They call us Cockroaches. I suppose cockroach is meant to offend, but I could give a shit. The term arose shortly after they murdered Jay Hamilton for daring to speak his own mind, a treasonable offense. We protested in the streets of the Equal States of America, “Crawling out from between the floorboards like so many cockroaches,” the Justices were quoted to have muttered amongst themselves. But nothing is whispered to another in confidence any longer. Their technology betrayed them. Funny thing about tech, it doesn’t seem to care who’s behind the keys.
I prefer the term to what Jay had called us, The Independence. I loved the man (despite never meeting him, but the greatest thing about an idea is its potential for immortality), but that title stank of highbrow shit. We’re not some political party, whipping votes in Old Congress. We’re dirty and resilient and cannot be stomped under boot so easily, because we are an individual thought agreed upon by many. A revolutionary idea, like a cockroach, is near impossible to eradicate once the infestation spreads.
My name is Kim Swift. If you’re a student a hundred years from now, picking up this dusty journal hidden neatly in the darkest corner of your library, you probably already know that from the name on the cover of the book. If, however, you’re finding these blood-stained pages in the desk drawer I stuffed them in prior to running for my life, perhaps an introduction is in order. Also, if you’re one of us, please light the fuse that sticks out of the mouse hole underneath the window on your right with the broken panes. I might not get the chance, and these walls are insulated with explosives. Many thanks.
I suppose there are hundreds of journals just like mine that might be read by those that follow in our bloody footsteps. If you’re being forced to read them for some school assignment, I sympathize with you, but please understand why there are so many voices you’re citing for your half-assed essay.
After President Cal Benson was executed and replaced by the Justices, the individual thought went extinct. My generation, those born and raised in the Conditioning Schools, had never even heard of such a thing. We were fed what they wanted us to know, were told how to act and how to react to others acting. Everything was a play, and nothing a musical. If you somehow developed an original idea, it was best to keep quiet, as any remark made that isn’t approved by the Justices is a punishable offense. This, hopefully, will come as a shock to future generations, who hardly think of all the freedoms my friends died to retain for you, but I cannot judge you for this, because we were the same. We never gave the rules and regulations a second thought. They were all we knew, all we had been trained to follow until the day we’re buried in an unmarked grave. I heard back in the old days that people would get a gravestone and everything, Here Lies Kim Swift, May She Rest in Peace, but that’s frowned upon nowadays. Just another body, used up and spat out and forgotten. If you’re not supposed to be anything special while you’re alive, they wouldn’t want you to stand out after you’re gone. That was until the Execution of Jay Hamilton aired live for millions.
They had asked him to repent with a tongue they’d stripped from him. He had nodded in agreement with his regrets, being a peaceful man after all. He never wanted his followers to die, had never wanted a war. But he would not submit, and for that, he was whipped to death as he hummed the Meadow Song, which nowadays even mentioning will get you shot on the spot. “Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…” and so it goes. I write it now, I admit, merely because I’m not supposed to. I’m not a fan of the tune itself, too regal for my taste. Every time I hear it play I think, what, am I supposed to bow? It used to be called The Star-Spangled Banner, named after a flag that had been collectively burned far before my time. Jay was always about symbolism though, and so I suppose the song fit his goals, as his death suited another symbolic gesture. I and the rest of the Roaches saw for the first time someone disagree with the Common Good, someone who refused to surrender his rights even when threatened with death, and suddenly we all began to have our own thoughts.
The wound first began to fester online. We would chat about what we had seen, what it meant. It wasn’t long before that was shut down, and so we (gasp) met in person. Here is something that I imagine isn’t very common with an uprising: we disagreed on almost everything. Some wanted the government stripped of all powers, while others wanted a more balanced approach, while even more wanted things pretty much how they currently were. The only thing we all agreed upon was that we should be allowed to voice our disagreements.
We tried the peaceful crap at first, marching down the streets with signs and chanting, little better than a parade. We were mowed down by drones. That was the first march in Boston. Over 3000 people were killed that day. That’s when we all knew that we were on to something. This wasn’t just about Jay Hamilton. I’ve met plenty on our side who’ve never heard anything about him, let alone listened to his speeches or read his writings. No, this was about all of us standing up for ourselves, and in doing so standing up for each other.
And so, yeah, sure, we were violent. I’ve killed more Collective soldiers than I care to remember. We all pay the price for our beliefs, and they’ve killed more of us than we of them. I hear the drones hovering outside my window now, using their scanners to see through the crumbling drywall. They’re probably calling the troops now. “We’ve found her!” they’re saying in some robot language. “Beep-boop-beep-kill-the-bitch.”
Whatever. I’m done with it. I stand by my choices, and my sacrifice, because I didn’t do it for anyone else. I did it for me. This past year has been by far the most painful of my life. I’ve been tortured, have seen my friends cut to ribbons right in front of me. I had to kill my own dad. Do you understand that? Do you comprehend what that takes out of you? But I pulled the trigger because he would have done the same to me, and because he wasn’t my father, not truly. He spawned me, but the Equal States of America raised me, and they brainwashed my dad same as me, which is why he didn’t hesitate to grab the gun when he’d seen the literature I had hidden under my bed. It doesn’t matter. Again, he wasn’t really my dad. Just another government pawn. At least that’s what I tell myself to get some fucking sleep.
So yeah, this year might’ve been a pain, but it was the only year I ever truly lived. The prior eighteen didn’t belong to me.
The drones are screeching, which means I’m truly fucked. Looks like I’ll light the fuse and hang around to keep it company. No daring escape for me. I’m crumpling these pages and throwing them out the window. I’m blowing this base half-to-shit before they get a hold of anything. Use my last words to spit your gum out, for all I care. Still worth more than it was before the Cockroach Revolution.
Keep crawling, friends.
Kim Swift died soon after writing this message. No other personal writings of hers have survived. She blew up the Boston Cockroach HQ after it had been compromised by the notorious traitor Bryan Hart, potentially saving thousands of Roach Conspirators from their information being exposed to The Collective.