|The terrified are followers. Those who are uneasy, even slightly worried would do just about anything to get rid of that itchy feeling of doubt at the back of their minds. Those of us who are uncertain would give our lives for some feeling of order, for a meaning. And these people are the majority. The lonely, scared majority.
In the early twenty-first century, at the point in human history where information was more readily available than any other period, fear of the unknown reached a record high. No past society had ever been so connected, so in touch, and yet, never before had people felt so alone.
Perhaps it was because they had been reminded constantly of their 'individuality,' right up to the point where they wanted nothing more than to be allowed to be sheep. Alternatively, it may have been that they had, for the most part, become an international audience, watching a select few live out lives far more exciting than their own. Whatever it was, there was a deep, almost instinctual, sense that something was wrong.
That is, until the day The Revolution began.
Most revolutions begin, as most people know, after a certain period of suffering has been endured, which, in this case, is the loneliness mentioned above. This suffering builds up until those who suffer can take no more, culminating in violence and anger, often with burning cars and bullets flying. Usually ending, if successful, with a complete reboot of the system.
This time around, however, was far quieter.
Due to the subtlety of the situation, the beginning is hard to place, but it's often agreed to have officially begun with an email.
In the city of Dublin, Ireland, a young girl of about seventeen arrived home from the adoration heaped upon her in school. She was tall, she was pretty and she had developed fantastically. Her name was Clara.
Tossing her schoolbag to the ground, her mother went ignored as the girl started up the computer to check if anything new was happening in the world of social networking.
And, as it was essentially the ever-updating account of the activities of that generation, she was not disappointed.
Clicking fluidly from picture to picture, she came across nothing that caught her attention especially.
That is, until one particular image irritated her very slightly. It wasn't an exciting picture, just a rather horizontal shot of a girl from her class named Jean. Two other girls featured in the picture, neither of whom were particularly easy on the eye, but Jean, the least attractive of the three, was most certainly the focus. They each had a different hat upon their heads and their respective faces were obviously intended to be considered funny. The caption below the picture read, 'Being random...'
As mentioned before, this had very slightly annoyed Clara and so she left a comment that would illustrate to the girls exactly what she thought of their supposed fun, something she felt they should know.
She wrote, very simply:
And she had no idea what she had done.
2026, read just about every working calendar on earth as King Alexander emerged from his bath. His mighty, ivory bathroom and it's echo reminding him of the water dripping from the edge of the bath as he dried himself jut enough so that a slightly nervous servant could affectionately wrap his golden bathrobe around him. And to think, not too long ago this all would have seemed so ridiculous.
Still damp, the king, followed by the dragging train of his bathrobe, stepped, barefoot towards the gigantic glass panel that made up an entire wall of his bathroom. A two-way mirror, there was never any danger of anyone seeing in, though the odds of anything other than a helicopter managing to get up that high were quite slim.
He could look out though, could look downwards at the world below him, downward at the people who wouldn't dare defy him, and yet were so free in so many ways.
There was an orange glow to the city now, thanks to the lights that almost made them forget about the night above. Below, they worked and they lived and they knew that the King was surveying his people.
'Your majesty,' came a voice from behind Alexander, who turned happily and said, with a smile befitting of his relatively young face, 'You know, I love being called that.'
A few hours after Clara had left that comment, Jean had decided to sign in online herself.
Her phone had not received one message all day, which was much the same as most days, unless the message was from the service provider or one of the two people who actually didn't mind speaking to her.
Her mother was asleep, her father was both elsewhere and uninterested and her younger, prettier sister was far too cool to spend any time speaking to her.
Lonely, she booted up the computer screen as fantasies of Tom McMahon from her class messaging her with a quick, 'Hey, what's up?' danced across her mind. No, they never spoke in school, but maybe he had missed the maths homework or had simply been admiring her from afar until now and so would feel that it was finally time to say hello to her. At the very least, there was the chance that he would be bored, with nobody else to talk to, and then he would say hello and realise finally just how sweet and funny Jean was.
Tapping the predictable six keys that made up her password, an almost pathetic amount of happiness rose up within her once she saw that Clara Kenny had commented on a picture of her. Maybe she had seen how much fun they were having and wondered if she could join in. Maybe... But no, that wasn't the case at all.
As she read the single word that Clara had used to ruin a night she had truly enjoyed, something seemed to break inside Jean. She clicked the 'Back' button quickly, almost as if she was reacting to a static shock, or as if she was shaking off an insect.
