Different Sides of the Dispute

*Silver Winner of the Different Sides of the Dispute Writing competition* Do you want to know the brutal truth? I'm not gonna lie... the truth hurts. If you'd rather live a lie then feel free to go and read a nice Fairytale, but if not, it's time to face reality. This is my entry for Malorie Blackman's writing competition about different sides of the dispute.

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1. Rhea

Rhea

I stare at the boy in front of me, the obnoxious Kaspar Wilding. No, I stare at the monster in front of me. His deep brown eyes look me up and down as if I am something truly despicable and despite myself, I flinch. If looks could kill, I would drop dead. Yet at least that would mean they couldn’t torment my maimed, naked body.

The horrific images that have been forced to haunt the brains of my friends, driving them to insanity as the blood-curdling photos slash their way through every inch of their brains, are more horrific than I can even begin to describe. Images of women enslaved, raped and beaten; found in fields with their wrists slit and tears of happiness still fresh on their mutilated faces because they are finally free. Images of babies, branded with burning iron and shackled with heavy metal on their delicate, new-born baby skin, to prevent them from ever becoming free.

Images of humans who stand like lifeless ghosts behind the claws of barbed wire as a wailing wind slashes their striped pyjamas and shaven heads; anguished cries of people whose friends have died when water turned into a fatal gas. Images of starving children who lie as skeletons on repulsive roads and bat their senseless eyelids to keep away the flies, knowing any blink could be their last. Children who survive but cannot live.

Images of men ripped from their family life, forced to fight to their deaths whilst people around them are bombed, blasted and broken in a war against the world. Images of the abominable attacks that blast away the lives of children, parents and siblings in twin towers; with them blasting away the warmth and hope in their shattered hearts. Torture. Torture. Torture. They torture my friends by showing an endless stream of images that show others who have been tortured. Brutally ironic, huh?

Yet the boy who stands in front of me has been bred from hate. Hate for us. He is so ignorant that he thinks by fighting us he fights his enemy, although in reality he is aiding the true villains: his own people in the Alliance, the rich people in the high council who claim they protect those of the Alliance. They are the ones who plant large-scale bombings and blame it on us to fuel their people’s mindless and misinformed hate. They are the ones who torture us.

Kaspar chooses to believe that he is doing the right thing by capturing us and believes that when they smile and say they treat us well in hospital, they are telling the truth. On the contrary, instead of treating our wounds and keeping us safe and warm, they strip us naked, inject us with a paralysing brown liquid and cut off our eyelids to force us to watch unspeakable horrors unfold forever.

 You see, we have a power that they don’t want anyone else in the Alliance to know about. We can not only share memories and knowledge from one mind to another through touch, but we can also share something that the Alliance cannot warp into lies: empathy. If we share the real, heart-throbbing suffering we have to endure to civilians in the Alliance, it might lead to people actually questioning those in the high-council about who and what the Guardians, so-called protectors from us Insurgents, are fighting for.

 Not only that, but we can transfer the information we have learnt through the selected few who have the power of Touch Empathy if we pay the greatest price. Death. Only through death can we give our people new-found knowledge, so the Alliance capture us before we can commit suicide and keep us locked up until we die. Therefore, when we die we can’t help but transfer the unbelievably gruesome and heart-breaking images that we have been forced to watch since capture. In addition, they secretly treat the water that everyone in the Alliance drinks so no one else can gain the power of Touch Empathy. Are you beginning to realise the hell that is our life?

That’s their problem. Kaspar, and all the rest of them, believe the lies that everyone is spoon-fed in the Alliance: that we are the ones who betrayed them. That we are the ones who stole their land. That we are the ones that kill so many of them. If they just opened their eyes then they would realise that the whole Alliance is built on the Insurgent’s graveyard.

It makes my blood boil that the civilians of the Alliance never question anything. Not one person has tried to find out if the lies the 21 members of the high-council poison people’s minds with are legitimate. Well, apart from Kaspar’s mum, she was the one strong-willed woman who fought for the truth, but they quickly hid her horrific fate from everyone in the Alliance, including Kaspar…

“Why do you terrorise us?” Kaspar growls, narrowing his bushy brown eyebrows. I give a long, cold laugh at the cruel, twisted irony. Suddenly, I wonder whether to tell him the truth hidden from him by those he decides to trust. I seriously consider telling him what really happens behind closed doors, who the enemy really is, even…? Shall I reveal what really happened to his Guardian mother, the woman who was a “hero”? No. The stony look in his eyes whisk me back to harsh reality: he’ll never believe me. Never want to believe me. After all, the truth hurts. I must just let him discover the real truth for himself.

I turn to leave, but stop short. I can’t just leave him with a burning hatred for us. No. I must give him some sort of clue to the truth. But what? What can I tell him without him declaring me a liar, stunning me with the stun-gun kept firmly by his side, and whisking my body to the high council for them to do their dirty work, whilst he sleeps happily believing that he has done his duty.

“You should know what you’re fighting for, Kaspar,” I whisper. Then I turn and leave.

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