This is the 110th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
Changes, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 21st March 2013
Word count: 740
“The world wasn’t always so simple and dire,” the old man said, “Before the war there were hundreds of nations. Not just the big ones I’ve told you about before, but countries of all shapes and sizes.”
“I know Grandpa,” the young man said patiently. “Do you think this world will ever change back?”
“I’m an old man, the prospect of change frightens me, it took so long to get used to this world and make a place in it after the war,” he paused thoughtfully, “Besides there’s no going back. The war, and the night of the leaders has burnt the bridges to the old world.”
“If it can’t change back, what can it change in to?”
“Anything your heart desires, or it might never change. Where once stood hundreds of proud, historic nations, now there sits twenty two principalities ruled over by harsh tyrants. Once there were thirty, I dare say that number will reduce further. That’s change.”
“But Grandpa, will it always be so?”
“No. Eventually there will be fewer tyrants responsible for greater populations, they’ll lose control. The world will surrender to anarchy, and then maybe something better will grow. But change requires grave sacrifice, it means throwing reason to the wind, facing down the terrible wind of the present. The world is far from ready for that. I do hope you never see it, but I fear of you don’t, your children will.”
“I think I understand Grandpa,”
The old man died not long after that, but the young man, a teenager at the time, grew into a savvy charismatic leader. He was a beacon of hope for those that wanted change, his name uttered in whispers, lest managers and informants should repeat back what they heard. Those in power knew well enough about the Change Movement.
The Change Movement was discrete though, it was for hire by one side or another, it could stir up a rebellion, and weaken a tyrant, make them ripe for the picking. It would ferment war, murder and mayhem anyway it could. Eventually twenty-two tyrants became ten and then five. In just two decades the world had changed. Now the five jostled for power and strength, it wasn’t politics, it was survival. The last five, each had been strong enough to survive, so each was strong enough to fear. Alliances were made and broken, grudges were many, and friendship scarce.
The Change Movement was now illegal, but barely noticed. The operation was scaled back, it’s master drew it in to lick wounds and grow stronger.
Now it stood on the precipice, change would come fast and hard, whether they succeeded or failed. The leader of the movement was sequestered in an old world church in the northern region of what was once called Spain.
Concerned a young man, holding the rank of Lieutenant in the newly renamed and rededicated Army of Change entered to check on the famous and fearless leader.
“Sir,” he said hesitating, though he’d never been in a church before, he felt this was somewhere special.
“What is it?” a voice from the darkness said, the voice of the leader.
“Its nearly time,” the young lieutenant said.
“Good, one way or another the fate of humankind will change, better that we don’t drag it on.”
“Yes, Sir,” the soldier agreed readily.
“Do you know what this place is?” the leader asked.
“Its called a church Sir, it was special to the old world.”
“That pretty much sums it up I guess,” the leader sighed as he left the shadows and entered a pool of moonlight. “I came here to speak to my Grandpa, to ask if we,” the man paused, “I, am about to do the right thing. He didn’t expect it to happen so quick, nor did I. He thought it world be my children, or even my children’s children.”
“Do you have children, sir?”
“None that I could ever acknowledge, for their own safety.”
“Well then it has to be you,” the innocent Lieutenant said.
“Well that’s one way to look at it. I like how you think, Lieutenant. Let us go and do what has to be done.”
The two men walked out of the church, the only building left standing for five miles after the war of previous generations. The improvised army listened faithfully to their leader, and marched with him into history.
The world would be changed for better or worse.