The Crimson Angel by Jacob Fiott
I was a fool. We all were. Every last one of us. We were blinded by his sweet words, his charm and grace. He played us like a fiddle. He never did anything illegal. He never did anything that was considered immoral by the majority. No. He simply changed the laws and directed the morals of his vast number of followers. He made us trust him and want him. We voted for him. We let this happen. We were like the marionettes my dad used to collect. He used to create these intricate stories, lives, for each puppet in his collection. These stories always managed to intersect at some point or another, to meet and become one, so that eventually he had created an entire society of puppets. All living their own fictional lives, unaware of the strings restraining them, and yet, always being manipulated by him. That’s what we became. Puppets, dancing and prancing with every tug of the string. Our president elect was the puppetmaster. We elected the devil.
I remember the time of the campaigns leading up to the election. He had made sure that his smug face, with his red hair and beard, and his moustache finely trimmed, was on every single newspaper. Always with that innocent smile. We did not know of the demons roaring within him until it was too late. He organized charity events every two weeks. Twice weekly he brought food and supplies to the homeless and volunteered a couple of hours at St. Anna’s Shelter For The Needy. Of course, this was oftentimes done with a camera conveniently situated nearby, of course. He quickly became known to the general public as the ‘Crimson Angel’. We were living in an economic slump and crime rates were rising, so he used that to his advantage. He proposed increased subsidies for patients unable to pay their fees. He petitioned for the creation of multiple rehabilitation programs for criminals to supposedly lead them back onto the right path. He proposed systems to improve the level of education. These systems, or so he said, were also meant to help the country become more civilized and decrease the crime on the streets by teaching what he called “Ethical Intelligence”. Basically, these systems were to enhance educational performance, and supposedly train the young children on how to be ethical.
Heh. Ethical. I wonder if that word will ever mean anything again. The proposals mentioned previously are but a few of the things he stated that he intended to do. He made himself look like a step ahead of a saint. Election day came, and so did his landslide victory. The Crimson Angel, being the best liar out of all the candidates, completely annihilated their chances. . He won, and the devil dug his claws. It did not take long before we saw his true colours. For the first two years of his term he implemented his proposals. We were quite surprised. Here was a president who actually did all that he had said he would do. That was unexpected. All seemed to be going great, until he started stating his terms and conditions. He eventually made it so that only people who had been living here for ten years could benefit from the subsidies. It seemed a little extreme. As usual, he used his charm to tip the people in his favour, saying that by doing so, more money would be circulating in the hands of the people since those not planning on living here permanently would not get them. It made a slight bit of sense, I suppose, butten years? Couldn’t it be five or six? Ethical Intelligence gradually replaced religious teaching to the point where it was almost impossible for people to even choose to learn religious knowledge. That’s when some people started to stir. They saw it as an infringement on the right to choose one’s faith, but I guess the majority weren’t the religious type. “Wit and muscle are what turns the wheel of the economy.” was his response. He stated that his aim was to better peoples’ way of life, and education should be aimed at that, not religiosity. That’s what churches are there for, he said. Eventually he proposed a means to tackle the crime rates head on, as the rehabilitation systems were not giving the desired results. He said he wanted to be radical, to be tough on crime. “A good offense is the best defence, but a deterrent is better than both.” the Crimson Angel proclaimed. He proposed the creation of a task force called Thunder 25 to help the police force with the rougher and tougher criminals. Obviously, most people agreed to that. Scratch that, everyone agreed to that. Less danger for the police and a more specialized force sweeping the streets. Who wouldn’t want that? If only we knew what the task force was really for. All that devil ever wanted was power. Just goes to show. Give a man the power of God, and watch him become the devil himself.
Thunder 25 began operating, and state-sanctioned thugs began walking the streets. The rehabilitation programs were serving as recruitment methods for the new “task force”. Thieves and murderers, unrelenting criminals, became the ones to enforce the law. They seemed to carry out their duties with the innocent civilians more than they did with the wrongdoers. Any unrest was met with a squad of 25s swooping in. Censorship came back into full swing. Speak against the Crimson Angel, and you could be sure that Thunder 25 was watching you. People who possessed such opinions were swiftly dealt with. Some were fined, most were locked up. Ethical Intelligence bared its fangs of indoctrination. School children were being brainwashed into subservience, into acceptance of this tyranny. Adults were threatened into submission. One’s own family is often a good enough leverage. Any time people tried to rise against him, the “dissenters” were crushed under the combined forces of the army and Thunder 25.
Now, you might say, why didn’t the army rise against him? Surely it could have the means to stop him. That’s the thing. He reworked the army from the inside out. Generals who opposed his views were demoted and soldiers were laid off. Those within his close circle of associates were given the positions that allowed him to control the army by proxy. Foreign countries never really did anything to help. Some foreign governments spoke in favour of the people, but never tried to truly help us. For them, to go against the Crimson Angel meant putting certain beneficial trade deals in jeopardy. If anything, through their actions, they supported him. Multiple groups sprung up to offer resistance to this regime, but without the army’s support, very little could be done. Almost all such groups were either liquidated or forced underground.
I joined one of these groups. We offer resistance using Force when necessary, but we also try to build Bridges and connections with foreign organisations, trying to gain some support for our cause. After infiltrating a prison to break out certain hostages through an underground tunnel network, we started being called The Tunnellers. I was inspired to join by my son, you know. He was always a fighter that one. He used to get into quite a lot of trouble in school because he always had to speak up when he felt he was wronged. That’s how he died. He spoke up because he, and countless others, were wronged. Around five hundred thousand protesters joined forces during the earlier days of the regime in order to oppose the Crimson Angel. They held signs and placards with slogans of all kind, all five hundred thousand of them chanting in unison “We shall not be crushed! We shall not be silenced! We shall not be crushed! We shall not be silenced!” over, and over, and over. They made their way to the presidential tower, demanding amendments. Demanding freedom. Thunder 25 was called in. A fully trained, fully equipped army of thugs with rifles surrounded a group of people holding sticks and cardboard. They would not be silenced. They stood their ground despite the threats, the intimidation. “We shall not be crushed! We shall not be silenced!” Thunder 25 surged forward. “We shall not be crushed!” Thunder 25 started to push and beat the protesters. Some of them even fired their guns to try and scare them. One of the 25s grabbed a woman by the hair and dragged her behind him. She was screaming, her face a mixture of pain and rage. My son went to try and help her. My boy. They told him to back off, pushed him, threatened him. One of them even aimed his gun at him and told him to walk away. My boy wouldn’t move. They said he threatened them. They killed my boy! I was told that all he had said was “We shall not be silenced!” He was still a young boy, but he was so much more.
At first, I joined the Tunnellers as a way to get my revenge. They killed my boy, so I wanted their heads. I wanted blood! But now I’ve found a new purpose. My son’s legacy shall not be vengeance. It shall not be anger, or hate, or blood. Any of these would simply help all he fought against. No. His legacy shall be justice and freedom.