Victory a short story, p.1
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       Victory - A Short Story, p.1

           Shyreen Tyler
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Victory - A Short Story
Victory

  by Shyreen Tyler

  Copyright 2014 Shyreen Tyler

  “People shouldn't be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.”

  ― Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

  Victoria looked intently at the gun pointed at her face.

  Soldiers raided her high school for the second time in three months. Since President Chacon had taken control of the country, they had been searching for insurgents everywhere.

  President Chacon was elected democratically. For years, the country had been plagued with corrupt governments that had mismanaged the country's assets. When Chacon launched his political career, the population was ready for a change. He had a long history of military service, which ended with his imprisonment for leading a failed rebellion against a crooked government. Two years after, he received a presidential pardon, which allowed him to start his political campaign as a civilian.

  He was charismatic and popular. He spoke the language of the people, who felt identified with his humble upbringing. He promised a revolution, a complete change from the policies of the past. He was believable, trustworthy. He convinced the less privileged and the middle-class, who voted for him in masses.

  During the first year of presidency, Chacon implemented radical changes to the constitution which would give him the leeway needed to fulfill his promise. When the new laws passed, his true revolution started.

  First, he limited water, electricity and food supply, to allegedly save money for the depleted funds left by previous governments. Then, he seized private properties from companies and civilians, claiming that everything belonged to the nation. Later, he persecuted and incarcerated those who spoke against the government, accusing them of treachery. Under his command, there had been hundreds of public arrests of presumed subversives and many mysterious disappearances of known government opponents. His last and boldest movement had been to indefinitely extend the length of his mandate.

  Victoria didn’t agree with the government. All those laws hadn't help her poor family have a better life. Jobs were scarce, education was mediocre, hospitals were bare and people were starving. The crime raised as fast as the cost of life. The government promoted that being rich was bad, but every year the President and his cabinet got fatter, had more properties and dressed in more expensive clothes.

  Unluckily, Victoria fit the profile of many insurgents. She was a hard-headed 17 year-old, abandoned by her father and neglected by her hard working mother and three older brothers. Her grades were below average, having discipline problems both at home and school because she always spoke her mind.

  In spite of her smart mouth, Victoria had the ability to make friends wherever she went. Her laughter and energy were contagious. She had the power to convince those around her to join her in her pranks and defend her whenever she was in trouble. She was a natural leader, charismatic, friendly and caring.

  When the three officers entered her classroom that morning, they ordered everyone to stand up, put their hands on their heads and look down. They searched the students’ belongings and asked them questions.

  “Would you leave your family to serve your country?”

  “Are you or anyone you know opposed to the government?”

  “Would you denounce your family if you knew they were traitors?”

  Out of fear, each one of the kids answered what the officers expected to hear.

  When it was Victoria’s turn, the higher-ranking officer asked her “Would you give your life for your President?”

  At the sound of those words, a rush of heat burned her stomach, rapidly rising to her face. Her throat went dry, her breathing shallow. She didn't make any effort not to raise her eyes and look directly at the officer’s.

  “No, I will never give my life for that clown and his monkeys”, she said firmly.

  Immediately, the officers raised their guns, pointing them at her. All eyes were on Victoria.

  “I’ll give you another opportunity to answer correctly” the officer said sneering, with the nozzle of his gun directly on her face.

  “You can shoot me now or take me to jail. I have already answered correctly”. She lowered her hands, keeping her gaze steady.

  After a few seconds, the officer lowered his gun, grabbed her arm and dragged her outside of the classroom. With a head movement he signaled the others to stay.

  Without a word, the officer took Victoria to his vehicle. She was already imagining how her life in jail would be. He sat her in the back seat and stood in front of her with his arms crossed.

  “What's your name?” he demanded loudly.

  She looked fixedly at him, answering in the same tone “Victoria”.

  The officer smiled. “You're a lucky child, Victoria. Courageous too, which is what we need right now.” He placed his arms behind is back after looking around.

  “I'm Captain Rafael Alonzo. What I'm about to tell you is extremely confidential. So much that if you were to say a word to anybody, my life would be in danger” he paused for a moment “I just met you but I feel I can trust you, am I right?”

  Victoria’s eyes opened wide. She had no idea what was happening, but nodded all the same.

  “A few soldiers, me included, are not content with the government. They are destroying our country, stealing, and hurting our people. Our duty is to protect this nation, therefore we are preparing to intervene.” Captain Alonzo looked quickly behind him. “As I mentioned, only a few soldiers feel this way. Many others don't, thus we need help from people like you, not afraid to say what they think.”

  Victoria couldn't put two words together. It was the first time this happened to her since she learned to speak.

  Captain Alonzo continued. “The government has opened training camps with the intention of preparing what they call 'people's militia'. Groups of armed civilians in charge of maintaining order in the neighborhoods.” He crossed his arms, placing his right hand under his chin. “They are completely unaware that many of these centers are now in charge of officers that are no longer supportive. Secretly, we have been enlisting those willing to fight, regardless of age, neighborhood or social status. Not surprisingly, it hasn't been difficult for us to find people eager to join.”

  “I manage one of those camps. Would you to come with us?” Captain Alonzo extended his hand to Victoria.

