One Continent. Two Stories.
My grandmother loves to tell me stories about the war. Technically, she says, she wasn’t there, but her grandmother was a little girl at the time. The stories have been passed down through generations, somehow beating the odds and resisting the wear and tear of time. It’s unfortunate that they have to be told in hushed voices, in rooms where no camera can reach. The government doesn’t like us talking about the war, probably because they didn’t win it. The government can be salty like that sometimes.
Nevertheless, I know the stories by heart now, after years and years of hearing them. They’re not like most war stories would go, really - they’re not stories of hope and victory. They’re stories of death, bloodshed, and losses. But I think there’s something to learn from them. There’s something to learn from every mistake, right?
My family and I live on the edge of the town, and consequentially, on the edge of the entire fricking country. This conundrum is quite bad for me, a “reckless teenager who feels like she must rebel in order to feel important and find where she fits in the world.” That’s how my parents, and pretty much everyone else, describes me, at least. I like to think of myself as more curious than rebellious.
Anyways, there’s this big wall that separates this country, the United States of North America, from “that other country that resides on our continent,” more commonly known as the Confederacy of North America. The government goes on and on about how we’re not supposed to climb it, not supposed to look over the top of it, but who cares what they say? If they really wanted us to stay away from it, they would put more funding into guarding it. But it’s just standing there, mostly undefended, with a few guards that pass by on a predictable schedule.
I climb the wall a lot, since there’s not much else to do around the city, like, ever. It’s pretty much the most boring place to live. Sure, big cities like New York City are fun - they have non-stop parties, cool technology, and fancy living conditions. But here? Yeah, we have some fancy gadgets, but they’re mostly to monitor us, and they don’t even do a good job of that. Areas where I live are ugly and filled with a weird fog that always seems to reside in the air.
Contrary to the USNA, the other side of the wall is pretty - sprawling landscapes with blooming wildflowers and peaceful little cottages - until you remember the ugly underbelly. After the war the CNA never really changed their morals that much. The thing that the war was over, slavery, has remained there all these years. If it weren’t for that sick aspect, I’d say the CNA is better than the USNA.
I climbed up the wall again today, at the same exact time I do every day, and I look at the beautiful view. Normally, the space next to the wall is pretty quiet, maybe a few people walking by and just enjoying the nice weather. But today there’s a disturbance at the wall, and on the other side (which is good for me, since I’d get in big trouble if the government of the USNA caught me up here). There are police everywhere, with big bloodhounds and German shepherds barking up a storm.
Oh. It’s a man-hunt. Or, as they call it over there, a slave-hunt. This happens occasionally, but not often. I’d have to imagine that anyone in slavery would be terrified to run away. All the news stuff about the CNA goes on and on about how the police will beat or murder any runaway slaves. I’d rather stay in captivity than be tortured and killed, but that’s just me, a middle-class citizen who’s never had to experience being in slavery and doesn’t know what it’s like.
One of the bloodhounds sniffs the air and stands still, not moving a muscle. Anyone who doesn’t spend time on top of the wall wouldn’t think anything of this. But I’ve watched a few man-hunts in my 16 years of life, and I know that when a dog freezes like that, it means they’ve smelled something important. Pointedly, the person they’re looking for.
The dog is staring at the wall, glaring at it like it’s stolen his food. One of the policemen looks at where the dog is staring and laughs bitterly. “On the other side of the wall, huh?” he says. “Well, the government of the USNA will turn ‘em in. It’s the law, after all. Come on, fellas, our part in this is over for now.”
Everyone turns to leave, but the bloodhound refused to move. The same man that spoke earlier yells at the dog, “Come on, you mangy beast! There’s nothing left here for us!”
But the dog still doesn’t move. The police probably don’t notice what he does next, but I d0 - the dog’s gaze flicks up at me, and then he starts barking like a maniac. Oh, frick, no. Panicked, I start scooting away from my position on the wall, trying to get to my way down. But before I do, one of the policeman looks up at the wall. He sees me - I know he does. Mostly because I hear him call, “Hey! You! Get down here, you dirty spy!”
Spy? I’m not a spy! But I don’t blame the guy for thinking that. Tensions have been high between the USNA and the CNA for the past few years, and no civilian really knows why. Everyone on the streets like to whisper about how another war might be coming. Honestly, I don’t believe them, but since enough people do, the rumor persists.
“Don’t worry,” I hear one of the policeman say, his voice faint. “We’ll get the leaders to yell at that stupid country’s “government” for sending spies. Let’s just go.”
Then I hear soft footsteps and barking as they all leave. Phew. Honestly, I expected them to shoot me - they were all carrying guns. But, like I said, everyone’s on edge at the moment, so shooting at a teenage girl, spy or not, would kinda be bad. Really bad. Another-war bad.
That was close. Too close. Climbing the wall is fun, yeah, but getting caught would be worse. While the security may be terrible at the wall, the way they punish people who climb it...
As I climb back down onto solid ground, I pick up my small backpack that I hid up in a tree. While I’m walking away, I think the same thing I always think after I’ve witnessed a man-hunt - Who was it that they were looking for?
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