I sat chewing on fish, content with life. The birds chirped and I could see five brown ones flying across the sky. It was pretty funny, I thought. Birds always flocked together and flew together, changing direction together. They were always united. They didn’t quarrel over which direction to go, they simply followed the leader.
It made me feel a bit strange, watching birds like that. The last few days has been so packed with work that I have barely had any time to stop and rest. But I’d been walking in the rain the day before and that gave me a fever, and so the others allowed me to rest. It was actually becoming a bit boring, actually, to just sit there and rest. There’s only so much resting you can do in a day before you just want to run around. But with the revolution, if you haven’t been swept by it, then it has turned the world totally upside down for you. We now found ourselves living in a new primitive age, with no technology save for the ones built and littered around before the revolution. This meant there was very little medication, and if I got seriously ill there certainly wouldn’t be any more of that, and no doctor was going to come and help. So I had to rest.
And the rest did do me good. The past few days had been filled up with work. We had had multiple meetings. We decided that we’re still going to all sleep in one cabin, even though the other ones are empty. Another of the cabins will be filled up with food and water supplies, while the rest would be figured out later.
Toby had insisted that we collect water back from the river in big bottles so we didn’t have to make the trip to the river everyday. Anne had, very intelligently, carried back packages of seeds, and Sophie and her is now busy doing the gardening. Sophie, I noticed, was getting back to her old self; she was once again starting to make jokes and noise, although not at quite the same volume as before. Isaac and Toby were still going back and forth from either the waterfall or the river; sometimes, it would be Isaac carrying back a bottle of water or Toby with some fish. Toby had through some of his magical skills had took wood and made a rack, and he’s been hunting for fish and salting them, then placing them on the rack to dry. We were starting to have a stable food supply.
I was on one of the water-bottle trips when it rained, and that was the reason why I was sitting there chewing on fish at the table without doing any work. Everyone else was at the river, helping to bring back even more water. Actually, Anne had instructed me to list the things we still need, so that we could make a quick (and rather dangerous) visit to town to get them. However, my brain juices just weren’t squeezing out and so I simply sat absent-mindedly.
Water. Yes, we had that. Food, yes, we were getting that. What other stuff do we need? I scratched my head endlessly. The fact that my nose was totally blocked wasn’t helping. I kept blowing my nose as hard as I could, and it would only give about three seconds of good breathing before my nose was blocked again. It was very irritating.
Soon I got into a pattern. Scratch my head on the left side, blow my right nose. Scratch my head on the right side, blow my left nose. I repeated the pattern seven more times. In the end, although it was starting to create some rather entertaining sound, my nose felt like they were going to explode so I had to stop.
It made my thinking even worse. OK. Food. Water. What was that thing called in Humanities class? The fifty basic human needs? What were they? Food, water, medication, clothing, shelter, and computers. There were only six basic human rights! Where did the forty-four come from? Oh, there was also freedom of religion, freedom in politics, and freedom of speech or something, and only afterwards did I realize I was muddling up the human rights with the human needs, and there were only five basic human needs.
Then, I heard the sound of a car engine.
A car engine. I paused. My heart stopped beating for a second.
A car engine.
Instinctively, I ran into the cabin, leaving both the paper and pencil on the table. I swore under my breath. A car engine. There was absolutely no way someone was going to be driving a car. There were no tourists around.
It must be the soldiers.
I looked around the cabin hastily. Where could I hide? I suddenly had a sinking feeling in my stomach. Everyone was gone, doing their work. There was no one around to help me. I was alone. I heard that the sound of the car engine had stopped, and although I wasn’t visible to anyone outside. I took a deep breath. Keep calm. Keep calm. Where will you hide?
I got on the floor and started crawling. No point even risking being seen. I started crawling towards the door, to close it and lock it. Wait, no, I quickly thought. If I locked the door, it would simply tell the soldiers that I was in the cabin. Instead, I turned. I quickly crawled into the bathroom, which I decided to lock, as safety. I doubted anyone would try to break into the bathroom though. It clearly said that on the door.
I thought frantically. Were there any other way the soldiers could access the bathroom? No, there were no windows. No, the bathroom was safe, if the door wasn’t forced. I immediately wished that people used chairs in the bathroom, or the toilet was movable. It would at least make the door harder to break.
I silently cursed myself for leaving both the paper and pencil outside, and also the plate with the half-eaten fish. With those things, they would be sure that someone was still around.
Everything was silent.
Either the people in the truck, presumably forces from the revolutionary party, have moved on, or they were checking the cabins. I found myself wishing desperately that they had moved on. If a soldier tried to force the door, I was dead.
My hopes went crashing down. There was the sound of speaking outside. I couldn’t make out the words, but there were sounds of surprise. Perhaps at my plate of fish. My heart was beating fast. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.
