In the year of our Lord
Eighteen Hundred and Ninety One
This September 15
231 Rue Claire Street
Papa landed us on Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty now stood headless, flames and smoke pouring from its neck. The head lay on the beach, where dozens of Americans stood in shock, cold and shivering as the northern winds chilled and wet them with sleet and a light snow.
It was a shocking sight for me and my friend, Val, to descend from the ship and see such wonders of nature mixed with such horrors of intellect.
The Atlantic was bleak and gray, swollen with strong surges pounding the shoreline, splashing the hollow-faced survivors on the island. I could see small children like myself, huddled against their parents, who were in so much shock that they didn't even notice the tiny things clinging to them.
A priest was on his knees praying with his hands held high in the air, no doubt wishing that his God heard him at that moment and would bring down retribution on the monsters who had slain his symbol of freedom and his city of beauty.
"This is a travesty!" Jules stated, surveying the damage to the island and the Statue of Liberty.
France had given the statue as a gift of friendship to the peoples of America on October 28, 1886. It symbolized "Enlightening the World." The sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi envisioned the statue as a monument to freedom and justice.
And so it had stood proudly for years declaring to the world that here was a country that welcomed the poor and the downtrodden, a country dedicated to freedom and the pursuit of happiness for all. How sadly that country had now fallen.
Jules looked to Wells. "It is not the first time we have seen such horror."
Wells shook his head, then looked at us. "We strove against all odds to prevent our fellow humans from ever constructing such deadly weapons, from ever turning against one another, becoming the cold intellectual giants who have now conquered our planet. We spent blood, sweat and tears..."
He trailed off, his eyes streaming tears. "So much, lost so quickly. So much striven for...lost yet again."
Jules puts an arm about Wells' shoulder. "Mon amie, this is but a small dent in the fabric of time. We can fix this!"
Wells shook off Jules arm. "No! We must not tamper with time again. It is against God's Will to do so!"
I began to cry. I wasn't used to my Papas being so hard on one another.
Mama took me against her. "Wells!"
Wells suddenly became aware of my tenderness, and then saw that Val was snuggled against me and Amy, also crying.
He dropped to his knees and embraced us both in his arms. We turned and went into them and he held us close. "I am so, so sorry, my little flowers. This is not what I meant you to see or feel or know!"
We kept crying. Even to this day, I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes, my chest aching, my heart threatening to explode from the grief I felt, that Val felt, that we all felt.
Jules looked to the survivors, his eyes turning and churning with thoughts. "We cannot leave them here to die!"
Wells rose, a hand on each of the shoulders. "Girls, what should we do?
"Save them, Daddy!" Val cried out.
"Save them, Papa!" I cried out, wiping at my teary eyes, and sniffling from the cold and my running nose.
Jules looked to Mama and Wells to Amy.
"It's your decision too." They said at the same time.
I would have laughed, but the seriousness of that moment was too heavy on my heart.
Amy and Mama nodded.
As one we turned towards the beach and went to meet the lost souls who had once shared the majestic city of New York. The proud and the fallen mighty symbol of truth and justice.
It took us several hours, but we managed to get everyone aboard the Master of the World. We had to convert the storage area into makeshift bedrooms, but it was manageable. Jules and Wells, with the help of some of the other men, whom I shall tell you about later, and some of the ladies, gathered cloth that had been stored there and stuffed it with packing materials that were in various boxes, making beds and pillows.
It took us an additional eight hours to finish all of that, and then we all split up and searched the remainder of the island for any food or items of use that we might take with us. Jules and his party discovered a supply of weapons left by the Militia stationed on the island.
Later we were told they put up a brave fight, but were incinerated to a man, while the survivors hid inside the base of the statue, watching the mayhem of the Mechanicals as they blasted the statue and the humans outside with their rays of power.
One man, the Priest, broke into sobs as he recalled their bravery. He had blessed them all as they had marched out to do battle. They had spread out like the American soldiers they were, but the renegade tactics that had won the war of Independence wouldn't wash with the Mechanicals, for no amount of bullets or cannon fire could make a difference to the imperviousness of their metals.
One man even rammed the legs with a wagon of gunpowder, exploding himself into atoms, but it just budged the Mechanical only a slightly bit. The result had been only for it to turn its deadly nozzle of destruction towards the remaining militia members and incinerate them as well.
Mama had held the Priest against her bosom, consoling him and in her own way contributed to the peace of the assembled humans, for they loved the Priest dearly and knew he had taken the losses more personally since he had brought them all there as part of their religious celebration.
Finally, the packing, the rearranging, the moving was done.
Jules hurried into the makeshift bedroom, where most were already resting and announced. "We are leaving now. Mechanicals are striding towards the Island."
He ran back out and everyone became silent.
The Priest awoke from his shock and led everyone in a silent prayer.
Val and I joined in.
We knew God was listening, even if we didn't hear his voice. Nothing happened without a reason. That's what our Papas had taught us. They had also taught us that no matter how dark things were that there was always another door that would open to a brighter path. Maybe creatures of giant intellect and evil purpose had straddled our world with dark intentions, but God was still the ruler of our Universe and one day it would all come into balance again.
Such were our beliefs, then. Such are our beliefs now, but dark is the path some of us must travel before we reach that land of Light. But that is another story.
I have called this the Battle of the Windmills, for much like Don Quixote fencing with windmills, but achieving nothing in the end with his imaginary villains, we had found ourselves in a similar quandary.
Battling with an enemy we knew nothing about, but their dark deeds and foul constructions. Soon that would all change. As all things must.
I felt the ship jar slightly, then its angel sharpen and everyone lay down, unused to the vibrations and settlings of the ship, but soon the room became filled with gentle breathing and loud snores as our exhausted assembly of survivors were led from the harsh realities of their present lives into a more gentle clime of the peace of their dreams.