrete bunk, No alarms, no spotlights... She could see the others collapsing around her as her eyes began adjusting to the darkness. The musty smell of dust and mildew hung thick in the air. It was silent aside from Zoey’s quiet, sobs. A pitiful sound that filled the space around them as they reflected on their plight. Kayla fought off the wave of desperation that rose up in her chest, gripping it like a vice, the sharp stabbing pains like a knife. Then she remembered something.
“Noah,” Kayla called out.
She shuffled closer to him and whispered in his ear, “Move around so your hands are near my boot. You’ll find a knife inside. My right boot.” Noah moved to the floor and watched him shuffle into position. “You feel it there?” She asked.
“Im just trying to…” Noah strained fighting against the clip ties that restrained his hands. “Got it.”
Kayla felt the knife sliding out of her boot. “Okay, can you cut your zip ties?”
She could hear him straining and grunting in the background. “Hold on,” she said sliding down to position her hands level with his. “Just don’t move the knife, you’ll cut me.” She felt his hands.
“Hold on, I think I can cut yours,” said Noah, feeling her restraints. She tensed up, hoping he didn’t slip and sever an artery. They would surely let her bleed out, these inhumane bunch of bastards. she felt the ties tighten, then snap as the knife cut through them. Kayla brought her hands around and shook them, trying to get the circulation going again. She could make out the shape of Noah in the darkness beside her. She felt for the blade and cut his restraints.
Their captors ignored them as they dragged them down a hallway, past what appeared to be abandoned offices to a small cell, with a single bare concrete bed on one side and a toilet in the corner. They were roughly pushed inside and the door slammed, plunging the room into near darkness.
“Just like that?” said Noah incredulously. “They execute you, like that? What happened to the Geneva convention?”
“It doesn’t apply,” said Bowie, shaking his hands to get the circulation back.
“What do you mean?”
“Because the ruling party refuse to call it a civil war. So you’re not a combatant, you’re a domestic terrorist. That’s why I’m starting to believe this war was not a mistake after all.”
“You mean it was scripted?” Asked Kayla
“Yes,” said Bowie. “Somebody wrote this.”
“Wouldn’t that be a big risk?”
“That’s what I haven’t figured out. Because the Fascist was popular with the Military. He went out of his way to look after them. So how could they be sure that most of the military wouldn’t turn against them?”
“He’s not a fascist,” said Noah, he’s the real president. Anyway, they told us it was going to happen.” Said Noah.
“The military. Our contacts in the Marines, the Seals, Rangers. They were going to join us. That’s what our commanding officer told us.”
“But you guys got beaten, you were pushed back.”
“It’s not over,” said Noah defiantly. “Anyway, how do you know some of these guys aren’t on our side. Just waiting for the chance to turn against the Commies.”
“It’s really confusing,” said Kayla. She thought for a minute, “I used to think Progressives were in the right and I believed all the White Supremacy shit. But this… She gestured around the room. Would your side do this?”
Noah sounded shocked, “Execute you? Why would they. We’re all Americans.”
“But my beliefs. I’m black, gay, Marxist.”
“But I thought we could believe what we wanted. Our side never tried to censor you, to demonize you…” said Noah.
“What about Muslims?”
Noah looked puzzled. He shrugged. “But they call us the enemy. They talk about killing us.”
“Could we just focus on getting out of here?” asked Bowie. Kayla and Noah both stared at him. They glanced at each other.
“You’re right.” Said Kayla. “How?”
“Well, these soldiers don’t seem very fit,” said Bowie, “they’re all overweight.”
“I heard they really lowered the standards slip after the big steal.” Said Noah, “to make the army more inclusive, they said.”
“Did you write that too Bowie?” Asked Kayla
“Not that I’m aware of,” said Bowie, “I think it was more a byproduct of the general breakdown of traditional society they had written into the script.”
“What’s traditional society?” Asked Noah, “You mean the family? That sort of thing?”
“I believe so. People are much easier to control when you break up the family unit. That’s what communist regimens have always strived to do.”
“Not everybody is a fan of the family unit,” growled Kayla.
“Also churches,” continued Bowie thoughtfully. “That’s why I think that someone scripted the Antifascist murder of priests.”
“You think that’s why they weren’t scared of the chopper?” Asked Noah, “They thought the army was there to support them?” There was silence for a moment.
“We’re going to die,” wailed Zoey. “I just know it.”
Kayla reached out and drew the girl to her, hugging her. “Not while I’m around, Baby,” she whispered. The girl laid her head on Kayla’s shoulder.
“So how can you stop it?” asked Bowie.
“Our only chance is to get out tonight,” said Noah.
“But in case you hadn’t noticed,” said Bowie, some sarcasm creeping into his voice, “we’re locked in a cell, with armed guards outside. They might be fat and unfit, but they still have guns.”
