The first stone pinged off the side of the vehicle with animosity, thrown by a protestor from the crowd. Her angry face shone brightly before being lost among the sea of acrimony the bus travelled through. The passengers could only sit and stare, unsure of what was really going on and what would become of them. Herded up like animals, they’d been forced onto buses, their meagre possessions stripped from them by masked guards. Silently they sat, in a state of collective shock, their powers of comprehension failing them in the face of such secrecy and overwhelming authority.
The children cried and cuddled into their parents, not wanting to witness their fate, not understanding what was going on. All along their route, the people outside hurled their insults along with rocks, the outer casing of the bus only managing to keep out the rocks. As the windows weakened, so did the resolve of the worried inside. The masked and armed guards could see the collective composure slipping away with each barb, their poison spreading and infecting even the most determined. And then the screams of hatred and words of abuse exploded inward as the web expanded across the surface of the glass. The angry roar of the gathered filled the interior of the bus until there was no space for anything else. The air reeked of smoke, stale sweat and fear.
Slowing to a stop, great wrought-iron gates loomed in the front windscreen; they had arrived. But no one knew where they had been brought to. The gates opened and the bus rolled forward. Fences and makeshift buildings had been erected inside the walls—the space designed to keep those who inhabited it inside, while the others were kept out. But which side of the wall was clear of infection?
Copyright © 2014 Julianne Snow
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