Safety In Numbers

Entry by: Sirona

5th August 2016
The army has been ordered to shoot to kill. No questions asked. My country’s army, men and women who have pledged their life for our nations safety and security; their will perverted by the orders of ‘El Presidente’. If they see me here, if they realise what I am going to do, they will take my life without hesitation; who knows about regret?
Even here and now, in this moment, my hatred for the leader of my country burns so fiercely I wonder that it can’t be seen. It’s hot and searing bright, surely it must illuminate the shadows that I cling to? There is no sign that they see me, though. They continue to watch from all sides, ensuring the safety of the towers.
When did cell towers become strategic locations anyway? Oh yes, I know. The day that El Presidente decided he didn’t like the world watching what he was doing. The day he realised he could control the media if he followed in the footsteps of so many dictators before him and removed the freedom of speech. The day he realised the wider world would not condemn him without evidence. The day he sent the military to take control of cell towers, ISP’s, Satellite Transmitters.
The crazy part? How few people cared. It was as though, once they had made him our leader, they couldn’t criticise. As if allowing even a sliver of doubt about his decisions would start the whole line of dominoes toppling and all their reasons for electing him would come tumbling down. They’d have to face their own responsibility for his empowerment, the triumph of evil. They clung to their bigoted justifications, their jinogistic dogma, all the more fiercely for every horror perpetrated in the name of their freedom.
Not me. Not that I voted for him, but I wouldn’t, couldn’t, let them silence me. I was just one of a thousand stories like mine; my lover taken from me because his parents had been born in another country. Deported; at least, we pray they were deported. Comparisons with Nazi Germany are rife, and more than one suggestion of death camps has been made. I won’t believe it though, I won’t. I won’t believe that my country has fallen so far. I won’t believe they would turn a blind eye to murder. Besides, I would know if he was dead; I would feel it, somehow.
I check my watch; 5 minutes until the shift change. 5 minutes until I get the opportunity to change the future, to get a message out to the rest of the world. 5 long minutes of anticipation, just time to run through the plan one more time.
I flick the popper that holds the grenade at my belt. When the moment is right I will lob that, with the accuracy that hours of practice have given me, into the midst of the four soldiers who patrol here. Don’t worry, it’s just knock out gas; even if they would cheerfully kill me, I won’t do the same to them.
The gas should, should, give me five minutes of safety in which to get into the tower’s control box, connect up my dialler and start the process of calling out. The dialler is pre-programmed with the numbers of data centres in the biggest news outlets in the world. A stream of ones and zeroes will be broadcast, after months of silence, showing the world just exactly what El Presidente has been doing.
The World will not be able to ignore the evidence like it has the harrowing stories of the few survivors that we know have made it out alive. It’s easy to dismiss one person as an anomaly; easy enough for El Presidente to find a way to smear them, to paint them as a terrorist to justify his treatment. Harder to show the systematic cruelty, the institutionalised hatred that has seeped into our country since the night of the election, when only one voice speaks.
When the photographs of the former first family, murdered in their beds, were leaked, El Presidente made a statement to the International Press expressing his sorrow. He blamed extremists and condemned their actions, but inside our country, we knew the truth. As El Presidente had begun his reign of terror, good, decent, moderate people had flocked to the banner of his liberal predecessors. They had become figureheads in the resistance; the movement was soon decapitated.
Even now, they blame extremists; not El Presidente himself. There is never any direct evidence to any particular crime that incriminates him; he has taken plausible deniability to new heights.
But I have it. I have it all. Facts, figures, direct links. It’s all there ready, a stream of ones and zeroes that I can transmit and it cannot be ignored. Facts, that cannot be ignored. Photographs, that cannot be ignored. Video, that cannot be ignored.
A vibration at my wrist alerts me that it is time; I watch as a jeep pulls up and two soldiers get out. I watch as the guards move, floating like inky patches in the darkness down, to brief the newcomers.
My hand finds the grenade, pulls the pin, and I whisper an apology as it arcs through the air and lands between them. I watch them react, one even manages to pull a weapon, but the gas acts like dynamite to their foundations and they crumple to the floor.
Anticipation converts into energy, throwing myself from the shadows I move with the ease of the well-rehearsed and climb the mesh fence, throwing myself easily over the top. I land harder than I hoped, feeling the crushing pain in my ankle. Muttering a curse, I rise, limping towards the control room. The imagined version of today plays alongside the reality; I see myself walking confidently ahead of my injured self and grunt in frustration as reality limps behind. Focus, I tell myself, and narrow my gaze onto the cabinet.
From my tool-belt, I pull out the jimmy that I’m going to use to pop it open; going through the pockets of the unconscious soldiers is not something I have the time, or the stomach, for. The metal bar slides into place, and I lean on it. There’s a cracking sound, and a pop; it’s all much louder than I expected. Pain blossoms in my side.
Looking down I see scarlet drip from the tight fitting blackness of my clothing. I half turn towards the soldiers as a terrible suspicion forms in my mind. A gun points at me and I think, ‘So close…’ but then whatever superhuman effort had allowed him to battle the knockout gas fails, and he slumps back into unconsciousness.
I’m not going to survive this. I’m not being dramatic, just pragmatic. There’s no way that I can complete the task that I assigned myself, with an injured ankle and a bleeding gunshot wound, and get out alive. I can pick one, or the other.
I understand that famous quote now, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. I can’t remember who said it, but I feel the truth of it resonating in this moment.
Breathing hard, I start to talk to myself. I become my own personal cheerleader, reminding myself of every step I need to take, cheering myself on when I manage it.
I pull a bundle of cables from the cabinet, slice wires, clip new connections in and fire up my laptop. One last, weary, double click and the software clicks in. Numbers are dialed, linking my computer to news networks all across the world, I hear it whistle and pop out those rows and rows of ones and zeroes. Our pleas for safety, in numbers.

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