I had weighed up the consequences long before I had carried the idea to fruition. I had plenty of models to base my analysis on. They say history repeats, and history said that my plan, if successful (never mind if it wasn’t, that was a whole other barrel of not much fun), could do one of several things. Most of these things were pretty unpleasant for everyone; myself, my friends and family, the country at large. Hell, one such plan in the past had lead, so the books tell us, to a very nasty war.
I had set it all out in detail and gone through every possible scenario. I had planned the timing to coincide with the right events in world and local politics to bring about my desired result. I had picked the perfect place, with the perfect witnesses. I had been working on this for months. I had seen the events unfold a hundred times in a hundred ways in my head.
Yet there I was, with a thin flint blade in my hand and blood on my shoes and not a single thought in my head except “I just took a life.”
I hated that life. Thousands of people hated that life. That one person who was responsible for so much pain, fear and death.
People had died of cold and starvation while this person gurgling blood at my feet had dined on foie gras and caviare in luxury and warmth. People had taken their own lives out of fear of what this one, groaning person would have them put through.
This was not a path I had chosen lightly. I knew what I was doing, you understand. At least I had thought I had known. It wasn’t until the warm blood was oozing through my shoes like a Biblical flood that I realised I had not been prepared.
I watched his face turn white as he grasped first the hole in his throat and then my arm. I had meant it to be a quicker death. As much as I hated the man, I wanted to keep myself above his malicious deeds; I hated him but I was not doing this out of hate. The hate only made it easier.
This course of action was not one of selfish vengeance. I lived across the border; this man and his peers had little influence on my life, truth be told. He had great influence on thousands of other lives though. Power and influence, and he abused both to the detriment of more people than history will remember.
History won’t remember them because no one will care enough to record their pain, to mark their passing, to find the reasons for their loss. I had taken this action for them and for those who would have come after them.
Of course he wasn’t the only problem. This snake had many heads, but his was the biggest. His was the leader. With him out of the picture, things would change. For better or for worse? Well, that was my problem; I could not know.
None of this mattered to me while I stood there. It didn’t matter who he was or what he had done; I had just killed him. I was never very good at killing things. I carefully eased spiders out of the bath tub. I opened the window for trapped flies. I walked around ant trails and avoided stepping on snails.
My stomach turned as his eyes rolled back in his head. It wasn’t the blood. That was everywhere. It was all over his nice, expensive suit and my cheap one. It spread across the floor quicker than a liquid that viscous should. It dripped from my hands and landed on his pale cheek.
I’m told blood has a coppery smell to it that you never forget. I wouldn’t know. I don’t think I breathed for a full minute after I drove the knife in, and after that only through my mouth, almost by instinct, like when you walk into a public toilet that has metal walls and only cold taps.
It wasn’t the blood that made my thoughts stop. I had taken a life.
Something kicked in then, something that probably kicks in for all people who have suddenly found they cannot function, that they have done something so awful they cannot fathom how they can continue.
“Oh well, never mind that,” I didn’t really hear the words, but the sentiment ran through my mind. “We’ll deal with that later. Right now you have to run the Hell away.”
That had not been part of my plan, actually. I had planned to wait to be arrested, interrogated, to tell my story in the docks and to the papers. There was always a part of my mind that had worried that I would not be given that opportunity. A little bit of me was afraid that there would be a cover up. Hell, that it wouldn’t be blamed on the nice, polite, white girl with a degree, steady job and no out-of-wedlock children or links to activists, but on radical terrorists; probably ones with dark skin and a different holy book.
I had pushed that idea aside though. I WAS a nice, polite white girl with a degree, steady job and no out-of-wedlock children or links to activists; this would throw them for a loop. The idea of silencing me, especially as the world would be watching, would not occur to them. They would make the mistake of letting me talk to the world about my reasons.
