The peaceful protest was indeed a hit. The people of the neighbourhood went out in droves in early morning and conglomerated in the Main Square, a great square in the centre of the City. Tatjana Kobliska had many friends, and naturally those friends had their friends, and in the course of a day she was easily able to amass a sizeable crowd of about three or four thousand people, all holding banners and signs.
The protest began to kick off around nine o'clock. Cyril Fietznyak was with her. She went to the front of the crowd and began to chant: –Less Police, More Freedom! Less Police, More Freedom!– She thought it was a good enough chant to start off with, to-the-point, short, and quite rhythmic.
The chant spread until everyone was shouting at the Government buildings, in which they all knew their country's leader to be sitting. The nearby Police looked at the protest and hesitated, after all, no harm was being done.
At around ten o'clock and several various variations of the original chant, people were beginning to lose heart. Tatjana was nervous. Was the Government just going to ignore and suppress them once again? Would people just give up and leave?
At around ten-thirty, there was a very noticeable twitch of one of the curtains. There was a collective scream, and the chanting began to get wilder and louder. Tatjana and Cyril could almost feel the backing of the people behind them, and they began to shout all the louder, and like one voice they began to shout Less Police, More Freedom!
It was around eleven that the peaceful protest got a shock. Two squadrons of Police were marching out to greet the protesters, and they stopped right in front of them.
There was a split second when the Police stared at the protesters and the protesters at the Police.
Then, there was a ripping of white gas. Tatjana didn't remember much else, other than that she was on the concrete, there were people running, and people screaming, and her eyes were pouring with tears. Terrified, she tried to struggle to her feet, but there was white gas everywhere. She tried to shout for Cyril, her eyes pouring. She couldn't see anything.
–Cyril!– she screamed. –Cyril! Where are you?–
She looked wildly around. She could see dim shapes. In the corner of her eye she saw a Policeman whack a floored protester. She called for Cyril again, running this way and that. She could feel a burning in her lungs and her eyes were streaming.
She covered her eyes with her hood and ran low. The gas was everywhere. She was never going to get out alive. Where was Cyril? Where was the exit to the main square? She kept running, until she smashed into something, and then was soaked.
She was in the Main Fountain.
She resurfaced, shocked and terrified. She floundered, her heavy clothes in the water, knowing that her only chance of survival was getting out of the Square. The gas was engulfing her and making her cry again. She dragged herself to the middle of the Main Fountain...
Something grabbed her from behind and pulled her underwater. Tatjana pulled whatever it was down with her and resurfaced, and then she dragged the struggling body up with her: it was Cyril.
–We've got to get out of here,– she shouted.
–I don't know how!
Tatjana's eyes were searing. She was scared she might go blind. The gas was all around them like a poisonous mist. She dragged herself and Cyril out of the Fountain and they began running.
Neither had any idea where they were. The streets were narrow and filled with the tear gas. Police and people ran everywhere. The Peaceful Protest had been a disaster.