The Strike

From the Story Arc: Pictures at an Exhibition

Previous Story in the Arc: The Mind's Eye by Strela (Monday, July 17, 2006)

(posted Monday, July 17, 2006)

(( A.N. The following takes place during the general strike caused by the Tutelary Trial and follows the events of Mind's Eye ))

"The highest result of education is tolerance." –Helen Keller

Strela listened carefully for the sound of the crossing signal. As she felt the flow of people around her begin to move, she stepped off the sidewalk to cross the street here in Talos Island. The request for a general strike had found her eager to join in, not because of the trial, which she could care less about, but because of the chance of collective action with her fellow heroes. To a girl raised on the words of Marx and Engels, the idea of a general strike showing the power of the Proletariat was a dream come true. While other heroes were arguing over the trial, the implications, and the consequences, Anna had viewed the enforced day off as a chance to answer a special request, one that she had felt unworthy to respond to, until today.

A change of clothes, use of the Dark Astoria teleport beacon and the aid of her friend Divinitie to assist the young woman she had 'rescued' from the Banished Pantheon had managed to get her past the media hordes lurking with microphones in hand to interview heroes. Few would identify the young woman dressed in a simple red blouse and black wool skirt with her hair out of its ponytail as once of the rising heroes in the CCCP. Dark Oakley wraparound sunglasses completed the disguise, hiding the bandages that still covered the bleeding wreckage of her eyes.

Eventually she came to her destination, following the synthesized voice of the AI in her PDA. As the AI began to chant in Russian 'Steps, steps' she used the white cane she held in her hand-actually a collapsed bowstave-to sweep ahead of her. As she ascended the stairs to the building that stood before her, her sightless gaze unknowingly wandered over a small metal placard: Paragon School for the Handicapped, est. 1893.

As she opened the door, a small metal bell chimed. The receptionist looked up from her desk and rolled over in her wheelchair to greet the Russian superheroine and help her sign in as a visitor. The click of the cane and the squeak of rubber tires on tile floors echoed through the halls as the two walked through soaring halls lined with classrooms. Eventually the receptionist ushered her into one of the classrooms.

< Aaron Copeland "Simple Gifts" Appalachian Spring >

The teacher held up her single hand to quiet the chatter of excited children. As the hum subsided, the teacher spoke. "Today we have a very special guest here in ninth grade. One of our heroes has come to see us! I was introduced to her in our therapy group for survivors of injury, me after the Vahzilok cut off my arm and she came to it because she can no longer see, just like Brian, Debbie and Andrew in our class."

Anna took a deep breath. Slowly and haltingly she moved her hands in the patterns she had memorized from the book on sign language as she spoke. "Good day, and I am glad to meet you all. My name is Anna, and I am one of the heroes in the city. But I do not come here as a hero, but as a fellow person who is handicapped as you are. Because I am blind, I ask to be able to touch your faces to 'see' you as I am introduced to each of you."

After Anna was escorted around the room to meet the blind, the deaf, the lame and the mentally disabled children filling the class, she returned to the desk in the front. "I request that one of our students sign the words as I read this story to you. People will say that being a hero takes powers and skills that few posses, but that is not true. It takes courage, the same courage to overcome the injuries that you share the same courage to do what is right no matter the cost. It takes the same courage that we all share in living a life that people think of as normal. This book is about one girl who had that courage, but no powers, no costume, just the will to do what is right."

Anna's voice lifted and rose through the hush as she began to scan the Braille text in the book given to her: "To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee..."