My story for the above photo prompt at Kreative Kue #309, hosted by Keith Channing…
by Dave Williams
The words were loud and unexpected in the city square. The words surprised me. Everyone else sitting at tables in the cafes seemed surprised, too. We looked around to find the source of the words.
“I repeat, get up and form a line on the south side of the square.”
A few people spotted him first. As they said, “Over there,” other people turned to see the speaker of those words.
A man in a gray suit and tie and fedora stood by the fountain at the square’s center. He held a microphone plugged into a speaker on the stone ground.
“We will begin inquires shortly,” the man said. “They will proceed more quickly if you are organized about it.”
Ridiculous. Because the man wore a suit and tie and fedora, we were supposed to follow his instructions? Must’ve been a prank or street theater — something like that. Around me, people muttered, asked each other what was going on.
“I haven’t made myself clear,” the man said. “This is not voluntary. A new government program has begun. We are questioning citizens to ensure only true patriots live in our beloved country. Anyone with anti-government views will be sent to a special school, where they can learn how to become true patriots.”
Even more ridiculous. This had to be fake. A film school student was completing an assignment. Any moment, the student director would appear next to guy holding a videocamera. All part of some strange art film.
Soldiers marched from the south entrance into the city square. I didn’t recognize their gray uniforms. They weren’t dressed like the soldiers I had seen on the news. Nor were they dressed like police officers I had seen. Their automatic rifles could’ve been movie props. I don’t know.
People buzzed around me, their repeated asking what was going on grew more worried, more frantic. Some people sounded panicked.
Men and women in gray suits entered the square from the north entrance. They carried desks and chairs, which they set down and arranged in a row.
The original man in the suit said, “Anyone who does not comply will be sent to the special school. They will be taught how to follow instructions and how to become a true patriot.”
A few people stood and walked to the south side of the square. That was all it took. More and more people got up from their chairs and joined them. Me among them. We formed a line, a quiet line, and watched the soldiers who watched us. We waited for the next instruction.
copyright © 2021 Dave Williams