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50/50 Exercise #9: Resistance

When I am 18, I will go up on the surface to fight beside my brothers. My mother says that she needs me too much to let me go sooner. She says that she cannot tend the plot of hydroponics beds by herself. Every day she tells me what a good worker I am. She wants me to believe that she could not produce our quota without my help.

I know what she is afraid of. She knows that most of our people who go out there never come back down below.

I cannot wait until I am 18, so I fight in the ways that I have found to fight. It is not much. But I have read about the ancient wars, when our people lived on the surface, when humans fought against other humans over resources and beliefs and economic systems. Sometimes one faction was so much stronger than another that the only option for the weaker faction was to hide, to break things. I have read that even women and children kept as slaves could steal power in tiny portions.

I want to be like those weak humans who gathered together many little victories. I try to remember that sometimes our ancestors won impossible wars that way.

Yesterday, when I was carrying water from the pump to our plot, I came upon an unattended vehicle loaded with jugs of chemicals. I knew that the foremen account for every bottle. I have seen them looking carefully over the paperwork when they bring us nutrients for the beds. Once I saw them beating the boy who unloads the truck when they thought that the count was wrong.

I knew I would not get away with stealing any chemicals. Where would I hide them? There is nowhere that the foremen are not allowed to go. Two or three times a week, they search the room that my mother and I share with 10 other women.

So when I found the vehicle unattended, I took out the nail that I keep inside the hem of the right leg of my pants. I got down on my knees, and I pressed the point of the nail against the base of the little stick where they put air in the tire. When I heard air hissing out, I pulled out the nail. I leaned close to the tire to make sure that the leak did not stop.

Then I put away the nail. I must be patient until my next battle.

Author’s note: The assignment was to write a story that emerges from consideration of the word “resistance.” My young freedom fighter is living on an Earth that’s fallen to alien invaders. (Is that obvious?)

3 comments to 50/50 Exercise #9: Resistance

  • Gayle Goddard

    You know, I did get that Earth had fallen in war to someone, but I did not get that the foreman was an alien invader. What did I miss that would have clued me in?

    This sentence caught my attention “even women and children kept as slaves could steal power in tiny portions.” It sounds very ‘resistance’ but the whole thought of stealing little portions of power as the only way to flex muscles when you are a slave – brillant turn of phrase.

    I wrote the comments on #12 first, so I say there you are becoming a fantasy/sci-fi writer, and this one plays in the same sandbox. Frankly I think you like being able to make up the entire environment instead of having to play by the current parameters of the planet. It gives you more material to imagine and create – it gives you more poetic license if all basic rules of the landscape are suspended. More playground for you. Great story set-up. Another book here I think. Man, you are good at this!

  • efg

    Thanks for this very thoughtful and generous comment!

    Actually, I imagine the foremen as humans collaborating in the enslavement of their fellows. That fact makes our heroine’s act of sabotage even smaller and more remote from the actual combat than if she were striking out at the invaders themselves (to emphasize that her resistance is the essence of power). Zat make sense?

    But I’m not sure whether it’s important to the story to know that the masters are aliens. What do you think?

  • Gayle, the cheerleader

    I’m thinking it doesn’t detract from the story that the alien invader idea is not crystal clear. If it was any more obscure, I would have felt the lack of info was distracting, but there was enough to establish an “Us” and “Them”. That was all that was needed to play out a short story on the concept of Resistance.

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