16. Fights and Saves
It was the first full-on physical conflict they had in the rescue process. The organization was trying their best to hold ground, and the government officials were reaching for the control pad. There were kicks and punches. Olive and Ilana didn’t know what to do, but stood around the control pad, batting away any hands that managed to poke through to the green button. As the fight occurred around them, they saw one of the government officials staying away from the actual ruckus but contacting someone through the radio- probably London. It was a full-on dispute at first, but as the girls stared, they could see that their side was clearly getting pressed back. The girls looked at each other in panic. It would not be long until people reached the control pad… ‘What do we do?’ There was a big question mark hanging over the girls. Olive looked around hysterically, searching for any item that might have been of use. Then, her eyes caught an emergency hammer hanging on the wall. She had an idea. Perhaps… Ilana saw Olive with the hammer, and instantly understood what she was going to do. But Olive wasn’t strong enough, perhaps with the two of them it was possible… Then her brain flashed through a wave of thoughts. If they did this, then it might mean no hope for her own island. No, she had to save her friends, her family… She couldn’t do this. Just at that moment, Ilana saw one of the government officials break through the last of the defenses and lunge for the control pad. He was going to succeed, and then both islands would be destroyed… Ilana picked up the hammer that Olive was struggling with, and together, they smashed the control pad to bits. The train was utterly broken; the lights went out and the little hum of the engine was no longer there. Both sides of the raging battle stared at the girls at this sudden event. It took a moment for everything to sink in, then general Harris shouted. “Olivia Mayfield, just what have you done?! Now we’ll never escape, any of us!” Then, glaring at both girls, he picked up his phone. A calm woman with a cool voice answered. “This is the office of Minister of Home Affairs. He is currently in work. Is this an emergency or do you wish to speak to him privately?” “Just… Tell him this is Harris. Yes, an emergency indeed. Indeed.” “Yes sir, please wait awhile.” The lady said, then after a pause, a man picked up. “Harris? Did you receive the protestors? What happened?” “Sir, you’ll need to delay the bombing. It cannot happen today. The protestors came and broke the train, and all of us are now trapped in the island. Without the train, escape is going to be excruciatingly slow. I apologize for this inconvenience. Please send transportation and push the bombing time a bit.” He gasped out. There was a long silence on the other line, with hints of hushed voices. After a while, the minister came back on. “It would be a great deal to stop the bombing now. To stop everything because of your small mistake, Harris- gracious, you outnumbered them! What could have happened? It cannot be done. Find a way to get out, Harris. I apologize.” This set the general into panic. He gripped his cell phone with both hands and practically shouted. “What do you mean, sir, surely you are not leaving us to be bombed along with-“ “I apologize, Harris. Find a way out.” “We have no other means of transportation, surely you remember when we cut off most routes for the islanders to escape? Sir? Sir!” After this hysterical cry of desperation the line remained silent. After a while, the calm lady’s voice sounded again. “The minister no longer wishes to speak. Thank you for calling.” “Wait! I still-“ “Have a nice day, sir.” There was a beep of the disconnected line. As the beep slowly faded into the silence, General put his head in his hands. “God, this cannot be happening.” The old man cleared his throat. “So, you realize, you should help us with the protest.” General Harris seemed to understand that what the old man said was true. He took a deep breath. “All right, where do we start?” * * * It was now time for the broadcast. Olive and Ilana were directed to greet the people left over in the island, tell them the truth, and explain their plan. The organization and the government officials worked together in preparing and planning the protest, and the broadcasting team built the mechanics and got ready to hit the air. “We’ll have this on the television, the radio, and on youtube. Our mission is to make as many people in London reach our message. We’ll broadcast our protest here in the island- live, and hopefully, we’ll cause a protest in London too. Sounds good?” Olive nodded and pulled Ilana away. Actually, Ilana was quite distraught. Mayfield was well on its plan to getting itself saved. But with no one else on Charbon but the people and the government officials, there was a high chance that the government would not stop the bombing. Olive knew this and