SHORT STORY COMPETITION 2014
RED IN THE HALL
(Theme: Science Fiction)
By : Restia Mely Anugrah ( “The N” ) 6th Semester of PBI
as The Winner
“The ____ was kissing him on the lips”
“The last ____ flashed on the corner of his eyes”
“The ____ and ____ will always be my mark”
Bandung, 25 September 2178
Warfare, you say, is a big thing that seems will become a “hobby” of our beloved country, Indonesia. The feud of Freeport between Indonesia and America caused a long-term war for these two countries. Indonesia has been no longer a third-world country since 2150, that its natural resources cannot be scooped up arbitrary by other countries, not anymore. More than a century, gemstone from Indonesia dredged greedy to the center of its earth, giving an atrocious flaw on Bumi Khatulistiwa. Underground youth movement, in 2109, caviled at government to chase away whoever lay a hand on its treasures. It made Indonesia become a beast which its sleep had been disturbed. For thirty years or more, Indonesia fought for its own sake, hit back America’s army and also invaded half of its states, thus it destroyed the balance of America’s government and freed up some middle eastern countries from America’s intervention. Then since that happened, Indonesia has been called The Conqueror and also struggling to reorganize this country became the first-world county, and it is now.
Here I am, a would-be great soldier that my country will proud of. My name is Nevilleon, Nevilleon Bonaparte, named after my father’s favorite great leader from France; Napoleon Bonaparte. It also becomes my father inspiration to conquer our enemy. Some battle had been led by my father himself; he’s the highest commander and the most trusted warrior of President of Indonesia. The battle of Freeport is one of the battle that under his command. Yesterday, 24 September 2178, I was turning 16, ready to be sent to military camp, “Barrack of Gilded Troops” —as my father always want to— after learning the theory and everything about warfare for 4 years. I’m excited, also afraid... for what coming next.
That night he seemed unpleasant for the thing we wouldn’t know, but in the morning he looked energetic as a young lion ready hunting its prey. Nevilleon sat on the edge of his freezing bunk, blankly stared at his e-journal; a piece of chip-set glass, so high-tech. The journal that he always typed on every incident or event now was just lying on a dust chest.
His eyes moved to stare at the e-mail he just received; an e-mail from his father who was leading the defense of Papua from Great Britain. The worried heart made his hand trembled shaking. “Are we winning the battle or we losing it?” He relaxed himself and put his left hand above the sensor table to move the pointer and to click on the e-mail. Breathed heavily, he was about to open the e-mail.
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. The sound of siren signed that one of the soldiers had not slept yet. Nevilleon gasped shocked. He knew that sound caused by the sensor of his room that showed somebody still awake at this almost midnight. His hand tried to shut down the screen yet one of the patrolling gilded troops caught him at the screen.
“I’m sorry, sir. I’m about to sleep, sir.”
“Don’t talk when I don’t ask you, soldier. At ease!”
“First is warning, soldier. But the second, you’ll get the detention.”
“Yes, sir. Understood, sir.”
“Now, sleep. God always be with you. Dismiss!”
“May the God always be with you, sir.”
“It seems, based on your story, he’s everything, your father, even though he’s not always by your side. You’re lucky, Neville. I was raised at children shelter. I think my parents don’t love me, I mean my real parents. Luckily some random geek guy took me over and made a living for me; he thought I’m worth for a better life.”
“I don’t know, Sebastian. You got many friends there, I’m sure. That’s good.” Neville responded to his skinny best friend calmly to make sure he stopped complaining his miserable life.
“Hmm... Not really, you can’t sometimes call them friends.” He continued, “Hey, Neville, we got teamed up for the exam after lunch time, have you got the announcement? I can’t wait for the battle simulation. WOOHOO!” He flung a scoop of ice cream onto a plate.
“Announcement? I even haven’t read my father’s e-mail. That gilded prick caught me at late night.” He replied sharply, “He really doesn’t understand the feeling between son and father. Geez!”
They both walked fast to an empty board. Sebastian couldn’t stop talking about strategy that they would use.
“Why is the time running so slow?!” Sebastian mumbled, he looked really, really excited. “You know, Neville, most of those gears in simulation room are made and designed by my father. And I know about them as well”
“I know I can count on you, mate.” He said.
