“What should we do next?”

“I don’t know. I’m just so overwhelmed by it all. I mean, it’s like I’m still feeling systematically oppressed, even though we’re in charge. White supremacy is that powerful, I guess.”

Kristy blinked twice in disbelief as she listened to the antifa person—she wasn’t sure what gender or sex—across from the room speak as the group sat in a circle of chairs.

She tried to make it seem like she had something in her eye causing her to blink, but it was a habitual act she figured all people make when they hear something so profoundly stupid it makes them wonder if it’s actually happening, the blink you make when you wonder how a person that dysfunctional can still manage to put clothes on in the morning.

It was a question she had been quietly asking herself ever since her CO had pressured her to take the undercover job months ago, ripping her away from her clean, neat Ballard studio apartment and placing her with the most foul-smelling creatures she had ever seen outside of a homeless shelter. It was precisely what she had anticipated when she decided to become a cop.

She had first interpreted it as her CO’s way of dealing with a female cop he felt he couldn’t rely on during a confrontation with a suspect, but couldn’t say so directly. She was short, petite, her timid-like face complementing her unintimidating demeanor. But the more time she spent around antifa posing as activists, the more she understood his reasoning. A more traditional, masculine cop would be spotted in an instant among the pencil-armed, high-pitched males; she couldn’t bring herself to think of them as real men.

She blinked again as she watched the antifa struggled to conjugate words like a five-year-old trying to read his first picture book. The person was dressed in tattered multicolored clothes, a black armband on their right sleeve. They anxiously rubbed their hands, their body trembling slightly, probably withdrawals from drug use. The putrid odor seeping through their body reminded Kristy of the time she had visited the Spokane incinerator facility.

“I’m just wondering what we do next,” the person said. “How do we dismantle white patriarchy further? We’ve taken a large step today.”

A few hours ago, antifa had successfully seized a section of downtown Seattle, turning it into an unironic “People’s Republic of Seattle,” complete with street signs and a Cascadia flag along with a giant border wall made of dumpsters.

To hear them talk of it, antifa had fought some incredible battle with the cops, and only after suffering immense hardship they had driven them out of the precinct. In reality, Kristy knew that city officials completely sympathetic to antifa had pressured the police chief to withdraw from that area; someone in the city was also an antifa source who had tipped them off in advance. One of her priorities was to identity the leaks.

Even with all that, Kristy still couldn’t believe how antifa managed to pull it off. The group functioned like a giant democratic bureaucracy consisting of toddlers; nothing could be done without the approval of the entire group, which consisted of penniless abstract artists living off welfare or in their parents’ basement and loud-mouthed activists always itching to find something another person did or said offensive. She was amazed she had so far avoided having to apologize to anyone, though like all white people, she had been forced to go through a “cleansing” ceremony to purge her of the racism virus involving a liturgical-like recitation, evoking her strict Catholic upbringing. She had maintained her dignity a much as possible while others broke down sobbing and clutching the legs of the nonwhite members.

Another reason she couldn’t believe they succeeded was a profound fear of power, at least on the surface. What they actually seemed to fear was responsibility. There was no hierarchy, no positions. Everyone was “equal.” One time out of pure frustration, Kristy had suggested they take notes of their meetings to keep track of what was said, only to have a manlet screech that allowing one person to be in charge of taking meeting notes was tantamount to policing their thoughts and perpetuating white racism. Still, that hadn’t stopped one of them from secretly creating a list of demands and sending it to one of the many local reporters who fawned over their every move, like a teenage heartthrob following a heavy metal band tour after she’s already hooked up with them backstage. Everybody then pretended not to notice the story published that morning with the unauthorized demands.

Meanwhile, Kristy was trying hard to ignore her smartphone’s social media feed, where public officials and Seattle journalists were rationalizing the whole thing as some sort of “block party” when they weren’t downplaying threats of violence against other reporters.

