The Victim

Chapter Three: Ascent

Environmental terrorism

During the final stretch before the strike I spend all my strength trying to stop it. The striking unions refuse to talk with me in private and accuse me of refusing dialogue in public. The few conservatives who supported me have accepted the strike is imminent and are now demanding my resignation. Almost everyone turns against me, too many people to fit into my lists.

Then the day comes, the eighth of august. I wake up in my apartment and turn on the tv. Policemen and firefighters are gathered in a big protest occupying my city’s streets. “We must put an end to these draconian measures our governor has imposed on the population,” speaks the official strawman at the front of this general strike, natdec’s regional commissar. I want to throw up. I feel like a french king about to be overwhelmed by the masses of riffraff that call themselves “revolution.” But I’m not french, so I’m not going to surrender.

My friend from school has slept at my apartment and enters my room when she sees I’m up. “Hi, how are you—” she says. I mute the tv. “I-I’m going to make a statement,” I say without looking at her. Her face turns even paler than usual. I smile thinking she’s so white it’s almost like she’s a noblewoman trying to make her social status stand out by being whiter than everybody else. “But if you break down, you know I can’t… you…” she babbles, afraid. I just keep smiling.

“I don’t think I can do this alone,” she says. “I need you to survive. Please—” I take her hands. “Ok. I promise,” I say. “I will live through this.” I call my secretary and have her arrange a press conference at the square in front of the building where I have my office. A demonstration against my speech is quickly organized, so that by the time I get to the press conference, the square is packed with angry people.

My bodyguards clear a path for me to get to a small podium set up for the conference. I’m booed by most of the people in the demonstration as I walk there. Once there, I fiddle with the microphones as I wait for the crowd to quiet down. “When you elected me for this office,” I start. “you trusted me to make good decisions. You trusted me to look out for your interests.” I stop for a moment to look at the crowd. They’re expecting me to resign. I bet my friend from school is terrified right now.

“And that’s precisely what I’ve done,” I continue, striking the podium with my finger at the last four words. “I implemented social programmes that were necessary. But that needed funding, so I had to cut down salaries from our overpaid, bloated bureaucracy.” The shouting and booing from the crowd begins, so I raise my voice to impose myself, as I feel anger burning inside me. I hate the ungratefulness of these spoiled brats. “And I offered them the chance to negotiate, but they spat on my face!” The crowd tries to drown me with booing.

“Now!” I yell, imposing myself. “If you think I’m going to back down, you’re wrong! I’ll fight this strike until my bones break because you deserve someone who’ll fight for you. If they want to go to war with me, so be it! I’m never. Standing. Down!” I strike the podium with my fist at each of my last words. Then I look at the crowd.

I don’t think anybody expected this. People are outraged, crying out nonsense or plain flailing their arms and screeching. Suddenly, a rock hits one of my bodyguards. At first I don’t understand, then more rocks follow and it’s clear what’s going on. My bodyguards escort me out as a fight breaks out between protestors. There’s no police to stop it and the fighting gets out of hand. People run away from the crowd in horror. Smaller mobs with bandanas splinter from the main crowd and start looting nearby stores.

My friend from school and I watch the news following the looting from my apartment’s tv. Uncle is out, trying to rally support for me. He’s been so good to me through all this. I should show him my gratitude when it’s all over. “Mommy, do you want to play with me?” interrupts my thoughts. I throw a threatening look at the babysitter, who rushes to take her hand. “Sorry sweetie but I’m busy now.” They go back to her room. I feel bad for not being there for her, but I have to take care of this. In the long-run, this is in her best interest because I’ll be able to give her a political career.

One hour into the lootings, I decide to call on the national guards to restore order. They quickly arrest the looters and restore order using “nonlethal riot control measures.” Word spreads on social media about the violent nazi protestors that took part in the protest against me. I post messages saying “Bullies won’t shut me up,” and similar stuff.

When night comes, several fires start in a forest near my city, and it quickly spreads thanks to the dry weather and strong wind. I stay up all night, coordinating with other states to secure other firemen brigades to put out the fire, as ours are on strike. Meanwhile, social networks denounce our firemen for not doing their job and costing the city a lot of money in the form of the salaries of firemen from other states. What’s worse, they hate them for allowing an environmental terrorist strike (a fire) to happen.

By the second day, things are looking better for me. Both me and my friend from school are plagued by headaches and exhaustion, but the winds of public opinion are shifting. A couple of counterfeit news network talk about the “courageous stand of a half-jewish woman” and how it was “violently trampled by neo-nazis.” They just want to sell with a title that reads “Jewish governor woman abused by neo-nazis.” These days the word “abused” has been abused beyond recognition.

As my friend from school and I interleave watching the news with strong-arming the members of the state government into supporting me, my rock comes into the room smiling. “They found a dead woman in the mountain that burned last night.” Me and my friend look at her. “Please, please tell me she died because of the fire. Please, just say ‘she burned alive.’” My rock smiles. “It looks like that, but it’s not sure yet.”

“Yes!” I shout out of excitement. We have to move fast. My friend from school is already on this, preparing to bolster the news on social networks. While she calls someone, she mutes her phone by placing her hand on the speaker and says “We’re going with the story that she burned alive because nobody would help her, I’ll set it up.” I nod and point at my rock. “Get me the firemen’s union president on the phone.”