Epilogue: The Revolution
Well you can bump and grind
It is good for your mind
Well you can twist and shout let it all hang out
But you won't fool the children of the revolution
No you won't fool the children of the revolution, no no no
December 30th 2019
5 days after the death of Sara Abraham Donahue
Sebastian Campbell stood at the ironing board in the attic of his family's house. He was ironing a big square piece of freezer paper onto a blank red t-shirt, imprinting a stencil of an Unhappy smiley. This would be his very own Unhappiness Factor t-shirt. The kits for making one had been handed out at a demonstration yesterday, which Sebastian and the other UPs had attended. There were many demonstrations and gatherings these days, all over the Holy Land.
Sebastian smiled silently as he ironed.
His parents were yelling at him.
"You can't go! Not another one! We won't let you; we won't allow this! Stop this nonsense!" "Sebastian, we didn't raise you to be a rebel; we brought you up to be patriotic, to support your Shepherd -" "The Unhappiness Factor is nothing but a bunch of terrorists, revolutionaries stirring up a bad mood in the population, don't you see that? They'll be gone, they'll be dealt with; no one will remember them in a week. It's just a fad!" "And all just because that dumb, confused girl had to go and kill herself -"
Sebastian looked up from the t-shirt, staring with wide, wild eyes that silenced his parents. They shrunk slightly away from him. The attic was suddenly silent.
Then, he bellowed: "Sara was NOT – 'confused'! She was NOT 'dumb'! If you say another disrespectful word about Sara and her death, so help me God I will throw this at you!" He held up the iron. He kept staring intently at his parents.
The middle-aged married couple stood frozen for a moment, then slowly retreated from their son. They walked backwards, down the creaky stairs. Before she disappeared from view, Sebastian's mother looked up at her son with wide, tearful eyes. She murmured: "Goodbye, Sebastian."
Then she followed her husband down both flights of stairs to the first floor, into the living room, where the TV was blaring Holy Channel propaganda. The speaker's voice echoed through the house. 'The government wishes to repeat that the situation is under control – stay at home until these crises are resolved – demonstrations and riots will be broken up wherever they arise; sabotage and vandalism will be severely punished. The government wishes to repeat that this is not a state of civil war; this is not a state of revolution – stay at home until…'
Sebastian had finished ironing the stencil onto the t-shirt. He let it rest on the board, next to the other t-shirt he had made. A women's shirt. For her. She would come here soon; she had called him this morning from a payphone to tell him that she'd gotten out.
He went downstairs into his bedroom on the second floor. He turned the radio on, tuning it into the illegal station, the Unhappiness Factor station: '… rough estimates show that over 75 of the population are now against the Shepherd … awareness of … risen dramatically …the memorial service for Sara Abraham Donahue was … repeat that today's major demonstrations will be held in the following cities …says that it's 'the end of a year, the end of a decade, the end of an era of totalitarianism - and a new beginning for this country …'
As Sebastian listened to the news, rumours and speeches filtered through the white noise, he squatted on the floor in front of a rectangular length of canvas. Long, thin planks were attached at either end for two persons to hold the banner up. He had found some red paint in the cellar, and he was now painting big, easily readable letters onto the rough fabric.
He stopped for a moment to smile at the thought that, just a month ago, he had helped make a banner that merely read 'MERRY CHRISTMAS!'
The phone rang.
Sebastian rushed up to the small device on his bedside table, which he had removed from the living room and plugged in in his own room, ignoring his parents' protests.
"It's Sebastian, hello?"
"Sebastian, why the hell aren't you here?!" Neil shouted to be heard over the surging, roaring crowd in the background. He was already at the demonstration. "It's crazy! The turn-out is crazy! This has got to be the biggest one yet! The Shepherd can't ignore us anymore! I mean, fuck, we're right in front of the White House! And all the Unhappy People are here – Andrea, Joyce, Father Ferris, Mr Wellor … Even Dale decided to show up; he seems to have finally realized what a crock of shit the Program was! So come join the fun, for fuck's sake!"
"I will, I will," Sebastian said with a laugh. "I'm just … waiting for her. She said she'd come here first. I've made t-shirts for us and a banner."
"Okay, sounds good," Neil shouted from the demonstration. "Just hurry the fuck up! The police aren't even spraying us with fire hoses or, or throwing tear gas, like those times before – I think they're the ones afraid of us now!"
"Great! That's, that's so great! I'll be there as soon as -"
The doorbell rang.
"- she's here." Sebastian slammed the receiver down and ran out of his room, down the stairs to the front door. He ripped it open.
"Hey," Susan said with a tired, but pleased smile. She wore a formless, black uniform, almost like a big garbage sack, torn and ripped at the seams here and there – probably the Natural Sexuality Development camp uniform. Her face was slightly dirty, bruised and scraped. Her hair was one big red, matted mess. She leaned against the door frame. As Sebastian stepped aside, she limped into the entrance hall.
"I'm … I'm just so glad to see you again," Sebastian said as he closed the door. "I was so worried, and I felt so … so guilty, in a way."
