Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Story: Revolution

A few years after the most devastating conflict on Earth, the Republic of Slavia is once again caught in turmoil as a new threat rises to question its existence.

This story was inspired by the current writing prompt from here, which is revolution. Also, it is partially inspired by the events that transpired around the times of the communistic coup d'etat in Czechoslovakia, 1948. The story doesn't depict how things happened, but rather draws inspiration from these events, so the characters and plot isn't even remotely similar to reality. (Most of the names are either completely made up or twists of their real counterparts.)

For more information about this shady part of history, you can read something from wikipedia. For some more insight, stay tuned for the commentary that I will release after the last chapter. (I'm too lazy to scribble it down now as it's already late at night here in Czech Republic.)

Table of contents: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | commentary

Chapter 1

"The Committiets don't care about us. About people in general. They hide behind facades of people being in power. What a lie. Have you been to their land actually? Or are you blinded by false illusions and promises? Or worse? Are you just as power hungry as them? I thought better of you." The speaker was none other than the President of the Republic of Slavia, a country in the heart of Cadmune.

Although nearly three years passed since the end of the most devastating conflict on Earth, the world was preparing for another, much direr one. A conflict of ideologies. Unfortunate the little country was, for its position on the border between the two shaping superpowers placed it in an unfavourable situation.

"And the West is better how? People pushed to their deaths? Forced to work late at night to make a living? Slaves unwillingly labouring whilst their employers swim in gold? The Committiets might not be offering paradise on Earth, but they aren't trying to enslave whole populations," the other man responded agitatedly. He was a bit of an overweight person, the leader of Popular Party and also the Prime Minister.

The current alignment of powers in Slavia was uncertain. Although formerly an occupied country liberated by the Red Army, voices for both emerging paths were equally as strong. And both obviously wished to win.

Yet what none could ever see with their individualist eyes was the simple truth that politics of such a tiny nation were never confined to themselves alone. There always were outside forces with their own interests, advancing their goals and furthering their agenda.

The President knew it, doing his best to withstand the continuous but invisible attacks despite being an old and frail man. A man that had walked the road of hell together with the reconstructing country.

However, he was only one against so many. Even the leader of Popular Party, Gotteld Clemens, was merely a puppet in others' hands, carrying his ideas and believing they were his own.

"Think whatever you want, I'm not going to concede to your demands," the President, Ednond Benoas replied with a sigh. This wasn't the first attempt of the Prime Minister to urge him to cede power. The goal was very straightforward. To seize the parliament. "We are a democratic country. And as long as I draw breath, I will make sure that this land doesn't succumb to the poverty of dictatorship."

"My friend, I always viewed you as a reasonable man, but you are trying to test my patience. The times of your undisputed reign are slowly becoming the past. We grow stronger by the day. We control most of the police, most offices and more are on the way. Even now, my loyal colleagues in the parliament are hard at work. And you can't do a thing about it. So why don't you just give up and walk away without humiliation while it is still possible? The offer stands, but remember that it won't forever."

"I'd rather die fighting your megalomaniac ideas than conform to your threats. The people believe you only because they're blind. But mark my words, they will open their eyes in time and march you out of the country."

"Really? Then why they voted for us? Why they elected us? Isn't it because they favour our movement? Isn't it because we are on the right side?"

"Then why do you demand from me the power to assemble your own government and thus have free reign over Slavia? Isn't it contradicting your statement? Or are you schizophrenic? Or worse? Are you afraid?"

"No," Clemens grinned. "But you should be afraid, for this isn't the last time."

Chapter 2

Vaduin Samarek was a simple man at first glance. Working in a factory and doing his best, then living the rest of the day peacefully at home. However, it hadn't always been like that. During the war, he had been a soldier.

He had seen many deaths and had killed a number of enemies. He wasn't proud of his past, but those actions were the only things that kept him alive to this day. His conscience wasn't particularly clean though. Each night, ghosts of the dead plagued him, making him wonder whether it had been worth it. But who was he to make a choice now long after it had been done?

Most people believed in a new beginning, existing in a post-war euphoria that everything would be alright. How naive they were. Oblivious of the greater scheme already put into motion like a well oiled machine. Popularists. Some of them were friendly, others were agitated, convinced that nothing but their truth was true and only.

In the years of recovery and a weakened grip of the republic, there was lenience bordering with chaos. The laws were there, but the gray zone was more significant than ever. Although there were guarantees of safety, many could disappear forever and none would figure out that it had happened.

That was the case of Vaduin's boss, the owner of the factory. In this time of interregnum, his indecisive younger brothers were constantly struggling as to how to lead this newly gained business. It effectively resulted in instability, but what could be called stable those days? The workers had no option but to conform.

However, this power vacuum and loosened grasp created an atmosphere ripe for internal strife. A strife that wasn't uncommon to many more businesses and companies. A strife that the Popularists wouldn't hesitate to exploit in the name of fairness, solidarity and dignified wages.

It was always about the point of view. Some could live in poverty and deem it acceptable, yet others wouldn't be appeased even by glittering jewels. Where was the truth? That question was hard to answer.

