Kirino’s earliest memory was the lighting of firecrackers for the New Year — the real new year, not the one marked on the calendar. She and her mother had lit a small offering for her long-dead grandparents, and then set off a few little fireworks in her father’s workshop, where the grinding engine sounds shielded them from prying ears. Kirino was barely a toddler then; she had no idea what was happening, but the little sparks snapping and burning in the diesel-scented darkness touched something within her.

Ten years later, as Kirino laid under the innards of a motorcycle in that same workshop, the cheap radio stopped in mid-song to report that the rioters had breached the consulate and were presently burning it down.

“Four — three — five confirmed dead,” the disc jockey read, over frantic whispers in the recording booth. She did not even bother translating her words into any of the foreign concessions’ official languages, simply rushing it out in Wu the instant it reached her. “Supposedly, dynamite explosions, motivated by — ah, a second explosion is reported in Hong Kong, no further information, may be connected — Shàng Hǎi officials deny the fire exists — some theorize pipe bombs planted by foreign nationals may be the cause— attempt on the Prime Minister’s life reported—”

Kirino groped for a wrench and continued her work as if she had heard nothing. She glanced at the nearest window. The sky was wine red again tonight.

As the dawn approached, the broadcast turned from thirdhand speculation to reports from survivors, and finally to the official information from the associated ministries. It was only then that Kirino’s father, still in his pajamas, came bursting into the shop to tell her that her mother was eight hours dead.

The records in the future, Kirino thought, would say either it was a grand and glorious morning for the future of democracy, or a brutal, horrific scar on their collective humanity.

Without answering, she went for a drive on the repaired motorbike.


Date Published
Word Count
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0
Science fiction
Alternate history, China, Flash fiction, Female protagonist, Revolution, Shanghai
Source URL
SG:TC) Without answering, she went for a drive on the repaired motorbike.
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Fireworks by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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© 2012 Matthew Ellison. Some rights reserved.