I woke up and found myself in darkness.
They were all around me.
Their faces were missing, void below their eyes as if someone had peeled away their nose and mouth, leaving a void of rippling skin healed in disfiguring patterns.
They motioned to me in a come-hither way, beckoned me to join them, inviting and beseeching me to be like them, because they could no longer be like me. Their humanity had been stolen from them. Now…they were creatures of the order. Their breath and their smiles had been stolen, leaving them expressionless and barren of voice.
Their eyes were watery…emotional. Their gazes locked on me like I was the only thing of import. Their focus was unnerving; there seemed to be a desperation in their unwavering attention.
They beckoned more forcefully, their eyebrows dipping in the center, between their eyes, into a frown. Their pain fueled anger was like a thick fog in the air.
I shook my head no and took a step back, unwilling to give up my humanity just to appease them. I didn’t want to lose my breath or my voice. The order wasn’t worth it.
The order was based on false safety.
They had failed to see that until it was too late for them.
They moved toward me… Those who were once men, women, and children, now a faceless crowd of obedience. Their alliance was to lies, believing they were safe.
They didn’t understand they were the most at risk… The commander now knew they could be used at will, to whatever end suited the purpose, the order.
They no longer had a voice, after all. They could no longer say no.
I pushed my way through them.
They clawed at my face, my mouth, trying to force me to obey the order, trying to break me with violence and fear. They tried to keep me where I was at their mercy.
I broke free, running through the darkness, toward the twinkle of light off in the distance.
I ran, knowing they were at my heels, knowing the commander wouldn’t let them stop until I too obeyed.
They couldn’t catch me, unable to breathe—their stamina waned quickly.
I broke through the darkness to find a vast open space, warmed by the sun. I breathed deeply and smiled at the people who were there.
They smiled back; they too were still human, they too were free.
I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t obeyed the order.
Copyright © Rebecca Besser 2020