Requiem for Youth
The man closes the door, and flips through the pages. A low hum escapes his lips as he focuses on the words. Outside, the din is growing louder. Cries of rage. Screams of anguish. The intermittent sound of the gun. But he pays no mind. He continues to flip through the pages and whisper the words to himself. Soon he is lost, not within the tome in his lap, but within his own memory.
A traditional wedding flashes to existence. Then a crying baby. Two girls play in the small yard outside as a Mediterranean breeze ruffles their robes. A beautiful woman smiles. Then a group of friends, all of them laughing and reminiscing about the old days…when they were young and the world was theirs. Not the playground of the power-mad, but a land of endless possibilities, of high adventure where the sands of the golden sea hide the treasures of long forgotten cities. The lines of age slowly creep in their faces. They watch and laugh as their children grow side by side.
Now the children, all of them young men and women. The world should be theirs, but they are all imprisoned in the darkest recesses of fear. Then a light. At first a light so dim that one is unsure of its existence. Yet the light grows, grows within the children, these young men and women who live in their prisons. The light burns so bright that they all stand up as one. They leave their prisons. They take to the streets. Look at their faces. Oh so familiar. But no longer the children he remembers. Their voices grow. And grow. And grow.
Then the guns. At first, a few bursts. But the voices still grow. The bursts become streams, and the crowds scatter. But the bursts continue, and the children try to escape back into their prisons. But to no avail. The men in yellow hats show no mercy, and there is no escape. The light flickers as the children run for cover. Flickers and flickers, but it does not extinguish. No, it grows brighter. Brighter with the rage that burns inside all of them. Brighter until it illuminates the darkest parts of their minds. And brighter until it melts the walls of their prison. As one they stop running, and walk toward the guns…
He sees their faces, all of them. The hopes, the dreams, the rage embedded in each and every line, lines that do not belong to those so young. He sees them fall, drowning in their own blood, as those behind step over and continue to march on. He sees the fortress looming ahead. They pick up sticks and rocks. The march picks up pace. He sees more fall. The marchers break into a canter. The screams of rage. The piles of the fallen. He sees his friends’ children rush headlong toward the guns. They fall, yet more replace them. And suddenly, he feels the light inside him. The burning rage grows until it can no longer be contained by his corporeal form. These are his friends’ children. His children. The children of the city, he thinks as he loads his truck with the burning rage.
The light fades, and once again he sees the pages of the tome. Delicately, he closes the book, and places it on the floor. He looks once more to the heavens, and turns on the ignition. The truck inches forward toward the fortress. Night is upon the city, and the bodies continue to pile. The children continue to rush forward. And the guns continue.
The truck picks up speed. the din of the battle is not heard. The bullets that tear into flesh are not seen. And the explosions are not felt. The world around him condenses. The wall is in his sights. The rest is meaningless, an casual after thought. The rounds tear into the frame of his truck, but it is of no consequence. The truck still moves with purpose, and toward its final destination. The shades of the children scramble away, but it is of no consequence. The truck still moves with purpose, closer to its final destination. The shattered earth tries to slow the truck, but it is of no consequence. The truck still moves with purpose. The dust tries to blind the truck, but it is of no consequence. Out of the dust, the night sky disappears. Only the wall. He puts his foot into the floor. He can now make out the minute details of the wall. The imperfections magnified by neglect. He smiles. He picked a good spot. The wall is now a few meters, but he doesn’t slow. And the wall disappears. The faces of his beautiful daughters appear before him. He closes his eyes. And then the light…