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When the World is a Monster

"When the world is a monster
Bad to swallow you whole
Kick the clay that holds the teeth in
Throw your trolls out the door"

“They’re going to what?!” Gabby asked in disbelief, peeling off the dusty vest and sweat-soaked shirt from her tired, sore body.

“They’re releasing an edict.  No more services for those who were handicapped from exposure to Guardian.  They’re saying it’s been 5 years.  If there are still people left who were exposed, they’re either ‘cured’ or ‘illegally alive’,” Milton told her what he had heard earlier that morning.

“Nice.  They create the problem, then don’t want to clean up their own mess.  Fucking Federation.”

“Gabby, we gotta do something.”

“What?!” she rounded on Milton.  “We aren’t doing enough?  We haven’t helped enough people?  We haven’t shared every bit of everything we’ve ever scrounged for, dug up, struggled for?”

“Gabby,” he implored.

“I’m tired Milton.  I’m so fucking tired.” She looked back at him.   She looked at his deformed face where his Masque hadn’t sealed properly.  She watched him lean on the cane they had fashioned to help him walk on the leg that never healed properly despite Althea’s efforts.  Fucking Federation.  They did this.  They did it to all of them.  The forgotten ones.  The poor, the orphans, the sick.  The insignificants, the ones who didn’t matter to society.  Fuck it all, she knew he was right too.  She knew that they would have to do something.

“I need to rest.  We’ll come up with something in the morning.  Tell the others.  We’ll meet at 9:00,” she sighed as she collapsed onto the cot she called home.


"If you're needing inspiration
Philomath is where I go by dawn
Lawyer Jeff he knows the lowdown
He's mighty bad to visit home"

Milton had gathered a large group the next morning.  Almost every faction from the tunnels was represented.  It often amazed him that they listened to a sixteen year old orphan girl and a deformed fifteen year old boy, but most of them did.  Somehow, he and Gabby had become leaders.  Gabby was a born leader, this he knew.  She got things done.  No excuses, no holding back.  It was his own ability to inspire that sometimes surprised him.  Words just came to him, especially after Yussef had taught him how to read and write while he was waiting for his leg to heal.

“There has been some news from Topside,” he began addressing the group.  “An edict will be announced shortly, discontinuing all services for those disabled by Guardian.”

A frenzied outcry erupted.  Many of the tunnel people had been affected by the release of the deadly gas.  Deformed, discriminated against, forced from their jobs and unable to get new ones, they lost homes, loved ones, dignity, and in many cases a desire to live on.  The tunnels were their last hope, a last refuge from the cruelty that existed Topside.

“Quiet!” Gabby called out.  “Let Milton finish.”

Milton paused for another minute before continuing, “We need to take a stand.  We need to come together.  We need to fight.  We won’t be able to stop the edict,” he predicted as another rumble worked its way through the crowd.  “We have to let the Federation know that we are still human.  We are still people.  We are still worth it.  We have to change minds and change policies.  They will view us as a rebellion.  We are not supposed to exist according to their plans.  They’ve tried to wipe us out quietly, to sweep us under the rug, to deny us existence.  No more.  WE HAVE SURVIVED!  Now, we fight.  We rise.  We make OUR future.”

As Milton finished, a bevy of canes and sticks started to tap out a rhythm on the floor.  The sound grew as others clapped their hands and stomped their feet to the beat.  There would be a rebellion.  There would be a fight.


"I've been there I know the way
(Can't get there from here)

I've been there I know the way
(Can't get there from here)

I've been there I know the way
(Can't get there from here)

I've been there I know the way"

A shrill whistle brought the crowd noise to a halt.

“How we gonta fight?” an older man, stooped and bent with deformity, asked.  “We ain’t nevah done it afore.  We don’t know how.  We ain’t got no weaponry.  Ain’t got no plan.  Ain’t got no way.”

Yussef stepped to the front of the group, “We have friends Topside.  Friends who are willing and able to help us.  They can train us and as we learn, we will train each other.”

“But we are crippled.  Soft,” a woman protested from the other side of the room.

“We are invisible.  Insignificant in their eyes,” Yussef countered.  “We will attack from shadows and they won’t know when or where.”

“We are not demanding participation,” Gabby said as she stepped forward.  “We are asking for all those who can to volunteer, to join us and help our cause, to fight for what is right and decent.  Go home, talk to your people.  Offer them the choice.  We will meet again in seven days' time.  Know this though; Milton, Althea, Yussef and I, and our people are going to do this.  It will be better with your help, but we will go forward regardless.”


"When your hands are feeling empty
Stick head jumpin off the ground, 'round
Tris is sure to shirr the deers out
Brother Ray can sing my song

I've been there I know the way
(Can't get there from here)"

"That could have gone better,” Milton said as they made their way back to their lair.

