2010 Version

End of Days

Week I:

Enlightenment

 

By Steve Hengen



Introduction

 

The earth has been around for a long time. Over the years, dooms-day advocates have come and gone but the earth remains. Humanity survives. Since modern man decoded the Mayan calendar, the question has been asked, “Why does the calendar end on December 21, 2012?” Others pointed to this date with trepidation as well claiming that the 64 trigrams of the ancient Chinese, I Ching or Book of Changes, also pointed to a “time wave” for the earth that would end on December 21, 2012. While many predicted that December 21, 2012, would be the end, many thought of it merely as a trigger to a new chapter in the history of the earth.  In a way they were both right.

Around 2,000 years ago, the Maya figured out that on the Winter Solstice of 2012, the sun would line up with the center of our Milky Way galaxy, an alignment that only happens every 25,920 years.

It was also on this date that the earth reached the pinnacle of its nearly 26,000 year wobble on its axis.  Because the earth is neither a perfect circle, nor is it a perfect ellipse (because of the various gravitational forces surrounding the earth), the poles gradually shift and the tilt of the earth changes in a process known as precession. In fact, it is at the pinnacle of this cycle that the star known as Polaris, or the North Star, is precisely in alignment with the axis of the earth.

In another cosmic coincidence, or as some would say evidence of our destiny, the Winter Solstice of 2012 also marked the zenith of an eleven-year cycle in solar activity known as Solar Maximum. Solar Maximum is a period of intense sunspot activity with many more large flares and solar storms than at any other time. While we go through these cycles every 11 years, it had been several millennia since these forces all came together. Long before modern man.

Over the lifetime of the earth there is strong past evidence of the earth’s magnetic field weakening, then failing, causing a polar reversal in which the magnetism of the poles reverse and the South Pole becomes what we now call Magnetic North.  These reversals seem to occur hundreds of thousands of years apart, and in 2012 our planet was due.

There were some who had predicted that the 180 degree polar reversal phenomenon had been misinterpreted, and that in reality what we should have expected was a “Pole Shift” in which the entire mantel of the earth would actually slide along the surface of the liquid layer of the earth’s core into a new position, moving the location of the equator and the poles into new alignments.

Of course, in 2012, Pole Shift was also simply another hypothetical suggestion. Technically we still don’t really know for sure what is under the crust of the earth, or exactly how deep the crust is. Several attempts have been made to tunnel through it, and even to drill through it starting in the deepest parts of the ocean, but, to no avail. The hypothesis of Pole Shift gained a whole new following when “The Slide” began.

December 22, 2012, arrived. The first evidence of “The Slide” became evident to seismologists within minutes. Other effects were realized by people near the oceans within a couple of hours, and astronomers understood what was actually happening a few days later.

First came the earthquakes. Unlike the upheaval caused by just a small movement of the tectonic plates, the shifting of the whole Mantel on the  liquid core was relatively mild – especially considering the fact that the North Pole was barreling south at an average of over 34 miles a day. That is not to say that the effects weren’t disastrous. Never in the history of the world had such earthquakes taken place. Suddenly a 10 on the Richter Scale was commonplace rather than nearly unthinkable. From the very beginning, the Third World was hit incredibly hard. Literally millions of deaths took place almost every day as entire cities were flattened by the nearly constant rumbling. The 10’s eventually gave way to 8’s and 9’s, and after a few months, 6’s and 7’s were the most common. However, buildings which withstood the initial days eventually weakened and collapsed as the hours of earthquakes turned to days, then weeks and months.

The earthquake deaths were quickly overshadowed by the deaths from flooding.  Most of the islands of the Pacific were completely wiped clear of any life. The residents of New Orleans quickly found the entire city under a barrage of waves over 150 feet high. The Mississippi River was soon running North as the Gulf of Mexico began making its way into the interior of the U.S.. Over the first few days the many sections of the Mississippi River Basin were completely flooded. The Southern area was particularly devastated as salt water poured into the farmlands of Louisiana, and eventually worked its way across the Arkansas River and eventually, all the way up into the Missouri River Basin. Virtually nothing between St. Louis and Kansas City survived the carnage.

The Eastern Hemisphere saw the world moving in the opposite direction. The Arctic Ocean was already frozen, so as Japan headed toward the North Pole and 24 hour days of darkness, the bulk of the flooding was postponed until after millions had died from exposure to the extremely cold temperatures.

Then came the storms. The prevailing winds began changing as the surface of the earth moved, and the temperatures of the oceans and land masses changed.  By March of 2013, the daytime temperatures at both the North and South poles had risen into the 50’s, and by June both poles were in the 90’s.  On the contrary, in June, Ecuador was in 24 hours a day of darkness. The farmland in the U.S. that wasn’t salted under was ready to be planted in late January, but by late April the first freezes of Autumn were already upon them. They were under several feet of snow by June, and by early September, they were in total darkness 24 hours a day with temperatures in excess of -80 degrees.

All the while, the earthquakes continued.

In the end, The Slide lasted precisely one year to the day. The surface of the earth had moved over 12,400 miles, and on December 21, 2013, Polaris stood directly over the South Pole.  The world had, in fact, been turned upside down.


Prologue

Sunday 6:25 AM MDT

Saturday 8:25 PM BDT (Babylon)

 

The applause had been going on for almost two full minutes.

If someone had told the Secretary General this moment would come just a few short years ago, he would not have believed them, despite his several accomplishments.

“Persons of this assembly, I ask you once again to look at what we have done over the past six years; the trials we have overcome, the hardships we have endured, and the progress we have made. We were barely recovering from The Slide, the Enlightenment was just starting to bear fruit, and then disaster struck.

“First was the asteroid storm. We endured the thousands and thousands of small asteroids that showered our planet. Every continent was affected as fire fell from the sky, and hundreds of our newly replaced satellites, and thousands of the dead ones that were once in orbit, came crashing down to the earth. But we turned it into a blessing. We learned to live a more natural existence, and we learned that our pollution of space needed to stop. We sent up dozens of missions to clean up more of the space debris, and after we managed to extinguish the fires across the globe, we expedited our efforts to return as much land back to nature as possible.

“Then came the great Asteroid Adolfus. We thought it was going to miss our world, but only weeks before impact we found we had misjudged the speed of it years before. It arrived over a year earlier than originally expected and slammed into the Pacific. It raised the temperature of the ocean to the point that much of the ocean was uninhabitable for almost a year. Fish were dying, algae burned up and turned red, and hundreds of cargo ships were destroyed in the tsunami that followed. But again we persevered and turned this warning from the earth into a blessing for humankind. We found that the island cultures had been wiped out during The Slide because of their exploitation of the oceans, so we quit raping the oceans of their abundance, and quit marring Mother Earth’s face with so many vessels of travel. The Universe was truly showing us the folly of our ways, and thanks to The Enlightenment, we were learning the lessons.

“Then, just as we thought we were doing all we could to live in harmony with our Mother Earth, the old Space Station that had been built to colonize the moon was struck by disaster and plummeted to the earth. This idol built to humankind’s vanity that had once looked like a star in the sky orbiting our earth as though we were the center of the universe, was brought crashing down upon us, breaking in half; one part landing in Lake Baikal, the other half landing in Lake Victoria, both halves contaminating huge amounts of once fresh water with nuclear radiation – probably never to be viable again. But again we triumphed! We moved on. We again learned from our follies. The earth had taught us well again. We moved tens of millions of people away from the lakes and rivers so we wouldn’t abuse these resources again. We learned to let the earth keep its water, we found it was possible to live on so much less, and we even taught the Americans.

“In fact, at this point I want to acknowledge the good work of The Enlightened One. He alone had the foresight to bring the Americans to the knowledge of the truth.” This caused another raucous round of applause that turned into another two-minute standing ovation. The Enlightened One’s image on the huge screens in the front of the Assembly showed his humble embarrassment.

The Secretary General always knew how to work a crowd, and he knew how to get things done. He had shown so over the past few years. Many had thought he would never be able to bring the UN to Babylon, but he did. Others thought he would never be able to unite the Islamic world behind his peace plan for the Middle East, but he did. During those early years, he was seen by many as the greatest peacemaker of all time. Though far more secular than he would admit in public, he had almost single-handedly changed the whole world’s opinions of the followers of Allah.

About three years ago, some people thought he might have bitten off more than he could chew. A couple of months into his second term as Secretary General, Syria (backed by Iran) suddenly attacked “Palestine” to liberate the West Bank. Their move went unopposed by the Secretary General, and thus by the UN.

The Syrian invasion went well in the beginning. Syrian troops and their allies flooded over the border and pushed on to the outskirts of Jerusalem within only a few days. Then, the Jews seemed to miraculously strengthen their defenses. The last three years had not gone as well as the first month. There had been an odd silence about this war. The UN was involved in several wars globally, but they seemed to be ignoring this one.

As the delegates finally settled down, the Secretary General continued, “Even now, my fellow citizens of the World, the earth speaks to us again. We have suffered many volcanic eruptions over the past week, and the skies are becoming darker. While this plague has yet to affect the whole globe, it has caused severe cold temperatures all across the Northern hemisphere. Yes, I believe the earth speaks to us again. It shows us that if we don’t rid ourselves of those who pollute the earth, the earth has the power to rid itself of all of us!

“Persons of this assembly, the time has come. You must vote now to support my motion to finally put an end to all of this warfare. We have built an armada of gunships for this very purpose. Those who rape and pillage the earth must pay for their destruction of the planet! Yes, there will be a small, temporary cost in carbon emissions, but the soldiers will be under the strictest of orders not to harm the earth in any way. They are to destroy the destroyers, but if at all possible, they aren’t to harm a blade of precious grass,” he paused. “The time is now!

“We have specially designed this new generation of gunships to leave the smallest possible carbon footprint, not only in their emissions, but also in their weaponry. Our scientists have developed a very powerful non-lethal cannon we call the Scorpion. It will leave the enemy incapacitated on the battlefield, where they can be disposed of in a manner that doesn’t create large amounts of carbon dioxide.”

The Secretary General of the United Nations was now unveiling his long rumored, but dismissively denied, creation – a helicopter force over 50,000 strong. Its existence had been rumored since shortly after his second inauguration, but he had waited for a sign from the earth as to when it should be used. Today the wars in India and South America were not going well. UN troops were in disarray in many areas. The air support would give their armies a desperately needed boost. Morale was definitely falling and a great victory was needed.

He continued on with another revelation that few expected, “As I’ve stated, Persons of this assembly, the time has come not only to put down these rebellions, but also to put an end to the war in Palestine.”

This was the first time he had even acknowledged the war publicly, and many in the hall were taken aback. He could see the shock on the faces of many, and decided to push on as if nothing was out of the ordinary.

“To Hell with the so-called religious holy places! They mean nothing to us. They are nothing but ugly reminders of an awful past, a past when people were forced to pay tribute to a god who never existed. The Hatred of the past has ended. Let us now destroy all remnants of it! We must mobilize for our final assault. Fear of these two so called ‘prophets’ has held us off for far too long! Even now the greatest army ever known is being assembled to sweep through India, meet up with our brothers in Persia, gather more of the faithful in Babylon, and move in to eliminate the stain in Palestine. Prince David and all of Jerusalem must pay for their destruction of the planet! The time is now!”

He had longed for this day since the days of his childhood in Syria. The murderous Israelis had taken the life of his grandfather during the war against the Zionists. His father died in Iraq and both of his brothers had been killed in the struggle to liberate the homeland of the Palestinians. He had been an Hezbollah Freedom Fighter in his youth, but with the deaths of so many of his comrades trying to defend Iraq from the infidels, he came to the realization that victory in Palestine was going to require people working within the diplomatic channels as well as the struggle in the occupied territories.

Now his schooling at Yale, his time spent rubbing shoulders with the leaders of world, his carefully placed bribes, and the occasionally blackmailed government official, was truly going to pay off. He only wished his wife had lived to see this day; but such were the fortunes of war.

His goal had been a long time in coming and his Muslim allies had been some of his strongest opposition. The city of Jerusalem had been under siege for three years, and it was perceived by many that if Jerusalem finally fell, the other pockets of resistance would fall also. The time had come, he felt, to throw off the shackles of Islam. The Muslims had helped him get this far, but he could see them soon becoming a liability, or possibly a challenge, to his leadership.

“South Africa once again seconds the Secretary General’s motion, and calls for a vote of the entire assembly.”

The Enlightened States of America had yielded its position as a permanent member of the Security Council to the government of The People’s Republic of South Africa after the A.N.C. had threatened a boycott of the ESA in the year 4 Post Hatred.

The struggling democracy in Russia had survived for barely two decades before corruption, unemployment, and the terror of “The Slide” had again swept the Communists back into office in huge numbers. The old faces were long gone but the new faces represented a new vigor in socialist thought. Under the leadership of The Enlightened One, the ESA had fallen into step with the Socialist Bloc and its hubs in Russia, China, South Africa, and Venezuela.

Now that two members of the Security Council had called for a vote, it was required to have one. Debate had ended. Within thirty minutes it was done… 125 to 40… Jerusalem’s fate had been decided.


 

Sunday

 

 6:35 AM MDT

 

Another beautiful Sabbath morning was breaking, the sun climbing over the Oquirrh Mountains and illuminating the majestic peaks of the Wasatch Mountains. As rays of sunlight slowly began to flood the floor of the Salt Lake Valley, the Stone family knelt and called on their Heavenly Father, “… please bless us and help us to endure to the end, and please keep us safe in our home. We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

The prayer almost always ended with a plea for help, a call for the end of the persecution and discrimination. Most of the Stone children knew no other way.

As they got up from the prayer, Linda kissed each of her five children in turn, despite some muttered protests. She then turned to Dave, slipped her arms up around his neck and said, “Oh, I wish you didn’t have to go to work today.”

“Me too, sweetie.” He answered her gesture with a quick kiss and a loving tickle on the small of her back.

Linda giggled playfully and started to slide away but Dave pulled her close, looked lovingly into her deep gray eyes and gave her the real kiss she had wanted the first time.

“Ewwww!” Scott, the youngest of the Stone children, hollered from the bottom of the staircase.

As their lips parted, Linda’s eyes were still closed and she found herself wanting another. Instead, Dave gave her a peck on the nose, summarily shattering the mood.

“I’d better get going,” he said rather matter-of-factly, Linda thought.

“I know,” she didn’t try to hide her frustration, but Dave, as usual, didn’t seem to notice.

The children had already scurried up the stairs of the Stone family’s tri-level home. Dave and Linda now followed.

Reaching the top of the stairs and just as they were passing little Scott’s room on the left, Linda caught a glance of her son reaching for the bookshelf on his headboard. “Scotty, put your book down and go to sleep,” Linda gently scolded.

Scott quickly flipped over to his back slamming his arms straight down at his side and closed his eyes very tightly and pretended to be asleep; a fairly normal reaction for a five-year-old who’s been caught red-handed.

Dave and Linda came to their room at the end of the hall and Dave made a bee-line for the closet. He quickly changed into his Yale-blue coveralls – the uniform of the workers. Linda, on the other hand, kicked off her shoes, crashed onto the bed, closed her eyes, and seriously contemplated not changing out of her “Sunday clothes” before taking a little nap.

Wearing dresses could be far too dangerous, so the women generally wore slacks to church and The Chanting. The younger women didn’t seem to mind. In fact, many of the women who had come of age in the early days of the Enlightenment enjoyed shedding their dresses as well.

As Dave adjusted the sleeve on his coveralls, he leaned over his beautiful wife, gave her another quick kiss, and scooted out the door.

Linda hated the way Dave changed his moods so quickly. He would frequently turn from playful to strictly business on a dime. She continued to lie on the bed wondering how men could be so void of lasting emotion. After a couple of minutes, she thought better of the situation and decided to change into something more comfortable.

The entire family was tired, having had to wake at 2:00 AM to attend church before The Time of Gathering and Chanting. Linda and the children would rest for a couple of hours before E-school, but Dave had to get to Rick’s Bike Shop for work. Sunday was always a busy day. He made his way down to the garage, opened the sectional door, and grudgingly climbed onto his bike to start the eight-mile trek to work.

Even now, after so many years, Dave sometimes missed driving to work (road work and all). Some days, however, there was something enjoyable about the long ride; it kept him in shape and it gave him time to think. He headed out of his neighborhood and peddled down to Enlightenment Blvd., turned south (which he still thought of as north, even 15 years after The Slide) and headed toward the old 14th North onramp to I-215 and started toward downtown. Traveling the interstate, he couldn’t help but have an eerie feeling that a car was coming up behind him. He knew full well there was no such danger today, but he couldn’t stop himself from checking over his shoulder. Sure, government trucks were on the road occasionally, but government employees (aside from the guards at The Chanting) rarely had to work this early in the morning. There were very few bikes on the road for that matter.

This was the only section of the old “West Side Belt Route” still remaining, and it too, would soon be converted to a more worthwhile use. For the last couple of weeks at The Gathering, there was quite a bit of rumor mongering among his neighbors concerning about how long anyone would be able to take this route, but even road demolition took a while to get done with all of the bureaucracy.

Dave looked up and down the valley as he rode, occasionally reverting to “no hands” to straighten his back. The view had changed much since he had moved to Salt Lake almost 20 years ago. Besides the sun rising over the Oquirrhs, the northeast end of the valley was all farm land between West Jordan and Point of the Mountain; the march west to create more farmland was well under way. The prison was still there, of course. Almost as noticeable was the lack of smog to be seen throughout the whole valley. The famous inversions that had plagued the Salt Lake Valley were still there, but people couldn’t legitimately cry “pollution!” any more. Yet, people were constantly being reminded of the bad old days, lest they forget the great blessings they now enjoyed in their lives every day. The Salt Lake Valley that existed before The Enlightenment just got dirtier and dirtier every time the story was told. Pretty soon they would be telling tales of how children had to walk up hill both ways to and from school through waist-deep sludge. Things were different now. All of the areas formerly occupied by the mining and chemical companies were now clean. The smokestacks were idle.

There had been many changes.

Dave became a high school history teacher just before The Enlightenment. His career changed rather quickly, however. He was the only conservative in the social studies department and failed to even attempt to hide that fact. From day one, Dave had a reputation at his school for being a potential troublemaker. So, when the new curriculum guidelines were approved by the World Board of Educational Equity in the third year Post Hatred, the local school district officials knew they would have to keep an eye on him. A special representative was sent to observe him during the first day that the new curriculum was instituted. They needed to assure themselves that he was going to teach the proper theories to his classes.

Dave began the first day as he had begun his first day of the new semester for the previous six years: teaching his students about the symbols of America and the meanings behind them. He taught them about the flag, but not the right flag. He didn’t teach about that glorious banner created in 1945 that now flew over the school; nor did he speak of the red and green flag that flew alongside it. He spoke of that archaic flag of red, white, and blue with stars and stripes. He told the stories behind the Star Spangled Banner and the old Pledge of Allegiance to that flag. He taught the meaning behind the colors and what the flag stood for. He showed his students the symbols and phrases used on the old money, the Seal of the United States, the Liberty Bell, and such.

Before Dave could even finish his first class period, the observer stormed out of the classroom to report him to the district. By noon, District Security had removed Dave from his classroom, arrested him, and replaced him with a more “reliable element.”

After extensive re-education, which meant several months in a forced labor camp, he was returned to society. Only a couple of weeks later, Dave was assigned a job working at the largest bike store and service center in the valley. He knew his education was being wasted but, as a “public enemy”, he was lucky to have a job that allowed him to live with his family. These days, Dave spent much of his free time running a communications network for the resistance and writing books for the underground (and his own personal satisfaction) that could easily land him back in re-education. He would have loved to write for a living, but that was impossible. Without hard currency, there was no black market for such things; illegal books didn’t seem to do well in a barter system.

Dave exited the interstate where it ended, at Center Street and Redwood Road, and headed south to 12th South and then continued west toward downtown once again. This part of town had been a little scary back before the Enlightenment, but now it was going through a tremendous amount of reconstruction. The small rundown homes were being torn up by the dozen and replaced with high-rise apartment complexes. Despite the declining population, there was a continuing need for new apartments as homes to the north, around Riverton, Sandy, and Midvale, were being torn down to reclaim farmland.

Dodging potholes here and there, as well as other laborers on their way to work, Dave made his way to 2nd East. There, he peddled up to 13th South and turned right, into the newly re-vitalized park that had once been the parking lot of a car dealership. He had arrived at Rick’s Bike Shop.

Business at the shop had been good for the first few years of the Enlightenment, good enough to let Richard Johnson purchase half of the abandoned car lots that used to cover that entire city block. That was before the People’s Commission on Equity confiscated it for the use of the workers. Now Richard was allowed to manage the store he had once owned and they “allowed” him to beautify the land by tearing up the bulk of the old parking area and creating a new park. Unfortunately, construction on the park was perpetual and this meant more treacherous riding for Dave.

Dave made it through the maze of torn-up concrete and half-completed gazebos and park benches, then rode around to the back of the white and gray cinderblock parts building and locked his ancient Merlin Cyrene to the employee bike rack.

The back of the parts building was thick with gray paint used to cover anti-government graffiti. The entrance, a heavy steel security door with a small, computerized entry system, was only a few steps away. Dave walked up to the door and swiped his identification card through the apparatus.

“Voice identification, please,” stated a pleasant sounding, yet obviously robotic, female voice.

Dave still thought it was fun to play with the computerized security system. “Guten Morgan! Wie geht’s?”

A long pause. He heard the snapping of a camera shutter.

“Voice identification, please.” The voice sounded as pleasant as ever.

Dave knew the computer couldn’t verify a voice in German for some reason or a number of other languages for that matter.  Russian was, of course, an accepted language. “Zdravstvuite, Tovarisch,” he said, mocking pride.

The lock clicked and the door began to slowly open. “Welcome, Citizen Stone,” the computer responded in English.

“Dave! Have you been playing with the door again?” asked Cindy, one of Dave’s co-workers.

“Who? Me? Never!” Dave replied, feigning innocence. Then he changed to a serious tone, mocking his boss, “I would never play with the ‘terribly expensive’ computer,” he snickered and rolled his eyes. Rick always referred to the computer as “terribly expensive” as if he had paid for it himself. All of the employees thought of Rick as a joke. He was arrogant, condescending and, despite all of the wealth that had been taken from him, remained a staunch government supporter, so it was easy to poke fun at him.

Despite Enlightenment laws prohibiting employees from working over 24 hours a week, Dave was forced to volunteer an extra four hours on Saturday and Sunday for the past 12 years to show his loyalty to The Enlightened One who had shown him so much mercy in reducing his reeducation time by six months. Dave was a hard-working employee and did what was required. His upbringing and work ethic prevented otherwise. Yet, he was far from an ideal employee. He had a knack for making Rick upset when he wanted to.

One thing that particularly upset Rick (next to playing with the computer) was Dave’s insistence on riding his old road bike. Rick constantly impressed upon Dave the fact that he could get an excellent deal on a new bike from “the people”. Dave simply refused to buy a Mir 2100, the only model Rick’s had to offer. The long forgotten ideals of “buy American” remained part of his character. The problem for Dave at this time was that there were no American bikes to buy. There was no America. So Dave did the best he could to keep his old Merlin roadworthy. He had even gone to the extreme of buying a cache of spare components for his bike before they were outlawed. There were few Chinese or Russian replacement parts for old American bikes, especially one built to such high standards.

Dave put his lunch in his locker and clocked in at 6:59. He proceeded to the front of the store through the swinging door at the end of the parts counter and unlocked the front door. Already a small gathering of people waited outside. Dave was used to people waiting for him to open up; bike parts were always in high demand.

 

Sunday 7:30 AM MDT

8:30 AM PDT (Idaho Panhandle)

 

“Incoming!”

A loud explosion sounded as pieces of metal, dirt, and tree bark ripped through the majestic pines of southern Idaho.

“Come on, Jimmy! You can make it! We’re almost there,” José said, as he resituated his new friend’s arm across the back of his sweaty, mud covered neck.

There was a slight dip in the terrain as they retreated to the west and the dry pine needles covering the ground made footing treacherous.

“Careful, now. I’ve got you,” José said, again readjusting Jimmy’s arm. The skies had cleared but the lingering humidity from that morning’s rains made them both drip with perspiration and gasp deeply for breath.

José had just met Jimmy. He was barely seventeen but he had already proven himself a great asset to the resistance over the past two years; his reputation preceded him.

Jimmy Warner had grown up in Poulsbo, Washington, across the sound from Seattle. He was bright but undisciplined as a child. His parents were mid-level officials in the Washington Green Transportation Department and his father doubled as the head of the Teamsters’ Union. They had high hopes for Jimmy to work his way up into the government as well but as he entered school in the year 3 PH, he didn’t do as well as had been expected. He quickly became a disruptive influence and was constantly being reprimanded and pumped full of Ritalin.

His middle school years were worse. They had moved to a larger house on Bainbridge Island and, at the age of thirteen, Jimmy was caught trying to build a motorcycle from parts he found in an old junk yard that had been buried under six feet of dirt near his home. He and some of his friends spent months trying to rebuild that bike without any kind of instructions or diagrams. They were caught just as the bike neared completion. Needless to say, Jimmy was placed in re-education. He was allowed to return home a little before his fifteenth birthday.

Much to the dismay of his parents, his re-education hadn’t converted him to the ideals of the movement. It had simply caused a greater anger inside him. He had learned at re-education that there was a “petty bourgeoisie” resistance going on in Oregon. He vowed to join them as soon as he got out and he did.

When he arrived in Portland under cover of night, he was exhilarated and delighted. There were burned out military transports turned over in the streets and a number of buildings were ablaze. He knew he had found his new home. He was quickly able to find some members of the resistance and gain their confidence. Within a month, he was building bombs and helping on raids against government weapons depots. He was a good soldier.

The following spring, he made his way down to Spokane, Washington, in the hopes of meeting the famous José Torrez, the leader of the Northwestern Liberators (even though it was technically the Southeast now), as the members of the resistance liked to call themselves. When he arrived, he learned that Torrez had gone to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to lead a new offensive against government outposts in Idaho and Montana. Jimmy made the journey west and found Torrez just as his men were finalizing plans to ambush a government convoy just northwest of town.

As zero hour approached, Torrez said he didn’t feel good about the ambush so he and his men began to withdraw when, from out of nowhere, government tanks came rolling over a hill to the south and opened fire. There had been a security leak and the Liberators were in full retreat. Jimmy had taken a shot in the right leg and Torrez was trying to help him to safety.

They reached the entrance of the cave just as a UN Mig 29E roared overhead. Torrez turned and saw no tanks or troops. Hopefully they had reached the cave before the army could make visual contact on them. The odds were against it, though. They continued twenty feet into the cave, the last guys wiping their tracks in the sand. Then the man-made wall covering the door to the tunnels was lowered into place.

“Man!” was all Torrez could say as he set Jimmy down on a large rock inside the cave.

“Sir, scouts at the entrance say no Blue Hats found the entrance. They entered the cave but didn’t find it,” reported Clarence Davis, or Bo, as he preferred to be called.

Bo stood six-foot-four and had a classic athletic build. He was now twenty-three so he was in high school when competitive sports had been outlawed. For him, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He felt it was unfair, especially because he and many of his friends in the projects of Chicago lived for basketball. His big brother, Tyrone, had been shot by the police when he refused to stop shooting hoops on their homemade basket. It seemed senseless to Bo and he was determined to end the Enlightenment or die trying.

“Have Sanders keep watch. We can’t afford to take any chances,” Torrez replied.

“Sanders is dead sir. I saw him shootin’ Jamison and then he was headin’ right toward the convoy. When he got down there, the men in the convoy didn’t shoot at him. He was wavin’ some green scarf at ‘em. I knew he was our leak. I blew that scum bag away before he could get us all killed,” Bo had a sound of unbridled anger in his voice.

“Good work, Bo. You did the right thing. Well,” a short pause, the wheels were obviously spinning in his head, “get Ortega up there then,” Torrez said, trying to cover his outrage. He turned to Jimmy who was still sitting on the rock in the dimly lit tunnel. “I trusted that little…,” he didn’t finish the thought.

“How much did he know?” Jimmy asked, his voice trembling with pain.

“Enough,” Torrez was still distracted, trying to figure out exactly what Sanders did know. “Medic!” he called, “Get down here on the double.”

A couple of men appeared from a branch of the tunnel on the right. They helped Jimmy to his feet and led him down the hall and to the area they had come from. Torrez headed off to another pathway to the left.

The resistance had hit a number of set-backs over the last couple of months. This was one of the worst. Two nights before, a bomb failed to explode when detonated and a major shipment of government arms slipped through into Spokane. Government troops found the bomb and traced the timing device to a small appliance repair shop that had been a major contributor to the resistance. Bill Rutherford, manager and former owner of the shop, hadn’t squealed on them as far as Torrez knew but he had no way of being sure. Rutherford was dead.

A couple of weeks back, a bomb exploded accidentally and killed one of their top bomb makers, also exposing one of the members of the Mayor’s office as a spy. Now Sanders; a serious leak.

Torrez entered his “office” as these problems raced through his mind. “How much had Sanders told them?” he wondered. He sat down behind his make-shift desk and closed his eyes and leaned his folding chair against the wall and contemplated his next move.

Jimmy was taken through a series of tunnels and eventually to a make-shift elevator shaft. The medics took him up the elevator into the basement of some sort of building. It was much cleaner than the tunnels and Jimmy felt a little better about having his leg treated here than down there. The medics placed him on a cot in the middle of the room. The taller of the two walked over to the wall and pushed a faintly glowing button on the wall. Jimmy could barely see in the dark but as his eyes adjusted, he was able to tell he was in the basement of a house. There was a large amount of junk strewn about and most of it seemed to be personal items. He wondered whose house he was in until the door leading to the upstairs opened and a man wearing a white smock came down the stairs.

“Well, hello, young man. I haven’t seen you around before. I’m Dr. Pitt. Glad to meet you. Of course, I wish it could be under better circumstances,” the man said with a deep chuckle, offering his hand. “Welcome to my humble home.”

Jimmy shook the doctor’s hand and said, “I’m Jimmy.” He felt an urge to make fun of the man’s stuffy demeanor but he resisted.

“Glad to meet you, Jimmy. Let me take another look around upstairs to make sure the coast is clear, then we’ll bring you up and get you all fixed up. Hector, keep the pressure on that leg,” he said to the medic in a more normal sounding voice.

Jimmy began to worry. Was his leg seriously damaged? He sure hoped not. It wasn’t the first time he had been injured for the cause. He had scars all along his back from mortar fragments when he had been caught in a similar ambush a few months ago. He had other scars too numerous to mention from other escapades. This time he was worried, though. He didn’t know why but he was. His eyes had fully adjusted to the dark basement now and he was starting to try and make out some of the titles of the books in a bookcase against the wall when the door swung open and the doctor appeared to tell them all was clear.

“Okay, get him up here,” the doctor called down. The two medics again lifted Jimmy to his feet and helped him up the stairs.

They reached the top of the stairs and Jimmy could see they were now in an examination room in the doctor’s house. They came out from behind a cabinet against the wall. The two young men helped Jimmy onto the table and excused themselves. A dignified looking lady, probably in her late 40’s, Jimmy thought, now entered the room and began cutting Jimmy’s pants to expose the wound. Jimmy decided that Dr. Pitt’s wife must also be his nurse.

“Jimmy, I’m starting to feel like I’m back in my residency; so many gunshot wounds,” Dr. Pitt said as he looked at the wound his wife had just cleaned.

As the doctor worked on Jimmy’s leg he learned that Dr. Pitt had worked emergency rooms in Seattle during his residency. Then he went into practice as a dermatologist in Bellingham taking care of Canadians coming over the border for treatment they couldn’t get at home.

After a few years and with a couple of million dollars in the bank, he was inspired by The Enlightened One to give it up to become a General Practitioner. That was when his personal nightmare began.

Three years later, Dr. Pitt found himself and his partner in practice, Dr. Reid, with a staff of twelve handling paper work to provide “free” healthcare to six small towns in eastern Washington.  When they could no longer make payroll, he had to let all of his nurses go and he and his wife traveled from town to town taking care of patients. With his partner traveling three days behind him, they provided medical services to these six towns, twelve hours a day, two days a week in each place.

After two years of this insanity, he and Dr. Reid decided to retire from medicine. This ended up being a huge mistake. The Ministry of Health Services and Hospice sent armed escorts to take the doctors from town to town and observe them as they performed their duties for the next six months.

One morning, almost two years ago, a member of the resistance approached Dr. Pitt with an offer to help him escape his enslavement. He was taken to Coeur d’Alene where he was set up in a large home northwest of town and given new documents that showed he was Jeff Jones, a windmill inspector. This job required him to spend one day a month driving around the area looking at windmills. In exchange, Dr. Pitt agreed to provide medical care for the resistance out of his home. Dr. Reid was given a similar opportunity near Portland.

“All in all,” he told Jimmy, “it’s been a good trade. You know, I got into medicine to help people but no one likes to feel like a slave. It just wasn’t fair to spend all those years of study and hard work to have my life taken away from me. Now I work one day a month, draw a nice government salary, and work on my hobbies. And occasionally, I still get to help out one of you fellows.”

“Well, I really do appreciate it,” Jimmy replied.

“Here are some meds for the pain. You are young and healthy. You should be back to 100% in a week or so. Just take it easy for a day or two,” Dr. Pitt said, knowing his advice would be ignored.

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, Torrez, feeling very uneasy, got up from his chair, checked his side arm, and made his way toward the back entrance of the cave from which they had come.

 

Sunday 8:30 AM MDT

 

“Wake up, Sleepy Head,” Linda gently prodded. “It’s almost 8:30.  You’ll be late.”

“Oh, I don’t want to go today. Why can’t we take just one Sunday off?” Jacob, the oldest of the Stone boys, moaned, burying his head beneath his pillow.

“You know perfectly well why not,” Linda’s voice grew suddenly stern. “The last time you tried that, we had agents watching us for three months.” Jacob didn’t respond; he just sat up and rubbed his eyes. He knew his mom was right. “Now get ready before you’re late,” she added, managing a bit of a smile.

Officially, Environmental Awareness School or, as it was more commonly known, E-School, was a voluntary activity. It was held every Sunday, primarily to see who wouldn’t show up. If you didn’t, you were assumed to be a follower of one of the prohibited religions. It was a day when the children learned about the earth, why it needed to be protected, and how to do it. Jacob, like pretty much all of his classmates, hated E-School. It was just so boring; the same government propaganda over and over again.

He went to his closet to see what he had to wear. It was a hot February day, so he pulled out a white top and tan pants. The colors were all that mattered. Everything was made of government-standard hemp cloth. “Year-round weight” they called it. In the summer it was just called “hot”. Jacob was jealous of his dad’s clothes. Dave still had a large number of cotton shirts and other forbidden clothing like wool pants and leather shoes. They carried a large government label marking them as eco-unfriendly. Apparently, the government figured since clothes wear out, confiscation wasn’t necessary.

Jacob put his clothes on and ran a brush through his short, sandy-blonde hair. No shower today – it was the 6th. Days divisible by three were the days that the earth got to keep its water. The remaining days were split by street address: odd addresses were allowed 100 gallons of water on odd days – which allowed for a shower, and even addresses were allowed their 100 gallons on even days. Since the Stones had an even address, they had last showered on the 4th and could shower again on the 8th. Because the thirty‑one-day months made it unfair to the earth for the odd addresses to shower two days in a row, the earth also got the 31st (as well as February 28th and 29th).

Making 100 gallons last for two days wasn’t too hard, even for a family of seven. The five-day stretch at the end of some months on the other hand was quite a bit more challenging, but the Stones were used to this arrangement. After all, this law had been passed back in the year 5 Post Hatred. Many former Americans who were accustomed to showering daily protested for a year or so but most of the people from other parts of the globe were able to accept the decree with the ease that they had received the others.

Jacob stumbled down the stairs as Heather, his oldest sister, was closing the kitchen blinds. They joined the rest of the family at the table and Linda asked Julie to say the blessing on the food. After the blessing, Heather opened the blinds again. It seemed foolish to pray in secret, especially in your own house, but it was best not to draw any unnecessary attention to yourself; you never knew who, or what, was looking in your window.

The Stones ate their oat bran muffins with canola margarine and honey quickly (their honey supply was probably going to last another year or so), but the expressions on their faces revealed their anxiousness for fall to come. The Enlightened One hadn’t blessed them with much in the way of fruit lately, except for a few berries a month or so ago. It would be another two months before they would be likely to see anything besides tart cherries. Until then, it was muffins or oat bran cereal pretty much every day.

People were only allowed to eat foods from their Bio-Agricultural Zone. This meant if food couldn’t be grown where you lived, you couldn’t eat it. This way the earth could determine how many people could live in any one area. Of course, all animal products were strictly forbidden. It was illegal to ship food more than thirty miles in most areas. In larger metropolitan areas, where forced relocation was still ongoing, there were special permits allowing food to be shipped up to fifty miles, and in some smaller towns, the B-A Zone was generally reduced to a ten mile radius, or even smaller, to discourage sprawl and black-marketeering. Dave had all sorts of connections in the resistance so his family was occasionally able to enjoy some foods like cantaloupes or honey dews that were considered to be “reservation only”. All melons, and many other fruits, were declared “water intensive” so they weren’t allowed in the Salt Lake B-A Zone.

