the beginning of anarchy

A riveting read inspired by "The Purge" follows the the mind of a young girl as she struggles through the "twenty-four hour period" set as a haven for murder by the hopelessly damaged government.

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1. the beginning of anarchy

My alarm signifies the beginning of anarchy. It signifies the beginning of a day where laws are nothing but meaningless words prescribed to the unwilling majority. I shut off the noise immediately, without looking at the screen. I reluctantly get out of my bed, encouraging myself with thoughts of adventure and the prospect of undying memories. My sister, who is sweating more than sleeping, is instructed to stay asleep. How any person expects her to sleep for more than twenty-four hours is beyond me. This is, however, a much needed safety precaution.

Starting at the undesirable sound of my alarm, all laws, no matter the level of importance, become void. This is not permanent, as it lasts for exactly twenty-four hours. Any crime committed after the period is complete, will be subject to punishment. Unsurprisingly, this does not regulate the crime rate in the remaining days in the year; that is not the purpose of the twenty-four hour system. Instead, this twenty-four hours is designed to regulate the booming population in the United States. The day is not focused on all lawful aspects of the outlawed, but is concentrated on, and encouraged, for murder.

In the past, it has not been common for an individual to participate in homicidal activities. Yet, there is always something that seems to be unmistakably compelling to people, something that cannot be turned down by the materialistic society. Instated only the previous year of the twenty-four hour period, money rewards are offered as a desperate attempt from the government to downsize the rapidly growing population. This bait was successfully grasped by the greedy hands of Americans and monopolized into a twenty-four-hour industry. What the government asks for in return is a mere video of any quality, proving the validity of the execution.

I venture out of the enclosed space of my room, searching for a breath of decongested air. The windows that sit parallel to my door are boarded in preparation of this menacing day, so only toxic electrical lighting gives path to my eyes. I stumble out of my unlocked door, and into the hallway that is adjacent to both my older brother’s and parent’s room. Both doors are closed, with no signs of having been opened recently. I run my hand across the ledge that leads down the stairs, not noticing anything particularly out of place. Three letters sit at the end, but have been there for weeks. All college acceptance letters, addressed to my still sleeping brother, awaiting response. The letters seem to be a tie to the reality of the world outside of this twenty-four period, giving me a sense of security. A distressful thought enters my mind, questioning the amount of people that could have been killed in these few minutes after my alarm went off. 

Deciding it is fitting in this situation to leave the rest of my family alone, sparing them at least a few hours of the horrors of the day, I slide down the stairs, not daring to make a noise. Making it to the bottom of the stairs, I come to a point where the entrance to peril is forked with the prospect of safety. I journey to my right, away from the bolted front door that leads immediately outside. The room is almost pitch black, regardless of the enlarged moon giving light through the windows on two separate walls of the house. I use my hands to guide me, replacing the common duty of my eyes. Finding my way to the kitchen, I am able to gain balance in my step and vigor in my eyes.

I am startled to see a man standing in the kitchen, leaning against the counter. His form is familiar, but his silence is not. On a normal day, I am greeted in the kitchen with a tiresome, “Good morning.” This is not a normal day. I do not think to react, but only think about the purpose of the man and the identity of him. Assuming he does not notice my presence, I cautiously slide to the light switch that sits on the wall only feet from me. Using a single finger, I flip up the switch, illuminating the kitchen, and revealing the man that is now looking directly at my face.  He laughs, and my worried mind is put at ease. “Thought I was someone else?” I nod my head, not wanting to verbally accept the fact that I mistook my dad for a homicidal maniac. This is, however, not an illegitimate assumption.

My dad then looked away from me, pulling his phone from his pocket. After a few minutes of silence, my dad sighs and looks back at my deadpan face, “Only nine minutes in and there are already over one-hundred thousand reported homicides.” I shake my head disapprovingly, baffled by the amount of people who seem eager to collect bounty. “Turn the light back off. We don’t want to attract attention,” my dad says, motioning to the light switch. I wonder if keeping the light away would also keep people away, but my mind keeps pestering me with thoughts of light bringing security and safety. After all, a person is more likely to break in if they are sure there is nobody home. This is, of course, dependent on their motive.

I comply, quickly sending my dad and me into unsettling darkness with the flip of a switch. “Do you really think anyone nearby is that desperate for money?” I ask, trying to recall if I know of anyone that would take part in the day’s activities. I grew despondent as names of people that I know enter my head. Each are considerable candidates for crime. These few would not, and have not, hesitated to take a chance at retaliating against their supposed adversaries. I wondered if anything would stop them now, as I know that there has been no blockade for these people in previous years.

My dad flashes me a look as if to validate these thoughts of killers in our immediate society. “We don’t only have to worry for our lives, but for the livelihood of our family in the upcoming years,” he says with an attempt to be confident.

