The clerk’s monotone voice is accentuated by the bored look that he gives me, and my pulse accelerates at the thought of the next few moments. Julia nods at me from the next terminal and I turn back to the clerk sitting in his improvised cubicle of sorts. He coughs and stares at me.
“Sir, I need to see your papers.”
Slowly I reach into my pocket, hands already slicked with sweat and fear. The folded slip of paper resting there crackles gently as I slide it out and pass it to the clerk. After giving me a strange look he unfolds it.
Seeing the symbol scratched into it with a cheap pen and an artist’s hands, the clerk’s skin turns a pale shade lacking only the blue lines crossing the paper in front of him.
Before we left Bourbon Street to mount the assault on Danziger Bridge, Julia had laughed at the size of the gun I had brought.It was my father’s old Colt Single Action Army handgun, better known as a Peacemaker. As a revolver it originally held only six bullets at a time, but after a visit with Emmet I specially modified the chamber to hold twelve bullets.
The modification certainly added to the weight, but in this day and age I wasn’t going to be caught by the National Guard and killed just because I ran out of ammo. Still, twelve bullets can run out quickly enough, so I trained with Emmet to be a damned good shot and ordered a large supply of Black Talon bullets from an illegal ammunition dealer.
Black Talon bullets are a rare commodity in themselves. Back in 2000 the Winchester company manufacturing them pulled them from the market due to public demand. The extremely effective bullets would actually expand upon impact in flesh, quickly spreading to shred the tissue in a star-shaped formation around it.
By chance I had managed to lay my hand on a large pile of the forbidden ammunition for a remarkably cheap price. So far, over three years I had fired ten Black Talons.
Ten bullets, ten kills.
I don’t miss.
My hand grips the barrel of the Peacemaker as the clerk’s mouth flaps like the gills of a fish, but I’m not going to waste a bullet on him.Lifting the handgun high above my head, I swing violently down and feel the hard steel handle CRUNCH into the clerk’s nose. Julia swings her custom-made sawn-off shotgun from the folds of her coat, jamming the barrel in the face of the clerk at her terminal.
There are no guards here; a foolish mistake on the part of the US. Setting up a checkpoint at Danziger Bridge should have really been a military operation, especially considering the significance of the site to Katrina’s Children, the group I belong to and have technically belonged to all of my twenty-five years living in New Orleans.
The rest of the Children attacking with us reveal themselves; five men and women, one of them Emmet and his enlarged-magazine Kalashkinov that has won us so many battles. Every Child surges forward and brandishes their weapons.
The clerk in front of me is on his knees, his nose streaming with blood and tears as he sobs with terror. I train my handgun on his face and speak.
Slowly, shaking, he stands, broken nose a red beacon to the other Americans clustered inside this makeshift border check. I speak again, eyes focused on his.
“You tell the Guard that we don’t want any Americans coming close to Danziger Bridge or the city limits again, or we will retaliate. There will be no one leaving the city, and no one entering it. Tell them to leave well enough alone. Now leave.” I turn my head and bark at the rest of the people cowering around the area. “All of you! NOW!”
The clerks and various workers turn and scatter like rabbits, feet pounding like jackhammer pulses across Danziger Bridge. I lower the Peacemaker and the Children around me follow suit with their weapons.
The site where my father was killed by police officers, twenty-five years ago when the levees broke and New Orleans was flooded by a hurricane that we have still not recovered from. Only twelve years since we separated from the United States and formed our own independent nation.
Emmet hefts his Kalashnikov onto his shoulder and grins over at me. I return the smile, yet inside myself I know I can never smile.
“This is all we have known,” I shout to my comrades, shoving the Peacemaker into my coat. “the devastation of our home and the lack of assistance from our people’s own government. The symbol we’ve chosen to represent our group is fitting; the fleur de lys of New Orleans suspended above a skull. The Children of Katrina have been born from the city’s ashes, and we will have the justice deserved!”
A roar of assent rises from my brave warriors, and we begin to secure the perimeter around Danziger Bridge, tearing down the fascimile of an office constructed at the mouth of the bridge.
As we take down the US government building, I notice the new ‘fleur de lys crani’, the iris skull image we have made, etched onto the paper that I had passed to the clerk. As I stare at it the wind picks it up and it flutters out of reach.
Before long, I know that the US will come to reclaim the land that they feel is still theirs. I know that without a shadow of a doubt we will fight to the death under the banner of the iris skull, but at what cost? I fear for the future, and the lives to be lost.
For now, I straighten my spine and help my fellow soldiers.
We have a bridge to claim.
A sinking ship is filled with sailors thinking of themselves.