Prose – Alternative Present – SD

One shot was all it took to bring down the negotiations. To ignite the city in the first conflagration of violence in forty years. The Federals were prepared, but they weren’t ready.

Baltimore has been called many names: the Border State… the Lost City… the Tinderbox on the Bay… the Ghetto. The uprisings are like a disease passed on from the War of Secession, hard-fought, but never completely eradicated. It’s in the blood that drains into the sewers and seeps into the noxious harbor.

Our city was the focal point of secessionist resentment against the Union for nearly a century. We were the thorn in the Republicans’ side, the final battleground of the Old Confederate Alliance. Baltimore was where the Union lost the War of Secession. Even as border states were taken in the Reintegration Wars, Maryland stood contested between the fires of Baltimore and the puppet politicians who fled to Frederick when we most needed them… to suckle on the Republican tit. A farce of a state.

After the Reunification of 1946, Baltimore would not budge. Protests became riots became war, and for generations since we have been trampled by the heel of the Republican Steel Boot. They had enticed us to join the Great Cause with promises of prosperity and stability. The other capitulating states got desegregation and assimilation into the Union.

What we got was forced labor in the machinations of industry. Not slavery, mind you, but we were left without a choice, joining a Great Cause built on the backs of Baltimore’s sons and daughters, the children of Uprising. Then, black skies. Black water. Homes of plywood and bullet-ridden brick caked with chemical dust.

Suffering. Uprising. Blood. Suffering. And again.

Then came the wars in the Middle East at the turn of the last century. Another rallying cry for a Great Cause. Another burden forced on the city. The puppets in Frederick thought it was the beginning of true peace. The final step in reintegrating Maryland into the Union. The last bastion of Confederate sentiment torn down. They’ve promised us true prosperity, booming trade. Clean water, clear air, voting rights.

All we had to do was comply with their demands. We had to clean and rebuild the city – under Federal guidance. Baltimore’s children laboring again at the behest of bureaucrats in Frederick and the District. To most it sounded like a real solution. To some, like capitulation. But we accepted their terms.

Then, 2008 brought the Recession. Scarce food, harsher labor laws, rescinding voting rights “temporarily”. A return to martial law. The Steel Boot was brought down harder, twisting along the pavement to squelch any hope of resistance.

Suffering. Uprising. Blood.

Now they talk of peace again. We have capitulated. The Republicans and their statehouse lackeys have not kept their end of the bargain. Baltimore is still little more than a factory slum. They gussied up the harbor – by our work – and then built a wall to keep us out. Now the corporate types who sail in from the Bay see a pristine cityscape only a few blocks from the harbor. Their vision is protected from the real city. From us.

It began again on April 18, 2015. There was a rally to support an expansion of the New City, as they have called the harbor. They bring in the cameras and journalists from other cities, patting themselves on the back on the job they’ re doing in turning Baltimore around. But we’re still the ones doing the cleaning and then being pushed farther back by their wall and their “security checkpoints”.

Some of us held a protest just outside the wall. The chanting became so loud that the microphones and cameras picked up more of our anger than the Feds lying through their teeth. They opened the gate, a public showing of peace… acceptance.

The crowd began marching, but the Union boys blockaded Pratt with their bayoneted guns, protecting their port – their only real concern here for decades. As the protesters moved closer, became more agitated, a shot was fired. Who knows if it hit anyone. It doesn’t matter.

The protesters charged. It might as well have been a fuckin’ race.  The troops opened fire. Militias came down from the north, anticipating the bloodshed — praying for it — and ambushed the Feds on their flank. The fighting has lasted three months. Some are calling this the greatest rebellion since the Baltimore Uprising of 1861.

Their harbor is riddled again with debris, destroyed buildings, blood. The blockade around the city returned. Martial law returned. The Steel Boot. The entire peace process brought down with one shot. We will raid the ports, take over the factories, reclaim our city. My shot into the sky was the spark we needed.

Suffering. Uprising. Blood.

Signed James A. Peterson, Son of Baltimore

That was an excerpt from the blog of the young radical who allegedly fired the warning shot at the peace rally on April 18. It is not known whether the seventeen-year-old is still alive, but sources suggest that he joined with the renegade militias soon after the rioting turned to civil unrest. It is unclear whether this attack had been planned by one of the militias known to be embedded in the northern and western districts of Baltimore.

The violence continues as US forces try to retake the harbor and industrial ports of Baltimore. Martial Law has been declared over the entire state of Maryland, and the state’s government has been disbanded and its members relocated for their own safety.

In the midst of yet another bloody uprising in this port city, in a state that has never fully rejoined the Union, one wonders if there can ever truly be peace.

Steve D

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