`I nod, and then look at his face that is illuminated by the glow of the moon coming in from the window behind him. He shuts off his phone and stares at what seems to be nothing in front of him. I notice his brow compressing the rest of his face, giving him a hardened, yet fearful look. His demeanor gives another hint of the fear that he must hold in his heart on this day. Although the twenty-four hour period is made out to be an every-man-for-himself situation, I know that my dad is not hurting for himself, but for the family that he must protect in the substantially distressful time in life. I decide it would be best to leave him to his mind for the moment, “Where is mom?”

“In our room,” he replied with a range of emotions that are revealed in each passing word.

I turn from my father, leaving his remarks to be enveloped by the wavering darkness that continues to mold the dreary atmosphere. Walking up the same set of stairs that only yesterday had felt completely natural and undemanding, I feel as if I am attempting to climb a glass wall, and falling each try. Gravity keeps me grounded; my mind demands release. I make it to the top of the stairs where again, I am stifled by the darkness. Below the door to my parent’s room, light is protruding violently in the small gap. It flashes without rest, continuously changing colors in an undisclosed pattern. This, which should be alarming to me, is nothing but familiar.

I guide my hand to the brass doorknob and hold it as if it is a lightbulb that, if broken, would extinguish all current from the world. Not wanting to startle my mother who would almost definitely be on edge, I rotate the knob slowly. This is, however, difficult considering the amount of sweat protruding from my skin. I push the door open in a swift, non-violent motion, and enter the room. My mom is laying on her bed opposite to the television that is running a show on mute. I do not mind the silence. I take a moment to look at the figure laying on the bed, and the other sitting next to it. In tears, is my mother, who cannot stand to be awake in a world such as this. My brother is next to her, assuring her the safety of the house, providing his protection.

I close the door behind me with subtlety, not wanting to disturb the one-sided conversation happening feet away from where I stand. Pausing at the foot of the bed, I mutter a simple phrase that, in retrospect, is not enough to heal my family’s prospective wounds. “Good morning,” I say. The only response returned is a disoriented glance from my brother, who is too involved with the emotions of my mother to return petty conversation. I too, am not composed enough to hold dialogue. I turn and gracefully sit on the edge of the bed, my back to my sibling and mother, facing the television that continues to play. I watch the picture on the screen shift from a Walgreen’s commercial to the programmed show. Each aspect of the day ran impeccably on schedule, without fault. In the bottom right of the screen, I notice a symbol which notifies of the channel that is currently being broadcasted. I recognize this as a channel focused on a dire subject, a channel which feeds almost dubiously off of crime, sorrow, and homicidal tendencies. Today is no exception to its habitual practices.

The show features a reenactment, which seems to be a common use on the channel, despite the level of brutality or gore. This reenactment is, however, subtle to a point where it could almost go entirely unnoticed. A man is holding a cloth, his disheveled face hidden by the unseen angle of the camera. The view shifts, focusing on a young girl who is at rest with the world in her veil of innocence, shielded from the horrors that are soon to consume her essence. She sleeps. Again, the perspective is changed, now featuring both the girl and the man. It is uncertain to me the intentions of this man, and the intentions or expectations of the cloth in his surly hand. The man takes rapid steps as if a blank had just been fired, signifying the start of the race. His hand is catapulted down on the girl’s face, cloth intact. I am horrified by the brutality of the scene, noticing the innocence and vulnerable state of the girl. The hand becomes a symbol of all terror enforced in the world not only on this day, but in the proceeding days as we look into the future. Violence is the face of the new America.

To my alleviation, the reenactment ends. Now, I am able to force my eyes to meet the eyes of my family, rather than that of an onscreen detective who is currently on furlough from his duties. As I turn to face the disposal of cruelty and its protector, I notice my brother glance away from the television screen himself. I decided now would be appropriate to attempt to offer reassuring words. “We have Dad here with us. We’re safe,” I say, not fully convincing myself of this expectation of well-being.

My mother, fragile as ever, stifled her tears, only to release them once more from the blockade into a heavier, more aggressive downpour. My brother, who has been impeccably silent up to this point, looks into my eyes, and then drops them once realizing he is too weak to hold character. He speaks, “No. He is leaving for our grandma’s. Make sure they take the correct safety precautions.” The waterfall protruding from my mother’s eyes is now fierce enough to flow into Niagara Falls, strong enough to carry a cruise ship on its steady currents.

“Is him leaving breaking the exact ‘safety precautions’ he intends to enforce?” I ask, worried for the welfare of my dad. I now can understand the level of emotion that he had felt when I spoke with him only minutes before. Although fearful of the prospect of my father leaving us to shelter ourselves, I am again awakened by the anticipation of adventure and sacrifice. Silence brings light, but the sun does not. I find myself pondering the system that seizes the reigns of the American system once every year. And with these thoughts, I feel tainted and unclean from the wrongs of the government, now eager to cleanse myself of their mistakes. Although I am unable to change my situation, I decide that it is best I clear my head and my body with a tranquil shower to alleviate the disquiet.

