He had always been the wrong kind-of-citizen, so Tony was not surprised when they arrested and held him for deportation. What did surprise Tony was the number of good citizens the police had rounded up in their recent city-wide sweep.
Many were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time when picked up, often found to be without their mandatory papers on their person. But it did not matter as the police had a quota to fill.
That was more important.
Loaded into moving trucks in the middle of the night, destination unknown, those that survived the trip would never survive the ordeal. Of the ten-thousand sent, only a third would live to tell the tale, but none would ever be allowed to speak of it.
The play for survival began the moment the rolling doors on the large vans closed. Criminals pushed their way around the darkness, assaulting women, murdering any man that offered resistance, and taking what valuables anyone had in their possession.
By the time the two-day journey ended, few men were alive, and even fewer women wanted to be alive. Tony was one of those men still living, having played dead to keep from being strangled or suffocated.
Authorities, not wanting such undesirable people near their town, decided that it would be best if they loaded them onto barges and off-loaded them onto the nearby island in the middle of the river. While they knew the island had few resources for so many people, they believed the deportees would figure out how to make a living from the isolated land.
Once the boat landed, and with no guards present, Tony quickly walked into the Poplars and disappeared. Here, he would stay until the crisis had passed or until he could figure a way off the island.
Day-in and day-out, Tony heard the screams of people, mostly women, and children as they were tied limb from limb between two trees and filet while alive. Men of the most inhumane kind stripped away the choice parts for eating.
Slowly the screams died away, leaving an eerie silence in their place, and death over-ran the camp.
Tony did not witness what happened next. He was killed by a sniper from the other side of the river while riding a raft of three logs towards freedom.
“This is how I know what’s happening over there,” Bryant explained to the town’s Mayor, laying the still-damp note’s on the desk before him. “I read these papers I found in his jacket pocket, where his makeshift raft and body washed ashore.”
Bryant would be labeled ‘undesirable’ the following week and would not survive the following 13-weeks.