The policy that outlawed private gardens actually pre-dated the Enlightenment. In the beginning, this hadn’t stopped Dave and Linda, but with the severe water rationing in recent years, it was now simply impossible.

The B-A Zone policy was quickly having the desired effect of balancing the population centers. Starvation deaths had been horrific in all of the larger cities. Conveniently, all of the deaths “proved” that the earth was unable to sustain the human population. Finally, the deaths that the environmental prophets had forecast were happening – even if it wasn’t the way they had predicted.

A few years back, The Enlightened One decided to allow a limited amount of canned goods to be transported across B-A Zones so there was a little more variety now than there had once been, but it was very sporadic.

“Julie, are you going to sit by Robby on the trip down to Ute Lake? I heard you’re really hot for him,” Jacob broke the silence teasing his younger sister.

“Jacob, you’re such a brat,” Julie answered.  The truth was that Julie really did think Robby was cute but she hated the fact that it had become public knowledge. After all, Robby was only going into 11th grade and she had just graduated high school at the conclusion of summer session. Dealing with boys had always been a problem for Julie. A very mature sixteen, Julie was an intellectual challenge to her older sister, Heather. Julie was shy with the boys in her class because they were older than she was, but she still felt that they were too immature. She longed to be in a class with kids her own age and during a time when it was easier to tell who the Mormon boys were. Her testimony was strong, and she knew she wanted to marry a member of the Church one day, but not all of the members had enough courage to come to the monthly church meetings in various areas around the valley. If you didn’t see them at church, you didn’t dare ask if they were practicing their religion. If they weren’t, they might turn you in.

“Julie’s in love! Julie’s in love!” Scott chanted loudly.

“Mom!” Julie pleaded for help.

“Settle down, Scott,” she turned to her eldest son, “Jacob, it seems I heard somewhere that you and the Jennings girl were a thing. Is that true?” Linda asked.

“That was a long time ago,” Jacob defended himself.

“Well, it seems that if you can go out with one of Julie’s friends, she can go out with one of yours.”

“Mom, you’re a big help. I don’t even like him and you’ve practically got us married,” Julie pouted and sank down in her chair, her thick red hair rising up behind her head making her look very undignified.

“Look, you boys stop teasing your sister. And Julie, don’t take things so personally,” Linda counseled, getting up from the table.

“Come on, guys. The bus will be here any minute!” John, the fourth of the five kids, called out as he raced down the stairs and headed for the door.

“Scotty, don’t forget your gloves,” Heather said, waving his hemp work gloves in the air.

“Oh, I forgot,” Scotty said as he took his gloves from his big sister.

Scotty’s class of five-year-olds was going to plant trees again today. The section of Center Street that went east out to the Great Salt Lake was finally all torn up and the kids were now able to plant trees there since all the work crews were gone.

As Heather watched Scotty leave so happily, she couldn’t help but remember when her dad went off to tear up the freeway so other little kids could plant trees. Dave had spent almost a year being re-educated by working on one of those work crews as punishment after being fired in 3 PH. His crew worked on tearing up I‑15 from the Point of the Mountain at the north end of the Salt Lake Valley through the relocation camps south of Sandy. By the time he was released, they had nearly reached the wetlands of Midvale and South Jordan. It was hard work tearing up an interstate with pickaxes and shovels and it was also hard carting the debris to a reclamation site by wheelbarrow and breaking it up with hammers to get it into small enough pieces for recycling into new concrete. Her dad had learned that to survive, he had to play the games the government demanded, at least on the surface. Of course, Dave and Linda must not have learned too well because as soon as he got out, they decided it was time for another child before the population control laws could be enacted and within a couple of months of her dad’s return, her mom was pregnant with John.

Then, in 8 PH, her parents really decided to push the envelope. They strongly believed in following the Lord’s command to bring children to the earth so her mom became pregnant with Scott. This was three years after the new population control laws had been enacted. Heather would never have pulled such a stunt. Her testimony of the gospel was strong but her will to fight the government was weak.

Heather missed her mother while she was being re-educated at Sensitivity Training School after Scott’s birth. Because she had a newborn, Linda wasn’t given hard labor but was instead subjected to several hours a day of indoctrination and nightly “aggressive interrogation.” Dave and Linda had been lucky, however. The Eastern Region Earth Protection Tribunal had allowed them to keep Scott since he had been brought to full term. But they were both sterilized as a result.

Heather wasn’t one to buck the system and she couldn’t see why her parents felt the need to do so. She was beginning to come around to their way of thinking, however.

Heather was a beautiful young woman. She had the dark features of her father and the taller-than- average, slender figure of her mother. She had just graduated from high school at the top of her class and was now ready for Advanced University Training. She had been able to hide her religion well, too well, her dad thought, and was able to get admitted to Molly Yard Memorial University; the best people’s college in Utah.

For now, though, Heather was just glad to have the kids off to E-school so she could have some time to herself. Since she had been admitted to college, she was finished with E-school. She would be expected to join some sort of environmental club at MYM but for the next three weeks until fall session, she was a free woman. Despite her outward appearances and unwillingness to openly protest, she was not a government supporter. She played the game but didn’t follow with her heart.

“World Service” would begin next summer. For a few years, mandatory National Service (later renamed World Service) took place after students graduated from college but after so many students decided to pursue multiple advanced degrees (after all – college was “free”) to put off their service for as long as possible, World Service was now demanded every other year until the student graduated, increasing the number of years of service from the original two years to an equivalent numbers of years in school. Two years were still required whether you went to school or not.

Half of every university’s population was performing World Service at any time, so over-crowding at the universities was more easily kept under control. There were other benefits as well; virtually everyone in their 20’s, formally the demographic hardest hit by unemployment, was officially fully employed.

Heather brought a gallon of water from the downstairs bathtub to the kitchen and helped her mom with the dishes then she headed into the living room. She turned on the television and was greeted with a smile from a modestly attractive woman on the screen. Heather could see that it was a news program.

The host, Pat Kennedy, was a former model. Heather was too young to really remember her from a decade ago when she was doing makeup ads. Now she looked anything but glamorous, especially without makeup. She was still an attractive woman, there was no doubt, but she had become image conscious and became an animal rights advocate in order to establish that she had a brain to go with her gorgeous looks. Now, as she sat hosting a round table “debate” on the future of Japan, she seemed very plain and just another mouthpiece for government propaganda.

“Japan has resisted multiculturalism for far too long. They have been hiding behind their so‑called homogeneity. Japan must be forced to teach African and North American History in their schools,” said Kent Blackburn, a professor of Eastern De-emphasization at Cal-Berkeley.

“I fully agree,” Dick Foley, from the Institute for the Destruction of Japanese Resistance, proclaimed in a calm voice. “Japan’s refusal to do so has the same weak basis as the American’s had. The American Neo-Nazis used to argue that people of the Eastern World should be taught Eastern culture and history as their primary subject matter. That was hogwash! The African-South Americans and the North American-South Americans needed to be taught about the cultures of their distant ancestors, no matter where in the world they happened to live. European and South American history and culture were of no value to them. It was also necessary that all white populations were taught this same history. Eastern civilization only led to pain and anger among the people, especially when you consider capitalism. White Europeans added nothing to world culture. What few strides they made they simply stole from others and claimed the ideas for themselves. Now the Japanese are doing the same thing. The Enlightenment must be brought to Japan as well as the other nations who continue to oppose the views of the United Nations!”

Heather found herself longing for the days when she could change the channel and find something different to watch. For the past six years since The Enlightened One decided to officially nationalize the dozen or so remaining private networks, all channels were required to run the same type of programming at the same time so all five English channels would be running news shows until 10:00. Then they would switch to biographies of the Enlightenment leaders until noon when they would all switch to hobby shows – generally hiking, foraging in the forest, recycling from landfills, exposing capitalist traitors, or the like, until 2:00. There would be time slots for movies (these had to be chosen from The Enlightened One’s top 100 movies or those produced by the Ministry of Public Enlightenment) and various other public service programs throughout the day. Prime Time television consisted of heavily screened comedies for an hour and two hours of dramas that glorified the community and world and those who served the interests of the government.

Heather got up from the couch and turned off the TV. It was just as well, she thought. She wanted to go down to the root cellar and do some reading anyway.

 

Sunday 10:15 AM MDT

11:15 AM PDT (San Francisco)

3:15 AM UTC (London)

 

“Do you know what time it is?”

“Sure, it’s a little after 11:00,” Geoffrey replied. Of course, he was in Los Angeles and Donald was in London.

“What are you doing calling me at this hour?” Donald wasn’t amused.

“Trevor wants you to fly back as soon as you can. There is an STE reserved seat on the Monday 4:30AM flight to New York. Then you can catch the Tuesday train to LA. You should be here late Thursday night,” Geoffrey explained.

“You know this really is stupid to have to take a three day train ride. Why can’t I just get a flight? What if this was an emergency?”

“We fought long and hard for this. It may be inconvenient but at least we’re doing our part to save the planet. You know, unless you win a lotto drawing, you have to arrange years ahead for a flight if you’re just some average Joe Blow,” Geoffrey replied, reminding Donald not to be critical of the changes they had helped initiate.

“Okay, make the arrangements and tell Trevor I’ll see him Thursday or Friday. Good-bye.” He heard Geoffrey say “good-bye” as he was hanging up the receiver. He rolled over and went back to sleep.

Sunday 4:30 PM MDT

 

“See ya later, Cindy! Have a good night,” Dave said as he unlocked his bike.

“You, too! See you bright and early,” Cindy replied. She rode her bike out onto 13th South and headed west.

As Cindy rode off, Dave couldn’t help but feel bad for her. Cindy, at just forty-five, was a widow. Her husband had been a Salt Lake City police officer and, unfortunately, in 7 PH, he needed to search a man he had arrested for shoplifting. Unknown to the police, the man also happened to have AIDS. He had a syringe in his back pocket and Mike, Cindy’s husband, accidentally pricked his finger on it.

Since it was illegal to force the prisoner to be tested for HIV, Mike could only wait around to find out if he would contract it. Mike and Cindy decided not to chance it. The TV ads always said the best way to stop the spread of the disease was to wear a condom, despite the fact that condoms are only 85% effective in preventing pregnancy. Mike tested positive a year later and another three years later, when a severe strain of flu came through, Mike was on his deathbed and Cindy had tested positive for the HIV virus.

By 14 PH, the World Drug Administration had approved its 83rd drug for use in fighting AIDS, Mike was dead, and Cindy was still HIV positive but hadn’t gone into full-blown AIDS. Except in Africa, the incidences of AIDS had been declining since about 30 years after the discovery of the disease. The predicted epidemic of heterosexual AIDS never occurred. As the homosexual population declined, despite their recruiting efforts in the schools, the number of AIDS cases also declined.

Cindy knew that mankind had never been able to cure a virus, and she knew it was only a matter of time before she would develop AIDS. She shied away from men, never wanting to get too serious. The condom had failed her once and she didn’t want to trust it again.

Dave thought her situation was so sad. She was alone, her children had both moved out now, and she was still fearful about dating and falling in love again. But she was strong. Cindy remained outgoing for the most part; only her closest friends knew of her troubles. Dave wished there was something more constructive he could do for her, something to make her life better. He suddenly felt like he was acting like an overprotective parent. He shook his head at himself and got on his bike.

Dave began the long ride home. His legs felt strong today. “Let’s go for a new record,” he thought. He looked down at his watch: ready, set, go!

 

 

 

“Look Mom! I got to keep one of the trees. Isn’t it neat?” Scott exclaimed as he rushed in the door.

“It sure is, honey. What kind is it?” Linda asked as she washed the flour from her hands; she was making rolls for dinner.

“I’m not sure but the teacher said it is one that only made a little bit of hydro-thingies,” Scott answered.

Many Environmentalists were shocked to find that some trees were actually aiding the creation of surface ozone when the elements they released were combined with other pollutants. They had always said trees were the only way to clean up surface ozone but then it was proven that they were a major contributor to the problem. Environmentalists scoffed at Reagan when he had spoken about it but they weren’t laughing anymore; now it was deadly serious. Linda found it funny that there were now trees, nature’s perfect creation, on the list of environmental hazards. It reminded her of those old bumper stickers that said, “Trees are the Answer”. She always wondered what the question was.

“Can I plant it out back?” Scott pleaded.

“Okay, but plant it by the pines in the back corner,” she answered. There were already so many trees in their yard that Linda didn’t know if there was any space left but she sent him off happy. If the tree died, it died. What were they doing planting in nearly 100 degree weather anyway?

“Heather, why don’t you go help him? We’ve only got about four and a half gallons of water to last the rest of the day,” she added as an afterthought.

“Alright,” Heather groaned as she was coming up the stairs. She had just finished reading. “Come on, you little squirt!”

They headed out to the back yard and Linda went back to preparing dinner. Dave and the older children would soon be home.

 

Sunday 5:00 PM MDT

 

“Hi, Mom! I’m home!” It was Jacob.

“How’s it going?” Linda answered.

“Oh, just fine,” he said heading straight for the kitchen, “E-school was such a joke today. Dad’s gonna have a fit tonight.”

“Well, I’m sure he’ll be excited to hear what happened,” Linda responded. As Jacob was opening the pantry door she added, “Why don’t you ask Scotty to show you his new tree?”

“Another one?” he asked, a little disgusted. “Is he upstairs?”

“I think so. Thanks, Jacob. He really loves it when you show interest in his little projects,” Linda said as Jacob grabbed some dried apricots and headed up the stairs. Still aiming her voice upstairs she called, “Heather, will you come set the table for dinner, please.”

“Okay, just a minute!” Heather responded. She was reading a letter from Joshua, her boyfriend, who was serving time in re-education. He was telling her all that he was learning about endangered animals. It was so full of propaganda it made her sick. He was going on and on about Paul Erlich and Al Gore. His letter didn’t seem to have the hint of sarcasm she was used to reading and it was making her nervous. Was he really being brain-washed or was he simply having to put on a better show for the censors? She put the letter back in the envelope and headed down to help out.

As Heather reached the bottom of the staircase, John came home from E-school.

“How come your bus was so late?” Linda asked John as he entered.

“We got into a discussion with the teacher after class. Ms. Karensky-Molotov was telling us about that great scientist Paul Erlich. He wrote a book called The Population Bomb and he told America what will happen to the earth if we don’t control our population. It sure is a good thing they finally made a law to protect us,” John explained.

Though this was nothing new, Linda was furious because of the lies and deceit the children were being taught. She was especially angry that despite her and Dave’s efforts, John still chose to believe his teachers over them.

“Well, go get washed up for dinner. Dad will be home in a few minutes,” Linda instructed as calmly as possible.

John was a quiet young man and generally kept to himself. His father worried about his lack of interest in the gospel but held out hope that John would come around. John was an extremely good student in school and took whatever his teachers said as absolute truth. This also troubled his father quite a bit. John was born in the year 4 PH; not a real safe time to be born but still legal. His whole life had been during the Enlightenment so he was too young to remember any of the early years first-hand.

John’s class had a test on the Enlightenment movement that morning. This was the real Enlightenment, not the false one of the evil Europeans during the 300’s BE (Before Enlightenment). He had studied really hard and was able to pass easily. He found the Enlightenment interesting and couldn’t understand his father’s opposition to it. After all, the earth had been saved. The greed of the past had been rectified. The air was safe to breathe and the water safe to drink. He often wondered how his parents could think the Enlightenment was a bad thing.

John wasn’t alone in his thinking. Although the movement had lost most of its popular support, the vast majority of the people still followed the government’s line. It seemed futile to resist. The movement did have a complicated past, however, and very few people were able to fully comprehend what had happened to the United States or why. John didn’t really care. The results were good and, to him, that’s what counted. Maybe the end really did justify the means.

 

Sunday 5:10 PM MDT

10:10 AM UTC (London)

 

The phone rang again. “What?” Donald almost yelled.

“What’s wrong with you?”

It was a familiar voice on the other end. He then realized the sun was up now. “Sorry, I didn’t realize it was so late. I feel like I just barely closed my eyes. So what’s up, Neil?” Donald said apologetically.

“It’s past eight. You’re going to be late for the program,” Neil replied.

“Oh, brother. Thanks for calling. I’ll see you down there.”

Donald quickly sat up. He felt a little hung over from last night’s party. Groaning with pain, he rose to his feet. He stumbled over to the bathroom, entered his special Save The Earth! code number into the water dispenser, and got into the shower. As he stood with the water gushing over his blond head, he contemplated what he was going to say on the TV program today. After a couple of minutes, he snapped out of his daze and lathered up.

After an all too short fifteen minute shower, Donald got out and dried off then went to his closet. He reached in and grabbed a size 14/32 light blue cotton shirt and a silk paisley tie. He tossed them onto the bed and grabbed his pleated wool trousers.

Ten minutes later he was shooting out the front door of the hotel. It was an overcast London morning, rain was definitely on the offing. He turned left as he exited and headed toward the small parking garage. There were about twenty parking spaces in this garage but only three cars. Donald walked past the two police cars and got in his Zen 600.

The Chinese sub-compact was painted bright green and had a small STE decal on the door. Donald, although of very slight build, still found himself quite cramped. The car revved up on the fourth try and he was off. As he pulled onto the street, he just barely missed a couple on a two-seater bicycle. He quickly accelerated to thirty-five (top speed for the roadster) and headed off toward the new BBC studios.

 

 

 

 

“Hi, babe! I’m home!”  Dave called out opening the door at the exact moment Linda was taking her rolls from the oven.

“Wow, you’re sure home early,” Linda answered as she set down her hot pads.

“Well, it was about two minutes off the record but it felt good. I just wish I could hop in a hot shower. I wasn’t thinking.” He gave her a kiss and added, “I guess I’d better go towel off.  Do we have enough water so I can wash my face or should I just towel it?”

“I think it’s okay. We’ve got about three gallons left,” she answered. Dave trotted up the stairs and went down the hall into the master bedroom. “Hurry, though, dinner’s about ready.”

“Heather, keep an eye on the corn, okay? I’m going to talk to your dad.  Julie will be late so don’t worry about setting her place,” Linda instructed as she headed toward the stairs.

“Okay, Mom,” Heather replied.

Linda passed John’s room on the right side of the hall. He had his faced buried in that Erlich book. Linda fumed, again.

“You better get downstairs for dinner. Now!” she added with emphasis when he didn’t even look up from his book.

“Alright, alright,” he moaned.

Linda opened the door to the master bedroom and entered to find Dave washing his face in the washing sink. The other sink held the water that they would need for tomorrow.

“I wish I’d remembered the date when I left. I was thinking tomorrow was water day,” he said as she sat on the end of the bed.

“Maybe you can manage a sponge bath tonight. The sink looks pretty full,” she said. She was able to eyeball these things pretty well after all these years. “Well, we could be in for quite an interesting night tonight.”

“How so?”

“John brought home The Population Bomb today.”

“So soon? The other kids didn’t get it until they were fourteen or fifteen,” he was obviously dismayed. They had all been easy to talk to but John never was easy to convince of anything that went against the government’s line.

“On the other hand, Jacob seems excited about something, but I’m not sure what.”

“And Julie went down to Provo today, didn’t she?” He didn’t wait for an answer, “She’ll be excited about that, too. We shouldn’t be bored tonight. That’s for sure.”

Dave began dressing as Linda headed off toward the stairs.

“Dinner’s ready!” Heather yelled, “Come and get it!”

Sunday 5:25 PM MDT

 

“Boy, I had a really exciting day,” Dave said in a sarcastic tone after swallowing a bite of peas. Linda thought Dave was sarcastic a little too often. “We almost set a record for brake pad sales for a single day. I sold just over 1,200 sets today. It seems that the new improved Mao XLT brake pads are just as bad as everything else the Chinese have been sending over here,” he added the last part despite the fact he knew it would tweak John.

“Dad, why do you always have to knock the Chinese and Russian bikes? They are the best bikes made,” John said.

“That’s because they are the only ones being made,” Jacob said, sticking up for his dad.

“David…,” Linda shot Dave a disapproving look.

Jacob was sitting next to John and a little elbow jabbing match started.

“Stop fighting at the table, you guys,” Linda growled at her two oldest sons.

Dave knew he was responsible for the ruckus and he stepped in to support his wife’s plea. “Settle down. Now!

It was quiet for only a short moment when Scott sensed his chance to get in on the conversation, “We planted trees down by the old freeway.”

“Really, Kid-o? That sounds fun,” Dave said, leaning toward Scott.

“There was about eight classes that came. Our teacher said we planted over three million or thousand trees. I think it’s funner to plant trees at E-school cuz we get to make the ground really muddy and then we put in the baby trees. I planted another one when I came home but Heather only let me use a little bit of water to plant it.” He thought he was tattling and put a pouty frown on his face to heighten the effect.

“That’s because we are only allowed a certain amount of water every day, honey,” Linda explained. “The government gets to use as much as they want, we don’t.”

“It’s not fair!” Scott pouted.

“I know, but that’s…”

“It is, too, fair,” John butted in, spewing a small piece of roll from his mouth. “The government knows what the earth needs and they can protect the planet way better than we ever could. We are just lucky that the leaders had enough brains to save the planet before we could destroy it,” John was standing now. “In fact, the only bad thing they’ve ever done to this family was not taking you away when you were born! Dr. Erlich saw all the problems too many kids would cause.” He was backing up toward the stairs and directing his comments to the whole family now. “You are all just blind! Can’t you see that capitalists would have killed the planet if it wasn’t for the Enlightenment leaders?” He growled in angry frustration, stomped his foot, and ran up the stairs.

This was becoming an all too often scene at the Stone house.  Every month or so, John would have a tantrum and run off.

“I wish he was in someone else’s family,” Scott said.

“Scott, don’t ever talk like that. We love everyone in our family. Your brother is just going through a rough time,” Linda said gently, grabbing Scott by his left arm.

“I’ll talk to him later,” Dave sighed.

After a tense moment, Heather decided to change the subject, “These rolls are really good, Mom.” Everyone echoed their agreement.

Linda made the best homemade rolls anywhere. The rolls used to be easier to make back when she could use cow’s milk on a regular basis.  Soy substitutes were a little harder to work with and the fact that she rarely had eggs didn’t help much either. It also seemed sad to put canola margarine in her famous “butter rolls”. She even had to learn to bake the rolls with a very inconsistent solar-powered oven. But she managed.

Soon everyone had finished their dinner and began clearing the table. Jacob was the last one finished, as usual, when it was his turn to do the dishes. He grudgingly went into the kitchen to begin the arduous task.

“Jacob, watch the water. What’s in the bag is all we have for the night. We are already down to the line in the tub,” Linda said.

“Come on, Scott, let’s get the dishes done,” Jacob said, poking his little brother in the back. Scott was still naive enough to think that doing the dishes was fun. Scott was used to washing dishes in limited water; he knew no other way. Jacob had learned the skill as well and proceeded to put just less than a gallon of water in the left half of the sink then positioned the water bag over the rinsing sink.

It was like the old days when they used to go camping, Jacob thought. It was always necessary to conserve the drinking water when you went camping; you could only carry so much with you. It was fun then. Now he hated it, going through this every day. What really ticked Jacob off was the fact that everyone knew the water “shortage” was just another fiction of the government and not caused by the greedy industrialists like the Department of Water Preservation claimed.

 

 

 

 

Sunday 6:55 PM MDT

11:55 AM UTC (London)

BBC was the only network originating in Britain. This ensured an audience.

Fifteen minutes after he left the hotel Donald screeched into the parking lot. There were eight parking spaces, all of them empty. He took two spaces – it didn’t matter anyway, jumped out, and ran past the rows and rows of bike racks filled to capacity. He entered the front doors and looked at his watch, 11:57.  He sprinted past the receptionist who was pointing in the direction of studio E. He almost ran into a tall, thin, balding man in the hallway.

“Where have you been?” the director was about ready to pull out what was left of his hair.

“I got caught in traffic,” he joked.

“Douglas, get some powder on Mr. Holder’s nose,” the director ordered, not sounding very amused.

The make-up man was powdering Donald’s nose as they continued to walk toward the set. As he sat down, he heard someone call out thirty seconds to air time.  Donald adjusted his tie as he tried to calm down and catch his breath.

“…three…two…one…”

“Que music… pan left and volume.”

“Good morning, Britain. Welcome to Planet Watch. I’m your host, Neil Andrews. We have quite a show for you this morning. On our show today we’ve got a very special guest, Donald Holder, from Save The Earth!. We also will enjoy hearing from Terry Black from Lesbians Against Polluters who will be discussing their latest findings in South America, and Lynn Clapp from Gays for Geese will fill us in on his group’s efforts to build proper roosting areas for Canadian Geese in the far south of South America. All that and much more on Planet Watch!”

“Music…Okay, ten seconds.”

“I cut it pretty close, huh?” Donald said to Neil with a smirk.

“I’ll say.” Neil was one of those generic looking game show host types.  He had immaculately groomed brown hair, absolutely perfect pearly whites, and a stare that made you wonder if there was really someone living behind those eyes.

“…four…three…two…one…”

“Hello, again. I’m here with Donald Holder of Save The Earth!. It’s always such a pleasure when you can find the time to visit us. I know your time is incredibly valuable. So, how are you today?”

“Not so good, Neil. I just found out that there is still continuing eco-cide going on in eastern South America. Just last week, it was found that a community in Arizona allowed its citizens to have unlimited water use for a period of almost 72 hours. They may have done irreparable damage to South America’s Eco-system. I can’t believe that there are still such insensitive people around, especially in government.”

The city council in that Arizona community voted to protest government policy by declaring a water holiday. The citizens of Native American Bluffs, Arizona, had expressed their full support of the council’s actions and thus had to share in the punishment. 

The water to the town was cut off. The residents had stored quite a bit of water during their “holiday” so most of the residents were still alive but they wouldn’t last long. The few people who had tried to escape were now just a pile of bones being baked by the scorching Arizona sun. They had been unable to out run government troops in jeeps. Their Russian made mountain bikes were recovered, however. They could be recycled.

The town council, on the other hand, wasn’t even given a sporting chance. They were bound at their ankles and wrists and left in the desert just south of town. Mother Nature and the elements would decide their fate. They perished in descending order by age, watching each other dehydrate and wrinkle up. The local scavengers moved in quickly.

“That’s horrible. How could they be so uncaring? Haven’t they learned that the earth is in a delicate balance?” Neil asked, apparently horrified at the actions of the town council.

“Well, I’m sure they know now. They have been given a crash course in the dangers of messing with the eco-system.”

“Do you have any lighter news for us today?”

“Not really, but I do have some good news. A major insurgence has been put down in the Brazilian rainforests of North America. It seems the hellions up there had been able to secure a few head of livestock. They were attempting to clear cut about 100 acres of the rainforest. Fortunately, the local officials caught them and they were brought to justice.”

Actually, a couple of Brazilian peasant families had cleared about half an acre of land to plant a shared garden. However, they were found to have fresh eggs. The fact that they had eggs meant they had chickens. That meant they were probably hiding cattle somewhere. That meant they would soon clear-cut a hundred acres to feed them. Therefore, they would destroy the eco-system of North America. Therefore, they were executed. No questions asked.

Of course, they had gotten the eggs off the black market. The local officials in most of North America hadn’t lost their tendency to get what they could, however they could. The mayor of Belem, their town in Brazil, had a huge chicken ranch. She claimed that her private lands were all being used to grow marijuana but the locals knew better. Eggs were a far more valuable commodity. Apparently, these families in question had fallen off on their marijuana tributes (the mayor had forced others to give her large amounts of the stuff so she could export the quota that her private acreage should have been able to produce). She declared them guilty of her own crime and had them slaughtered.

“Well, that’s good news. I hope they got what they deserved,” Neil sounded relieved.

“Unfortunately, like most outlaws, they were heavily armed…”

They were penniless peasants. They couldn’t get their hands on a gun if they wanted to.

“There was a fierce gun battle and several government troops…”

Eggs.

“Were killed. At least the outlaws were killed in the battle as well. Apparently, it wasn’t a pretty sight.”

“At least they won’t be able to destroy our rainforest anymore.”

“Yes, and hopefully their neighbors have also learned a lesson,” Donald added.

“I understand there may be some really big news coming from STE! soon,” Neil stated quizzically.

“Something may be up. I’m not really sure. I’ve been called to Los Angeles this week.”

“Hopefully we’ll hear something soon. Thanks, Donald. We appreciate you giving us some of your valuable time this morning.”

“It’s always a pleasure.”

“We’ll be right back with Terry Black of LAP right after this message from Survivors of AIDS.”

“Pan to logo… and que commercial.”

 

 

“I hate that bloody American trash!” Mick said as he shut off his television. “I’m gonna bust ‘is blasted ‘ead.”

“Where you gonna come up with the quid to getcha a gun, huh?” Tommy asked.

“I’m gonna do it with me bare ‘ands. I wanna feel the life drain from ‘is Enviro-Nazi body.”

“Ah, Mick. You been sayin’ that for better ‘an a year now.”

“Mate, this time it’s for real. My number finally came up in the lotto for a plane ride to America. I’m leavin’ in the mornin’.”

“You sure you know what yer doing?”

“I know exactly what I’m doin’. Exactly.”

 

Sunday 7:05 PM MDT

 

Just as Jacob and Scott were finishing the dishes, Heather came in from dumping the plastic into the corner recycling bin. “Julie’s coming. I saw her just up the street,” she said.

Just then the front door opened and Julie came in. She was beaming.

She gave her dad a big hug and said, “Hi, Daddy! Boy, I really learned a lot today.”

Whenever Julie called Dave “Daddy”, it meant she needed to talk to him in private. It was their own special code and only they knew about it.

Dave could tell there was big news, really big news.

“I’m glad you had such a good day, Jules. Why don’t you go get some dinner. Mom made rolls,” Dave replied.

Julie bounded off into the kitchen, her red ponytail swinging back and forth. She was about to burst with excitement.  “Hi, Mom!” she said as she almost ran into Linda.

“Hi, Dear,” Linda responded, puzzled at her daughter’s enthusiasm.

Jacob and Scott were completely done with the dishes now.

“Heather, will you play me a game?” Scott asked in a pleading voice.

“Sure, Scotty. Wanna play checkers?” she answered. Scott was so excited he started jumping up and down.

“Calm down, Son,” Dave said. He put Scott in a head lock and messed up his already not too neat hair.

Scott slipped from Dave’s grip and started up the stairs. “Come on, Heather!” he started chanting.

Julie came in to the front room to join Dave, Linda, and Jacob. She had part of a roll in her mouth and a small bowl of corn in her left hand. She sat down in the rocker in the far front corner of the living room by the television just as Dave opened his newspaper to get his “propaganda fix” as he would say. If you knew how to read the newspaper you could glean some important truth about what was going on.

“I think maybe you should go talk to John,” Linda counseled.

“It’ll take him a while to cool off. I’ll go talk to him in a minute.”

Then Dave remembered what Linda had said earlier about Jacob being excited so he carefully closed his newspaper, folded it gently (apparently they were stretching the limits of recycling paper as it still began to tear despite his caution), and turned his attention to Jacob who was sitting on the couch reading what appeared to be a comic book – Commander Planet or some such thing.

“So, Jacob, what did you do today?” Dave asked.

Jacob folded the corner of the page he was reading and closed what wasn’t a comic but was, in reality, his biology text book. “We went up to the Museum of Political History up at MYM. We got to see a whole bunch of really interesting things. Mostly our teacher wanted to focus on African History in South America.”

Over the years, Jacob had always been his dad’s biggest supporter. Dave taught all of the kids his version of history but Jacob and Julie had been particularly good students. Whether it was teenage rebelliousness or what, Dave didn’t really know, but they both got really into all of the history and political stuff and the three of them really enjoyed poking fun at the government and their ludicrous explanations of events, past and present.

Jacob’s E-school class had visited a special museum on the history of the United African States of America. He didn’t understand its relevance to the Environment but they seemed to try to tie everything to the environment.

“Sounds like tons of fun,” Dave said.

“Oh, it was, and educational, too!” Jacob added sarcastically. “We learned that Thomas Jefferson had been influenced most significantly by one of his female slaves. She actually helped Jefferson pen the Declaration of Independence. If it wasn’t for this brilliant woman, the parts about abolishing slavery would never have made the draft Jefferson submitted for ratification. In fact, they would have ratified it with those paragraphs intact if the Jewish bankers hadn’t threatened to cut off all money to the struggling colonies,” Jacob said, recounting the propaganda of his teachers.

“I’m so glad to know the truth about the Declaration of Independence. I had always been taught lie after lie. I was taught that Jefferson had been influenced by those evil Europeans: Montesquieu, Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire, Hobbes, and that bunch,” he lowered his voice to a whisper, “I even heard that he may have been inspired by the Bible.” Dave was really quite a scholar in the field of constitutional studies but the new “constitution” was, at best, a cheap imitation of the Pre-Enlightenment one.

“Lies, lies, lies! That’s just what them Jews wanted you to believe,” Jacob scoffed. “They were trying to cover up the fact that the Europeans stole their philosophies from the great minds of Africa. They were able to do it because the Africans had been deceived into thinking that they didn’t need a written language. Them clever Jews! The Europeans just came over and talked to the great thinkers of Africa, pretending to be disciples, got their ideas, modified them to fit their racist way of thinking, and published them as their own.

“Their lying didn’t stop there! Did you know Beethoven was black? Apparently Richard Wagner was part African, too. Can you imagine if Hitler had known that?! In fact,” Jacob continued, repeating what he had heard that day, “there is strong evidence that George Washington may have been nearly half African. Imagine that, our first president was black.”

“That’s a new one, where’d they get that?” Julie asked as she came back in from the kitchen where she had gone to get another roll.

“Some dude wrote it in a book. There was no source listed but he was an African writing on African History so he must have known what he was saying.”

“It must be true! Wow!” she said as she giggled.

“Here they go again,” Linda thought. She looked at the three of them in their own little world and sighed happily. Although she could never fully understand their fascination with such conversations, she was glad to see the bond they had.  She just couldn’t understand how those three could go on and on about such things. She got up to go upstairs to read in peace. “Those three are definitely peas in a pod,” she thought. As she reached the stairs, she heard Jacob talking again.

“If the American people hadn’t been such a pack of heartless bigots, the Reverend Jackson would have been the first full-blooded Black to be president. Everybody knows that…”

With the arrival of the Enlightenment, hatred and bigotry were erased. Thanks to The Enlightened One, the militant Blacks finally received some sort of repayment for the years of slavery. Blacks had built this nation with their sweat, at least they had built the South (now the North), so they were going to be compensated. They were given South Carolina (they had never changed the name formally), Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi and part of Louisiana (basically everything west of the barren lands along the Mississippi River and north of Tennessee) as their own separate nation. They were also promised $2.5 trillion a year for twenty years from the Enlightened States treasury. The UASA was created in the First Year Post Hatred, but there was a lot of talk that since America was now “enlightened” (and the UASA was running out of money), perhaps they would rejoin the Enlightened States.

About half an hour later, Heather joined the other three Stones in their conversation about race relations and the way Jacob’s class had been indoctrinated. After discussing the UASA, they talked about the failed experiment in Liberia which eventually led to the topic of Somalia, Sudan, and eventually South Africa.

“… Yeah, it’s too bad. South Africa had the highest standard of living on the continent until the Unifying,” Dave was explaining.

Linda, always the vigilant mother, needed to remind Dave about his duties. She hadn’t been able to concentrate on reading – she was fretting about John. She came down the stairs and prodded, “honey, why don’t you go talk to John now?”

“I suppose you’re right,” Dave sighed, “I’ll go get my stuff about “The Bet” and I’ll go talk to him,” Dave said as he headed toward the staircase. He gave Linda a more meaningful kiss than she expected as he heard Julie call out.

“Don’t forget about me, Daddy!”

“I won’t, Dear,” he replied as he headed up the stairs.

 

Sunday 8:00 PM

1:00 PM UTC (London)

 

“That’s all for today, folks.  If you’d like a transcript of today’s show delivered to you, have 50 credits sent to the account number on the screen. And we’ll see you next time on Planet Watch.”

“Que music…camera two…fade to logo…and…go to commercial,” the director called out.

Donald looked toward the control booth as the logo for “Zero Pop” came on the monitors. The narrator began, “Controlling pregnancy is only step one in saving the earth…”

“Oh, Mr. Holder! Mr. Holder!” Lynn called out, waving his arm frantically. “Oh, I hope you like what we are doing to help save the geese.”

“You seem to be doing a fine job, Lynn. Keep up the good work.”

“Why, thank you, Mr. Holder,” Lynn replied with a prominent lisp. “It’s indeed a pleasure to be in your presence. I’m all aquiver.”

Despite his support for gay rights, Donald still felt uncomfortable around effeminate homosexuals. He didn’t really know why. Maybe he wasn’t really converted, “Well, thank you, Lynn.”

“Donald!  Come on! We’ve got a lunch appointment to keep!” It was Neil. He was heading toward his dressing room.

“Alright, I’m coming,” he was relieved to be able to get out of an awkward situation.

“Let me get this stuff off my face and we’ll go,” Neil said as he opened the door to his dressing room. Neil was a transplanted American. He had come to Britain about ten years ago when the Brits still had it better than the Yanks. Now things were about the same everywhere in South America and Europe. Only Russia, China, and Venezuela had any semblance of autonomy and they had very, very little. Neil soon emerged from his dressing room. He looked different, Donald thought. Having removed his make-up and exposing a few “unsightly blemishes”, he looked more like a real person and less like a Ken doll.

