I typically don’t edit while writing. I apologize for any errors.
My father first showed me a military base when I was ten. My brother and I were able to go see them because he had special clearance. It’s this whole little city under this giant one. That was when I first fell in love with the idea of the military. All of these people were fighting for the greater good. It was a lie, but I was ten. I didn’t really think beyond what I saw. I didn’t think that these people were just mice in a maze designed by someone else. My parents hadn’t explained the recruitment process to me yet. I don’t think my mother ever thought she would need to. She just assumed she would be the last.
The tunnels became the easiest way for the military to travel under D.C. Civilians were no longer allowed to use the subways in any of the cities. They were all turned into military bases. D.C. and New York were our strongholds. Los Angeles, along with most of California, was destroyed in The Fall. My grandmother used to tell us stories about this great city with everything you could ask for. She swam the oceans and hiked then beautiful deserts when she was a kid. The Fall happened when she was ten. Most of the state is a burial ground. My great-grandparents died in The Fall. Living to see your child grow old was not something my family had experience with.
We were protected underground and it was fun being the mold people. You got used to the oxygen that was pumped in via tanks. The air quality isn’t exactly ideal above ground either. The trains were gone, but the tracks still remained. We travelled along them. It was the easiest way for us to remember our way.
We pass three first year recruits watching the feed. They watch as a reporter stands in front of DC’s hanging field. Three men stand on the base of a truck. A noose hangs around each of their necks. The truck pulls away. The three men dangle.
I turn to Diaz. She is visibly angry.
“Hey,” she yells. “Turn that off and get back to work.”
The men notice her stripes and immediately return to cleaning the area.
Three hangings for the month is actually pretty low. Execution days are not easy on anyone. They suck for Callie. I hold back until Stevens and the other recruits have passed. I lightly brush her shoulder and keep walking.
© Yvonne McDowell