Lone Voice

The minister walks into the ballroom, surrounded by soldiers dressed in black. They see a man – young, little more than a child – standing defiantly in the middle. Sunbeams illuminate shafts of dust. Chairs line the edges of the floor, covered in protective sheets. A piano, not played for a long time, sits in the corner. The minister surveys all this, then settles his gaze upon the boy.

“Well, you wanted a big show-down,” says the minister. “But you failed. Nobody came to see your temper tantrum.” He shakes his head. “Your father would be ashamed of you. When I saw you as a toddler, running along the corridors of power, who would have thought it would come to this?”

“What you have done is wrong,” says the boy. “You’ve destroyed our ideals. What’s left is just an empty shell.”

The soldiers have spread out, now. They surround the boy. No escape.

The minister nods. “Please, please,” he says. “Shout louder. Do your little speech. Get it out of your system. Nobody is listening. Nobody cares any more.”

Tears threaten to well up in the boy’s eyes. Stories flash across his mind, the heroes of the books he read as a child. His schooling. The great ideas of the past. But nothing comes to his tongue now.

The minister smiles.

“I’ll give you one thing. You’re very brave!” he said. Then he leans forward to bring his lips close to the boy’s ear. “…But it won’t be enough.”

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