“I made reservations at LuLu’s,” Neil said.

“Great, I’m starved.”

“Francis is going to meet us there. He said he’s got big news.”

They walked out to the Save The Earth! car and got in. Neil, at 5’11”, was three inches taller than Donald and outweighed him by a good fifty pounds. He felt like a sardine as he forced his body into the little car. After a few tries, and lots of swearing, the brand new Zen 600 turned over.  Donald squealed the tires and headed off to LuLu’s.

LuLu’s didn’t have any parking for cars so Donald pulled up onto the sidewalk and shut off the engine. The car was still rattling as Neil tumbled out of the car. There was a loud bang as the bio-waste fueled engine backfired and finally came to rest. Neil brushed off his pants as he got to his feet.

“Boy, I sure miss my old BMW,” Neil scoffed.

“I miss mine, too,” Donald confided a little sheepishly.

They entered the quaint little cafe. The place was dimly lit but with the overcast skies, it didn’t take long for their eyes to adjust. Neil couldn’t help but wonder whether the lights were low to set a mood or if they were only low because the solar panels were unable to generate enough power to run the kitchen and light the dining room at the same time.

“Mr. Holder, Mr. Andrews, I have your table ready.”

The waitress was a plain looking girl, about twenty-five. She was apparently excited to be in the presence of the two celebrities. She straightened her skirt as she led them to their table.

“Here you are. Would you like a drink while you decide on your meal?”

“No, thanks…”

“Yes, rum and Coke, please,” Donald butted in.

“Here are your menus. I’ll be right back,” she handed them their special STE menus.

 

 

 

 

“Knock, knock. Can I come in?” Dave said as he peered into John’s room.

“I don’t care,” John replied softly.

John was sitting on his bed, his back against the wall, grasping a pillow in his arms.  He was staring blankly out the window.

“Look, Bud. I know you have a lot of trouble understanding why I feel the way I do but maybe this can at least help you to understand why I feel the way I do about Erlich,” he took out his folder that contained the story of “The Bet”.

“Why? What is that?”

Dave went to John’s desk, grabbed the old folding chair that sat in front of it, and sat down next to the bed.

“You see, during the 70’s, oh, around 45-50 BE, there was a big population control movement; nothing like today, mind you, but big none the less. One of the banners of this movement was Erlich’s book. There was a lot of concern about our ‘dwindling natural resources’. Because of U.S. support of Israel in the war, the Arabs had created oil embargoes sending the price of oil through the roof. There was a renewed consciousness of third world poverty which really was just an attempt to push the communist movement into the under-developed countries. Roe vs. Wade had made abortion legal and prayer was abolished in schools. These were horrible times but yet they were just a practice session for the Enlightenment. How much of it have you read?”

“Just a few pages. The teacher told us about it. Reading it was extra credit.”

“Okay,” he sighed a little. “Anyway, in the book, Erlich predicted that the earth would be unable to support any more growth in the population.  The earth was full. He said that if we didn’t reach ‘zero population growth’, there would be world-wide famine and disease, and almost the entire population would be wiped out before the end of the 1970’s. That was over forty years before the Enlightenment even occurred. He said people wouldn’t live as long and the price of natural resources would sky rocket. This was why we needed to encourage one child per family as a law and learn to rely less on oil, coal, and other resources.”

Dave knew that John was familiar with this argument.

“This is where the bet comes in. One of Erlich’s archenemies, Julienne Simon, an economist at the University of Maryland, said that Erlich was all wrong.”

John sat up straight and furrowed his brows. He had never heard that there were respected individuals who disagreed with Erlich’s thesis.

“Simon said we, especially in the United States, would develop ways to take care of our people. A market economy would always find the answers to the world’s problems. Our technological advances would always out-pace our growth in population. So they made a bet.

“In 1980, after the time Erlich said we would all be dead, Simon bet Erlich $1,000 that over the next ten years the price of any five metals of Erlich’s choice would actually decrease, not increase. Erlich and a couple of his colleagues took Simon up on the bet.”

“That was dumb of Simon. I mean, it’s only obvious that the more of the metals the industrialists mined, the less there would be and the higher the price would be.”

“We’ll see,” Dave grinned a little. “Anyway, Erlich and his buddies made their choices.” Dave glanced at his notes in the folder. “Chrome, tin, tungsten, copper, and nickel.”

“And?”

“Ten years later, Erlich and his friends paid Simon $1,576.07.”

“What?” John slammed his pillow down in surprise.

“That’s right. They paid the $1,000 plus $576.07 which represented the combined drop in the price of the five metals adjusted for inflation. Erlich had been completely wrong.”

“Yeah, but there was so much death and poverty during those years that the population probably went down.”

“No, Son. In fact, during the ten years of the bet, the earth’s population had grown by 800,000,000!”  Dave beamed. “Better yet, from the time Erlich wrote The Population Bomb to the time at the end of the bet, the population had grown by 1.8 billion. The earth’s population had grown by nearly 50% in 22 years and none of Erlich’s projections had come to pass. The life expectancy worldwide had increased, infant mortality decreased, people were healthier and wealthier. He was completely and utterly wrong, yet he continued to be one of the gurus of the Enlightenment movement,” Dave reported.

“So, that’s what you say,” John said defensively. “What about Ethiopia and Somalia? The people there and in lots of places in Africa were starving before the Enlightenment. If they had just been able to be educated on the dangers of overpopulation, none of that would have happened.”

“Are you sure about that?” Dave did his best to conceal a grin.

John was wary but he answered, “Yes.”

“The truth is, caring individuals all over the world gave tons of money and sent plane loads of food, clothing, and medical supplies to Ethiopia yet only a small fraction of it got to the people,” Dave paused. John was ready to answer that claim. “Do you know why the rest of it never got there?”

“Of course. The big industrialists overcharged for the stuff. Then they didn’t even send it. Everybody knows that!”

Dave shook his head, “That is just how the media tried to play it up. The truth was exposed even before the communist government in Ethiopia was finally overthrown.” He went on to explain, “The government was taking all the food and supplies to try to fulfill two objectives. The warlords in Somalia were no better. First, their army needed the supplies to fight against the rebels and second, they wanted to starve out the people who had opposed them. The stories in the American media portrayed the situation the way the communist government wanted them to, just like in South Africa.” Dave added, “I’ll bet that at that time in history less than 20% of the American people even knew Ethiopia was a communist country. Probably less than that knew Mandela and the African National Congress were communists. To watch TV, you’d think Mandela was the Second Coming.  He went around this country with his hand out begging for money and the media kept telling us what a great man he was. The Zulu people who had migrated to South Africa, as the majority in South Africa, had the right to head up the government. The Communists didn’t!”

He paused to take a breath. John was obviously not impressed. Dave hated the contention between John and him but his love for his son also made him want to set him straight. He softened his tone, “Look, Son. I didn’t come up here to argue with you. I just felt you needed to know what a fraud Erlich was. He was wrong in his predictions. He was wrong about the ‘thousands’ of species a year we were killing in the rainforest.” Dave added, almost chuckling, “At least on that one he tried to cover his butt. He said that most of the species we were killing off we would never even know had existed. Good one, huh? We can’t prove one way or the other if we killed them if we never saw any of them,” he paused again. “I’m sorry, Son. The man was wrong.”

“Let me read it, Dad, and I’ll decide for myself,” John took the folder and looked at it blankly. He was a little confused but that wasn’t unusual after he’d had discussions with his dad. Dave had a persuasiveness about him and John could imagine that his dad must have been a good teacher. But he still resisted.

“That’s fine, Son. I just want you to know there’s another side to the story. And Son, don’t forget about the bet.”

“Okay, Dad.”

“John, I love you, Son. I know I’m a little aggressive in expressing my views sometimes but I believe the things I tell you. I care about you and our whole family.”

“I know you believe it, Dad. I’m also glad you let me try to figure things out for myself,” John replied.

Dave stood up and bent over to embrace his son. “I love you, Son,” he paused, “Come on down for the news. It’s almost nine.”

“Okay.”

Sunday 8:45 PM MDT

1:45 PM UTC (London)

 

“I told Francis to meet us at two. That’ll give us a few minutes to relax before he gets here,” Neil said, not lifting his eyes from the menu.

They sat silently for a few moments until the waitress returned with Donald’s drink. He quickly raised his glass and took a small gulp as a bolt of lightning lit the sky. He was slightly aware that they were drawing a few stares from the other patrons.  A few more silent moments passed and the waitress returned.

Neil ordered a lobster platter and Donald ordered a crab salad. Some of the other patrons were even more interested now.  It had been years since most of them had heard anyone order real seafood.

The waitress returned a few minutes later just as Francis arrived.  Francis was of a very slight build, much like Donald, but he had flame red hair tied back in a pony tail that almost reached his butt. As he arrived at the table, Donald reached out and they exchanged a limp handshake.

“How are you today, Donald?” Francis asked with a lisp that made him sound strangely like Lynn from the station.

“Just fine,” he was on his second Kennedy Special.

“That’s good. Look, I’ve come on serious business. I’m not going to beat around the bush.”

“Why don’t you sit down first,” Neil said as he scooted over.

“Thanks. There’s been another coup attempt in Germany. Those stupid Neo-Nazis keep getting the people all riled up and now a bunch of students have barricaded themselves into a police station in Hamburg.”

“Those flippin’ Hamburgers!” Neil joked.

Francis wasn’t amused.

“So, what’s the big deal? There are coup attempts all the time. Kill ‘em,” Donald said.

“The problem is that they aren’t just any students. They are also members of the local militia. They were believed to be loyal. The German, French, and Belgian regulars were all called to Italy and now the only semblance of military power for nearly a hundred miles has turned on the local officials,” Francis explained.

“Those Jews are getting on my nerves. We’ve been fighting them for, what, over three years now? If the Arabs would just let us nuke Jerusalem, this whole thing would be over,” Francis was quite agitated.

“What’s that got to do with us?” Neil inquired.

“Only Save The Earth! has the authority to authorize the kind of airlift we need to get troops from India to Germany. Since the last coup, things have been real quiet there. We had to do-in about 18,000,000 of those cow worshippers but at least their ‘non-violent’ protest was put to an end. I can’t believe they called it non-violent. They were openly allowing cattle to graze. It took us years to outlaw cattle and they’re still over there worshiping the stupid things,” Francis said.

“They don’t worship them,” Neil said quietly.

“They might as well. Look, we’re getting off the subject. Donald, can you get Trevor to authorize the troop movement? We’ll need about twenty transport jets.”

“Twenty? Are you crazy? We need the fuel for the war and besides that, what about the pollution?”

“I know there’s been a real problem in India, especially since we had to use a few nukes to put down the rebels, but come on, it’s only twenty planes. Besides, everyone is talking about the…” Francis lowered his voice a little, “helicopters. Word at the Ministry of Justice and Security is that there are over 30,000 that are being deployed all over the globe. No one even knew we had ‘em. They just kind of showed up in Babylon last week.”

Donald appeared nervous, obviously not wanting to comment on the helicopters. “Well, I may be able to get him to approve five flights a week for four weeks but I can’t guarantee anymore,” Donald said generously.

“It’s better than nothing, I suppose.”

“Listen, it’s a lot better than nothing,” Donald was visibly aggravated.  “We all have to sacrifice to protect the planet. I’ve got to take a stupid train across South America for three days and I’m… I’m me! We all have to do our part if we want this planet to survive the destructive forces that our species has exerted on it.”

Francis was silent.

“So, what did you want from me, Francis?” Neil asked.

“Oh… you know what I want. Who were you calling in Hamburg last night?”

“I called my friend, Sabine,” Neil tried to sound casual but his heart was pounding fast and hard in his chest, “We went out a few times. I met her in Paris last year….”

“Don’t give me that. She was captured trying to plant a bomb at the main railway station today. She had a stolen cell phone with a text from you telling her what train the president of Green Peace would be arriving on. You make me sick!”

A couple of 9mm slugs imbedded in Neil’s forehead made Francis feel better. The silencer had worked well; only a couple of patrons looked over to see Neil’s face land in his cup of canola margarine.

Sunday 9:35 PM MDT

10:35 PM PDT (Idaho Panhandle)

 

Ortega had been overrun before Torrez could reach the entrance to the bunker. His uneasy feelings had been confirmed. He arrived at an intersection in the tunnel near the back entrance just as government troops were forcing their way through the hidden door. He simply took the detonator from his shirt pocket, entered section B3 into the computer, and executed the destruction sequence. A series of small explosions rocked the roof, closing the tunnel for a good couple of days. There would be about 150 feet of debris to dig through.

The members of the Northwestern Liberators packed their vital materials and made their escape. The rest of the complex was destroyed behind them as they departed. It was obvious to Torrez that it was time to move on. It would be awhile before they could again set up shop in Coeur d’Alene.

While most of Torrez’s men prepared to go to Spokane, Torrez and Warner, along with a handful of others, planned to head up to Moscow instead. Then Torrez had a sudden change of plans. He checked with his shortwave operator to find he had received a message, a call for help:

BRO, AJ SAYS IT’S A DRY HEAT

The message was only slightly veiled, but then again, their communication system was primitive and they were unable to have elaborate codes. The rest of the Liberators continued on to the original rendezvous locations but Jimmy convinced Torrez to bring him along despite his injuries. He was a good soldier and had traveled a long way to meet up with Torrez.

Having separated from the rest, the two renegades made their way to a small clearing just a couple miles north of where they had been ambushed. Under the cover of darkness they searched the south end of the field for a large pine with two boulders at its base. They soon found it and headed twenty feet due north.

“It should be right here,” Torrez said checking his alignment with the tree.

Jimmy got down on his knees and jabbed his knife into the ground and began digging.

“It’s only about seven or eight inches down. When you find it just remove the cover, enter 212212 and make sure you’re standing to the south.  I’m going to measure the distance of the clearing – I’ve gotta make sure it hasn’t gotten any smaller,” Torrez instructed.

“I’ve got it!” Jimmy said, but Torrez was too far away to hear.

He brushed off the control box, removed the cover, and entered the code.  Almost immediately the ground to the north began to shake then it started to rise. It split into two sections and went completely vertical. The doors stood about twenty feet high and the silhouette of the Cessna 350 Corvalis began to rise above the surface of the ground. After about three minutes, the motor of the primitive elevator ground to a stop.

“It looks okay, still over 2500 feet. No one has been out here trying to plant trees to fill in the clearing. It wouldn’t have shocked me if they had, though,” he said as he trotted up.

Jimmy crawled into the plane and removed a large toolbox. They quickly got to work inspecting the plane.  Torrez knew this plane inside and out, having worked at the Cessna plant in Bend, Oregon, before they closed it and relocated to Kansas. There were only a few minutes of anxiety during the next couple of hours; Jimmy swore he heard movement in the distance. The work was completed quickly and as Jimmy checked the “runway” for any unexpected surprises, Torrez went through his pre-flight checklist. Everything seemed okay. The plane had only been stored for about ten months and was in good shape.

“Let’s get this bird off the ground!” Torrez said to Jimmy as he returned from his walk to scout the runway. “Next stop, Apache Junction, Arizona.”

“Correction, that’s Native American Bluffs,” Jimmy replied sarcastically.

“Oh, please don’t turn me into the Sensitivity Police,” Torrez pleaded. They both laughed.

During the early years of the Enlightenment, the Sensitivity Police were anything but a joke. It all started with the political correctness on the college campuses long before the Enlightenment. A person could be, and many were, expelled for using hate language such as commenting on the physical attributes of a woman or calling an African-American black. It was such an insane time that some feminist sociologist made it against campus rules to hang mistletoe because it was degrading to women. Of course, it was widely suspected that she hated mistletoe because she could never get anyone to kiss her underneath it. But that was just the beginning.

During the early years of the Enlightenment, these college rules became codified into the Enlightened Constitution. It became unconstitutional to mention God in the classroom. To even repeat one of the Ten Commandments was a crime but black university professors in New York could still teach in their classroom that Whites had created AIDS and meth to wipe out the Black population.

The American Civil Liberties Union became the first of the self-appointed Sensitivity Police groups. Later, they were joined by other organizations and, finally, by a department of the government. It was a serious “insensitivity” to pray outside of a church (you might offend an atheist) and the ways you could insult a woman were almost limitless as were the ways you could offend Native Americans. So, Apache Junction, Arizona, was now Native American Bluffs, Arizona. It had been so for ten years now.

“When we get there we’ll contact my brother, Pedro. He’ll fill us in on the whole situation,” Torrez said as the Cessna ascended over the tree tops.

Jimmy’s stomach sank. It was his first plane ride.

Torrez and his men had removed the back seats to give the plane as much storage area as possible and to lighten it when it wasn’t carrying cargo. Reaching Native American Bluffs without refueling wouldn’t be a problem, especially without a load, but getting fuel to return might be a different story. As they soared into the dark southern Idaho night, there were no lights to be seen anywhere. It was after eleven – past curfew. It was an eerie flight for Jimmy. His stomach soon calmed down but he was still afraid to move too far to either side; he was afraid it might tip the plane. There wasn’t anything to see out the windows anyway, so he just sat very still.

Sunday 9:47 PM MDT

 

One final round of clicks from the optical recognition cameras in the TV went off as the credits at the end of the news began to roll. Dave turned off the TV as the Save the Earth! banner appeared on the screen.

“Well, we better get Scotty off to bed so let’s have our family prayer,” Dave said, as he glanced at the window to be sure the blinds were closed.

“Okay,” Scotty whined, hanging his head.

The family knelt down in a circle. Dave called on Jacob to say the prayer. After the prayer, Linda and Scotty started upstairs to bed. Linda had to get up very early for work and usually went to bed when Scott did. Jacob headed toward the kitchen, as usual.

“Dessert anyone?” he called out.

“None for me and Dad, I’m taking him for a walk,” Julie called out as she grabbed her father by the arm and started walking to the front door.

“I want some!” Scotty called down the stairs.

“Come on down, Son. Jacob, when he’s done get him back up to bed,” Dave said to Linda’s chagrin.

“Okay, Dad.”

Dave and Julie headed out the door.

“None for me either, Jacob. I think I’m going upstairs and do some reading,” Heather said as she headed up the stairs.

“Looks like it’s just us boys,” Jacob said to his little brothers.

“Let’s have some cereal!” John suggested.

“Cereal? Sounds good! Get out the soy milk. I’ll get the Oat Rings.”

“Don’t forget, LOTS of sugar!”

“You got that right.”

Dave opened the front door for Julie. “Let’s go over to the park so we can sit down and talk,” Julie said.

“Sounds good to me,” Dave agreed.

“It sure is a beautiful night, isn’t it?” Dave said, giving Julie a quick hug with his right arm. Dave was very proud of Julie and all she had already done in her life. She wasn’t able to play the government games as well as her older sister, Heather, so she wouldn’t be going to the prestigious MYM University. Having graduated early and having been a little bit of a free spirit, she would probably end up spending a year doing World Service in Sri Lanka or Haiti or some such place in order for her to see the utopia that her hometown would hopefully become. Being sent to one of these places was much like “re-education” but didn’t carry the permanent stigma. When she returned, she would be allowed to attend Joe Hill University or Anita Hill State College. Her World Service assignment would be made in the next month or so.

Julie had actually been a little excited for E-school today. Her class was allowed to take a trip to see Ute Lake. Despite the fact that their reservation was up in the mountains, the Ute Indians were given the lands of Central Utah in the year 2 PH. Since the Mormons had so unjustly driven them out in the 200’s BE, the U.N. had awarded them the land despite Mexico’s demands that all of the American southwest be returned to them. Mexico’s claims fell mostly on deaf ears; their Spanish forefathers had been as unfair to the Native Americans as had the Americans. The Republic of South Mexico was trying to change that now.

It was nearly a forty mile trip and they rode up on the light rail to the old city of Provo. Julie really didn’t say much about the trip up except for how long the ride had been. The light rail was a dinosaur before it was built. It was the largest boondoggle in Utah since the time they decided to pump water from the Great Salt Lake in the middle of a drought.

This trip was, however, a special occasion. The tribal government didn’t allow many tours of the Provo/Orem area. This would probably be Julie’s only chance to see it. Heather and Jacob had never left the Salt Lake Valley, neither had their parents (to the best of their knowledge), since the Enlightenment had begun.

It was a wonderful opportunity for her to get to see what a real steel mill used to look like. Of course, the objective of the trip was to teach the kids what a mess the greedy uncaring white men of the past had made. But to Julie, it was a chance to look at a glorious age she was too young to remember.

At home, she had already talked a little about what she saw down there but she was obviously saving the big news for private time with her dad.

“Dad, do you think the Second Coming is almost here?” Julie asked, looking up into her father’s eyes.

“Of course, there have been so many signs and everything. Especially since Jerusalem has been under attack for three years. The scriptures seem to say the siege will only last three and a half years. I’d say it has to be pretty soon. It seems to me that so much has been literal in fulfillment of prophesy that that timeframe must be literal as well.”

They were already almost to the park. The park was just a block and a half away where the ward house used to be. In fact, there was such a park in almost every subdivision in the Salt Lake area.

“I’ve got another sign for you, Dad. I know why the Indians have been so strict about keeping the Whites out.”  Julie was unaware that Dave and his cohorts were in and out of the reservation on a regular basis.

“You mean it’s not because of our centuries of greed and persecution?”

“Besides that,” she laughed.

“Here, let’s sit on this bench,” Dave suggested.

The park actually was pretty attractive, Dave thought. There was a small pavilion in the center of the park with four rows of tables and the rest of the park was dotted with park benches and narrow sidewalks connecting them. In the early years of the Enlightenment the benches were strategically placed to not leave any areas unobstructed. This way the neighborhood kids wouldn’t be able to play football or any other form of competitive sports in the new parks.

The night was clear, beautiful, hot, and a little humid. Dave was wishing tomorrow was the eighth so he could shower in the morning. Most nights, unless the news ran long, there was over an hour between the news and curfew. This time of year, there were generally a lot of people out taking a walk through the park and the streets of the neighborhood. Tonight was no exception.

“I didn’t want John to know because he’s such a tattle-tale,” Julie started, “but I’m about ninety percent sure the Indians are producing steel and I’m sure they’ve got cars, too.”

“Oh, yeah?” Dave lifted his eyebrow, obviously surprised, “Why do you say that?”

“Well, we had a tour of the ‘evil’ steel works down there so they could show us the damage the white people used to do to the environment down there before the land was given back to the Indians. The steel mill was obviously in working order. When one of the students made a comment about it, the teacher said it only appeared that way because the Native Americans kept it presentable for tours. She seemed pretty sure of herself; she knew Indians would never do anything harmful to the planet.

“You know, it was also kind of weird because I’d say almost all of the people we saw down there were Hispanics, not Indians.”

“That’s probably why the tribes are so careful about letting people come down to their lands. That’s very interesting,” Dave said as if this was new information.

“The Second Coming really is close, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Dear, I think it really is.”

“I’m glad.”

“Me too, sweetie,” he put his arm around her and gave her a big squeeze. He really was glad. He was tired of the persecution and hatred the Enlightenment had introduced into the world.

Their conversation went on for another half an hour or so, discussing the things she had seen (some of which Dave would have to discuss with his contacts on the reservation), and drifted into other areas.

“You don’t already have your eye on someone, do you?” Dave probed.

“I don’t know,” even in the low light, her blushing told another story.

“Do I know this young man?”

“Yeah, he’s one of Jacob’s friends. You know, Robby.”

Robby was seventeen and one of the few boys in school that Julie was sure was LDS. He had black hair and a fairly dark completion. He was frequently taken for a Hispanic though he came from northern European stock. He was quite an intellectual in many ways, especially in history.

His father was a graduate of West Point and a former lieutenant colonel in the army. He had fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. Robby had learned about the history of war from his dad and found it fascinating. He was as patriotic as one could be since the Hatred had ended.

Dave approved of his daughter’s taste in boys, “Robby’s a nice boy.”

“He’s just so immature sometimes. You’ve seen how he is with Jacob. He’s like that all the time in school,” Julie sounded dismayed.

“Do you think Jacob is all that immature?”

“I don’t know, I guess not. Not really.”

“When boys get together, they tend to act a little immature.  I think they call it male bonding.”

“I guess he’s not all that immature, especially at church. It’s just… oh, I don’t know.”

“It’s not like you need to decide today. You’re only sixteen.”

“I know.”

“Look, Heather’s eighteen and she’s not even all that worried about boys. She hasn’t even had a boyfriend since Joshua,” he paused, “…got arrested.”

“Daddy, she still loves Josh. She’s just trying to remain faithful.”

Joshua Jenkins was Heather’s boyfriend, or he was before he got caught tampering with the water company’s computers. He wasn’t a real pro as far as that kind of thing went but he had managed to break through their security. He had been sloppy and had gotten a little too ambitious for his own good. He had barely logged off of his illegal computer when there was a knock at the door. He was serving twelve months hard labor at the border with Nevada.

“I didn’t think she was that serious about Josh. Why doesn’t she ever talk about it?”

“I guess she’s just embarrassed or something.”

The park lights turned off for a second, re-lit, then repeated the cycle four times. Dave looked at his watch though he didn’t need to. He knew it was five minutes to eleven o’clock.

They stood up and began the short trek home. “Julie, I think you ought to try and get Robby away from his friends for awhile and try to find out was he’s really like. I think you’ll be surprised. He’s more mature than you might think. Maybe you can go out with a group of your friends, people who don’t expect him to act a certain way. That might help. He’s a real sharp kid.”

“Yeah, but you aren’t supposed to like someone your dad approves of. That takes half the fun out of it!”

Dave pinched her on the back of the leg and she literally jumped in the air. She started running and Dave chased her all the way home threatening another pinch.

 

 

Monday

 

Monday 1:15 AM MDT

Sunday 6:15 PM UTC (London)

 

“Trevor has been very specific in his instructions. I don’t understand your problem.”

“Mr. Holder, how can we punish all of Hamburg for the actions of a few?” Fritz Hüber, the Führer der Arbeitskräfte of Hamburg, said looking up at the 10-foot screen.

Donald’s expression said what would have been inappropriate at this meeting, “Are you retarded or just stupid beyond human comprehension?” Instead, he decided to walk the moron through the instructions one more time.

“Herr Hüber, we are not punishing anyone. We are returning what is rightfully the earth’s back to the earth. Let me repeat what Trevor wants to see. The Kennedybrücke and the Lombardsbrücke will be demolished, the Alster River will be re-joined to the Elbe River as Gaia intended. There will be a 3-kilometer wide green belt established on either shore of the river from the north end of Binnenalster to the Elbe to begin with. This green area will then be extended south along the river through the remainder of Hamburg. Alster Lake is an abomination just like every other human created lake. The rivers will run free.”

“That river has been dammed for some 800 years.”

“Then we are a little overdue, aren’t we? Listen to what I’m telling you. This river reclamation project is very important to obtain balance with the forces of nature. This is just the beginning. There will be thousands of these projects over the next 10 years – dozens in Hamburg alone.

“The ‘Freie Elbe, bevor ich aufwachse’ protests are being arranged as we speak. Thousands of children under the age of 8 will begin marching in the streets of every city on the river to demand that the Elbe and its tributaries all be free flowing by the year 25.

“Yes, your inability to control your students has forced Alster to the top of our priority list, but that’s your fault. You will start receiving military support to move the civilians within the next week or so.

“Are we clear, or do we need to send in Enlightened Enforcement agents to do it for you? That can be arranged.”

“No, Mr. Holder. That will not be necessary. We will begin immediately.”

“Thank you. Ute Grünwald will follow up with you next week.”

The screen in front of Donald went blank. “Who’s next?”

“Munich. They are suspected of harboring women over the age of 72,” Geoffrey’s voice came from the speaker phone on Donald’s desk.

“What are these people thinking? They are nothing but a drain on the system, UGH! Let’s go! My party is in less than two hours. Okay, who am I talking to?”

“Hilda Schnef. You can use the ‘Hammer Gambit’ on her. She’ll fold in no time and we’ll be able to institute the ‘Stockholm Protocol’ in retribution.”

“Sounds good. Let me see her on the screen.” As her face appeared, he continued, “Fräulein Schnef, we have a problem ….”

Monday 3:00 AM MDT

4:00 AM MST (Arizona)

 

Jimmy didn’t remember dozing off, but as he awoke, he felt very out of place. The sun was just starting to come up over the horizon.

“Good morning, Sleepy Head. You were out like a light. How do you feel?”

“Just fi…” he was interrupted by a bolt of pain shooting through his leg. It had really stiffened up during the night. The doctor had to give him twelve stitches in the thigh,but the damage to his leg had been pretty superficial. He basically had a long flesh wound, but it sure caused Jimmy plenty of stiffness. All the pain that he had been able to ignore while the adrenaline pumped through his body the night before was coming back to haunt him.

“Well, I think I’ll live,” he corrected himself as he massaged his leg, being careful to avoid the stitched areas.

“You missed the Grand Canyon, man. We’re almost there. We’ll be setting down in a couple minutes.”

Indian Bluffs was a small community just west of Phoenix. Most of the residents were people from the old “East Valley” who had resisted the forced movement from the suburbs into the city. Originally, they hoped that if they stayed low-key, the little town would be inconspicuous enough to allow them some freedom from the government. No such luck. The eco-nazis had come to insure their edicts had been carried out. A couple of years later, when moving without governmental consent became a felony, Phoenix officials tried to make sure those who stayed out in “The Bluffs” would regret it.

Jimmy sat quietly trying to clear the cobwebs from his brain. Soon his stomach began to feel queasy again as they were making their approach at a small abandoned airfield.

“I hope there’s not another plane trying to land on the same runway. This airport’s so busy, and with no air traffic controllers, it’s scary to land here,” Torrez joked.

The small plane touched down without incident and Torrez taxied up to an empty hanger.  They parked the plane and covered it with an old tarp that was lying on the ground underneath a couple of inches of dust and sand.

Jimmy had never experienced the 112 degree heat he was now being subjected to. “So, remind me. Why would anyone live here?” he asked.

“Jimmy, come on, man!  This is paradise! I love it here,” Torrez took a deep breath and pounded his chest. “It’s the best!”

Jimmy just shook his head and took a drink from his Camelbak. The airfield was about twenty miles southeast of Indian Bluffs. The direct route was almost entirely over reservation land and would be relatively safe. Staying hydrated, especially during the day in mid-February, would be the hardest part of the journey, but the people in The Bluffs wouldn’t be able to hold out much longer. They had to move now.

They grabbed their packs and started their trek.

Monday 4:10 AM MDT

 

Linda reached over and hit the snooze button.  The irritating beeping of the battery powered alarm clock was temporarily halted for nine minutes.  Linda closed her eyes again.

“Beep…Beep…Beep…Beep.”

Linda sat up this time and turned off the alarm. She looked over at Dave; he hadn’t even stirred. “How can he sleep so deeply?” she thought.

The clock read 4:19 as Linda got up and staggered to the master bathroom. She flipped her lantern on and squinted as the fluorescent tubes came to life. The eerie glow of the lantern gave her reflection a sinister look that she always hated in the morning. Her hair was all over the place; she must have tossed and turned a lot during the night.

She closed her eyes and leaned against the wall. Another day had begun.

After a few minutes of struggling with her brush and pulling her hair back into a pony tail, she felt presentable. The day’s flush would be available for use now. During the night the water was turned on momentarily to allow the toilets to fill so they could be flushed in the morning. The Stones kept a glass in the tank to use in the morning, so Linda grabbed the glass and set it on the counter. She washed her face, dipping a washcloth into the glass for moisture. She looked at the clock again, 4:31. The electricity didn’t come on until five in most households, but as an electricity monitor, the Stone’s power came on at 4:30. Now she could turn on the lights and put on her make-up.

As she applied her mascara, she couldn’t help but think about her friend, Ann. Ann had had a bad experience with some mascara a few years back. She found a new brand of make-up, made in Vietnam, and decided to try it. Almost the instant she put the mascara on her eyelashes, it ran into her eye. She reached out for a washcloth to wipe it off but she stopped short as her eyes began to burn. She screamed and flushed her eyes with water. Her husband ran in to see what was wrong.  Her eyes were swollen and red and tears were gushing from them.

Her husband managed to get her to the hospital in just a few minutes (there were still cars back then) and she was successfully treated, despite a three-hour wait in the emergency room. She was lucky. There had been a number of similar cases before hers, so the doctors knew what to do. In fact, from the time the Enlightened States banned the import of products that had been animal tested, there had been thousands of similar cases each year.

Linda used to hate the pictures of the poor little bunnies with their eyes all swollen, but she had decided that she would really rather see that than someone she knew and loved subjected to it. Ann’s vision wasn’t permanently damaged. She was lucky.

Ann had also been lucky to get into a hospital so quickly. The clamor for health care reform really started to heat up for the third or fourth time in 5 BE (an election year), and one of the major changes in the Constitution was the mandating of a socialized health care system. For only 13% of every worker’s wages, and 17% of the gross income from all businesses in the country, everyone could go to the doctor every time they sneezed. Why not go? It was “free”. Soon every hospital and doctor in the country was overwhelmed with every kind of ailment imaginable.

Many doctors tried to leave the profession as they became just another worker on the public payroll, but they were arrested and given lengthy prison terms if they would not return to work at a local hospital. The health care workers did perform admirably, though, especially since their wage was mandated by law to be only 15% higher than the janitors at the hospital. Within a few years, the shortage of doctors led to another law mandating that 3% of all 6th grade classes would be put on a special track to enter the medical profession; chosen not by class performance,  but randomly, by racial percentages. They were not given a choice. They were to be healthcare providers and that was that! At least they were allowed to count their residency toward their World Service.

Linda generally put off breakfast until later, so she brushed her teeth, being careful to leave Dave half of the glass of water. She put on her coveralls and was ready for work. She took another look at the clock, 4:54. She walked over to Dave’s side of the bed and gave him a peck on the forehead. Dave muttered something indiscernible and rolled over.

She grabbed her clipboard from on top of the dresser and headed down the hall. As she passed the bedrooms, she peeked in on each of her children and found them all fast asleep. She went down the stairs and headed out the door.

As she went outside, the air felt clean and fresh, but still slightly humid. She could tell from the pavement that they had gotten some rain the night before. She looked to the east and could see rays of light beginning to work their way over the Oquirrh Mountains. The sun would be up in an hour or so.

Linda walked down the steps from their front door, reached into the breast pocket of her light green coveralls and pulled out her pen. She looked at the first page on her clipboard and read the day’s meter guidelines: even addresses should read between 12540-12560, and odd addresses between 12560-12660. Her job was really very easy. The water company had controls on each house to prevent them from going over their limit. All she had to do was check each house and make sure they were within the allowable limits.  Everybody always was. The only thing she had to watch for was a set-up by the water company trying to catch her not actually checking each house.

Linda knew her job was nothing more than a “green make-work job”, but the government couldn’t risk economic growth that could cause unfairness and inequality, so tens of millions of people were similarly employed. As a married mother, she was basically required to work because she needed to pay taxes to help cover the government’s cost of supporting her children. But, law or no law, as the standard of living was lowered across South America, people had no choice but to have both parents work, or live as singles. All married couples faced the same dilemma. Women with children who had no man living in the home could receive welfare compensation at a rate of 125% of the average income, in addition to any salary they earned, to make up for this inequality. Linda knew that single parents sometimes needed help, but it just didn’t seem fair to give them so much more money than those who worked.

Before the Enlightenment, people in the country used to complain about the unfairness of the tax laws, but now they knew that it would do no good. Rather than a tax deduction for each child, a family was given an 8% tax increase for each of their first two children, 10% for the third child and each subsequent child; a “user’s fee”, they called it. Linda had to work to cover the taxes on the kids and to avoid the 25% “single income tax” a heterosexual couple with children paid if only one of them worked. It seemed that if a family could afford to have only one parent work, they could afford a larger percentage of taxes.

Linda checked the first box of water meters; they were all correct. She locked the door to the box again and continued to walk down the street.

She still had her pay stub folded up in her pocket. She took it out and examined her tax deductions. She thought it quite ‘compassionate’ of them to itemize the taxes so nicely. This was so you could remember exactly why you had paid each amount.

 

Regular Hours       24                                                  Gross Pay                                  553.92

Hourly Rate   x 23.08                                                  General Tax                           –  94.16

Regular Pay    553.92                                                  Health Care                             –  72.00

User Tax                                  -254.77

Prevent Homelessness            –    5.54

Wildlife Protection                  –  11.08

UASA                                       –  55.39

Net Pay                                       60.98

 

 

 

 

 

After paying her tithing, she was left with just over 5 credits, not too bad for a week’s work. “There isn’t much to spend the money on, anyway,” Linda tried to convince herself. She couldn’t help but be a little anxious for Heather to start school, though. Heather would live on campus and would be provided with 100 credits a month, tax free. It would nearly double Linda and Dave’s paychecks because of the decrease in the user tax.

MYM was only across the valley, less than twenty miles away, but Linda knew with the lack of transportation these days, Heather wouldn’t make it home much. The Government still continued telling the people how small the world was and how interdependent the peoples of the world were, but the world was truly a large place again. Communication world-wide was quite restricted, and travel was extremely limited.

