Commonwealth, XXXIV: The Times Square Massacre

Commonwealth, XXXIV: The Times Square Massacre May 8, 2020

Commonwealth: A Novel of Utopia, part 1, chapter 8

Author’s Note: This is an excerpt from my novel Commonwealth. The rest of today’s installment is free, but only on my Patreon site. If you want to read the next part today, it’s already up on Patreon as well. You can sign up for as little as $1/month, or $2 for exclusive author’s notes and behind-the-scenes material. There’s also a table of contents for all published chapters.

On the morning of October 27, a protest march converged on Times Square.

The city’s socialist groups had learned from the brutal suppression of their last attempt. Instead of having the march assemble in one place, they had spread the word for people to come from wherever they were – a thousand small tributaries of humanity flowing through the streets, joining into larger and larger streams, until they became a river in flood.

This protest was bigger. The violent crackdown on the last one, played in endless loops on the news, had awakened a mutinous spirit in the populace. With the depression growing worse by the day, more and more people were out of work and had no jobs to fear losing. And with summer’s iron grip finally retreating, the streets were becoming tolerable again.

A rainbow of humanity – young and old, male and female, white and black and brown, dressed in every kind of garb from nurses’ uniforms to religious robes, flags flying and signs waving – poured into Times Square.

Near the front of the march, Rae was walking in step with Zoe, Michael and Owen. She carried a homemade sign that read: “NOTHING CAN BE CHANGED UNTIL IT IS FACED.”


Michael’s displayed a yin-yang symbol, and the words: “THE SOFT OVERCOMES THE HARD.”

Despite her earlier determination, Rae was feeling misgivings. She had marched proudly with her friends all the way down from the Upper East Side, and she had been fired up the whole way. But as they approached Times Square, she felt a gnawing doubt. She tried not to think about what had happened to the last march.

“This is going to be nonviolent, right?” she asked Owen. “We’re just going to send the government a message?”

“Oh, they’ll get the message all right,” he said gleefully.

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