Friday, 31 March 2017

You say, you want

"There's a revolution coming", said the Ivo young revolutionary (I presume they all say that at some point). "I can feel it in my blood, rushing, coursing, almost making me light headed with it's vigour. We are living in extra special times, so much injustice, so much corruption, so much unnecessary violence, so much that needs to be put right. The people, our people know it, they hunger for it, they hunger for fairness and decency, things that this regime cannot and will not provide. We have no alternative than to over throw our oppressors and grab hold of those things we long for, our freedom, our land, our entitlement!"  His voice sounded strong, firm, encouraging. It was a good, simple message.

There was a small crowd around him with more gathering, flotsam and jetsam, workers, students, young and old. He looked across at their faces, eyes wide, weight shifting from foot to foot, left and right. Some clapped as  he finished speaking, some shouted encouragement and then an awkward silence fell. He though he heard a derisory laugh from the back. He felt a flash somewhere inside and outside his head. He knew he was saying things that had been said many times, many places across the world, often with the same fierce intensity, the same belief, but said many times...what had the outcomes been? What had changed? Bloodshed? Punishment? A worse regime setting itself in? He mustn't think like that, only a few seconds ago the blood was up, his pulse raced, but that split second of silence, it had shaken him.

It's a horrible moment when you suffer self doubt, when all the strength of your argument deserts you, supportive faces seem far away. Everything had turned around in seconds for him. He was strong, speaking out, encouraging, drawing attention and gathering an audience. Now his mouth felt dry, nervous, he'd pushed too far and his mind had turned blank. He began to shake, he held himself in, together, all being well no one would notice, it was just a long pause, a stream. The eyes started to move away from him, attention wavered. There was a noise from further up the street, amongst the concrete and telephone poles, engines and horns getting closer.

"Militia!" somebody shouted, and the crowd, which was still hardly that, those people joining began to move back, some running, some walking and trying to resume their normal look, blending and shifting, sweeping away like sand on some desert breeze. "Militia!" called another. Things escalated. There now was a proper scattering underway.

Ivo had ceased to be the focus for them but was now, as he suddenly realised, the likely focus for the oncoming troops. Ivo crouched down as if under fire and, like the rest headed for anywhere that might offer emergency cover. The bar, the market, the coffee stall. That would do, he sidled along beside two elderly women who seemed oblivious to the oncoming melee, quickly ditched his hoodie into a bin and tried to meander from the open space to the relative safety of the coffee shack. Fortunately there was a queue and he found himself in amongst it, looking away but with all his senses primed.

The troops had slowed down and now walked amongst the townsfolk, shouting at and slapping people at random. There seemed no strategy other than basic brute force and intimidation. Their accents were not local, they were paid to come in and disrupt, spread fear and make a few token arrests. The message being that we can wreck this place if we want, pick up who we like and injure a few if we have to. So far Ivo had avoided direct contact and was now unsure if they were looking for him, acting on some other tip off or just causing trouble for the hell of it. Thankfully nobody had pointed him out so far but at any second we could be apprehended and might join the long, grey ranks of those who had just disappeared.

Ivo suddenly felt a firm grip upon his shoulder, a cold sweat gripped him, this was not good. "Darling! You're here, out and about, ducking and diving with those student friends of yours any these toy soldiers no doubt and too busy to stop and take time and enjoy a little coffee and a cigarette with your own mother?"

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