Soon she was done with her route. She had spied on 600 of her friends and neighbors to make sure they were obeying the law. She would get paid for 4 hours. It was 6:26. She had four minutes before she could actually quit for the day, so she walked home at a leisurely pace.

As she walked in the front door, Dave was just leaving for work. This was the morning ritual five days a week. Linda had Sundays off and Dave had Wednesdays off. Dave gave her a big hug lifting her off the ground and kissed her playfully. “You look good this morning, babe,” he said as he looked her up and down.

“Babe? Look, Buster, I don’t think you know who you’re dealing with here. I’ll have you up on sexual harassment charges in two seconds flat!” She pushed Dave away from her and added, “Get to work. I’ve already put in a whole day’s hard labor.”

Dave came close again and gave her a little peck on the cheek. “It’ll never happen again,” he said, mimicking a punished child, then quickly stole another kiss and turned to get his bike from the garage.

“It better!” Linda swatted him on the butt and said a cheerful good-bye.

Dave hopped on his bike and blew a kiss to Linda as he started the long trip to work.

As Linda went into the house, all she could hear was the ticking of the wall clock. It was so peaceful, but she knew the kids would soon shatter the calm. She decided a little breakfast was in order and headed to the kitchen. Dave, as usual, had left his dirty bowl and spoon on the table. Linda just shook her head and wondered why she ever put up with that man.

Dave was still a kid in so many ways. He was almost constantly sarcastic, but could turn to a total serious discussion in a split second. He was a slob, but very handsome. He was irreverent at times, but deeply religious. He thought he knew everything, and it was usually pretty tough to prove otherwise.

What was it about Dave that she just couldn’t bear to even think about losing him?

Dave had always been a little strange, even to his own way of thinking. He had never had a serious relationship with anyone before he met Linda. Linda had, in some ways, totally changed his life and helped him mature, but sometimes he still acted like a high school brat. Linda figured that that was why he really enjoyed working with kids. He loved teaching, both at school and at church. He just liked being around people who were still so alive. Many people thought he was crazy to teach high school, especially in the years leading up to the Enlightenment, but Dave said he couldn’t think of anything more enjoyable, even on a bad day.

Linda had been there to support Dave in all of his adventures, even when it took them down paths that made her reach outside of her comfort zone. Her first real test came early in their marriage when Dave was bitten by the political bug.

Back in 3 BE, inspired by the “9-12 Project”, Dave made his first run for political office – the Utah state legislature. He was a full-time student and worked full-time. He and Linda had been married for almost four years. They already had Heather and Jacob was just a small baby. Linda thought he was crazy.

Despite the fact that Dave’s dad was a state senator in Arizona (where Dave had been raised), and he had worked on several of his dad’s campaigns, his own campaign had been a really disappointing experience. The national election two years before had been a disaster. The Republicans nominated a true war hero, but one who had supported censoring political speech and the socialist environmental platforms. He attacked “big oil” and was more concerned with getting along with Democrats than defeating them and bringing about real conservative change. Dave was truly excited about his VP choice, but she was just a little too little, too late. The presidential candidate jumped on the progressive bandwagon to solve the problems created by big government instead of standing up for principle and lost the respect of too many, including Dave.

Dave lived in one of the few Democrat strongholds in Utah and fought a real uphill battle from the beginning, but the “get out the vote” efforts of the “community organizers” really did him in.

He decided to try and run for the legislature again in 1 BE, but by then, the welfare state snowball was already rolling down the hill. Over 50% of the adults were paying no taxes and were, in most cases, getting welfare checks from the government every year besides the quarterly “stimulus checks.” The majority was now actually able to vote themselves the money of the minority, and they began to do so.

Redistricting prior to the 1 BE presidential year elections made Dave think he might have a chance, but as the primary season began to draw near, it was apparent that the Republican party had completely fallen apart. Conservative candidates were openly mocked by the media and by liberal Republicans who thought they needed to fight for the welfare vote rather than present a new vision for the future. Dave was unable to even get past the Salt Lake County Republican Convention, losing to an environmental activist who had just moved to the state from California, calling himself a Schwarzenegger Republican.

Linda became even more jaded by the process than Dave following the election runs. She had grown up pretty clueless about politics, but Dave’s passion kindled a fire inside her that molded her into a real ideologue.  She was a voracious reader and became incredibly well read in the ideals of the founding of the country. She knew how it was supposed to work.

Despite the best efforts of Rush and Sean and Glen, the reelection of The Enlightened One was more than Linda could stand. His first election was bad enough, but after he spent the economy into oblivion, empowered the unions at the expense of businesses large and small, stripped the people of their constitutional rights, expanded the then-known limits of political patronage, then taxed anyone who achieved any amount of success beyond anyone’s ability to withstand, he still managed to buy the election by appealing to the uninformed and continuing to blame past presidents for all problems.

Since the Enlightenment, Linda just tried to block out the world. Her focus was on protecting her family from the inside by trying to build children of strong character with strong testimonies. She frequently thought of the old days, sometimes even with a little longing, but on the whole, for the past few years, she left the politics to Dave. But now, even Dave was showing signs of fatigue.

As she began to mix the bran meal, she felt … what was it? Sadness? No, more a sense of foreboding; a feeling of impending catastrophe.  She set down the spoon and went upstairs to check on the kids.

 

 

Monday 9:15 AM MDT

8:15 AM CDT (Zion)

 

“Mr. President, your cabinet meeting starts in 45 minutes.”

“Thanks, Kevin. Time flies, huh?”

“Yes, Sir. Would you like me to put away your tools?”

“No, thanks. We’ve got to finish this section of fence before the herd comes in, so I’ll be back out later today. But… the last I knew, Secretary Green was heading out to my barn to borrow the backhoe, so he might still be out in the field if you can’t get a hold of him to remind him,” the president responded as he removed his work gloves and headed toward his house.

Forty-five minutes later, the president looked down at his watch just as the face changed over to nine o’clock. He hated being late. He waited at the side of the road as a red Suburban drove by, then proceeded across Independence’s main street from his house to the meeting hall.

Kevin, his Chief of Staff, was waiting at the entrance. He spoke something into the microphone on his headset then greeted the president as he arrived. “Just in time, Sir. Secretary Taylor will be here momentarily. His son took a fall on his bike and they are finishing up an ice cream cone.”

“Sounds like nothing serious. That’s good. Brian or Casey?”

“Don’t taunt me like that, Sir.”

The president knew that Kevin couldn’t tell Brian and Casey apart. At least their other triplet was Allie, so there weren’t three identical siblings. The president had a trick for telling the twins apart, but he wasn’t going to share that information with Kevin.

“One day, Kevin…” he smiled.

“Yes, sir, maybe when they get older.” He opened the door to the meeting hall and they headed toward the conference room. The foyer of the meeting hall was impressive. The twenty- foot marble columns were precisely five feet in diameter and were spaced 10 feet apart along the perimeter of the foyer. The main ballroom, which lay behind the 12-foot doors at the north end of the foyer, was even more impressive.

They reached the hallway on the far side of the building and entered the conference room with a “B” on the door. There was a large circular table in the middle; six men and two women surrounded it. The president took his chair, as did his aide. There was now only one empty chair.

“Secretary Taylor will be along in a few minutes, so let’s proceed. Spenc… Secretary Hall, will you offer an invocation?”

Over the next few minutes, the president heard reports from his entire cabinet:  Secretary of State Glenn Porter reported on the status of talks with Texas, Japan, and New Zealand; Secretary of the Treasury Michelle Turner reported on the state of the federal assets; Secretary of Justice Alexander Green had nothing to report; and Secretary of Interstate Commerce and the Interior Spencer Hall reported on the over-all number of immigrants and citizenship applications as well as the progress of the Port of Entry being constructed near New Orleans.

Secretary of Defense Jason Taylor had slipped quietly into the room during Secretary Green’s report and was ready to present his information just in time.

“Secretary Taylor, first of all, how is your son?”

“Brian is doing just fine, Sir. Nothing a band-aid and a little ice cream couldn’t fix.”

“Glad to hear it. So, what do you hear from Texas and South Mexico?”

“Things just don’t seem to be getting any better. They have been moving closer to a formal military alliance against the Enlightened States, but as of late, the South Mexican government has become increasingly more distrustful of their Anglo officers, and they are seeing large numbers of defectors, to Texas mostly. This is becoming a real sticking point.”

“How many have come over to us, Jason?”

“We are still running numbers from last week, but we’ve processed over 20,000 soldiers this year already, and nearly 100,000 civilians. We’ve had crews defect with over 200 aircraft and over 500 tanks, artillery, and other heavy equipment. We probably already have the largest strictly defensive military ever. But we are starting to see Texans defect to us as well,” the Secretary of Defense answered.

“Does that seem to be causing any friction with the Texan High Command?” the Chief of Staff asked.

“It’s hard to say. They have been quiet on the issue so far. So either they don’t know yet, or they are waiting to see what we do about it or…”

“Or they are spies.”

“Yes, possibly, Mr. President.”

“Well, I don’t see a need to change policy now. We have accepted all comers who take the Oath of Citizenship. So far, it has worked fine. We’ve never commented on the refugees we have taken in. I see no reason to start now.”

There was full agreement around the table.

“Okay. The last item on the agenda, Mr. President, is Alaska,” Kevin Allred said.

“They’ve sent another petition?”

“Yes, they are asking for permission to send an ambassador, again.”

“Well, folks? What say you?” This was the president’s way of opening up the floor for discussion.

“As always, it comes down to two issues. Is it constitutional and, if so, is it in our best interest?” stated Secretary of State Porter, “We have determined the constitutionality of establishing relations with the Republic of Alaska, so… is it in our best interest?”

“Mr. President,” Vice President Tiffani Higuchi started, “My concerns are the same as last month. I just don’t know if we can afford to come out into the open so blatantly. The ESA, the UASA, Texas, and South Mexico are all telling their people that we are a myth. If we open relations with Alaska, we really are risking exposure. The UN has ignored our existence, and I really believe this is for the best.”

“However,” interjected Secretary Michelle Turner, “The economic upside is nearly unlimited. Their military is deeply entrenched; I don’t see them asking us for military aid…”

“Which we wouldn’t grant, anyway,” Secretary Taylor reminded everyone unnecessarily.

“Of course,” she continued. “Their people are committed to constitutional principles. I think it’s time that we let the new birth of freedom begin. Japan is on board, Australia and New Zealand are on the verge. Maybe the time has come.”

Monday 11:00 AM MDT

4:30 AM UTC (London)

 

Donald sat in the back row of First Class in the large Aeroflot jet. The plane was completely full except for the seat next to him. STE officials always got two seats in case they needed the room to spread out their work. The seats were worn and patched and not very comfortable, but Donald could suffer the inconvenience for an eight and a half hour flight. It was  much faster than taking a ship to South America. Even First Class was uncomfortably warm. Coolants were heavily regulated in airplanes because they traveled in the atmosphere so close to the ozone layer. Soon there was water condensing on the windows and the ceiling, and the heat and humidity became almost unbearable.

Last night’s ‘bon voyage’ party had really been something. That, combined with the heat in the cabin, made him extremely tired. Donald surveyed the other passengers as his eyelids began to droop. Maybe that was why there was no in-flight movie; everyone was probably too tired to watch one.

Just as he was dozing off, the flight attendant came up and offered him a drink. He accepted and took the half-liter bottle of Vodka and quickly downed the whole thing. Now he was really, really ready to go to sleep. As he was fading away, the smell of marijuana filled his nostrils.  “I should really have interesting dreams now. At least it’s not tobacco,” he thought.

 

Monday 11:30 AM MDT

 

Today, Heather felt like reading some of her grandfather’s writing. It often helped her to put things straight in her mind about why she felt the way she did about the movement. Although, she sometimes wondered to herself if she wasn’t simply trading one form of brainwashing for another. What made her dad’s or her grandpa’s opinion any more valid than the government’s?

She went down from the main floor to the family room, and then down to the basement through the door in the hallway leading to the garage. The Stone home was a conventional tri‑level house, with a half-basement for a fourth level. It was rare to live in a house with a garage. Only a few of the older single family units still had them.

Because of the housing shortages, most people had converted their garages into small apartments they could rent out to earn a little extra money. Soon, however, they found themselves being forced to allow young adults to live there rent free. Since the Stone’s garage had survived the earthquakes, Dave insisted on keeping it even after their house was renovated to meet the new Green Codes. He said he needed the work space, but everyone knew he was holding out hope that someday he would again be able to park a car in it. Heather secretly hoped for it, too. She turned on the light to the staircase going down and began her descent.

Heather always thought it felt a little eerie going down to the basement. The darkness of the staircase and the way the stairs creaked made a tingle go up her spine. At the bottom of the stairs, she turned on the light. Though there were some book shelves and old furniture and stuff in the basement, the walls were lined with mostly empty shelving, now that “hoarding” food was illegal. She turned to the right at the bottom of the stairs and took a couple of steps to the wall. She pulled at a section of the wood paneling and revealed a small door. The door was disguised as part of a shelf system and was only about three and a half feet tall to help with the deception. Taking out her key, she unlocked the door and turned the knob. She crouched down and turned on the light. As she entered and took the first few steps down to the hidden fifth level of the house, the eerie feelings disappeared. The lights came on and she was filled with a sense of peace. She was entering the family sanctuary.

The book room, which had once been used exclusively for food storage, was immaculately clean and orderly. There was a small (and probably also illegal, she thought) space heater in one corner of the room for the cold winter nights. Apparently, her dad, or one of his friends, had managed to tap into the electric grid for the Green Patrol and secretly divert electricity to this room without detection. Her dad’s radio equipment and computers (also illegal) where on a table in the far back corner.

The walls were painted white to help with the lighting. Two recliners and a love seat were the only other pieces of furniture. There was a small section where a modest amount of food storage was still kept, and the rest of the 20’ x 30’ room was made up of bookshelves and volume after volume of illegal books, magazines, manuscripts, diaries, and letters. Although she had never bothered to count them, she guessed there might be as many as 10,000 volumes altogether. The books were mostly religious, historical, or political, but there were also books on cars, nuclear energy, hunting, fishing, sports, and about any other topic that the government could think about banning.

Today she felt like reading from her grandfather’s journal. Dave’s father, Sean, had faithfully kept a journal or, as he called it, an open diary. His journal started out to be just a diary, but as the whole Enlightenment movement came to a head, Sean felt that he should keep it as comprehensive as he could. He knew that one day his children, and maybe his children’s children, would want to know the truth about what had happened.

Dave had carried on the tradition after finding his father’s writing very helpful in his own life. Once a journal was ten years old, he placed it in the library, and he was faithfully keeping the collection current. He hoped it would help his children understand the world they had been born into. Today, Heather had a desire to learn more. She picked out one of Grandpa Stone’s journals and found an entry dated July 18, 1988, and began to read.

 

             July 18, 1988

What a day. First of all, it’s the anniversary of Mary Jo and Senator Kennedy’s swim in Chappaquiddick. I still feel bad for her family. I just wish that scuzzball would come out and admit what he did.

Guess what! The ozone “hole” is closed again. It has been for a couple of weeks now. This whole ozone panic is driving me crazy.  Scientists discover the “hole”, they assume that it’s a new phenomenon, they blame it on American industry (despite the fact that it’s occurring on the other side of the globe), and then no matter what the evidence is, they won’t swerve from their socialist rhetoric. There have been an increasing number of scientists who say that the hole is a cyclical phenomenon and that it is probably greatly affected by solar flares and volcanic activity at the South Pole. If the fact that some scientists deny this knowledge exists isn’t bad enough, they simply refuse to even make it widely known that the thinning occurs yearly and only lasts for a few weeks. They can’t deny those facts, but they sure have a way of making the media keep quiet about it. I can’t recall reading about it in one mainstream newspaper or magazine or seeing one report on TV, but it’s been all over professional scientific journals.

Heather had already talked about the ozone hoax with her dad before.  Even now, after the “Hatred” had ended, they were still complaining about the supposed hole, and they still kept saying it was caused by man-made pollution.  What a joke! Even today, with no industry to speak of, the hole wasn’t fixed. She continued reading.

 

Monday 11:55 AM MDT

Ms. Clinton was clearly exacerbated. “Yes, Jacob?”

“You did say there was no such thing as a stupid question, right?” Jacob asked.

The class was evenly divided whenever Jacob started off by asking his teacher this question. It usually meant a long, drawn-out series of questions that proved that Ms. Clinton knew less about science than he did. Sometimes it would be so over the head of the students in the class that they would just tune out and doodle on their desks or sleep, but sometimes it could be entertaining to watch the teacher squirm. Generally, it also meant the teacher couldn’t finish the lesson and they wouldn’t have time for a quiz or she would forget to give them homework, so some kids were glad when one of their debates started.

“Yes, Jacob, I did,” she admitted again. She regretted ever saying that because she knew Jacob was about to rake her over the coals. She just wondered where this kid had learned so much. “But please, no questions about people evolving from apes, okay?  That is settled science. The Enlightened One has declared it so. It is no longer a topic for debate in schools.”

“Oh, I know, I promise. Anyway, so basically, you are saying that there are three main parts to the theory of evolution. First, there is random mutation of desirable attributes. Second, less desirable traits and species are weeded out through natural selection or ‘survival of the fittest’. Third, these two steps lead to the creation of new species; in fact, all species that now exist, right?”

“Yes, Jacob. Your class notes are correct.”

“And cells are considered the smallest form of life?”

“Yes, they are made up of smaller parts, but those parts aren’t considered to be alive,” she repeated from an earlier lecture.

“Alright, so basically, all life started from a single cell being formed. Then plants and animals evolved from a single cell?”

“Without getting extremely complicated, yes,” she said, trying to deflect any explanation.

Jacob then threw her a bit of a curve she wasn’t expecting, “Before, you taught us that there are prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, so which came first?”

“Probably prokaryotic, since they are smaller and generally less complex, and they are usually independent life forms, like bacteria,” she said, proud of herself for remembering from three months ago when she taught the class this.

“So, where did the parts of the cell come from? The RNA, the DNA, or the plasmids, or the ribosomes? And if it was more desirable for some of them to evolve a cell wall, why was it desirable for some not to develop a cell wall? And where did the material to develop a cell wall come from?”

“I don’t know, Jacob, probably an electronic charge to some element, or group of elements caused them,” she said, ignoring the rest of his questions.

“Come on, Ms. Clinton. You know the Miller-Urey experiments were discredited a long time ago, before you were even born, probably before your dad was born. That’s not even feasible.”

No one in the class had any idea what he was talking about with that one.

“So, all of the different kinds of proteins found in cells happened to be accidentally created; random mutation, right? Then they made the first cell by random?” he continued.

“Yes.”

“So how did they become alive?”

“I don’t know, Jacob. There are many theories.”

“Okay, so, if you are a living, independent life form, why is it more desirable to give up that independence and mutate into a eukaryotic cell and become a part of a larger organism?”

“Strength of the collective, maybe. That’s why we live the way we do,” she said, repeating something she had learned in her own history training.

“But how could they learn that? Why give up independent movement to become stationary as part of another organism, and how did they learn mitosis, or meiosis, as opposed to binary fission? And this all happened through random mutations that were desirable, right?”

She just nodded.

“Okay, so, if it was desirable, why wasn’t it desirable for all of them? Why weren’t the old cells weaker and weeded out by the more desirable new cells? I mean, obviously they weren’t, because we still have single celled life forms, like bacteria, now. How come they never evolved?”

“They were strong enough to survive as they were, so why change?” she said grasping at straws.

“So, why did any of them change, if you could survive just fine as a bacteria? What was the purpose of some of them changing? And why did some of them become animals and others become plants? What are the missing links between single cell organisms and multi-celled plants, not to mention multi-celled animals? In fact, why was it more desirable to become food for another organism? I mean, come on! How did we get from one cell to humans? Some cells, accidently, slowly, over billions of years, mutated into a skin cell, while others mutated into parts of a bone, and some mutated into the blood cells? How did the blood cells survive before circulatory systems developed? If they didn’t, how did a circulatory system develop without blood to circulate? Every part of us is made of cells, but yet, somehow, by random mutation, everything works together? All of these thousands of little parts all mutated at the exact same time? How did animals survive before they had skin? Or did skin develop first and other cells moved into the floating blobs of skin? How did these systems all become one organism? I mean, look at the little parts in our ears. What good are they if they aren’t in an ear, and why don’t all animals have ears? Somehow, again randomly, some cells mutated the ability to hear? Some of them just learned how to turn vibrations in the air into an electrical signal to send to our brain, and then our brains just randomly learned how to interpret the vibrations? Come on! That’s just stupid.”

Ms. Clinton just listened to his rant – the class period was shot now, and the bell was about to ring. Oh, how she hated first period.

“What about eyes?  Darwin’s theory doesn’t even allow for the spontaneous creation of a complex organ, so what series of events came together to create the lens of an eye, or the cornea, or the iris? What about all of the different muscles that make up this one small part of our body? How did the macula and fovea develop, and how did they learn to send images to the brain? And don’t even get me started on the brain. Then, all of these cells mutated inside of what animal? What was the first animal that could see, and how many millions or billions of years did it exist as the only animal with eyes, and then did all animals with eyes evolve from this one animal, or did eyes, miraculously, I mean, randomly, develop in multiple animals at the same time, or at different times? Do you really think that if, somehow, eye cells hadn’t mutated, we would have eagles and whales and elephants and horses and dogs and cats and people and we would all be running around without eyes?”

The bell rang, and the class started to file out.

“Way to go, Stone,” Robby said as he came up next to Jacob’s desk. “You got us out of another quiz. And you didn’t even get to cross-species evolution!”

“No problem,” Jacob said as he smiled and picked up his book bag.

 

Monday 12:30 PM MDT

 

Heather had reached the end of a volume, so she went to the shelf and picked up another dated Dec 1990 – July 1991. She sat down again and flipped a number of pages ahead in her grandfather’s journal until the word “war” caught her eye.

February 27, 1991

Well, U.S. forces are in Kuwait City. There was a big armor battle today and it looks like the war is over. How does the “100 Hours War” sound? Pretty good, huh? Remember how Saddam torched the oil fields in Kuwait? Well, Sagan and his bunch predicted a global catastrophe if Saddam torched the oil fields. He did, and they were wrong.  First, they say that pollution of this sort is causing “Global Warming”. Then they say because it happened in such a short period of time, it would cause a global winter event, and we were all going to freeze to death because there wouldn’t be a summer in the northern hemisphere this year. They go on all these talk shows and news programs spewing that garbage, and they are simply wrong. They won’t admit it. They just go merrily on their way spouting off more lies. It makes me so angry. For years, people have accepted what that guy had to say about the impending ice age and all that tripe. He doesn’t know anything! I don’t see how he can show his face in public.

There was a star scribbled in the margin with the words “see July 16, 1991”. Her curiosity got the best of her, so she turned a few pages ahead until she saw the date at the top of the page.

July 16, 1991

Still no Global Winter. What a joke.  We even had Mt. Pinatubo erupt and it still is in the upper 90’s (I wouldn’t mind a little winter right about now). That volcano put out more ash and debris than all of American industry in all of our history. In other words, Mother Nature has, with one eruption, more than doubled the amount of pollutants in the air and there is still no perpetual winter or global warming.

This whole global warming garbage just makes me sick. These idiot professors get on TV and spew their tripe without ever being questioned. GLOBAL WARMING IS JUST A THEORY!!! There is no evidence that it exists at all, yet these guys get on here and talk about it as if it were concrete, undisputed fact. It just burns me up. For all they know, we may be heading for another Ice Age (that’s what they were saying 15 years ago).  Temperature trends take literally hundreds of years to develop. They are trying to base this stupid theory on less than a hundred years of good, accurate data and computer simulations.  You know, computers are wonderful things, but they can’t think. The results of a program predicting the future will always reflect the bias of the programmer. People who base their whole research on these things are a disgrace to the scientific community.

 Spotted Owl Update- You remember all that hype about the Northern Spotted Owl?  Well, the environmental wackos keep insisting that these “endangered” birds could only live in old growth forests. At first, I always said that if they can’t adapt to another environment then they might as well be extinct any way. That’s the way of nature, according to evolutionists. Well, it has been proven that there are Spotted Owls living in new growth trees. They have been seen and videotaped in new growth forests. The age of the trees doesn’t matter to the owl. All that matters is that the tree they nest in is dead. Another thing, did you know the Spotted Owls live in an area extending from British Columbia to Mexico City? The wackos are saying this stupid bird is rare because fewer of them live in Oregon than there used to be.

It’s also been discovered that the owls are beginning to breed with other species. Eventually there will no longer be a Northern Spotted Owl. It appears this little sub-species might breed itself out of existence, if it doesn’t move elsewhere looking for dead trees. Either way, the problem’s solved – just not in the way the wackos want. What they want is to kill the timber industry. “Saving” the owl is simply the vehicle. So, the question is, will this ever make the mainstream media? NO WAY! The stories have already been out for weeks but the facts are again being suppressed.

That reminds me of the Red Squirrels on Mt. Graham. Remember, last year the eco-nazis at U of A were saying that if the university built their telescope on the mountain that the poor Red Squirrels would be wiped out and become extinct? Of course, they could never live anywhere else. It turns out that the squirrels didn’t have to move. Over the last year their numbers have more than doubled. I guess the idiots never thought that maybe the predators of the squirrels might have been scared off by the human presence. You know, it seems so dumb. You’d think that there were no squirrels in any parks in any part of the country. Come on! Squirrels have lived around humans for years, probably since the first time somebody tossed one of them a scrap of food.

These Animal Rights idiots are so stupid. It’s like the African Elephant – these wackos said the only way to save the elephants was to ban hunting them. Of course, as usual, they were wrong and they won’t back down on it. In countries where hunting elephants is regulated, not banned, but just limited, the elephant herds are growing. The countries who have banned hunting elephants (without exception!) have serious poaching problems. The herds are dwindling and there are dead, tuskless elephants dotting the landscape. Anyway, I’ve rambled too long. See ya later.

Heather always liked to read about the old days when all the debate about animals was still going on. Debate was no longer allowed. The official line on all this stuff was far different from what her grandpa said. She continued reading.

 

Monday 1:30 PM MDT

 

“So, what about the people that protected her and her family?” John asked his afternoon teacher, Ms. Karensky-Molotov.  “I mean, was that the right thing to do?”

“And I still don’t understand; was Anne a Jew or a Semite? I thought Jews were bad,” Summer, one of his classmates, piped up.

“I’m not sure I understand, either,” Mason, another of John’s classmates, said. “Aren’t the Semites the same as the Jews – like in the war in Palestine? The news always says the Jews are always murdering Palestiners and that they started the whole war…”

“And they are polluting the water with their war factories,” Ashley added excitedly.

“Yeah, and they paid the money for the capital…ism…ists to spin around the world,” said Barak H.

Soon, there were different tales of Jewish evil flying across the room as the students seemed anxious to show off how much they had learned. The teacher glimpsed up at the camera in the back corner of the classroom and held up her hands.

Some of the teachers had a hard time explaining the government line on Jews vs. Semites to the kids, especially since it ran contrary to their own memory of history. She wondered why that morning teacher was trying to teach Anne Frank to 11-year-olds anyway. Yes, the edited version was approved curriculum, but these kids barely understood noun-verb agreement. How were they supposed to understand the causes of war?

The way she saw it, as long as they understood enough about politics to love The Enlightened One, that was all they really needed. After all, that was basically all she really understood herself.

“Hold on, hold on. Okay… I know sometimes it can get a little bit confusing, but you have to remember, Jewish is a religion or a cult, Semite is a race. Not all of the Semites were Jewish. It’s like Christianity is a religion of white people, but not all white people are Christians.”

Part of the class still didn’t really seem to understand.

“Okay. Remember, in science we said rats are animals, but not all animals are rats?” she said hopefully. The class responded favorably, seeming to understand.

“So, Jews are like rats!” Barak A. said.

“Right… okay… let’s go on to the next part. Remember, in diversity class you talked about the Crusades and how the white Christians were terrorists to the Palestinian Freedom Fighters?”

“Oh! I remember,” John piped up again. He was definitely the teacher’s pet. “The white Christians brought capitalism ideas to the Semites and turned them into Jews.”

“Right! Before the Crusades, there were no Jews. But the white Christians started the Jewish cult by converting some of the Semites to capitalism. They wanted to make the Semites fight on their side in the wars, but the Semites wouldn’t fight, so they had to turn them into Jews.”

Many heads were nodding now. They remembered that they had already been taught most of this. In their diversity class, they had to learn why Jews, Christians, Capitalists, and even the Japanese didn’t sufficiently accept diversity and were not to be tolerated.

“So, many years later, when the Nazi Capitalists came into power, they had a really sneaky plan.  Because the Nazis were capitalists, they were war mongers, and they hated the communists. The Semites were pacifists and were mostly communists, so the Nazis made a plan to make everyone think that all of the Semites were Jews. Then they made them work in their war factories. Do you see?” The teacher felt better about the direction of the discussion now.

The class seemed to be following the “Enlightened” logic they were being presented with.

“So, back to John’s original question. Since the Nazis were really bad capitalists and were trying to make the Semites work in war factories against their will, protecting them was the enlightened thing to do. Let me read this from the lesson manual, ‘The Semites were peaceful people who wanted to stop the war, but the Nazis were warmongers. The people who hid them were protecting them from having to support the war.  They were being heroic defending peace.’ So, does this make more sense now?” She hoped they were finally able to grasp the concept.

“Yeah! So when we see the videos of the Nazis and they are saying bad things about the Jews, they were just faking cuz they were pretending all of the Semites were Jews, and everyone else already knew how bad Jews are. Then everyone would support them cuz they were pretending to be against the Jews,” Leslie said.

“Right, because real Jews supported the war. But the great Comrades, Stalin and Roosevelt, saw through the Nazi and Jew lies and put the strength of the workers against them. It was so terrible that the Nazis were making the Semites work in the war factories – it was called the Holocaust,” she turned and wrote the word on the whiteboard. “They even started putting real Jews in the factories with the Semites to try and convert them to being Jews so they would work harder. It was just terrible. That’s why sometimes you hear people call bad people Nazis; when you call a person a Nazi, it means they try to make peaceful people support capitalist wars.

“So, the war in Palestine is against real Jews. That’s why we support the UN in their goals to liberate Palestine and get rid of the Jews. When we defeat them, and the white Supremacists in South America, there won’t be any more wars.”

“That means we support this war because it’s not a capitalist war of aggressing…” Barak B. said.

“Aggression.  Right, Barak, exactly!  Oh, look at that. It’s time to put the chairs up. The bell is going to ring in a few seconds.”

“Um, um, teacher!” Leslie, who usually didn’t speak much in class, said, “Why, um, why is it called North America in our book when it’s almost at the South Pole?”

“Well, Leslie, as I’m sure Mr. Brown has told the class before, it was called that before The Slide, and some of the books haven’t been updated yet. Okay, hurry now. The bell will be ringing any second. Chop, chop.”

Monday 3:00 PM MDT

4:00 PM MST (Arizona)

It had been several years since José had last crossed the Salt River Reservation and things had certainly changed. In his younger years, before the Enlightenment, there was little development inside the reservation besides a couple of casinos and golf courses and a school along the freeway, but the surrounding area was fully developed, commercial and residential. Now it was the opposite.

The bulk of the airport was nearly covered in sand because of neglect, but it hadn’t been torn down. Most all of the developed land to the west had been bulldozed all the way up to the expanded boundaries of the reservation lands, but the project to tear down everything to the east had been on hold for several years now.

The Reservation now encompassed the entire McDowell mountain area, everything between the Salt River and Pima Road, and south to Desert Vista Road. The evacuations of Fountain Hills and DC Ranch had been particularly bloody, and their relocation to the Carefree Concentration Camp was still officially denied. In fact, even the existence of the CCC was officially denied.

José assumed there must have still been an agreement in place with the tribes concerning the Central Arizona Project Canal because the canal was still flowing despite the fact that flood irrigation had been banned in Arizona over 10 years before.

José and Jimmy began following the canal right from the edge of the air strip. José wasn’t really surprised to find the border of the reservation unguarded, even at the canal. There was a five-mile no-man’s land surrounding it. The government officials didn’t want the Indians to be forced to put up a wall around tribal lands to keep the white invaders out; at least that was the official line.

What did surprise José, at least to an extent, was the new development in the reservation. The Pima, or “Akimel Au-Authm” (River People), and the Maricopa, or “Xalychidom Piipaash” (People who live toward the water), seemed to fully embrace the opportunities that their unique situation had afforded them.

During their journey along the canal, they saw dozens of what appeared to be personal vehicles driving along the 101 freeway, and as they proceeded deeper in, they could see large well-kept estates on either side as far as the eye could see. Once they finally reached the old borders of the reservation, they found huge tracts of land being irrigated in the areas right up to the Saddleback Mountain Preserve.

After the first hour they quit trying to hide when they came in contact with other people traveling along the canal. There were simply too many people. This was not at all what they had anticipated. José had fully expected to walk in solitude across the barren wastelands he remembered from years ago. The pathway was dotted with trees and benches on which to rest in the shade. There were even restrooms with running water and refrigerated water fountains.

Despite the heat, there were a number of other people walking along the dirt pathways on either side of the canal, and they obviously weren’t all Indians.

They drew a few odd looks, but more likely because of their disheveled military style dress and Jimmy’s bandaged leg, which caused them to rest frequently.

“Jimmy, this is crazy. I feel like I’m in a time warp.”

“I know. I’ve never seen so many cars in my life. And the people all seem to be walking around… I don’t know…something seems…”

“Yeah, they actually look you in the face and smile.”

“That’s it. They aren’t all looking down at the ground trying to hide their faces,” Jimmy expressed his realization out loud.

“And look, there is grass in their yards. Wow!”

“Yeah, not just in public spaces. This is so cool! We’ll have to check it out when come back!”

“We’ll ask Pedro. Maybe he can give us the low down and find out who it’s safe to talk to. For now, let’s keep to ourselves and get to Pedro’s as soon as we can.”

“I hope the path stays this nice the rest of the way.”

“I wouldn’t count on it, Amigo.”

 

Monday 6:30 PM MDT

 

“Time to start!” Scott yelled, then started dancing around in a circle. “Family Home Evening! Family Home Evening!”

Dave put his hand on Scott’s head and stopped him from bouncing, but his feet kept flailing around, “Alright, Scott, I’m sure everyone heard. Settle down now.”

“I’ve got the blinds,” Linda said as she began twisting the wand.

“Scott, it’s your turn to conduct,” Dave said as he took his seat.

Scott jumped to his feet. “Oh, I forgot!”

After a few seconds everyone was seated in the front room. Linda sat at the piano.

“Welcome to Fam’ly Home Ev’ning,” Scott began. “John is gonna say the prayer, then Heather will lead us in singing a song.” Then he sat down ‘Indian style’ where he stood.

Dave got nervous whenever John was called on to pray. He was always afraid it would lead to one of John’s famous tantrums; much to his relief that wasn’t the case. After the prayer they proceeded to sing “Love at Home” with Linda playing the piano.

Scott stood up again. “Thanks John and Mom and Heather. Now Dad will tell us a scripture and then Julie will give us a lesson. After Julie’s lesson,” he paused a second to breath heavily, “we will have an activity that Jacob picked, and then,” he paused again, then continued excitedly, “Mom has the treat!”

The kids were always very excited when Linda had the treat. Somehow, she always pulled off some tasty miracle. She had obviously been working on something, and the oven was on, but she had shooed them away from the kitchen when any of them tried to peek.

Dave now stood with his scriptures opened. “He commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.  Mosiah 18:21. This scripture is from when Alma was teaching the people by the Waters of Mormon, and King Noah was trying to find the believers of Christ. He was telling the people that the only way they could survive as a people and a church was to be unified and support each other. It applies to us today as well; in times when things get hard, we have to stick together to survive,” Dave then returned to his seat.

Julie now stood in front of the family, “Thanks, Dad. That scripture is what our family home evening is about today – how we can be a happily family.”

She took out a sheet of paper with five blank lines across it.

Scott raised his hand excitedly and started rocking forward and back, “Ooh, Hangman! I want to guess first.”

“No, we aren’t doing Hangman, Scott. I’m gonna read a story about one thing every happy home needs to have, but sometimes people don’t think about and it’s is easy to overlook. Think of the word that fills in the blanks when I read the story.”

Julie started by telling about a family that was similar to theirs. They all went to church together and the parents went to the temple together on a regular basis.

That last part made Dave and Linda hold hands and give each other a squeeze. The temples had been closed in the Enlightened States for years. Most of them were still standing, but none of them were in operation.

Julie noticed their gesture and paused for a second, “The family lives in a nice neighborhood and the dad has a good job that he likes. So far, does anything necessary to the happiness of this family seem to be missing? Do you think this family sounds like they would be happy?”

“Prob’ly,” Scott said.

“Sounds like it, doesn’t it? Okay, let’s keep going. One day, the oldest boy, Tom, who was in college, was talking to his friend, Spencer, about their families. Tom said, ‘I wish my family could be like your family. They always seem to be happy and act like friends. I don’t like to go home because the younger kids are always fighting and my mom and dad are gone all the time, too. When they are home, they’re always shouting at the kids because they seem to be in such a hurry. I have so much fun eating dinner at your house because everyone talks about what they did during the day and they seem to like to hear what everyone else did, too. Dinner is way different at my house.  My mom calls the children to come to the table, but they usually come dragging in one at a time. Usually my dad blesses the food before everyone even gets to the table. Then everyone eats really fast and hardly says anything. Then, they all run off to try and avoid helping with the dishes. And my family pretty much never has family night because everyone always has something else to do like watch television, or do homework, talk to friends on the telephone, or whatever.”

