Flames of Rebellion
“Hey, Grant, let’s go, man.” Tomas Lopez spoke angrily, his face twisted into a scowl. He held a heavy bar of steel in one hand, and the other was raised above his head, curled into a defiant fist. He stared at Jamie Grant for a few seconds, as though he expected his fellow prisoner to leap up and rush to his side. But Jamie just stood next to the exposed rock wall and looked back.
“C’mon, Grant!” Lopez repeated. “It’s time. We’re shuttin’ down this whole damned mine this time. Ain’t nuthin’ gonna stop us. They won’t have no choice. They’ll have to listen to us when the ore stops flowin’!” Lopez stood about two meters away from his workmate, his grimy coveralls almost black from the ore dust that hung in the very air of the mine. There was rage in his face, and it seemed to radiate all around him.
There was activity everywhere in the massive cavern, and more angry yells. Dozens of mine workers, hundreds perhaps, were streaming away from their workplaces. They almost acted as one, grabbing tools, metal bars, anything that looked remotely like a weapon. They were shouting, a riotous cacophony of rebel slogans along with more generic cries and screams. The sound reverberated off the low ceilings of the tunnel, and Jamie could barely hear his friend’s words over the din.
“Not me, Tomas.” Jamie’s voice was grim, somber. He looked around the mine, feeling a wave of surprise at how many seemed to be joining the instigators. There had been work stoppages before, and a few outright riots, but this looked like something bigger, more dangerous. He felt the urge, just as his comrades did, to strike back against the federals, against the system that had stolen so much of his life. Against the guards who too often took sadistic delight in their work. But he couldn’t. He wouldn’t. There was something more important to him, and he struggled to stay focused on that.
“I’m staying right here,” he said finally. He wanted to go; every fiber in his body was twitching to join the riot. But he fought back against the urge. “I’ve been here twelve years, Tomas. Twelve years. I shoulda been outta here two years already. I can’t afford more trouble.”
Jamie had seen his share of disciplinary actions for sure. He’d been fifteen years old the day he was arrested for the third time. He’d gotten off twice before that with a flogging and a reduction in public assistance, but he’d only stolen food those times. The last time he’d taken money . . . and he’d used it to buy a hit of Blast. It hadn’t been for him, but for his mother. But that hadn’t made any difference.
Alicia Grant was a good-natured woman who’d become addicted to the drug when she’d been issued a month’s supply to deal with her grief after Jamie’s father was killed. Harold Grant had been shot when the federal police cracked down on a street rising. He’d lived for almost two hours, lying bleeding on the pavement, but by the time the authorities got around to the wounded rioters, it was too late.