A dim realization of who we were soon came to Isaac.
“Why are you here?” he snapped. “Leave me alone. Go back.”
“No.” I said. “We’re not going anywhere. If we do, you’re coming with us.”
“What?” Isaac asked. “Are you my master? You can’t force me to do anything.”
“We’re not going to force you to do anything,” I replied, “but we’re going to plea. We need you. We want you to come back.”
Isaac snorted. “You need me, so I will have to come back. And what will I get in return? Mockery from Toby? No, I’d rather be with my family.”
Before I could reply, Toby said, “Is this the kind of selfish person you are? We need you, but you realize that you don’t need us, so you’re going to leave us now. Is the kind of person you are, Isaac?”
This threw Isaac into a rage. “What about you, Toby? You want me to come back, because you need me. You don’t understand me. You are the person who’s selfish!” Toby and Isaac furiously stared at each other for a few more moments. I tried to break the conflict. “Isaac, why won’t you come with us?”
“It’s because I want to be back with my family. Don’t you understand this at all? I don’t want to be fighting soldiers with you here. Look at the direction the wind is blowing, and go with it.”
“We can go the direction the wind is blowing, or we can try to help turn the tide around.” I said gently.
“What help are we?” Isaac was now furious. “We are absolutely no help. Didn’t you hear the soldiers talking, when we were in that coffee shop? There’s only pockets of resistance left! We can’t hold out forever. It’ll have to end, eventually.”
Anne cut in. “We can, and we should be able to. The odds are not overwhelming. Guerrillas have fought in situations similar to this before, and in the end the tide was turned.”
“Well, if the tide will be turned anyway, why can’t I just be safe and sound while others are doing it?”
Toby was also in a rage by this time. “And why can’t I just be safe and sound while others are doing it? Well, if everyone is like you,Isaac, nothing will ever change.”
Isaac and Toby continued to throw furious insults and arguments against each other. Anne and I simply looked at each other. Without her even speaking, I could guess her thoughts. How are we going to get Isaac back?
Finally, I tried again. “Isaac, Steve Jobs once said that ‘The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.’ That’s what we are, Isaac. We are crazy. We’re crazy for thinking that we can hold out against regiments of soldiers. We’re crazy for thinking we can protect our own rights and freedom when all the others have had theirs taken away.
“But yet, if no one is crazy enough, if no one is bold enough to actually challenge the ancien régime, then things will never change. Alone we may not be much, but if you think of all the pockets of resistance, combined, it is quite a task at hand for the new revolutionary government. The Great Leader and his dictatorship will fall one day. We have to be the power, the hand that will force it, Isaac. I’m not forcing you to stay with us, but if you care about freedom, if you care about the nation as a whole at all, then Isaac, please stay with us.”
There was silence for a while. I took a deep breath. I hope that me putting it like that would have made Isaac put away his ego. My hopes were realized.
“Fine.” Isaac said quietly. “Fine. I’ll come back. But don’t blame me if we get captured.”
“It’s a smart decision.” I told him.
“Alright, let’s head back. We have a lot of work to do.” Anne said.
“What work?” Sophie asked.
“We still haven’t built our new base camp yet.”
“Oh right. I’d already forgotten about that. We’ve been busy, haven’t we?”
Toby groaned. He walked to walk with Anne and me, leaving Isaac with Sophie. “I vote that we have a good night’s sleep followed by a day of rest before doing anything more.” he said loudly, his voice not dissimilar to the ones we hear in broadcasted meetings at the House of Representatives. In any case, I’m too tired to do anything today.”
“So am I. I’ve got injured quite a few times these two days.”
Anne chuckled. “Alright. The people of the mini-nation have come to a decision- we will rest.”
* * * * *
I spent the rest of that day sleeping. I didn’t eat anything, and when I woke up the following day, I was starving. I walked to the tables to find that there was a splendid fried egg on a plate waiting for me, along with a cup of tea.
“Wow,” I cried, “this is certainly not our typical breakfast! Yay.”
“Certainly not.” Anne said. “Sophie had the intelligence to bring in eggs from town”. Geez, how much stuff did she bring? “Funnily it managed to escape cracking, which is why we have eggs for breakfast today. I started a fire and got a pan to cook them.”