When Vaduin came to work that morning, he was amazed. The assembly line was stalled and the smoke stacks were clean. It seemed that nobody was doing their job. He was confounded, but as he heard voices from behind the tall concrete building, he realized the labourers must have been there.

He rushed there immediately, spotting a crowd of his colleagues and peers. They were gathered in front of Martin Mydlina, one of the late owner's brothers. It was the pro-Popularist one.

"They demand products from us. They demand our sweat poured into the burning kettle that warms their feet! That drives the engine of their wealth! All while we get nothing but miserable coin! And who stands for us in this injustice?!

Nobody but the Popularists! They can put an end to this exploitation. They and nobody else! The rest are just fools that have their fingers buried deep in profits of their corporations, using their mandate to further their goals and multiply their wealth!"

The speaker paused for a moment, giving way for the crowd's emotions. They shouted in anger, the words of the orator striking their hearts with hate towards the rich that owned factories.

Vaduin saw fire in their eyes. A fire that he had known far too well. A fire of agitated mass blinded by an authority. A fire of wild people willing to do literally everything. It woke genuine fright in his mind, tied firmly with dark memories. It had been how the war had started. One would think that after those horrors, they would learn from the mistakes, But no. They didn't. It didn't matter whether it was in the name of expansion, proving rights or peace. The face of conflict and strife was always the same.

"So this is what we do now. A strike! We will show those fat fools that we aren't there for their personal joy! We have lives equal to theirs and they aren't entitled to exploit us until we drop dead like exhausted mules!"

They cheered, raising their fists in a sign of power. If there actually were some of the rich, the crowd wouldn't hesitate to attack them. They were crazed, blinded by their animal instincts.

He didn't like it even a bit. But what could he do? Stand against them and try to warn them? In this state, they knew no friend and a single hint of disagreement could serve as a reason to assault.

"There are no uninvolved! It's either the oppressors or the oppressed! So remember that those who do not support our cause are those who sympathise with greed and evil!"

What was he supposed to do? Run away and pretend like nothing was going on? Or join in and nod along? The former could alienate them, the latter meant contributing to the boiling pot.

The options weren't to his liking, but he had to decide. That is why he went into the gathering, listening to the pungent and hateful words, letting them float away through the other ear.

Whenever they raised their hands, he felt cold chill rising up his spine, remaining motionlessly still. Whenever they shouted, he was silent in horror. It was only a step from a riot.

He prayed for this bizarre show to end, yet it was like eternity. Yet even eternity wouldn't last forever and this hell eventually dispersed. The sour aftertaste haunted Vaduin for hours to come. His sleep wasn't an exception.

The next day, the calmer of the brothers appeared and it seemed that order was restored. The people that had been agitated were back to their senses. It was irrational, but he was glad for it.

However, things weren't exactly okay as he believed. Some workers went on sick leave, others for a vacation and so on. The number wasn't startling, but it certainly was suspicious. Men like Jan Vavrinec and David Hafner. The very definition of workaholics. Absent from their posts for the first time ever.

Vaduin didn't worry though. Fate had a strange way of twisting events and he was used to it as the memory of war was a recent wound that hadn't quite healed. Yet this mistake of calmness hit him hard.

As he was walking in the basement section of the factory where many spare parts were shelved, he was approached by a secretive individual. Frantisek Zidle. He had an unusual flare in his eyes, almost as if he was thinking himself being of great importance.

"Hey. Are you with us or against us?"

"Against who?" Vaduin wondered, not sure he liked where the conversation was going from the start.

"Us. The committee. We want better wages. Dignified. We want what we deserve. Do you want what we deserve? Or are you against us?"

"I don't know, I just want peace," Vaduin hoped for a neutral solution.

"There is no between. It's either yes or no. Now pick. Are you with us or against us?"

This situation certainly wasn't easy. It wasn't a friendly debate. The pressure was undeniable.

"I'm not against you," Vaduin tried to get out of the trap diplomatically.

"So you're with us then. Good. I knew you would be the reasonable type. And because you are one of us, let me tell you something. There is an echo in the wind. Something big is going to happen soon. The word is that the whole country is going to get turned upside down and justice will finally be served."

God forbid, Vaduin thought. He naively hoped that it would stay at that, but he was terribly wrong. When he arrived home that day and switched on the radio, he was shocked to hear that countrywide protests had paralyzed many places.

"Officials say that more than half of the country's industrial sector has been hit by strikes. People are discontented, stating that their conditions are inhuman and unfair. They complain about lack of facilities, dirty workstations and low wages."

Vaduin didn't know what was right to think. It was always about the point of view. He, having been struck by the war that he couldn't recover from, believed that his job was alright. But perhaps everything was alright in comparison to famine and death.

However, the worst was yet to come. Once he entered the yard of the factory the next day, he found that the situation was direr than a mere protest. There were the dissatisfied, but they weren't merely refusing to work. Some of them were armed. Some shouting, some gravely silent.

