Friday, April 22, 2011

4/365 Playlist Story -- inspired by Shut Up and Let Me Go by the Ting Tings

At three in the afternoon, local time, a text message was sent out. It was time. Feet confidently marched into the square with the statue of a long-forgotten revolutionary hero. Car horns honked, traffic stopped. The marchers silently formed ranks before departing down the main boulevard. More people kept joining in from side streets. People left their cars, doors ajar, to join. They emptied out of classrooms, and left their partly-filled carts in the grocery store. More came from offices. They left meetings mid-meeting, abrupt, silent.

Few of those who stood side-by-side had ever met before. A mother with a child in her arms marched next to a shoeless teenage boy who marched next to a professor of anthropology who marched next to a prostitute who marched next to a bank teller who marched next to a sweaty sanitation worker. Nor had the ever met the originator of the communications that brought them together.

By three-fifteen the procession had grown to over two hundred thousand individuals, marching in near perfect rythme towards the state party television station. It was currently broadcasting a rerun of a rigged singing competition episode. Without sound, without command, the ranks split and half peeled off towards a side-street. The forward half stopped and marched in place. Their shoes, boots, and feet percussed additively against the cement boulevard. There was a resonance accumulating. Other people peered out the windows of the tall downtown buildings. The wails of approaching police vehicles ricocheted in from a waning distance.

Five minutes later they started to move forward again. The police reached the outer edges and streamed out of vans and trucks kitted in full riot gear and live ammunition. A chief figure scream epitets at that marchers through a megaphone. They kept marching. The police released a stream of submachine gun fire into the air. They kept marching. Someone watching from a high-up window laughed. The police threw canisters of tear gas into the marchers. White smoke billowed up and blanketed them. A child screamed in pain, but there were no other voices. Tears streamed from their eyes and many bowed their heads, faltering only slightly out of step. They linked arms and marched onward.

The second column of marchers were less hindered by the police and reached the back of the TV station before the forward group. They fanned out their ranks, and surrounded the building. They locked arms, and pressed themselves, three people deep, in a wreath around the building. The police chief commanded his forces to run towards the station. One line kneeled a few yards away from the second column of marchers, clear plastic shields erect. Behind them the chief ordered a second line to fire rubber bullets at the linked marchers.

The hail of large pellets arced through the air, cut skin, bruised flesh, and broke bone. There were stifled screams, but no voices. No insults, no cries for revenge. Another layer of marchers added themselves to the wreath, then another, to hold up the injured. Sweat formed at the chief's temples and his eyebrow twitched uncontrollably.

The forward marchers reached the back side of the police position. They altered their straight course to weave through the police vehicles. One of the policemen yelled frantically at the chief. The chief issue more orders through his megaphone. A second, ragged line of shields and kneeling officers formed. The police aimed their shotguns at the marchers. The canyon between the buildings filled with a cacophony of ear-splitting cracks. The first line of marchers mostly fell. Blood ran in the boulevard. The second line rapidly moved up to fill the empty spaces. Each of the injured was attended by someone who dropped from the third line. More cracks. More fell. More blood. Still no voices save the hoarse commands shared between the policemen. More spaces were filled and more injured tended. The line of shields unconsciously started to inch backward, each man behind the shields looking to one another for some sort of explanation.

The chief commanded fire for both sides. More marchers fell. Their replacements remained impassive, robotic. The chief ordered the shield lines to expand out, but the marchers met them, and pressed against the shields as if they didn't recognize that they were there. The shields stained with bloody handprints. The marchers pushed through, and the police no longer knew where to point their guns. Some of the marchers broke ranks and swarmed the chief. He emptied his handgun into the pressing bodies but they kept coming. Anger ripped over his face, red and sweaty. Saliva spun out from his mouth as he screamed ferally. He hit and kicked but the marchers grabbed his arms and legs and hoisted him above their heads. They pulled in every direction until he passed out. Then they dropped him in the blood of the fallen marchers. The police officers scattered or slinked out of the boulevard. Some shed their uniforms as they ran.

The TV station was breached ten minutes later. Silence was broadcast.


The music video for this song

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