“Then we get them to come in,” said Noah, “ambush them. We’ve got a knife. Once we kill one, we’ve got his guns.”
“Why would they come in the cell?” Grumbled Bowie. “They’re going to shoot us in the morning, so why would they care if we’re sick or anything?”
“I can get them in,” said Zoey suddenly. Everybody stopped and looked at her
Bowie looked down again grumbling, “oh sure you can.”
But Noah began laughing Kayla joined in.
“What’s so funny?” asked Bowie.
“She can,” said Noah. “Didn’t you see the way they looked her up and down?”
“Do you really think you can seduce them?,” asked Kayla, feeling a tingle in her spine. She was at last going to feed the snake. Kill someone up close and personal, a knife to the throat.
Zoey took a deep breath and walked to the door. Kayla took up a position by her side.
“Heeeey,” called Zoey, banging on the inspection window in the door. “Taylor. Are you there?”
“You know him?” Asked Kayla, surprised.
Zoey shrugged shyly.
“Heeeey. Taylor, Please Taylor. I need to talk.” Someone began speaking in low tones on the other side of the door. The inspection window slid open and a young fresh face appeared.
“What’s up Zoey?” The voice sounded shy, a little uncertain. Perfect, through Kayla.
“Please. I wanted to see you. Can we go somewhere, just for a little while?” Zoey said seductively. Kayla had to give it to her. This kid was good. The inspection slot closed and the soldiers spoke in low tones. Heavy boot steps sounded as someone walked away, then the inspection slot opened again and a flashlight shone in and around the cell.
“Come on handsome,” purred Zoey. There was a clanking of keys and the cell door opened. “Hi Baby,” the soldier said, his face glowing with excitement. “Sorry about th…” Zoey cut him off with a passionate kiss on the lips. Kayla instinctively put her foot next to the door, to prevent it closing, then reached past Zoey and slipped the knife in the side of the young soldier’s neck, straight into the carotid artery. He gasped and raised his hand to his neck attempting to stop the blood spurted from the wound. His eyes wide with disbelief. Kayla dragged him into the cell and Noah grabbed the automatic weapon hanging on his shoulder. The soldier’s arms flailed around as he tried to speak, then he collapsed on the floor, empty eyes staring into space.
“You know how to use that rifle?” Asked Kayla
“Yep,” said Noah, excitement in his voice, “Standard M4.” He dropped the magazine and checked it. It was full.
“Oh fuck, oh fuck,” said Bowie, holding his hands to his head. “Now we’re really in the shit.”
“What are they going to do? Kill us twice?” asked Noah sarcastically.
“Shut up.” Said Kayla, “we don’t have time for this. Check him for a side arm and any spare ammo.”
Noah felt around the man’s belt and triumphantly produced a guy. “Sig Sauer” he said.
“Give it to me,” said Kayla. Any Ammo too.
“The other guy is coming,” hissed Zoey, who’d been standing watch at the door.
“You know what to do.” Said Kayla, slipping the hand gun into her belt and retrieving her knife.
They waited patiently in silence as the footsteps grew louder.
“Your turn big boy,” said Zoey seductively
“Where’s Taylor?” The solder asked, looking a little confused.
“He went to get you.” Zoey replied. Kayla could see the man’s face at the door, he was looking at Zoey, his eye showing interest. He must have noticed the blood, his eyes narrowing as he stepped back, fumbling with his rifle. Kayla pushed Zoey out of the way and leapt on him like a tiger, her knife penetrating his jugular. Not quick enough. The man managed to fire a short burst from his rifle, the gunfire shattering the silence. Someone shouted and heavy boots could be heard on the tiled floors.
““Let’s go,” shouted Kayla and the others came stumbling out of the cell. Noah wrestled the gun from the dying man’s hands and thrust it to Bowie, who looked at it in horror.
Kayla quickly weighed their options. Soldiers were already coming from the direction of the entrance. She ran to the nearest office and wrenched open the door.
“Come on, maybe there’s an exit here,” she shouted, pulling Zoey with her. The others followed. The large glass windows overlooking the car park, where she could see a line of military vehicles. Soldiers ran from them, toward the main entrance of the building.
There wasn’t much time. She could hear more boots in the hallway now, and a huge explosion rattled the office doors. A stun grenade, she thought. At the far end of the room, Kayla spotted a doorway and sprinted straight for it, dragging Zoey with her. She could feel Noah and Bowie right behind her. She tried the door handle. It opened and she flung the door wide, tumbling out onto the asphalt of the car park. Scrambling to her feet, she started for the nearest Humvee, just ten feet away, if they could just reach one, they had a chance. Kayla looked over to see Noah running with her.