"What's going on?" Vaduin asked out of curiosity as he joined the gathering.

"The boss locked himself in the office. The guys are trying to force him out and bring him to justice," a worker responded placidly as if nothing was going on.

"To justice?" Vaduin wondered.

"He's a capitalist, he deserves punishment," he replied with calm content, stating it as a widely accepted and undisputable fact.

Vaduin was sickened. Was it actually worse than war? Were people accepting violence as a necessary element of jurisdiction?

Yet before he could have grasped this horrible truth, the situation escalated. There was noise echoing from the distance, but it was growing louder each second. Screams were heard. Then the clattering of metal.

They arrived into the hall. A group of armed men with the two brothers of the late factory owner. However, they weren't on friendly terms. Martin Mydlina was holding the other at gunpoint.

The proletariat-inclined sibling had the upper hand, grinning like mad and possessed by his beliefs. The second was silent, his once ever-present smile frozen in horror.

He might not have been an angel, but he certainly wasn't the devil. He had always been a happy man and he had been sending out positive energy wherever he had gone. Many considered him a much better option than the deceased factory owner.

He paid his employees fair wages and was very lenient, but once again, it was all about the point of view. Some didn't see that the company wasn't making extreme profit, some wouldn't be appeased by mountains of gold and others were in for violent change just because.

"My fellow friends! Here I bring you the oppressor! He thought he could hide from us, the righteous in this cause! But no! Let this be a sign for vile exploiters in the world! Justice will not be nearsighted!"

Although the agitated of the brothers was holding a handgun firmly nudged between his sibling's ribs, the calmer of the two couldn't keep his shock at bay, turning around and facing the crazed man.

"Is this where your struggle for equality has brought us? To fratricide?"

"There are laws that are way above the family, brother. You can't hide behind it to justify your milking for profit while these people here sweat and bleed for you, receiving nothing but laughable alms."

"I have never done so. You are mad."

"I'm mad?" he shouted. "I'm mad?! Do I hear correctly? Do all of the workers here hear correctly? So you call our cause mad?! You think us fools that you can use and exploit to your liking?"

The other sibling shook his head in disbelief, but the audience was captivated by the orator's drive, hurling insults at the calmer of the two. If there hadn't been a jury in form of the crazed man holding a weapon, they would have torn him apart.

"This is what you get for disrespect towards those that are your equals even if you vehemently deny it."

"Demagogy and nothing else. I would never have thought you could sacrifice your own blood to get your point across."

"Don't try to soften me by playing on my family instincts. It is you who is the demagogue. It is your last line of defence that proves everything I have said is true. You can't face the truth anymore, so you desperately seek cover. I assure you, it won't work now, for the people are upset and this is the day of reckoning."

"Alright," the calm brother sighed, perhaps out of disappointment, perhaps out of acceptance of his fate. "Do it then if you must. Do it and you shall go down in history as a famous man. I've made my last goodbyes."


It sounded like a loud bark. The so-called capitalist was lying in a pool of blood, his hands reaching out twitchingly in agony, his eyes wide open. The pain he must have been experiencing was unimaginable.

Was it right to do so? Was murder justifiable, no matter how true the cause may have seemed? Was it correct if the other wasn't fighting at all?

Yet the crowd cheered. With the waning breath of the oppressor, they welcomed the dawning of a new day. They were convinced that greatness awaited them. Vaduin was horrified, but he still naively believed that this was an isolated incident escalated by an insane individual. How very wrong he was, blind to the facts that there were puppeteers pulling strings not just here.

In different places, the cause might have been justified as the rich indeed exploited their employees, deeming them nothing more than slaves. They were propelled by greed, an extension of ambition. Unlimited greed that thrived regardless of regime. However, such causes were merely means to an end.

The loud chanting ceased shortly afterwards and before anyone knew, the crowd dispersed. None cared about the future at that time. It was the present to them and the present meant victory. Who wouldn't exploit the opportunity to bask in it?

Vaduin thought that the terror wouldn't pursue him straight into his home, but he was wrong. He was living in a house estate in the centre of the city. There was a lot of rioting outside as another group of protestors marched through the streets with no police to keep them in check.

That was indeed freedom, but what was it worth if it was misused by puppeteers with delicate agendas, seeding the minds of the uninformed with goals of their own? Besides, not all shared the beliefs of the proletariat. In fact, most people wanted to live in peace. The silent majority. It had been like that throughout entire history. And because of this, the statistic few were left unchecked, allowing them to further their cause.

What would they say after a hundred years? That the populace was discontented and there was intense rioting. And what would the future citizens think? That everyone, even the silent majority took part. Exactly like the English Civil War. Or the French Revolution.

However, there weren't merely those that had been for the revolt or chose to remain speechless. There also were staunch supporters of capitalism. One such family resided in the housing estate where Vaduin lived.

He was rising up the stairs when he met them, a group of six people. The father, a choleric individual was in the front. They exchanged greetings and were about to go their way, yet then a question was uttered.

"I've heard there was some trouble over the factory where you work. I'm glad you made it in one piece. Is everything alright?"

