Stand Up -- a story by Heather Rose Brown


This story and the included images are Copyright © 2008 by Heather Rose Brown. They cannot be reproduced without express written consent. Codey’s World web site has written permission to publish this story. No other rights are granted.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.


The last few rays of light from the setting sun stretched across the mass of humanity crowded into the massive, open-air stadium. Each individual in the crowd was covered from head to toe with a loose grey jumpsuit, hood, gloves, and boots.. Each face was covered with a bone white mask that expressed, if anything, indifference. A soft murmuring ebbed and flowed through the crowd like a wave across an endless, mindless sea.


In the center of the stadium rose two rectangular, concrete towers. When the sun finally dipped below the horizon, white hot spotlights lit the tops of both towers and the taller one rumbled to life with a mechanical groan. Black metal doors on the top of the tower glinted in the spotlight as they slowly opened and a figure appeared, dressed in long grey robes and a mask darker than the shadow of a million lost souls.


The murmur quickly died and the figure at the top of the tower spoke in a low, rumbling voice with a frightening combination of menace and parental concern for a wayward child. "As many of you may have heard, a certain citizen has been speaking to others, encouraging unrest and indecency. Normally, such aberration is dealt with quickly and humanely in our re-education centers."


"Unfortunately, those same centers that have for decades allowed society to live free from the threat of war have been called into question by this citizen. Many others have listened to this and began questioning the wisdom of the Protectors." The figures head bowed for a moment and a soft sigh whispered out of the speakers set into the base of the tower.


"We, your Protectors, have your best interests at heart. That is why we have called you here tonight. We believe that only by seeing the results of this citizen’s aberration can you judge for yourselves and understand the wisdom of the ways that have allowed our society to survive. Tonight, we offer you the opportunity to decide the fate of your fellow citizen. After ze has spoken in hir own defense, you may stand to show you believe ze should be set free, as many rumors indicate is the will of the people. If you remain seated, you will show your support of your Protectors and the help we wish to provide to this wayward citizen."


The Protector turned and gestured to the lower tower, which rumbled to life. Gasps and shocked muttering rolled through the crowd as an unmasked citizen, with long, dark brown hair billowing in the gentle breeze, rose through the opening doors. Folding hir arms tightly across hir chest, the Protector glared through hir mask at the citizen standing proud and defiant on the lower tower. "Citizen KT1164, do you have anything to say in your defense before your peers pass judgment on you?"


The citizen glared back, her lips tightening to a thin line of determination before speaking. "Yes. First, my name is Kat, not KT1164. Second, I am more than a citizen; I am a woman. Third, I have something to share in a form of communication nearly forgotten." She turned to the audience. "It's called a song. I hope you will think about the words and the meaning behind them before you make a decision."


The steel grating below her feet rang out across the silent audience as Kat began stomping her heel in a slow, steady beat. Her voice, faltering at first grew in strength as she sung from her heart.


"Stand up. Be counted.

Don't be afraid to show your face.

Stand up. Be counted.

Be proud of who you are.

Stand up. Be counted.

Raise your head and take your place.

Stand up. Be counted."


Kat paused a moment, scanning the crowd for any reaction behind the emotionless masks.


"Don't let me stand alone."


The Protector's fists trembled with barely controlled rage. "You dare ... you DARE to bring up the old ways ... the ways that nearly destroyed not only humanity, but all life?" Several citizens in the front rows cringed as hir gaze swung away from Kat to them. "Very well. I shall do the same. Perhaps this is the true day of revelation."


Standing tall, the Protector began to sing. Ze did not thump hir foot as Kat had done. Hir words matched rhythms with the growing heartbeats of all those caught by hir glare.


"Stand up. Be counted.

Go ahead and show your face.

Stand up. Be counted.

Reveal just what you are.

Stand up. Be counted.

Then hand your head in true disgrace.

Stand up. Be counted."


Ze paused, making sure ze had everyone's attention before ze continued.


"You will stand alone"


As the echo of the Protector's last word died, many of the onlookers began shifting in their seats and muted conversations began springing up. Eventually, one rather large citizen near the towers stood and removed her mask, revealing a smiling face the color of mahogany.


Kat gasped. "Is that you, Mama Jo?"


Mama Jo pulled off her hood and ran a gloved hand through her closely cropped silver curls. "Yes,child. We've finally understood what you've been trying to tell us. We see the need for change."


"We? Which we?"


Mama Jo nudged someone beside her with a foot, who stood and removed his mask and hood as well. Several others near the two stood and removed their masks. Soon, the action was being copied by everyone until a sea of multicolored faces filled the stadium. Mama Jo closed her eyes, gently reached out to all those around her, and shared a new song with them. With one voice, the stadium thundered with song.


"We stand. Now count us.

We're not afraid to show our face.

We stand. Now count us.

We're proud of who we are.

We stand. Now count us.

We represent the human race.

We stand. Now count us."


Everyone turned and looked up at Kat.


"You'll never stand alone."


I hope you've enjoyed my story. If you'd like to let me know what you thought of it, or if you'd just like to say hi, feel free to click on the e-mail link below. I'd love to hear from you!