Another American Revolution

My fingers shake around Loretta’s neck as I press her face into the watery muck of my family’s rice fields.

The world said we needed a revolution, but they never considered what that would mean for us, our enemies not foreign soldiers but our own neighbors.

I went to school with Lori, grew up with her, went to her sister’s wedding.

None of that matters now.

Around me, farm hands fight to protect what we have left. Mud and water splatter across my face and bare arms, and screams assault my ears. Heavy booted feet crush what was once our livelihood, rice plants trampled into the ground. Several feet away, my brother Jace lies on his back, the hole in his chest painting the rice paddy red around him.

My brother with the big smile and even bigger heart, who said we should love our neighbors and forgive them their sins. Jace, who was the only family I had left.

I tighten my grip when Lori thrashes, desperate for air, hatred flaring up inside me like an angry beast.

She shot Jace. She took him from me.

The thoughts consume me as her struggles grow feeble. I wonder how she even got the shells for the shotgun she lost when I tackled her in a rage, my ears still ringing from the shots. Hardly anyone besides the military has ammunition these days. Yet my brother took two rounds to the chest.

“You fucking bitch!”

I half turn at the words as Lori’s husband Mason cuts down my foreman Isaac, and barrels towards me, bloody hatchet raised. I narrowly dodge the swing, but he expects this and kicks me square in the chest. My breath leaves me as I stumble backwards and land in the knee-deep water. I flounder, trying to right myself and fill my lungs all at once.

As I thrash about, I feel it: the barrel of the shotgun.

Mason stands above me, hatchet raised, when Brianna abandons the woman she is fighting to fling herself onto Mason’s back.

“Leave Sandie alone!” she yells, raking her fingernails across his face and biting his ear until blood runs down her chin.

He screams and throws her off, but I have enough time to wrap my fingers around the gun and seat it on my shoulder, trained on his chest scant feet away. He freezes, hands up, but he doesn’t relinquish his axe. Brianna pushes herself to her knees behind him and spits out a chunk of his ear, wiping the back of her hand against her mouth.

“Don’t be like this, Sandra,” Mason cajoles, watching my face, blood running down his cheek to clot in his too-long stubble.

“You don’t know me anymore,” I hiss. “You hardly did back then.”

My finger is on the trigger, and I tense when Mason shrugs.

“Don’t move,” I order, finger tightening against the smoothe black metal.

Brianna stands. The woman she was fighting before she attacked Mason has found a shovel and approaches her from behind. “Bri!” I warn.

There isn’t enough time, and I make a quick decision. Faster than I’ve ever shot at the tin cans Jace set out for me, I shoot the woman in the head, her legs dropping instantly out from under her where she stands. I reflexively cycle the action and aim the gun at Mason’s chest once more.

He grins, and I can’t help it. I pull the trigger.

An empty click greets my ears.

Mason’s grin turns vicious.

Thinking quickly, I jab the barrel into his throat. When he doubles over, choking, I drop the gun and run.

I make for the farmhouse as quickly as possible. I hear Mason crashing through the paddy behind me, his footsteps wet splashes in my wake.

I tear through the screen door and skid into the kitchen, which sits on one side of the main room in our small house, and pull a cast iron skillet from the stovetop. Then I wait beside the front door.

When Mason enters, I slam the skillet into his arm, knocking the hatchet from his hand. I swing the side of the skillet into his gut. He no longer has a weapon, but he is still dangerous, and he is less incapacitated by my blows than I had hoped. He grabs for me, catching a handful of my hair. I pull away, ripping my own hair from my scalp with a grunt.

I retreat to the kitchen, eyes going to the knife block. I grab the largest knife and slash at Mason who is right behind me. He knocks my arm to the side and slams my hand into the counter. My fingers crunch, and I know something is broken.

“You’re gonna pay, bitch,” Mason says, inches from my nose.

He wraps his fingers around my throat and squeezes. I can’t breathe, and I fight panic when I see spots.

I make myself move. My left hand is still good, and my fingers scrabble on the counter for something, anything. Thin metal meets my fingertips, and I grab one of the skewers I planned to use for our dinner.

Mason is too busy observing my face, watching me die before his eyes.

I swing the skewer at his neck, a bit awkward in my left hand, but it penetrates. His fingers loosen enough for me to suck in a lungful of air, and I pull the skewer out and stab him again. And again and again and again.

Blood splatters my face, and my hands tremble.

Mason slumps to the kitchen floor, and I step over him too quickly, nearly laying myself out flat. Now I hear the whump of a helicopter, blades of the rotor beating the air. I creep to the front window.

Outside, soldiers jump from the craft, rounding up all the rebels and restoring order.

I let the tears fall then, put my back to the wall, and sink to the floor. Soon, I will be safe.

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