“I think it went well,” Gabby said.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” Althea added.  “While Yussef is busy with training and gathering weapons, I’m going to start to build a medical force.   We’re going to need it, and they’ll need a lot of training as well.”

“Very well,” Gabby turned toward her.  “Start recruiting people right away.  There will be a lot who cannot fight who will be looking for some way to help.”

“Are you sure they’ll fight?” Milton asked.

“They will.  Most of them, anyway,” Yussef assured him in his usual, quiet, knowing manner.

Yussef was right.  At the meeting seven days later, they had almost two hundred volunteers.  Old, young, small, large, healthy, and deformed, all were willing to fight, with a promise of even more.  Several days later he set up a meeting with his contact Topside.

“They’ve never had any training,” Yussef explained.  He was sitting in a small deli, nursing a rapidly cooling espresso.

“Figured,” his companion said.

“You have a staff?”

“Six of us,” came the reply.

“They can be trusted?”

“Implicitly.  We’ve all lost something since Passover Modern,” he said, referring to the night Guardian had been released.  “I trust them with my life.  Would have trusted them with my wife and children…before,” he trailed off.

“When can we begin?”

“Give us the word.  We’ll trickle in so we don’t raise suspicion.”

“Good.  I’ll leave the mark in the usual spot,” Yussef said as he finished his coffee.  His companion laid a bill on the table and left.


"Hands down, Calechee bound
Landlocked kiss the ground
Dirt of seven continents going round and round
Go on ahead Mr. Citywide hypnotized, suit and tied
Gentlemen, testify"

Training had begun, both medical and fighting.  The response from other factions had been more than satisfactory and Gabby and Milton were now overseeing a much larger group of people.

Edict #5943176, abolishing aid to those suffering side effects of Guardian Gas, was enacted on the fifth anniversary of Passover Modern.  There were hearings, where lawyers and other important men in spiffy suits had testified as to the benefits and detriments of the Edict, but everyone had known they were a farce.  Similar laws were being enacted in the Europasian United States, New Australia, and the America South Federation.  Pacifica, and The South African Nations were the last holdouts but were predicted to join the rest before the year was out.

Rico, the soldier Yussef had met in the deli, and four of his six comrades had set up their base of operations in the old building that Gabby and Milton had first taken refuge in.  The last two were scheduled to join them within the week.  It was soon discovered that Gabby and Milton’s “mory” building of refuge had been an ancient Armory.  It was filled with long forgotten weapons.  They didn’t compare to the grade of weapons used by the modern military, but a good number of them worked once cleaned up and could be put to good use.

Althea’s medical force was busy learning as much as possible, from basic first aid to limited surgery.  Children were recruited to find cloth to make bandages and slip in to clinics and pharmacies to steal medications.

Yussef had confirmed that similar groups around the world were starting to form in an effort to rebel against the new edicts and laws.  He was able to set up a WorldNet page on a Buzz-E-Reader that had been modified to remove the tracking chip.  His network of connections around the world was growing rapidly.


"If your world is a monster
Bad to swallow you whole
Philomath they know the lowdown
Throw your trolls out the door

I've been there I know the way
(Can't get there from here)

I've been there I know the way"

They were ready.  They would fight.  They would not go quietly.  They were not insignificant.

Lyrics – “Can’t Get There From Here” R.E.M.

This is an entry for LJ Idol Exhibit A.  I was eliminated from the main competition last week, but there is a Second Chance that I could get back in.  While this entry is meant to stand alone, it is part of an ongoing series called Insignificants.  Parts one, two and three are linked if you're interested in reading more.  As always, concrit is welcome.


( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 8th, 2013 01:42 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you went back to this series this week. I think your fiction is your strength, and there's moment after moment in this part of the story that has the effect of setting a reader's heart on fire as our group got ready to fight. I do think it would be better within the song lyrics, because they had the effect of taking me out of the story when I wanted to go further into it.
Mar. 8th, 2013 05:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'll admit, I find fiction a lot easier to tackle than non-fiction.

I had a hard time with the lyrics and how much to include and where to place them. I even rearranged based on feedback from n3m3sis43, who beta read for me. If When I pull everything together into the novel the lyrics won't be included. The song became an extended earworm from the moment I read the prompt and I figured I had to use it.

Thanks for the constructive feedback! :)
Mar. 8th, 2013 07:30 pm (UTC)
I like that they know there's not a lot of hope, but they're willing to put everything into it anyway. That takes a lot of courage.