I heard the sound of the outside door being opened. “They must be around here, if that fish isn’t even rotten yet.” said the voice. It was not recognizable.
I heard a chuckle. “Well, these cabins together can hold a lot of people. Maybe thirty. They’re probably out huntin’ or somthing. If there’s that many our fireteam won’t be able to arrest a soul.”
I heard another chuckle. It was not a pleasant sound, however. “Thirty people? Are you serious? No way. Not all of them are gonna go hunting at the same time.” I had no idea what the soldiers were doing outside. Were they simply chatting idly, waiting for my heart to burst out of my chest in cheer panic? It was killing me.
“You know, we should request the commander for more forces.” the other voice said. “We gotta wipe these forest peoples out! One by one! Bam-bam-bam-bam-bam!”
“They’ve already decided that. The Great Leader willed it.” mumbled the other irritably. “They’re gonna send in Division Eight, when that division has finished mopping up Greyville. Greyville is rather stubborn. They aren’t giving up easily. These people hiding in the woods are too. Why do they think they can hide? Sooner or later, we will search for them. When Division Eight gets here, I assure you, not a soul will be left in these woods. Not an alive one anyway. They’ll either be out or dead. It’s as simple as that.”
The other laughed again. “Division Eight!” he hooted. “I say, the whole national park will be wiped clear. Those Eights are wolves.” He said cheerfully.
I was sitting on the toilet. When will the soldiers leave? My nose was fully blocked. Not making much noise was becoming a major problem. If only you could blow your nose silently.
“Hey, let’s check these rooms. There might be a little wealth. We shan’t return empty handed.”
They were going to check the rooms?
“That’s a nice idea. We’ll try this one.” I heard the sound of a door opening.
“These rooms are really messy. Clothes are scattered everywhere!” There was laughter. They must be entering Toby’s room. The soldiers proceeded to check all the doors. There weren’t any cries of delight, I noticed. Perhaps they didn’t find anything worth taking.
After about twenty minutes, one of the soldiers suggested that they leave. My heart started beating slower. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Please do leave. Now.
“No, there’s still a room we haven’t checked. Let’s see.”
My heart stopped beating again.
I started looking around. So they will open the door. How can I prevent them from getting in?
I looked around frantically. There was no way. My heart sank. I simply sat there waiting on the toilet, numb. Fine. Let it be.
“It’s a bathroom, dude! What do you want? Shampoo?”
“Just out of curiosity.”
“Fine, go look inside.”
I could hear the footsteps nearing me. Then, the doorknob moved. The soldier was trying to open the door.
“The door’s locked. I can’t open it.”
“What? How? There’s no one here. They wouldn’t have bothered locking the bathroom if they didn’t lock the first door.” The soldier said.
I cursed my own intelligence at trying to guess how these soldiers think.
“I think,” another soldier said, “we should open it. Locked doors are keys to greatness.” I had no idea who he got that quote from. Anyhow, I didn’t care. I looked around the bathroom, one last time. There must be a place to hide. Then, I saw the bathroom cupboard, under the sink. That was the only place. As quietly as I could, I opened it and crawled in. It was the last hideout. Perhaps the soldiers wouldn’t bother opening the cupboard if they didn’t find anyone outside.
“How do we open this locked door? I didn’t bring any tools from base. I wasn’t thinking we were going to become burglars out here.” a soldier mumbled.
“Oh, I once heard about opening a doorknob using a credit card, or maybe the one where they use a paper clip and a tension wrench.”
“Why do you have a credit card?”
“Yeah, yeah, I know the Great Leader banned credit cards, but I still keep it with me just in case. Here it is.”
I wished I could see what their progress was outside. I desperately wanted to know if they were succeeding. I tried to breath in and still keep calm, but I could find no peace.
“Is it opening?”
“No, it isn’t. You try.”
The soldiers would not give up. I hoped and hoped and hoped they would not succeed, as if my willpower alone would hold the door.
The door slid open with a tweak sound.
“Yes! So this credit card movie trick works.”
I heard the sound of the soldier’s shoes touching the ceramic of the bathroom.
“There’s no one. There’s nothing.”
“So they don’t bath? There’s not even soap!”
“Well, the water isn’t running anyway, since the Great Leader turned off the electricity.”
“What a waste of time!” The soldier kicked the cupboard, hard. I nearly yelped. Get out of here. Please. Please. I beg you. Do not discover me.
As if responding to my silent wish, the soldier said, “Let’s go. We’ve wasted enough time here. We still have to cover the whole area.”
“What? I thought we only had to check the first human home we found!”
“No! What were you thinking? Of course not! Our orders were to check the whole area!”
“Oh, damnit. Let’s go then.”
The soldiers left the room, and slammed the door shut. I waited for twenty heartbeats before crawling out of the cupboard. I was sweating all over, and when I touched my forehead, it was very hot.
I didn’t care. I simply fainted.