She held up the paper again, “So do you know what is missing from the family?”

No one guessed at first, then Scott spoke up, “S…C…O…T…T, that’s five letters.”

“So, if you were in that family, they would be happier?” John asked with a sneer.

“Maybe, but that’s not what I’m looking for…”

“Unity?” Heather finally said.

Julie took out a pencil, “That’s right!” She filled in the blanks. Next, Julie led them in a short discussion of what unity meant and how they could show unity in their family; such as making time for each other, working together, playing together, trying to reach goals together, being willing to listen to and help each other. They talked a little about how they could be more willing to do these things in their family.

After that, she took the family to the dining room table while Linda went into the kitchen and brought out a tray covered with a towel to hide the contents. Linda placed it before Julie, who dramatically uncovered several bowls, each containing the ingredients to make her famous Texas Sheet Cake and chocolate frosting!

The kids began oohing and awing and squealing with delight – cocoa, powdered sugar, sour cream, real butter and eggs!

Trying to calm herself down at the same time, Julie said, “Okay, okay, calm down… let me finish so we can eat it!”

Dave looked at John with gratitude to see that he was just as excited as the rest of kids. “Whew, dodged another bullet,” Dave thought.

Julie showed them each of the ingredients for the cake. She pointed out that these ingredients are good all by themselves, but unless they are mixed together, they can’t be called a cake. They all helped mix the cake and pour it into the pan. Then Linda put it in to bake while they finished the lesson.

“At least we know what the treat is now!” Scott said as they returned to the living room.

“Okay, so our family is like the cake. We each have our own strengths. We have different talents and interests and, by ourselves, we could accomplish many things, but with the help of each member of our family, we can do so much more. But without a feeling of unity in our house and a desire to work together and support each other, all of the separate people who live in our house can’t be called a real family.”

Julie went on to explain how Satan tries to destroy family unity. He uses selfishness to drive families apart. Many times, it takes only one person’s selfish actions in the family to destroy that unity.

“Okay, I have one last demonstration,” Julie reached behind the couch and took out a broom handle and some six-foot pieces of string. She laid them in the middle of the floor and on the top of the handle, she had taped on a paper with the words “Family Unity”. She then had everyone sit in a circle around it.

“Okay, Jacob. Take one of these strings and tie one end around the stick.”

After he had done so, she continued, “Now, without letting the stick touch anything but the floor, and you have to stay sitting on the ground, stand it up using the string.”

After only a few seconds, he knew it was hopeless.

“Okay, Scott, you tie one on… where ever you want…okay, now both of you try to stand it up… don’t let it touch anything… keep your foot back, Jacob, that’s cheating!”

After a few tries, it was obvious Scott was not going to be enough help to accomplish the task. John tied on his string next. Then, it was a doable task, and as each member of the family added their string, it became easier to stand the stick and make it sturdy.

“Okay, now see how it’s nice and sturdy? If we all work together, we can have family unity.  Now, Jacob, pull really hard on your string while everyone else just pulls normal.”

As he did so, the stick tipped and fell and the others were forced to let go.

“So, what does that tell us?”

“That even one person can mess it up for everyone else,” Heather answered.

“Right. So we all need to do our part to make the family work. We all help support each other, but sometimes it can be hard for everyone to always have to try to pick up the slack from one person. It can get the family out of balance and pretty soon everyone might be feeling sad and stuff. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

“Thanks, Julie,” Dave said, “That was a really nice message.”

“Yes, Julie, it was,” Linda added.

Jacob jumped up, “Now how long until the cake is ready?”

Linda smiled, “Well, it so happens, this is like one of those old cooking shows. I made one earlier so we wouldn’t have to wait for this one to cool before we ate it, so let’s go get some now!”

“Mom, you’re the best!” John said as he ran into the kitchen along with everyone else.

 

 

 

 

Monday 7:30 PM MDT

5:30 PM EDT (New York)

Donald was jolted back to reality as the jumbo jet slammed down on the runway. His head flew forward and his nose began to bleed profusely as it cracked up against the seat in front of him. He must have slept through the “fasten your seatbelt” announcement.

Donald was experiencing a rush of sensations all at once. He had a buzz from the pot, the Vodka was wearing off but was still there, his nose hurt like no tomorrow, and he was completely disoriented.

Slowly, he began to come to the realization that he was in South America. He climbed back into his seat and tried to slow the flood of blood gushing from his nose. His white silk handkerchief was soon completely engulfed in a dark shade of crimson. He continued to hold his nose with it even after it ceased to provide any absorption, and after a couple of minutes, the bleeding had slowed to a trickle, but not in time to save his white custom Alexander Amosu suit from the clothing graveyard.

Soon, the rest of the passengers were off the plane and the flight attendant was prodding him to get off, too. “Looks like our Save The Earth! seat was reserved for a Coke-head again. He snorted so much his nose started bleeding,” one flight attendant whispered to another.

“Come on, Prince Charming, why don’t you go to the Coke House and sleep it off.”

Donald didn’t feel much like responding. Anyway, he would just go to the STE room at the airport and clean up. He stumbled off the plane and into the terminal. A slender brunette woman in her early twenties was waiting for him next to a small cart.

“Mr. Holder?” she asked.

“I think so.”

“Here, let me take your bag.” She took Donald’s bag and helped him into the cart.

“Thanks,” he muttered.

“Just relax. I’ll have you at your room in a minute.”

As the electric cart started up, Donald became aware of how hot it was in the airport terminal. The humidity was quite high and the swamp coolers were basically useless. The driver drove him toward the exit of the terminal and stopped in front of the old rental car area.  It had been converted into an STE apartment.

Catherine, the terminal driver, helped Donald to the door where he opened it with a swipe of his STE card.

“Hold on. You got a credit pen?” Donald asked.

“Of course,” she answered, holding out her credit pen.

Donald took the ‘pen’ and entered his personal access code.  He spread apart the middle and ring finger on his right hand, like he was doing a Vulcan greeting, exposing his credit chip.  He withdrew two credits and gave the pen back to Catherine.

“Thanks, and have a good stay.  Are you going to be okay getting cleaned up?” she added.

“Yeah, I’ll be alright. Thanks anyway.”

“Okay.” She turned and went back to her cart.  She looked at the pen.  It read two credits.  “What a cheap-skate,” she thought, as she put the pen up to her chip to transfer the credits.

Donald headed straight for the thermostat as he entered the apartment. It was automatically set on 72 whenever it was vacant.  He turned it down to 65 and a refreshing blast of freezing cold air came from the vents throughout the apartment.  There was a real air conditioner in the room.  Donald stood there for a minute as a chill went through his body.

He looked down at his white suit, stained with blood, and just shook his head.  He kicked off his synthetic leather shoes (even high ranking members of Save The Earth! couldn’t get real leather anymore) and began to undress.  He noticed that even his socks had been blood stained.

He took his suit, tie, shirt, and socks and threw them in the garbage can in the kitchen and opened the refrigerator.  He took out a bottle of Heinekin and popped the top.  As he tossed the lid on top of his suit, he glanced at the clock. It was nearly 6 PM.  He’d only have an hour to rest before dinner, and that was if he hurried.  He quickly finished the beer, grabbed another, and headed for the bathroom.

As he entered the bathroom and flipped on the light, he saw a scary sight in the mirror; his own reflection.  There was dried blood around his nose and down onto his mouth and chin, and a few lines of dried blood lined his neck and hairless chest.

He sucked down half of the beer and set it on the toilet tank and got into the shower.  There was no need to enter any special code; he was in a STE apartment.  The hot water splashing on his head sent a wonderful sensation through his whole body.  He looked down at the drain and watched the dark red water disappear into it.  He raised his head and allowed the shower to pound his closed eyelids and injured nose.  He slowly raised his hands to his face and began to softly rub off the dried blood. The week’s worth of stubble on his face felt good to him. It was like a symbol of his power.  He didn’t have to shave if he didn’t want to.  He didn’t have to shower if he didn’t want to.  He really was one of the few truly free people on the planet. Except for STE business, he didn’t have to do anything he didn’t want to do.

After nearly half an hour, Donald was feeling human again. As he stepped out of the shower, the steam was so thick he couldn’t even see the mirror. The AC was working hard, but it still had to be nearly 80 degrees in the bathroom.

He toweled off and opened the door.  A blast of freezing cold air met him in the face.  It felt good. It was nice to have the power to be truly cold in February.  He decided he would exercise some of that power. For a second, he almost lost his breath. He thought the oxygen machine must not have been working right; the air conditioner seemed to be choking him.  After a few seconds, he decided it was only his imagination. It must have been the coldness of the air.  He checked the thermostat; 67 degrees.  He continued down the hall to the bedroom and put on a pair of sweats and some wool socks, picked up the phone, and began to dial.

“Hello, STE, Donald Holder’s office.”

“Geoffrey, this is Donald.  Look, I’m kind of beat. Let’s move the dinner to my apartment. And, let’s move it back to nine thirty, okay?”

“No problem, Mr. Holder.  I’ll send over a couple of people to set up, I’ll notify the caterer and the Ministry of Information so your guests can be excused from the news. Just relax. I’ll take care of everything.”

“Great, I’ll see you Thursday.”

“Okay. Trevor is looking forward to your meeting.”

“Me, too.”

Donald replaced the receiver and headed back to the kitchen.  He thought about how loyal Geoffrey had been to him over the last five years.  He was a great secretary and he was always able to do whatever Donald asked him to, no matter where in the world he happened to be.

Monday 9:00 PM MDT

10:00 PM MST (Arizona)

 

“Dang it! If we just had some C4 or something,” Jeff said, looking across the Old West Highway. There was also a vacant gas station between them and the front of the Native American Bluffs Water Company building.

“What? You gonna blow the whole building? We just gotta take ‘em out without causing a huge scene,” Pedro whispered back.

“I know, I know.” Jeff sighed, realizing he was letting his frustrations get to him.

Jeff Turley was from a family of cotton growers and the owner of a chain of car dealerships before he was forced to flee Tempe. He had even taken a stab at running for mayor a few years before the Enlightenment. His home in Tempe was a palace compared to the shack he lived in now. His wife had tried to sneak back to Tempe a couple of years back. She thought it would be safe. She was wrong. Despite Jeff’s pleas, she went back to their old home. She found it had been converted into a four-plex. The whole neighborhood of 3,000 square foot homes had been converted to “affordable housing”. There were also a large number of government troops roaming the streets. She had been recognized, turned in, arrested, and executed the same day.

Jeff knew she was materialistic when he married her, but he never suspected she would forsake him and the kids for a chance to return to their old home. She had to know it was impossible; she had been lucky to even make it across the Mesa “desert.” It seemed like such a waste. It took a month before Jeff learned of her death. The kids, now in their 30’s, were devastated, but they agreed with their dad; she had probably lost all sense of reality.

“Look, there’s only three of them in the control center, two outside. We’ll just have to take the frontal approach and catch ‘em by surprise. Be careful not to damage the control panel. Okay, let’s move in.”

Using the cover of the old gas station, they made their approach on the building without worries. Finding 2nd Ave empty, they dashed across the street then slowly worked toward the entrance of the main control center.  Here, the government officials could monitor who was using too much water and could shut it off to any (or all) households they wanted. The system was capable of running on fully automatic, as it was now, and five men were on the premises to guard it against this exact type of sabotage. They weren’t doing a very good job, however. Pedro and his men slit the throats of the two guards who were playing cards in front of the building and just as the other three were about to dig into their food, their bodies were riddled with bullets. There was no sign of movement on the streets. Apparently, the rebels had been successful in all of their objectives.

“Danny, get to work restoring the water,” Pedro ordered.

Danny had worked at the water company until a few months ago when he had “harassed” the wrong person. He had the gall to tell his boss that he liked her new hairdo. He was out on the street that day–sexual harassment.

“Little John, this is Robin Hood. We’ve got the prince’s gold. Tell the peasants.”

At the far end of town, a flare was shot into the air. Almost immediately, faucets all over the town turned on. Anything that could hold water was being filled, and hidden.

“We’ve bought a couple more days. Let’s get the heck out of here,” Jeff advised. Pedro agreed. They needed to get away before they were discovered. They had anywhere from five minutes to an hour to get out. It was safer to plan on five minutes. Soon they were all outside the building and disappearing down different streets.

Monday 10:30 PM MDT

11:30 PM MST (Arizona)

 

As Pedro arrived at his home, a jolt of terror shot through his chest.  As he looked into the front window through the curtains, he was sure he saw the silhouettes of two men carrying automatic weapons. All of the sudden, his mind was flooded with terrible thoughts. Where were Leslie and the kids? Were they okay? Did he have time to go for help? How could he get in the house without endangering them? “This is not good,” he muttered quietly.

He weighed his options and decided to try the basement windows around back. Maybe he could surprise them. But what if there were more than just the two of them? What if there were five or six? How did they beat him back to his house?

He quietly crept toward the back of the house, being careful to watch the front room window. Just as he was about to reach the side of the house, he saw a man get up from the couch that sat under the window. Was it another guy or had one of them sat down without him seeing it?

“How many are in there?” he wondered aloud through gritted teeth.

He again headed toward the back of the house. As he reached the back he could see that the kitchen light was off. In fact, it appeared that only the living room light was on. They had to all be in the one room. He figured there were only two or three guards, four tops. He tried the door that led to the basement from the back yard. It was locked. Just as he was reaching into his pocket to see if he had the key, he heard the front door open. They were moving!

Pedro shot up the seven cement stairs that led from the basement door to the back of the carport. He clutched his M-16 and crept toward the front of the house. His heart was in his throat. He could feel the blood pounding in his head and the sweat rolling down his forehead. He reached the front corner of the house and stood with his back to the wall. He peeked around the corner. He could only see one soldier standing at the bottom of the steps leading to the front porch facing the street. Pedro was about to leap out when he heard a click.

“Hold it right there, Amigo. Don’t even think about it. Lay the gun down slowly, slowly,” a voice came from behind him.

Pedro lifted his left arm slowly, then bent to the right to place the gun on the cement. As he began to straighten himself back up he heard the voice say, “Good, now… give your big brother a hug!”

“Wha..”

“Pedro, it’s me, José!”

“Oh, you …” Pedro started to let out a string of profanities until he saw his five-year-old daughter coming to give him a hug. “You scared the crap out of me. What are you doing here? I can’t believe you! I think I’ve gotta go change my shorts.”

“Yeah, well you smell like it, too. Come here, you.”

They embraced, and were soon joined by Jimmy and the rest of Pedro’s family.

Then, all the lights went out — eleven o’clock.

They all went into the house and made their way to the basement. Leslie cranked up their illegal portable generator as Pedro went to his bedroom to clean up.

 

 

 

 

Monday 11:45 PM MDT

9:45 PM EDT (New York)

 

“Wake up, Mr. Holder.  It’s 9:45.” The guests had all arrived, and the hired help decided to wake the host.

Donald sat up in his bed. He felt like someone had taken a sledgehammer to his head. His eyelids must have weighed a ton and his nose was freezing. He sat with his eyes closed for a few seconds then managed to muster the energy to get up and stumble to the bathroom. He left his sweatshirt on, put on a pair of ripped, faded Levis, and combed some styling gel through his hair with his fingers.  He wiped the drool off the side of his face and rubbed at the creases on his cheek left by the pillow.  He took a damp cloth and wiped a small amount of dried blood from under his nose and thought about how terrible he looked. He then went to join his guests.  No one was surprised at Donald’s appearance. Many half-expected him to come out in a robe or something.

“Donald, how grand to have you back. How was Europe?” The question came from Constance Halloway. Constance was one of the old upper crust who had managed to stay there by “caring” so much for the homeless.  Her daddy’s construction company was hired to build hundreds of shelters across South America because of her special relationship with Trevor Jensen, Donald, and a few others.

“Just fine. Look everyone, I really am beat. I think I’m going to go back to bed.  You just enjoy your dinner and …uh, leave your reports for Trevor on the bar,” Donald said.

“But Donald, we haven’t had a chance to see you for such a long time. Won’t you join us for a couple glasses of wine?” asked Tracy Worker.  Tracy was a pioneer in Save The Earth!.  In fact, he had been involved in their very first tree-spiking expedition in Oregon. He was tremendously pleased to find that it was one of his spikes that had hit the mark.  But his true love was train derailments.  He loved to see those evil freight trains (as compared to good passenger trains) jump the tracks. It was the only way to prove that it was unhealthy to transport toxic waste across the country.

“A drink? Well, okay, but just a few. Get me a rum and Coke.”

“Rum and Coke, coming up!” Treklin Weiss said. Treklin had changed his name “White” to the German “Weiss”, but pronounced the “W” in the English fashion. White had such a negative connotation these days. Few people spoke German anymore, so his friends didn’t know what his name meant. Treklin had made his claim to fame by repairing solar collectors. It was a very profitable job. There were billions to be made in government contracts, especially in the repair department. Big corporations, like GE, got all of the manufacturing contracts, but a smaller company could still land some of the grunt work. Almost all of the profits were eaten up by taxes, but with strong Save The Earth! ties, there were still many ways to get a little back under the table.

“So, Donald,” Constance prodded, “Do tell me about Europe.” She was truly interested. Back in the old days she and her parents and older siblings would vacation in Europe once or twice a year. The younger children had to stay at home with the nanny until they were 14 — the age at which they were allowed to make the trip. Her father said children couldn’t really appreciate Europe. Her family had owned two homes in England – an estate in Wales and a large flat in the heart of London. Her mother loved the French Riviera like it was home.  Constance had never been able to visit them.

“There’s really nothing to say. Things are pretty much the same all over.  Well, there have been a few uprisings, but that’s about all.”

“No, silly, tell me about London. What’s it like these days?  Did you see Buckingham Palace?  Big Ben?”

“Well, there’s really not much to see anymore.  The palace has been gone for years.  They tore down all the signs of exploitation, you know that.  Westminster Abbey is gone, too,” Donald said, sipping his drink.

“I was able to see them when I was young. I saw the changing of the guard and the whole bit,” Frank Smyth piped up. Frank, now in his late 60’s, had never done a day’s labor in his life, and he was proud of it. His claim to fame had been in the fight against harmful chemicals used on food. He was especially proud of his defeat of Alar. It really never mattered to him that lab mice were given the equivalent of 28,000 pounds of Alar-treated apples every day for seventy years to produce some preliminary indications that they might get cancer; and that mice given the equivalent of a mere 14,000 pounds a day had absolutely no adverse effects. Frank didn’t even know that Alar wasn’t a pesticide.

“I wish I had had the chance to see them. It all seems so glamorous,” Constance was almost pouting.

“Constance, dear…” Tracy started.

“Dear?” Constance screamed.  “Now I suppose I’m supposed to go fix you some dinner and rub your feet while you watch television!”

Tracy was silent. He knew he deserved to be scolded.

“Come on. Lighten up, you people,” Edward Dickson finally said after a moment of tense silence. “Let’s not ruin dinner.”  Edward was a thin, small man, similar in appearance to Donald.  He had made his fortune cleaning asbestos from buildings. He had landed contracts to clean out some 5,000 of the nation’s schools plus many other public buildings.

Constance headed for the bar for a refill as Tracy quietly tried to apologize.

Donald gulped the last half of his drink and stood up. “Well, it’s been fun, but I really need some rest.”

This time Constance didn’t try to stop him.

“Just leave your reports on the bar.  I’ll consider not mentioning this episode to Trevor.” Donald was quite agitated by the outburst.

“Good night, Donald. It really is good to see you again,” Treklin called out as Donald disappeared down the hall.

 

 

Tuesday

4:00 AM MDT

5:00 AM MST (Arizona)

 

BANG!!! The front door of the Torrez home flew open, being nearly ripped off its hinges. “Jones, Hansen, get the basement.  Miller, take your guys through the kitchen and dining room,” Captain Nelson shouted as he entered the home. Nelson was a tall, lanky man. His deep voice had a more powerful presence than did his stature. Nelson’s pale white skin showed that he spent most of his time riding a desk when he wasn’t raiding the homes of counter-Enlightenment terrorists.

Nelson experienced a twinge of pride as he watched his men go to work securing the house. He could have only dreamed of having such power in the old days. His talents had been wasting away while he worked as a security guard before the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment had given him great opportunities. The law enforcement field was an always expanding one and he had gotten in early and was quickly rising up the ranks — he was now a captain on the Enviro-force, an elite division of the Green Patrol.

“Where else but in The Enlightened One’s America could such great fortune come to you?” Nelson thought to himself. The government was always watching out for your well-being, and he had a part in that through his work tracking down these evil plunderers of the planet. He was paying his country back for all it had given him. He didn’t have to pay for his government apartment and, because his wife also worked for the government in the Office of Racial Equalization, they were soon expecting a permit to have a child (if he got a promotion, they might even be allowed to have two). What else could any person want?

Nelson was soon brought back into the present as he saw Pedro walking down the hallway toward the living room, still struggling with his pants.

“What’s going on?” Pedro asked the captain, his heart still pounding hard from the shock given him by his “unexpected” visitors.

“You know what’s going on. We’ve been through this more than once. But this time we’re gonna find something,” Nelson smirked. He was feeling truly confident today. There was just something in the air.

Pedro, of course, did know what was going on. He was used to these crack-of-dawn visits, especially on the morning after he had been involved in some illegal activity. The local officials were always watching Pedro and his men, and whenever anything went down, he could count on them showing up to bust down his door.  If there was one good thing about these Enviro-nazis, Pedro thought, it was that they were very consistent.  They always waited until morning to come investigate (union regulations prohibited performing such dangerous duty without proper lighting).  This always made for plenty of time to stash any evidence.

The search by the Enviro-force proved fruitless, as always. By now they knew every inch of the Torrez home, or so they thought, and the search was over in just a few minutes. Some of Nelson’s men left Pedro and Leslie a few death threats mixed with racial slurs as they headed out to another house. Nelson’s day wasn’t a complete failure, yet, he thought, as he added his own insults to Pedro. He’d find something before it was too hot to be outside. Besides, he had to be back to his air-conditioned office before 8 o’clock.

 

 

Tuesday 5:19 AM MDT

3:19 AM EDT

Donald rolled over and looked at the clock. It read 3:19.  He had been unable to sleep all night.  He was feeling very strange and he simply couldn’t explain it.  He had always felt bad about how the great monuments of Europe had been replaced by Asian and African cultural exhibition halls.  However, he truly did love the tremendous cultures of the West. He just occasionally wished he had had a chance to study some of the beauties of Asia for himself. It always seemed a pity to him that people weren’t allowed to do much independent study.  The government told you all you needed to know.

It seemed strange to him that even someone with his clout was banned from traveling to China or Russia. China was the utopia. The monuments to Chairman Mao throughout Europe and the Enlightened States of America were impressive, and he was sure they told an accurate story, but to be able to see it all in person… In China, so it was said, there was true equality, prosperity, and reverence for the planet. There was no sense in trying to make himself believe that the ESA was anywhere near a utopia yet. They were on the path, no doubt, but he knew that the common people weren’t ready to be trusted with the planet yet. Progressive intellectuals like him were the only ones who could be trusted to live in such a way as to have freedom to pursue their goals. Sometimes he even wondered if people like Constance were deserving of their privileges. But, why? Why was he forbidden to travel to the Utopias? He wasn’t even allowed to travel to Brazil, Cuba, or Venezuela.

He sometimes wondered about some of the leaders; did he really fully support them?  Could he really trust them? He did owe all that he was to the movement. It had given him power, influence, comfort, and besides that, he had helped save the planet.  He didn’t like to feel doubt.

Tuesday 6:00 AM MDT

7:00 AM MST (Arizona)

 

Once the Enviro-force agents left, José and Jimmy came out of their hiding place — a cutout area protruding from the basement hidden by paneling on the wall. Leslie and the kids stood watch as the men uncovered the hole in the backyard where the water and weapons had been stashed. Then they all headed to the kitchen where Leslie was heating tortillas for breakfast.

“What a bunch of losers!” Jimmy said as they brought in the last of the water. “They can’t even conduct a halfway decent search. No wonder things here are so out of control.”

“They’ve been lucky a few times. That’s why we’ve got to get to Salt Lake. It’s like I told you last night, our weapons cache is dwindling quickly, especially our ammo, and Stone is the only one we can trust to get us the stuff we need,” Pedro said. “Plus, he’s got contacts in the Mexican resistance.”

“We’re going to have to wait until later to leave, but we have a lot to finish first.  You need to notify your men and have them ready to meet us upon our return,” José said.

Pedro put his hand on his brother’s shoulder, “Big brother, it’s great to work with you again.”

“Same here, man.” José paused, then fending off an emotional moment, called out, “That breakfast smells great, Leslie.”

“Thanks, José. Wait till you taste it,” she replied.

“So,” Pedro started, “Last night I kind of crashed on you.”

“Yeah, I noticed. Luckily, I didn’t blab on too long, Bro.”

Pedro chuckled, then continued, “But, yeah. It’s been crazy around here.  At some places the front lines are just a few miles away. Remember a few years back when the Republic of South Mexico was created? The Enlightened One gave ‘em like the Gadsden Purchase area and Mexico gave ‘em pretty much most of Sonora and half of Chihuahua. Then they had that big war and they took over all of Baja and then The Enlightened One gave ‘em San Diego so they wouldn’t attack.”

“Yeah, I remember. The news said The Enlightened One had set up the whole area as a wilderness preserve. That’s why people were being forced to move south into LA. He said it was a joint exercise with the World Environmental Council and the North American Federation, or some crap.  Everyone knew he was lying,” José scoffed.

“Well, they were quiet for a long time, but then, like, two years, maybe two and a half years ago or so, the South Mexicans…”

Leslie broke in as she brought some food to the table, “It was almost three years, remember? They were just starting the bulldozing across Stapley.”

“Oh, yeah!  Like, all of west Mesa had been leveled already,” Pedro remembered out loud.

City demolition and relocation of the population started even before the Enlightenment in Flint, Michigan.  When it was first proposed, The Enlightened One wanted a plan crafted to demolish 50 oversized cities. Then, after the devastation of The Slide and the implementation of the Bio-Zone agriculture laws, the government decided to thin-out suburban areas in every metropolitan area.  Everyone west of Greenfield Road in Mesa was relocated to Native American Bluffs and everyone to the east was moved to Tempe.  Originally, all of Gilbert was to be relocated to Queen Creek.

“I remember! The Gilbert War started in December of 12 PH, a little after they began the razing of everything east of Stapley, and they announced the demolition north of the 60 would be done by hand – no bulldozers,” Pedro began again. “Yup, that was when the South Mexicans crossed the Gila River and pushed all the way up to the 60. They said they were going to liberate all of Gilbert and Queen Creek.”

“Right. The Gila River Indians were promised their lands north of the river if they would ally themselves with the Republic. Then a bunch of the Mormons got together and petitioned to have Chandler join the Republic, and then everything just got crazy,” Leslie added.

“Yeah, cuz some of the Mormons that got pushed into Tempe started coming back to Mesa to try and defend their temple there. Oh, it’s been nuts. The South Mexicans, with their Mormon allies, pushed the government troops almost to the Salt River. The tribes wouldn’t let them retreat into their lands so they ended up withdrawing into Tempe and Scottsdale. So now we are pretty much cut off from Phoenix unless they go up around the Fort McDowell Reservation.”

“Sounds like things are ripe here,” Jimmy spoke up. “Why didn’t you guys ever join up with the South Mexicans? I heard things are better under their government.”

“It’s kind of crazy.  We have this faction of people who just got sucked into the whole Enlightenment thing, and we got the people who don’t like the Mormons so they won’t join up with ‘em, no matter what. Then, we got people who are just apathetic, or else, afraid to do anything. But I think this whole city council water thing woke up a lot of folks.”

“You really think this is your chance?” José asked as he reached for some eggs and chorizo for his second burrito. Then he cut off his own train of thought, “Leslie, this is awesome! Where did you guys get this stuff?”

“You can get pretty much anything on the Rez,” she said.

“It has been so long since I’ve had eggs,” José said as he started adding some salsa to the mix. “Your salsa is just as I remember it, too. It’s so great. You sure you won’t trade this loser in for his better-looking big brother?”

“Yup,” Leslie said.  She started running her fingers over Pedro’s short cropped hair. “I don’t know about the loser part, but I have to admit, you are cuter,” she smiled.

Pedro grabbed her arm playfully and said, “Listen here, Squaw!”

Leslie reached down and kissed him on his head, “Oh, I forgot. Pedro is much cuter than you.”

“You better say that!” Pedro said, swatting his wife on the butt.

“I think Chelsea thought so, too,” José said in a playful voice, grabbing his brother by the chin. “Who could resist that face?”

José didn’t talk about his wife much, Jimmy realized. In fact, all he knew about her was that her name was Chelsea and that she had been killed during an anti-government protest in Spokane not long after the Enlightenment. She was part of a group of young mothers protesting the overnight electricity shutdowns because of the possible effects on the babies (not to mention everyone else).

“Well, anyway, Bro… Yeah, I do think this is our chance,” Pedro said, returning to the topic at hand. “I think we can get the South Mexicans to support us. Then, word is the Apaches are willing to sign on as well. If so, we might be able to get the Navajo to sign on. Then, who knows? There’s even been talk about the South Mexicans petitioning to join the Republic of Texas. The Enlightened One might be forced to give up on Arizona altogether.”

“I hope so, but I hear they are starting to re-think their whole Indian policy,” José sounded only a little concerned. “I guess they are starting to figure out that the Indians aren’t as willing to go back into living in teepees as they thought.”

“Admit they were wrong about something…anything?  Ha! That’ll be the day!”

“I know what you mean, but… you never know.”

 

Tuesday 8:15 AM MDT

9:15 AM MST (Arizona)

 

“Jeff, are you sure everything is in place?” Pedro inquired. “You sure you can make this trip?”

“I’m sure. Max and his boys have everything under control.  When we get back, we’ll get with Stone’s South Mexican contacts and let ‘em know we’re serious.”

The trip across the reservation was much faster by bicycle, and the observations José made on his way to Apache Junction were confirmed. They rode down the streets of the Reservation and José felt like he was living in a flashback to his youth. The streets were teaming with cars, the houses had lawns, the people looked healthy. José knew he’d have to find out more when he came back. They were able to ride their bikes all the way up to the airfield.

“Are you sure Stone is even still alive?  When was the last time you talked to him?” José asked Pedro as he pulled open the decaying door to the airport garage.

“There’s no way they’ve gotten him. He’s always been too careful,” Pedro answered.  “Jimmy, see that rope on the floor in the corner? Just pull it up. The fuel is down beneath it.”

As Jimmy hooked up the fuel pump, Jeff checked the runway, and Pedro and José made a quick check of the plane.  Everything looked good so they fueled up and the four of them were soon on their way.

The clear blue skies made Jimmy feel a little less nervous than the night time flight, so he had a few less butterflies on this trip than the last. In fact, he actually thought he might have enjoyed the ride if he hadn’t eaten so much for breakfast.

 

Tuesday 9:00 AM MDT

7:00 AM EDT

As Donald boarded the Amtrak 2100 train, he couldn’t help but get the feeling someone was watching him. He quickly took a cursory glance around the train station. This early in the morning everyone looked suspect to Donald. “What are these people doing up so early?” he thought. After he decided no one looked too suspicious, he turned toward the train and stepped aboard.

The STE railroad car was elaborately decorated and had all of the amenities Donald had come to expect.  The air conditioner was working at top performance, much to Donald’s relief. He walked over to the wet bar, grabbed a glass and turned to the small refrigerator/freezer and popped a couple of ice cubes into the glass. Turning back to the liquor cabinet, he noticed a note taped to it.

His name was written on the outside in a distinctly feminine style. Donald chastised himself for noticing.

“Donald, I’m so glad to hear that you’re coming to L.A. I can’t wait to see you again. Please call me as soon as you get into town. Love ya, Nancy.”

Nancy? He hadn’t thought about Nancy in a personal sense in a long time. Donald had met Nancy in college a couple of years before the Enlightenment. She was a brilliant marine biology major and the president of the Stanford chapter of Save the Whales. Unfortunately, Donald was a little immature back then and he had noticed her beautiful, slender body. He told a friend of his what he thought of her and his friend immediately reported him to the campus harassment police.

The university suspended Donald for a semester so he could be re-educated at a special class at Cal Berkeley. He couldn’t believe his foolishness. But in the end, his mistake had led him to an opportunity of a lifetime. While being re-educated, he met Trevor Jensen.

At that time, Jensen was still struggling to get Save the Earth! off the ground, but Donald could see that Trevor had a vision.

Jensen’s professor in Marxist theory realized his drive and ambition. He knew that if Trevor wasn’t steered in the right direction, he would end up a full-fledged capitalist. At 19, Trevor was still quite impressionable and the professor knew he could still be salvaged. He began to explain to Trevor the evils of capitalism with respect to the environment. Trevor had always been told how fragile the eco-system was since the time he had entered kindergarten; recycling as a cure-all was ingrained in his blood. He had been considering going vegetarian since high school. He knew that the world was almost out of oil, coal polluted far too much, hydro-electric power was a failure because damming rivers was unethical, and nuclear power was an unimaginable evil.

All the professor had to do was explain to Trevor that these power sources were all products of capitalism’s drive to enslave the people in a world that was so polluted that they would have to turn to the capitalists to solve the problem. By that time, the natural resources would all be used. Then they could pretend to turn from their evil ways and begin to help clean it up. The capitalists were slick — cause a problem so you can solve it and be seen as heroes. The world’s resources were almost gone by this time. Abiotic oil was a myth created by capitalist destroyers of the earth in a desperate ploy to make sure oil use wouldn’t stop until it was exhausted, and the capitalists were on the verge of destroying the freedoms of everyone. Only a truly enlightened socialist state could save the world. But there was a problem, socialism had been given a bad name. That’s why there was such a need to fight the capitalists on many other fronts. The environment, animal rights, gay rights, children’s rights, rights for third world nations — these were all areas that could be, and needed to be, exploited to fight the capitalists. The capitalists were on the wrong side of all of these issues.

Trevor soon saw the light. His inbred knowledge of the ecological catastrophe that was just over the horizon helped him see a wonderful way he could save the earth and stop the capitalists. In the year 5 BE, he founded Save the Earth!

His first projects had to do mostly with tree-spiking in Oregon. Within a few short years, he had moved on to river liberation (blowing up dams) and destruction of farmland and crops to discourage farming with the hopes that the land could one day be returned to its natural state.

It was just after Trevor had managed to organize the burning of 25,000 acres of wheat fields that Donald met him for the first time. Trevor was working as a graduate assistant for his Marxism professor at Berkeley and Donald was enrolled in his class. As the G.A., Trevor actually taught the bulk of the class. As Trevor began to expound on the virtues of Gorbachev’s Green Cross organization, Donald was mesmerized. Donald had heard the socialist arguments from his professors at Stanford before, but none of them spoke with the intense conviction of Trevor Jensen. The burning fire and energy of youth oozed from him. Donald’s own passions began to grow, and by the end of the second week of class, Donald had determined to become one of Trevor’s disciples.

Donald approached Trevor at the end of class that Thursday. Trevor was obviously pleased to see someone who was so eager to join the cause, but Donald needed to be tested before he could join Save the Earth! There were capitalists everywhere who wanted to infiltrate them and shut them down. Donald was told he must liberate four Prisoners of War — women who had been caught in the recent crop burning.

Donald had never been involved in illegal activity. His environmentalism had been confined to recycling, planting trees, and the occasional Earth Day rally. But now, he was in the big leagues. The plan had already been formulated by members of STE. Donald was to be the trigger man. Luckily, the breakout had gone smoothly. He hadn’t been forced to fire his .38, and all of the women were liberated. As his reward, Donald was given a small STE tattoo on the inside of his right wrist.

Donald looked down at the tattoo. It was Nancy who had given it to him. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw her. The woman who had gotten him suspended from Stanford was also one of the early members of STE. She looked at him differently now. At Stanford, he was just an immature leach. Now, he was a warrior in the cause of socialism. In one short month, Donald’s life had changed immeasurably.

Besides being the president of the Stanford chapter of Save the Whales and a high ranking member of Save the Earth!, Nancy was a budding poet who loved African tribal music, tofu (prepared any way but fried), animals in their natural habitats, the writings of Chairman Mao, strawberry flavored “rice cream”, Laotian folk dances, and Bantu opera. Donald was sure that she was the right companion for him.

They dated, for lack of a more politically correct term, for almost six months before Nancy broke it off. She explained that the capitalist practice of monogamy wasn’t for her. She had a number of people she had been seeing and she knew that Donald was getting too serious.

Donald and Nancy did still “hook up” on a sporadic basis, but most of their contact with each other came during operations for STE in The Enlightened One’s early campaigns.

But now this note. Oh, what could she want? She had to have a more than casual interest, Donald surmised. Why would she go to the trouble of having a handwritten note delivered across country if she didn’t have an ulterior motive? Donald felt absolutely drunk with excitement as he considered the possibilities.

