The Anthem

The Anthem

A Story by Aeneas Barton

The state is about to publicly execute a boy of 15, but not everything goes smoothly

The soldiers marched him through the street at gunpoint. Amazing what a fifteen year old kid and some pamphlets could do in this society. The state said it was an act of treason, an act meant to stir the populace into revolt. Despite the fact of his young age, he was still getting the firing squad. On top of his execution, the state thought it would be a great idea to do it in public. Parade him around and show everyone what they get if they dare speak the truth. Speakers were blaring behind him messages of propaganda.

“This man is a criminal! He has committed an act of treason, endangering his fellow citizens! Such unsocial behavior must be stopped at all costs, for your protection! Citizens are asked to come and witness the good of the state as they put down this criminal.”

The people at large knew what this really meant. They had to watch this poor kid die, or else they could be arrested, fined, imprisoned, or tortured, assuming the state didn’t put them to death. None of them wanted to watch…but they had to. Or so they believed they had to.

The city center was prepared for the occasion. Bleachers had been set up so people could see clearly. Just in case some people could not see, a camera had been set up, linking it to a jumbo screen set up on a side street. And for those people too ill and old to get out of their houses, all normal channel programming would be interrupted to bring them the execution, live.

People slowly began filing out. His parents were nowhere to be found. They were in prison being interrogated about their child rearing methods, and how they could have failed to raise an upstanding citizen. The state had done everything it could. It fed the child its rations when it could, it provided the youth brigade for social acceptance, the state had done everything perfectly; only the parents were left to blame. They would probably face execution, but today was not their day. Today is fifteen year old Liam’s day.

As he was getting tied to the pole at the city center, he couldn’t help but notice some of his old friends from the brigade amongst the soldiers. He wasn’t going to ask for their help. The state had already robbed them of their souls and of their minds, and probably their hearts too. At this point Liam couldn’t help but wonder if he was able to inspire anyone with his pamphlets. Had it all been a waste, or was there at least one person out there who would rise to the fight.

The soldiers all lined up with there rifles in hand. The commander stood at the end barking orders like a despot. Maybe he was going to be in line for a promotion after this. He was going to be on TV after all. Perhaps some of the higher ups would take note of him and remark at their fancy dinners how damn proud they were of that commander. How they needed more men and women like him to serve the nation.

The man’s voice coming through the loud speaker continued with his love for the state and love for one another rhetoric.

“The health of the people is based on the health of the state! If there is someone in the populace who is antisocial, the state becomes antisocial. If there is an undesirable, the state becomes undesirable!”

The commander shot a look of seriousness to the orator as he finished this line. The speaker got it, it was time to wrap things up and get rid of the seditionist that stood before them.

“..And now, as the state has shown time and again, wherever a problem arises, be it a demon or a plague, the state shall solve it, with the use of all the resources available. This is in showing of appreciation to the populace. And now without further wait, the commander shall now save this city.”

The commander smiled and nodded. Now it was time for his bit in the ceremony.

“Should anyone see no cause to carry out this punishment, say so now or forever accept the will of the state.”

Nobody was dumb enough to say what they were thinking.

“Soldiers, should you see an cause to not carry out this punishment, lay down your arms, or forever accept the will of the state.”

The soldiers had even less choice than the people, but that is how the ceremony went. All these formalities that really weren’t necessary.

“Very well then. Soldiers, raise your arms and take aim.”

The line of troops did as they were told. All Liam could feel was a sense of failure, he felt hadn’t really accomplished anything. People were still the same, a nation of sheep.

At this time a distant sound of music could be heard. It was playing through the air and within seconds it had built up. He recognized it right away. The crowd recognized it too. The commander and his firing squad were confused. They didn’t know what was going on.

As the music continued to build up, the crowd started to sing the words. The words that had been imprinted in their hearts and minds, the words that still meant something to them. The words the state would never make them forget. Now matter how bad things got.

“Come out all ye brave souls

Time to defend the homeland

From tyranny and evil…”

Liam couldn’t help but join in these powerful words. Along with the people he began to sing as loud as he could, knowing these would be his last words.

“…Fight for the future

And your children

Until victory is won

And the dead have been avenged…”

Tears started rolling down his eyes, not tears of sadness but tears of pride. This was meant for him, this was a sign, he had done something right. Liam would have been dead by now but the commander’s order to shoot was being drowned out by the music and the people singing the anthem. He was able to get to one or two of his soldiers, but if only a few fired, it’d be a murder not an execution.

“…Take up the fight for all

And claim these rights as yours now…”

The commander was too angry to think straight. He walked towards Liam and drew his pistol.

“Glory will come to the just…”

The commander cocked his pistol.

“…And those with liberty in their hea…”

A shot rang out


© 2013 Aeneas Barton

Author's Note

Aeneas Barton
I am not sure how I feel about the way this story is told. One the on hand, I don't mention much about the kid, and focus a lot on the state in order to bring about a distaste for it, on the other hand, do you have to know much about a child to understand that this state is evil? Does the writing sound too passive? Once again if any typos or grammatical errors are found, do let me know.

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I think that in this situation, is would be more dramatic if the narrator didn't really have an opinion about it, but simply stated the facts in a way that the reader can infer the narrators opinion. So instead of writing 'Despite the fact of his young age, he was still getting the firing squad.' you could describe how the boy looks young, and the reader can imply that killing a young boy is wrong. Just my opinion. But I do like the descriptions.

Posted 10 Years Ago

Aeneas Barton

10 Years Ago

hhm...I see what you are saying. I might very well take this thought into consideration. I will toy .. read more

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Added on January 26, 2013
Last Updated on January 26, 2013
Tags: state, public, execution, death, anthem, flag, fascism, communism, dictator, soldiers, commander, squad


Aeneas Barton
Aeneas Barton

I am who I am. You know the best way to go about meeting a stranger is through conversation. I get inspired to write by various different things. Sometimes it's music, other times, it's by listening t.. more..