It all happened so fast. Since I was young, my parents had always drilled into my head that The Authority were superior. But, what else would they have said? My father, an official in The Authority, practically lived for them. Everyday, I was told of their great achievements, and if I ever put a toe out of line, I was screamed at. “Eliza!” they’d bellow, “Never disrespect The Authority”. But I did. In my head at least. I never particularly liked The Authority. I knew that there was a dark side to their great achievements and many rules – why would I not be allowed to go anywhere without a tracker, for instance. I never disobeyed these rules though. Until one day, I did.
It was 10am on Thursday morning. I had just left my house to go to The Authority’s youth training to ‘train the next generation of leaders’. Bullshit. More like sheep. As I strolled along the path, I saw a soldier in his uniform. His white mask with its signature bloody red slash hid his face and with his heavy white boots, he was cracking a woman’s ribs. I saw red. As if on animalistic instinct, I raced to the scene and with all the strength I had, I shoved the soldier. He stumbled, caught off guard. His mask slipped sideways, exposing his young face. He was only a few years older than me. His shocked face twisted into rage. At the top of his voice, he yelled “Treason!”
Treason. An immediate death sentence. I couldn’t die. I was only sixteen. Adrenaline kicked in and I ran. I could hear the soldier still shouting. I knew I had to leave for good – and fast. I noticed on the shoulder of my blouse was my tracker. I ripped it off and hurled it at the ground. I heard it break with a satisfying crack. I was running and running and running but to where? I was in Tallaght, The Authority’s head quarters. How could I escape? Then, I saw it. The gleam of water sparkling in the sunlight. The Dodder.
I ran to the thick vegetation surrounding it and dived in. Thorns sliced my face and nettles stung my arms but I was invisible here. I emerged by the river bank, dusty and cut up but otherwise fine. I continued to race along the bank. The Authority had guns, cars, helicopters. I needed to find shelter as soon as humanly possible.
I heard the alarm blaring overhead. The red lights, the deafening noise of propellers whirring. Exactly as I feared. A helicopter. Thinking on my feet, I leapt into the water. I don’t know how long I was under for, but it felt like an hour. When I felt confident that it had moved on, I came up for air, spluttering and choking. I had escaped it.
For the next few hours, I alternated between running, jogging, and walking. Although my limbs were aching and heavy, I knew there was no way I could stop now. When I saw the magnificent mountains ahead, I nearly cried with joy. Finally, a hiding place. I could live here, source water from the river, maybe even grow my own food. I could live free.
Ahead of me, I saw a little cave at the base of the mountain. Perfect. I wouldn’t have to risk my life by climbing the rocky face. I sauntered up to the cave and slipped in. Just as I let out a breath of relief, I was met by clicking guns and loud noises. “Resistance. Hands up!”.
Lights clicked on in front of me. A huge group of men, women, and children were standing, cloaked in black, aiming their guns at me. My stomach dropped and instant fear set in. My hands shot up in the air. “Please! I’m not here to harm anyone!” I cried desperately. A couple of people lowered their guns. “Why are you here? How did you find this place?” they snapped. “I’m on the run. The Authority are searching for me. I found this place by accident, I swear!”. I must have sounded sincere because they all lowered their weapons. “We are the Resistance,” a tall woman began, “We are fighters, rebels against the Authority”. The hair on my neck stood up.
The rumours were true. The Resistance did in fact exist. Talk of one had been circulating for months. “We have been living here for the past six months preparing our revolt. But, we have no outside intel. We need you to tell us what has been going on outside. Everything you know. You’re an outlaw. You’re one of us now”. My heart sank and lifted simultaneously. On one hand, I could tell them everything I knew to help their revolution and maybe one day see a world without the Authority’s rule. On the other hand, I would be betraying my father, my family, my friends, perhaps even signing their death warrants. Was it worth it? I pondered then realisation hit me. Were the wishes of the people around me fair? My love for them did not render their beliefs correct or righteous. I needed to make this decision based on the everyday person. The Authority rule was inhumane and I needed to do what I could to end it. “Yes,” I answered slowly, “I’ll tell you everything”. And I did.
My information proved valuable. The Resistance realised that the soldier I had stood up against was an example of the Authority’s wavering rule. Th Authority’s exterior image was supposed to be squeaky clean and it seemed as if it was beginning to crack. This made it the perfect time to strike. We prepared, day and night, for the big day. Our drills were impeccible and by June 10th, we were ready for battle.
At 5am, we quietly marched out of the cave. We headed at a steady pace towards Tallaght. Although it took hours, we made it. I took a deep breath, watching the sun rising from behind the Authority’s headquarters. This was it, the day the world would change forever. We took our places and charged, shooting at the windows of the headquarters. Glass shattered and exploded, raining down. The noise was deafening. Authoritarian soldiers marched out, armed to the teeth. Some of my fellow soldiers immediately began to shoot at them and the Authoritarian soldiers returned fire. I heard screaming and distant sirens. Smoke choked my lungs and burned my nostrils. I saw one of our soldiers launch a grenade towards our enemies and it exploded with a bang.
We fought hard but there were so many of them. In my ear, one of the generals was shrieking “Shoot them!”. I realised I had not shot at anyone yet. I was apprehensive but I didn’t have the time to be. I raised my gun, aimed at a random soldier, and pulled the trigger. He stumbled, then fell backwards. I couldn’t move. The gunfire had stopped and the enemy soldiers were staring at the body I had just shot. I moved closer. “Their leader is dead” whispered one of the Resistance fighters.
I stared at the body and it occurred to me that this wasn’t just another soldier. He was dressed differently to the rest of them. Their new top official was dead, I heard them cry. I watched, horrified, as they peeled back the mask of the official to reveal his face – the face of my father.