Vadiun was silent for a while, the sourness of the recent event reaching him again. The images were so vivid.

"What were they thinking?" the head of the family took the initiative. "To execute a man like this. The world is going to hell, mark my words."

So he knew. The whole country probably knew. But why didn't anybody intervene? Why were the police so calm and placid? The situation was spinning out of control, being ripe for martial law.

"Damn Popularists. And damn their ideals. What are they thinking, robbing a man of hard earned property? Even the businessmen and enterprisers were once poor. We all know the meaning of that word. Work. But we worked hard and earned our places.

Tell you what, it isn't about equality. It's about a few arrogant bastards that can't stand us having what labour had brought us. They are the ones who should be cast down, not us. They and only they."

The man was an owner of two factories and a chain store. In his view, he had his own right that contradicted many others. He was a strict person, having risen to his position through adamant resolution and unwavering drive.

He expected people to be the same, unable to understand that the world was full of diverse individuals not sharing his ideas and beliefs. That is why he wasn't liked by his employees, but in this unsure post-war time, many were glad to have a job.

"Don't let me keep you. You have a lot of things to think about. Well, it's been a nice time talking to you. Good bye."

"Good bye," the whole family repeated and Vaduin responded similarly. He glanced over the innocent faces of children, wondering whether this was the future they deserved. The world of today didn't care about the days to come. About generations after. They only cared about their own despite believing their cause was noble and sympathetic.

Chapter 3

The rest of the afternoon was eerily calm and peaceful, which was almost a shocking contrast to the tension during the previous part of the day. In the moment of silence, Vaduin had lots of time to ponder.

However, his mind was gradually spinning to darker and darker themes, forcing him to stand up from the sofa. He felt the war being so near even though it had ended three years ago. That scared him.

He had to distract himself somehow. Anything would do, he concluded and approached the radio, switching it on. He thought of listening to some music or a story. He thought of halting the unrest going on in his head.

Yet the echoes of uncertainty reached him in his home, making him realize that there was no way to hide from the ensuing and inevitable conflict.

"The President is under intense pressure from both camps. The Prime Minister demands insurance that no facility of democratic institutions is violated by the opposition, fearing that they are attempting to overthrow the Popularist majority.

At the same time, the opposition urges the President to force Popularist ministers to resign, citing collectivization of fields and nationalization of corporations being a serious breach of freedom.

In other news, the state-wide strikes and protests are reaching their height. The owners of various enterprises have expressed that they will not tolerate this situation, but their hands are significantly tied by the emergence of militias that, in their own words, were formed to protect the workers."

He was disgusted, which surprised him. He should have been depressed. But that emotion was nowhere to be found in the depths of his mind. Had something gone wrong? Was his subconsciousness preparing for a clash?

Nevertheless, he switched it off. The silence wasn't soothing in any way, but it was better than listening to the turmoil brewing. Why couldn't there be peace for at least a decade? It was ironic, considering the days following the war. Everyone had yearned for the end of hostilities forever. But it appeared so short-lived now.

Suddenly, a loud crash woke him up from contemplation. Something was happening. He rose up instinctively, trying to listen to the source. He could hear distant yelling. And another crash.

He went to his front door with caution, opening it. The noise seemed to be coming from below. He leaned over the rails on the edge of the staircase, spotting a whole bunch of men in coats angrily shouting.

There was chaos and it was hard to tell what was going on. Perhaps it was a fight. Perhaps not. But as gunshot followed, Vaduin was sure they weren't there for fun. They were armed and they were serious.

Adrenaline rushed to his veins, making him feel alive. Survive. He had to survive. Instincts from the war were taking over. He had to escape. Yet in that short while, he couldn't figure out anything better than going upstairs.

"Find every bourgeoisie on the list and kill them," some man barked orders in amidst the screams and din.

A piercing shriek resounded in the hall, silenced by the firing of a gun. He didn't have to look to realize what had happened. Execution on the spot. In cold blood.

"Quickly! Don't let them get away!"

"They're trapped like rats, they've got nowhere to hide."

Vaduin's heartbeat was uncontrollable, but he wasn't afraid. Instincts had taken over him already. The art of survival was something that a hardened soldier wasn't likely to forget no matter the age.

"What are you doi..." shouted a curious man as he opened his front door in wonder only to receive a bullet in the face.

There wasn't a second to waste, Vaduin thought to himself. He didn't want to wait and see whether he was on their list. He sprinted as fast as he could, jumping three stairs at a time. However, they were swift as well, their numbers being to their advantage as they could split and still have enough pursuers.

The topmost floor was almost within reach, but what next? It was a dead end. There was a door leading to the roof, yet how to get out from there? He was falling into a trap, merely delaying the inevitable.

"There's an escapee!" they yelled and his heart nearly jumped out through his throat. He believed they meant him.

"Get him!"

Gunshot went in his direction. So they did. He doubled his effort despite his lungs starting to fail him. Just a few more, he invigorated himself with hope. Just a few. He managed it. He grasped the handle and rushed outside.

