It's January 4th 2021, and I have been walking for six hours. When you're lost and waiting to be found, you're meant to stay in the same place and wait it out - so I figured when you don't want to be found, you may as well just walk.
My backpack has been rubbing on my shoulders and left blisters so deep the straps appear embedded in my skin, and I've adopted a coping method of pretending I'm a robot. The straps are my exposed mechanics and I am stomping through the city; numb from the cold, and the trauma. I'm flooded by memories of watching the news and seeing the House of Commons lit up in flames in the greatest statement of insurrection, and then seeing nothing but static. So I pretend I am static, robotic; I am programmed to walk, and walk I will. Step by step, passing through the revolution, a mechanical monstrosity.
Prime Minister Claire Olsen came into power six years ago and she certainly made her mark on the world. She brought independence to femininity, but a radical outlook was adopted; it had to be men or women, as if unity could never be an option. Women demanded nothing but respect since the first wave of feminism proclaimed its presence, and when they didn't receive it they entered and corrupted the government, and used their newfound power for oppression. Many men declared their revolt from jail cells and asylums; the others emerged from their homes with torches and blades. Initially, a state of emergency was announced and eventually, every British citizen was left with the climatic last words of Prime Minister Olsen ringing in their ears; "Every woman for herself."
Their vision was to create a nightmare so devastating and apocalyptic that the entire world would shudder at their power; every door has red paint splattered across it in proclamation of disorder, a woman's reminder that every boy she bears will lose a battle ahead of him. Ash and dust coat the pavement due to building after building being set alight and so my footsteps are soundless; golden, flaming embers drift through the air like snowflakes and are carried in one breath of the winter breeze. The rasp of flames crackling is overwhelmed by a woman's battle cry; "Give me one reason not to kill you!"
There's a scream. Gunshots. It echoes and rings for moments afterwards until there's nothing but the hiss of fire once again, and I feel as if I must check I'm really awake; but this is not a nightmare, and I wonder if I'm one of the few sane people alive in this country. I have nothing on me but a watch, jeans, a vest, and a backpack containing every necessity I could carry.
I wipe my brow and continue to walk; my legs are ready to let me fall but it's as if gravity couldn't hold me and, despite walking a mile plus a million, I just can't stop. The only reason I have to go on is the hope that at some point I will find my childhood home; I'll be able to see my parents for the first time in weeks, hear my mother's voice making soothing sounds and listen to my father's ridiculous ramblings, but phone lines are down, garages closed and pylons defective. Not a single soul wanders the streets but those who seem keen on a fight or ready to die, and I begin to wonder, why am I out then? I witnessed my young nephew being kicked out of school for being considered a risk factor when the poor boy couldn't harm a fly - one of the first policies implemented by the new government was that men needed accompaniment when out after sunset in order to prevent rape crime; preventing explotation through further explotation, fighting fire with fire. This belief that all men, yound and old, are risk factorss seems to have indoctrinated every gullible mind it could puncture, and all the people like me - who would rather focus how in God's name we can stop any beastly behaviour - we're caught in between. We don't fight for one side or another; we just don't fight, and yet we're considered the unruly ones.
"Fight for your Queen, your Prime Minister, your daughters, sisters, mothers. Fight for yourself. Fight for your country," women were urged day after day in the build-up to this massacre. I still wonder sometimes, weeks after a state of emergency was declared and all hope was lost, if it was the government that insisted on this or the media. Either way, any opportunity to fix this has passed; Ashton came into reign six years ago. The growing interest in a matriaarchal government began nine years ago, and that lead to this, here and now. Gold and red, fire and blood, are becoming the new colours of England and I wish I could only express to someone, anyone, how I don't want to fight anymore.
