New evidence has come to light in the #TuamBabies case, which took the world by storm in recent weeks. This evidence tends to support the view of local researcher Catherine Corless - that the bodies of almost 800 children who perished at the site may be inside the disused sewage system of the…
'To the Hills' by Laurel
Last night Dee dreamt that the Gate was open. He couldn’t remember what he had seen through it now though. He had tried so hard to remember but like all dreams it faded with the rising sun. It was night again now. Dee stared out of the cabin window. A blizzard rattled the panes of glass. The wind whistled in protest through the cracks in the fragile roof. Riv snored loudly in the opposite corner of the room. His gun rested across his lap.
Dee’s grandmother had told him that in the ancient times, when people had understood the symbols, they were able to draw words on paper. Back then people could draw the words to describe their dreams when they woke. Then they could remember.
The light on the ceiling flickered and buzzed. Dee pulled his coat closer around him. He accidentally knocked his rifle and it fell with a clatter to the floor. His heart leapt. Riv jumped up from his seat and grabbed his gun.
“It was only me.” Dee quickly explained. Riv glared at him.
“Fool.” He croaked. “I could have shot you.” But Dee knew that he wouldn’t have. Riv was only a few years older than he was but he had spent those years out here by the border. His senses were more acute than Dee’s. Sharpened with experience. He was either awake or asleep. There was no drowsy in-between state for him.
Dee watched Riv approach the window. He wondered if the haggard and scruffy young man before him still dreamed. After a year serving with the Guardians most didn’t. Or so he’d heard. Dee gazed at the rifle on the floor. He’d been given it unceremoniously two weeks ago. That had been when he had been chosen to start training for the Guardianship. Dee still dreamed. Vividly.
“The light’s gone off at Base Sixteen.” Riv said in a low mumble. He didn’t look at Dee. He picked up his rifle again and moved towards the door. “I’m going over to see what’s wrong.” He opened the door and snow whipped violently into the small cabin. The door slammed and Dee was alone.
Again, Dee tried to remember his dream. He closed his eyes. The image of what was beyond the Gate was gone but a feeling remained. It wasn’t fear. Why wasn’t it fear? If fear were a tangible object it would be the Gate. The Gate led to Loir’s world. Loir was evil personified. He was the enemy of the Leader. Therefore he was an Enemy of the State.
Dee shivered from the cold, not from fear. He wasn’t afraid of Loir or his soldiers, the Enemies. That’s what the Guardians were for. They guarded the fortified wall along the border and the Gate. They protected the people of the State. More importantly they protected the Leader.
A shout echoed outside. Or did it? Dee opened his eyes. Just the wind, he thought. He glanced at the window. Something white moved outside and out of his view. Dee grabbed his gun and stood up. Had that been a face? He stared at the window. His heart pounded fast but he wasn’t scared. He couldn’t be. He took a deep breath and hurried to the door. Opening it he had to squint against the wind cutting at his face.
“Riv?” He called, but the wind roared louder. He stepped out and closed the door behind him. The black night hid everything. The Wall. The Gate. The light of Base Sixteen was still out. Riv could find his way in the dark but Dee couldn’t.
A gun-shot cracked somewhere. The wind prevented Dee from knowing where it had come from. But the wind couldn’t make a sound like that. A sound that Dee was so familiar with. As a child he’d heard the executions of the Doubters every month. Doubting the Leader was wrong. The Leader was always right.
Although he was blinded by the darkness Dee stumbled on in the direction of Base Sixteen. Something was wrong. They didn’t execute Doubters at night. Not out here.
Suddenly his foot hit against something. He tried to keep his balance but his large coat weighed him down. He fell to the ground and scrambled to find what it was that had tripped him up. His hands found fabric like that of his coat. He froze. In the darkness he could just make out the silhouette of a figure lying on the ground.
“Riv?” Dee gasped. It was too dark to see who it was. He searched for a pulse in their neck. Nothing. But their skin wasn’t cold yet. Then he heard another gun-shot.
Dee panicked. He scrambled to his feet again. He looked back to see the light of the cabin in the distance. He ran. Once he’d heard a rumour that years ago a Doubter had killed a Guardian. But Doubters were weak. It had been a lie. But then why did he now feel scared?
The light of the cabin window grew as he approached it. His hands were stiff with the cold and he fumbled with the door handle. He fell through the doorway and into the cabin slamming the door behind him. He would have to use the radio to contact the Central Base.
There was a movement in the corner of his vision. Dee snapped his eyes to the opposite side of the room. Someone was standing next to the radio device. Dee had never seen someone like this man before. He was young, probably only the same age as Dee. Hardly an adult. But he had no hair on his head so that his forehead seemed to continue all the way back over his skull. He wore a grey uniform with a symbol on the chest. Loir’s symbol. The young man in front of him was an Enemy. Dee made a move to raise his gun but the Enemy raised his first. Dee froze. But the Enemy didn’t shoot. He stared at Dee with his eyes wide with fear. His gun shook unsteadily as his arms trembled.
Dee waited helplessly. He was scared to even think in case somehow the Enemy heard and was prompted to pull the trigger. His mind felt still and yet whirred at the same time. Then the Enemy lowered his gun a little - only a little - and Dee knew that he couldn’t do it.
The Enemy flicked his gun to the right indicating the corner that Dee had been sitting in earlier.
“Sit there.” He said quietly. He sounded steadier than he looked. Dee glanced at the chair and then back to the Enemy. Coward, he thought.
“No.” Dee said forcefully. The Enemy raised his gun again.
“No. I’d rather die standing here between you and the Leader than sitting in a corner.” Dee raised his chin a little. He was scared now. But he refused to betray the Leader. And yet he could feel the cold hands of doubt at the back of his mind.
“Look,” The Enemy betrayed a hint of exasperation. “I don’t want to hurt you. Just let me out of that door.”
“If you want to attack the Leader and his people you’ll have to force your way past me first.” The doubt had seeped into his voice now. He wasn’t sure if his words even convinced himself. The Enemy stared at him in frustration.
“Your Leader is evil. Why do you want to protect him?” He asked scornfully. And yet, his voice too, began to tremble a little.
“You’re wrong!” Dee raised his voice now. Anger and doubt clouded his thoughts. “Loir is evil. And so are you.”
The Enemy lifted his gun again. His eyes were widened in shock at Dee’s accusation. Dee was confused. He had never seen an Enemy before. He hadn’t expected them to look so normal. So like him.
“If you kill me you’ll only prove that you’re evil.” Dee stammered. He didn’t want to die. That’s when he saw something unexpected in the Enemy’s eyes. Sadness. With a swift hand movement the Enemy pointed his gun at the ceiling and fired. The light went out. Dee suddenly felt himself pushed violently to the side as the Enemy stumbled through the darkness to the door. Wind gushed into the cabin as he departed into the night.
Dee was still for a moment. Rooted by shock. Then he felt his way quickly to the door and out into the blizzard. He looked helplessly around. He could see nothing. He was still alive. Why? The Enemy hadn’t killed him. Had he been merciful? Was he a coward? Or did he just want to prove that he didn’t see himself as evil? Did this mean that Dee was evil? His thoughts became as unreadable as his surroundings.
There was a flash of lightning. Just for a second. The Gate was open.
By Georgia Bealtaine
'Make Me a Bird' by Elektrik People
Leonardo da Vinci
'Inseparable' by Nick White
A truly beautiful short film starring Benedict Cumberbatch
Jean Luc Godard