Echoes of Liberation (Short Story – an excerpt)


Echoes of Liberation

Durga | Tarneit P-9 College |
Primary English | Term 1 2024

In the heart of New York City, where the towering skyscrapers cast long shadows over bustling streets, Athena moved with a grace born of necessity. Her footsteps echoed against the concrete, a solitary rhythm amidst the cacophony of urban life. At fifteen, she had learned to navigate the labyrinth of deceit that veiled the city like a shroud, her senses attuned to the subtle shifts in power and the whispered secrets that danced on the wind. She takes every step cautiously as if one incorrect move would ruin her mission. Athena was in the middle of stealing food for her family. Or at least people who she treated as her family.

Athena famishedly stares at the enormous flashing sign which reads ‘SUBWAY’ from behind a dumpster. The smell was very repulsive and putrid. However she had noser handy so she plugged it on to block all the putrid and disgusting smells from polluting her nose. Each letter of the 6-letter-word being a key which would release them from a prison of hunger and starvation. It was a gloomy and dark night illuminated by a single streetlight which flickered repeatedly. Surreptitiously, she scans the perimeter for any signs of robotic guards or security cameras. She navigates a myriad of cameras and two security guards and smirks. ’Too easy,’ she whispers to herself. She grabs her night vision goggles from her spy bag and wears her mother’s sacred cloth covering every part of her face that could be spotted by the robotic guard and then stored into the database.

The cloth was the only item she had in remembrance of her lost mother. People say she had eloped with another man and her father had suicided in shame but Athena knew that was false. Every day she would mourn for them to come back and rescue her from this atrocious and immoral world. Everyday she would sulk in pain and agitation. If there was one item that she would never leave, it was that cloth. Tears start to roll down her cheeks and land on the clean and regularly concreted road creating a puddle of gloomy memories. Her mind starts to turn into a web of memories dating back to when she was hardly 4 years old. The warm hugs she would get before bedtime, Friday movie night, archery day, all the stories they would share and many more enchanting adventures and memories all crushed one day.

Red lights flash on her face and a robotic guard spots her. Only then does go back to the corrupt world she was living in. Athena gets on her feet and throws 3 bayonets toward its chest. The robot breaks down and Athena’s cover gets blown.

As she wipes the last droplets rolling out of her eyes, Athena stealthily approaches the 2nd security guard as if it was a pre-planned heist and pulls out his SIM and control system. THUD! The decrepit robotic bodyguard falls to the ground and starts shaking as if it was having a fits attack. DING DONG DING DONG DING DONG! Deafening sirens scream at the top of their lungs. Like a cheetah, she grabs her auto SMG and starts firing as if she was an unstoppable missile. Bullets fell to the ground like droplets on a rainy day. Luckily, all the cameras were not bulletproof. She doesn’t stop firing until each camera and alarm is stumbled into tiny bite size pieces. Only then does she uncover her face and takes off her charcoal black cloth.

Athena may appeal as a corrupt and spoiled criminal. However, this perception covers her true pure heart filled with magnanimous and determined acts.

The year was 2050, and the world lay ensnared in the clutches of corruption. What had once been a beacon of progress had devolved into a cesspool of greed and moral decay. The government, once a bastion of hope, had succumbed to the insidious allure of power, its leader’s puppeteers in a macabre dance of deception. For Athena, the world was more than just a backdrop—it was a harsh reality that had claimed and eliminated her parents 5 years prior. Since their disappearance, she and her younger sister, Ember, had forged a fragile existence in the shadows of the city, their quaint rented house, a sanctuary, amidst the chaos.

But even within the confines of their humble abode, the tendrils of corruption reached out, coiling around their lives like vipers waiting to strike. Each day was a battle for survival, a delicate balancing act between defiance and submission. As the sun dipped below the horizon, casting the city in hues of crimson and gold, Athena ventured into the labyrinth once more. She was a courier by trade, her deliveries a lifeline in a world teetering on the brink of collapse. But beneath her guise lurked a burning determination to uncover the truth, to unravel the mystery of her parents’ disappearance and bring their captors to justice.

As the last bullet slides out of her SMG the surroundings go silent. So silent that even a pin drop could be heard. Now it was just Athena and a restaurant full of food. She nonchalantly opens the door and saunters into the room as if it was her home. Grabbing just as much as she needed for her, Ember and others. She left hastily, with her unfoldable stash filled with an abundant amount of food, before the robot police arrived.

Athena rides her auto driven scooter back to her tormented house. She had travelled through the labyrinth city on numerous occasions to deliver mail which enabled her to navigate the city with her eyes closed. She holds the stash full of goods closed to her chest as if it was a sacred artefact. As she swerves to her street where she lives she takes a halt. Recklessly, she strolls towards her house along with the heavy stash of mouth-watering food. She pressed on the doorbell which had green and gooey moss attached to it. ‘Eww,’ she whispers under her breath. She sighs. No matter how ugly or unhygienic the house was, she had to deal with it. Afterall it was the cheapest house she could find in all of New York.

DUN! DUN! DUN! Heavy footsteps start approaching the afflicted door. ‘WHAT YOUR NAME!’ Screams a deep voice.’ Athena,’ she replies vexed. ‘WHAT’S THE MAGIC WORD,’ the voice screams again. ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,’ Whispers Athena in a more attentive attitude. The door handle twists and the door opens revealing a bunch of people all wearing unwashed and unironed clothes. The clothes looked like they had been oppressed and maltreated. Each of them has similar shoes, the cheap ones from the $3 shop down the road for the poor like Athena. Each shoe had at least 1 small hole in it revealing the skin.

‘Where did you go, Athena? We were all worried,’ whispers a tiny voice from beside her. ‘I was out for food,’ She mutters, avoiding contact with the eldest member of the ‘tribe’. Ember, her only own real family member, hugs her from behind Athena. ‘Don’t ever do that again,’ Ember mumbles, relieved. Ever since Athena had managed to find a job, she brings as many people as she can find who are orphans who have dealt with similar trauma like her. In total there were approximately 16 people in the house without including Athena and her sister Ember. Athena drags the stash full of food and places it in the centre. Everyone stares at the supply of food. Each person licking their lips as if they were a lion who hadn’t eaten for a month.

Durga | Tarneit P-9 College

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