The Truth Behind the Flames. - *Movella of the Year 2016*

Before you judge me and tell me that it was all worth it in the end, ask yourself one question, one question only before you read on: what was it all for?

They say that we are judged by the choices we make. They are what define us and on June the 25th, 2414, I chose wrong.

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17. The Spark Ignites.

Tzzzz.

 

My eyes flickered open. Lifting my head from where it rested on my arm, I took a moment to let myself adjust to the blazing light. Letting out a wince, I rolled my shoulders and clicked my neck; falling asleep at the table was not comfortable and was always the result of a failed all-nighter.  I let a weak smile tug at the corners of my lips as the memories washed over me. The last time that this had happened, the world had been different.

It was back in the days of innocence. It was back in the days of secrets. It was back in the days before everything went wrong.

I remembered the softness in Evan’s eyes as he shook me awake.  Without a word exchanged between us, he took my arm and led me towards my room. I was so exhausted that I couldn’t even muster up the energy to protest; that was what happened when you worked for twelve hours with barely a moment spared for breath. That was the first time that he pressed a kiss on my cheek. For a good few minutes, I had stood, staring out of the door – trying to rationalise the events which had just passed.

All of that was gone now. All of those fleeting moments had been erased by the truth. Now, none of it mattered because none of it was real.

Clenching my fists in an attempt to dispel my anger, I took a deep breath before forcing myself to stand and to confront the new day.  Catching the reflection of the orange sky in the mirror, I swallowed down my rage and forced myself to look. My eyes were bloodshot and had dark circles beneath them. My hair was unkempt and my face was streaked with ash and soot. This was what I had turned into – this monster – and I hated it with every fibre of my being. This wasn’t me – this shouldn’t have been me – but it was. I was merely a victim of my circumstances and now, this was what I had become.

 

Tzzzz.

 

My gaze travelled over to the leather-bound diary which lay on top of the fireplace where I had left it after the final word had been written. My diary was up to date but yet still remained half-finished. The ink may have stopped running but the story was not yet over; it was merely on hiatus until events took their course.

And they would.

They had to or else I would have to live like this forever.

 

Tzzzz.

 

The familiar hiss of static filled my ears as my radio continued to scream out into the cold morning air. The fires had died down hours ago – leaving me in the grasp of the ice-filled breeze. Moving over to the fireplace, I tossed some kindling into the metal bowl before picking up a bowl of matches.  The weight of the cardboard barely registered in my grasp as I slid out the draw and pulled out a red-tipped match. Pinching the bottom of the wooden stick, I scraped the match head against the textured side and watch as a new flame was born into the world. Dropping to my knees, I let the top of the flame curve towards the unsuspecting shards of wood.

Within moments, it was consumed.

Mingling with the crackling of flames, the static continued to ring through the cabin. I had no trigger, I had no catalyst to propel me forwards with inspiration and so I remained, waiting for the sign. After six months of suffering and thought, I still had no plan to end the True Military’s scheme. My name was like a curse and was hated across the survivors as across the nation as I was blamed for killing millions. I was blamed for the virus and how the world ended when in fact I was the only one who tried to stop the devastation.

To the survivors, I was beyond redemption but that was the only thing that I wanted.

Lost beneath blankets of bitter-sweet memories, it took me a few moments to realise that the static had faded. Tearing through my heart like a knife through water, a familiar voice broke into my haven.

 

“Brothers and sisters, the age of war is over. We are at peace and the threat has been neutralised. Our victory is complete. All weapons from both sides have now been confiscated and have been locked up at our headquarters to prevent another outburst of violence. The Council thanks you for your service during these hard times. Over and out.”                  

                      

Tzzzz.

 

The static returned.

As the message finished, it fell on deaf ears as my head began to spin. Even after everything that they had done and the deaths that they had caused, the Council had won. Our twisted reality was broken and shattered because of them but yet they walked away as winners and without a single scratch. They pulled the strings but yet used others as a shield against the weapons and nightmares that they had created. They had sacrificed their humanity for victory in a worthless trade, costing more than most were willing to pay.

This had to end.

I had to do something – anything – to stop them.

I had no weapons and nothing to fight with. I had no one but myself but at the end of the day, that was all I needed. For so long, I’d been alone – the silence as my only company. My routine was crushing with is monotony and lack of colour. Each day was spent wallowing in a sea of regret and losing myself in the memories that threatened to never let me go.

At the end of it all, the weapon that would bring the regime crumbling down wasn’t forged of steel or synthesised in a test tube between hollow white walls. The Council’s downfall would be the deadliest weapon of all and one that they had no hope in escaping: the truth.