The cold air caressed his skin, almost as if it was trying to numb him and paralyze him. He remained still for a while to catch breath, glancing around for a way out. Yet the single possibility of not facing them was to leap down. That wasn't what he wished though. If he desired death, he wouldn't have run for his life.

"Quickly! Get here!" somebody from behind a large metal structure instructed him.

Having no other option, he obeyed, arriving at a hunched man living on the third floor. A silent pensioner that seemed to be placidly enjoying his remaining years.

"Now get your hands here and pretend you're working!" was the next order that Vaduin executed to the letter, laying his palms on tangles of pipes and randomly twisting some of them.

The armed group rushed to the top, emerging out of the building with pistols ready. "Jaroslav, what's going on up here?" they addressed the frail individual, who slowly turned to face them.

"Nothing much, Frantisek. Nothing much. We're repairing this damn thing, you see? It has broken for the fifth time this month."

"Have you seen an escapee anywhere near?"

"I'm sorry, comrade."


"Frantisek, don't you think I would have noticed?"

"Oh yes, old man," the leading person in a coat grinned before disappearing within the bowels of the housing estate.

That was close, Vaduin thought. He didn't stop pretending though. They could reappear at any given time and he wasn't risking that.

The elderly individual reached the door, glanced in and after a while, he turned to Vaduin. "The coast is clear."

"Good god," he sighed, only to get angry as he realized what had just happened. "What was that? Who were they?"

"They were friends. Comrades," the man spoke in an eerie tone that Vaduin didn't like. Almost as if the pensioner had something to do with it. "And you'd do best to be a comrade, too. Everyone'd do best if they did."

"I don't understand. What's going on?"

"There is unrest in the streets. Change is in the air. The Popularists are on the move. And it's best for the common folk to be on the winning side, don't you think?"

"And do as if this was nothing? How could I keep true to myself? How could I look at myself in the mirror?"

"It's not about looking in the mirror, comrade. It's about survival. And you want to survive, don't you? Trust me. In the days to come, there will be much more to worry about than a guilty conscience. You should go to work now. Your staying away from the affairs might have proved costly if you didn't meet me here as you have missed an important fact that pits two groups of people against each other."

"But I'm not against anyone! I just want peace! Has nobody learned from the past?! Does nobody remember the atrocities of war?"

"Comrade, there isn't any land between. You're either with them or against them. It is as plain as that."

"That is sickening. And don't call me comrade!"

"Well, you ought to get used to it. Now, you should go to work. They are waiting for you there."

It felt like war. Like the state of affairs when a simple individual wasn't entitled to choose. If he was to pull through, he had to follow the signs.

There was din down in the streets, but this discussion left him with such a horrid thought that he ignored it. He couldn't get the images of coldly executed people out of his head. And to actually live with the knowledge...

"You should go. They have already gone to the next block of their purge."

"Why are they doing these things?"

"Haven't you been listening? Or are you so terrified? There are two kinds of people. The ones with them and the ones against them. You were almost against them. But you wouldn't want that. Now go. Don't let me say it twice. You might miss an appointment."

He left rather unwillingly, not daring to look at the few corpses in the hall. He pretended they weren't there. He pretended that this wasn't happening. That it was merely a bad dream that would soon be over.

However, it didn't end. It escalated instead. As he reached the streets, he tasted the yells from up close. There were protestors on every corner. There were so many groups, most of them not on friendly terms. Fights were not uncommon.

He was wondering what surprise was in store for him at the factory. Why was he meant to go there? The hinting of the old man made him think that he would face dire consequences otherwise.

As he was contemplating, he blocked the sudden urge to run and get there as fast as possible. Even though he could easily slip away in the state of chaos, sprinting would certainly call for attention.

He couldn't understand why the elderly individual had saved him. What drove him to spare him and exactly him? How come he was the only one out of a dozen? He couldn't find an answer.

Perhaps it was awaiting him at his workplace. Yet as he saw the tall smoke stacks from the distance, he began doubting anything good could be there. There were firm citizens marching like soldiers, some of them with weapons.

They claimed to be peaceful, yet they shouted sentences of hate at others. They armed themselves in the name of their rights, but who were they defending against? Who and where was the enemy?

He ignored them, walking straight towards the factory and entering the yard. Through there, he went into the hall where most of the work had been done, finding a large gathering inside headed by the crazed brother of the late owner.

"Oh, you're here comrade. You've come in time," he addressed the incoming person. Comrade. Vaduin hated that word greatly, for it was deeply intertwined with violence in his opinion.

"So remember! We want to seize everything! Everything they kept here! Documents, papers, money, everything! We have to burn it! Burn what they have gained through illegal means of exploiting the workforce!"

"Yes!" the crowd yelled in response and raised arms, allowing Vaduin to see that a few of them were holding rifles.

"Remember! This is the People's militia! This is for us, comrades! Not for the lazy capitalists! What do they do now? Cower in fear! They can't even face us! That's how cowardly and despicable they are!"

