Resurgence — Chapter Two
“Explain to me how this could happen.” President Richard Wilson Duke’s voice flowed from him, slipped like venom from his tongue, slithered into the hearts of the government officials that stood before him, who shrank before the glower on his brow, bowing beneath the weight of the waves of rage they saw cresting within his piercing emerald eyes. Each began speaking, trying to explain, imploring him to hear them before he rendered judgment, knew how quickly he moved to snuff the light of life from any and all who displeased him. The men of the United Reich’s congress, Lucas Hamilton and Stephen Clark swallowed, seemingly in unison, desperately wishing there were others to stand with them, their minds wandering to the books that had long ago been banned, books that spoke of how things once were, of how many they had been, illegal thoughts that might plant seeds of a different kind into the minds of the citizenry.
“Mr. President, there was nothing the men could do.” Lucas spoke first, trembling, slowly gaining composure as he continued on. “These insurgents are, quite skilled. I don’t know how they’ve done it, but they have access to, and an intimate understanding of our deployment strategies. It was as if they knew what we would do before we had time to react.”
“We were stymied at every turn.” Stephen added, mopping awkwardly at the sweat that began beading upon his brow, “the logs show our men attempting to send out an alert signal, though it never reached us.”
Dangerous, so very dangerous the uptick of his brow, the slight turn of his head as his eyes danced from one of the men to the other. Their hearts racing so quickly he could see the pulse of fear in their jumping eyelids. The president pulled a cigar from the case that sat upon his desk, staring pointedly at both men as he lifted the cutter to the end, snipping it with a sharp click that made the congress flinch before him. “Lucas, a light, if you would?” Nodded towards the lighter that rested well within reach, refusing to suppress the sneer that pulled his upper lip as the flame leapt up, dancing as much from its existence as the tremble in Lucas’ hand while he attempted to hold the lighter steady. The President drew in a breath, held the smoke within his mouth, before releasing it in an exhale in the other man’s face, finally beginning to smile, “How?”
“We don’t know, the signals were jammed by a transmitter of some kind. We think it may be the woman. Araminta. Her and the rest of — ”
“Do not speak that whore’s name in my presence,” he slammed his hand down upon the desk. The glass that held his every present bourbon bounced, slid, threatened to crash to the floor. “How is it that you are both so incompetent that she continues to pester me? That this has even reached this level falls upon both of you. If I had known,” eyes narrowing, teeth bared, “the two of you would be so useless. So utterly inept. So completely without the leadership necessary to have crushed this brushfire before it began sweeping through my camps I would have killed you with the others. I swear on this Reich that your blood would have flowed in the streets with the rest of that simpering congress. You live only by my grace, but even that threatens to run dry.”
“Sir, please.” Stephen stepped forward, knowing he straddled two paths, that his next words could determine the continuance of his life, that he must choose his words carefully, swallowed, his tongue heavy and dry in his mouth, his voice hollowed, scraped raw in his fear, “we have been close many times — ”
“Is she here?”
Brief silence, hands balling at his sides, “No, sir.”
“Is she dead?” A hiss of deadly intent.
“Then what good do your excuses do me? What good if that nigger woman is still making a fool of me?” He roared, leaping from his seat, beginning to pace the room with barely contained rage. A tiger in a cage of his own making, knowing freedom would come only once Araminta had been caught. Flayed before him, laid bare in her tears of apology. He had not sacrificed so much. Continued on the tradition of American allegiance to the German Third Reich all so one black woman could eliminate everything he had worked so hard to build. So that she could come with sickle and hammer and lay waste to the foundation of his government. Of his country. Of his entire race. He had not sacrificed for this. His chest heaved, blood boiling throughout his body, circulating the fire of vitriol to every limb, filtering into the molecules of his very existence. “Show me.”
“It is the same as all the other camp destructions.”
“I said, show. Me.”
Stephen walked to the wall, lowered the projector screen, downloaded the security footage and pressed play. The lights of the room darkened, as the images flickered to life, the sound of the camp filtering down from the speakers. All seeming well, the soldiers moving about their day, laborers intent on their duty, slipping and sliding beneath the weight of their burdens, flinching at the whip on their flesh, pressing onward as a companion fell, the pop of the gun, the explosion of humanity barely registering on their features as the moved forward. The burden of the fallen now resting squarely upon them. Some cursed him his death, the freedom of it, the soaring of the soul leaving the brutal physicality, cursed the weight of what he had left behind.
They would be forced to remove his body later. This they knew, forced to drag it weakly to The Pit. Where all the dead lay, Black skin upon Jewish white flesh, living and now dying together. It had been this way for so long it seemed almost biblical, a cursed wandering in the wilderness. All moved as it should, then the sky turned red, the mounted camera that caught it all shook, catching the eruption of fire, the vibrating boom of the camera as everything became chaos. The chaos before the swarm, before they came.
