The city, silent, finally, after years of war.
It began ten years ago, though it had been a long time coming even before that. Black Friday, and a little girl had been killed for a doll in her hands. The doll was hers. She’d gotten it for her birthday a few weeks before. She just didn’t want to leave it at home while her parents went out for sales. They had been shopping, hoping to get some necessities they’d not been able to afford off of sales, when a man tried to take the doll from her. She’d cried, and insisted it was hers. He hadn’t cared, was insistent on having that exact toy for his little girl, and couldn’t afford it otherwise. He tried to pull it from her, but she’d held on too tight. He ended up throwing the girl into a table. The parents fought, and eventually a riot had broken out. No one realized until after the store had been trashed and a dozen people had been injured that the little girl had died in her mother’s arms. Funny thing was, that store didn’t even sell that doll.
The people rallied, and the politicians were outraged, but the damage had been done. It was the wakeup call that everyone needed. Unrest ran rampant, and when tabloids started talking about how one of the wealthiest starlets on the planet was asking what Christmas gifts her fans were getting her daughter, well – you can imagine. Some of her fans could barely afford to feed their own children, never mind buying their own children gifts.
It started small: rallies in front of gated communities, heckling at events. It wasn’t until the same starlet asked why her fans were being so selfish – the proverbial “let them eat cake”, as it were – that the rallies turned into riots, and Christmas turned from red and green, to just a deep, bloody red.
The government’s first priority when the fighting began was to protect the wealthy. Gated communities were made more secure, and banks were closed. Many of the wealthy moved from their city homes to their vacation homes. Food trucks delivered straight to their doors while the rest of us starved. Typical, really, but we didn’t relent – we couldn’t. Some of the rioting was less helpful, of course; with that much chaos it’s near impossible to not delve into anarchy. Oddly enough, though, most independent shops remained untouched. It was the big box stores, the ones who had treated their staff less than so many nickels and dimes in their pockets, they had it the worst. One of the CEOs managed to get himself caught out in public, and the things they did to him… well, let’s just say he won’t be getting any more big bonuses. The rest of them were burnt in effigy, and quickly became political prisoners, since so many of them relied upon us to survive. Servants, cooks, security guards, gardeners. Even the programmers and junior bankers who had been taken advantage of came to us as friends.
By the time that first summer rolled around, the government did not exist. Our arsenal was equal to that of the government – hell, half the government and the armed forces had joined us, along with their armouries. We had built our own governments, our own councils, with an eye to equality, as it was once, such a long time ago, and rendered them redundant. With the help of those with the skills to do it, banks were broken into or hacked, and the largest homes were taken over and used as hostels for those who had none. Digital money – stocks, credit, and debt – were eliminated. It was as if the mighty god that one ruled us had been revealed as naught but smoke and mirrors.
It wasn’t all good, of course. Some who had achieved their millions in il-gotten ways took advantage of their anonymity and used their wealth to find more. Drug running – recreational and not – people, liquor. Naturally, their underlings were not impressed. They were turned on only half as quickly as those whose publicity had made them infamous before. There were deaths – so many deaths. The guns helped us sometimes, but God did they hinder us the rest. So much anger turned into so much violence. Especially in the beginning, it was dangerous to go out into the street without being armed to the teeth or head to toe in Kevlar – and goodness knows that’s not easy to find.
God knows how we’ll get out of the mess we’ve created, but it’s better than the mess that was created for us. Food is accessible to everyone, most of it what we used to call normal until it turned into “organic” and became rich men’s fare. Production of goods has returned home, too, which is helpful to keeping morale up, and keeping pollution down. It even looks like we’re going to have a white Christmas this year. It may not be the best of times, but it’s certainly not the worst.
Life goes on; the world goes on. That’s something we’ve learned, and I hope we don’t forget it for at least a little while. Christmas is coming again, and this year we hope the streets will be red with tinsel, not blood. We hardly realized it was coming until the days began to get shorter and the snow began to fall.
Here I sit, quiet, finally, drinking what amounts to hot cocoa these days. Naturally, chocolate is in short supply, but I was lucky enough to find some not too long ago. I think back on every Christmas before the last one, and I know that life will never be the same, even if it’ll never truly change, either. People will still be people, and some will still work their damndest to ensure they have more than others. Everything in moderation, though, is the goal of our people. Some may have more, perhaps it’s inevitable, but the problem begins when more turns into valuing wealth over the lives of our fellow men, and the life of the Earth as we know it.