The gathering splintered into smaller groups, each heading towards a section of the factory in search for something. And as he instinctively rushed with those he believed to be friends, he realized that the absentees were most likely dead already or about to be executed. A terrible truth that he had evaded.

"Comrades, let's turn this place upside down!" Matej shouted. Once a calm individual, now a crazed Popularist. Such transformation was unimaginable to Vaduin, but that was merely a tip of the iceberg.

They reached the office of the late owner, scouring it for information. Two from the group were holding a large bag where the rest threw documents in. Vaduin could only stare and falter behind in disbelief. Why were they so blindly disposing of years of work? Of accounting and other things that could hardly pose a threat? Why didn't they just take over and learned from those?

Their eyes were burning with resolve that propelled them to do their job unusually fast. Before Vaduin knew it, they were done and ready to move on to the next room that needed cleaning.

However, there was more than one person lagging behind. The two carrying the bags. Vladimir and Tomas. "There's something you've overlooked. Go, we'll pick it up." the latter of them said.

Vaduin gazed at them in confusion as they awaited the disappearance of the group. They didn't pick anything up. They waved at him silently instead, leaving where they had come from.

He followed, wondering what they wanted. And just as he emerged into a conjoining room, they closed the door and started: "You aren't like them, are you?"

"Nope, I'm not," Valduin spoke with unhidden relief. So there were normal people after all.

"Good. Then you must help us."

"Help? With what? And who are you?"

"Listen, you have to get this message to the underground," they whispered, handing him a seemingly unimportant folder. "We can't do that. Those guarding our spot know about us and are waiting for us."

"Why it is so important? What underground? Why do they have to be told?"

"They know the Popularists are already victorious. This place hasn't been chosen as one of the few epicentres just because. The Popularists wanted to cleanse it. To get rid of evidence. These documents hold great value. They must not fall into the filthy Popularist hands."

"Fine," he responded, accepting the folder. "But how do I get there?"

"Just follow us. We'll guide you and reveal the rest when we have to split up."


"Hide it behind your shirt and let's go."

He nodded and the trio joined the cleanup. Vaduin was much more at ease now that he had allies. But what did he really know about them? Only that they were a resistance movement. Ironically, his joy dwarfed the truth that they openly admitted the Popularists were nearing victory.

With the folder tucked behind his shirt, they continued until the coast was clear and they could split up from the madness. However, the streets hadn't calmed up a bit since he had last seen them.

In fact, the rioting was intensifying to the point of an open war. It was hard to tell who was against who, but it was apparent that the militias had found their targets. Mostly the unarmed, groups of rabble and other defenceless sorts.

They stood there for a while, observing the skirmishes from up close. Houses were not so far away from the edge of the industrial centre, but not even that neighbourhood was spared. There were people everywhere, participants and spectators alike.

"Where the hell are the police? And where the hell is the army?!" an onlooker turned defender against the hordes of crazed Popularists wondered, having taken refuge behind a car. There was but a dozen of desperate individuals against a whole lot of inspired fighters, half of which were armed.

"Haven't you been watching the news?! The Popularists control both already!"

The three didn't wait to get out of the scene as fast as possible. They dodged various formations and each man gave them a questioning look. Almost as if they knew who they were.

However, they had no option but to carry on. Until they arrived at a narrow alley where two groups were marching directly against each other.

"Damn," Vladimir commented.

"What's going on?" Vaduin wondered.

"The only way is through," he replied grimly.

"Oh my... what are we going to do now?"

"Well, watching them isn't a good idea. Standing in one place isn't either. We have to get out of the streets. Fast."

But before they were able to do so, they were caught in the storm. There was a lot of shouting and insulting. Until it escalated into a shootout. The trio instinctively sought shelter behind the tables of a nearby restaurant. Stray bullets or intentional shots, many projectiles flew their way despite nobody marching straight towards them.

"What the hell! We aren't armed! What is your problem?!" Tomas yelled, but he was hardly heard in amidst the din.

The militias had the upper hand. They were slowly but confidently pushing the rest out of the street. However, it was suicidal to emerge out of the hideout and thus they were trapped. Those madmen weren't reasonable and even if Vaduin and his two friends tried to say they were with them, success wasn't assured.

Yet there wasn't much choice when police sirens began screeching in the distance, appearing shortly afterwards.

"Ah, there they are!" some of the anti-Popularists still remaining on the road cheered. "I knew they wouldn't leave us to those maniacs! Hello! Help us! We're here!"

There was a swift reply, but it was nowhere near being affirmative. A volley of bullets went his and his colleagues' way.

"What the hell?! Why are they shooting at us?" they screamed in retreat before being shot mercilessly in the back.

The three were in a desperate situation. What were they supposed to do? Emerge from cover and risk being executed on the spot? The narrow alley wasn't that far. They looked at each other to ensure they were thinking the same. It was as if their eyes were silently counting. One... two... three!

They sprang from behind the tables, rushing as fast as they could and entering the passageway. Thankfully, they did it. They didn't help themselves that much though. There was a fight raging on, clogging the path.

