“Finding the Light” By James Jabara

To say that they were a happy family would be true. But it didn’t last long. Jarko was spray painting with white paint on a black wall. Vandalizing, he hid behind a dumpster so his light brown hair wouldn’t give him away. His black hoodie slightly blended with the black wall he was painting. He took precautions so he wouldn’t get caught and killed by Alpha Guards, elite soldiers who would do anything for their leader the Alpha Lord (AL).  Because the Lord could do anything and controlled everything, the laws did not apply to him. No one had ever seen his real face before, only his snow white eyes under his decorated white mask. The act of antipathy that Jarko performed that day, spray painting a negative comment about him, was illegal but had a purpose.

Years ago, while Jarko was asleep, the Guards took his mother and father. It was a forthright order from the Lord. Jarko woke up just in time to see bulky dark shadows on the street hop into a Guard vehicle with his parents. His parents were screaming as the vehicle moved down the dirt road, heading to the city. Jarko recalled his father’s last words, “Fight back.” They were never seen again.  His grandma later explained how Guards got rid of “criminals” and why his parents were taken. Apparently, they were taken because they forgot to give their monthly “salary” to the AL. This was a tax paid directly to him, and everyone had to pay it no matter their income. Salaries were as unfair as rigged carnival games.  His parents were dirt poor and didn’t have enough money to buy food, so they tried to circumvent the system once.

But, the AL never gave anyone a break. Jarko’s hatred for the AL was growing like a fire in a dry forest. Once on a “touring,” where the AL goes to each sector of the country and gives a speech, he announced that there would be a statue of him in each town. Jarko was there to see the first statue go up. What annoyed Jarko was the fact that the citizens hated the AL and his statue, but pretended to like him and clapped when the statue went up. This sickened Jarko, because he realized how 1 person could strike fear into 10’s of thousands of people. He felt like the only one protesting. Many events like this made him catch fire. He did his best to try and rebel by doing things like writing negative comments in public places, or rebelling in other ways. Rebelling became a part of his life. But he always felt he needed to do more, and alone he could not overthrow or affect anyone or anything. He needed a team, and he would find one.

One night, Jarko heard loud knocks on his door. KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! He was going to open the door, but he had vandalized that day. Consequently, His instincts told him that it was the Alpha Guards. He grabbed water, food, and ran to the city. As a result, he lived on the streets for 4 days. When he got home, he spotted a note on his table. An anti-Lord rebellion was asking Jarko to join them, their main base in a faraway place called Alleytown.

“So it wasn’t an Alpha Guard!” Jarko grumbled. He knew that joining this group could make more of a difference than anything.  So Jarko left town and started a long journey that took him through 7 sectors of rugged and dangerous Mexican villages. He was struggling, with little food and terrible shelter, and had almost given up. During his 4th day, a newspaper he picked up from bus stops along his journey informed him of some good news. His sector had finally stood up, because the statue was so tall that crops weren’t getting enough light. He was proud of his sector. The next day, he read that his sector was bombed, 400 dead for speaking up. Enraged, Jarko wanted to punish the AL. Suddenly, near the base, an Alpha Guard attacked

him. He quickly realized that by himself, he was no match for the Guard. He was a gnat, waiting to be swatted. Finally, he saw 2 people about his age, wearing red bandanas and carrying homemade weapons. Ultimately, he was struck one last time, then blacked out. When he awoke, his left shoulder was in great pain. He realized he was in a room, lined with many homemade weapons and young people wearing bandanas. As if it was planned, they all chanted together, “Welcome to the light.”

 

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