”Do you remember when you were young and you wanted to set the world on fire?”
Mark bopped his head slowly, in time with the strains of Against Me! floating into his ears. His brothers would judge him for listening to what they called poser music, but that had never bothered him.
His life philosophy was – if it makes sense to you, do it.
It was when other people got involved that things got complicated. No matter how closely an ideology matches that of another, there will always be points of friction. Small things that people disagree on, small things that start off as sparks and can turn into raging forest fires.
It was hard to avoid conflict, for conflict is an eighteen wheeler on the highway of life, and you’re a bug trying to cross the street.
It was for that very reason that he had chosen anarchy. As a confused seventeen year old, he had run away from home, with all the bravado and the invincibility of youth. Within three months, he had found himself out on the street. The first person that took pity on him and gave him something wasn’t what he expected, however – it had been another hobo, simply passing him a book. The hobo, who styled himself Genie, had given Mark the book to burn, in order to keep warm. But one look at the cover and the strange word on it – Shantaram – had given him pause. He opened it and started reading.
One line said “There is no philosophy that loves humanity as much as anarchy”. It had piqued his curiosity, propelling him to read more and more until he was convinced that he was an anarchist. It made perfect sense.
It had also allowed him to find his brothers. The group that called themselves Beatification, for the process that the church followed to elevate people to an almost saint-like status. It allowed people to intercede on behalf of others after their death, and that’s exactly what the Beatified planned to do. They planned to take down the government, the corrupt institutions that had oppressed people for centuries, the rich growing richer and the poorer dying because they had nothing on or in their bodies.
They weren’t going to reduce the wealth gap. They were going to blow it to smithereens.
He jerked as the bus stopped, realising almost too late that this was his stop. He ran to the front of the bus, jumping off just before the doors closed. He paused in front of the restaurant, looking up at the name of the place. It was ironic that they had chosen a place named Commerce for the meeting. This was to be their final meeting before they parted ways, each of them armed with a mission, a purpose and enough explosives to send their targets to kingdom come. Words were ringing in his ears as he stood outside the restaurant.
Their pledge. “As sons of the Beatified, we swear upon our lives to uphold this creed, to bring justice to the downtrodden and the oppressed, to find inequality and correct it, to fill the world’s mind with the thought of self governance and the beauty that it can bring.”
But those words were not the ones coursing through his mind. The words were the ones he had overheard, the ones that he had witnessed, secretly, spoken by the oldest and supposedly wisest of the Beatified. “They’ll never know what hit them. The Federal Reserve, the World Bank, Fort Knox. They’ll all be empty by the morning. But we just have to make sure that the brothers know their responsibility and carry it out. By morning, we’ll be the only ones left, to build the new order”. There had been embraces, their purpose as clear as his had been completely destroyed. He had no evidence, no one would believe him even if he told them.
His mind, after that conversation, had been in the sort of turmoil that he scarcely believed possible.
He pulled it out of his bag and strode into the restaurant, taking in the wide eyed looks that he was attracting from the patrons. He smiled at them and walked forward, his face set but his eyes gentle. He had nothing to do with the civilians in the restaurant, and he had nothing but love in his head for them. He walked purposefully, his gait never wavering, straight towards the private section in the back where he knew his brothers were congregated. Sometimes, cutting the head off the snake isn’t enough.
He pushed open the door of the private area, the smile still playing on his lips. “My brothers” were the only words that left his lips.
He hefted the rifle to his shoulder, the weapon turned to full auto.