Mar. 9th, 2013 09:12 pm (UTC)
They're survivors so they're built of stern stuff. :)
Mar. 8th, 2013 08:15 pm (UTC)
This is excellent. I wasn't familiar with the other chapters, but didn't feel out of place. You did a great job of positioning the characters in a way to explain to new readers who they are.

Very interested in further reading now, well done.
Mar. 9th, 2013 09:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm glad that it worked for someone just jumping right in. I always worry about that.

Thank you for reading and commenting! :)
Mar. 8th, 2013 08:33 pm (UTC)
I am excited about their fight. I can't wait to see what happens next!! (I've been looking forward to the next chapter like crazy lol!)
Mar. 9th, 2013 09:15 pm (UTC)
I have parts of it in my head already. Hopefully there will be a good prompt for it next week. :)
Mar. 8th, 2013 08:43 pm (UTC)
Interesting to see the cast as adults, now. The world certainly hasn't gotten any better for them. I did have a bit of an issue with the song lyrics breaking up the prose. I wonder if there could have been a better way to do that?
Mar. 9th, 2013 09:19 pm (UTC)
It is still rough for them, though it's gotten a bit better than before.

I struggled with the lyrics and even changed some things after some recommendations from n3m3sis43. The song was stuck in my head as soon as I read the prompt and the lyrics just seemed to fit so well. Maybe if I had posted all the lyrics at the beginning, or cut out more of them it would have worked better.

Thanks for reading!
Mar. 10th, 2013 12:13 am (UTC)
I love these characters, and you do an excellent job of making them come alive!
Mar. 10th, 2013 04:28 am (UTC)
Thank you! Glad you like them.
Mar. 10th, 2013 01:54 am (UTC)
This does work as a stand-alone piece :) I like the way you used the lyrics to introduce each succeeding scene -- sometimes when a reader walks into an ongoing story, things can get a bit confusing. I wasn't confused at all. I can't wait to see what happens!
Mar. 10th, 2013 04:30 am (UTC)
I'm glad that it worked as a stand alone. I've tried to do that with each installment without making it so obvious for those who have been reading along.

I'm glad the lyrics worked for you. I had a bit of a struggle with that part.

Thank you for reading.
Mar. 10th, 2013 02:50 am (UTC)
I'm glad to see more of this series, especially for terrible dystopian concepts like ‘illegally alive’. It is so wrong, it's perfect.

I like Milton's speech here, because you showed why he inspires people even if he doesn't understand it himself.

And the lyrics that really grabbed me were the block ending in, "Gentlemen, testify." The snappy rhyming there was really terrific. :)
Mar. 10th, 2013 04:32 am (UTC)
I'm actually having fun trying to create the dystopian society. That part fascinates me the most, I think.

Milton's voice isn't as strong for me yet, but I know what direction I want to take him in and what his role is.

I'm glad the lyrics worked for you. I struggled with them.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 10th, 2013 06:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading. Glad you like it.
Mar. 10th, 2013 03:18 pm (UTC)
Nice continuation to the series.
Mar. 10th, 2013 06:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Mar. 10th, 2013 04:47 pm (UTC)
Really interesting to see what's happened for them since the last installment!
Mar. 10th, 2013 06:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I was worried about the time jump, but it seems to be working okay.
Mar. 10th, 2013 05:36 pm (UTC)
Love a little revolution on a Sunday morning, and it was nice to dive right into this and feel like I knew where I was going on where I'd been. And love the R.E.M.!
Mar. 10th, 2013 06:48 pm (UTC)
Glad you could dive right in and know what was going on.

I thought I was being predictable with R.E.M., so I'm glad you liked it. :)
Mar. 11th, 2013 03:24 pm (UTC)
That "illegally alive' phrase sat me right back in my chair!
They have not lost their spirit, that's for sure!
Mar. 12th, 2013 03:11 am (UTC)
At some point, I'll have to address the psyche of the masses at this point. The idea that the phrase "illegally alive" doesn't cause an uproar Topside is mind boggling.

They are definitely fighters. :)
Mar. 11th, 2013 08:39 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed this one. I liked the characters' fighting spirits, even in the face of such awfulness. Good job. :)
Mar. 12th, 2013 03:12 am (UTC)
Thank you. They're resilient, especially when everyone has written them off.
Mar. 11th, 2013 09:32 pm (UTC)
When I first saw the topic, the song was the first thing to come to mind. Glad someone took it on, and it works very well here, complete with Stipe's cryptic lyrics -- I'd have never guessed them =)
Mar. 12th, 2013 03:14 am (UTC)
I looked the lyrics up, then read them along while I listened to the song, just to make sure they at least made sense. :) I had to use it though. It was an earworm forever. I was surprised no one else used it.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )


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