Conflic t S to ry Ste p hanie F uen te s I r a n a nd I r a n

Conflic t S to ry Ste p hanie F uen te s

I r a n a nd I r a n. A w ay fr o m th e in tr u ders . A w ay fr o m m y h om e. A w ay fr o m e ve ry o ne I
eve r k n ew . T he r o cky te rra in o f th e o nce b eautif u l M ou nt E ve re st m ade m y b re a th ja gged, m y
heart b eatin g fa st a s I r a n u p a nd u p. It w as a fo olis h th in g to d o, b ut I h ad n o c h oic e . T he
in tr u ders w ere c o m in g a fte r m e a nd w ou ld n’t r e st u ntil th ey h ad m e e it h er d ead o r a liv e . T hey
were c o m in g, a nd I o nly h a d a m atte r o f d ays.
When m y p are nts w ere s till a liv e , th ey h ad to ld m e th at if I e ve r n eeded h elp o r I w as ju st
se ekin g a p la ce to h id e, th ere w as a s e cre t p la ce a ro u nd th e b otto m o f M ount E ve re st th at h eld
se cre t u nderg ro und r o om s. I n eve r k n ew w hy th ey h ad to ld m e th is u ntil y e ste rd a y. W hen m y
pare nts d ie d in a n e xp lo sio n a t w ork , th e la bs w here th ey w ork e d w ere d estr o ye d. In th e la bs,
my p are nts h ad b een w ork in g o n m any in tr ic a te p la ns w it h c o w ork e rs o n h ow to b egin th e
Rebellio n fo r N ew H ope, a ka R .N .H , w ho se m is sio n w as to o ve rth ro w th e S ocie ty . A t fir s t, w hen
I r e aliz e d m y p are nts w ere d e ad, I w as s ca re d . I w asn ‘t s a d, k n ow in g lik e e ve ry o th er k id w ho
had a p are nt in th e r e bellio n th at t h is w as g oin g to h appen. I d id n’t k n ow a nyo ne in th e
neig hborh ood o r in th e to w n th at I c o uld tu rn to fo r h elp . I h ad h ad a c h ild hood is o la te d fr o m th e
re st o f th e c h ild re n in m y to w n, m y d a d tu to rin g m e a nd g oin g to w ork a t n ig ht, w hile m y m om
went to w ork in th e m orn in g a nd th e a fte rn oon. N ow th at I w as th ir te en, I w as g oin g to s ta rt
eig hth g ra de in th e fa ll. B ut th e m orn in g a fte r th e e xp lo sio n, I d id n’t e ve n c o nsid er fin is h in g m y
educa tio n. I w as o nly tr y in g to s a ve m yse lf .
I s ta ye d a t h om e t h e n ig ht m y p are nts d ie d. M y d ad to ld m e th at h e h ad to g o in to w ork
th re e h ours b efo re m y m om c a m e h om e, s o I w as le ft a lo ne. W hile I w as r e a din g o n m y a ncie nt
Kin dle P aperw hit e , I h eard a b oo m . A t fir s t, I th ought it w as th e s o und o f o ur fa m ily r o bot
malf u nctio nin g a nd b um pin g in to o ur c o ffe e ta ble . B ut w hen I g ot to m y liv in g r o o m , I r e aliz e d
th at th e b oom h ad c o m e fr o m o uts id e, s in ce o ur r o b ot w as q uie tly a rra ngin g th e b ooks in o ur
fa m ily lib ra ry b y c o lo r. I lo oke d o uts id e th e w in dow a nd s a w o ra n ge fla m es fr o m a d is ta nce . T he
fla m es a dva nce d o n th e b uild in g, t h e f ir e r a p id ly e atin g th e b uild in g. T he fir e w as a m onste r, it s
re d a nd y e llo w fla m es lic kin g th e b uil d in g . F ir e tr u cks c a m e q uic kly a nd d im in is h ed th e r e d h ot
fla m es b ut th e d am age w as d o ne. I h a d a n im media te th ought th at th e b uild in g w as w here m y
pare nts w ork e d. W hen th ey d id n’t c o m e h om e th at n ig ht, I w as s u re .
I s ta ye d u p la te th at n ig h t, p ackin g o nly fo od in m y b ackp ack. I w as c e rta in th at in tr u ders
would tr y to c o m e a nd c a ptu re m e o n ce th ey fo und o ut th at I w as a c h ild in th e r e bellio n.
In tr u ders m eanin g a gents fr o m T he S ocie ty . T he S ocie ty h ad h eadquarte rs in e ve ry to w n, s ta te ,
cit y , a nd c o untr y in th e w orld . T hey a ls o h ad h eadquarte rs o n th e m oo n a nd M ars , e ve n th ough
popula tio n in th ose tw o p la nets o nly e q ualle d to tw o h undre d a nd e ig hty th re e p eople . I lo oke d
in m y p are nts d ra w ers , a nd fo un d n ote s a fte r n ote s th at I k n ew th e in tr u ders w ould b e m ore
th an h appy to fin d. I to ok th em w it h m e, s tu ffin g th em in a s e cre t c o m pa rtm en t in m y b ackp ack.
That m orn in g, I r a n u p a n d u p o n th e m ounta in . N eedin g a ir , I r e ste d o nce in a w hile . M y
heate d b la ck p ants a nd s h ir t k e p t m e w arm , b eca use th ey a dju ste d to w hate ve r te m pera tu re it
was. If it w as c o ld , m y c lo th es w ou ld k e ep m e w arm a nd if it w as w arm , m y c lo th es w ould c o ol
me d ow n. E ve n th ough th e s e cre t p la ce th at I w as h eadin g to w as a t th e b otto m o f M ount
Eve re st, it w as n ot th at c lo se .
Soon, I r e ach ed a s la b o f h ard r o ck th at d id n ot lo ok c o nnecte d to th e m ou nta in . I
pante d, w ip in g s w eat fr o m m y b ro w a fte r a ll m y r u n nin g. I to uch ed it a nd im m edia te ly r e co ile d
sin ce it w as fr e ezin g. I to u ch ed t h e r o ck a gain , a nd th en m y fin gers b eca m e n um b. M y fin gers
now b ein g n um b, I to uch ed th e r o ck w it h n o p ro b le m a t a ll a nd m ove d it o pen. I s lid in a nd th e
door s la m med s h ut w it h a b oom . I t w as d ark , th e o nly s o urc e o f lig ht b ein g a s m all g as lig ht o n a
sm all w ooden ta ble . I g asp e d in d elig ht, h avin g n eve r s e en w ood. I to uch ed it , th e r o ugh s u rfa ce