With my thoughts racing away into the depth of possibility, I took a deep breath and listened to the soft crackling of the flames. I had to release the truth from its cage and shatter the illusion that the Council had tried so hard to build. They broke me – they destroyed my world – and in return, I would do the same to them. The people that they claimed to represent had been lied to, manipulated and deceived in a time of limited horizons and acres of free time.  They deserved to know the truth even through it would break them.

Placing myself down on the wooden chair, I ignored the sensation in my stomach as I drew out a pen and let the words carry me away. As soon as the pint graced the surface of the paper dark ink came flowing out – carving the words of my confession. I was living in a time where it wasn’t possible to get it right but I would do my best because I had nothing left to offer; it would have to be enough.

Almost two paragraphs in, I froze – dread rushing through my veins as I fought to take a breath. The council still had their weapons and if – when – the Rebellion rose, they would be struck down in a matter of days. The war would be over before it even started and the casualties would be my fault.

Unless, I could take out the weapons.

The Council’s greatest weakness was their arrogance. They believed that they were infallible and that nothing could touch them.  They believed that they were too high up to fall and too powerful to crumble.

But they were wrong.

They were wrong about so much and now, after all this time, it was my job to put it right. I’d made too many mistakes to be forgiven but that wouldn’t stop me from trying. The broadcast had said that the weapons were locked away at the True Military’s headquarters, all in one place and simply waiting for me to attack. The Council couldn’t fight a war without their toys and my message could be spread through their machines. They had the equipment to send their broadcasts and I could use it to send out the truth behind the flames and the truth behind the suffering.

Now, I had a plan; I had an idea and nothing could stand in my way. I was sick of this – sick of feeling lost, teetering on the edge of shattering completely. My life had been a travesty but maybe, I could make something of the pain and make a difference to the world that I had spent my life failing to protect.

As I lifted the pen from the surface of the paper, I stared down at my signature with hate bubbling beneath the surface of my skin. My name was like a curse – feared and despised but never to be forgotten. I was infamous for circumstances that were beyond my control. I never wanted any of this but fate was never fair and destiny was not debatable. Some things were fixed in time, as if written in stone but others were fluid and were simply waiting to be changed. I was merely a mortal, unable to distinguish between the two – but I would sure as her try regardless.

And even if I lost and even if I failed, I would have at least tried.

There was nothing else that I could do.

Looking back at the room for one last time, I packed my bag. I couldn’t stay any longer. This was my time to act and to change the course of history, not sit around and mourn for what the world could have been. I grabbed the box of matches, my diary, my letter, a couple of kitchen knives and various other supplies. Shouldering my bag with dread building up inside of me, I took a long look at the place which had become my home. The walls seemed to ooze familiarity and warmth as I let a breath slip from my lips before I made my way towards the door.

I had one chance.

I had one chance to strike and destroy them all.

And then, and only then, could humanity rebuild but without the Council and their toys looming over them. I had no other option. I had to stop them before they crossed the line once more. There was no going back because they had already gone too far; I wouldn’t let there be a next time.

Sneaking out beneath the cloak of hazy darkness, I made sure that there were no patrols in the area. The surveillance net was still active but it was unavoidable; I had to simply live in hope. That was all I had left.

As I made my way through the vacant settlement, I could still see traces of the chaos which had occurred all those months ago. The community that I had stumbled into was now empty; filled with regret and anguish as it remained cold and bare. It was a reminder and a promise. Never again would I sit idly by and allow this to happen to anyone else.

 

Never again.

 

Beginning my journey back to the place where it all began, I knew I had one shot. Knowing the path by heart, it wasn’t difficult to travel beneath the darkness but the sound of silence seemed to ring in my ears. Only the sound of my footsteps and the whistle of my breath echoed through the forest as I made my way back to the place that I had once called home.

After almost two hours of walking, I could finally see the facility looming on the edge of the horizon. Although it was dark, I knew the area well enough. I could almost see the scene around me - the blanket of grass and the towering emerald trees. I stood beneath the oak tree where Evan and I had shared a precious moment all of those months ago.  I let my fingers drift over to the place where we had carved our initials inside of the heart-shaped indent. 

I would never forgive Evan for what he had done to me. I didn’t want this life; I didn’t want this pain but now it was my duty and my responsibility to act.

 

No more would I be the victim.

No more would I suffer.

As a ghost of the night, I hid beneath the trees and waited for dawn to rise.

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