I leave my mother and sibling to a respite of silence and meditation as I venture off to my own form of therapy. Under the water, I feel more than the skin on my body being cleansed, but the essence of my existence. I am ashamed of the twenty-four hour period that has become casual and routine in my life. I am ashamed of the way it has been able to control not only myself, but my family and the foundations of society. My own tears join the flow of the water, which falls steadily, only periodically wavering, in the air. Here I stand, in peace and solitude, while others cower from the evils that are in their own world. Each year I feel this privilege that I hold, protected in the home that has always been nothing but mere necessity, nothing but routine. As I step out of the shower and dry myself, I rub off with the water the fear for myself, and rather replace this with the fear for those who embrace this evil. I dress, and reenter the hallway once more on this day.

I pause when I reach the top of the stairs, searching for a reason to leave this house and find an exploit of my own, but there is no such reason. I turn and face the door that leads into my room. Knowing this is not a day where routine is welcomed with open arms, I enter my room with fleeting haste, nearly slamming the door behind me. The moment my mind enters the room with me, I can feel the pressure drop as if the Earth itself is cast off of its customary orbit. I quickly scan the room with my eyes, checking for any imbalances. Only one object seemed out of place, which is something of my brothers that does not belong in the room. His phone lay screen-up on my desk with a display on the face of it.

I plod to the phone, feeling heavier and unable to carry myself across the room that is now one-hundred miles long. This difficulty does not thwart my path, however, and I am able to make it to the desk without hesitation. My hand reaches for the phone, perhaps before my brain signals for it to. What gallivants through my head is not fear of what I might see or of this day itself, but exhilaration and the promise of thrill. Allowing my eyes to break from surveying the room, I look down to view the phone. There is a video open, pleading me to press the single button to make it begin and show me its unwrapped mysteries. I comply with the needs of the phone, and press play.

I watch attentively, not daring to miss what could be the breakthrough of adventure that I have been searching for throughout the twenty-four hour period. Perhaps it would be nothing, and I may be searching too hard for the thrill of an expedition of any sort. The video opens with a person behind the view of the camera situating the phone on my desk. They seem rushed, not wanting to waste time with the petty tasks of keeping the phone from falling down. In the background, I can hear the rushing water of the shower. The phone stops moving, focusing on a view that holds both my sister’s beds and mine. The recorder walks out of view. There is a few minutes of silence and anticipation as I wait for the person to return to screen, as if they were my favorite actor in a movie. I note the location of the phone in the video, and then the location in which I had found it. They are not the same. The person comes back on camera, and I now recognize him as my brother. In his hand, is a small, white cloth. He stands patiently now, as if the demand to be done quickly had now resolved. Now he is at the bottom of the ladder that leads up to my sister’s bed, and my mind begins to conjure unsettling thoughts of risk and desolation.

Knowing the outcome of this appalling situation, I drop the phone where it is and rush to the same ladder that my brother begins to climb in the video. I pull myself up the ladder, somehow avoiding collapse from the, on a normal day, impossible to climb contraption. Resting at the edge of my sister’s bed, I am shocked even after prior to this moment knowing what I would find. She looks as if she is still slumbering, and my heart wants to believe this. My brain, however, has different speculations. I climb off of the bed, now allowing gravity to weigh me down, and let myself crumble to the floor with a resounding thud.

My hand lands, as if intended to, on the phone that had been discarded by me moments before. I clutch it in my chilled hand, realizing fully now that in my hand I hold the last moments of my sister who was stripped of her life by the system we call prosperous. Never have I before experienced grief at such a level that now I feel unable to accept and prepare again for the twenty-four hour period. I pull the phone close to my face, and notice that it had continued to play on the floor where I left it in desolate solitary. The video is nearing the end, and featured my brother, if I could call him my brother, exiting the bed. He left the task as if he is leaving school on a day in which he failed a test. He is defeated, not by the government, but by himself.

His motive is unclear to me, besides the obvious motive of money. I ponder what reason he might have to sacrifice his own sister, who loved him. The letters, which tied me to the legitimate world at the beginning of this twenty-four hour period, are what I think of. The fact that he could have killed his own sister to possibly pay for college tuition frightens me, but the reality that colleges do accept these types of people frightens me even more. I watch the video with blurred eyes, and have an eerie revelation as it comes to end. My brother did not walk out of the room, but had in fact climbed in the closet that my back is to.

I have a fear of something that is only seen in movies. I expect to turn around, and there he would be, waiting for a dramatic scene. I decide in this moment it is best to accept the darkness that envelopes the lives of my family, and that of my own. I let thoughts of the next morning enter my mind. I would slovenly waltz down the stairs, the only thought of danger is the thought of falling asleep in a class that day. I would pass my dad in the kitchen, this time offering a “Good morning.” These are the thoughts that keep me grounded as my eyes are shielded by an object that radiates the color of an angel’s wings.

 

 

 

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