ca ptiv a tin g m e, a nd m akin g a tin gli n g fe elin g s p re a d th ro u ghout m y h ands. M y h ands th at w ere
num b w ere n ow w arm a g ain .
I lo oke d a ro und in a w e, th e b o oks th at w ere a ll a ro u nd e nch antin g m e. I r e a ch ed o ut a nd
pic ke d o ut a b ook, m y fin ge rs b ru sh in g o ve r th e d usty s p in e. I w as a bout to s it b ack d ow n w it h
th is b ook w hen I h eard a c o ld v o ic e . I tu rn e d a nd w as s u ddenly s ta rin g a t th e ic y b lu e e ye s o f a
fa m ilia r fa ir -h air e d la dy. I d ro ppe d th e b ook, s ta rtle d, a nd w as g oin g to r u n w hen I h eard , ” G iv e
me th e b ook.” H er p ale p in k lip s m ove d fa st a nd I a lm ost th ought s h e w as n ot ta lk in g.
“G iv e m e th e b ook!” s h e r e p eate d m ore s lo w ly . I lo oke d d ow n a t th e b ook a nd s a w th at I
had p ic ke d o ut ” T he B ook o n th e R eb elli o n: E ve ry th in g y o u N eed to K no w “.
“I h ope y o u’r e n ot d eaf! I s a id g iv e m e th e b ook!” s h e s a id in a d rip pin g c o ld v o ic e . ” In
ca se y o u d on’t k n ow , I w ork fo r t h e S ocie ty . If y o u a re a lo ya l c it iz e n, g iv e m e th e b ook. If n ot,
well, I a m a fr a id to day w ill b e y o ur la st d a y. W hat d o y o u c h oose ?!” I ju st s ta re d a t h er in
defia nce , w illin g fo r h er to r e co gniz e m e.
“I’m n ot g oin g to g iv e y o u th is b oo k! W hat h as th e S ocie ty e ve r d one fo r u s c it iz e ns to
make u s lo ve th em ?! O f c o urs e , o h! I fo rg ot! W heneve r w e s a y s o m eth in g to c o ntr a dic t th e
Socie ty , a n a gent c o m es a nd ta ke s th em a w ay a nd w e n eve r s e e th em a gain ! A nd o h! O f
co urs e I lo ve th e S ocie ty b eca use e ve ry y e ar, y o u ta ke a w ay te n s ix y e ar o ld s to d o
exp erim ents o n th em ! M y y o unge r b ro th er w as o ne o f th em a nd n ow y o u e xp ect m e to a gre e
wit h y o u a nd lo ve y o u?! T he S ocie ty ‘s g oa l is to e xte rm in ate a ll th e p oor p eople a nd s ta y w it h
th e r ic h p eople ! G uess w hat? ! I h a te y o u!!” I s to od p antin g a fte r m y o utb urs t, s ta rin g a t h er,
willin g fo r h er to d o a nyth in g, a nyth in g a t a ll to s to p m e. H er c h eeks w ere flu sh ed in a nger a nd
her lip s w ere p urs e d in a t ig ht s m ile .
“A ll r ig ht. T hat’s h ow it is . G oodn ig ht a nd s w eet d re a m s!” T he n ext th in g I k n ew , a k n if e
was h urle d a t m y s to m ach a n d b eca m e lo dged in o ne o f m y o rg a ns. I c o lla pse d o nto th e flo or
beca use o f th e p ain , b lo o d s e ep in g o u t o f m y w ound a nd s ta in in g m y c lo th es a nd th e flo or. M y
bre ath s b eca m e m ore la b ore d a s I s tr u ggle d to s a y o ne la st th in g.
“I’v e n eve r fo rg otte n y o u e ve n a fte r y o u tu rn e d to th eir s id e.” I w his p er. ” A nd I n eve r w ill. ”
My o ld er s is te r tu rn s, b ut th ere is n o p it y o r s o rro w in h er e ye s.
” G oodnig ht,” s h e s a ys. A nd th en, I c lo se m y e ye s fo r th e la st tim e.