Monday, October 11, 2010

Life in Wartime (Part I): A War That Wasn't

There were so many happy people during the war that wasn't. While the soldiers at the front bled and died, or lost their minds to unspeakable things in the wastelands, or sat in dark rooms pondering the blips on green screens, the people adored their strongman. The purges fell like Leonids in August, each orbit of a hidden world dragging flashbangs down through the evening skies.

The young were not to know. They had their own enthusiasms while their mentors and parents took the hits, took drugs in the canteen (mostly hot peppers and coffee) and were sent to Siberia for making puns and anagrams. They looked at the faces of the powerful and felt fond affection for their master and his inner circle.

The young were not to blame. The strongman boasted incredible strength, industrial might based on the efforts of the many cut-price labourers in the mines and factories. The state prospered. The party continued. And there was only one party. The drinking never stopped, the balloons never burst. And every year, the tanks were wheeled out.

Sometimes, people would remark about the missing faces in the photographs. Sometimes, they too would go missing. And everyone was happy as long as the wax was in the ears and the sirens were hunting someone else. It was a weird time. We were the second greatest superpower in the world and thought we were the first.

And one day, it all came to an end. Or at least, it wound down, creaking a bit, just like a party as the booze runs out.

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