"We have to go through!" Vladimir yelled, sprinting towards the madness without hesitation. Tomas followed him shortly afterwards, leaving Vaduin alone, but he didn't wait for long.

He covered his face, dashing inside the struggle and bracing for impact. He felt fists landing on his back and sides, but he withstood, emerging on the other side and finding his allies succeeding as well.

They didn't stop, however, until they were out of the alley. The streets weren't calm in that district, but at least there wasn't any shootout. A formation of militia was parading across the road, marching like soldiers and supported by a convoy of police cars.

"See that shop at the corner over there?" Vladimir spoke, pointing towards the far end of the street. "Turn right there and look for a laundry. Go in and hand in the documents to the first woman you'll see. Best of luck! We have to split now."

Getting there was easy as there was no insane pursuer in his back and nobody was shooting at him, yet that didn't mean the situation was okay. No. The grimness was ever-present, filling the air with its poison.

He entered the designated building, finding himself in a modest room with a lot of coats and clothes hanging on them. They easily concealed the counter where a middle-aged woman with a bun keeping her brown hair together stood. She was friendly by the look, but there was something deep within the eyes. Worry. Fright.

Without a word, he approached her and did as instructed. She glanced over the folder on the table in front of her, nodding in agreement. "Let me get Jachym. He should be around here somewhere."

She disappeared in the conjoining room, leaving Vaduin alone to his doubts. What if he had done a wrong thing? What if his belief of averting this crisis was incorrect? Had he run into a trap?

"Escape? Escape?!" he heard somebody further inside yell angrily. "You must be joking! Everyone intelligent has escaped long ago! Everyone intelligent enough to have foreseen that this would have happened! As for us... there's no chance!"

"But we must do something!" an equally as exasperated woman responded. "We must get out of this country before they find us and..."

He would have spent more time eavesdropping on the conversation, but the receptionist returned along with a vital man at least ten years younger than Vaduin. There was a real fire in his eyes. A fire that wasn't much different from the fire of all those madmen running rampant outside.

"Good job. You're risking your life greatly in this turbulent time. It's bad that we can't reward you accordingly, but the situation is dire."

"What now?" Vaduin inquired, not wishing the hope of halting the advance of the Popularists die.

"What now?" the youthful individual was surprised by the question. "Well, we can just wait and see. They are seizing the city by force and we have reports that it's similar across the whole republic."

"That's grim."

"Yeah. You should go home now. There's not much either one of us can do," he replied, interrupted by a man that suddenly rushed into the laundry. Everyone looked at him, wondering what to expect.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he began in seriousness. "The capital has fallen. The Popularists have seized the government. The President is merely a step away from resigning and conforming to their demands."

There was silence. None dared to break it. They were aware what it meant. The Popularists had conquered Slavia.

"Good luck for us all," the young man spoke after ten minutes. "If you can excuse me, I need to get myself a drink."

So he was alone again. Even though there was din outside, he felt that there was nothing and nobody. That the world was an empty place devoid of a soul. With sourness, he left, wishing to wander towards his home. However, his stroll was cut short as four men from the militia stood in his way.

Along with them, there was a particular figure. An old, small and frail man with a wide grin on his face. Jaroslav.

"You. What are you doing here?"

"And what about you? I thought that you would come here. A rebel to the core. A little bit naive, it seems."

"A rebel? What? No, I'm not a rebel."

"Don't worry, comrade. I'm not here to execute you. I'm here to offer you a deal. But... we can't talk here and now. Comrades!"

"What are you doing?!" Vaduin shouted as he tried to defend against the four men grasping him firmly. But alas, resistance was futile. His shaking and struggling was completely hopeless.

"Don't fight," Jaroslav attempted to calm him. "There's no point in doing that. You're merely prolonging the suffering."

"You bastard, you used me! And I thought you saved me!"

"Appearances are deceptive, you should know that."

Chapter 4

He was in an empty room with cracked and dirty walls. Along with him, there were the five men. They had dragged him there against his will. He wondered what their plans with him were, but he feared that they weren't particularly to his liking.

"...so, my friend. Are you willing to do some jobs for us? Your connection with the underground is a valuable asset to us. And we certainly have understanding for our assets," the old man explained.

"You want me to spy on them?"

"It could be put that way, comrade."

"Don't call me that, I've told you already! And no. I'm not going to work for you."

"Yes, I remember. However, you must accept what is offered."

"But I don't want to cooperate."

"Oh, you will, comrade. You will cooperate."

"What makes you so confident?"

"We have found your parents. Now, you wouldn't like it if ill fate befell them, alright?"

He nodded begrudgingly. Damned bastards, he thought. It was game over. He couldn't object to that. So much for a promising start. He became a pawn. Against his will. Trapped in the machine for the remainder of his life.

As for the rest, things were calming more and more each hour as the Popularists emerged victorious on every front. Even the President's residence was surrounded by them, their boss walking straight into the study room where the head of the state was sitting patiently. However, he was boiling deep inside his mind.

"I hope you realize that you have played into their hands," he spoke without facing the interloper.

