Fireside Chats: Meet Benjamin

Alright, alright my fellows. You may want to hold onto your hats, take a seat, be sure your seat belts are securely fastened, and please leave the seat back trays in the full upright position! Today is a very special day! Why is that, you may ask? Well my friends, and all you fan girls out there that will be screaming in just a moment, today you get to sit in on a very special interview. Yes, that’s right! After a number of requests and some friends that offered up a couple of burning questions in a special league of scribes, I am bringing my dear boy Benjamin Resnik in for his 5 minutes of fame. Now please, please, hold your applause and various other sounds of excitement! For the sake of my underprivileged readers, I must supply the character bio provided to my fellow scribes. So, without further ado, meet Ben!

Ben is around seventeen or eighteen. He lives in the post-apocalyptic town of Raven Falls, in a dark time where the government has taken over. (Much like the setting of the Seam in the Hunger Games, but I wrote it first!!!) He’s a very quiet person, the kind of quiet the exudes strength and leadership. He is a very kind-hearted and gentle man, but only a few people have the pleasure of knowing the real Ben. To most, he is just the young, strong, wise leader of a rebel gang. His parents began the rebellion before he was born, and created a miniature army. They were the first rebel gang to ever strike the military as a real threat. He and his little sister, Jessica (aka Jesse. She’s been disguised as a boy for 8 years, which was Ben’s idea.), are two of only five people who escaped a military ambush 8 years ago. Of those five, only four are living. The rest are dead or presumed dead. Ben’s parents were among those presumed dead after they forced him to take his sister and run. Since then, it has been he and Jesse’s shared mission to one day turn their parents dream of a truly free America into a reality, starting with Raven Falls. They have rebuilt their rebel army, which is powerful in mind if not numbers. He is very highly skilled in hand to hand combat, and can give nearly anyone a run for their money with a hand gun, but his real talent is devising military strategy.
He has a secret past that haunts him, one that not even Jesse knows the truth of. This is what causes him to keep people at an arm’s length, keeps him from ever really feeling free to have fun and let his guard down with anyone but Jesse.

Come on in Ben, take a seat. There you go. Comfortable? Good. Thank you for coming in today, I really appreciate your time! I know you’ve been busy lately, what with a rebellion to run and all.

“Well, it’s not like I had much of a choice. Author’s can be rather… insistent.”

Very true my friend, very true. Now, as I said, many of these questions came from friends in the league or your fans directly. For the sake of some hopeless romantics out there, however, I have added one or two of my own. I must warn you, knowing your past the way I do, some of these questions will not be easy for you to answer. Knowing this, are you still willing to go through with this interview?

“I suppose. They’ll just find out in conversations with you or in our story anyways, I might as well have the chance to put it into my own words.”

Alright then, let’s begin. This first question was posed by Kaleb Kramer. We know that you have skill in all aspects of combat. Who is it that trained you?

“Well, primarily my father. He was, of course, the leader of this rebellion before I was, and spent much of his spare time training Jesse and I. But, as he was the leader, he didn’t have much spare time, so I guess you could say the other men and experience have taught me almost as much as he did.”

I’m sure you wish you could have spent more time training with him now though, eh? Following this stream of thought, perhaps now would be the time to answer one of Nathanael’s questions. We know your parents were, supposedly, killed in the ambush eight years ago that wiped out nearly the entire rebel force. Did your father, and do you currently, want the military to recognize you as a threat? Or was it an accident?

“Ah, the answer to this one is a bit more… complicated. At the time of the ambush, no. We were attempting to fly under the radar until we had the strength and organization to have a level of success. Until we were ready, we carefully planned our raids on their weapon stockpiles to appear as a number of smaller operations to avoid unwanted attention.”

That sounds like a pretty good plan. So, what happened?

“You know the story as well as I do.”

Ben, this is for the reader’s benefit. If you need a moment, I understand.

“No, I’m fine. It was worth a shot. See, the largest prison in the country is located at our town’s edge. For that reason, Raven Falls has a long history of Rebel action. As a precaution, the guard and number of undercover officers in the area is much larger than anywhere else. It’s pretty overkill, in my opinion. As a result, it’s hard to safely expand our forces, and harder to keep it a secret. Shortly after I was born, a man by the name of Zechariah Leone enlisted. He, his wife, their daughter, and an orphan boy they had as help moved into an old barn on the property my parents occupied. Our old base was hidden in the forest there. The Leone’s became my parent’s most trusted friends, and their daughter Sasha…”

You alright there, Ben?

“Haven’t been in a long time. Their daughter was a very good friend to me. My best friend. More than a friend. But it was never meant to be. After seven years of friendship, the Leones turned out to be under covers. Even that innocent orphan kid was in on it. When we were nearing the numbers it took to be considered a danger to the government’s hold on Raven Falls, they made a call, and we were ambushed.”

I’m sorry Ben. I know this is hard for you. Perhaps now would be a good time to ask another of Nathanael’s questions. How do you remain kind and gentle after seeing all you’ve seen, and while leading a rebellion?

“There are many ways I could answer this, all of them true. I don’t want to be like the people we fight, those who disregard the pain of others. I’m fighting for freedom from the cruel, hard-hearted people who rule this country. It would be ludicrous for that to be my goal, if I was just like them. Beyond that, I have my parents’ influence. They never liked the violence of what we had to do, and if there was any other way they would have taken it. But overall, I have Jesse to protect. I don’t want her only family to be some ruthless monster.”

That’s a lovely way of putting it Ben. Keeping on with this strand of questions, Kaleb wants to know how the responsibility of being the leader of a rebel army affect you?

“Well, it can be stressful of course. But I’m not exactly alone. Jesse, small as she is, is a great help to me. The men respect her… or as they believe, him. On top of that, I have my team leaders. Really, they only say I’m in charge because I have the most experience and skill with strategy. I’m not going to say it hasn’t affected me at all, but I’ve always felt great responsibility regardless. Haha, and as for loss of sleep, I’ve hardly slept since the ambush anyways.”

Jesse is a bit of a firework, eh? She sure puts those rookies in their place right quick anyways. Now, a question from Stephen. What is it that keeps you from breaking under the strain of adversity and leadership being thrust on you at such a young age?

“As I stated before, I haven’t been alone. Between my men’s help, Jesse, and my early preparations under dad, it wasn’t an enormous weight.”

Let’s take another from Nathanael. Are you the commanding type, or would you prefer not to be in charge?

“Personally, I wish I didn’t lead this life. I would prefer not to be in charge of this, but rather be able to take care of Jesse the way every young girl should be taken care of. I hate that my responsibilities, and hers, keep us in such a dangerous position. But this is our path, one that was chosen for us. And I wouldn’t entrust this mission to anyone else.”

Interesting. I love listening to you talk about her. I feel like that’s when we really get to see you, Ben. Anyways, moving on. Yet another question from Nathanael: How do you consider your group of men? For example, would you call them extended family, just men under your command, or something else?

My dad always strove to create an atmosphere of brotherhood in the ranks. We are all close, especially with our teammates. I still use my dad’s old trick to keep everyone connected. I have 5 teams, with 5 leaders. One is mine, one Jesse’s, and the other 3 are under dear friends of mine. After each group of rookies graduates from training, we change up our teams. This lets everyone spend time with everyone else, and allows the men to find which leadership technique works best for them. This keeps the teams fresh, lets the entire force meld together, and helps everyone to meet their full potential. To answer the question directly, my men are my friends and my family. We hold each other’s lives in our hands, and I don’t think anyone would feel safe or right handing their lives over to an uncaring stranger. Because of events in my past, I know I don’t get as close to them as I could. But they are my brethren, and I would give my life for any of them without a thought.”

That was almost poetic for a moment there, Ben! I thought that was someone else’s job.

“Don’t bring him into this. I will walk out of here.”

Easy there, Ben! I was just messing with you. Perhaps that’s still a bit too sore a subject though, eh? I’ll take that glare as a yes. On to the next question, a follow-up to the last. How do you deal with the deaths of your men?

“Well, it’s never easy. You see these men every day. They’re your friends, your brothers, your saviors at times. The pain of expecting their face to meet you when you call a meeting, only to remember they wont be attending never goes away. It’s especially hard for myself… and it’s the one time I truly hate being the leader. Our policy is that if someone is lost outside of camp or a safe hold, their body is not to be retrieved. It diverts too many men to unnecessary and dangerous positions, where they will be doing nothing to promote the cause. This is a policy we followed even for my parents. Because I am the leader, I must enforce this rule, which involves not only dealing with my own sorrow, but also the wrath of those closest to that person. Grief is a dangerous thing.”

That’s the truth. Especially in an abandoned tunnel full of well-trained men armed to the teeth with weapons. Here, I think it’s about time for a lighter question. Nathanael wants to know what you think about music. That boy is full of questions!