“What? I don’t get it.” Sebastian was confused by Neville’s words.
“Here, you will be my hands, my eyes, and my brain. You’ll be the strategy master. And I’ll be your cleaner.”
“What cleaner? You mean dishwasher? I know I can cover you.”
“No, Sebastian, No! The cleaner means the striker, the killer. You understand? Don’t you see? We are a perfect team! You know gear things, I know battle things. We will pass this exam.” Nevilleon suddenly seemed enthusiast, “Hahaha.”
The time finally came as they expected. The siren rumbled, echoed through the wall signed that the lunch time was over. Nevilleon and Sebastian couldn’t hide their excitement, running together to the battle hall, slapping each other as kids got new toys.
“Make perfect lines, soldiers! At ease! Good noon chaps! God always be with you.” A gilded troop opened the examination for two-month trained soldiers.
“May the God always be with you!” All young soldiers who were about to get their first test responded simultaneously.
“Today, you guys will get the first test. This test is directly scored by the high commander, Gen. Mirjalovic. And he has a little speech for you.” The gilded troop then pleased the high commander.
“Thank you, soldier.” Then he began with a loud voice, “Today is your great day. The first time you get your test in military camp. This one should be impressive, soldiers. Because I myself score you and this test also will determine what class you will take. I will read you your team mate and the number of your performance. There are twenty pairs of you; half will get the combat in this hall, and half on the field. Tomorrow half of you who get in the hall today will get another test on the field, and vise versa.”
Then the high commander read loudly the number of every team. There we knew the number of Sebastian-Nevilleon was third.
He continued speaking, “FYI, soldiers, this exam is using a high-tech hologram; that is what you will fight. The sensor when you pass the room will know what your feelings are. It can be somebody you really love, or you miss, or even your enemy. So be careful of those feelings. May the God always be with you.” The high commander smiled at Nevilleon, the smile that every soldier would respect, then left them to the surveillance room.
“He just smiled at you. Why?” Sebastian asked Neville suspiciously.
Nevilleon just responded by shrugging.
More than three hours they both waited for their turn. And finally the time had come. It would be the great time in their life. “Sebastian-Nevilleon.” A sound called their names; it meant they should enter the hall to get their turn.
Behind a curtain, they both held their breaths; it became the hardest time of their life so far. Their training uniform felt so tight that they thought it was the cause which made them hard to breathe.
“Remember, It’s... it’s just a hologram, Sebastian.” Neville tried to calm his friend, and also himself.
“You too. But this hologram is so perfect; even it enables showing us real blood, they call it Augmented Reality. How could I keep calm?”
The curtain was opened, Sebastian covered Neville; put a transparent shield cross his chest. They both walked slowly to the center of the hall, read the target movements, thought what weapon they would use.
The opposite curtain was opened as they in the center. Sebastian freezing after saw the enemy.
Nevilleon bumped to his friend’s back, “What on earth you stop with no command?!”
“That’s... your... father reflection!” He whispered. This situation made Neville’s blood more frozen, instead.
“The hologram already has rifles!” More panic attacked Neville’s brain, “What are we gonna do?!”
“TO THE LEFT SIDE OF THE HALL!” shouted Sebastian. They both ran hiding behind artificial stones. Yet they ran to different directions. “Why are you to the right side?”
The hologram walked slowly; strafed them both. It seemed the hologram didn’t fire on them correctly. Bullets stuck around the artificial stones. Some tracer bullet fired some of those fake stones. The holo-man stopped his shots. Bright red flames. Everywhere.
“THROW A KNIFE, NEVILLE!!!”
Two quick shots, none of them got stuck on this holo-man, “I CAN’T! IT’S QUITE DISTANT! COVER ME!”
“Neville, it is no glory beside us if we don’t move now.” Sebastian came closer with his mouth covered from smoke, “Any blade?”
“Yeah, enough if we get closer to him.” He showed him a row of blades.
“This isn’t enough; no glory around as if so. In old style battle, they aimed enemy with fired darts. I bring a bottle of flammable alcohol. Tear up a bit of our uniforms then set them on fire.”
Both ripped their clothes spryly, set fire on those, and one was ready to throw knives.