  Victoria saw honesty and passion in Captain Alonzo' eyes. “Yes, I'm in” she answered without hesitation, shaking his hand

  *****

  For the next six months, Victoria trained every day. She would go to school in the mornings to keep appearances. In the afternoons, she would attend the military camp.

  Since the beginning of her training, Victoria worked hard to excel at every task. She became the best at target shooting, man to man combat, strategy and planning. She immediately learned everyone's name, always helped others work on their weaknesses and was able to get the group organized and focused whenever needed. Very soon she became Captain Alonzo' right hand at the camp.

  One afternoon, as she was arriving to the center, she came face to face with Captain Alonzo, who was leaving in a rush.

  “Victoria, good timing!” he grabbed her by the shoulders. “Come with me, I'm on my way to a meeting. You need to know what's happening next week because you are involved”.

  Victoria turned on her heels, following Captain Alonzo. She swallowed hard on a dry throat, breathing deep to calm her racing heart. She couldn't decide if she was scared or excited, she just knew she couldn't wait to hear what was coming.

  They arrived at a building located in the downtown area. Captain Alonzo lead her to an apartment on the fifth floor, where nine officers and a handful of civilians were al
ready in deep conversation.

  After Captain Alonzo introduced Victoria to the group, they went on to discuss the plan. An older officer with many badges on his chest started.

  “Next week, President Chacon's daughter, Andrea, is traveling out of the country. Since she is still underage, she will go with her nanny. Both will be escorted to the airport, where they will take the presidential plane. There will be three SUVs in the escort, all of them with military personnel. We have ensured that our people will drive those SUVs. We are kidnapping that girl.”

  Victoria covered her wide-opened mouth with her hands. She had seen that kid on TV. She couldn't be more than 14 years old and always looked sad. What could they possibly want with her?

  “Since we need to maintain our cover, the presidential plane has to leave on time. Therefore, we are driving all the way to the airport and boarding them on the plane. Once there, an officer will stay with the nanny, making sure the pilots depart. She will come back down the plane with us. That's where you come in, Victoria”.

  Victoria saw all the eyes on her. She stood tall, fighting the warm feeling on her cheeks.

  The General approached her. “That day, you'll be dressed in people's militia clothes. You'll get with Andrea, the nanny and three of our officers inside the plane. While our officers take care of the nanny and the pilots, you'll switch clothes with Andrea. She'll dress like you and you'll change into army clothes. That way, three officers and one trainee will be seen coming down the plane, as if we had left Andrea and her nanny inside.”

  Victoria swallowed hard. She raised her hand liked when she wanted to participate in school. The General nodded.

  “Once we have Andrea, what are we doing with her?” she asked, afraid of the answer.

  “That doesn't concern you at this moment. You'll know at the proper time.” The General turned around, changing subjects immediately.

  Victoria shouted to catch his attention “Just promise me she'll be safe!” The General looked at her as if she was a cockroach “I don't have to promise you anything! Alonzo, make sure she delivers!” She looked at Captain Alonzo who was standing by her. He loudly answered “Yes, Sir!” and glanced at her, giving her a small wink.

  *****

  Victoria was on board of the SUV located in the middle of the escort, which Captain Alonzo was driving. A female officer accompanied them. There was no conversation, no music. Both soldiers looked relaxed but inside the SUV, the air was thick.

  They arrived at the presidential mansion at noon. Four officers walked Andrea and her nanny to the SUV where Victoria was. Andrea was hunched, with her head down, as if trying to hide. The nanny walked behind her carrying their bags. They got into the car and sat in complete silence; they didn't even say hello. Andrea looked down all the way to the airport. No one said a word.

  The three SUVs drove into the airport's runway and parked by the airplane, placing the middle SUV in front of the aircraft's stairs. Andrea and her nanny stepped down the vehicle, followed by Victoria and the female officer. Two other officers from another SUV joined them as they were walking up the stairs. Victoria was aware of the noise of cars passing by in the distance and the sound of the plane, yet all she could hear was her heart beating. She tried to breath deep, but a rock on her chest wasn't letting her.

  Once inside the plane, the three officers drew their weapons at the same time and aimed them to the pilots and the nanny, who started to scream. The female officer hit her in the face, making her fall on one of the seats. The two pilots had their hand raised, and one of them repeated “Everybody stay calm”. The female officer nodded to Victoria, who immediately took Andrea to the back of the plane. Andrea kept her face down, but this time Victoria saw tears streaming down her cheeks.

  “Andrea, my name is Victoria. I'm not a soldier, I'm a kid, like you.” Victoria briefly checked behind her. “I'm not here to harm you, I promise. I want you to be safe, so please, do what I ask.”

  Andrea raised her head slowly. She shook uncontrollably and wouldn't stop wheezing. She looked so defenseless that Victoria couldn't avoid hugging her as tight as her arms let her. Then she placed her hands on Andrea's shoulders and looked directly in her eyes “Andrea, I will give you my clothes. I need you to put them on real fast, ok? Please?”

