The birth of radical
Leaves ran around the rusty wires of the fence that encircled the abandoned factory. A group of teenagers cut a hole among the leaves after the first tear-gas canister landed among feet, placards and rage. They crept through the hole, and up beside the bricks to a door that had been slung shut before these children had grown tall enough to reach the lock. They found no key among the girders and bits of bent metal that saturated this cement landscape.
Walter’s left foot teased a dandelion that had struck through the worn cement, as some of the others began bashing the lock with a piece of metal bent like a crowbar.
“They’ve got themselves to blame,” Laura let her shoulder rest against his as the bent metal shrieked – “we got them good today.” Walter’s hands burrowed themselves into his pockets.
“Yeah, you did.” He felt as though she had wrapped a blanket around him.
“We did. You were there too.” She swept away a lock of hair from her eyes. A gust of quiet fell upon the enclosed land.
“Hey! It’s open, we got it open” Ian yelled at them. Ted threw aside their bent tool.
They gathered around the door. If I stop here – I can go back to A-levels… Let other people sort this out. Ian gave the door a shove. It slid partway open and sent a slit of light to the wall on the far end. Ian and Ted slipped inside and faded into the darkness. Joseph went in after them, and then Laura and him together – the steel door sent a shiver through his hand as he held the door for her, this girl who had been a stranger when he woke up that morning.
It took some moments for his eyes to adjust to the dim light, but there was light. It came from sparse windows near the curved ceiling and tears in the metal plates that made up the walls. They dispersed inside the factory, eager to get to whatever had brought them here. He stayed close to Laura, and let her lead him through the factory.
They went down a long bare hallway with hooks in the wall where pictures had hung, and then through a handful of rooms until they happened upon what might have been the break room. She sat down on a wooden box that had left there for no apparent reason.
“What are you thinking?” She asked after a period of silence.
“Just that… I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this.” He looked at her sneakers.
“We’re doing something that matters.” She paused and let their eyes meet. “I don’t like it either, but that makes no difference.”
“Why can’t we just be students?” despair stained his voice.
“They changed things – we don’t get to be…” She took his hand.