I walked streets of Columbiana keeping my head low and my revolver close. No one was going to get the drop on me today. Five years ago if you asked me about my second amendment rights, Id say this tool wouldnt be necessary that words are stronger than lead. Id preach to you all the clichés about loving thy neighbor and turning the other cheek. And in the end, Id be wrong because its guarding me from the reincarnated George Washington and the Founders, ol six-shooter. I flicked her chamber open swiftly loading in five rounds from my bandolier before closing it. I was always one short, a sprinkle of humor to go with my sin. I did it mainly for bullet counting purposes. They would count to six. Id only have five. Giving me a small window for when they were anticipating the sixth to reload again. When I was young and hearty, I didnt have to think about such persnickety details. This city was a marvel. I was a child in a real fairy tale even if I wasnt the dashing prince or courageous knight. In reality, I was the serf who groomed the knight and princes horse and ensured it rode as well or better than the last time. I was a mechanic for the citys engines. From the first peek of the sun, Id be up to watch its beauty while eating whatever leftovers my roommate, Frank, stored away; sneak quietly pass Ms. Rothbergs door because Im always one week behind on rent, then Id be home free on the fresh streets. They were a pristine grid of brick back then not ravaged by the mayhem and carnage of today. From there, Id use the spare change in my pocket to pay the fare to ride the 802 Skyline Tram that took me from the south side to the east. Personally, it wasnt the fastest route by any means, but I found pleasure when it crossed paths with the colossus angel that watched us all. It reminded us this was the closest wed ever come to heaven before wed face judgment at its pearly gates. When Id arrive at work, there wouldnt be a shortage of tasks to be done. I always looked for assignments in the 12th and 14th districts, where the delicate flowers that drank tea and played croquet resided. They always called if they felt anything unusual. Nine times out of ten it was nothing; but it was my duty to traverse the lower decks, look at perfectly working engines, and waste four to ten minutes on an unofficial unethical rest. Honestly, I didnt care what others thought of my undocumented breaks. I worked sixteen hour workdays seven days a week and any legislature proposed by the Vox Populi to lessen my hours or increase my pay was being shot down by the people resting easy above me. I wasnt as disgruntled or angered about it as others, but less hours and more pay was only good news for my pocket. If it wasnt the 12th or 14th district, it was typically the first or fifth district Id have to take the sky line to. The fifth and first was where my kind resided, the blue collars. The factory workers that shoveled coal to keep your lights on and produced your merchandise, the farmers that kept you fed with their produce, and the whores that well did whatever they had to behind closed doors if you gave a large enough tip, Sheila was my favorite. They werent the ones that caused trouble though. That honor fell upon the ungrateful ruffians and street performers, who loved to play dare devil by hooking onto sky lines and going down onto the lower decks like rats to mess with their buildings direction and latitude. When that happened and it always did, I had to do some real work readjusting the engines and controls. That was my day-to-day job: wake up, fix engines, go home or see Shelia. A simpleton like me could want more. The lower docks had a mesmerizing view and the pay was substantial. Then the riots began. The factory workers of the Sherman and Clyde Co. went on strike when a man by the name of Robert P. died in a fatal accident. A steel plate had fell, sending him abruptly to the next life. Instead of the owners complying to improve working conditions, they met with militant force to show them not bite the hand that feeds you. Chaos broke out. I remembered hearing the gun shots, the loud banging on the door of things to come. Buildings were set ablaze and ravaged by thugs, looters, and thieves. The whole army of policemen that protected the city was sent to the sick district for quarantine and containment. Blood was shed for days between law enforcement and the jaded. Eventually, the government ran by the Founders decided one solution: To clip wings to end this aggression from spreading. The district descended and all could hear the hundred screams of falling to their deaths. Propaganda posters by the Founders flooded the streets the next day shouting for no one else to fly close to the sun or wrath would only follow. The Vox Populi didnt remain silent either and released their propaganda to follow. It became war. Youre either Vox Populi