"What hands?" Clemens wondered, grinning wide with his eyes full of victory.

"They don't care about us. About people in general. They just wanted us as a part of the buffer zone, keeping the West from marching directly into their territory."

"And yet again, you know best that the West would have done exactly the same, don't you?"

"They're not that cruel. The Committiets' leader, Steelman, is a madman. If he doesn't like us, he will have us all executed and replaced by his kind. And nobody will realize the difference."

"You're a senile old man, friend. You know that won't happen. But end this charade, I've come to conduct business."

"Yes, you've won, I admit. The letter of my resignation is right here, as well as the paper you are drooling to lay your hands on."

"I knew you would come to your senses in the end. But tell me, was the revolt really worth it? Did we truly have to prove our strength to you so that you would see?"

"I've backed down once in the past, letting the Teutons roam Slavia in their conquest of the world. I didn't desire to make the same mistake twice."

"Yet you did a completely different one. Fighting alone against a lion isn't a wise move."

"We all learn," the President noted with a significant undertone, hinting that Clemens was to find out the errors of his judgement soon enough.

However, it was the conclusion of this strange time. The head of the state abdicated that very day, withdrawing from the public and dying silently a few years later.

After the revolution, things went calm. Those who wanted power got it and it would have been stupid to keep the struggle in the open. It marked the start of four decades of oligarchy and silent oppression. Secret police, made up cases and witch hunts were not uncommon, but the public never learned about it. Those in power did as they pleased, living completely secluded from those that they claimed to protect and nurture, the common folk.

The common folk that they now looked down upon as if they were mere rats not worthy of their attention. Pathetic rabble that was nothing more than a means to a very sinister and selfish end.

Such arrogance was doomed to fail, but there was a worse problem. Ignorance. After the fall of this regime, Slavia seemingly reverted to democracy. However, the age that came and continues to today isn't very different as the same breed of people are still sitting in the parliament, having merely switched sides.

To this very day, they are like leeching worms, their habits showing that nothing they said was true and the only thing they really care about is their own welfare. It doesn't matter what the governing system is called. It is always the same story.

In conclusion, neither any kind of democracy nor dictatorship of the proletariat was better, as both led to oligarchy and puppeteering powered by ravenous greed fairly fast. And although they are each a dead end, we haven't arrived at the wall because we aren't dead yet.


I know that most of you don’t care about a tiny little country in the middle of Europe, not to mention some “boring” history. That’s not why I wrote the story after all. I just felt like paying respect and writing more of an action story.

Frankly, there are lots of interesting events in European history and many have their own book/movie adaptations. However, when it comes to Czech history, these stories tend to be a little bit boring. That’s why I instantly had to write this one.

Thought as I stated, the story only drew inspiration from the events of 1948, when a democratic country in Europe turned a communist country. My knowledge isn’t perfect because I wasn’t alive at that time, obviously, but history is something I view with respect despite my story not being quite true to it.

However, there indeed are some links with real world people, politics and so on. Committiets, for example. The real world counterpart is Soviets, which is a Russian word that could be translated as council or committee, hence the name. Slavia – Czechoslovakia was a country populated by Slavic people. Popularists – Communists (obviously), due to the “for the people” stance. Cadmune is derived from Cadmus, brother of Europa from Greek mythology.

As for the names, most are of Czech origin, with the exception of the protagonist and two historical figures. Vaduin is... I don’t even know what. That word just occurred to me and I didn’t bother changing it. Perhaps for the sake of the protagonist being a little bit different and withdrawn from the rest.

The two historical figures mentioned, Clemens the Prime Minister and Benoas the President. Their names are twisted from their original ones. Clement Gottwald an Eduard Benes (omitting those strange Czech ลก symbols and so on). These indeed were living and breathing people that lived during the events of 1948. They were serving in functions mentioned and their conflict was inspired by reality, but the plot of my story is a mere fabrication.

Maybe you’ve read the wikipedia link. Maybe not. Either way, my story uses a somewhat true background. There indeed were militias (but there wasn’t that much of a chaos and violence... from what I gather, the coup was rather non-violent, but history is written by various sorts of people that like to bend it for various reasons, so who knows). There also was a struggle of the communists to seize the government and the anti-communists to force some communist ministers to resign.

Of course, the world had been divided silently during the events of the war, with Czechoslovakia falling under the Soviet sphere of influence. Many Czechs and Slovaks were eager to embrace communism, viewing the Soviets as saviours. Lots of propaganda involved, as always no matter what age or place.

It was a particularly intriguing era with all the plots and schemes going on, but what fascinates me most is the fact that the simple people of that day were thinking small. Believing that the things happening were mostly their own business.

And then I realized it’s not that different today. We still think that our lives are plain and simple and there is nothing going on, yet we would be surprised what things are happening so close to us without us knowing.

In countries like the United States, it’s not particularly a big deal because the States are a major player in this field, but the perspective of something small being puppeteered, the piece moved along the puzzle makes for an interesting setting for a story.

Thanks for reading this far and I hope I didn’t bore you with this little commentary.

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