With the knife in my hand and adrenaline in my blood, the fear factor kicked in and I suddenly realised I had been holding on to a very stupid belief; that the government would let an assassin talk to anyone. Enough peaceful protesters had been arrested without cause or warrant and been denied counsel, phone calls and even medical treatment. What the Hell made me think that I would be allowed access to anything resembling a lawyer?
How would I prove it was me, the white girl, that had done this, if I ran? I had to be quick if I was going to make a break for it. His secretary would be back any moment with the files he had asked her to find for this chat with his polite, meek constituent.
Pictures, of course!
“This is going to be grim,” that distant part of my head floated another sentiment at me. “You sure you can do this?”
I could do this. I had, after all, just taken his life. Surely I could take some pictures of his corpse?
I locked the door and jammed a chair under the handle. After wiping my hands as clean as I could I pulled out my phone. Snazzy thing. Excellent camera. I set it to film and got started.
I knew I could not give them a good view of my face so I filmed my mouth as I introduced myself. I explained who I had just killed and how I had smuggled in the flint knife, panning down to show his corpse, getting a close up of his face. It’s amazing what you can get through security tucked away in a bra if it’s not made of metal. Flint was good enough for our ancestors to kill mammoth with, it was definitely good enough to slice through a man’s throat.
I showed my blood stained hands and the flint knife to the camera while I explained why I had killed him, what he had done to his nation and people; the deprivation, the poverty he had caused with his cuts to social aid, to social housing and social health care. I listed a few names from the top of my head of people who had committed suicide because they could not afford to pay for food and shelter, because they were disabled and unable to provide for their family, because this man had taken everything from them but their choice to die. People who had died after being told they were healthy enough to work full time. People who had been made to work for free because companies had been given permission not to pay them. All in the name of boosting the economy.
I apologised to his family. Whatever he had done to his people he was still loved by someone, I supposed. I then accepted any consequences should I be caught.
I sat down at his desk to transfer the file to his computer. I couldn’t upload it straight to the internet from my phone; it and all my accounts were intrinsically linked to me. Later, if I got away, I would set up a new online identity from an internet cafe and upload it from there as well. Hit Twitter with it, Tumblr, throw some images on Instagram, email all the news sources, independent, corporate and corrupt alike.
While the file was transferring I opened the office window. We were four floors up, nestled away in a mess of sandstone architecture. The ground below was a small patch of grass running between two wings of the same building. The wall opposite was maybe four metres away. Windows below, above and either side of the one I was sticking my head out of were almost three metres away. I could not go across or over, but the ornate columns that ran the entire height of the building, either side of each line of windows, might allow me to go up or down.
Someone with any experience of parkour might have had more hope escaping without a broken leg. I, however, was not familiar with such practices. I was a reasonably good climber. I was without my shoes or chalk bag and covered in blood, but never mind. I really had little choice if I was going to attempt an escape.
Up or down was the question. Down was the obvious choice; get to the ground, make a run for it. To the left was another part of the building, but to the right was a gate. Locked, but if I could climb to the ground from the fourth floor then I could climb a locked metal gate. Then what? I would be on the streets of the capitol, covered in blood and being hunted.
Up? The roof was two more floors up. I had no idea what I would do once I was up there. Could I make it to another building? Could I hide out up there, at least until nightfall? Decisions, decisions.
The video had finished transferring. I opened it to make sure it had not been corrupted. The sound of my own voice made me cringe. Then I had a flash of inspiration. This asshole had a Twitter account. Twitter allowed direct video upload. I opened the browser, despairing at the fact he only had Internet Explorer.
I uploaded the video, tweeted it. Bam! The world would know.
Now I had to run. I could not press my luck any further; someone would see this very shortly and come straight here. The chair and lock would not hold for long. I took one brief moment to change the account’s password while I pulled off my heels and socks. My shoes I lobbed out of the window towards the gate, hoping they would create a false trail. My socks I tucked into my back pockets. I would need them later.