This was just too easy, thought Kayla, Amateurs shooting their way out of an army compound. She heard a shout coming from the room they’d just left and doubled her energy. She grabbed Zoey’s arm and pulled the door latch open. Strangely, it made a metallic click, like a rifle being cocked or was it… She froze. A gun barrel protruded from the back of the vehicle, aimed at her face. Soldiers had been waiting in the vehicle. Kayla’s heart sunk. This was truly the end, there was no way out for them. Her knees went weak, the gun fell from her hands, and she was grabbed from behind and thrown face first into the asphalt. Everything went into slow motion, through the blur around her, she could see the shapes of the others falling. Loud voices. Sharp pains in her stomach as somebody kicked her again and again. Zip ties were wrenched tightly on her hands.
She was hauled up and flung into the back of the vehicle face first. A boot was planted firmly on her upper back, pinning her down as the vehicle lurched forward. Every bump in the road jolted through her body, jarring her to the bone. Breathing came hard as she panted like a dog to get oxygen. The pain was agonising and she longed to cry out, surrender to the agony, but she held on, her teeth clenched. They were not going to get that satisfaction of hearing her cry.
Just when she was at the point of giving up, the vehicle shuddered to a halt and the boot was lifted from Kayla’s back, allowing her to take a deep breath of the air. Fresh salty, ocean air.
She could hear the rumble of waves crashing in the distance. It’s a nice place to die, she told herself. Much nicer than a stuffy cell.
Hands gripped her and she felt her body rise into the air and fall to the ground, on top of another body. There was a cry of pain. Then somebody else fell on top of her.
Kayla was raised between two soldiers and dragged across a concrete barrier to the sand, with the dimly lit beach stretching out in front of her. Someone cut the zip ties and her hands were freed.
To her side, Zoey sobbed quietly, tears forming streaks in the dust that covered her face. She glanced at Kayla, then lowered her eyes. Something was thrown in front of them. Shovels.
“Pick them up and start digging.” A soldier commanded.
She looked around to see the others standing there stunned, as bewildered as she was. Then she felt a sharp pain as someone bought a rifle but into her lower back, knocking her to the ground.
“Get up, Bitch.”
the faint predawn glow began to illuminate the seascape, revealing the menacing silhouettes of navy ships poised there, watching. Silent witnesses to their execution.
Kayla forced herself up, glaring around at the soldiers who stood around them, weapons at the ready.
“Get a shovel each and start digging,” the voice repeated. Zoie sobbed loudly and Bowie gasped, but they all obeyed, grasping their shovels and digging into the loose sand. Their final resting place.
They moved slowly, almost robotically, lost in their thoughts. In the distance, the faint predawn glow began to illuminate the seascape, revealing the menacing silhouettes of navy ships poised there, watching. Silent witnesses to their execution.
“Hurry up.”said a gruff voice. “We’ve got to get back for breakfast.” Some of the men snickered to this.
“We don’t want to keep Satan waiting, now do we.” said another in a mocking tone.
“What’s that date?” Kayla looked around abruptly to see who had spoken. It was Noah, who was resting on his shovel.
“The date. What’s the date?”
“Dig,” barked a soldier.
“What’s the date, Kayla?” He repeated calmly, “today’s date.”
Kayla thought for a moment, “The 21st. August. Why?”
“I’m 18 today,” said Noah proudly then grunted in pain as he was slammed in the back with a rifle but.
“Happy Birthday,” said the soldier in a mocking tone.
“At least I reached 18,” said Noah, looking out to the horizon, where some color had started to creep into the morning light.
“Happy Birthday, Noah,” said Kayla, lowering her eyes and shuddering at the thought of him being shot on his birthday. Zoey was oblivious to it all, sobbing loudly as she shovelled sand out of the hole.
The condemned continued slowly and quietly as the hole slowly deepened. Kayla hoped it would continue, so she could squeeze out every last second of life. Savouring it, like a mouthful of French wine. She guessed the others were doing much the same as the soldiers ignored them, joking among themselves. Maybe she could throw a shovel and hit one. She discounted it immediately. There were at least eight soldiers there. No chance, she thought.
A memory came to her, of those old black and white photos she’d seen as a child, of Jews in Europe forced to dig their graves in World War II. “Vermin”, her step daddy had called them, “parasites”. She had wondered how they felt, knowing those were their last moments on earth. Resignation and acceptance in their eyes. But they knew where they were going. But what about me? Kayla wasn’t sure what she believed would happen after death. She glanced at Noah, who was calmly working. His face serene. At peace. The power of religion, she thought. Then she remembered Billie and she knew everything had a purpose. They would be reunited. A feeling of peace descended over her. She laid her shovel on the side of the hole and looked out to sea. Feeling Zoey nuzzle against her shoulder, shaking and sobbing softly. She put her arm around the girl then continued looking out to the horizon, waiting for the bullet that would bring her a welcoming a release from the madness.