He turned around, still pondering the note, took a sip from his drink, kicked his shoes off and was about to relax in one of the recliners when the phone began to ring. He had to look around for a good three rings before he was able to find the phone sitting on a charger at the back of the wet bar.

“Hello?” he asked.

“Glad to see you made it!” It was Geoffrey, Donald’s assistant.

“Sure did. Everything has gone smooth.”

“Glad to hear it. Just three days now,” Geoffrey said.

Then there was a pause from both ends.

“Uh huh, so… Is that it? Just checking in?” Donald asked.

“Well, not exactly. I do have some news.”

“Yes?”

“I’m getting, well… I guess you would call it, a promotion. Travis got me assigned as the STE official envoy to The Enlightened One.”

“Wow!” was all Donald could manage to get out. He was actually quite surprised.

“I know. It was so unexpected. Travis said he needs someone to shadow The Enlightened One all of the time and, obviously, he can’t dedicate that kind of time.”

“Obviously…” Donald was a little perplexed by this. What could it mean? Donald figured he was actually the obvious choice for the position when Travis finally decided to put a fulltime spy in The Enlightened One’s office. “I’m really excited for you, Geoffrey.”

“I’m really excited, too. Are you sure it’s going to be fine with you?  You might be lost without me,” Geoffrey said, fishing for a compliment.

“I will definitely be lost. You have been my right hand for so long,” Donald was being sincere, “but I’m sure they will find me a competent replacement. So, when will we be making that transition?”

“Actually, it started this morning. Your new assistant’s name is Della. I went over your itinerary with her and told her all of my secrets to making your life run smooth, and she is moving into my office today. Travis actually got me on an STE charter to the Capital. I’m leaving in two hours!”

“Wow, this is all so sudden. Well, I wish you the best. I sure hope this Della is up to the task.”

“She’ll be great. Listen, I’ve got to get going. I’m not even done packing.”

“Okay. Thanks, Geoffrey … uh, I guess I should say, Mr. Shell, and I hope I’ll get a chance to see you again soon.”

“Same here, Mr. Holder,” Geoffrey said as he put down his receiver.

Donald now returned to the recliner, took a swig of his drink, and leaned back. “I wonder if this has something to do with what Nancy was alluding to?” he thought out loud.

 

Just as the train was beginning to lumber down the track, a tall thin man in his mid-forties jumped onto the car two ahead of Donald’s. Donovan Michael Smyth, his passport said, but his friends called him Mick.

Mick came from a lower-middle-class family just outside of London. His father was a machinist in a local factory for over forty years, and Mick was following in his father’s footsteps until the Enlightenment.

When Save the Earth! arrived in England in the 5th year PH, it was huge news in London and Mick’s life was changed forever. The American saviors of the planet had arrived to help England in their fight to save the environment. The men and women in their green blazers exited the plane in London to a throng of cheering well-wishers. They got into a long motorcade of Rolls Royce limousines and wound their way through the streets of the capital city to the Parliament building.

They were received by the king in an elaborate ceremony planned by the king’s brother, a long-time environmentalist and population control advocate. There, Trevor Jensen was knighted as were Donald Holder and Nancy Klingler. The messiahs of the environment had arrived and England greeted them appropriately.

Within two weeks, the new Minister of Environmental Protection, Gordon Cooper, appointed by Trevor Jensen, was given sweeping new powers. Save the Earth! already had the plan of action in place. It had all been done before. His first act was to immediately shut down all factories in the nation until proper STE environmental impact studies could be conducted on each of them. He and his department then banned all forms of chemical refrigerants, also to be studied. All forms of cars and trucks were banned as well as limiting all air traffic to strictly emergency and military use.

It was explained that there was an imminent opening in the ozone layer over England and that these measures were needed or everyone in the country would be burned to death by radiation.

Because the people fully understood the gravity of the situation, they quickly and eagerly complied. The “automobile police” began collecting cars a week later and the people cheered as these destroyers of the environment were finally done away with.

It was seen as a wonderful thing how quickly this new government worked. Before the Enlightenment, the Parliament had been debating emission standards, but now, they simply banned almost all cars, and in less than a month. Enviro-decrees were a wonderful thing. They allowed the country to finally get some things done. No more bickering or fighting. Just action.

Almost everyone agreed. There were a few radicals out there, though. People like Mick. Mick had never been very active in his community. He didn’t really understand politics and he was as environmentally conscience as the next guy. However, when these new changes began to come, it made Mick a little uneasy. He wasn’t really sure why at first, but one evening it all became crystal clear to him.

As Mick made his way to his compartment, he once again thought back to that fateful night.

It was a cold fall evening. England was colder after The Slide. A light drizzle was falling as Mick walked home from a local theater. He turned the corner onto his block when he noticed police vehicles up near the corner in front of the apartment building where he and his parents each had flats. He quickened his pace as he neared the building. There was a large mob of people gathered outside trying to see what all of the commotion was about.

As he drew nearer, he could see several police officers escorting a line of elderly men from the building. The men were handcuffed and chained to each other as they were led to a waiting van. As Mick tried to inch forward for a better look, he saw his father. His father was the seventh man in the line of detainees. Fear shot through Mick in a way he had never felt before. He intensified his efforts to reach the front of the crowd.

Mick called out in vain for his father as the police officers helped him into the back of the van. He continued to push forward until he managed to reach the front of the crowd just as the last of the arrestees were placed in the van and the door was closed.

Mick tried to give chase to the van, but was restrained by the officers on the street. His head was spinning as he tried to figure out what had happened. There were screaming elderly women calling out for their husbands, but his mother wasn’t among them. He remembered she had gone to Dover to visit her sister and would not be returning for a couple of weeks. With the prompting of the police, who had recently been armed with machine guns, the crowd began to disperse and Mick found himself sitting on the curb with his face buried in his hands. He was approached by an attractive young lady, probably in her mid-twenties, he estimated, who asked him if he knew one of the men who had just been taken away.

Over the next ten minutes or so, the auburn haired woman, who had introduced herself as Crystal, told Mick of a group of which she was a member called “The Freedom Society”, invited him to a meeting that was about to begin, and walked him to a small clock store where he was shown to a loft apartment upstairs where it was being held.

His first meeting of the Freedom Society was a night permanently etched in Mick’s memory.

Mick removed his cap as he entered the relatively large loft. Crystal helped him find a chair near the front then went off to talk to some of the other attendees. As he looked around, he noticed that Crystal was the only woman in the room of about thirty people. While there was a small group of men who appeared to be in their sixties, most of the men in the room seemed to be under thirty. Mick didn’t recognize anyone in the room until a tall, slender, distinguished looking man wearing a nicely cut suit entered. Mick recognized him as some politician, he couldn’t remember who he was. However, it seemed he had been a British representative in the European Union Parliament. The man walked to the front of the room and shook hands with the elderly men standing there. As the crowd sensed the man’s presence, the chatter that had filled the room became quiet and then calmed to silence.

“We warned the Prime Minister — his arrogant pilfering of the public coffers, his ludicrous taxation proposals. Now, our entire nation suffers for his incapacity to see reality,” he started out.

He continued to go through a litany of mistakes made by the Prime Minister in his attempts to outdo The Enlightened One, but also reminded the group that the problems Great Britain faced had been festering for years before that. The return of eugenics on the basis of environmental necessity was intolerable, until now. Save the Earth! was bringing forced euthanasia to England. That very morning, the threshold was set at £100,000. Any patient who had cost the medical system over £100,000 was to be euthanized. Men who had reached the age of 75 and had been diagnosed with any form of cancer were also to be euthanized, whether they had reached the monetary threshold or not. The age for women was still being debated, but 80 years of age had the most support. Defective babies brought to full term were to be eliminated as well on the grounds that the £100,000 shouldn’t be wasted on them.

Men who met at least two of the three criteria were to be the first hauled in to the special end-of-life clinics. The roundups had been going on since about noon that day.

Mick was in a stupor of disbelief. His father had been in an industrial accident back in his early 30’s when Mick was just an infant, but had been otherwise very healthy. However, adjusting for inflation, re-attaching his father’s three fingers had hit the monetary threshold and he had turned 75 the previous month.

The politician continued for the next half an hour outlining what needed to be done. It was time to bring the American Revolution to Great Britain in its fullness; freedom and a limited federal government with the power in the hands of the people. He realized the Americans had squandered what they had, but now was the time for the people who had given birth to the Americans to reignite their torch and lift it high once more.

The response in the room was electric. Mick was exhilarated by the speech and signed up to do what he could, but he was also full of anger; anger toward the Parliament, anger toward the king, anger toward the traitor, Gordon Cooper, but especially anger at Trevor Jensen, Donald Holder, and Nancy Klingler.

Over the next few years, Mick learned and studied and helped move black market books like Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny, Skousen’s 5,000 Year Leap, and Beck’s Arguing with Idiots and found a real sense of meaning in his life.  He jumped through government hoops, but his mind was free and he did his best to free the minds of others as well.

For years, Mick had done what he could to support the Freedom Society, but they seemed to have gone way underground during the last four years or so. In fact, Mick wasn’t sure they were even around anymore. After his mother was taken away two years ago, the burning anger returned.  Mick’s whole attitude changed and now Crystal was no longer there to help him work through it. Her chemotherapy costs had hit the lowered €75,000 threshold and she was taken away the day after her 30th birthday.

Now, Mick lived for vengeance. Gordon Cooper had succumbed to his own law last year when he hit 75 and had been diagnosed as having stage-one prostate cancer a few days later. Mick had taken great pleasure in that. However, a real opportunity to strike at one of the STE leaders had never presented itself until now. When he won the airline lottery to fly to the Enlightened States, he took it as a sign that his chance had come. Mick would not let this pass.

 

Tuesday 10:00 AM MDT

 

“Hey, Heather and Julie, would you guys like to come shopping with me today? It’s nice to have the company,” Linda asked her daughters. The other kids were off to school and the lines would already be forming, so having someone to talk to would be nice. A few extra hands would also be very helpful.

“Sure, Mom,” Heather spoke right up. “Pretty soon I’ll be shopping for myself and I was thinking the other day that I hardly even know the procedures.”

“I know. I’ve only been a few times, too,” Julie said as she set down the dish towel she had used to dry the breakfast dishes.

The “market” was on the corner of Enlightenment Boulevard and 14th North in the remains of the old mall. Most of the food distribution centers, or “markets”, were either in old malls or old “Big Box” stores. Luckily for the government, Wal Mart had built a lot of them before the Enlightenment so they didn’t even have to build distribution centers in most of the smaller towns across the country.

Dave had fashioned a rickshaw-type cart for Linda’s bike to use when shopping. It made things easier, but sometimes she didn’t use it because of the jealous stares she would get from some people. She often feared someone might decide to “liberate” it from her, along with the food in it, and the more food you carried, the bigger the target you had on your back. Today she should be able to get wheat. There was also a rumor that some late cherries were available and she hoped to get some. So, with the three of them riding together, she would feel safer.

The three Stone women made the trek to the market in just a few minutes and found a place at the far end of the bike racks to lock up their bikes and the cart.

As expected, the line was already out the door, but it was moving. After only 10 minutes outside in the 100 degree heat, they were inside where the temperature was a much more pleasant 90. There the line split in two; one heading north toward where one anchor store had been which was now the grain section, and the other heading in the opposite direction towards the other major anchor which was now the produce section.

A few of the storefronts from the old days were still in use for various purposes. There was, of course, the local Green Patrol sub-station where the shoe store had been and the eastside Enlightened Enforcement Office was located on the opposite side of the main concourse. It was fully enclosed with dark windows. After all, they were secret. The door said it was a television repair shop, but everyone knew the truth (besides, all television repairs were required to be done in your home).  Linda wondered why they even put on such a façade.

Across the west concourse from the EE was the local chapter office of Save the Earth!. These offices where behind darkened windows as well, but they were also heavily guarded. Rumors ran rampant as to what was behind those doors. The whole west wing behind these two was a health clinic where the line was already spilling out of the main entrance onto the concourse.

Linda chose the produce line. Either line had its disadvantages, but the chance of getting cherries was the tipping factor today.

For the next hour and a half, they shuffled along the concourse toward the produce section. Along the way, they passed the eastside Sunglass Center, which, to Linda’s surprise, had eight or so people in the foyer. “That is a positive sign,” she thought, “Maybe our requisition for three pairs will be filled soon.” The store had been closed for nine months, but maybe this year…

They passed the Shoe Center which was bustling with activity, but that was common. Wait times for shoes were generally only a matter of days, but there were only six Shoe Centers in the Salt Lake area. There were a number of other storefronts along the way, some opened, some closed, but all of them looked pretty much the same. They consisted of a foyer/waiting area and a counter running the width of the store where the clerk behind the counter would take your requisition approval and get your commodity.

Some of these stores were the only ones on the eastside, like the Portable Music Player Center or the Kitchen Goods Center. Others could be found in pretty much every distribution center, like the Recreational Substance Dispensing Center (usually referred to simply as the Coke Center).

Most of the distribution centers had one exclusive center. In the case of the Enlightenment Boulevard Distribution Center, it was the Chocolate Center. This was the only place chocolate requisitions could be filled in all of Salt Lake. They would open in May when it was cool enough to ship and store chocolate.

Some centers were obviously seasonal, like the Snow Shovel/Push Mower Center which was very busy filling last winter’s requisitions right now, or the Umbrella/Raincoat Center which was closed until September.

Other centers would be used for a more generic purpose, like the Textile Center. Today there was a sign out in front of a number of large bins that said, “Special! This Week Only! Special Gift of The Enlightened One! Summer Dresses, Youth Sizes 12-14, No Requisition Needed! Come Take What You’d Like!”  Linda decided to have Heather pick up a few of the dresses. The material could be used to make something useful later. Besides, Heather had forgotten to bring a sweat cloth on their trip, so she could use one of the dresses right now. For some reason, sun dresses always seemed to be over-stocked, but it was usually the smaller sizes and the pieces of cloth were too small to be of much use except as rags.

Finally, arriving at the entrance to the produce section, the Stones were greeted with a drop in temperature — probably the low eighties, Linda estimated. The swamp coolers worked overtime to keep the produce as cool as environmentally responsible.

“Okay, see? We will be able to take a number up at the counter. Then, hopefully, we can find a place to stand where we can see the list on the wall.”

“What about that refrigerator case over there? Should we go look over there to see what is available?” Julie asked naively.

“You can look if you want to,” Linda said with a little smile as she dabbed the perspiration from her forehead.

She wanted to do something a little different at least, so Julie broke from the line and began working her way through the mass of people toward the case. As she did so, she noticed the floor was partially covered with floor tiles that were mostly coming up at the edges. The rest was concrete covered with remnants of the glue backing from old tiles that had since been removed.  The walls were about 15 feet high, white washed, and covered with posters of produce. There was a close-up of ripe grapes glistening with water droplets. Another showed a young lady wearing the blue coveralls of the workers holding a basket of apples on her hip, and others showed similar pictures. However, the center piece of each wall was one of three huge Soviet style portraits of The Enlightened One with a one word caption under each.

One wall said “Hope”, another said “Change”, the third said “One”. She then turned and saw that the wall where the door to the center was located had a decidedly different look.  It was a large mural from ceiling to floor, as best she could tell. It was children’s art of the earth, plants, and animals intermingled with recycling logos and environmental slogans. The center piece of this wall was a life-size photo of The Enlightened One standing next to Trevor Jensen. They were each holding a corner of a Save the Earth! flag, displaying it in front of them. The caption read, “Partners for a New Tomorrow”.

“How lame,” she thought, as she continued to press through the crowd of people who were crammed into the waiting area listening for their numbers to be called.

She finally arrived at what she had thought was a refrigerated case, only to find that while it might be capable of refrigeration, that was not what it was being used for.  Inside, it was full of knick-knacks. The whole case was filled with little glass figurines, small framed pictures, and bobble heads of The Enlightened One. She just stared for a second. “How stupid,” she thought, but luckily didn’t say, because an unusually tall, lanky lady excitedly came up from behind the counter.

“Can I help you? Oh, He is so wonderful, isn’t he? Do you want to hold one first?” she blurted out. The lady obviously didn’t get to serve very many customers and was ecstatic to have someone actually looking into the case.

“Oh… He is wonderful, but I was just looking for something new. I’ve already got one of these at home, so… I better get back to my mom,” Julie said as she tried to back away.

“They are on a great deal today — only one credit each.” She reached into the back of the case and pulled out one of the bobble heads. “Oh, he is so wonderful! You can never have too many of these. Don’t worry, it’s not materialistic to collect these!” Her voice was rising as Julie was finally able to get a couple of people between her and the lady.

Julie reached her mom and Heather as they were about ten people back in line.  “Mom! You’re such a brat!” Heather was laughing, so Julie looked at her and added, “You, too!”

“Hey, it was your turn. I looked at it the first time Mom brought me,” Heather said with a big smile.

Soon they had their number – 645. The chalk sign on the wall read “Now Serving 597.” Linda seemed pleased, as this meant they would surely have less than an hour to wait to be served.

Tuesday 11:30 AM MDT

 

“I’m kinda confused,” Silken said. “I thought Ms. O’Donnell said Nazis are bad.”

“They are. That’s why we fight them in the wars,” Ms. Dickenson said.

“But … UHG! I don’t get it!”

“You see, there are two kinds of Fascists. You need to let me finish the chart, then you will probably understand better.”

Most of Jacob’s class sat with their heads down on their desks, probably sleeping, Jacob thought. Jacob already knew what she was writing on the board, but he was never one to be disrespectful in class so he always sat and tried to seem interested. Besides, he would rather play with his teacher’s head.

When she finished, Jacob looked up from his doodling and saw her finished product. It was known as The Enlightened One’s Political Spectrum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You see, The Enlightened One is the example of the perfect middle. Just because I can’t really fit them closer, it makes it look like the Democratic Socialists and Progressive Fascists are kind of far away from The Enlightened One, but in reality, they help make up the political trinity. Our true communist brothers, like China and Cuba, are just a little left of the Democratic Socialists. The actual goal of communism is, of course, anarchy, but since no one has actually achieved that utopia, we place Anarchists on the spectrum a little further left on the fringe because they are almost hypothetical. There is really no such thing as a ‘left-wing’ or ‘leftist fringe’, so that part of the arch is empty.

“The Nazi’s are naturally as far to the right as you can get. They are the antithesis of The Enlightened One. Unfortunately, Nazi’s still exist and we still have to fight them. Nazis are the mother of all deception in the world today.

“Who remembers what groups make up the Nazis?” Ms. Dickenson asked the class.

“Religious zealots!” Barney said.

“Okay,” the teacher replied.

“White Supremacists and other racists,” Emma said.

“Good. Others?”

“Capitalists?” Xathan said sheepishly.

“Excellent!”

Xathan sat up straighter with a smile now.

“Any others? What does this tell us here, where it says ‘Nationalist Fascists’?”

No one spoke up so the teacher waited a few more seconds. “Anyone?”

Jacob knew what she wanted to hear, but he wouldn’t spew this kind of propaganda. He didn’t feel right repeating the lies. He felt like if he said the answer out loud someone might think he believed it, and if he accidently misled someone, he would feel terrible. Instead, he just reinforced in his own head the things he had discussed with his dad.

It was then that a paper his dad had written came into his head.  Back when Dave was teaching high school, there was a different misconception of what the Political Spectrum looked like. For many people it looked like this:

 

Communists     Socialists       Democrats          Republicans         Nazi’s

^                           ^                       ^                             ^                          ^

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dave, however, preferred another depiction of the Spectrum. Jacob remembered a picture that Dave used to illustrate his point when he was writing his books:

 

 

 

 

Dave explained that the more you favor government controlling what you do, the further “left” you are. The more you want uncontrolled freedom, the further “right” you are. Dave had written in his Poli-sci 101 term paper:

“The goals of the Communist and the Fascist are the same.  In both cases, you have a person or group who wants to have a totalitarian Dictatorship over the whole human population. Marx’s Dictatorship of the Proletariat was supposed to be merely a temporary state to help bring about the Utopia. The goal was world-wide domination under one government which would eventually be dissolved into anarchy once it was no longer needed. The Workers could bring this about by exporting revolution, according to Lenin and Trotsky. A totalitarian regime was only the vehicle to get to the Utopia in the beginning, but somewhere along the lines, it became the end not the means….

“The only difference between a socialist and a communist is that a socialist doesn’t pretend to have a higher goal in mind. Socialists want a totalitarian government and they are proud of it. They have the fundamental belief that government is inherently good. They do not see government control of your life as a negative thing. They think government will always help people and make things better.

“Hitler’s Fascist Germany was very similar to Soviet Russia. Hitler wanted ‘lebensraum’, or ‘living space’, for the great German people. This was his goal in the beginning. However, the Nazi Party soon became the most important thing in the country, much like the Communists in the Soviet Union. Mussolini and Hitler started out with a free press and other freedoms for the people they were trying to help, but they soon turned to totalitarian suppression of opposing opinions. The goal had been different from the Communists in that the Fascists were promoting the growth of power of the state, while the Communists wanted a One World Government by the Workers regardless of nationality. Yes, the goal was slightly different but the vehicle was the same. Severe restrictions on freedom, government control of everything, and zero tolerance for dissenting opinions.

“How one can say these two are on opposite sides of the political spectrum is baffling to the mind. They are both systems that chose to eradicate the opposition rather than let them speak, they both have no tolerance for other opinions, and in conclusion, they are both leftist forms of government. Fascism has nothing in common with the political right.”

In Dave’s eyes, calling communist hardliners the far right was idiocy; the far right are not people who want government control. Jacob remembered Dave explaining the far right this way:

“The far right of the political spectrum can be described as being those who want no government infringement on their freedoms. The extreme case would be an Anarchist. An Anarchist wants no government at all. Every person can do as they wish and the only repercussions would come from other people reacting to your actions. There would be no law and no morality.

“A less extreme case would be the Civil Libertarian. Libertarians want minimal government but they do acknowledge the need for some. They want a government that provides for a police force to punish people in the case of violent crimes and an army to protect the nation from foreign invasion, but that’s about it. As long as you don’t hurt anyone, you can do what you want. No government regulation, no government looking over your shoulder.

“The real debate in our country has traditionally been, and should be, about what very limited powers the government should have. The United States Constitution was founded by a moral people for the governing of a moral people. As that morality has increasingly faded, the debate has turned more to how the government can control an immoral people.”

Ms. Dickenson prodded again, “Taa-toh?”

“People that believe in countries instead of the United Nations?” Taa-toh guessed.

“Good! Yes.”

“Oh, I know,” Johnson said, raising his hand. “Fake Fascists cuz they are called Nationalist Fascists and that isn’t possible!”

“Bingo! Excellent answer. That’s probably the most important one,” Ms. Dickenson said.

Johnson’s faced beamed with pride having gotten an answer right.

“Remember, the term Fascism was developed by the great Italian, Benito Mussolini, as a symbol of unity of the workers against the property owners who were always trying to cause class distinctions. Mussolini was a Progressive Fascist who wanted everyone to get along. He was secretly helping the communists in their attempts to gain control in Spain and France, so Hitler got really mad at him and decided to give Fascism and Socialism a bad name. Hitler said he was a Fascist and he called his party the National Socialist German Workers Party which was an oxymoron. This way he could degrade Socialists, Communists, and Fascists at the same time.

“Anyway, Hitler secretly took over Italy and made Mussolini do bad things, too. For a long time, people thought that Mussolini was bad until they realized that he had been a huge inspiration for the Progressives in America. Then they realized that he was a good guy.

“Most Nazis are people who think that living in unity and doing everything the way The Enlightened One says is wrong. Nazis seem to disagree just to cause problems. Doesn’t it seem that way to you?”

Most of the class members who weren’t asleep nodded their heads in agreement. Jacob just closed his eyes and shook his head in a nearly imperceptible manner. “What an idiot! The only things she got right was that Fascism was based on the idea of ‘strength through unity’, and that Mussolini was Italian,” Jacob thought.

“Aren’t the Jews Nazis, too?” Itzel asked.

“Of course. That’s why we are having the war in Palestine, but we’ll have to talk about that another time; class is about over. So, let me finish up real quick here. Now, the rest of the chart just shows us where the failed political movements of the past would be on the chart if they were still around.

“See, only the Democrat Party, which The Enlightened One was in before he became enlightened, is even a little bit close to being a legitimate way of governing. These others ones kind of fill up the spectrum over to Nazis. So, basically, the people are either good followers of The Enlightened One, or they are Nazis. Whew! Made it before the bell,” she concluded just as the bell rang.

 

 

The Stone women made their way in the opposite direction of the bobble head case to look at the chalkboard behind the counter to see what was available that day. Much to Linda’s pleasure, cherries were on the list as well as russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, cabbage, turnips, parsnips, radishes, along with yellow and zucchini squashes. The family would be disappointed that there was no other fruit on the list, but it wasn’t all that uncommon.

Linda and the girls worked their way toward the back wall of the room to wait until they were within ten numbers or so, when they would work their way toward the service counter. Linda always liked to use this time to plan her menu for the next two days, so they brainstormed to see if they could think of something to make with each of the items.  The list was short, so their ideas were few, but it helped pass a few minutes.

After 35 minutes, they saw the number changer erase 634 and write 635. So they began the trek through the mob toward the service counter. Julie was a little nervous as they would pass by the knick-knack case again, but the lady was apparently sitting down behind the counter and didn’t see her.

Just as the number changer wrote the number 643 on the board, a loud, ear-splitting whistle sounded. It was shift change.

“It’s already noon? Time just flies, huh?” Linda said. This meant a ten minute delay in being served.

As Linda watched the new number changer in her green coveralls climb up on the ledge next to the board, she couldn’t help but think how much of a stretch it was to call that a “green job”.  But a few years back, any job that was done manually that used to take electricity (no matter how little) was classified as “green”.

“It’s crazy,” she thought, “there are three people employed full time in this single location whose only job is to erase and write numbers on a chalkboard.” Back during the early years of the Enlightenment, the 24-hour work week was imposed to create jobs, since the work that used to be done by one person would now take two people, and no one was allowed to work a second job. Thus, unemployment was eliminated. Linda thought it was funny how when they introduced it, they claimed it was simply a way to become more efficient because now no one would need a lunch break.

Finally, their number was called and they made it up to the counter where Linda presented her food requisition card. The lady seemed annoyed that Linda didn’t have a credit chip in her hand because now she had to manually scan the card. Then, as happened every time, the clerk had to go get her supervisor because Linda’s food requisition was for seven people, an unheard of amount. As soon as the supervisor saw Linda, she confirmed that she was fine and to let her in.

The clerk who checked Linda’s requisition opened the swinging door in the counter and pointed them down the hall toward door number 8. Upon reaching the door, they were greeted by a lady who appeared to be in her sixties. Her name was Cassie. Linda always liked it when Cassie helped her with the food because she was really good at choosing the best stuff and was always very cheerful.

Cassie escorted them to the back where the large bins of produce were. At each bin, Linda’s card was scanned and a small screen would display what she was allowed to take. Cassie had to pick out the vegetables and place them in one of Linda’s hemp produce bags. Soon they had 3.5kg of potatoes and 2.1kg of sweet potatoes. They walked over to the cabbage bin, but everything was wilted and the bugs had already done quite a number on most of it. This is where Linda had to make a decision; she could take the cabbage and try to salvage something or deny it and only retain a 25% credit to be used toward it on another day. Unfortunately, Linda had passed on the cabbage the last two times, so they had already lost out on quite a bit. If the cabbage was good tomorrow, she would only be able to get a .5 kg. She decided to roll the dice one more time and initialed the denial form. No one in her family liked radishes, so she always denied them, but took their allotment of the other vegetables.

Then they arrived at the cherries. Linda’s heart raced in anticipation. She couldn’t believe it! She was getting excited about cherries! As she peered into the bin, she could tell the cherries where tart. The local produce report had claimed that Utah’s cherry crop was almost 70% sweet this year. Linda knew the report was exaggerated. It always was. But still, she was looking forward to replenishing her family’s canned bing cherries.

It was then that Cassie gave her a huge surprise. Seeing the disappointment on Linda’s face, she checked to see if any of her co-workers were looking, then reached down along the edge of the bin and fished around a little and pulled up a large canvas package she had obviously stashed.

“Listen, Dear, I’m turning seventy-two next week…” Cassie started.

“Oh… I’m so sorry, Cassie. You look so much younger. I never would have guessed,” Linda said.

“Oh, it’s alright, Dear. I lost my husband ten years ago. He was a bit of a cradle robber, you know,” she said with a little bit of a twinkle in her eye. “I was going to can this one last batch, but you know… you have always been so kind to me. You are so sweet. I want you to have these.”

“I couldn’t, I …”

“Please, take them.  If I bottled them, I would just end up giving them to my neighbors anyway. I don’t really care for cherries that much.” Cassie dropped her voice to a whisper, “They accidently sent us a batch that was supposed to go to the Save the Earth! office. They were just so sweet and delicious. My whole department all took a share and we all promised not to tell anyone, but I want you to have my share. They would just be wasted on me.”

“Thank you so much! You are an angel,” Linda said, starting to tear up at Cassie’s generosity. “Am I so, transparent, though? How did you know I could be trusted? I mean…”

“After so many years on this earth, you get to recognize certain people. You just have an aura about you. You are a good person with a wonderful heart, I can tell. You and your daughters could never get sucked in by the propaganda.”

“Again, thank you so much!”

“Now, let’s get you on your way,” Cassie said swiping Linda’s card. Then she smiled and added, “We do have to account for the weight, if not the flavor.”

Linda gave her a knowing smile in return, then she and the girls exited out the rear of the fresh produce section and entered the canned goods area. Here there was no need for an escort, you could simply pick up your canned goods and check out. All there was this month was lima beans, green beans, and garbanzo beans. Linda had a requisition for 12 cans so she split it between the green and garbanzos. They only had to wait for a few minutes to check out.

They exited through the rear of the produce center and started the trek back out to the main entrance. When they reached the front of the building it was almost 1:00. The line no longer wound its way out of the main doors, so they decided to see how long it was inside. Unfortunately, as Julie opened the door, they could see that the end of the line was barely inside. Although the grain distribution line moved faster, the girls weren’t very excited to stand there for another hour holding their produce so they decided to take their goods home and come back for their grain ration the next day. Besides, Linda was usually able to coerce Dave into coming with her on his day off.

Tuesday 12:45 PM MDT

 

José brought the Cessna in low over Utah Lake, then continued south up to the old Camp Williams Airfield.  José had only used this strip one other time, but he managed to find his way without a problem.

In the old days, the camp actually straddled the border between Salt Lake and Utah Counties, so when Utah County was given to the Native Americans, there was some intense discussion over what to do with the camp facilities. In the end, the whole camp was given over (after all, it was a reservation). The last five miles of Redwood Road leading to the camp was torn up back in 6 PH, and Bluffdale had been leveled and the residents relocated to Salt Lake City. The town was the first in the valley reclaimed for farmland to make Salt Lake City’s Bio-Zone viable. Draper and Riverton followed quickly, and over the next few years, the migration south had continued until the whole population had been pushed south of Murray and Kearns.

The concrete to build the ‘affordable housing’ for everyone in Salt Lake had been created from the recycling of concrete and asphalt in these areas. ‘Green jobs’, like hand mixing recycled concrete, were still plentiful.

He brought the plane in for a landing and they were greeted at the end of the runway by a dozen armed soldiers, most of whom appeared to be Mexican, but their sergeant was a large black man with ‘Redmond’ over his breast pocket.

He approached the plane with his men behind him, their M-16s trained on Jimmy and José. “Can I help you gentlemen?” he asked as he removed his sunglasses.

“Why, yes, Sergeant. We are in need of some transportation. We have a meeting with David Stone.” José said trying to keep the conversation as amiable as possible.

“José?”

“Oh my … Mike? Is that you?”

Sergeant Redmond turned to his men, “Lower your weapons.”

“Mike, it is you! I can’t believe it. Wow. How did you end up here? Last I heard, you were still down in Montana fighting the good fight.”

“Oh, one fight led to another, you know. Actually, I had to get Sr. out of the country before he turned 68. I managed to get him down here, then the underground railroad took him the rest of the way to South Mexico. Then he was going to try and get to Texas. His sister was living in San Antonio last we heard. My mom passed five years ago.

“Anyway, I hooked up with… Hey, you guys, come on down, my guys will park your ride in, uh, bay C4,” he said turning to one of his men. He waited a few seconds as they climbed out. “Anyway, yeah, I hooked up with Dave Stone. He told what these guys were doing here and I said I wanted in. So, here I am. So, who is this? Too old to be yours, huh?”

“Mike, this is Jimmy. Jimmy, Mike,” he said making the introductions as they shook hands. “Jimmy’s one of my Northwestern Liberators.”

Redmond extended his hand, “Great to meet you!”

“You, too, Sergeant.”

“And you remember my brother, Pedro, I’m sure, and this is Jeff Turley. He’s one of Pedro’s guys from Arizona,” José continued.

“Yes, Pedro. Good to see you again, and nice to meet you, Jeff. So, you are trying to get up to Stone’s place? Well, let me see if we can get you a ride part of the way at least. There is very little activity in the fields south of here, so we shouldn’t run into anyone, at least for the first eight or ten miles.”

Redmond decided they could load the four of them up on the back of some motorcycles. It would be less conspicuous than a truck in broad daylight. A few minutes later they were within a mile and a half of a checkpoint. They would have to walk the rest of the way through corn fields. They commenced the last 6 miles of their trek just before 2:00.

 

 

Tuesday 3:00 PM MDT

July 4, 2013

The final nail was driven into the coffin today.

 

Heather shuddered when she read the words.

 

California waited until today, our nation’s birthday, to make the announcement that they would be the 34th state to vote to call a Constitutional Convention. I can’t believe the scum bags already got their two-thirds. I’m astounded. What has happened to our country? The people don’t even realize what they’ve done. They fell for a slick campaign and now all we can do is hope for damage control. The Governor has assured me a spot on our state’s delegation. I just hope I can do some good.

 

July 17, 2013

This whole thing is getting so messy. The television is already full of ads about how we are about to create a new, greater nation. The newspapers are full of editorials hyping the convention. This is really getting out of hand, it’s like mass hysteria. Now, because of all the hype, the Congress has ordered the Convention moved up to September 1st. They’ve set as their goal to have the 2014 mid-term elections under the new constitution! I can’t believe this. We’ve only got six weeks to plan our defense strategy. If ever I’ve needed the Lord’s help, it’s now!

August 22, 2013

I feel so helpless. The lists of delegates have been ordered to be kept secret so no special interest groups can get to them. Sure! They mean no conservative groups can get to them. I’ve even contacted the Party and they were only able to give me the names of three of our delegates (and I already knew two of them). I have a really bad feeling about this.

 

Heather remembered reading about the Great Enlightenment Convention in her history class. The Convention took place during the year of the Enlightenment. “I didn’t know Grandpa was at the Great Convention. I wonder why he never told me,” she thought. She soon found the answer. She read on.

 

August 31, 2013

I feel just like James Madison! Except, I’m off to Philadelphia to save our current system, not create a new one. I’ve decided to try to take detailed notes so I can have a record of what goes on. The Convention has been set up as a closed, off-the-record session. I want to record who does what, and what opposition there is. Oh, what James Madison must be thinking!

 

September 1, 2013

It’s over.

 

“How can it be over? It just started!” Heather cried out loud. She continued reading.

That Trevor Jensen! The maggot-infested president of Save the Earth. I can’t believe what I just saw happen. This can’t have really happened. I’ll write later.

 

The rest of the pages were blank.

Heather searched frantically around, looking through volume after volume, but she couldn’t find anything that looked like a report on the Convention. She finally gave up after about twenty minutes. She placed the volume of the open diary she was reading back on the shelf, turned off the light, and closed up the bookroom.  Heather would have to ask her mom what had happened.  The suspense was killing her as she headed upstairs.

“So, you finally found your grandfather’s diary about the Convention. Your dad will be glad to hear that. He’s waited so long. He wanted to wait until you were old enough to really understand,” Linda said.

“In other words, I’ve gotta wait ‘til Dad gets home, right?”

“That’s right, Sweetheart.”

“Mom, who was at the door?”

“Oh, just one of your dad’s friends from college. They were in the neighborhood so they dropped by,” Linda answered, a little skittishly.

“Are they going to come back later tonight?” Heather prodded, feeling her mother’s anxiousness.

“I’m really not sure. Will you take these towels down to the wash bucket?” Linda asked, changing the topic.

“All right,” Heather answered. She knew she wasn’t going to get anywhere by trying to push her mom any further.

Tuesday 4:30 PM MDT

 

Sometimes, Dave felt like his 15 years of Community Service would never end. He was currently spending four hours a day, every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, wading in the Jordan River looking for litter, bird carcasses, dead fish, or whatever else might find its way in there. The duty would change every four months or so. This had actually been decent duty for the past month as the summer heated up. Unfortunately, now that they were in the hottest time of the year, he was about to trade river duty for concrete hauling duty. Over the past few years, there were fewer people having to be re-educated, so this duty was falling more and more on parolees. He had also been fortunate in that he was working only a couple of miles from his house, making his trip home a short one.