Before she came.
A whirling devil in the maelstrom of the camp, her troops streaming in behind her, seeming to come from all sides, to swamp the camp guards before they realized they were under attack, before they realized their thread had been cut, that fate had chosen. And for them it had chosen death. Had laid its finger upon the scale of life and the beyond, contemplative, almost apologetic and understanding that perhaps this time history would, for just a moment, bend towards justice. Towards truth.
President Wilson watched as his men fell. The cigar, long forgotten, sitting cold between his fingers. Outmatched, outnumbered in the attack and wholly unprepared to withstand the tide that crashed against them, pulling their feet from the bed of life, tossing them viciously into the welcoming sea of death. Their spines cracking, bodies erupting, disappearing beneath piles of the camp inhabitants who turned on their tormentors, the power structure as they knew it shifting as rapidly as the sun rose always on schedule, in the morning sky. As if they knew. As if they were prepared for what would come, almost as if they realized the shackles that held them were bound to break. Black and Jew alike, repelling the guards. Slaughtering them as they scrambled towards the now opened gate. Clearly following her direction. Her voice a clarion call, a beacon in the chaos, showing them the way. Giving them a way.
Until there was only one guard. A single one who remained, so intently focused on the charge before him.
One guard who stood before the knelt body of a man who had given up. Who was the walking dead. The phoenix within struggling to find a reason for the rebirth of its survival.
Then she took him, ending his life with a smile of satisfaction as he crumbled at her feet. Held out her hand to pull the kneeling man to his feet. The phoenix having arisen. Lazarus responding to her call.
The woman turned her gaze upwards, knowing they would see. Understanding fully that the footage would bear her mark, her visage, and she offered a bow, hand clasped to her heart making a mockery of the United Reich salute. And then she smiled, and even over the crackle of flames, the echo of building crumbling in on themselves, they heard her begin to laugh. Melodious, and deep as her voice while she pointed a single finger towards the camera, “I am coming for the head of the snake.”
And then she turned. Walking from the camp with the smooth gait that comes with having no one to fear. With being under no one’s threat. Those having been freed from the confines of the camp following her out through the parted gates. Trekking across the ocean floor of the camp as she led them. Brought them with her through the red sea of their containment.
The footage froze. Stopped. And Wilson felt his blood chill in his veins. Goosebumps riddling his flesh and he turned it all outwards, his eyes a dangerous terrain of treachery. “The men did nothing to stop her. They did nothing! And now you have the Blacks and the Jews growing more numerous in their opposition. Why should I spare you when you cannot even spare me the embarrassment of their continued escapes?” He ran a hand over his silver hair, attempting to calm himself in the familiar motion.
“Mr. President,” Stephen swallowed, continued on, “We have nearly had her. Have been so close that we have seen her disappearing from our view, there is only one reason she must continue to escape in this way.”
Lucas shot a look towards Stephen, darted them back towards President Wilson, and felt his bowels begin to weaken in his gut, “There is more than one reason. We must consider all alternatives.”
Cold emerald eyes turned towards him, “Did I ask you?”
The president continued, “Stephen, explain.”
“She knows everything about us before we move. She understands the deepest intricacies of our procedures. There is no way that an uppity negro like her could bind the Jews and Blacks together, could take over our camps and free our labor if she were working on her own.”
“And how can you be sure?” Wilson had moved towards his liquor cabinet, pouring himself a deep brown drink, brought it to his lips, sipping it as he turned back to the congress.
“They may be a wiley sort. These people, but they lack the intelligence. The foresight, to do what we have seen. I have come to the unfortunate, albeit necessary conclusion that there is a mole leaking information to her. To them.” He spat the last word.
“A mole?” He lifted his glass, drained it, filled it again. “And who might that be?” He turned, caught Stephen’s eye. Saw the slight flicker to the left. The subtle implication on the only remaining member of congress. “Are you sure?”
“There is documentation that the signal blocking originated from his server.”
“So be it.” Wilson moved back to his desk, withdrawing a firearm from a drawer, “I expected so much more from you, Lucas.” The ‘s’ had scant left his lips, Lucas barely registering his terror, before the pull of the trigger. Before the collapse and the pooling of blood from a soon to be cooling body. He placed the gun back in its drawer. “I suggest you catch her. And quickly or you may find yourself in the same position as this traitor. You are dismissed.”
Stephen clicked his heels, clasped his hand to his heart and bowed, “understood Mr. President.”
“Send someone to clean up the mess. I can’t have it staining my carpet.”
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