‘Hold on for me!’ she said. ‘I will find you!’
That was the night they dragged me away while we slept, out into the city where the fires burned everything to ashes. The dying embers of our future danced between our outstretched arms as the tears streamed down our faces. ‘I will find you!’ she said.
We didn’t know anybody who didn’t vote for them. We all did. We trusted them. But now I’ve learned that many were coerced, misled or threatened to do so.
We celebrated on the first night of the victory. The streets were full of cheers and the sounds of children. People of all colours and creeds joined in harmonious expectation for our new future.
But soon the cheers were replaced by screams as things fell apart. Neighbours turned on neighbours, doctors on patients, teachers on children, children on parents. Rumours and lies were financially rewarded. Mistrust soon became the only currency of worth.
But I couldn’t keep quiet, couldn’t stand by and watch it all crumble. Even after what they did to old Billy Peters. Billy had refused to sign documents that would send his family back overseas. They took him in the night and shot him in street as an example. Point blank. I spoke out. As punishment they wanted me to blame Sophia. But I refused so they took me.
That was two years ago. I don’t know what life is like on the outside anymore. I’ve been in this City Camp up somewhere near Manchester ever since. There must be hundreds of thousands of us here. All ages and races, all objectors, all potential liars and outstanding members of society if only we tow the party line.
I don’t know how long I was strapped in that chair for. Hours maybe. The room is dark. A hot spotlight blinds my face.
‘Will you or will you not succumb?’ he says over and over.
I watch a silhouette pacing. The silhouette belongs to Martin Graves the weasely City Camp Mayor who likes to personally oversee the confessions.
I say nothing.
He draws his round face nearer and pushes his rimless glasses up with a stubby finger and shakes his head.
‘Again!’ he says to the attendant. The attendant is my friend Paul who I’ve known since we both came here. Paul has a wife and two young girls back home. He tightens the screws into my shoulders.
I close my mouth to muffle the screams but they rise anyway.
‘Will you or will you not succumb?’ he repeats.
I say nothing. How could I? Even though I know it will reunite Sophia and me. Even though it will make the pain go away. What life would we have together held hostage to their policies of fear and mistrust? How long before they expect us to turn on each other?
Their only purpose for reunifying loved ones is to tear them apart, and they’ll repeat this process until they get what they want. Love has no place in today’s society. Only by having authority over our hearts and minds, will they finally have complete sovereignty. But they won’t have ours.
We’ll remain separated but together in our hearts. And I know somewhere, she is holding on for me. And we will be together again when this nightmare ends; when these cities of fire die, love will rise again.
‘Again!’ he says.