Dave began down-shifting his bike as the incline in the road increased and his speed decreased. This was the last hill. “Almost home,” he thought. Out of the corner of his eye he saw movement in the bushes just off of the left shoulder of the road. He began to veer slightly to the right, not wanting to let on that he was aware of the presence of whoever was in the bushes. He turned his head left, just slightly, to try and get a better look when suddenly, he felt a firm grip on his right arm, then another grabbed his left arm hard and pulled it behind his back. His bike continued only another three or four feet before it fell to the ground. Dave found himself being dragged between two large bushes on the right side of the road. Despite the fact that there had to have been a dozen or so people within just a few yards of Dave, they all simply continued on towards their homes on their bicycles. They were all trying to appear oblivious to the fracas, doing the prudent thing.

Dave was just regaining enough of his senses to begin putting up a struggle and to wonder how he could fall for such a diversionary tactic when he realized he recognized his captors.

“Dave! Hey, man. You’re getting sloppy in your old age!” José said. “But, hey, at least you seem to be in good shape.”

“I guess all you government hardliners on your bikes keep in pretty good shape,” Pedro joked.

“What are you guys doing here? Are you guys crazy?” Dave was visibly shaken, but as he was finally processing the whole situation, he knew a broad daylight, KGB style snatch-and-grab abduction was one of the easiest ways to hide in plain sight these days. The assumption would be made that it was the EE and no one dared pay attention to them.

Jimmy brought Dave’s bike with him as he joined them behind the bushes in the small dirt pathway in front of the Morning Glory covered fence.

“What are you guys doing here? When did you guys get here? Who’s this? How did you know I’d be here?” Dave’s mind was spinning now.

“We sent Jimmy here to your house. Nobody knows him,” José said.

“Yeah, I don’t even know him,” Dave said. Gathering a little composure, he extended his hand to Jimmy.

“I’m Jimmy Warner. I’m from Washington,” Jimmy said, extending his hand to meet Dave’s.

“Are they getting that young or are we just getting that old?” Dave asked, giving Jimmy a firm handshake.

“A little of both, my friend. He’s a good one, though. I taught him all he knows,” José prevaricated.

“Look, we can’t talk here. Meet me down by the river by the second power pole just south of 20th North. Let’s say 11:30?” Dave suggested.

“We’ll be there. It’s good to see you, Amigo,” Pedro said, slapping Dave on the shoulder.

“It’s good to see you, too, my friend. It’s been too long,” Dave took a quick nervous look around. “I’ll see you at 11:30.” Dave wheeled his bike back to the roadway, hopped on without anyone seeming to take any interest in him, and headed on toward his neighborhood.

 

Tuesday 4:45 PM MDT

 

“Dave, there was someone here looking for you today,” Linda said as she greeted Dave at the door. “Was he…?” she didn’t need to finish the sentence. “He seemed awfully young.”

“Let’s go upstairs,” Dave said in a low voice. He was obviously still nervous.

Dave and Linda went into the house. Heather was the only one home at the time, but she was in her bedroom listening to some music and hadn’t heard her dad come home. They quietly went upstairs to their bedroom and shut the door.

“It was José and Pedro. The kid is a new recruit named Jimmy,” Dave began. “I’ve got to meet them tonight at 11:30.”

“Do you know why they’re here?” Linda was visibly concerned.

“I’m sure it’s got something to do with what’s been going on in Arizona. There’s been a lot of stuff on the news about rebel activity. I’ll bet they’re looking for weapons.”

“Do you think it’s safe to try to get them? I mean…”

“I was going to have to retrieve them pretty soon anyway. This way I can get rid of the whole western cache. It’s close to being compromised.”

“Tonight’s just not the best time,” Linda said.

“Why not?” Dave asked as he went to the window and peered out. There was a soft, hot breeze coming in through the open window.

“Heather found your dad’s journal entries leading up to the Convention.”

“That’s great!” Dave said excitedly as he spun around. “Was she curious?”

“Of course.”

“I guess it’s time for a history lesson tonight. Oh… I’ve waited to talk to the kids about this for so long. I’m glad they’re old enough to really understand what went on,” Dave felt as if he were going to explode with excitement.

“I knew you’d be excited, but what about your meeting with José?”

“There’ll be plenty of time for both.”

“What about John?” Linda asked quietly, afraid of bursting Dave’s bubble.

Dave’s giddiness suddenly left him and his demeanor visibly changed. “I guess we’ll have to exclude him. This is too important to have it reduced to a propagandist argument.”

“I guess we could have him take Scotty to the park,” Linda offered.

“That would probably be okay,” Dave said absently. He was suddenly deep in thought, another of his habits that annoyed Linda. She soon realized he was trying to remember where his dad’s convention letter was hidden.

Dave wished his son wasn’t so stubbornly pro-government and he really wished this discussion could be one that included the whole family. Dave flopped down on the bed and put his right forearm over his eyes.

“Why? Why is John so difficult?” he whispered after about ten seconds. Then he rose and headed toward the closet.

“Dave, we’ve done all we can considering the circumstances. We just have to keep at it. We’ve taught him the gospel. We’ve taught him about the value of human life. We’ve taught him the value of freedom. He just… I don’t know. I guess he just needs time to come around. He’s just being a little rebellious, that’s all,” Linda said, trying to console Dave.

Linda knew that Dave always wanted to be the “perfect” dad. He never felt quite adequate, especially when it came to John. Dave and Linda had gotten married while Dave was still in undergraduate school. They started their family almost immediately and they had their beautiful daughter Heather just before their first anniversary. Linda knew that Dave loved her and the little baby, but as she wasn’t working and Dave was working full time as well as going to school, she felt very neglected.

She continued to feel undervalued for the next few years of their marriage. They had quickly added Jacob to their family and, by the time Dave finished his undergraduate studies, Julie was on the way. When Julie was a year old, Linda had started college for the second time, but found her familial responsibilities too great and had to drop out, again. She felt that her needs were being ignored so Dave could fulfill his. He wanted to get his law degree and become a famous author and had already tried his hand at politics.

Linda was always very practical. She was able to see reality far better than Dave. He had such lofty goals and aspirations, but working as a baggage handler for the airlines was no way to reach his goals. It gave him time to study and keep his grades up, but it barely provided the financial basis for him to make it through his teaching program. Paying for graduate school was out of the question and Dave’s fantasy of a Congressional campaign was never more than a fantasy.

Linda needed Dave, but she didn’t feel like he was always there for her in the early years. Sure, he met the family’s financial needs, but when he was in school and while he was teaching (and still having to work part time jobs to make ends meet), he wasn’t much of a companion for Linda. Even after the Enlightenment with its 24-hour work weeks, Dave always managed to fill his time working on some grand, new project.

Dave was always concerned that his children learn about his basic religious and political values. He wanted them to understand his rationale and he wanted them to agree with him. Linda wanted the children to learn how to read first. Dave wanted his kids to run intellectual marathons before they could ever walk. He always knew he had this weakness, but he hated details getting in the way of really doing something important. He liked to ignore the small obstacles and concentrate on the goal. It had helped him get what he wanted, but not without quite a few bruises.

Linda sometimes thought that maybe John was the product of Dave’s failure to always see the details. He used the same methods to get through to the first three kids but they hadn’t worked for John. Dave was so set in his ways that he couldn’t change his approach to fit John’s personality.

Dave knew this, too, but he wasn’t able, or at least willing, to bend a little in order to get through to John. Dave felt he was right and the only way he knew how to convince other people was to beat them over the head with the facts.

“I’m just so scared for him. Can’t he see that the time of the Second Coming is almost here? I just wish I could shake some sense into that boy.”

“Mommy! Mommy! Julie kissed a boy today!” Scotty shouted at the top of his lungs. The once quiet house was suddenly transformed into a bustling center of activity.

The kids had just returned from a special Time of Singing concert. John was in his school’s choir and the other children were required to attend.

Dave and Linda got up from their bed and headed downstairs to see the kids. As they reached the top of the stairs, Heather opened her door and followed them down. Scotty let out a loud shriek as Julie grabbed him by the wrist.

“Hey!” Dave yelled playfully.

Scotty was able to escape from his sister’s grasp when she was startled by Dave’s shout.

“But, Dad…,” she began to protest, but stopped short.

“Well, how was it?” Heather called down the stairs from behind her mom.

“Heather,” Linda said as she turned around to give her eldest daughter a disapproving look.

“It was so sweet,” Jacob said in a high‑pitched voice, trying to mock his sister’s. “Robby is such a good stagehand. I just had to come see one last concert! After the choirs finished, I couldn’t help but give him a kiss.”

“It was only a peck on the cheek,” Julie said timidly.

Dave and Linda had reached the bottom of the stairs by this time and Dave decided to try and bail Julie out. “How was the concert?”

“It was all right, I guess, as good as a bunch of school choirs singing to The Enlightened One can be. At least we got out of singing this time,” Jacob offered immediately, “but the fireworks after were the best part.”

“Jacob!” Julie said as she slapped him on the arm.

“That’s enough, Jacob. I’m sure Julie will tell us about her love life when she’s ready to,” Dave said, peering at Julie though the corner of his eye.

“Dad!” Julie protested.

“How did your school do, John?” Linda asked.

“Fine,” he answered, obviously on the edge of tears.

“Is something wrong, honey?” Linda asked, putting her arm around John.

“No,” his tone was far from convincing.

“His afternoon teacher is in the hospital from a heroin overdose,” Julie said quietly. The mood of the room now changed.

“Why did that have to happen? Why do they let people do stuff like that if it can hurt them?” John asked rhetorically. “I mean, we have laws to protect us from pollution and over-population. Why can’t we have laws to stop drugs?”

“We used to, Son…” Dave started, but was cut off by Linda. This wasn’t the right time for one of Dave’s famous lectures.

“It’ll be okay, honey,” Linda reassured her son.

“I think I just need a little rest. I’ll be okay,” John said as he headed up the stairs.

The rest of the family was quiet except for Scotty who was looking in the cupboard for something to eat.

“Scotty! Hold on there, Mister. Dinner is almost ready,” Linda called out.

The table was set and the family sat down to eat, except for John who declined to come down. The family all shared events of their day, but they kept the topics light for Scott’s benefit.  After a few minutes, Heather couldn’t hold it in any longer.

“Dad, did Mom tell you what I was reading this morning?” Heather asked with more than a hint of anticipation.

“Yes,” Dave said not elaborating.

Heather was being eaten up with excitement, “Well?”

“What was it?” Jacob asked through a mouthful of last year’s bottled cherries.

“Grandpa Stone was at the Great Convention!”

Julie jumped in, cutting off Jacob, “No way!”

“How come you never told us?” Jacob asked.

“I suppose it’s because I haven’t ever wanted him to be associated with it until you guys were old enough to understand what happened,” Dave answered.

“Why don’t you guys take this into the front room. I’ll take care of the dishes,” Linda offered. Then she added, “Scotty, why don’t you run upstairs and play when you finish your cherries.”

“Okay, Mommy,” Scotty mumbled back as a half‑eaten cherry fell from his mouth into his bowl. “You guys have to talk about boring stuff, huh?”

“Yup!” Jacob offered.

 

Tuesday 5:30 PM MDT

 

“It’s hard to know where to start. There’s so much to tell you. I guess I should start with the 80’s,” Dave decided out loud.

“The decade of greed, right?” Julie asked with a hint of sarcasm.

“I suppose that’s what they’re calling it. The problem is, that’s not a very accurate description. You see, the Reagan presidency was a time of great prosperity and also a time that led to the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Reagan proved that the Soviet economic system could be brought to collapse by forcing it to try to compete head to head with the free enterprise system. President Reagan helped restore people’s confidence in themselves and their nation after the disaster of Jimmy Carter. He helped return the Republican Party to the middle class in America. The decade was a time of unprecedented growth in the country. People who opposed President Reagan cried that the middle class was shrinking. But if that was true, it was because there was so much upward mobility in the country. The majority of the people prospered greatly.

“When the first President Bush became president, he quickly lost a lot of the support in middle America that Reagan had gained, partially because he was seen as an elitist. Under Bush we seemed to lose the vision America had acquired under Reagan. Some of the great leaders of the conservative movement like Bill Bennett, William F. Buckley, Rush Limbaugh, and others found themselves in tight places. They wanted to keep their ideals, but they were faced with a president of their own party who was abandoning those ideals left and right. Then raising taxes! After pledging not to! AHHHHG!

“Anyway, a third party candidate helped get President Clinton elected, but during his first two years, the American people saw what a failure his policies were. The Republicans rode a huge tide of victory during his first mid-term election and the Republicans continued to control both Houses for the best part of the next 12 years. Clinton’s new strategy became trying to fool the people by using more conservative rhetoric hoping they would forget about the first two years of his presidency. Well, his strategy worked, and when the Republicans nominated ‘the next guy in line’, Clinton managed to get re-elected.

“Clinton was dogged by scandal after scandal in his administration for the rest of his presidency and the Environmental Nazi vice-president couldn’t escape part of the blame for an administration gone astray.

“The Republicans regained the White House after that, but the second President Bush wasn’t exactly what many had hoped for in a Republican president. For a while after the terrorist attacks of 2001, he was popular with the masses, but he wasn’t a conservative ideologue. His fiscal policies weren’t conservative enough and his desire to get along with the Democrats, despite their open hatred of him, led him to squander what political popularity he did enjoy. Despite the fact that the Republicans controlled both houses and the White House, they weren’t really able to get very much done. Bush’s second mid-term election was a disaster which led to a greater disaster at the end of his term when he began massive, disastrous spending to stave off an alleged financial catastrophe that, if it were real, could have been avoided with market solutions. Instead, he chose to make the same mistakes as President Hoover and FDR leading up to the Great Depression. It was very ugly.

“Unfortunately, in the next election, the Republicans nominated a schizo who was conservative on about 80% of the issues, but a complete nut ball, left-wing loony on other issues. With two poor choices in front of them, people got sucked in by the “Hope and Change” rhetoric of The Enlightened One.

“The Enlightened One continued on the disastrous path Bush started us on, then expanded the disaster geometrically. With a large majority in the House and a filibuster-proof Senate, there was no stopping the spending. In short order, the economy was actually in the worst shape it had been in since the Great Depression and we were making the same foolish mistakes they did then, except on an even grander scale.

“You know, it was just crazy. They blamed the banks for making bad loans, but the banks had been coerced into approving those loans by the government’s attempt at equality. They forced the banks to take hundreds of billions to bail them out, then demonized them for taking the money. The Fed began printing money like crazy and monetizing the debt, despite warnings from almost everyone.

“We were adopting all of the worst parts of European Socialism. Then, not to be outdone, the leadership in Washington decided to push even farther. As The Enlightened One’s key advisor had said, they couldn’t let a crisis go to waste. They began pulling out every radical left-wing idea that had been shot down over the previous 50 years. Every piece of socialist legislation they proposed was passed under the guise of stimulating the economy, stopping global warming, protecting some animal, or protecting this oppressed minority or that. The insane demands every leftist group had been making was being passed into law. He actually said we needed to spend trillions of dollars on socialized medicine to prevent the country from going bankrupt! It was insane, and the new proposals just kept coming fast and furious.

“Every fringe group you can think of sought to hop on the tidal wave of reform. The Gays were demanding the right to be “married” and for companies to pay for their “lovers” to be covered under their insurance plans at work. Environmentalists were trying to tax everything that moved to stop global warming and protect every animal on the globe at the expense of human jobs and our standard of living , then insisting that we return to old, inefficient technologies to save the world from the coming apocalypse. Companies were being stolen from their investors and given to the unions. The president was actually demanding that some companies fire their presidents or CEO’s and then dictating to them how much they could spend on advertising. It was sheer idiocy.”

Dave had really just scratched the surface. There were still eco-freaks predicting doom and gloom about fake ozone holes. Then, when global warming was boring people, they changed the name to “climate chaos” and just pushed on. The militant black leadership in the country was picking fights with every other race of people. The feminist leadership was telling women that every time they had sex they were being raped and that they had to have the right to kill unborn babies, but they couldn’t stay home to raise a family because it was detrimental to the feminist cause. There were schools handing out condoms to kids or referring kids out to abortion clinics without parental permission and using tax dollars to do it, and the welfare check was taking the place of the father in families. Every year the Black population was having more children out of wedlock than in, and the number was only increasing. There were rap groups singing about rape and murder and ‘artists’ who glorified sodomy, molestation, and blasphemy who screamed censorship if the government wouldn’t pay for it.

“Anyway,” Dave said with a sigh, catching his breath, “After the first few months of The Enlightened One’s presidency, many of his more moderate supporters became disenchanted and started looking at new ways of doing things. These were the people who bought in to his rhetoric of hope and change. Soon, however, they found that he was just more of the same.

“Over the next year, many of the disenchanted started breaking off into splinter groups.  More and more people were calling themselves independents and began opposing both parties. There were new parties on both the left and the right. The Constitution Party gained large numbers on the right and the New Earth Party began to replace the Greens as the main alternative on the left. On the other hand, there were many people who had their political lives tied up in The Enlightened One’s success. They were going to support him no matter what he did.

“There were other new ‘freedom parties’ on the right, mostly inspired by the 9.12 Project, who also began running candidates for offices all over the country. They made only a small impact, failing to even win any seats in the Congress during The Enlightened One’s first mid-term election, and in the end, their main accomplishment was to weaken the Republicans.

“The spending during that first mid-term was insane and, basically, The Enlightened One had created a 500 billion dollar slush fund for his party to use to try and buy votes in his first midterm. His popularity had plummeted, but with the splintering of the Republicans, he was barely able to keep control of the House and Senate.

Some of these splinter groups then started getting behind the idea of a Constitutional Convention. They felt that the threat of a Constitutional Convention would force the Congress to change their unconstitutional ways.  At that time, the media was completely against any sort of convention because the idea was being floated by conservatives. But in actuality, opposing the convention was the right thing to do.

“You see, what these early proponents of a convention didn’t understand was that once a convention was underway, it was nearly impossible to contain the direction and scope of the thing. After all, that was how we ended up replacing the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution in the first place.

“Actually, I learned this in a practical way when I was in high school. The administration had decided that the school’s constitution needed to be updated. They were applying for some ‘Democratic Schools’ award and they needed to update some of the language.  The school had been founded back in the 1920s and a few sections of the document didn’t reflect modern nomenclature. A couple of my friends and I found ourselves in the Constitutional Convention. We managed to make ourselves the drafting committee to write the new constitution. Now you have to understand, we were three 17-year- old boys, all of whom played on the sports teams for our school and we felt our mascot was a little wimpy. So in our new draft, we decided to change the mascot, change the school colors, put in a clause stating that a new school song would be written, and even tried to change the name of the school. The convention as a whole had only approved a few changes in the student government offices. However, we decided a complete overhaul would be better. When we went to turn in our final draft of the new constitution for ratification, many of our fellow students were very excited about the changes we had made. Our faculty advisor, however, was not so excited. Despite the fact that we had prepared a very detailed presentation to backup our proposed changes, we never got the chance because the advisor suddenly took upon himself dictatorial powers and disallowed our changes.

“Anyway, over several years, the number of states who had voted to convene a convention had grown and declined a number of times as some states passed resolutions to hold one, and other states tried to withdraw their votes. But after the debacle of the 2012 elections, there was a new fervor.

“By the time the last free election was held, the economy was in a shambles, and the third party movement had turned into a fourth, fifth, and sixth party movement. The presidential election was a circus with the six candidates receiving electoral votes and no one receiving the required majority.

“Most people are unaware that this is the real reason we had a two-party system in the U.S.; to ensure that the presidential election would always be won with a majority of the vote. Anytime you have more than two viable candidates, you risk having Congress choose the president.

“The 12th Amendment made it so that if no one got a majority in the Electoral College, the House would choose the president with each state getting one vote. So Delaware, Wyoming, and Alaska had equal power with California, Texas, Florida, and New York.

“None of the candidates received a majority in the Electoral College, but The Enlightened One managed to finish 3rd after the Republican and Constitution Party candidates, edging out the New Earth Candidate by only three electoral votes. Since the Democrats still had a majority of 26 of the state congressional delegations, he was re-elected.

“Unfortunately, most people were quite uninformed as to how the electoral system in the U.S. worked so they didn’t understand what happened. They were just angry. The third, fourth, fifth, and sixth parties managed to gain only a handful of house seats between them and no Senate seats. They had just unwittingly re-elected a failed president.”

“Now, wait a second,” Heather piped up. “I thought The Enlightened One had been elected by a huge majority just before The Slide. That’s what I was always taught!” A slight grin began to creep onto her face. Dave just rolled his eyes.

“Oh, yeah, I forgot. Sometimes I just can’t keep the story straight. The records were destroyed in The Slide. He probably won all 57 states!”

“57?” Julie asked.

“Never mind, just a little joke from when he first ran. Anyway, only a few weeks later, ‘The Slide’ began.”

“That was when I was just a little kid,” Heather said.

“But you didn’t even mention the right-wing plot that caused The Slide. Everyone knows the Republicans and all of their big business buddies were trying to melt the glaciers at the North Pole when something went terribly wrong. So the earth struck back and tried to wipe out all the people at one time,” Jacob added.

“Oh yeah, I almost forgot,” Dave chuckled. “You guys sure know your history!”

“You know, The Slide was a very scary time, though. Of course, it began on the winter solstice and lasted exactly one year. It was an agricultural catastrophe, especially in the U.S. breadbasket. As the North Pole began to slide south, both poles found themselves moving into more temperate regions, and for the first time, we actually saw a massive amount of melting of the ice caps. Globally, the former southern hemisphere came into new power since the year long temperature upheaval had actually worked to their advantage in an agricultural sense, at least those areas that weren’t flooded. Asia, Europe, and the new South America were forced to go to them for food.

“Anyway, this was the ultimate crisis, and as The Enlightened One saw it, the ultimate opportunity. Like Jake said, the administration cooked up some story about Karl Rove and Dick Cheney heading up a secret cabal that was trying to melt the glaciers at the North Pole intentionally. This, they said, was the cause of The Slide and was all the proof that was needed that capitalism needed to be stopped and a new compassionate socialist government was needed. After all, if they had enough power behind the scenes to cause this type of a catastrophe, who could tell what they might do next?

“Anyway, after the election, the conservatives made one of their most common mistakes; they focused their attention on trying to educate the people as to how this system works. Then when The Slide started, they tried to put aside their partisan rhetoric and work with The Enlightened One to figure out what should be done in the face of this catastrophe. The Statists, on the other hand, focused on the emotions of the electorate. The Democrat party began running new ads, in conjunction with other left-wing groups, demanding a new Constitution — one that gave The Enlightened One the freedom that would empower him to deal with the crisis quickly and decisively and that would protect the rights of all minorities. Some even suggested we establish a European style parliamentary government where all parties could be represented in Congress.

“There was suddenly a shift by the pundits on the left in favor of a convention. A national ad campaign that helped promote the idea was unleashed, and the media suddenly shifted to a pro-convention stand.  A whole slew of government and former government figures went on the television and radio talk shows going on about how we needed to refine the system, clarify the language, get rid of all of the inequality, and guard the rights of all people. They said that under their leadership, ‘we the people’ were going to make sure that the values the people of the country wanted would be protected from the radicals. They were going to take the country back, and they wanted to do it fast. Almost the whole media seemed to agree: under our flawed system, the Republicans caused this crisis and we needed a better form of government that would truly protect us.”

“In the journal, Grandpa said something about a slick campaign,” Heather said.

“Many of the people who were opposed to the convention became very worried, very quickly. The Left began their campaign to get a convention called with arguments that the Constitution was out of date and that it didn’t foresee the problems of the times. Some people argued that it gave too much power to the majority and to white males, especially. However, the most popular argument was that the language of the Constitution was simply too vague. Many of the supporters used this argument to help swing support from the mainstream of America.

“In their TV ads, they showed excerpts of the Constitution and asked, ‘Do you really understand this? If not, call your member of Congress and your Governor and tell them you want a Constitution in modern English that everyone can understand.’  It was pathetic. Because of the sorry state of our educational system, many people jumped on this bandwagon rather than realize that they didn’t understand the Constitution because they hadn’t been taught English properly.

“The Left in America saw this whole furor as their great opportunity to get the country back since they had never been able to fully swing the balance of the Supreme Court their way. If they could change the Constitution, they could start all over with their statist ideas firmly entrenched.

“Now that the Left was behind the convention, the proponents were,” Dave raised his hands to make quotation signs, “just a bunch of ‘regular people’ who cared instead of the ‘Radicals’ who wanted it a few months before.

“As the line between right and wrong became increasingly blurred in the public debate, the inherent goodness of our system of government came under greater attack.  The Leftists in the country started a smear campaign against the United States Constitution. After all, it gave too much power to the churches and it didn’t actually state that there must be no church involvement in government. It allowed for guns to be in the hands of common people who might shoot each other. It didn’t have any guarantee to the right of employment or adequate food and clothing and recreation. There was no right to a decent living no matter what your job, or a decent home. It didn’t mandate national healthcare or the right to good health. It didn’t mandate social welfare or the right to education. There was no mention of gay rights or animal rights or abortion rights. It didn’t explicitly forbid hate crimes or hate speech and it didn’t sufficiently protect all forms of art, despite the content. It didn’t even mention the environment! If we had just been more serious in our environmental regulation, none of this would have ever happened.

“There began to be a mass movement to, quote, ‘strengthen the Constitution.’ The people were fed lie after lie about all of our problems being the fault of the Constitution itself. The Republicans and Democrats had both failed to make it work and now it was time for a new form of government to be tried. It was time for a new government based on diversity. It was time to end our white male dominated society. Racial and sexual quotas needed to be mandated. It was time that we stop the senseless destruction of the planet. America needed to lead the way for the whole world.

“Since there were already convention calls that had been submitted in almost every state legislature, getting the convention call ratified was surprisingly easy. The Administration announced that, in the spirit of diversity, there would be very strict quotas set up for the make-up of the delegates. The delegates would be 60% white, 16% Hispanic, 13% Black, 8% Asian, 1% Native American, and 2% other, or something like that. And up to 48% of each racial group could be men. Then, out of the Whites, the non-race specific oppressed groups were to be represented. Five percent of the whites would be homeless advocates, 5% advocates for the disabled, 10% of the whites had to be gay rights advocates, 10% aids activists…”

“Weren’t those the same?” Jacob asked, cutting off his dad.

“No, they were considered totally unrelated groups – unless you were a homophobe. Of course, since most people were environmentally conscious, 30% of the whites would be environmentalists, plus another 20% had to be advocates for endangered species. The rest was divided up between other community organizers: welfare advocates, gun control advocates, battered wives, people with panic disorder, or whatever smaller minorities were out there.”

Jacob let out a sigh of disbelief.

“Well,” Dave said sitting up a little straighter on the couch, “the Governor pulled a few strings and managed to get Grandpa Stone on the Constitutional Convention committee as an education advocate. The members of the committee were kept secret, which was an abomination. There were only eleven members from Arizona: six Hispanics, a member of the Navajo tribe, Grandpa Stone, and three white women; two from the Sierra Club and the other was from, at that time, a relatively unknown group called Save the Earth!

“By the time my dad was sure he was going to be going, it was already late July and summer school was just wrapping up, so I decided to go down to Phoenix to see if I could help him in his preparations. It was so weird because I remember thinking how insane it was to call it summer school. When school got out that year, there was a foot of snow on the ground and it was getting colder every day. Air travel was already very restricted at that time since the satellites were still constantly having to be adjusted. So you guys and your mom stayed up here while I drove down.”

Linda added, “Making that trip with little baby Julie would have been too stressful, anyway.”

“That’s true,” Dave concurred, giving Julie a smile. “Of course, we still didn’t know the make-up of the delegation, but we knew we were in for an arduous uphill battle. As we prepared to send Grandpa off to Philadelphia, we went over every argument again and again. We discussed the miracle in Philadelphia in 1787 — how the Lord had blessed our Founding Fathers in creating our Constitution. You know the kind of ideas Grandpa took to the convention. He was fearful of what was going to happen, but all the way up to the opening of the convention, he still had a little hope.”

Dave then took a letter that his father had written to him about the convention. It was written just a month or so before his father’s death. Dave turned to the second page and started reading a couple of paragraphs down.

 

I only saw the sun while I was in the air that September 1st. I knew they had chosen the date because the sun would be rising in Philadelphia on the second, after a couple of weeks with no sunlight at all. They figured the rising sun would be a good omen as we headed into a few weeks of 24- hour sunlight, ‘shining down on our new nation’ as they put it.

As I made my way to the Convention Center where the Convention was to be held, I couldn’t help but notice the abnormally large number of Save the Earth! posters plastered all over the city.  I had heard about the group on the national news, but they weren’t a major player in Arizona politics although their numbers were growing. I, like many people, had dismissed them as a small group of wackos who would eventually fade away. It wasn’t generally known that the New Earth Party was simply an extension of their group.

I had expected this convention to be a serious, formal meeting. However, as I arrived, it had the feeling of a large political convention. There were booths set up throughout the entire complex and every leftist environmental group you could imagine was represented. Each one, curiously enough, had a sticker on their booth that read: I support Save the Earth!      

I thought this was all quite strange because in the literature that I received about the convention, it explicitly forbade any signs, stickers, booths, or anything of a political nature. When I asked one of the booth operators about this he said that environmental groups weren’t political, they were only protecting the planet, thus, they were educational. Therefore, they were exempt.

I also quickly realized that in my suit and tie, I was overdressed for the occasion. Most of the delegates looked like holdovers from the sixties except most of them were much too young. Of course, that wasn’t too surprising considering so many of the so-called Generation Y and Z had taken up the drug and prison culture as the ‘look’ they preferred.

I checked my parka with all of the others and went to the table to pick up my credentials. There I was greeted by an older man with a ponytail wearing a “Deadhead” t-shirt.  After a short argument as to whether I was in the right line alphabetically, he finally found my credentials and then handed me what I thought was the agenda for the meeting.

I pushed my way through the crowd to find a less congested area and sat down. I then decided to look at the agenda, but instead I found a welcome letter from Trevor Jensen with ‘Save the Earth!’ scrolled across the bottom in bold green letters.

I don’t remember what it said exactly, but basically it was an introduction of Jensen and his group and a list of their goals on the environment, etc., then there was what appeared to be a copy of their proposed constitution.

As I started to read the document in disgust, there was a loud siren and an announcement for all delegates to report to the floor of the convention hall to begin the proceedings. I worked my way to the main hall of the convention center and literally stood in amazement at the sight inside.

The entire place was filled with banners and posters and handbills for Save the Earth!  There was a band playing some tune I didn’t recognize and people were milling about looking as if everything was normal. I looked up on the stage and rather than seeing ‘Old Glory’ hanging from the rafters, there was the now familiar, huge flag with a red background and a yellow star in each corner, a blue and green planet earth with Asia as the focal point in the center, and in green letters above the earth were the words ‘It Belongs To Us All’ and underneath ‘Save the Earth!’.  A row of UN flags were going across the back of the stage just under the STE! flag. The former vice-president gaveled the session to order.  He then called for a group of young people to rise from their seats in the chairs behind him and repeat what he called the “New Pledge”, which he explained had been written especially for this occasion.

 

“Was it the pledge that they make us say now?” Julie asked.

“No, that one hadn’t been written yet. This one was written to express a realization of a changing world. It went, ‘I pledge allegiance to the flag of the Enlightenment, indivisible, with equal justice for all regardless of race, gender, youth, or sexual preference.’”

“That is so lame!” Jacob said, totally exacerbated.

“I know, huh? So, there is your Grandpa Stone, who thought he was going to have a chance to save the Constitution, just standing there in utter amazement. I can see him as clearly as if I had been there myself. He was always such a dignified man, at least in public. He always wanted to show the proper decorum and respect that an event commanded and I know he was completely taken aback by this. Let me go on,” Dave continued.

 

“The Tree”, as I liked to call the ex-vice president, was just beaming.  It looked as if he were wiping tears from his eyes as he announced the introductory video for Trevor Jensen. 

The lights dimmed and as the slick presentation droned on for nearly 15 minutes, it became apparent that the “proposed constitution” I had in my hand was just a 12- page summary and there would be no debate. The video portrayed Jensen’s life story, his activism and aspirations. After a few minutes the weeping and wailing in the audience became so loud you could hardly hear the video. When the video ended, there was a huge standing ovation that went on for several minutes in anticipation of Jensen taking the stage, but he didn’t appear. After five minutes or so, the applause began turning into chants that would build in intensity until the crowd was screaming and bawling again. Then it would quiet a little, then the cycle repeated. After another 5 or 6 minutes, The Tree took to the microphone to say that Jensen would be there momentarily and the whole thing started over again. 

By this time, I knew exactly how the speech would go. This exact strategy was utilized by Hitler himself. Just as I expected, about the time the crowd was about ready to collapse in exhaustion, Jensen appeared. The crowd erupted again and he just stood silently at the microphone. Occasionally, he would look as he were about to talk and the crowd grew eerily still, but he would still hold his tongue, and the cheering would start again. 

After a couple minutes of this, he finally began to speak very softly, so softly in fact that the crowd had to become absolutely silent to hear any of what he was saying. Over the next half an hour, his speech would build up to a crescendo time and again until he was literally yelling to make himself heard over the roar of the crowd. His demeanor vacillated between the two extremes 4 or 5 times during the speech and each time his hatred of everything I loved became more and more frightening.

By the time his speech ended, the crowd was nearly out of control. Then he turned the time over to one of his assistants who tried to keep the crowd going as he hit the “highlights” of the STE! Constitution while Jensen sat in a chair on the stage and drank from a small glass bottle of water. When he finished the water, he stood, walked over to the podium, pushed his assistant out of the way, spewed a few profanities and then yelled, “LET’S VOTE!” The crowd began chanting, “Let’s vote, let’s vote, let’s vote,” until The Tree took the mic and said, “Alright! It’s been moved and more than seconded, so those of you who want to accept this constitution by acclamation, let me hear you!” 

The crowd began screaming their approval. The Tree then screamed back at them, “I heard you! Now the rest of the world will hear you!”

 Pandemonium then broke out and I quickly made my way back to the coat check, got my parka, and began to get the heck out of there. There were a few others who followed me. When I got outside, I realized my mistake. The street lights were dimly showing through the driving snow, but I could still see that about 6 or 7 STE! goons were following each of us out on the street. After a few seconds, they started calling out things like, “Hey, Cheney, where are you going?” or “You better run, Limbaugh lover!” While these were stupid insults, soon they began to get more and more vile. Then they grabbed me, stole my parka, and shoved me into a huge snow bank. Luckily, my hotel was only a block away or I might not have made it.

 

“Wow! That’s crazy,” Jacob said.

“That’s not how any of that stuff has been portrayed, Dad,” Heather added.

“I know. It all started off kind of slow, but then all of the sudden, everything collapsed because of one bad decision after another followed by a massive inexplicable natural disaster,” Dave said.

“I just don’t even know what to say. I mean… everything they say is a lie!  I mean, I guess I knew that, but… EVERY little thing is a lie,” Jacob seemed to have had an epiphany. “Wow!”

Just then, Linda realized it was nearly 9:00 PM. “It’s time for the news, guys,” she said. “I’m going to get Scott and John.”

Julie got up out of the chair and flipped on the TV just as the intro music was starting. This was the one time of day when all of the stations showed the exact same thing. The boys made it down stairs just as the intro faded and a photo of The Enlightened One came on the screen. Everyone looked up at the screen for the initial optical recognition. There would be four or five more at random times before the news ended.

 

Tuesday 11:30 PM MDT

 

Jeff, Jimmy, and the Torrez brothers had spent the rest of the day in relative peace in a large clump of trees on the banks of the Jordan River. There were only a few tense moments when Jeff was startled by some movement in the brush just before dusk. Things became very quiet a little before nine-o’clock as people hurried home for the news. For over two hours, the eerie silence was only broken by the occasional chirping of crickets.

Eleven o’clock came and went without incident. It was now officially illegal to be outside. At 11:30 sharp, Jimmy saw the shadow of a man making his way along the fence under the power lines. As expected, it was Dave.

The greetings were brief and the need for weapons quickly explained. Little had the rebels known they had been practically sitting on the cache all evening. Dave was definitely ready to empty this cache, as the golf course across the street was about to be converted to a 1,200 unit apartment complex, and with all of the workers that would be hanging around the cache, it was going to become very vulnerable.

“So, how did you guys get out of watching the news?” Dave asked, as they headed back over toward the trees.

“Me and Jimmy are totally off the grid. So far as the government knows, we don’t even exist,” José explained.

“Some of our guys hacked the network in AJ, so they get false readings all the time.  We’ve been free from it for about 6 weeks. It’s been awesome!” Jeff answered for himself and Pedro.

“Nice. We’ll have to get some of our hackers on that, too,” Dave said, as they arrived at the hiding place.

Pedro was dismayed as they lifted the covering to the hole in the ground.  It was obvious there were far fewer arms than he had expected. He sighed audibly, then swore, but Dave knew this would be the reaction.

“Pedro, this isn’t all, but we need to empty this place out before we lose it. Tomorrow night, we’ll tap into one of the eastern caches, and we’ll have a truck.”

“A truck? Serious?” Jimmy said, clearly impressed.

“Nice!” Jeff added, also duly impressed.

“We still need to get this stuff out of here tonight, though,” Dave said, “I saw the survey crews were out here last week when I was working the river.”

“We can probably get all this in three, maybe four trips,” Pedro estimated.

