The thinning forests of western France welcomes heavy gusts of wind to suppress the fires devouring the tractors and police vehicles. Glass bottles shatter and release the hungry fire onto the helmets and shields of the French police. The officers fall back as a diverse army with hideous faces stalk over the foliage to confront their adversaries. The infantry of gas masks take the first charge through the clouds of teargas to clear a path for the supporting troops, a clan of malodorous hooligans and anarchists with trees for faces. The malevolent humans covered in dead flora steal the batons and shields of the fallen officers to push against the remaining line of blue Spartans. The police falls back to their cars parked on the other side of the creek that borders the ZAD with the civilized world. Chief Rodin, the last remaining captain waves a white cloth to alert a temporary surrender. The ZAD radicals cheer their victory, all except Auguste Llyon.
Auguste walks amongst the semi-conscious police and watches his own comrades carry some of the live bodies to safety. An officer grabs Auguste’s leg and pulls himself up, expecting a helping hand to raise him back to his feet. Auguste takes back his leg and moves on to inspect the remaining bodies. Some packs of fruit snacks and half-empty water bottles become his winnings from the battle.
After letting the remaining officers go home, against the protest of Auguste, the ZAD fighters reconcile and celebrate their victory against the fascist machine with cooked beef and packets of cheese. Auguste remains alone outside of the camp. His tongue seals the rolling paper after filling it with tobacco and marijuana. He inhales nearly half of the joint in a single hit.
“We didn’t win anything yet,” Auguste groans.
“I think it’s worth something,” Charlotte responds to her comrade before offering a sip of her beer. “Want some?”
“Not tonight.” Auguste takes in another hit from his joint. He coughs, “Why do Emile and the others always let the cops go. They’ll just come back for us tomorrow or the next day! How long can we fight with the little material we make?”
“What do you want? Keep the police hostage?”
“I… I don’t know. Just something more concrete. I feel like that we will do nothing but small skirmishes with the police for the rest of our lives.”
“We’ll tire them out,” Charlotte says as the alcohol takes hold. She sways and stands in front of August with excessive confidence. “You’ll see. We’ll show all of France that this place, this forest is not to be messed with!”
“But what about the rest of France, the rest of Europe, the world?”
“We just do what we can do.”
“I don’t know what else we can do, but I’ll take a walk to cool off.”
Auguste finishes his joint just as he returns to the scene of the earlier battle. Candy wrappers, traces of pepper spray, and the scent of the tear gas still lingers on the clearing. The abandoned police vehicles and tractors leave behind only small trails of smoke slithering their way to the night sky. Amid the debris, Auguste finds a tree mask left behind by one of his comrades. “We don’t deserve to wear this,” Auguste says as he puts on the mask. The moss and lichen provide a comfortable cushion between the coarse bark and his pink, fleshy face. Through the eyeholes, Auguste sees a body moving within the fields. As he gets closer, Auguste sees the police officer he abandoned waking up from unconsciousness. Auguste sees the officer reaching for his radio and races to kick the radio off of him. He falls onto the officers and forces the helmet off. “Why are you still here, you bastard!”
“I was waiting for you to return so I can finish you!” The officer’s fingers inch closer to his weapon. “All you little punks are the same! You all just laze around and expect the world to bend to your whim!”
“I’m not like my friends!” Auguste takes the gun and steps away from the officer to make a clear aim. “I’m willing to do what is necessary!”
“So murder?” the police officer laughs.
“Maybe so,” Auguste returns a snicker. “Whatever it takes.”
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