“What about food?” a black woman asked. “Can’t we start a co-op in one of the parks?”

A white guy piped up. “I don’t want to monopolize the conversation over our brothers and sisters of color, but we need to demand the abolition of the entire police department. That must be our number one priority! If they don’t, then we expand the zone to other parts of the city.”


“We can’t rest until we end police brutality. No more systemic oppression!”

“Yeah. We’re going to show the world how it’s done. It all starts here.”

A lanky man in a black overcoat appeared at the door with a worried look.

“What’s going on?” someone asked.

“Um…we have a problem.”

“What, the cops are here?”

“No. There’s this guy who is…well, he’s trying to take over.”

The room was silent.

“Who?” the black woman asked.

“Um, he’s claiming to be a warlord or something. I don’t know. He’s got people at the barricade entrances searching anyone who comes in. He’s also forcing businesses to give him money.”

No one spoke for a while.

“That’s not cool,” the white guy said. “He can’t do that. This is the People’s Republic.”

“Well, he’s out there right now if you want to talk to him…but he’s got a gun.”

Everyone in the group looked at each other. No one seemed to know what the other thought. After a long period of silence, Kristy sighed and spoke up.

“We could talk to him.”

“Yes, we can do that,” the white man said. “Everybody’s got a voice, after all!”

“Alright,” another said. “Should we go talk to him?”

The entire group nervously nodded.

“Let’s go talk to him, then.”

They moved to the door and filed out. Kristy remained in the middle of the group, uncertain of what to expect. Outside on the street, it was a bizarre combination of manic dance performances and random street preachers robotically delivering their messages. Others held an assortment of political signs ranging from “Black Lives Matter” to “End Police Now!” They heard a commotion at the end of the block, where a tall black man with long dreadlocks stood on top of a dumpster with an AK-47 in his hand, a group of apparently armed followers beside him.

As the group approached, they saw the followers were interrogating people trying to cross the street, threatening to shake them down if they mouthed off. A few were held up against the wall, one of the armed men frisking them with a 9mm pistol held casually in one hand.

The group watched with wide eyes but were mute as they approached the “warlord.” When Kristy finally got a good look at him, she gasped, as she recognized him from an investigation a while back.

Her reaction drew his attention, and for a moment, they looked at one another, then turned away. Those observing stepped back nervously before the warlord ordered them to disperse. They hesitated only for a second before his followers pushed them down the road.

The warlord approached Kristy with an icy glare until no one else was there to see him smile.

“Winston,” she whispered, almost blushing. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“Me? What the hell are you doing here, girl?”

“What do you think? I’m working undercover…”

Winston laughed as he put the safety on his rifle and held it at his side. “It’s shit, ain’t it?”

“It smells like it. Are you…you still working for the FBI?”

“Yeah. After that heroin ring bust, the boys thought I could do some good here. I don’t think they figured on this, though.”

“What happened?”

He howled loudly. “What happened? I was supposed to just sit and listen and wait for them to do something. But these people can’t do shit without somebody telling them to. They got no hustle. I got tired of waiting. I figured if somebody’s going to be in charge, it might as well be me.”

She used her hand to conceal her grin as Winston ordered one of his men to take down someone trying to sneak over the barricade. The person was caught, searched, then sent back over with a swift kick in the back.

“It’s funny,” Winston. “They don’t mind that shit, as long as it ain’t a dude in a uniform with a badge. They’re funny.”

“I guess.”

“You want to help me? Based on what I’ve seen, you’re probably the smartest person here, after me of course.”

“What do you mean?”

“Shit, we can run the whole thing. These dudes do what I tell them. If they think you’re my girl, nobody’s going to say nothing.”

She gazed out at the street, where Winston’s men intimidated antifa members with their weapons and hostile glares as they patrolled the sidewalks. Everyone else kept their eyes down at the ground, save for a woman who approached them and thanked them for protecting them from the police.

Kristy turned to Winston. “What the hell; I’m in.”