The fight for equality is a battle that will have no winner because every single person wants to be a winner. I've always thought we should challenge inequality; Claire Olsen came into order and for some time I was proud to see a woman taking charge of a previously patriarchal civilisation and making it a place of peace. But inevitably, she didn't want peace - she wanted payback, and here we are, fighting for equality. Anyone who decides what is best for you is not a peacemaker but a disruption. This is not challenging inequality.
This is raw and malicious animalism.
Claire Olsen stands, hands folded in front of her, towards the front of a stage centred at Hyde Park in Westminster. It's the last day of August and no one would expect that such a beautiful Indian summer would end in the depression and ilsolation that Olsen's reign carried. She had spent the previous fifteen minutes explaining how necessary she had one found her actions: how she thought she could try and fix the injustice that our society bred, how she desperately and desolately attempted to help women; how she never intended women to see men as beasts, or men to internalise every dirty look and wicked remark that flew their way become some awful men, the minority of men, behaved recklessly. She justified and rectified, admitted to making false promises and to causing the stigma against men that inevitably lead to a civil war, males against females. I could feel the rage boiling in the crowd of people surrounding me and wondered if I was going to suffocate as hopeless thoughts filled me.
"There was this one moment, in September, when my husband left me. It struck something within me, I suppose; I felt so depressed. I couldn't stop thinking that I'd been treated wrongly. That's when I realized what I was doing - that I had made so many people feel insignificant."
She paused and watched the audience for a short moment before visibly swallowing, closing her eyes, and then carrying on.
"My party had told men they were monsters so they wouldn't be monsters, instead making them lose all their dignity. I made every man in England, even my bloody brothers, hate me! I don't... I don't quite know what to tell you anymore," she said almost apologetically; perhaps ruefully. She didn't speak for a minute, as if evaluating every action and breath and life she took in the last six years. The national image of absurd ingenuity stood before a thousand of her citizens, watching some uproar against her, some for her, and all against one another. I was stood within thirty feet of this woman while she had a breakdown, while her people screamed their hatred uncontrollably, and nobody could do a thing. As she leaned against the podium in a moment of reflection, she wiped her eyes with the back of her hand like a child and stared past the crowd. She moved herself closer to the microphone, licked her lips, took a shaky breath that reverbed through the crowd and spoke her final, wearied words: "Every woman for herself."
In one swift move the crowd began to pulsate and push and pull recklessly, and I couldn't breathe as I lead my way out of the crowd by my shoulder; the it was just a rushed blur of bodies and blood,. I couldn't breathe. Suffocating amongst this mass of bodies, I hardly remember how I even survived. There was such pressure when the huge mass of people moved that many individuals were crushed, but the crowd was so immense, monstrous, that the dead were carried along with the living; in this crowd, it was of no importance if you dead or alive, because what on Earth were you to live for anymore?
Soon the crowd has dispersed and few people lingered with me. Bodies trampled in the hurry are carelessly strewn around Hyde Park and for one moment, I let myself have a short while of peace, the calm before the storm of barbarity that was certainly on its way.
Staring at the stage where I had only moments ago watched the corrupter of our country throw one final, collapsing needle in the haystack; by denouncing the government's very existence she was giving up the one thing barely holding this country together, and I allowed myself to have one final moment of peace. So I sat on the stage, lay back and watched the sunset. After half an hour, the orange and pinks that painted the sky and the silver that highlighted the edges of the clouds faded into darkness, and I slowly begin to allow the intrusive thoughts of what I should do next fill my mind.
'Perhaps everything won't go awry.' I had thought, and I desperately miss the innocence and naivety I had before England had choked on political poisons and disturbed ideologies. 'Maybe I could find my parents' home. Stay with them until this passes over.'
Quite clearly nothing worked out as I hoped it would, but you can't predict what's going to happen when all control is lost: when riots break out and you can see half the buildings lining the river Thames set alight in a resounding cry of support for the government's shutdown; I couldn't predict the loneliness and the repetitive inhumanity of the following months that were to come. I couldn't predict any of that, and so I sat, and I waited, and I watched the sunset.