My dad always told me not to trust the government, but I always thought he was exaggerating, despite the fact that things have never been great for us. It’s always one thing after another with power shortages, lack of medical care, the division of priviledges between the rich and poor, corrupt authority figures, and more and more limitations on everyday life. However, I never imagined things could get any worse, but here we are; World War Four, and somehow I find myself and my friends being drafted in to fight. No amount of fighting or protesting can save us; you can’t defy the authorities or you’ll be imprisoned or executed. It’s the terms and conditions of our daily life, so without another choice, we have to go to war. The only thing is I’m never one to stay quiet if I think something isn’t right and lately, I’ve had this feeling in my gut…
Who the hell am I? I’m the kid who started this story. As I’m such a generous guy, I’ve given most of the coverage to Mati and Jack though. You can find my general thoughs, definitions, and insights scattered throughout. What do you need to know about me? I died 21 years ago, aged fourteen, in damn World War Three but don’t worry, I’m still very informed and ‘up with the kids’. You might even call me omniscient: ‘knowing more or less everything’, but that’s only when I’m paying attention. You’re probably wondering why I’m telling the story of Project Tsunami but I’m not going to help you. Read it for yourself and find out. Yalla, yalla.
I’ve wanted to be a nurse as long as I can remember but Britain has other ideas for me, and millions of other young people. The only thing I find comfort in is that Mati and Hiro are by my side. My friends are the most important thing in the world for me, especially as my mum has been useless since my dad left. Then my so-called ‘step-dad’ came on the scene to make my life hell. Without Mati, my teenage years would’ve been terrible. Maybe I wouldn’t have made it. So despite the fact that we’ve been duped once again by our country into fighting a war that we never signed up for, I’m pleased I have Mati with me if I have to fight. However, sometimes I wish she would just do as she’s told, although if I’m honest, that’s exactly the characteristic I love about Hiro. But don’t tell him that…
I can speak computer. No, seriously… Well, okay, I just understand them very well. I’ve been causing havoc with them since I was small and learnt how to turn one on. My dad said I had some kind of built in second-language for them. Since then, I’ve always found ways to use computers to my advantage; lifting restrictions on what I can and can’t do imposed by the authorities, overriding the Electricity Guard’s monitoring systems, looking up classified information… In a way, I should’ve seen this coming. I should’ve known my suspicions about the Life Skills course were grounded in truth: they were making soldiers out of us. From day one. And I’m not taking this lying down.
Most people think I’m just some farm kid at first, even Mati was mistaken. The good thing about being a farm kid though is that you learn how to work hard. Another benefit is I learned to shoot, something that will save me and the others time and time again. Things haven’t been amazing for me; life has been hard for my family, so going to war feels like just another kick in the teeth. I have no idea how much my life will change when I get on that plane. The funny thing is, it’ll change in a completely different way than I expect it to. Maybe I’ll die out there, but at least, I’ll have met her.
I never trusted the government since they sent me into World War Three. When I met a boy named Zi and watched him get blown to pieces, that was the moment things really hit home for me. I saw how pointless and unjustified the war was in one split second. Of course, I didn’t get to go home until a few years later, but I never forgot that feeling. It took me a long time to do anything after the war ended but I started working because I had nothing else to do. In the end, making things saved my sanity. The country was going down, one day at a time. And then I met Hannah and I suddenly didn’t care that I barely had enough to eat most days, or that the country was trying to tax us to death, or that I had to sell furniture for a fraction of the price it should be. She made me feel safe when I woke up screaming, thinking about Zi and all the other people I saw die. Then the most amazing thing happened; she gave me Mati.
I’ve lost my family and I’m not even sure why. We’ve been told we’re at war and Sydney’s been evacuated of civilians. Some of the police force have stayed behind, and armed forces have moved in. The city has already been bombed but it was quiet for a while. That’s until the kids arrived, thousands of them, all looking so young and scared. I don’t understand why they were sending all these young ones in. We’ve heard things on the news but who knows what you could trust. All I’m worried about is my granddaughter; she’d been sent to Japan to fight. I haven’t heard anything from her. I need to know if she’s still alive, but all these other young ones seem to be getting in the way.
You might be surprised to hear that I’m proud of my country. What? An Australian who loves his country? Ha ha. I couldn’t resist, sorry. I’ve always loved my home, especially my city, Sydney. When the bombings happened, I couldn’t believe we were actually under attack. One thing led to another, and I became a soldier. You know how it is, one day you’re chasing girls and hanging out at the beach, and the next you have a gun in your hand and you’re crouching in dark places trying to decide whether to shoot someone or not. I was pretty shocked when I saw the so-called ‘reinforcements’ they sent from other countries. They were practically infants but hey, you can’t bite the hand that feeds you. I kept my group together and protected the residents who stayed behind, trying to avoid these young ones who seemed to know nothing, but then I guess things had to change. They always have to change.
I’m not the friendliest person in the world, anyone can tell you that. The only people who think I’m in any way ‘warm’ are my aunt and uncle (who I live with), and Becky. My parents died of a curable disease when I was younger. My family don’t talk about them much and I barely remember them. I sometimes wonder what they would think of how I am now, whether they would be proud of me. I’m not particularly surprised we were conscripted, it seems more a less expected from a country where my parents were left to die because they didn’t have the money to save themselves. Somehow, I survived that, so maybe my luck has already run out. We’ll soon see…
I know you’ll probably hate me, which is no skin off my nose. Go ahead and hate me. I’ve always lived for myself and I won’t stop now, not for anyone. Armies work in teams, sure, but when it comes down to it, it’s you and you alone. I’m the same as all the others, from the same place and maybe going the same place too. The only way to change things is to make decisions, ones which will keep you alive. I’ve managed to stay on top this long, despite others dying and failing around me. A war is the same thing, just with more regular chances to lose things and get yourself hurt. I don’t care what happens to anyone else, I’m fighting to protect one person only.
I’m the big bad wolf, apparently. That’s what Mati Hunter and her friends will tell you. What they don’t understand is where I’m coming from, a position of experience. I’ve seen horrific things, what happens to a country when they don’t have enough food, shelter, medical care, and money to keep their society moving. People do monstrous things to each other, societies collapse, and it’s hard to go back. By doing what we’re doing, by making this sacrifice, we’re stopping that. We’re making sure it’s a world we can fix, not a world beyond repair. It seems unfair, I know, but someone has to be sacrificed. Why not them? You can call me a monster if you like, but just remember, I’m saving you. If you open your eyes and really think about things, you’ll see it clearly.
All characters’ names © Nikki Dudley