The children don't deserve to die.
I had hope, I really did have hope, that I would find a heaven for little John and I, but the voice of the proclaimed prophet drowns my pleas for logic and the crowd has been blinded by sermons through sleep and the guns, the guns.
Jones interrupts every word I say. He says to me, 'I can tell you the answer now, because I am a prophet.' And the crowd cheers, and they say that it's over, that I'm a wicked person and that if I want to leave them all so close to glory, I can leave all I want.
I want to leave. This isn't the Jonestown I came here for. But right outside these gates, I'll be met by steel barrels, a gaping abyss from which a steel point will come rising out towards me. I know that they would pull the trigger without a second thought, that the sound of a ringing gunshot will mean nothing to the others.
Jones' eyes on me, the crowd waiting for my response. I don't have the energy to go any further resisting. 'That's all I got to say.'
Jones had been a handsome man, square-set jaw and well defined cheekbones, but not long after Jonestown he had stopped paying attention to his appearance; just a few weeks after settlement, his hair lay matted in patches against his head from dried sweat, and in other places strangled the air around his head, reaching out like the limbs of a monster hiding within that skull. The monster that does hide in there.
The speech continues, and I can't help but cry for Johnny, so sweet and so small. The others give stares of contempt, and they mutter, she is afraid to die. I wish I could tell them how they were so wrong, that I have no fear of the other side - only fear for these strangers surrounding me that had once been my closest friends.
Jones is telling us, they will come from the sky with weapons, they will torture our children and destroy this building. But it's lies that snake their way out of his mouth into the eager ears of the ignorant, and perhaps I am the only one who would see not corrupted government men, but angels descending with parachutes and uniforms.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡMG5iYc3La3
‘Please, please, can we hasten, can we hasten the medication… the congressman is dead, there’s nothing we can do now…’, people surging slowly, a wave of flesh pushing me and Johnny forward and I’m drowning in it, my child not knowing what’s going on, little Johnny pulling at my hand like a weight I can no longer carry.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡjoK3VEX9iG
And they have the drink, purple liquid sloshing around in the tubs they carry, and cups in hand, ready to give out the fatal dose. They’re coming, they’re coming for him but I can’t let him go I can’t – ‘MAMA!’ – and then, weightless.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡHJosAKRiNv
Floating alone, the taste of bitter almonds and grapes in my mouth.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡSbdzrJ1SwX
‘Please, please, there’s nothing to cry about… it’s not to be feared.’421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ54YB7VFcoJ
Floating. The children are crying…
The congressman has to die.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡp6okWa3LDF
He and the traitors, I’ll shoot them, I know I will.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡggzPV4Duuc
‘I want to leave too.’ The traitors pass side eyes and worried murmurs but it’s too late for them now. I’m coming with them.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡAVpgJEirRH
‘Very well.’ The congressman, with his manners and suits and words, all lies, all lies!421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ2MLG6K45HO
I’m repulsed by the filth of the people I get into the truck with. You can smell it inside them – the filth of an unloyal, a weak and cowardly piece of meat that deserves no place in Jonestown.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡlMZLsnLgB1
I make sure to sit at the front of the truck. It’ll be easier then – in a single movement, I will draw the sharpened blade from my pocket and it will seek out the evil and stop it from destroying this holy place.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡlzL4X4HTCC
The trees begin thinning out as if the forest itself can’t bear to come near the airfield – a feeling I share. It’ll be quick, I tell myself, and Mr. Ryan will be dead.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡdQOHWfyJpN
snitch421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡTRuWBOUQ6x
swish421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡSkv2WtoFSF
hick421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡdy02OGTzpi
umph421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡsaf5DI3tZf
The taste of old soil and pungent rainwater fill my mouth. I’ve failed Jones, I know I have.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ48ZiP47CLX
‘…file a criminal complaint. I’ll take the others to the airstrip.’ Words, all lies, all lies!421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡhzltgztZeR
Disgraceful. Metal wrapped around my arms, lodged against a trunk, jagged wood against my cheek. This other man thinks he is so superior, but when he dies, Jjara will punish him. Jjara will reward me for my good deeds, and he will reward Larry as well – this man, so clever, doesn’t know that there is another chance for me, rolling along wheels with the congressman. I will wait.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡOwVVn2HSIJ