or a Founder, no in between. Choreographed worker strikes became the last of governments problems. It became bomb attacks, guerilla hit-and-run ambushes, and full out skirmishes in the coming years. The dare devils that rode the skylines were now vocal activist for the progression of human rights. The Vox Populi assigned and mentored these acrobats to ride the sky lines for ambushes and robberies. Riding the lines covered in war paint, they would land on top of cargo and passenger vehicles, robbing the supplies from them, taking hostages, or planting a bomb. The Vox Populi was no longer a silent interest group for workers, theyre a tsunami coming to change this land. But the Founders werent silent either with heavy patrols around troubled districts, mobile and stationary turrets that enforced areas by raining bullets, and their successful experiments such as the brutes called Handy-men and mechanical patriots, whose gears didnt hold the capacity for any emotion against using the Gatling gun it had for an arm. I didnt have much of a choice. The Vox Populi had enough disgruntled citizens in my district to absorb it under its wing. Therefore, I did what was needed to survive and joined. The first district had seen hell as the war progressed. The brick roads were ripped apart by the skirmishes here, windows were shattered and boarded up, doors were no different. Most buildings were kicked in and had their valuables picked long ago by vultures. The Founders and Vox Populi patrolled the district in force to gain control. You dont have to do this if you dont want to. Frank warned me This wont be just another robbery or roughing up someone where if they get rowdy, you can just cock your gun and you have their attention. This is a real fight. Frank was genuinely concerned with me. He had always been with the Vox Populi even before the incident with the fifth district and had made it easy for me to be enlisted. He sat in a brown leather office chair behind a desk in an buttoned shirt with his white sleeves rolled up to his red cloth wrapped around his arm so everyone knew not to shoot him in the back in his own territory. Even if once I only admired him for his left overs and his generosity to pay my half of the rent every once in a while back in the old days, he was kind hearted. He kept me on a routine of simple jobs that had me part of the movement but not in any big danger. There were a lot of maintenance jobs I had to do, a few founders that needed their minds changed after a beating or two and, robberies where the hostages were so scared of guns, they just complied with every demand. Youre a good friend Frank. But, I know I can do more for this movement and maybe better myself like you. I assured him. I was determined to make myself useful if I could end up with a position like Frank. I thought Id finally find peace and my life would change when it would happen. Id be at a desk like him with my collar white and issuing out assignments rather than doing them. Id be in a room that didnt have holes punched though the walls or rats nibbling at my feet during the night. I would be back in a stable routine that didnt drain my already emptied soul with violence. Frank could sense the yearning in my eyes. And I could see the dissatisfaction in his. We both know he only reached this position due to his service with the Vox Populi and there were many candidates whod been in service longer than me. I didnt have brains either, he did. My knowledge was of engines not politics or warfare. My fate eluded me. I was a child way over his head. I wasnt prepared to kill. I wasnt prepared to pull a trigger on broken man weeping and tugging at my trousers for just a few more minutes to be with his kids. I wasnt prepared for the warm spray of blood when Id pull that trigger. And I wasnt prepared for the nightmares for the weeks after. Id become an executioner, a soldier. These tasks didnt give me enjoyment. Nothing really did. Food became bitter and tasteless. Music became simply noise to my ears. And my beloved sky I once looked to in awe was now dull, bland, and made me wish I was only back on the land. Columbiana, the once fairy tale come to life, had become only a nightmare. The story of Icarus was right. Humans dont belong in the sky. We arent allowed to reside where we fantasize. Our wings held with wax are slowly fading, tearing apart from conflicting self-interest. The inevitability was our fall and I was here to stay as an executioner. Maybe one side would win and our wax would harden again before our plummet. Yet, wishful thinking is long overdue. Columbiana is Icarus, the city that ascended to the sky. I am Icarus, falling to the ground. Were Icarus, the people who didnt heed to the natural order of the world and sought to break its boundaries with our advancements in tonics and technology. We flew close to the sun.