understood Ilana. She took Ilana into a big building, into what used to be her own office just yesterday. Having checked no one was around, Ilana went into a fit. “Olive- what- what am I going to do? The train’s broken now, and we’ll never be able to get there. My family, my friends, I... We...” Ilana broke out into sobs, sinking into Olive’s chair. But Olive had thought of a plan before breaking the control pad. She gave Ilana a tissue, and spoke gently. Ilana looked up. “Ilana, it’s okay. I know what to do.” Olive picked up her own radio from her desk, then gave it to Ilana. “There is a way of escape. The general is helping us because he- everyone- thinks there is none, but if you think about it… Press the black button. It’ll connect to your radio, back on your island. When someone picks up, you can tell him, or her, to gather all the islanders and tell them about the platform. Tell them to jump on the tracks and just…run. The old man told me that the island is about 7 miles across, a little smaller than Mayfield, and the bomb has a 4-mile radius of destroying everything. So only the tracks beyond half a mile out of the island will get damaged, and if you manage to get everyone to run past a few miles, then I assume they will live.” Olive explained. “But Olive, you of all people should understand this better than anyone! Don’t you realize… surely you understand… You know this isn’t just about the people. It’s about our islands, our home! Everything there, our houses, produce, work, culture… What about that? I’m not just about to throw all that away. I won’t.” “Ilana… I understand. Of course I understand. But we can’t. There’s no choice. You could blame me for breaking the train, but otherwise, both of our islands would have been destroyed. I’m sorry. I know this is a painful decision. But if we don’t do this, what about your family? Your friends? Let’s save this island. And your people. That’s what we can do.” Ilana took a while to take it in. She knew, deep down, this was what had to be done. She just didn’t want to accept it. But she thought about her parents, and Vanessa. She couldn’t lose them, not along with the island. She understood that they had no choice but to leave everything behind. It had to be that way. Hands shaking, she picked up the radio. “Okay. Let’s do that.” She pressed the black button. The line buzzed awhile, then connected again. At first, there were no voices, but one of Ilana’s coworkers picked it up soon. Her voice was terrified and shaky. “He… Hello?” “Oh my gosh! Anne, is it you?” Ilana confirmed. “Yes, this is Anne, but who is… Wait. Aren’t you… Ilana?” Anne asked in disbelief. “It is. Listen, we don’t have much time. How’s the situation back there?” “Oh my god, Ilana, you’re so brave, we all heard about everything! Like you breaking out, getting onto the train, and all that! I can’t believe… Wow!” Anne kept gushing. “Thank you, Anne, but right now we really don’t have the time. Just tell me how it is back there.” Ilana prodded. “Well, okay, so… We were in semi-panic by the time the government workers were deserting us. But then they discovered about the train, so they came back overground… And since then, the whole island is in hysteria, especially Rebecca. The remaining government workers can’t control the islanders, and people are running around, crying on the streets. I was only coming back here awhile for my stuff, and to see if I could contact anyone else, when, suddenly, your radio started to ring. I wasn’t really believing this entire bombing thing, unless… You say it’s true?” “Well. Okay. Okay. Well, Anne, the bombing, it’s, um… real.” As Ilana said this, a small gasp could be heard on the line. “But listen very carefully, and you’ll all survive. We have an evacuation route. Gather everyone, every single person, any baby or elderly, and tell them that we called to tell you this. Get to the ration station, I assume you’ve already done that for food. But don’t stop where all the food is, just keep going towards the very, very back. There’ll be a staircase leading down. That’s the train station.” “Well, that’s good, but there was no train…?” “Exactly. So you’ll have to walk. The stronger men have to carry the babies, and help the elderly and weak or disabled. We have…” Ilana looked at her watch. “Two hours left until the actual bomb hits your island. In that time, do whatever it takes to get everyone on the train track and just run. It’s one way. A couple of miles will be enough, but more than five would be safe. You have plenty of time, if the people cooperate. No time for grabbing stuff. Just make sure everyone gets there.” Ilana explained. “Okay.” Anne took a deep breath. “I believe you, Ilana. And thank you. This is the only chance we’ll have. Good luck over there, whatever you’re doing.” “Yeah, you too. Now, you should get going. You can do it. I trust you.” Ilana said, and hung up. For her, it was time to work on the broadcast.