In a break from my recent programming, I want to post a preview of the new tone for Youth Bytes. Is it market research? Is it testing the waters? Don’t know really, but I might just look for a little feedback and see what happens. Don’t expect me to change it based on suggestions, but at this stage, after this long, I just want to gauge a little more audience reaction…
My name is Charlie Cotter. The first thing you need to know about me, is don’t ever, ever, call me Charlotte. I don’t even let Mum and Dad call me that anymore. If they’re even talking to me, that is.
I’ve done a lot of crazy things in my life, all 18 years that I’ve had, but it started with something that didn’t seem crazy at all. I really believed in the cause, even though no one believes that any more.
When Newberry Mining announced plans for a new gold mine on previously protected land in Papua New Guinea, I was angry. Really angry. I had a protest arranged before the end of the day. I’ve always been good at talking people into things like that. There were 28 of us there before they knew it.
In front of us were a row of police. It’s amazing how quickly they can organise a crowd as well. It was Wednesday afternoon in the middle of Martin Place in Sydney, and they looked ready for a fight. Was my reputation preceding me already? The normals, in their business suits and their dull lives, were keeping their distance, but most of them wanted to know what was happening.
I took a small battery-powered megaphone in my hand, feeling its contoured grip, and raised it to my mouth. I was a bit hoarse today, but there’s no way they were stopping me from speaking.
“Newberry has poisoned the planet,” I started. “They’re destroyed water tables, killed off species and dispossessed peoples.” My crowd cheered wildly, urging me on.
“And for what?” Loud, just like I’d practiced, but not really look for an answer either. “For profit!” I paused. “For greed!” You know this isn’t the first time I’ve said these lines, right? “For their own selfish power!”
More cheers, and I let them wash over me, just a little bit of power to charge me up for the latest fight. In front of us, one of the police moved forward. He walked with purpose and without fear, which I could always trust. And he came straight for me, which meant he knew how things were going to work.
“Now Miss Cotter,” he said, and I stared him down immediately, considering he knew my name, “can we resolve this without any trouble today?”
I decided to pay him the same courtesy. A glance at his name badge. “Well Senior Sergeant Curtis, that depends on what you define as trouble, doesn’t it?”
Curtis stepped back, shaking his head. He lifted a small radio to his mouth and said something I couldn’t hear. Behind him, the police line started to advance slowly. I could smell a scent in the air, maybe lavender? It seemed odd, maybe there was a flower stall nearby.
“So this is how you’re going to play it?” I screamed, megaphone back in front of my mouth. “Your corporate lapdogs say jump, and we get to find out how high?” I turned back to my crowd. “How do we respond to this then?”
I took a step forward and beckoned to my team, who slowly started to follow after me. Our chant grew louder and fiercer. I could feel my throat tighten and I gulped down momentary nerves before we moved closer to the police. They actually linked arms, clearly showing us the limits we could move towards.
I love to break limitations.
“This is how we respond!” I yelled, relishing the theatrical. “Corporate criminals!”
I marched ahead of my group, pushing towards the police line as my followers moved just a step behind.
The police moved to meet us and the arrests began. My parents would tell me, my teachers would tell me, the school counsellor would tell me, hell I’m sure even you would tell me, that I’m crazy, I’m angry and I’m almost sadistic, but I don’t care. I live for this shit.
We met the police line hard, trying to burst through their position like a line of centurions, but in reality of course bouncing off like twigs. Screams and yells like a horror movie, sometimes of joy, sometimes of pain, sometimes of horror and probably regret. I was having none of that.
I felt an arm grab around my chest. It might have been Curtis, could have been anyone really. I felt the male hand crush against my breast, and I snapped. Was there any intention? I have no idea, but it felt like a violation all the same.
“Fucker!” I screamed. Twisting around quickly I jammed my fingers into the side of the coppers neck, jabbing fast at the same time as I kicked with my left then right leg. It threw me off balance, but thankfully him as well.
I moved to the side so that my head would miss the impact of the concrete, but I kept on flailing, fighting, anything to prolong the fight. There wasn’t much left now of course.
“Charlotte Cotter!” I heard a voice yell, rough and male, but still with control. “You are under arrest!”
My muscles felt tired now, and I could feel another set of hands on me, female this time. It was over, but I kept on flailing.
It helps in situations like this to imagine yourself outside of your own body. Looking down at myself, writhing and screaming like some kind of animal, I must have either looked insane or thuggish. Maybe both? My arms were almost wrenched out of my sockets as the first male officer — I saw his face for a moment and he as a younger man, without emotion — pulled them behind my back and wrapped them with handcuffs. I kept on pulling but could feel the metal dig into my wrists. Seemed like I could roll my body still, but instead I sat up, breathing heavily. My dark hair hung in clumps over my face now and I looked up at the female officer who was now trying to say something to me.
“You are not obliged to say or do anything unless you wish to do so, but whatever you say…” I stopped listening then. I’d heard it enough before, and not on television either, thank you very much.
The male officer pulled my to my feet and held me by my cuffed hands, only loosely this time. He must have assumed I’d run out of fight. Around me there were alarms, sirens and whimpers, because the rest of my fighters had either dispersed or were facing the same treatment as me. I shut my eyes for a moment, dropped my head low, then looked up at the female officer and gave her a smile the Joker would have been proud of.
“I’m not done,” I said, then screamed until my throat hurt. I easily wrestled my hands free of the male officer behind me, lowered my head, then used it as a battering ram to dive directly into the female officer. We both went tumbling to the ground. I didn’t care which part of her hit the ground first. I realised later the only thing I didn’t do was try to bite her face off. It was that kind of day.
My name is Charlie Cotter. The second thing you need to know about me is that some people think I’m insane. Completely, batshit, insane. On some days, I think they’re right.
CHARLOTTE COTTER. AKA: CHARLIE. AGE: 18. ARRESTED FOR CRIMINAL TRESPASS AND ASSAULT, PENDING PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION.