“To the people of Groveland, I urge to you that we stick together in unity as we prepare to take on tjhe Northside troops! We have been the victims of political heresy, inhumane doctrine, and genocide. This fight did not start just three years ago, no it started long before that, before the groundwork had ever been laid for this police state that is New Mecca. But no more! No longer will we lay here dormant and dying, starving for not only food, but for life, and liberty!” The crowd that has gathered at Langston is the largest that has formed since the draft was held on the lower Eastside almost five weeks ago. Many of the Groveland civilians collectively decided to abandon their former living quarters once the 3rd Order of New Mecca had been announced. The first three Orders were to shut off access to the entire Westside and Central New Mecca.
Most of the new faces were the last of the civilians to make it out of South New Mecca to the lower Eastside once it had been effectively quarantined and shut off from the rest of the state. Electrical fencing had been secretly prepared right underneath the citizens feet, to be brought to the surface with a single push of a button. Simultaneously, on the day that the first 1st Order passed and the fences started going up around Central New Mecca, a report had leaked about the governing elite of the state conspiring to come together, shut off New Mecca’s lines of communication with the outside world, and “cleanse” the state by way of starvation and chemical warfare. That was the worst thing possible for a state already locked in a deadly state of emergency because of a three year race war. After Kedric and Malcom were killed the tension had reached a boiling point, but it didn’t turn fully explosive until two protestors were killed in Downtown New Mecca about six months later. The irony of the situation was that both men involved were on the same side of the protest, though one black and one white. Their altercation resulted in both of them tumbling over a ledge and plummeting to their deaths, only to be sensationalized on the front of the New Mecca Tribune the very next morning. The ‘race war’ media spin would go on for the next year and a half and incite what has become known as the New Mecca Civil War. Although only a fraction of the overall damage to New Mecca during this period, saying that the death toll was higher than it had ever been is an understatement. Things had escalated significantly faster than the elite had predicted, and the city was quickly going under. The 4th Order of the state saw the first use of the nerve agent Sarin on the hostile citizens of Westside and Southside New Mecca. That was the moment everyone realized that the rumors were real, that the state was actually attempting genocide. We all learned that day that the struggle happening in New Mecca was not about race, it was indeed a burgeoning civil war.
That day would be the last anybody would learn much of anything coming from the other side in New Mecca. Then all of a sudden you couldn’t hear anything at all. Before the elites evacuated for their haven on the Northside, before the media blackout, and before they shut off all communication signals leaving or coming into the state, they left a rather cryptic message on the main billboard that read:
“For some time now you all have wondered about the direction of the New Mecca state as we embark upon a journey towards a modern, and more fit, civilization. However this does not mean that it has to be the end of your contributions to the rebuilding and replenishing of a stronger New Mecca, sacrifice will only expedite the overall process. Each individual will remain in their assigned confinement camp for an undisclosed duration. Any attempt to escape will lead to automatic execution of suspect and family unit. This decree has been declared sovereign for all civilians of the state, effective immediately. We will not allow for foreign interference in our state affairs, because just like in life, and in the latter-day New Mecca, only the strong survives. In every confinement camp there is a kill switch that will demilitarize the fences, allowing access to Central New Mecca. There you shall find the key to your freedom, if you’re lucky.”
It actually read off more like a condescending taunt. They were telling everyone that they had a flagrant disregard for human life, and that there wasn’t a thing anyone could do about it. Since the draft all of the boys have been required to camp together at Langston until everyone has received there assignments. The total number of southerners have yet to be accounted for as some of them are still arriving in groups on foot. As you can imagine all operational vehicles and leftover fuel has been deemed property of the civilian troops. Two task forces have been made, one designated for Central New Mecca and one with orders of a direct assault on the Northside.
If there was any humanely logical reason for the elites of New Mecca to be doing what they were doing, it could be felt all over the Eastside. The six months prior to their evacuation is what likely forced their plan to be expedited. The tension coming from South and West New Mecca combined didn’t amount to the pressure and volatile demonstrations exuding from nearly every resident of Groveland. That pressure initially started with looting and a rise in crime that saw seven people killed over a five day span on the lower eastside as a result of unruly protests and gang violence. The most sinister miscalculation of wall was puppeteering the events happening in New Mecca into a full on race war. Seeing as how New Mecca was already socioeconomically divided, the only direction left for the animosity to go was towards downtown and Central New Mecca. Over the next year at least 10 authority figures were attacked in the downtown area, and three killed, as a result of the media driven war that they had manipulated, and that was the tipping point. Of course there are many theories as to why the elites chose to evacuate when they did. There are questions pertaining to why the entire section of Groveland, save for the region that stretches into the Northside, remains the only one in all of New Mecca that hasn’t seen the likes of opposing troops. Stories were being told of entire families, including women and children, being executed in South New Mecca after failed attempts to escape, and giant clouds of smoke could be seen rising from the West New Mecca hills as if the entire place was up in a blaze. All across Groveland the killings and looting had stunningly come to a halt. Instead the protest had turned into a call to arms, a requisite draft, and the forming of Groveland’s very own military commission. If anything the people of Groveland were more ready for war than ever. The same reason that the higher ups had mistakenly formed and initiated such a devious plan of genocide, was turning out to be the exact reason, if not the only one, that the people had a fighting chance. They were already rebels at war.
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Kaleb Blackman and the Knox Twins are big time, the best that Langston Reigns Middle School has to offer. Like most boys, they love the spotlight, totally ambitious, yet unaware of the many vices that often come with it. In what has become a way of life all too familiar where the three boys have grown up, their story will determine if their loss was in vein. If they are indeed destined to overcome the stereotypes, the peer pressures, and the trials determined to rip them apart, it’ll be because they stuck to their principles and by each other’s side. This is the journey of a friend, a son, and ultimately of a survivor. This is to remembering a life before everything became only a synthesis of color, before everything had a price, and when each child was truly a blank slate of potential. This is remembering a life, Before I Black.