The Motions

And so, here we are again. Mere weeks after the first ‘Brussels Lockdown,’ we are in the midst of another one. Only this time it’s different. This time our fears have been realised. This time the carnage that was originally predicted has happened. This time there have been deaths (over 30 at the time of writing, but with many more critically ill in hospital); at the airport, on the metro. Two places where we most want to feel safe, but no longer can.

One of the three terrorists from the airport is still at large. Sirens blare on every street corner. Stony faced soldiers stand watch over frightened pedestrians. No matter how much we don’t want to be, we are afraid. And we are angry. But alongside our fear and anger is something else, something far more unsettling: the total absence of shock. I can only speak for myself, of course, but when I woke up yesterday morning to see my phone going crazy with messages from concerned loved ones, I instinctively knew what had happened. And I wasn’t surprised. Not in the least.

Thankfully I had stayed at home ill (the only time in my life that I will ever be grateful for a tummy bug), which meant I hadn’t taken my usual route to work via the metro. Instead of being physically caught up in the chain of sickening events I therefore watched the horror unfold on the news and social media, where the vile reactions of people like Trump and Hopkins turned my stomach.

Today, as a new day dawned, I still felt numb. And I still do. The outpouring of sentiment from around the world is fitting for the victims, but no amount of brightly coloured monuments will bring them back. And sentiment alone will not address the threat that we are facing – which, let’s be clear, is far more than a group of radicalised people on the rampage in the name of their twisted and hate-fuelled ideology.

We are as threatened by the ignorant, yet terrifyingly prevalent, attitudes of the Trumps’ and Hopkins’ of this world as we are by the terrorists themselves. In the battle between love and hate, hate is gaining ground. But it will never win, because for every ignorant, hate-filled person there are a thousand more who can not only see the truth but whose hearts are fit to burst with love. Yes, LOVE; the one emotion that the people who are trying to threaten our freedom are incapable of feeling, and the only thing that can unite us in the face of such unspeakable terror.

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The Lurking Menace

The boy sits on his haunches, watching the world as it passes him by. His heavy coat is as black as his heart. His eyes are narrowed like a cat’s. He drags on a cigarette, long and hard, sucking the smoke into the furthest reaches of his lungs. With a flick of his wrist the butt is on the pavement, ground out beneath the heel of his steel-toed boot. He waits.

The girl leaves her apartment. The door slams shut behind her. Outside the air is cold, her breath manifested in a cloud above her head. She fiddles with her earphones, tucks her phone into her armband. She pulls her hat down low and starts to jog.

He sees her approach before she is aware of his presence. Seizing his advantage he springs into her path, grips her firmly by the shoulders.

She screams as his hands are upon her, shakes him off with surprising ease, runs faster, and is gone. Safe from his grasping reach.

He slinks back into the shadows, this wolf in men’s clothing, his face twisted into a grotesque smile. Because he knows something she doesn’t: His capacity to wait far exceeds her capacity to run.

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