It was almost as if she was pretending she hadn't read it as she sat there, her hand on the mouse, still enough for her to sense the beat of her own pulse. But of course, she had, regardless of how quickly she had clicked off the picture, she knew it was there and she knew what it had said.
People would see that comment, her aunties and uncles would look at that and know who she really was. They'd look at it and realise that the funny, outgoing girl that came to visit them at Christmas was a facade, a coverup of an embarrassment by a 'loser.'
That one word had cemented what she had never allowed herself to think about.
Seconds passed as, for once, she allowed herself to grow enraged. A fire began to burn within her. A need for revolution rose up culminating in a mental, 'Fuck this.'
With a simple click, she checked which of her 'friends' were online.
Atop the list, sat the name, 'Tommy McMahon.'
Tommy. He was only called that by himself. And he was perfect. He was tall, he was fit and he was smart. He smiled at her when they passed in the hall, though her eyes danced nervously from side to side. She longed for him.
In moments of revolution we seek out that which we cannot usually have, and so, with twitching fingers and blood rushing to her face, Jean clicked his name and typed, 'Hey! Wats up?'
A surge of adrenaline ran through her when she tapped the send icon. It mixed itself with fear to cause a staggeringly excited nausea.
Seconds passed. Just enough time for him to click on the message and read it.
And then, a message flashed, 'Tommy has gone offline.'
And just like that the fire was doused. Numb, she shut down the computer.
Somehow, a tear managed to escape her eye. It surprised her, though its cause was obvious.
Unsuited to such rage, her next actions were unexpected, even by her. She rose, and ventured to the bathroom.
Locking the door, she realized that she was there only to stare in the mirror. And for a long time, that was what she did.
As she mapped the acne that ran, badly concealed, along the shape of her face, images rushed to her mind. Memories of rejection, of isolation. And the girl staring back at her grew angrier and uglier.
And she realised she hated her. Why wouldn't she stop staring back? Why wouldn't she sort herself out? Why wouldn't she just go?
And then, the glint of a nearby razorblade called attention to itself.
A pretty girl with blond hair and a stern smile, against a backdrop of intelligent blue.
Pursing lips that still taste of a cigarette she shouldn't have had, she swallows and embraces the rush of almost sexual proportions that runs through her every night at this time.
She smiles and says;
'Good evening, the news tonight; A gang of forty-five men were today arrested and brought into police custody.
The gang, which was lead by Mr. Francis Morrison, was arrested for several counts of Intended Acts Of Cruelty And Evil, without need for proof.
Save Morrison, who will be executed at nine o'clock tonight, the gang will work in the service of the government's Criminal Construction programs for the next ten years, when they will be re-tried.
Jean emerged from the bathroom, with fresh red streaks running along the white of her arm. With a guilty twitch, she pulled the sleeves of her jumper over her wrists and embraced the stinging heat it induced. She frowned, it stung, but at least she could feel it.
The streaks were far more expert than the first cut, which she had slowly drawn that lonely night in the bathroom after she had spotted the hungry glint of the razorblade calling out to her.
That had been amateur, though, unexperienced. Since then it had become her hobby, her personality.
She had grown more introverted, so much so that people that wouldn't have been caught dead speaking to her began to notice the lifelessness she now emanated.
It had stayed her secret, though, known only to her and the brown diary beneath her bed that housed her badly written poetry.
One boy in her school had seemed to notice it at one point. She had forgotten about and, leaning on her hand, didn't realise that her wrist was on show. The boy had made eye contact with her, surprise on his face. Had she mattered he might have asked if everything was alright, or at least made some sort of conversation. But no, he had averted his eyes. He hadn't seen it, he didn't know her.
And so it remained her secret.
Which was why she was so surprised when she received this email;
Alone? Lost? Tired of life and unsure of your purpose? Then why not change things?
This message may seem like spam, Jean, but I assure you that it's not.
We understand that you can no longer see the point and we'd like to tell you why; There isn't one.
The world has grown greedy, sick, shallow and dirty. And maybe you've considered ending everything.
But what if, rather than destroying yourself, you destroyed everything that upset you? The materialistic, shallow world, what if it was to burn?
We're offering you much more than suicide ever could, Jean.
We'd love to hear back from you.
Like most cities, the transport in Dublin had always been greatly criticised by its inhabitants, despite a general lack of knowledge on the subject.
