The bus took us through the worst of the unrest, rocking with the impact of stones and bullets, with the heavy armored sides and thick multiplex keeping the missiles at bay. An older car, ablaze, slid by as people emerged from the thick smoke wearing bandanas to press their assault.

“Do they know?” whispered one of my fellow passengers.

“How can they not?” I said. “Even if they can’t admit it to themselves.”

The port was heavily defended, but even then I could see that the lines were breaking. Tracers arced out from hastily erected fortifications, but I saw just as many soldiers desperately charging in the same direction we were, some peeling off their uniforms as the they away their weapons.

An explosion rocked the bus, knocking it back on two wheels. The driver, whose pay was a spot for him and his wife, heeled it back over like a veteran. But I could see a line of bruise and blood across his forehead where the impact had cracked his head against something or other. Our armed escort, sitting up front–and similarly paid with a berth–clutched her rifle like a life preserver, knuckles monochrome.

I caught a glimpse of the bay as we rattled toward it. The ships were already pulling out, everything that could be commandeered or put into service. They were beset by smaller launches on every side, either people desperate to board or people desperate to destroy. A bright crimson flower blossomed against the hull of one of them–an old cruise ship–and it heeled over.

“Suicide,” I said. “I’m not sure I blame them.”

A few moments more, cutting through the throngs of people who were able to make it through the armed cordon, we arrived at our dock, another old cruise ship pressed into service.

“Thank goodness,” said my chatty fellow passenger. “We made it. We’re safe.”

“Safe?” I said. “Far from it. We’re just buying ourselves the right to die last.”

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