[This is part of an ongoing series. See my ‘Half-Life Story‘ page for more information.]
CHAPTER 1 – RESCUED (pt. 2)
“So what makes you defend the current state of affairs?” I thrust at Elliott.
He seemed surprised by my question, but responded nonetheless, “Oh, I’m not defending them. I know you’re all part of a resistance and everything. I’m just saying that with the new government and all, well, it worked didn’t it? As far as I can tell they have preserved the human race from complete devastation.” He was returned with dubious expressions. “What I mean to say is that it is better to be alive than dead I suppose,” he added.
“Better to be miserably alive than dead you mean? You were tortured!” Brice challenged to the one he had saved. Brice’s gruff nature did not surface often, and never due to lack of control. He never wavered from a deep, matter-of-fact tone. The way I see it, he feels it his duty to speak of things the way they are, nothing more, nothing less. Pure and simple. In his eyes, embellishment either way will do nothing to further our survival. That is why I gave him a curious glance at the sudden intensity in his voice.
A gaunt Elliott looked down at his scratches and scars, some still in the process of scabbing.
Brice’s rebuff continued with a simple question, “How do you, how did Dr. Breen, know that what happened was the best way to save the human race? In whose imagination was this to be the best answer?”
Our apparent pacifist replied just as simply, “Because we had to survive. It was found to be the best solution to the problem. I mean, a seven hour war? Who would have imagined America to barely survive a seven hour war against alien invaders? Let alone the world in seven days.”
Brice remained stubborn. “I still say better to be dead than miserably alive.”
“Thankfully in theory, not in practice, eh Brice?” But my logic went unacknowledged.
Our guest continued, “But a unified turnover offered the least path of resistance. Perhaps Dr. Breen was only acting out of duty, he was providing damage control. Again, it was the best answer to the problem.”
I chimed in, “Honestly, can you really give Dr. Breen that much credit? To me he is synonymous with the enemy. Here, let me put it this way. Do you want the answer to a problem that is deemed to be the best by a corrupt authority and accepted by an ignorant majority, or would you rather struggle a little longer in order to preserve freedom and find the truth of the matter?”
I was fully interested in the other’s answer, but he did not seem to have one, or at least he chose to remain quiet in the presence of opposition this time. Then I slapped my forehead.
“How rude of me! Here we are delving into politics and yet I have not even facilitated proper introductions. One cannot debate with the nameless.”
Brice and I stood up again. “You have already met Brice Torley Galleger, a commander of the resistance.” Brice stood at attention with a nod. “As you’ve seen, Brice is a tough and practical man. He started his position as soon as the resistance began, and has helped the resistance go a long way ever since.” A smirk was his only recognition of this praise.
“Considering myself,” I continued, “I think of myself as nothing more than a facilitator; one who tries to keep tabs on various projects in the area and offer ways to get it done through available resources and planning. Sorry, I have yet to say my name. I am Winston Shepherd. But some call me Colonel.” We shook hands once more. “But realize I am not from a military background. Just the same with Brice here. Being a part of the resistance gives men and women a new life. And being part of the resistance means being part of an ongoing war. Apparently we’ve proved some metal during these years of resistance, and so they’ve found it fit to appoint us into roles of leadership. God help us all,” I ended with a grin.
A black haired lady in a blue jumpsuit smelling of petrol walked in. “Aren’t y’all thirsty? Lemmie give you a drop.” She wiped her greasy hands on a rag before pouring glasses of water for everyone, refilling Elliott’s glass first.
“That is very generous of you Marco. Thank you.” I turned toward our guest with a second grin as she left, “See. Where there is kindness, there is still hope in the world. Even when survival occupies so much of our lives.”
He looked at me straight in the eyes, “I had lost all hope of survival.”
“Survival is not the only thing to give us hope.”
“It’s the only goal we have to strive for.”
I paused to meet his gaze. “Fair enough. Still, I am curious. Do you truly believe that pure survival of the species is the ultimate goal of life?” His gaze shivered for only a moment.
“Just because Dr. Breen abused the need for survival for his propaganda does not make it invalid. The resistance itself is a struggle for survival.”
“But with very different purpose. The way you put it, what was done to you is justifiable. Violating your life, your personality, disregarding that which makes us individual human beings. And you allow it to be packaged up in the neat name of the ‘greater good.’”
“Such individualism leads to anarchy. And anarchy leads to nowhere. Just because the process is disagreeable to us now…”
“Yes, your reasoning does sound disagreeable, especially when you would rather live, yet simultaneously sacrifice person-hood for the species. They won’t coincide. My purpose is to warn you of the dangers in such an incomplete meta-physic.”
What was I doing? A hesitation hovered over my lips. I am interrogating a rescued prisoner. There is something wrong about that. Yet, he was a passive citizen of a totalitarian regime. I found I could not let him get away with that as my lips reanimated.
“You are clinging to a theory that brings no satisfaction, no explanation, to the human condition, let alone our current circumstance. It may work on plants and animals to a degree. But I will not stand by while the human race is treated like anything less than it is: as anything less than human. Dr. Breen and the Combine he serves will only treat human life as profane and unsacred, and I will refuse their crap so long as I live!”
As that emphatic moment passed, I knew it was time to step out. As I retreated back to my office after excusing myself I could hear Brice speak up quietly behind me, “That is our purpose.”