The city was divided by a river, which stretched like an average-sized sea serpent that had fallen dead in search of its rightful home. The serpent had been named the Liffey, and it served to inform a visitor of the general class of the people around you.
In order to travel from one side to the opposite, another line stretched across the back of the monster, a train-line.
On one particularly grey day, a train moved slowly from station to station, twisting its way out of the suburbs of the northern side A boy sat in a certain carriage, with a tune in his head. His name was Eddie.
The tune was unfamiliar to him, and he was restricted to repeating the same line in his mind, as it was the only one that had managed to jump from the radio to his ear as he was passing.
His back pressed against the end of the carriage, he eyed his fellow commuters, having chosen his seat for that exact purpose.
He had been slightly disappointed by the amount of people that the train had brought for him to examine, but made do, contented by the fact that it would fill as they neared the centre.
He noticed that it was the usual suspects; An old married couple, a lost-looking businesswoman, another teenage boy roughly his own age, and an odd-looking man with a great, rough beard.
The old couple were probably arguing, though that assumption was made more from experience than anything about their movements. She had a dirty-blond poof of hair, and glasses that magnified her eyes and yet somehow managed to make them unnoticeable. Her coat was long and brown and probably very practical. She probably had sandwiches in her ravaged handbag, packed in anticipation of their big day out. The old man wore a fisherman's hat and a rainproof jacket and squinted out the window as if trying very hard to concentrate on something. And one of them had probably just said something that really irritated the other.
The businesswoman and her gaze were slightly more interesting. Adorned in a purple-ish dress suit, she very obviously forced her shy gaze from making eye contact with anyone else. She was pretty, of the sort that was rare on her side of town, though her movements made it clear that she wished she looked like someone else. She suspected everyone was looking at her, not out of vanity but timidity and the air of confidence she was trying so hard to exude was failing desperately. As a favour, Eddie looked away, towards the man with the rough beard.
He was unexcited by this man, as his beard conveyed a usual madness. His appearance was typical of a madman on a train and for that reason, only his speech would be interesting, as it would offer the chance to deduct how dangerous the man was. However, Eddie couldn't help but feel a certain amount of affection for him; madmen always do the best with the reality they've been given. Same could be said for the sane, though, Eddie thought.
The affection couldn't hold Eddie's attention, however, and he quickly skipped to the other teenager.
His head wasn't completely shaved, Eddie noticed, it was simply shaved along the sides and cut very tight on top. He was dressed in order to represent the majority of people from his side of town, his grey tracksuit bottoms tucked into the socks that jutted out from his shining white running shoes. His earphones were loud enough for the rest of the carriage to acknowledge the beat, but left the lyrics concerning rape and theft and murder up to the imagination of those listening. He was, for many people, the north side of Dublin incarnate. He was probably from a council estate, a house opposite a charred park and a graffitied playground where mind-altering substances were sold. His mother would scream out the door for him to return for his dinner. Either that or he really wanted to seem that way. It was almost impossible to judge. Hailing from the north side of the city himself, Eddie greatly resented this image, though he knew it was often true. He knew many people from his side who were amicable, many who were scum and many who enjoyed the image of scum and decided to adopt the character. They were the worst.
Not that the south side, with its general wealth and fondness for rugby, was any better. The 'acting like scum' habit was far more widespread and far less excusable on that side of town. And those who didn't act like scum were usually as annoying as Hell. That's what Eddie thought, anyway, as he pondered their high-pitched voices that broadcasted their faux-American squeaks and grunts for all the world to hear.
The train reached Clontarf Road, the station before the city centre. Nobody boarded the bus but the teenage boy exited it, which was all Eddie needed in order to decide whether or not his appearance had been a facade.
The old man picking his nose, the train pulled from the station. Outside Connolly Station it rested for a reason unbeknownst to Eddie, and then trundled to a halt next to the platform.
Eddie stood up and dismounted the train, slightly regretful as he watched the influx of passengers that boarded it as he was leaving. Unfortunately, he had somewhere to be.
He made his way through the older part of the station, passing a little old man in a room that could have been a closet with greater ease than it had in supporting a kiosk. He climbed a set of steps with the others who had exited the train he had just been in. Sets of married couples, teenagers, madmen and shy-looking business men and women all from the other carriages. A young mother struggled to pull a pram up a stairs, as the baby cried and she told her other son to, 'Shut de fuck up and gimme a hand.'
No one else helped. Eddie walked on.