First we take Manhattan...
They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom,
for trying to change the system from within,
I'm coming now, I'm coming to reward them,
First we take Manhattan,
Then we take Berlin
The door slammed open, and the tall blonde stumbled inside, nearly
tripping over casually discarded clothes piled up on the floor. She almost
fell into the old chair in the middle of the living room, her face buried
in her hands until her shoulders finally stopped shaking with tears.
Suzanne sat back in her chair, the business clothes that she wore badly
rumpled, clearly having been slept in more than once. Long blonde hair fell
down into her eyes, eyes that were shadowed with worry and fear.
Suzanne kept those eyes firmly closed as she listened to the news
reader quietly report the daily news. There was no mention of the attack on
their home over two days ago, no mention of the police taking people into
custody without a warrant. They hadn't even read the rights to her, they
had just cuffed Janice and then took her away. With Suzanne struggling and
crying in the soldier's grip standing behind her...
Calling up their lawyer to try to get Janice a hearing had been a
waste of her time, too. The man had been quite frank with her: in the
present political climate and with the way that the new laws were written,
the security forces could do whatever they wanted to. He'd file a formal
protest, of course, but it wouldn't do any good.
"Since when did we all start living in Nazi Germany?" Suzanne had
asked him weakly, a chill settling into her bones.
Softly he said, "I'm bound by the attorney/client privilege, but I
strongly advise you not to repeat that sort of thing in public." A long
beat of silence and he added, "They might just decide to take you away,
"How the hell did things ever get so bad?" Suzanne had muttered to
herself, but she knew. They all knew what had happened.
It had all started more than thirty years ago, with the terrorist
strike on the World Trade Center. The war on terrorism was quickly
declared, the United States leading the charge against the terrorist
forces. Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, then after catching their breath, the
military searched for other targets. North Korea fell under their might, as
slowly but surely the Pax Americana, the American Peace, was brought to the
And things began to change at home...
The threat of terrorist attack was very urgent, the politicians said
from their positions of power, and quite reasonable steps must be taken to
ensure their safety. It began quite small, with certain kinds of racial
profiling being used to identify possible terrorists, but soon it was
expanded. Certain civil rights were officially repealed, temporarily, as a
measure to root out terrorism, while other threats to the state were
Public speakers who raised dissent were declared enemies, then those
that stayed carefully neutral were dealt with, too. Outside of their
borders they reminded their allies where the power really lay, and advised
them that if they weren't with them... they were against them. Nations
quickly fell into line, and those that did not were found to be sheltering
Suzanne swallowed past an uncomfortable tightness in her throat. 'And
I never even squeaked about it when all of this was going on,' she thought
to herself grimly, 'I only really started to care when it actually effected
I'd really like to like beside you baby,
I love your body and your spirit and your clothes,
But you see that line there moving through the station?
I told you, I told you, I told you
I was one of those!
The presidential announcements came out from the heavily fortified
White House where President-for-life Bush resided about one every few
months. Often he would rant about the terrorists who hid themselves in
seemingly friendly nations like Britain or France, places that would soon
be on the 'enemies' list. And occasionally he would name a new kind of
domestic foe, one that we had to watch for in case they might sprout more
terrorists. The latest announcement was the one that had effected Suzanne
and Janice, the one about... homosexuals.
They had gaped at each other in shock, wondering if they had heard
the old man correctly. Then that sinking feeling, dread and fear coiling
inside of them both. Suzanne was much less exposed, thankfully, she had
never dared to come out for her government job, but Janice... she was out.
But the first weeks passed as they quickly retreated into the closet, and
when no one came to break down their door, they thought they were safe.
They were wrong.
Suzanne got out of her chair, wiping at eyes that were wet with her
tears. She hesitated for a moment, then she made her way past the messy
table over to their bedroom. The double bed was a shambles, but she strode
on by it to the dresser. She opened up the bottom drawer, ruffling through
the piles of clothes crammed in there until she finally found a nearly flat
black box. It lay there ominously, until she reached out and picked it up.
I'm guided by a signal in the heavens,
I'm guided by this birthmark on my skin.
I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons,
First we take Manhattan,
Then we take Berlin
Suzanne cleared the table with a single sweep of her arm, sending the
dirty plates, silverware and legal papers to the floor. She opened up the
slim black case carefully, pausing to look down at the silvery weapon that
lay there in it's gray padding. Quite carefully she took it out,
disassembling it with the ease of long practice.
With rag and oil she cleaned each and every part, then smoothly put
it back together. She calmly slid the copper jacketed bullets into the clip
one at a time, then slapped the clip into it's place, loading a bullet in
the chamber. The gun felt oddly right in her hand, and she could understand
the lethal temptation of such things.
Looking up, she saw one of the photos of Janice and her on the wall,
and she felt that sudden surge of loss once again. "Janice," she murmured
softly, her grip tightening on the gun. For a moment she wanted to put the
muzzle into her mouth, but she resisted the urge.
Janice wouldn't be back here, Suzanne knew that instinctively. The
government could hold you for years until they finally got a confession
from you, then publicly airing you reading a prepared statement that you
had committed the crimes you were accused of and more, besides. Even if she
got Janice back, she's be broken, not the woman she had once known.
Suzanne raised the gun, hefting the weight as she considered it
thoughtfully. "They say that homosexuals can become terrorists," she
murmured to herself softly, "I'll show them what happens when you take my
lover away from me." A grim little smile, "They have no idea yet what
they've done, but they're going to find out."
You loved me as a loser, but now you're
worried that I just might win,
You know the way to stop me,
but you don't have the discipline
How many nights I prayed for this,
to let my work begun?
First we take Manhattan,
Then we take Berlin.
Some nights later the news reader was reporting the news once again.
"A terrorist assault has destroyed a re-education center in New York,
freeing a number of dangerous criminals and political dissidents. If you
see any of these terrorist sympathizers it is your duty as citizens to
report them to the proper authorities."
A deep breath, "Today's danger level is Orange, repeat, Orange.
Remember, when the police ask you questions you must reply, or risk arrest.
Cooperation with the authorities is what all good citizens do, and if you
do not, you are a bad citizen...."
Decades later, the history books would make note of that day, and it
would become known as the date the second American Revolutionary War had
actually began. It would be a hard battle, and many lives would be lost,
but in time the constitution would be restored. Never again would the
rights of the citizens be put aside, and certain names would be remembered
Janice Lane died in a re-education facility, still refusing to name
any others or to confess to any crimes. Suzanne James died in the attack on
Washington, DC, when Bush made his final stand in the White House along
with his loyalists. They, and all of the others that fell in battle, would
Author's Notes: the title song First we Take Manhattan is by Leonard Cohen,
and the name Suzanne is also from one of his songs. The verses in this
story aren't all in the correct order, but I thought that they worked
better for my story this way.
While I'm not too anti-American, I really don't like what I've been
hearing from the US government and from many of it's politicians. Now, I
don't really see America becoming like what I've written about, but I do
think it's a direction that they could be going in. And before you think
all of this is pure fantasy, note that the US government has held people
without trial or representation for months at a time in the war on terror,
often citizens from countries that are supposedly their own allies. Racial
profiling is being used to identify possible terrorists, and even having
certain names can get you in trouble. Even if you were born and raised in
Sorry, I didn't mean to go off on a rant. Read some of Michael
Moore's books, they can be quite enlightening. Watch some international
news stations, including the BBC and CBC networks. And for a historical
view, try to track down 'Rogue State' a book on American dirty dealings for
the past thirty or so years.