Finally I wiped my hands on the backs of my trouser-suit legs, pocketed my phone again and hopped out onto the window ledge, hoping that no one was looking this way.
I could see no one nearby, but the windows opposite were practically opaque to me. Oh well, I thought, not a lot I can do about it now, is there?
I reached out to the column to my left and planted my foot on the other side of it. My toes and fingers tingled with that “this is a dumb idea” feeling they got when I tried a route outside of my comfort zone on the climbing wall.
“Tough,” I said to them. They would just have to deal with it.
I pushed out, latching both hands onto the column, digging my fingers into the nook between the column and the wall. The columns were not made separately to the wall blocks, but were formed as one. There was not as much purchase as I hoped, but it would do.
Slowly, with my butt sticking out at a forty five degree angle, I inched my way up the column. Each time I threw one hand above the other I tested the grip, wriggling my fingers as if I could drill them into the sandstone. My feet practically wormed up the wall, like caterpillars they curled and uncurled to move forward.
With one last desperate lunge I caught the ledge of the next window. I hung for a moment, one leg providing purchase, the other acting as a counter balance. I was exhausted.
The sound of banging came from the open window below and, practically with conscious volition, my legs scrambled and my arms heaved. It was not the most graceful top off in history, but it did the job. I lay on the sill with my knees bents and arms tucked well away from the edge. I was looking up at the next ledge with despair; it seemed like a million miles away.
Could I do that two more times before anyone spotted me?
“There, shoes!” someone yelled from the window below.
“Can you see her?” another voice said, muffled by the walls.
“Shit, no. She can’t be far. We’ll get men out on the ground. Lock this place down.”
The window closed.
I was fucked. Well, I’d done what I had come here to do and I had never intended to get away in the first place. This escape was born of panic in the eleventh hour. I leaned back, letting out a sigh of acceptance.
There was no window pane behind me. Someone had left the window open! Roof or inside? They were not focusing on the people inside, well not yet, anyway. I rolled under the raised frame and landed, carefully, inside an office identical to the one I had fled from. I shut the window and locked it.
Now what? I was still covered in blood and had no shoes.
I searched through the desk draws. They contained nothing but office bits and bobs.
All right, breathe. To formulate my next move I needed to know what was happening outside.
It had been a vast ocean of information (not all of it accurate) during a variety of crises, from protests to bombings and natural disasters.
My timeline was a flurry of activity. There were people expressing amazement and horror, some claiming it must be some sort of sick publicity stunt. There were already condolences for his family, in a variety of languages. The original tweet had not yet been taken down and had been re-tweeted thousands of times.
There were also offers of solidarity, some tentatively saying they could see why someone had been pushed to murder our leader. Others, mostly from the Anonymous crowd, were outright celebrating, already discussing how the people could take advantage of this sudden change in the wind.
In true Twitter style, there were the sarcastic remarks on race and anti-terrorist rhetoric.
“Oh yeah, all that profiling of dusky skinned, turban wearing dudes worked well for the gov, didn’t it?”
It was already viral. The discussions were already kicking off on Twitter. That was a start, but Twitter was an echo chamber of like minded people.
I hit the mainstream news sites, left and right wing... and the laughable "unbiased" state funded corporation. Uproar from the right, tentative acknowledgement of his party's crimes from the left... and a government statement from the "unbiased" middle.
It was everywhere, even on foreign news sites; people were discussing what could have prompted an articulate white girl in a wealthy nation to assassinate the political leader.
I sat down at the desk and watched it all unfold. The panic that had pushed my escape had abated. I had accomplished my goal. The debate had begun. The words were flying. Change would happen. Good or bad; who knew? But it WAS change and that was something we had not seen, not really, for decades. Oh the faces of political leaders had changed. The colours of their suits had changed. Under that though, the same people and their friends had been in charge for far too long.
I hated that life. Thousands of people hated that life. That one person who was responsible for so much pain, fear and death.