I close my eyes and count. One… two… three…
The sound of the man writing on a piece of paper.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡItzXGnOa19
Ninety six… ninety seven…421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡUpm57z25Sg
Four hundred and fifty eight…421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡWLNnQEVR4S
The sound of a plane landing nearby.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡCd8ma0UmHj
Four hundred and eighty four…421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ46LHZ4GgHA
The sound of gunshots.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡggCUwTbNiv
The man starts, and I lash out with my leg, the man falling so clumsily in that suit of his with a ‘Eruh!’ that betrays all his fancy accents and musings.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡBbvsL8oMCX
Another kick. Another kick. The man is so weak without words, and the sounds stop eventually.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡc0O8L1dbQK
One thousand eight hundred and thirty two.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡKTy18U4qF7
The plane hasn’t left. The traitors will never make it back to America.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡlYOwQjLFjR
Jjara smiles upon this day;421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡEFrS7aeBIk
The congressman is dead.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡgewpX7mlia
Counting, counting.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡfIwHBBSQh6
Twenty two thousand…421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡkD5fnlhX4E
Forty seven thousand…
I am ready to die.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ6jjNYfSBBe
‘I can tell you the answer now, because I am a prophet!’ I cheer with the others. Jones is a nice man. He has worked so very hard for us, and the woman is ungrateful for wanting to leave. This place, everything… it couldn’t have happened without the wonderful person standing in front of me.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡHUMicmD0as
‘Do you think I would put John’s life above the others? If I put John’s life above the others I wouldn’t be standing with Jjara. He’s no different to me than any of the others here. He’s just one of my children.’ Jones loves us all the same, you know, and that’s what made me come here; black living with white, all sisters and brothers in unity here. Jonestown gave what America could not.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡT4vXdX4I89
I move forward with Ted in my arms, careful not to push forward too fast. Ted was the sweetest child; and even now, he’s not crying like the others.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡNC1ccdNwJK
I clear my throat. ‘I just want to say something to everyone that I see that is standing around and are crying. This is nothing to cry about. This is something we should all rejoice about.’ Ted gurgles lightly at the sound of my voice and I hug him close to my chest. ‘I’ve been here one year and nine months and I never felt better in my life. Not in San Francisco, but until I came to Jonestown. I enjoy this life. I had a beautiful life. I don’t see nothing that I should be crying about. We should be happy.’ And they are cheering, clapping for me and I smile at all my sisters and brothers, and Jones’ smile at me brings such joy I know Ted can feel, beating from my heart into his, so small and so close.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ0L4RPKWmrL
‘I want to do it.’ I say to the man with the cup. He gives it to me, a simple plastic thing but simple is all we ever needed in life, isn’t it? It’s enough for Jonestown.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡTyP2ctryU0
‘Now, now, Ted…’ I gently pour the child’s drink into his mouth, pausing for every swallow and breath. Once the cup is empty, just a small stain of purple at the bottom, I take my own – a sweet and bitter taste at once, like an aged and nutty wine.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡKgoLaBOpN8
I lay down on the floor, calming words from Jones passing in one ear and out the other – the details don’t matter, just the soothing effect, and Teddy coos gently as I pat his head.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ9fzPw0b8sw
And – I don’t know if it’s the hallelujah of my brothers and sisters rising in exultation, or if it is the sweet melodious voice of Jjara himself – but I can hear the most beautiful harmony of song, a brilliant cascade of music resonating through the skies – ‘Listen, Teddy!’ Such a sweet child, he is. ‘Can’t you hear the singing?’421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡWSwGGHWoKD
I’m floating, now, rising into a spiral of stars where I’ll find for me and Ted what I came here for – peace, peace, and below me, the Jonestown trees shatter and scatter, just a kaleidoscope of leaves that once resembled a landscape being blown away until nothing is left but the view of distant galaxies and the warmth of my child.421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡlzZhxoXkv8
The voice of a good man echoes softly;421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡvmgko9fFCD
‘…you set 1000 people who say ‘We don’t like the way the world is’… I don’t know how in the world they’re gonna write about us. It’s just too late…’421Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡPaVh6ZGsWw