Unrelenting darkness pressed down above the northern city trapped beneath the rubble of an intercontinental war it never asked for. Its only downfall is being landlocked between a wicked aggressor on the eastern front and indifference amongst the free and democratic societies to the west. The democratically elected government had aligned with the Western powers during the peaceful years following the Planetary Armistice of 2740.
The Eastern airforce was engaging in a campaign to carpet the rural grain and sheep farms with clusters of bombs precisely spaced to ensure maximum destruction of the arable countryside. Facing certain starvation, anger grew as it became clear that their allies had abandoned them. Sure, the West was providing stockpiles of old and neglected weaponry to shore up the National Resistance but compared to the weapons of modern warfare they were playing in the technological dark ages.
Undermanned and overmatched the local Resistance would meet in the old, abandoned church to plan their next move. The building had been spared during the heavy shelling that had destroyed large areas of the city. As local resistance leaders met to discuss strategy, the local men fighting for their freedom would bring their families to sing songs of defiance and of glorious victory until their voices drowned out the explosions detonating around them. There was a spirit of survival and defiance growing amongst the congregation of survivors.
To a man, the crowd went silent as a sign of respect for the charismatic man crossing the room. He was unassuming, no more than five foot three or maybe four, dressed in military brown. His dark hair neatly combed down from right to left as he stepped up to the old church pulpit.
In the early days he was timid, almost embarrassed at the attention but he had honed his skills. The lilt in his voice was confident as he addressed an audience grasping for any bit of hope.
“Our enemies underestimate our resolve. The menace in the East destroys our homes, our livelihoods, our schools and our families but they couldn’t destroy this church. A sign that God is on our side. They prove time and time again that they are weak.”
He would remind his people of their success, of battles they should have lost, of ground they should have ceded but stood firm in holding.
“I call on every man, woman, and child, every civilian or military man to resist.” His voice booming while his fist shattered the air above his head. “Like the woman who fought off insurgents in her kitchen with a jar of pickles or the boy cornered by two trained killers in an alley with only a knife and his courage to protect himself and his country. We must rise as one.”
Next, he would turn the anger of the frenzied crowd westward, “To our friends in the West, where are you? When you were hungry after the armistice our fields supplied your tables with food. We nourished your broken masses. Now in our time of need, you make yourself scarce, almost invisible. All we hear is feigned outrage with zero action. You bicker amongst yourselves while we lay down our lives.” He’d continue, conviction growing in his trembling voice, “You are no friends of ours, you are no longer welcome here.”
It was a small movement but in time it would grow, sweeping across the countryside like a wildfire in a dry season. Eventually, the government would fall, not to the Eastern invaders but to the unassuming man who won the hearts of his people and the backing of the nation’s military command. He would grow bolder, tipping the balance of war in his favour. Alliances with the Superpowers of the Far East allowed him to acquire the military might needed to expel the Eastern menace from within their borders.
As his power grew so did his paranoia. Enemies of the state were viewed as threats, eventually disappearing without a trace. The internal workings of the regime and the external alliances it formed became deeply guarded secrets of the state. The free media was stifled and the official message tightly controlled. Rumours of human rights violations including indiscriminate exterminations and ethnic cleansing of minority populations and the acquisition of nuclear capabilities becoming the biggest threats to stability in the region.
Inaction in the West would be re-visited ten-fold. Like the proverbial monkeys, they could see evil rising in the East and chose to cover their eyes. They could hear the rumours of a new evil rising within but covered their ears because it suited the end. They spoke words of horror and outrage but when it came to action they covered their mouths and remained silent.
The knowledge that this could have been avoided had they acted swiftly and decisively early in the conflict would haunt them for a very long time. Instead, the past would come to repeat itself as it had so many times before. They would lose a strategic partner to a cruel regime and opened the door to Far East access into the Western sphere of influence. The powershift would threaten freedom and democracy and carry the potential to secure the downfall of Western civilization.
Contains prompt from
Salted Caremel’s Blogging Insights #35
Date: 2022-03-21 | Prompt: See no evil…