The grass is always greener on the other side of the nuclear war.
Sometimes due to glowing with radiation, granted.
“War,” said the Elder. “We had to fight it, of course. Those evil bastards on the other continent were going to destroy our way of life. So we had to destroy theirs.”
“Um,” said Krii, raising her hand.
“Did they know that was why we attacked? Because, um, it might explain why they wanted a war with us… maybe?”
“We never attacked,” snarled the Elder. “We pre-emptively defended ourselves from a virulent enemy who would have destroyed everything we hold dear! Those inhuman bastards didn’t even know how to treat women right. They insisted on making them cover up or the girls would get attacked.”
Krii, already holding one Bad Chit for having a skirt two millimetres shorter than it ‘should have been’, asked a dangerous question. “How were they attacked?”
“Acid thrown in their faces. Beatings… horrible, horrible beatings… tied up and shackled if they put a foot wrong. And a man who married her owned her! He could do anything he liked with her, just shy of murder! Now aren’t you glad you live here with us? We let you vote!”
“Um,” said Krii. “But… We have to cover up. And we’re hit if someone says we’re bad even when we’re following the rules. And… Daddy owns Mom. And she can’t say when she wants Daddy to do his business on her. And he’s allowed to keep her on a chain in the kitchen… and Mom has to vote how Daddy tells her…”
“That’s entirely different and you know it. Or are you a Sympathiser?”
Krii shrank down in her place, holding her skirt as far over her knees as she could make it go. “No? I just… I just want to understand how it’s different…” She added the good girl words, “I’m very stupid, but I want to learn.”
“You’re lucky we’re the good guys,” rumbled the Elder. “The difference is we’re protecting you! Those dangerous animals are lurking on every street corner. Subversives set to ruin us! Agents of evil everywhere! They’d think nothing of hurting a girl because they thought she wasn’t behaving right.”
Okay. So… just like her Daddy. “How can we tell the difference? I think I know some bad men who might be Agents… and I want to be sure I’m right so I don’t wind up in bad girl prison.”
The Elder grinned. “Ah. So you think you’ve spotted some Subversives… You’re old enough to support The Party, so I should tell you everything you need to know about fighting for your country, the women’s way!”
Krii dutifully wrote down the indicators of a Subversive. Neatly and clearly. This was important information, vital to the upkeep of the nation.
But it didn’t make sense.
Every man she knew filled out this checklist to a T. And some of the girls, too.
And they also filled the checklist for a proper Citizen and Party Member.
Krii dared her friend Lel to ask the last question. A girl who asked too many questions was a girl who was Trouble.
“What if someone fills both lists?”
The entire girls’ class got hard labour for that one. None of them understood why. It was a perfectly legitimate question.
It was that day, toiling in the hot sun, that the Girls’ Patriotic Liberation Front was born. And it was going to cause a lot of problems for The Party.