Category: Speculative

THURSDAY: The Wall

BY YONG TAKAHASHI

Copyright is held by the author.

I WAS born on August 12, 1970 to an affluent ranching family near the US-Mexican border. My parents attempted to shelter us from strife and heartache. But as I grew older my father shared his fears with me as I, his only son, would inherit the family business and the worries that come along with it. One day, it would become my duty to protect all of us.

The wall started going up in the fall of 2019. There had always been some sort of fencing, well in my lifetime anyway, separating The United States and Mexico. The new President fired up his base and convinced the citizens this wasn’t adequate. They needed a taller, more fortified wall to keep the undesirables out.

Early in the construction phase, a dozen or so of our ranch hands went to the wall to protest. Some of their family members had crossed the border for a better life only to find guns waiting. My sisters wanted to accompany them but my mother forbade it. She said it didn’t affect us, and that money and political influence caused change, not chanting and holding signs. She said we’d increase our political contributions in order to protect our interests. Looking back, I think it was more fear than apathy that steered her decision.

On September 11, 2031, on the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the twin towers in New York City, the ruling party banned us from saying his name. The man responsible for building the wall would be stripped from our tongues forever. They thought if his memory was stricken from the records, the hurt he inflicted on the world would lessen. They were wrong as poison doesn’t stay in a self-contained pool of hatred. It leeches out into the rivers, streams, and hillsides killing all in its path.

Over the past few years, our staff noticed more activity along the border. Even though it was harder to cross over after the newest version of the wall went up, many still tried. The same arguments resurfaced. We should help those in need. They’re escaping crime and poverty. They aren’t going to take what’s ours.  

The same counterarguments crushed common sense. They’re criminals. They’re rapists. They’re murderers. They’re uneducated. They’re animals. Again, fear won over compassion.

But they still swarmed like moths to a flame. The risks were greater than what they faced over there. The small possibility of detention or even death was worth a chance of a new life for their children. After all, isn’t the need for survival ingrained in all humans?

The first large group to cross over looked like zombies. The news stations ran a live feed all day. Many thought they were monsters. We knew it wasn’t possible but they certainly didn’t look human. Their hair, matted with dirt and insects, covered their faces. Dried mud caked their bodies. Their dead eyes only focused on the singular goal of reaching their salvation.

The border patrol sprayed them down with high-powered hoses and interrogated them. Their children were ripped from their arms. We couldn’t risk the little ones of growing up and raising an army against us. No one knew where they were sent. No one knew if they were still alive. We didn’t ask. Weren’t they animals after all?

It was surprising the structure held up so long. The government never gave enough funds to erect what the man who remains nameless wanted. The country’s budget was depleted by the recession, two failed wars in Asia, and the hiring of twenty thousand agents to round up illegal immigrants. The President chose a company that he had prior business dealings with and promised great things, beautiful things, on a budget. The shoddy materials began to buckle a few years after its completion. The barbed wire on top rusted and fell off in sections. The gold exterior which was supposed to blind those who approached it washed out under the extreme sun. The wall fell bit by bit.       

The second wave of invaders reached our ranch. My family and I stood at the gate armed with machine guns. It was us versus them after all. We took out at least fifty but it didn’t deter them.  

The Americans kept coming. Freedom cannot be contained forever.