I had been laying out a plan to get closer to them. I thought about being upfront, but they probably would have ignored me. I thought about stealing from them, although it would have been quite dumb since they still outnumbered me. The ‘opportunity’ arrived during a warm day towards the end of spring, one of those days that seem to come and go without anything special going on. We were all at one of the parks they had been hanging around for a few days. They were sitting on the grass, putting the tip of a lit cigarette on an anthill, while I kept my distance sitting against a tree, pretending to nap but watching them. After about an hour, when the sun had already set and people were rushing to get back home, I realized why they had chosen this particular spot.
Probably because I had followed them for so long, I knew what would happen the moment I saw someone else approach. See, this place was used for the local dealer who would switch spots every few days to avoid altercations with the authorities that could complicate business. It was common knowledge that the whole police department was aware of this and even received small kickbacks to look the other way. However, keeping up with appearances seemed like basic decency and a good marketing strategy. No one was bothered and they all got their cut.
This was bad.
Had I not known them better I would have thought that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. No. This meant confrontation. With a quick movement, the kids surrounded the dealer, who realized what was happening a second too late. Instantly, one of the kids immobilized him, grabbed his merchandise, and knocked him cold. A car came out of nowhere and they put him in it. Something was off; they were organized; this was planned; and I was completely out of place. As I started to walk away, everything went black.
It was either nighttime when I regained consciousness or I was underground. The pain in the back of my head made my vision blurry, and I nearly pass out again when I tried to get up. There was a glass of water and some stale bread in the corner of the room. I was so thirsty I just drank gulp after gulp. No need to poison me after being knocked out and carefully placed here.
It was a damp room of two square meters. There was nothing other than a filthy mattress and lots of writing on the walls. As my eyes adjusted to the room, I saw a door. Slowly, I approached it and tried to listen to the noises on the other side. As I couldn’t hear anything, I turned the doorknob slowly and found myself in an old kitchen of what looked like a factory.
I heard the footsteps a minute too late and suddenly there were voices and laughter. Surrounded, I just stood there, defiant.
“Well, well, well… look who’s finally up and running?” said one of the kids I’d been following around. “Nice to finally meet you.”
“Quit it,” said the first kid. “My name is James. This is Isabella and Mica. I think you know us already.”
“Hi…” I replied. “I´m Ti…”
“No! Not your real name. We know who you are but no one else may know.”
“Tina,” I added quickly. It was the first thing that came to mind. “Where are we? Why are you holding me here?”
“Ha! Following us for weeks and now we’re holding her? Shameless!” – interjected the girl named Mica.
“We are not and do not wish to hold you here,” said James. “If you stay, you stay on your own free will. We just thought you needed friends and you seem like a good fit for the cause. Small and unnoticeable but daring. A little inexperienced, but we can teach you.”
“Teach me what? What cause? Who are you?” – The questions blurted out of my mouth in anger. What do you want to teach me? How to trick a low life to steal from him or how to hurt people just because? No thank you!” I added boldly.
“Well… we needed to know how you would react. What type of person you were,” said the girl named Isabella with a look of shame? I am sorry for that.”
After a few moments, Mica made some coffee and told us to go and sit down, so I could meet the others and they could explain it better. I was very curious about the whole thing, and I hadn’t had anything that tasted like coffee for such a long time, so I followed them.
We went up two flights of stairs into a living room. There were two men and a woman watching the news while a much older woman was scribbling something on a notepad. One by one, I was introduced to them as “Tina,” and they all welcome me and shared their also made-up names, Hugo, Paco, and Luis. Only Donald Duck was missing. We sat at a table and James started explaining.
“We are an organization, or we like to think we are. To our government, we are nobodies who, like you, have been forced into this by a consequence of corrupt, evil, and authoritarian leaders. We all have our personal histories of how we ended up here. Some out of principle,” he said, looking at the older lady, “some for revenge,” he gestured at the ones who were watching TV, “and some for fun, like me,” he added shrugging his shoulders.
“And what do you do here?” I asked, gesturing at the room.
“Well, this would be our headquarters, so to speak,” explained Isabella. “Basically, we want to overthrow the government,” she said matter-of-factly.
“Okay…” I replied, not knowing what should follow that statement. “And… how?” – They probably figured I thought they were crazy or ridiculous.
“Wait, listen,” Mica said. “We have been planning this for years. Well, not us. Other people before us, people who are no longer here to explain. We were recruited in different circumstances, and like you, came to know about this because we could add something, either contacts, knowledge or, in your case, invisibility.”
James, who had been quiet, added, “we have chosen not to live like this anymore, like scum. We have allowed a few to take what others gained, what others created, and worst of all, what others believed. They have taken our loved ones for their cause, and now, we are going to strike them hard. It will all fall from there.”
I still did not know what to believe. They would be thrown in jail forever if the wrong person heard what he had just told me. They either felt safe, or it was some kind of trap. I remained quiet. Listening.
“You do alright in not trusting us,” Isabella exclaimed. “If you wish, you’ll stay here and see how you feel. The streets aren’t safe for a little girl, anyway.” She said this with a bit of malice, as I remembered the night they had stolen from me.
“My backpack!” I demanded. “You have my stuff.”
“Yes, you are correct. You stay here for one month, and no matter whether you decide to stay or leave, we’ll give it back. But not before,” Mica said.
“Okay. Deal.” Having a pack didn´t seem like a bad idea, nor did having coffee or a safe place to sleep, and after only one month, I would have my only possessions.
And so, the training and the indoctrination began. Of course, I was too young to understand it back then. All I could understand was their passion, their pragmatism, and, most of all, their thirst for revenge. They seemed to have contacts where my parents were being held, who told them that my mother was still in prison and that my dad had pneumonia. I didn’t even question this information. I just trained harder and studied for longer hours.
I lost track of time, but a year probably went by where all I did was train and learn. I studied maps, blueprints, first aid, weaponry, antidotes, and information. And I constantly heard about how good things would be when this was over and I would finally reunite with my parents. I was not worried about what my task would be. I didn’t know what was so special about me. They seemed to know everything about how the government worked and who the most corrupt people were or who would quickly turn a blind eye. They knew it all.
Then they told me. They had said it many times – “invisibility.” That was why they needed me. I have one of those forgettable faces – that of a thin, normal, uninteresting, seventeen-year-old girl.
(…to be continued…)
January: The Pack – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)
February: The Pink Shirt – Talia Stotts (America)
March: Dragging the Past out into the Light – Kate Korneeva (Russia)
April: Looking Forward to Spring – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)
May: Every Little Thing – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)
June: The Girl Who Chased the Rainbow – Toni Wallis (Sarah-Leah Pimentel) (South Africa)
July: Another World – Jonay Quintero Hernandez (Spain)
August: Life after Nare – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)
September: Meeting My Homeland – Rayan Harake (Lebanon)
October: Catching Water (Part Two) – Javier Gomez (Argentina)
November: Remember – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)
December: I Can’t Breathe – Veronica Cordido (Venezuela)
Background – Context
In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)
Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)
L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)
From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)
Emblems and stories on the international community
Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world
Cover photo: Colonia, Uruguay – Old factory – Mariano Villafane (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed