May 18, 2018
[Editor's note: this short story by GEO Collective member Cadwell Turnbull is a bit of a departure from our usual fare, but one which we hope our readers will find to their liking. Cadwell has highlighted the need for fiction that supports and contributes to the cooperative and solidarity economy movements in his three part series on cooperative media, published earlier this year. It is in this spirit that we present the first instance of fiction to be featured on GEO.]
(Read by Cadwell Turnbull and Anju Manandhar)
They built a wall.
It was a thousand feet high and could be seen from a hundred miles out, a thin bruise on the horizon.
The wall, of course, was to keep out undesirables. It had to be big, too tall to climb, set too deep to dig under. And it had to encircle Valor. To protect them. To keep them pure.
Some of the Valorians didn’t like the wall.
The leaders of Valor could not have this. They rounded the trouble-makers up, stuffed them in giant canons, and launched them over the wall, their bodies unspooling like worn ribbons.
First, just the immigrants: the people born outside the wall, their children, their children’s children. Then the remaining activists: the ones that led and the ones that followed. Then the intelligentsia, along with their books.
Soon citizens had to prove their families were there since the nation’s founding. The Founding People and The Tainted fell into civil war. The conflict was all-consuming. Tanks rolled across the land.
First, the young men marched off to war. Then the young women, when the men were more bone than body. And then the elderly.
Soon only the children were left. They ran across hillsides, naked and feral, eating the rabbits and the squirrels and the remaining deer.
When winter came, many of them froze or starved or fell ill with a sickness that never left.
On one hillside, a little girl held her dying young brother as he growled in anguish. He had forgotten words, forgotten everything before the hunger.
He coughed and so did she, the noises mingling in black song. As her brother shook in her arms, the girl could see the dark line on the horizon.
She would climb it, she decided, after she lay down and rested with her brother for a little while. She was so tired these days.
“Just a little rest,” she said, and closed her eyes, cozying up to her brother’s still body, to catch its remaining warmth.
A hundred years passed over Valor.
The nation to the south wondered about their silent neighbor. They blasted loudspeakers day and night for weeks, and when there was no reply, they sent planes over the wall.
They found a land thick with forests and moss covered bones.
In the shadow of the wall they found most of the dead.
Go to the GEO front page
Cadwell Turnbull (2018). They Built a Wall. Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO). https://geo.coop/story/they-built-wall