They walked through fire as they could; coughing by the smoke was none of the trouble anymore. WE MUST WIN, they thought. Fire-set blades were thrown to the holo-man on the sidelines of blazing red flame. As they throwing knives, the enemy shot them right to the center of the shield. The shield then began cracking, made Sebastian’s left hand bleed pretty bad.
Nevilleon realized his friend couldn’t take this any longer. He tried to focus on his aimed; targeting the vital one to kill the enemy, at least, in two shots. Two blades remained on his hand. First shot was not a big fail; he got his enemy a large scar around his cheek’s bone. The second one is a must strike... He looked around; found the high commander watching him with no smile.
Neville and Sebastian came nearer to him, the holo-man. They wondered why the hologram still appeared front of him. Nevilleon saw blood pooled around this holo-man. He caught the shadow on his eyes; a hand signed him to get closer.
“It was a good shot, mate.” The holo said.
Nevilleon gasped. His whole body got cooled. His heart beat no more, “Da... Daddy?” On his eyelids, the tear stemmed on. He blinked, then the tears ran across his cheek’s lines. The whole time, it was my father.
“I’m sorry.. hhh... hhh... about your hand... hhh..” The father apologized to Neville’s friend.
Words stuck on his throat. His mind was chaotic. His hands clenched for holding a wrath. Yet his friend couldn’t do anything more. The atmosphere became miserable.
“You... hhh... haven’t read it... hhh... have you?” His father asked him, smiling in tears, “I... hh...hh.. am sorry... hhh.. I’ll miss you there...”
“No! Dad! FATHER!” He finally had words, yet late.
His agony now blew up his great fury; screaming out such a mad boy, thundering his voice to show them his pain. I was just killing him, my father.
Sebastian quickly handed his watch to him to see what was on e-mail his father sent him, “Here, type on your ID and password. Read your father’s letter. Wipe your tears!”
Neville just did what his friend said. His sobbing heard so hurting like a dying wolf. His tears were all gone; it was now just his pique.
My Dear Son,
We can’t win the battle. I’m sorry. Queen Elizabeth V was ousted by the rebels; it made them stronger than ever. Elizabeth loves us, we could win if there were no insider take a part as a traitor. I assume it was General Mirjalovic. He always hates me because I was the one who got trusted by the president to lead this defense. Tomorrow, I’ll be at barrack before dawn. Meet me at armory. I’ve planned your escape. Remember, he will not stop to down me.
See you tomorrow.
No Where, 29 March 2178
The death was kissing him on the lips. That time, I killed him. In the almost twilight I saw it. The last horizon flashed on the corner of his eyes. The remorse and shame will always be my mark. I will never forgive myself. That time, fire and blood mixed together. Red in the hall.
Soles clattered around the hall, broke the silence in there. Fire then slowly dimmed. A man came to them, clapping sarcastically. Both, Nevilleon and Sebastian looked back from the where the man came out, “Great! HAHAHA!”
“This is what you’ve planned! What a demon!” Sebastian began to take a side.
“This country has a rule, dog. ‘You win or you die.’ The president can’t send him to his death and then he sent your father to me to be executed. So this is the payment of losing in the battlefield. So the troops fear of losing.” The commander defended himself.
“You are coward! You killed my father!”
“Do you see I get my hand dirt? FOOL!”
Sebastian seemed to leave them both alone with Neville’s father’s corpse.
“Then you are a yellow coward because you sent a child to kill his father!”
“You’ll be great to put in the first troops class. You’ll be a great soldier!”
“Shut up! JUST SHUT UP!” Then Neville pretended to face his father’s corpse to pull a knife from the chest. He waited. He played fool by crying over his father’s death.
“You’ll give no mercy to our enemy, because there’s no regret more than killing your own father!”
Sebastian stopped his step. He thought it was the time to choose a side after he heard such damned words that struck his friend. He grabbed a knife near his feet, slowly turned around and stood still. He caught Neville’s eyes staring to him. Meant something.
“You’ll be my dog for the upcoming wa...!”
Sebastian ran from behind and stabbed the knife into commander’s skull; he then pulled it down, left it with a huge gape scar on the back of head while Neville slit Mirjalovic’s throat quickly to end his bitching. Then they saw another corpse lying tragic on the cold floor. He deserved it.