“Haha he sure seems to be anyways. Music has always been important in my family. My mother was a singer, way back when music was still allowed. Now that it has been outlawed, it’s also a sign of disrespect for the government. Which means I’m all for it. I strongly believe that music has the power to change the mood, and raise morale. Which is probably why the government got rid of it. There’s something about music, any kind of music, that stirs up the hope in a person’s heart. It resonates with us in a way nothing else can. Jesse and I love singing, and whenever she’s distressed about something, I still hum our mother’s lullaby to her. Sometimes I think it has a more soothing effect on me than her.”

It must have been haunting when your mother sang it. Perhaps your fans will hear you someday?

“Someday maybe. If they start stalking me. But not voluntarily.”

I see. Well, it was worth a shot anyways. Now, back to Kaleb for another question. What do you hope to do when America is free again?

“My only hope is that it will happen before I pass on, and that I may have the privilege of watching my sister live in a world where people are respected, maybe even watching her fall in love. It’s my dream that one day, I can play with her children in the streets, without fear. It’s my dream that someday, the war will be over, and in the peace that follows I wont have to worry about her falling for a traitor like I did. I can just rejoice with her, and sing mother’s lullaby to her grandchildren.”

What about you? Do you ever plan or hope to marry?

“I did once. But that’s another painful story I don’t wish to relive. No, that happiness bestowed on my sister would be more than enough for me.”

Ben, look what you’ve done. You’ve brought a tear to my eye! It pains me that your heart will never be the same again. Even if it was me who wrote it that way. To break off of this line of questions, let’s take one from Mirriam! Do you have any one thing – a token, a person, a memory – that comforts you or reminds you of something?

“As I’ve said all along, Jesse is what I have to hold onto. She’s the most amazing creature alive, and I’m blessed to have her. I only wish I could do more to protect her. There’s nothing more comforting than knowing she’s waiting back at home for me. She’s a perfect blend of our parents, and I see so much of them in her that it’s like they never left me. Besides that, there is one memory… but since the ambush, it’s become more of a nightmare than a comfort.”

I wont pain you by going there, Ben. At least, not tonight. But I do have a question from David which stems from your last answer a bit. And it may not be pleasant. But first, I must thank him for submitting this question. After all, it is my trademark question. It was bound to be asked… but now I can blame it on someone else! Benjamin, what is your deepest fear?

“It would definitely involve something horrible happening to Jesse, something that I couldn’t protect her from. Something like what happened with Sasha perhaps. Or, if we were to be captured, and I was rendered unable to free her. There are other things that haunt my nightmares, but this is one of the few that keeps me up at night.”

He’s such a wonderful big brother, is he not my friends? Don’t you just want to walk up and give him a giant hug? Well, little tip. Don’t actually try to do that. Especially if he’s lost in thought. Unless of course, you enjoy being held at gunpoint. Alright Ben, just two or three more and I’ll leave you in peace. This is another from Kaleb: what is it that keeps you going day in and day out?

“The need to protect Jesse, and give her the life she deserves. The obligation to give that freedom to all of these innocent people. If there’s one thing more painful than what I’ve lived through, it’s the hungry, desperate, frightened faces of the women and children our government has left behind. If there’s one thing more powerful than that, it’s seeing that look on my own sister’s face. If I had no one to care about, I would have given up long ago. The life I’ve lived, the things I’ve done, make me no better than anyone. If anything, I deserve the world we’re forced to live in. But Jesse, she deserves so much more. And if there’s any way for me to give it to her, by George I will. That’s what keeps me going.”

Oh Ben, you’ve got me tearing up all over again! Your love for your sister is just amazing to me. Now, this is the last question submitted by the scribes, coming from Emily. What would it take to get you to let your guard down?

“It’s not an easy thing to do, I’ll tell you that much. It would take something the size of our parents coming back again, Charlie found living, Jesse found dead, and the like. I’m not easily rattled, not after the things I’ve seen and done. But, I am human. I get surprised every now and then.”

No one is perfect, that we all know. Now, I just have one more question. This one was not officially submitted, but I can feel it burning in every reader’s heart. I sense that if I don’t ask, I will get something thrown at me. Possibly even something sharp.

“Now you’re scaring me.”

Oh, we can’t have that! Very well. Last question. Will you ever tell us more about Sasha?

“I honestly cannot answer you even that. Perhaps.”

Thank you very much for your time, Mr. Resnik! On behalf of all my readers, we love you and wish the best of luck to you and yours. Perhaps we’ll even hear from you again soon?

“My pleasure.”

Can we get a round of applause for this brave soul? If you enjoyed this, please stay tuned! I am hoping to make these character interviews a regular thing. Next week, we will be looking at the town of Raven Falls!

Thanks for reading.



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