By this time I’d already chewed about half the egg. “Mhm, this tastes good. Where’s everyone else?”
“They’re sitting right in front of you?”
“What?” I looked up. Toby was sitting opposite to me, with Sophie. Isaac was on the other side of the table. “Wow, I was so hungry I noticed only the food, not the people. This is a weird start to the day.”
Toby said, “We’ve already took advantage of your waking up late to discuss all the plans, so that you won’t be part of the conversation.” I do hope he’s kidding. “Anyway, here’s the plan. Today’s going to be our rest day, and tomorrow we move to the cliffside or whatever it’s called and pin down our tents. We still need to gather our supplies, however, which we will spend part of today doing.”
“Didn’t the mini-nation declare this a rest day?”
“Well, we do have stuff to be done. Time does not wait for anyone.” Toby said. I wondered about what mood he was in. Usually he didn’t sound quite so wise.
“Since today is a rest day,” Sophie said, “I’d say we try out the chess boards I brought back from town?”
“Sophie, I have a very big question to ask you.” I said.
“Glad to answer,” she replied.
“How did you fit tents, supplies, eggs and a chess board back here?”
Sophie laughed. “I didn’t bring just one bag! I took a smaller bag and strapped it to the front of the bike. It worked.”
“Smart.” I commented, chewing. Sophie rolled out the chess board, got out the chess pieces and it was a game we would spend the rest of the day on, no one leaving the table until noon.
* * * * *
The next day we set out at around nine in the morning. We had walked slowly and cautiously. A second encounter with the tiger was not wanted. Instead, we were constantly on the lookout for any danger. We’d already realized how dumb we were to be so careless while walking in the national park. It was a forest, anyway, teeming with wildlife and even worse, starting to be populated by soldiers and patrols. It was no place to be careless in. This time, our spears were in our hands, ready for any danger. Hopefully, there would be no raging maniac drivers charging through the woods.
When we reached the cliff-face, Sophie produced out her folded tents. Toby was the only person who had gone camping in the sense of ‘sleeping in a tent‘ before, and so the brunt of the work was left to him, while Sophie tried to help. In typical Isaac fashion he sat alone thinking in a corner, while Anne and I shared a bag of marshmallows.
Soon I came up with an idea. “Hey, should we put up defenses?”
Toby looked to me. “What do you mean?”
“You know, bamboo spears in the ground as a wall, so that at least we have a bit of privacy, and a first line of defense for the soldiers. A few traps in the ground. Stuff like that.”
This started a round of fiery debate about the idea. Isaac supported my idea, and so did Sophie, while Anne and Toby (arguably the more influential people in the group) were totally against it. Toby reasoned that we had moved out from the cabins because we wanted to avoid being noticed by the soldiers, and the spear wall would more than certainly mark us out. Isaac helped me by hitting back that if the soldiers came to the area they would see us anyway, and having the slightest bit of defense would be helpful.
“Sophie brought grey tents. The cliff face is grey. It helps camouflage us. Green bamboo sticks pointing out would mark us out.” Toby argued. “And in any case, a spear wall would be to protect us against wild animals, not soldiers.”
“And in that case, we do have tigers around here.” I replied. “You were there with me weren’t you? When we were staring into the tiger’s eye?”
Finally we reached a compromise. We wouldn’t build any special “defenses” (and I realized that these weren’t going to be much help against soldiers anyway), but a whole supply of spears would be made, and kept with us, so that we had more weapons if needed. The supplies, such as food, will continue to be kept in the cabins, which we will visit once a week.
Another debate then came about visits to town. This time, Toby, Anne and I argued furiously that visits to town would be prohibited from now on, while Sophie argued that it was a simple mistake that caused the previous debacle; it would not be repeated again. Isaac did not participate in the debate.
“We need to continue raiding the town for supplies.” Sophie said.
“The town’s garrison is big. It’s too heavily patrolled. Some of us will be captured again.”
Once again, after quite a lot of time more of arguing, Toby and co. had their way. By this time, the tent was finished, and we stood to admire the work Toby and Sophie had done.
“Very good,” Anne commented, “and it should be fine for us to use for a long time. Hopefully, they’ll last long. For the long term, it’s a better place for us to live than the cabins.”
“If we will survive long enough.” Isaac said, silencing the conversation.