  Andrea nodded and, in a matter of seconds, she was dressed as Victoria. Victoria made a bun with Andrea's hair, placing the cap and sunglasses that she had been wearing all along. Victoria changed into the female officer's uniform, who put on a civilian outfit to stay on the plane.

  The two girls descended from the aircraft along with the other two soldiers. Victoria held Andrea's arm, not only to guide her but to make her feel she wasn't alone. They quickly got into the vehicle, driving away as the plane prepared to take off.

  Victoria sat beside Andrea in the SUV, holding her trembling hand until they arrived at the building. Once there, Victoria gently grabbed Andrea's arm and lead her to the apartment where they had discussed the plan. The General and other soldiers were waiting for them.

  “Well done, everyone! Now let's prepare her for phase two” he said approaching Andrea.

  Victoria stepped in front of Andrea, looking defiantly at the General. “You're not touching her until you tell me what you're doing”.

  The General clenched his fists for a moment, then smiled tightly. “Very well. You bring her over”. He turned around, walking into a room.

  Victoria looked at Andrea, who had stopped crying “Andrea, I won't leave you alone, I promise.”

  A tiny voice came out of Andrea's mouth, taking Victoria by surprise “What are they going to do with me?”

  Victoria pursed her lips and hugged her again. “I don't know”.

  Together, they entered the room, which only had a chair and a camera. Five soldiers, including the General and Captain Alonzo, were there.

  Captain Alonzo approached Victoria. “Listen, we are not going to hurt Andrea” he whispered in her ear. “We just need her to convince the President to resign”.

  “You are going to blackmail him. If he doesn't resign, you'll kill her, right?” Victoria said between clenched teeth.

  Captain Alonzo looked down. “We hope we don't have to get to that” he said softly.

  Victoria nodded. She grabbed Captain Alonzo's chin to raise his head. “I go where she goes” she said, looking fiercely in his eyes.

  *****

  After dinner, everyone gathered in the living room. The girls sat in the sofa, Andrea's head resting in Victoria's shoulder. The General, Captain Alonzo and other soldiers were standing behind them. They were waiting for a national announcement from the President on TV.

  The video that showed a kidnapped Andrea had been delivered two hours earlier to the President's phone. In it, the President had received instructions to resign on national television before midnight if he wanted to keep her daughter alive.

  When the President's seal came on, all eyes were on the screen. Andrea tightly grabbed Victoria's hand.

  “Today I received a disturbing video in my personal phone” President Chacon said grimly, his face tense. “A group of terrorists has kidnapped my daughter Andrea, and they are asking me to resign if I want her alive. With the excuse that they are freeing this country from repression and corruption, they are threatening me with the live of a child. Well, this is what I tell these cowards: Do what you please with her!” Chacon slammed his fist on the table. “Bring me her head if you want! I will not resign for her or anybody! I am the President! I will always be the President!”

  The silence that invaded the room was broken by Andrea's gasp. She stood up and ran to the bedroom, followed closely by Victoria.

  She found Andrea crying desperately on the floor, her head covered by her arms. The lump that had been in Victoria's throat since that morning finally gave him, letting her tears flow openly. Victoria sat beside Andrea, caressing her hair.

  “I knew it” Andrea said between sobs.

  “You
knew what?” Victoria rubbed her cheeks with the back of her hand.

  “That he would let me die” Andrea sat up.

  “Why do you say that?” Victoria grabbed the sleeve of her sweater to clean Andrea's tears.

  “Because he doesn't love me. He never has.” Andrea sniffled “A few years back, my mom grew tired of his abuse and moved out. When he became President, he took me away from her out of spite. Since then, I've been looked after by nannies. He has never said a nice word, given me a hug or a kiss. Today he confirmed that I'm nothing to him.”

  “Where is your mom?” Victoria asked.

  “I don't know. I haven't seen her again”.

  They remained in silence for a few minutes.

  “Are they going to kill me?” Andrea whispered.

  “Nope, I won't let them” Victoria grabbed Andrea's hands.

  “They'll kill you too!” Andrea's anxiety echoed in her voice.

  “Come. I have an idea.”

  Victoria and Andrea appeared in the living room, where the soldiers were in loud discussions, debating what their next steps should be. Some were in favor of getting rid of the girl, some against it.

  “Ten-hut!” Victoria shouted.

  Like machines, some of the soldiers automatically stood straight. The General and Captain Alonzo looked confused at Victoria, who was smiling widely.

  “As resident of the presidential mansion, Andrea knows it from corner to corner”. Victoria said grabbing her hands behind her back. “She knows where the security is tighter and where it's more relaxed. She knows where the President's room is and how to get there. She even knows at what time he goes to bed. Isn't that true, Andrea?”

  “Yes!” Andrea said bravely.

  Victoria addressed the soldiers again “Do you think this information might be useful to our purposes?”

  Captain Alonzo beamed. The General's eyes sparkled.

  “Let's get to work!” he exclaimed, giving Victoria a small smirk.

  *****

  Andrea was dinning alone in the presidential residency.

  A week ago, in the middle of the night, she had walked to the front steps. The guards saw her approach and, after confirming her identity, they helped her into the house. President Chacon didn't see her until the next morning, when he sent for her to go to his office.

 
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