I believe the first death in the rising occurred on my seventeenth birthday. It was followed quickly by a rape.
His name was Phineas Hanley, and he was a politician. To this very day, I could not explain to a soul why, but the man was a popular favourite around the prosperous part of the city. For all I know, he was a complete and utter fool, and the fumes of the metalworks and the factories of mass production had melted their brains to such an extent that they believed him to be a reincarnated Jesus Christ.
Of course, one had to be afflicted with believing in such a Jesus Christ for this theory to have any substance. As I was not, I was forced to put it aside.
At the age of sixteen, I was tall and bony, with little to no colour in my cheeks. I had wheezing lungs, brittle bones, and hard soles on my feet. I'd picked up a job at one of the better-known horseshoe makers' on the productive end of London. The only one to show up on the first day without so much as a single skill beyond the basic bones of secondary education, I was handed a ash encrusted bucket and pointed down in the direction of the nearest port.
"The ships unload coal into a large tip, but the men on board have started kicking up a fuss 'bout having to hoist it up to the factory as well. It's a sad little country where folk want to do less and get paid more." My instructor seemed to grind his teeth and snarl under his breath. His eyes met mine. "I suppose it's good news for you, though. You've got yourself a job moving the coal up here for us."
I looked in disdain at the pail, and then abruptly at the clean-shaven instructor, who donned a simple black jacket and pinstriped trousers. Nothing special, but certainly far more dignified than the ragged brown trousers and grubby oversized shirt that hung from my own unimpressive frame.
"It's too small," I snapped at him, commoner accent thick in my tone.
"Tell you what'll be too small, boy, and that'll be your manhood, if you ever come to me with that kind of whining again. You hear?"
And he strode off, and I never laid eyes on him again.
As everyone else murmured about fantasies such as higher pay, better working conditions, and more holidays from their employers, I only just entered the world of industry. It was dirty, laborious and often dangerous work moving beneath the great steel bellies of the airships.
But it was better than sitting on my arse in that same old murky room on Greyhawk Street with the smelly old sods who just happened to be my dear old mum and dad.
Yet it was shit all the same.