"It's okay," Susan said as she slumped down on a step on the staircase up to the second floor. She forced another tired smile. "What you said … what you told the hosts was just … to save Sara. They had to take me away; that couldn't be prevented. But you saved Sara. It's okay, Sebastian."
He nodded, smiling in gratitude and relief.
The door to the living room opened a crack, and Sebastian's parents peered out. "Sebastian, who is – oh." Sebastian's mother spat out the 'oh' as though she'd tasted something nasty as she stared at the girl sitting on the stairs. Sebastian's father frowned in disgust.
"You're not letting her into the house, are you?" he said as though referring to a stray, filthy cat.
His wife struggled to form sentences: "She's a – she's a – we saw it when they revealed it on TV – she's one of those …"
"Just shut up," Sebastian said in a low monotone, glowering at his parents. "She's my friend. She's a human being just like you two, and in my opinion a better one. So just shut up and leave us alone. We'll both be going to the demonstration in a minute, anyway."
Sebastian's father slammed the door. There were heavy steps, then the sounds of two bodies slumping back into the couch. Then, the TV volume was cranked up high.
"Come on," Sebastian said as he led the way up the stairs to his room. "I've got some clothes you can wear instead of that."
Susan looked down at the black, shapeless uniform as though she'd completely forgotten it. "Oh, right. Yeah, they wanted to keep our bodies covered up so we couldn't … you know, see each other. Be attracted to each other."
"Do you wanna talk about it?" Sebastian asked as he opened his closet and fished out a pair of slightly baggy jeans that could pass for unisex.
"Not really," Susan said as she took the folded pair of jeans.
Sebastian caught a pained expression slipping across the girl's face as she remembered. He looked down at the floor. Then: "Come on, I made Unhappiness Factor t-shirts for us."
He led the way up the stairs to the attic and handed her the women's tee, then put on his own while facing away from her. He heard her discard the sack-like uniform and pull the baggy pants on, then the t-shirt. As they dressed, they kept talking: "So what was it like when the Unhappiness Factor attacked the place and released all the inmates? Weren't you scared?"
"Oh yeah, I was scared shitless," Susan said with a dry laugh. "I just ran. We all ran. We ran through the country, hiding from the Shepherd Soldiers, staying at some sympathizers' places, and we just saw … what was going on. What had been going on while we had been in there. We were shocked, shocked and … thrilled. The riots, the demonstrations, the talk of a revolution. You can turn around now."
Sebastian turned around to see that the t-shirt fit Susan perfectly. "Looks great on you," she told him.
"Thanks, yours does too. I mean, it looks great on you, not on me."
"Uh, right. So … let's go."
The two teenagers walked down the stairs and picked the banner up gingerly from the floor in Sebastian's room. "Oh, we're lucky the paint dried so fast," Sebastian said with a grin. "I'd say we're all set."
They rolled the banner up and carried it horizontally down the stairs to the entrance hall. Sebastian put his shoes on hurriedly.
"So I guess this is all for Sara," Susan said, standing at the front door, peering out through the small panes of tinted glass in it. A marching, roaring din could be heard from the street outside. Faintly, Susan could make out the crowds of demonstrators flooding through the street, on their way down to the White House. They formed a loose, but determined procession.
"Huh?" Sebastian said, looking up from his shoes.
"This … revolution," Susan said. "It's all for Sara, isn't it? She … she started it. When everyone saw it on TV, all around the nation - what she had done. I dunno if she was expecting something like this to happen, but … she caused it."
"Yeah, I guess you're right." Sebastian stood behind her. He took one of the planks to hold the banner up. She was clutching the other. His hand rested on the doorhandle. The crowds outside were roaring, as though imploring the two of them to come out, to join them.
"We both loved her," Susan said quietly.
"Yes. We did."
She looked up at him. "Friends?"
"Of course." Sebastian smiled, almost laughed; the idea of the two of them not being friends was absurd – after all they'd been through – after all they'd shared and would share for the rest of their lives. The memories, the hopes for the future. "Friends."
She smiled and took his hand in hers.
He opened the door.
They burst onto the street and joined the procession, holding their banner up high, screaming the slogans of the crowd at the top of their lungs, getting into the rhythm.
They felt good.
They felt happy.
E.P.O: That's it. The end. And this author's note is our final message to you guys, our wonderful, wonderful readers who have stuck with us despite the … somewhat shaky update rate. Seriously, thank you for all the reviews and encouragement and support. Thank you all so much for following us throughout the… very long, strange, sad and funny experience this has been. Thank you!
Alex: Wow, well that was that. If you've made it this far, then a huge thanks to you and i just hope you had as much fun reading this as we did writing it. We've been working on this for what feels like forever (in a good way) so it's going to be a little weird not sitting down to bang out the odd paragraph now and again. That said, this isn't IT. After a little tinkering, we're hoping to try and turn this into a real live book so maybe we'll see each other again one day.
-E.P.O. and Alex,