“Hopefully three, man. It’s gonna be a long night,” José said.

José’s wishes came true. They finished up their third grueling trip back up to the Stones home just as Linda was leaving for work. They hadn’t seen a single vehicle all night or run across any patrols. They stashed the last of the contraband in the shed in the backyard, then Dave took the rebel crew down to the reading room to spend the day in much cooler circumstances than Pedro and Jeff had felt in months. Dave got them some bedding and told them that Heather could help them out with water when they were ready to clean up. He then hopped into the shower for his two minutes of cleaning bliss and then got ready for work.

 

Wednesday

5:30 AM MDT

Tuesday 8:30 PM SDT (Damascus)

 

“Are you serious?”

“You’ve earned it, Che,” the Mediterranean desk chief said while he balled up trying to avoid Che’s flailing arms as she bounced and spun around in her euphoria.

“The Secretary General? He requested me?” Ché Williams was only two years out of the Cronkite School at Arizona Workers University. Her ascendancy had been meteoric, to say the least. Having been given a waiver for her last year of World Service as a journalism graduate, she spent less than six months as an environment reporter in Phoenix, a year as the Phoenix field reporter for Enlightened One News, three months as the “Face of London” as an anchor, a few months in the Mediterranean Bureau for World News Daily, and now the crowned jewel, Chief Babylon reporter.

“Of course, you were the logical choice! Now you better get going. You are leaving in an hour and a half. Make us proud!”

“Oh, I will!” Ché was never one to feign modesty.

Ché rushed off to her apartment where her executive assistant was already waiting with her bags packed. Five minutes later they were in a military transport speeding through the streets of Damascus toward the airport. Another half an hour later they were on the Secretary General’s private jet sailing toward Babylon itself.

“Oh, Arwa! This is going to be so awesome! I can’t believe it!”

Actually, Ché did believe it. Her life seemed to be a whirlwind of good fortune. Born in the year of The Enlightened One’s original ascendancy to power to a single African-American mother in Tucson, Arizona, she was singled out for special benefits. Despite the fact that her mother was basically illiterate, as the elected head of the Tucson SEIU and vice president of the local Acorn chapter, she was shoe-in to become spokesperson for The Enlightened One’s poverty task force for the Southwest.

Che’s mother went from dishwasher in a hotel to the head of a minor fiefdom over a one year period, increased her salary from $25,000 a year to over $250,000, and basically all she had to do was haul Ché around on her hip to give speeches and explain how oppressed the African-American minority was in Arizona and how The Enlightened One’s open border policy was going to help put an end to global poverty.

Little Ché became a local celebrity and when her mother was killed during The Slide, she became an even bigger celebrity. She was adopted by the lesbian couple who headed up the Enlighten One’s Phoenix campaign office during his first re-election campaign. From their 5-acre estate in Cave Creek, they managed to get her picture all over propaganda posters to end poverty through higher taxes.

She continued to appear in propaganda material for the next ten years and made a nice living for her and her parents all the way through her high school years. She attended the finest schools whenever her touring schedule allowed. Her tall, slender figure, cocoa butter skin, and strong Nordic facial structure helped her stay in front of the camera more than behind a desk, but this also helped her develop her strongest skill – reading from a teleprompter.

All through college she was an anchor for the campus Ministry of Information and worked as a field reporter in the slums of Detroit, Washington (before the bombing), and Boston for her World Service.

Her commitment to The Enlightened One was complete. She knew every talking point concerning his life and was able to absorb the updated versions easily. She was a true disciple of the earth and could spout the latest version of weather trivia with little effort. Rattling off the accomplishments of the UN was like telling her life story. She was truly a model of what a modern citizen should be.

 

Wednesday 8:15 AM MDT

 

“But that takes so long,” Scott whined to Ms. Castro, his morning teacher. “Why can’t I just add the numbers?”

“Because this is the way we are going to add today,” Ms. Castro said in a gruff voice. “This will help many people in the class understand the math. Don’t you want everyone to learn how to add?”

“I think everyone can add,” Scott said in a frustrated tone.

“It’s not that easy for everyone. Besides, maybe you will find a new way to do it that is more fun,” she responded in her deep, raspy voice, trying to force a smile to make Scott happy.

“But this is prob’ly the 100th way we learned to add.” Scott was being difficult today. In reality, it was only the 5th way they had added two single-digit numbers that resulted in a two-digit answer. Learning place value was potentially very difficult and would take some time.

So far, they had drawn pictures of how the sound of each number made them feel; they didn’t get to see what the numbers looked like until much later. Everyone showed their picture to the class and talked about it. After they had all shared their thoughts, everyone had to draw pictures of how they thought the class as a whole felt about each number. Eventually, after a few guided discussions, they came to a consensus on each number. For example, the number one made the class think of the sun, so whenever they wanted to say the number one on paper, they would draw a sun. The number two reminded them of the color blue, which made them think of the sky, which has clouds, so clouds were used to represent the number two, etc.

For the first two weeks of addition, everyone had drawn pictures of numbers in different orders to see what order felt good. Then the items where combined. Soon they were drawing a mural with the sun shining down on a tree with one cloud in the sky (they weren’t ready for multiple clouds yet) and a black bird soaring around. There was a big bumble bee with a stick in its mouth flying toward a door. On the other side of the door, there was a large tent with a plate of spaghetti in it and a vine growing up the side.

Having completed that project, they were ready to start drawing these items in their magic number boxes at the top of each page. Then they made picture grids to help prepare them for the number grids they would write once they learned how to make the symbols for each number. However, they wouldn’t be ready make the symbol grids until they had spent a week developing their own symbols for each number then coming up with a class consensus for each symbol. Scott had been sent to ISS (In School Suspension) for simply writing the numbers as his symbols. The teachers couldn’t make him understand that the rest of the class wasn’t ready to see what the real numbers looked like yet.

Once their magic number boxes had their original pictures in them and the made up symbols, they were ready to have a square of color assigned to it before they would actually learn to write the number in the box.

A couple of weeks later, they were ready to begin putting the pictures and symbols and colors in order so they could begin counting. Once they got the hang of that, they could begin learning to add.

Ms. Castro had explained to the class that if a number got too big for their number chart, there had to be a tent in front of it to keep going higher. So, if you had a plate of spaghetti and you added red to it, then the answer was a tent with a 5 next to it.  Then they all had to use the magic number boxes to change around the spaghetti for a class symbol, the tent for a color, etc.

“Everybody learns in a different way, Scott, so we have to learn lots of ways in class,” Ms. Castro said, scratching her flat-top haircut.

“But it’s way easier to write ‘8+7=15’ and it’s faster and not so confusing,” Scott said.

“Scott…” Ms. Castro said firmly, pointing to the door.

“I know, ISS,” Scott picked up his pencil and notebook and headed toward the door.

Wednesday 8:30 AM MDT

Tuesday 10:30 PM BDT (Babylon)

 

When the flight steward opened the cabin door a couple of hours later, Ché felt the days of her youth come rushing to her mind in a way that only the sense of smell can do. Still, even a lifetime spent in Arizona was just a warm up for the heat of Babylon.

“Ms. Williams, I am Khalid Jamal. I will be your escort today.” His English came in an American accent which was increasingly common.

“Thank you. This is my assistant, Arwa.” This statement drew a chuckle from the men handling their bags. One of the men mumbled in Farsi to his companion, “No need to tell us that.” This drew another round of chuckles amongst the men.

“Your car is this way,” Khalid said ignoring the comments of the other men and extending his arm in the direction of two classic Escalade limos sitting on the tarmac.

As they pulled onto the road, Khalid turned to Ché and began briefing her, “Ms. Williams, we are so honored to have you here. We will be taking you directly to your suite at the UN Press Plaza. The Secretary General has looked forward to meeting you for quite a while now. He is very impressed with your work and he has decided that he would like to give you an exclusive interview regarding some comments he will be making later this week.”

“We look forward to meeting with the Secretary General. You can be assured I will do whatever I can to get his message to the people. Do you have a list of questions you want asked during the interview? Or should we draw up our own?” Ché inquired.

“Of course we have a list, but you should feel to free to work in some of your own. You are so good at that. You seem to know just what to ask to help make officials look good.”

“Well, I can’t take all of the credit. Arwa, here, does most of the heavy lifting,” Ché answered honestly, “She feeds me the lines and I deliver them like no one else can,” she smiled, “That’s all.”

 

Wednesday 9:30 AM MDT

10:30 AM CDT (Chicago)

“Shanequa, I am going to miss you when your World Service ends,” The Enlightened One moaned as his reflexology therapist tightened her grip on the ball of his right foot.

“Thank you, Sir,” the graduate student in Ecological Labor Relations said with a coy smile which was invisible to The Enlightened One through the cucumbers on his eyes.

“Selena, can you get this goop off my face? I think I’m ready for … OOOH, that was awesome. Shanequa, um… I’m ready for breakfast.”

“Of course. Just a second. I’ve got to grab a new towel,” Selena, his esthetician and an undergraduate in Urban Reduction and Sustainability, answered.

Instantly, the room was busy with activity as six servants came into the room and began putting food out on the large table in the corner.

“Okay, Sir,” Selena said returning to the room. She stopped short as she looked up and saw Trevor Jensen standing in front of her with his index finger in front of his lips, signaling her not to say anything.

Trevor took the warm towel from Selena and started to wipe the exfoliating mask from The Enlightened One’s forehead.

“Hey, Selena, why don’t you take the cucumbers off with your teeth again for me?”

Trevor didn’t say anything, but bent over his face, breathing heavily enough for The Enlightened One to know he was there.

The Enlightened One reached up to feel what he thought was Selena’s face, but was greeted with Trevor’s three-day stubble.

“What the…”

Trevor burst out laughing as The Enlightened One quickly sat up and the cucumber slices fell from his face.

“I really wish you would stop doing that!” The Enlightened One was obviously not amused when Trevor reverted to his frat-boy antics, but Trevor definitely was. In fact, while Trevor always put on a serious persona in public, those who knew him best knew him to be an teenager in a middle aged body. Only his lack of cohesive arguments revealed this to the people. Of course, they were usually too star struck or deeply indoctrinated to notice.

“Come on, Teo! Lighten up,” Trevor said turning toward the breakfast spread.

“Please don’t call me that.”

By now, Selena and Shanequa had already made a quiet exit and the servers were on their way out as well. Now The Enlightened One, Trevor, and Trevor’s assistant, Charlotte, were alone.

“Oh, come on now, Teo. I think Teo fits you well. You don’t really expect me to call you The Enlightened One, do you?” The tone of his voice was slightly stern by the time he reached the end of his statement.

“No, Sir,” The Enlighten One conceded. “Teo will be fine.”

“Come. Eat,” Trevor said as he took a croissant and began to butter it. “Whoa, fresh strawberry jam!”

The Enlightened One stood and re-situated the white robe draped around him, then tightened it at the waist.

“Teo, I just wanted to let you know that there are some big changes coming up. I’ve decided that I’m going to appoint a new lieutenant to stand in for me when I’m in California or, you know, wherever,” he said waving around his croissant. “I have a feeling that I need to keep a little tighter rein on you. Charlotte here has been giving me some interesting reports lately, so I don’t think you’ve given me much choice.”

The Enlightened One just looked straight into Trevor’s eyes, obviously too smart to respond to the accusation.

“Look, we have come a long way together. I know you know how this all works and you know I can pull the plug on you anytime I want. This is all much bigger than you. You are simply a cog in the machine, my friend.”

“It wasn’t always that…”

“Oh, don’t give me that… Don’t even try that.” He stuck the remainder of his croissant in his mouth.

“You have to admit I’ve played my role,” The Enlightened One defended himself.

“Yes, you have,” Trevor agreed as he finished chewing and reached for a blueberry bagel and started to smother it with cream cheese. “We all have our role, though, don’t we?”

“I suppose,” The Enlightened One agreed as he grabbed one of the six plates with an omelet, choosing the bacon, cheese, and mushrooms.

“Remember those early union meetings when we were still courting them?”

“Oh, do I!” Trevor had to chuckle at that.

“How many millions did we get out of those suckers? For what? Four or five years we let them think they were really going to have a say.”

“What a bunch of idiots!”

“I know. All they had to do was look at Russia. The Soviets came in with the support of the unions then outlawed them. Come On! What did they think? They were somehow gonna get so powerful that we couldn’t destroy them? Give me a break,” The Enlightened One said as he poured some orange juice and took a seat at the table.

“It’s like the morons running the banks and all those big companies,” Trevor added, taking his own seat at the table as well. “They thought they could buy us off by doing our bidding for a while. Remember when we took over the car companies then they all acted surprised when we fired the top management?”

“Stupid fat cats!” The Enlightened One concurred. “You know, it was like during the ‘First Crisis’. How many millions lost their jobs? All the while we were just buying the loyalty of the government employees with big pay raises. The people were so stupid. They sat there and let us have those slush funds to buy more votes.”

“I don’t know how they ever got by before we came along and saved them. You know, even the people who supported us in the early days didn’t know why they should be supporting us. ‘Free healthcare?!’ Give me a break. They didn’t just want healthcare that they didn’t have to pay for, they wanted to not have to think about healthcare, you know?”

“Right, they needed us to tell them what to do so they didn’t need to think about it. That way, they didn’t have to take any responsibility for anything. If you aren’t allowed to pay for Grandma’s medicine, then it’s not your fault if she died. You can just blame the nameless, faceless bureaucracy and go on with life, guilt free,” The Enlightened One said.

“Same with the taxes. That was where we excelled! We just made up what we needed to in order to make it sound like a crisis, tell people that it’s too complicated for them to understand, then they just let us do what needs to be done. Who is gonna read a 2,000 page bill?”

They both laughed at that.

“You know, Teo, I was just thinking last night,” he interrupted himself by standing and going back over to the buffet table and picking up a bottle of wine and a plate of bacon. “I love wine with bacon, but that’s not what I was going to say. What I was going to say,” he continued as he grabbed a stack of napkins and returned to his seat, “is that sometimes we kind of underestimated the people in the old days.”

“How?”

“Well, take for instance population control. The people had to be smart enough to understand the premise that our arguments were based on. If they just used their emotions, they would never have agreed to limit their own species to protect the planet. Come on, do the math; at one child per female, we agreed to reduce our own numbers by half in just a generation. That took courage. It took logic. Remember that windbag, Limbaugh?”

“Sure, how could I forget?” The Enlightened One was up getting a plate of melons and berries now.

“He used to spew his lies about how liberalism was the most gutless choice you could make. What an idiot! Liberal Progressivism is always about making the hard choices, choices those right-wing ideologues could never make. They used to act like they were so morally superior being anti-choice and anti-one child. They were the ones who were causing people to live in poverty. They just wanted to oppress women and minorities. They were the ones who were gutless. They couldn’t make hard choices. They just said ‘screw you’ to anyone who lost out in life’s lottery. We were the only ones who had the ideas to bring equity to the world. People who voted for you understood the complexities of what was going on. They understood that we had to limit our population to preserve the species. It was the hard, courageous choice to mandate abortions when a child was going to be a burden on society and the economy as a whole. Look, little mentally challenged kids were cute and all, but the hard choices had to be made. We wouldn’t just keep them around to assuage some irrational sense of guilt brought upon us by an unseen god who never existed. Standing up to the religious power brokers, that’s what took courage.”

The Enlightened One was nodding his agreement. When Trevor finally stopped to take a breath, he added, “Yeah. They knew it was a hard choice to vote to destroy the patriarchal hierarchy that had been perpetuated by the religious cults, but it had to be done. They wouldn’t have anyone spewing hate from the pulpit on Sunday to pacify their guilt; they would have to make the hard choices on their own. Obviously, we would help them understand the real issues at hand, but that’s the role of government.”

“Exactly,” Trevor said, lowering the bottle of wine from his lips. “The whole point of government is to protect the people from themselves and their baser instincts of greed and religious zealotry that cause hatred and inequality among the people. Am I right?”

“Of course,” The Enlightened One agreed. “When you break it down to its most simple aspects, everything branches off from there. But still, I think only the progressive elite really get it. Even now, where would we be if we were still waiting around for natural evolution?  We can barely feed the two billion left now. What if we had another billion mouths to feed? We couldn’t wait around for the general population to act.”

Trevor jumped in, having to concede that point, “I can’t even think what it would be like if we hadn’t implemented our agenda as quickly as we did. Once we had the health system in line, we could just declare any action that was going to be expensive illegal, and when people still insisted on eating fatty or sugary foods, we could refuse to treat them.”

“That did help a lot – almost as much as when the space station came down. Almost two billion died after that.”

“That’s true,” Trevor admitted. “We did have the help of a few crises in our time, haven’t we?”

“Yeah, and most of the people were smart enough to understand what needed to be done. It was pretty easy to get the people on the ‘Wal Mart Sucks’ bandwagon. We had to have all of the workers in unions if we were to control them as a block. When the time came to forbid family owned business, it was a little trickier.” The Enlightened One was going for his own plate of bacon and sausage links now.

“Once the big multi-nationals were under government control, I have to admit,” Trevor seemed to realize he was losing the argument, “only true progressives understood that we needed to destroy the small companies. It was obvious we had to. We could better control the economy through a handful of large companies. The last thing we needed was thousands of tiny companies running around; what a nightmare – trying to regulate all of that. Sure, we had to destroy Wal Mart, but not because they were big. It was just to rebuild it in the image of a progressively responsible steward of the workers.”

“Exactly! But you have to admit, it took a while for them to really get it.”

“You are right, Teo. You know, I enjoy our talks. It’s nice to talk to someone who helps keep me grounded. I was going off on some tangent thinking that the ‘sheeple’ were able to follow the intricacies of our arguments, but you always get me back on track.”

“Well, thank you, Trevor.”

“They just can’t be trusted, can they?”

“Nope. We can make them obey by using the barrel of a gun as Mao used to say, but only the truly intelligent can actually understand.”

“Good times, good times,” Trevor chuckled as he stood again. “Charlotte, here, has your pronouncements for the rest of the week. I’m flying back out to LA for a conference. Let’s see that you deliver them properly, okay?”

“Sure, Sir. Have a good flight.”

 

Wednesday 12:00 PM MDT

11:00 AM CDT (Zion)

 

“My fellow citizens, the newest of our citizens, I am grateful to speak to you today. Since the inception of our nation, I have taken the opportunity at each citizenship ceremony to deliver a few words to those who have freely joined with us to ‘refound’ America. We call our land Zion, a paradise on earth, but we strive to live by the founding principles of America. With that in mind, I wish to share with you some thoughts from a favorite speech of mine.” The president had made it his practice to attend all of the citizenship ceremonies and deliver the same speech.

“The bulk of these words are those of Ezra Taft Benson, the Secretary of Agriculture under President Eisenhower. He never sought political office; he simply fought to do what was right for the country and reminded those around him that they had the same duty. You will all receive a copy of his speech as you leave today. I will not read it in its entirety, but I encourage you to read it. Then, re-read it frequently, and even more importantly, hold all of your elected officials to these standards. If you do, we will be able to maintain our new republic.

“This speech was delivered in 1968, 60 years ago. Some of the specific items Secretary Benson speaks of are going to be things that you would be lucky to remember from your study of history, but the principles he advocates are timeless. Please heed them.

 

“Men in the public spotlight constantly are asked to express an opinion on a myriad of government proposals and projects…”

 

 

Wednesday 12:05 PM

 

Heather picked up a volume labeled “Campaign Journal.” This was one of her father’s journals. She was really enjoying the opportunity to read from her Grandpa’s and Dad’s writings. It always seemed to boost her spirit. In fact, she was considering taking up writing a journal like this, too. She figured she might have to pick up the torch since Jacob didn’t seem interested in writing.

She had looked over some of her old journals a few days back and realized they weren’t something she would really want to share with family. They were mostly be filled with her daydreams of what it was going to be like when she married Joshua.

She sat in her favorite chair and opened to the first page.

February 12, 2010

Linda and I finally agreed that I could take a stab at running for the legislature today. The mass meetings are next month, so I’ve got a lot to do to get ready. Linda is so awesome and she is always so supportive of everything I do. She has so much faith in me. I just hope I can live worthy of her faith.

I thought I should start by refreshing myself with Ezra Taft Benson’s talk “The Proper Role of Government.” I know that if I do this, I have to make sure I always have my head clear on what needs to be done, and what shouldn’t be done, and that talk is just so great. I read it twice in the last couple of days and I thought I’d summarize some of my thoughts here in my campaign journal so I can get a quick refresher whenever I need one.

1. Politicians tend to support a project or proposal based not upon any solid principle, but upon the popularity of the specific government program in question. The true statesman values principle above popularity.

2. Basing decisions on popularity or a whim of the day leads to public confusion and legislative chaos. Decisions should be based upon basic principles regarding the proper role of government. If principles are correct, then they can be applied to any specific proposal with confidence.

3. Right and wrong as moral principles do not change. I always need to remember that. Always apply principles to any proposition – that’s the only way to make sure we aren’t led astray. But what are those principles? What are the principles that I need to stand for? 

Wednesday 12:08 PM

11:08 AM CDT (Zion)

“Secretary Benson continued to lay out those principles that he stood for and that he felt decisions should be based on.” The president of Zion continued reading from the speech,

 

“I believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.

“I believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life…

“I believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, which protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.

“It is generally agreed that the most important single function of government is to secure the rights and freedoms of individual citizens. But, what are those rights? And what is their source? Until these questions are answered there is little likelihood that we can correctly determine how government can best secure them.

“Thomas Paine…, explained that: ‘Rights are not gifts from one man to another, nor from one class of men to another… It is impossible to discover any origin of rights otherwise than in the origin of man; it consequently follows that rights appertain to man in right of his existence, and must therefore be equal to every man.’

“The great Thomas Jefferson asked: ‘Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?’ …”

 

Wednesday 12:10 PM

            Heather had heard her dad make many of these arguments time and again. “How awesome,” she thought, “that he was able to list principles he believed in and that those principles are still just as valid now as then.”

Heather realized that it was true; the issue of the day might change, but principles don’t change. She turned the page.

 

 There are only two possible sources of rights; God-given as part of the Divine Plan or granted by government as part of the political plan.

 If human rights are granted by government, then they can be denied by government.

Frederick Bastiat explained, “Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.”

 The ‘separation of church and state’ as referred to by Jefferson prohibits the establishment of an official national religion, not a prohibition of government from any formal recognition of God.

 

Heather knew this whole section was based on the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Her dad had explained that to the kids several times.

She saw that the next section was explaining why we had government in the first place.

 

Since government isn’t the source of rights, where does it get the power it has? From the people. They lend out some of their power, given to them by God, to a government for certain authorized activities. I love the way he put it:

“…a government is nothing more or less than a relatively small group of citizens who have been hired, in a sense, by the rest of us to perform certain functions and discharge certain responsibilities which have been authorized. It stands to reason that the government itself has no innate power or privilege to do anything. Its only source of authority and power is from the people who have created it. This is made clear in the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, which reads: “WE THE PEOPLE… do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

 

Wednesday 12:12 PM MDT

11:12 AM CDT (Zion)

 

“One of the main charges I have for you today is that you remember this: Government only has powers granted by the people and, as will be explained here, therefore, the government cannot legitimately be granted any power that the people don’t possess.

 

“The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess. So, the question boils down to this: What powers properly belong to each and every person in the absence of and prior to the establishment of any organized governmental form? A hypothetical question? Yes, indeed! But, it is a question which is vital to an understanding of the principles which underlie the proper function of government.

“Of course, as James Madison, sometimes called the Father of the Constitution, said, ‘If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.’

“In a primitive state, there is no doubt that each man would be justified in using force, if necessary, to defend himself against physical harm, against theft of the fruits of his labor, and against enslavement of another.

“This principle was clearly explained by Bastiat: ‘Each of us has a natural right – from God – to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties?’

“Indeed, the early pioneers found that a great deal of their time and energy was being spent doing all three – defending themselves, their property, and their liberty – in what properly was called the “Lawless West”. In order for man to prosper, he cannot afford to spend his time constantly guarding his family, his fields, and his property against attack and theft, so he joins together with his neighbors and hires a sheriff. At this precise moment, government is born. The individual citizens delegate to the sheriff their unquestionable right to protect themselves. The sheriff now does for them only what they had a right to do for themselves – nothing more.

“Quoting again from Bastiat: ‘If every person has the right to defend – even by force – his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right — its reason for existing, its lawfulness — is based on individual right.’

“So far, so good. But now we come to the moment of truth. Suppose pioneer ‘A’ wants another horse for his wagon. He doesn’t have the money to buy one. But since pioneer ‘B’ has an extra horse, he decides that he is entitled to share in his neighbor’s good fortune. Is he entitled to take his neighbor’s horse? Obviously, not! If his neighbor wishes to give it or lend it, that is another question. But so long as pioneer ‘B’ wishes to keep his property, pioneer ‘A’ has no just claim to it.

“If ‘A’ has no proper power to take ‘B’s’ property, can he delegate any such power to the sheriff? No. Even if everyone in the community desires that ‘B’ give his extra horse to ‘A’, they have no right individually or collectively to force him to do it. They cannot delegate a power they themselves do not have. This important principle was clearly understood and explained by John Locke nearly 300 years ago: ‘For nobody can transfer to another more power than he has in himself, and nobody has an absolute arbitrary power over himself, or over any other, to destroy his own life, or take away the life or property of another.’

“This means, then, that the proper function of government is limited only to those spheres of activity within which the individual citizen has the right to act. By deriving its just powers from the governed, government becomes primarily a mechanism for defense against bodily harm, theft, and involuntary servitude. It cannot claim the power to redistribute the wealth or force reluctant citizens to perform acts of charity against their will. Government is created by man. No man possesses such powers to delegate. The creature cannot exceed the creator.

“In general terms, therefore, the proper role of government includes such defensive activities as maintaining national military and local police forces for protection against loss of life, loss of property, and loss of liberty at the hands of either foreign despots or domestic criminals…

“This section I find to be particularly poignant. Whenever there is a law being suggested we should always use this test: 

“An important test I use in passing judgment upon an act of government is this: If it were up to me as an individual to punish my neighbor for violating a given law, would it offend my conscience to do so? Since my conscience will never permit me to physically punish my fellow man unless he has done something evil, or unless he has failed to do something which

I have a moral right to require him to do, I will never knowingly authorize my agent, the government, to do this on my behalf. I realize that when I give my consent to the adoption of a law, I specifically instruct the police – the government – to take either the life, liberty, or property of anyone who disobeys that law. Furthermore, I tell them that if anyone resists the enforcement of the law, they are to use any means necessary – yes, even putting the lawbreaker to death or putting him in jail – to overcome such resistance. These are extreme measures, but unless laws are enforced, anarchy results…

“I believe we Americans should use extreme care before lending our support to any proposed government program. We should fully recognize that government is no plaything. As George Washington warned, ‘Government is not reason, it is not eloquence – it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master!’ It is an instrument of force, and unless our conscience is clear that we would not hesitate to put a man to death, put him in jail, or forcibly deprive him of his property for failing to obey a given law, we should oppose it…”

 

Wednesday 12:20 PM MDT

John felt great. His oral report was going very well and his teacher seemed to be hanging on to his every word, “On September 25, in the year 94 BE, President Wilson collapsed in Pueblo, Colorado, from the physical strain caused by his tireless work against the capitalists who were trying to stop the creation of the League of Nations. Days before he was to begin the struggle again, on October 2, capitalist agents snuck into his residence and gave him a poison that made it seem that he had a stroke. Despite these setbacks, the United States became a secret signatory to the Covenant of the League of Nations as a gift to him the day before he died on February 3, 89 BE.” He had memorized the conclusion especially well and knew he would no longer need his notes.

“I admire President Wilson, not only because he is a hero of The Enlightened One, but also because he should be a hero to all of us. He picked up the banner of President Theodore Roosevelt and prepared the country for President Franklin Roosevelt. Without his struggle for all of us, the United States would never have become the Enlightened States of America and the United Nations might never have been created and The Enlightened One might have never had a chance to ever become our enlightened leader. Thank you.”

The class clapped as instructed, some very enthusiastically.

“Excellent, John, as always,” Ms. Li John’s afternoon substitute teacher said as she rose from behind her desk. “Any words of praise for John, class?”

Talia raised her hand, “I thought you sounded real smart, John.”

“Good. Anyone else?”

“And really loyal!” Redden added.

“Very true,” Ms Li concurred.

“You didn’t say ‘um’ or ‘uh’ the whole time. That was really good,” Presley offered.

“True, and you did really good, John, but we don’t ever criticize anyone for saying those things do we?”

“No, Ms. Li,” the class said in unison.

Hilary raised her hand and, without waiting to be called on, said, “That’s because The Enlightened One does it all the time, right?”

The teacher grimaced a little and peeked up at the surveillance camera in the back of the room, “The Enlightened One takes dramatic pauses on occasion. This makes him a great orator. Sometimes when people are brilliant they have to do that. Any other praise?”

“I kind of have a question,” Rahm said.

“Yes, Rahm?”

“Do you think it’s good to say that The Enlightened One needed President Wilson for him to be our leader? I think The Enlightened One became our leader because of how great he is.”

John spoke up, “Can I answer that, Ms. Li?”

She hesitated a second, but she quickly realized that she had confidence in John’s ability to respond appropriately, “Sure, John.”

“Just a few weeks ago at The Enlightened One’s birthday celebration for Woodrow Wilson, he said that exact thing. It was a wonderful speech. That was why I chose this topic for my report.”

“That’s great, John. Okay, no more time for praise. We need to get on with our reports. Now we will hear Harry L. give his report. Harry?”

John returned to his seat feeling proud. He had delivered his report well, enlightened his fellow students, and praised The Enlightened One in an individual setting — not as part of a group chant. What a great morning.

“For my report on great leaders from before the Enlightenment, I chose Harry Reid because my moms named me after him…”

 

Wednesday 12:55 PM MDT

 

            Heather realized that the exact things she was reading about here was the problem with what the government had been doing, even before The Enlightened One came to power. The government was treating the people as subjects. The government was doing a large number of things that they had no authority to do, not just by the Constitution, but they had no authority by the laws of nature. Once the bureaucrats seized that kind of power, they began initiating punitive penalties for actions that one man had no moral right to require of another.

Her father was just getting to the part about the Constitutionality of a law..

 

Another standard to use in determining what law is good and what is bad is the Constitution of the United States…

 

Wednesday 1:00 PM MDT

12:00 PM CDT (Zion)

“I want to wrap up my remarks by, one last time, quoting directly the ‘Fifteen Principles Which Make For Good and Proper Government’…

 “1. I believe that no people can maintain freedom unless their political institutions are founded upon faith in God and belief in the existence of moral law.

“2.  I believe that God has endowed men with certain unalienable rights as set forth in the Declaration of Independence and that no legislature and no majority, however great, may morally limit or destroy these; that the sole function of government is to protect life, liberty, and property and anything more than this is usurpation and oppression.

“3. I believe that the Constitution of the United States was prepared and adopted by men acting under inspiration from Almighty God; that it is a solemn compact between the peoples of the States of this nation which all officers of government are under duty to obey; that the eternal moral laws expressed therein must be adhered to or individual liberty will perish.

“4. I believe it a violation of the Constitution for government to deprive the individual of either life, liberty, or property except for these purposes:

(a) Punish crime and provide for the administration of justice;

(b) Protect the right and control of private property;

(c) Wage defensive war and provide for the nation’s defense;

(d) Compel each one who enjoys the protection of government to bear his fair share of the burden of performing the above functions.

“5. I hold that the Constitution denies government the power to take from the individual either his life, liberty, or property except in accordance with moral law; that the same moral law which governs the actions of men when acting alone is also applicable when they act in concert with others; that no citizen, or group of citizens, has any right to direct their agent, the government, to perform any act which would be evil or offensive to the conscience if that citizen were performing the act himself outside the framework of government.

“6. I am hereby resolved that under no circumstances shall the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights be infringed. In particular, I am opposed to any attempt on the part of the Federal Government to deny the people their right to bear arms, to worship and pray when and where they choose, or to own and control private property.

“7. I consider ourselves at war with international Communism which is committed to the destruction of our government, our right of property, and our freedom; that it is treason, as defined by the Constitution, to give aid and comfort to this implacable enemy.

“8. I am unalterably opposed to Socialism, either in whole or in part, and regard it as an unconstitutional usurpation of power and a denial of the right of private property for government to own or operate the means of producing and distributing goods and services in competition with private enterprise, or to regiment owners in the legitimate use of private property.

“9. I maintain that every person who enjoys the protection of his life, liberty, and property should bear his fair share of the cost of government in providing that protection; that the elementary principles of justice set forth in the Constitution demand that all taxes imposed be uniform and that each person’s property or income be taxed at the same rate.

“10. I believe in honest money, the gold and silver coinage of the Constitution, and a circulation medium convertible into such money without loss. I regard it as a flagrant violation of the explicit provisions of the Constitution for the Federal Government to make it a criminal offense to use gold or silver coin as legal tender or to use irredeemable paper money.

“11. I believe that each State is sovereign in performing those functions reserved to it by the Constitution and it is destructive of our federal system and the right of self-government guaranteed under the Constitution for the Federal Government to regulate or control the States in performing their functions or to engage in performing such functions itself.

“12. I consider it a violation of the Constitution for the Federal Government to levy taxes for the support of state or local government; that no state or local government can accept funds from the Federal and remain independent in performing its functions, nor can the citizens exercise their rights of self-government under such conditions.

“13. I deem it a violation of the right of private property, guaranteed under the Constitution, for the Federal Government to forcibly deprive the citizens of this nation of their property through taxation or otherwise, and make a gift thereof to foreign governments or their citizens.

“14. I believe that no treaty or agreement with other countries should deprive our citizens of rights guaranteed them by the Constitution.

“15. I consider it a direct violation of the obligation imposed upon it by the Constitution for the Federal Government to dismantle or weaken our military establishment below that point required for the protection of the States against invasion, or to surrender or commit our men, arms, or money to the control of foreign or world organizations of governments. These things I believe to be the proper role of government.

“As I said in the beginning, I encourage you to read and re-read this talk. I implore you to hold all of your elected officials to these standards. If you do, we will be able to maintain our new republic.

“With that I welcome you as the newest citizens of the Republic of Zion!”

 

Wednesday 2:45 PM MDT

 

“Josh!” Heather squealed and wrapped her arms around her boyfriend. She was bouncing on her toes uncontrollably. “Mom! Josh is here!” She gave him another hug, then kissed him.

“Oh, Heather, it’s so good to see you,” Joshua said with a bit of trepidation which Heather didn’t seem to notice.

“Joshua!” Linda called out as she came around the corner from the kitchen. She put her arms out for a hug, too.

“Ms. Stone, it’s so good to see you,” Joshua said, giving her a hug.

“Come, sit down,” Linda insisted as she began to head toward the couch in the living room.

“Okay,” he replied as he followed her.

Heather reached out and grabbed his hand and pulled him close. He looked down at her hand then gave her a quick smile as they sat down on the loveseat together.

“Wow! I’m so excited! I was starting to wonder why I hadn’t heard from you in over a month. I guess you’ve been traveling for a good part of that, huh?” Heather said.

“Yes, I wasn’t able to write the last few weeks because we were coming back from Nevada. Then we were processed in Salt Lake City before we could return to our homes,” Joshua related.

“No wonder you look so tan; walking over the Salt Flats in the middle of summer,” Heather said.

“We traveled mostly at night during that part of the trip. Global Warming has made it too hot to do in the daylight now,” Joshua explained.

Heather started to giggle until he got a puzzled look on his face and she realized that he was serious. “It must have been hard,” she said quietly.

“It was, but at least I’m home with my comrades now. In fact, I was admitted to MYM so I will be attending in the fall. I’m planning to major in Sub-Saharan African Affairs. It should allow me to serve The Enlightened One with the honor he deserves. Have you chosen a major, Heather?”  Joshua probed.

“Um…” Heather was holding back tears. “I, uh…”

“Oh, you must be parched, Joshua,” Linda cut in. “Heather, will you help me make some lemonade?”

“Sure, Mom,” she replied, trying to gain a little composure.

They went into the kitchen and Heather broke down sobbing into her mother’s shoulder. After a few seconds she managed to ask through her tears, “Oh, Mom! What am I going to do?”

“It’ll be alright, honey. We’ll work through this. Hey, maybe he’s just got a monitoring device on and they are listening in. Just keep the conversation generic and he’ll give us a sign if he’s putting on a show.”

“Oh, I hope so. I just don’t know what I’ll do if he’s not acting,” Heather said, wiping tears from her eyes. She turned to the counter and picked up the warm pitcher of lemonade that was already sitting there.

Linda grabbed three glasses and they headed back into the living room.

The next twenty minutes or so were the hardest of Heather’s life. Joshua went on and on about the greatness of The Enlightened One without ever giving any sort of clue that he was anything but dead serious.  He spouted tails of how The Enlightened One had saved this species or that and how he had saved the jobs of all workers with his economic policies and how grateful all South Americans should be to The Enlightened One. Heather just sat there nodding in agreement with his statements, not able to bring herself to speak.

Linda decided Heather had had enough so she stood and said, “Well, Joshua, it was nice to see you again, but we do have duties to perform.”

At that, he stood and turned to Heather and said, “Hopefully, we can get together again before school begins. Perhaps we will share some classes.”

“Maybe,” was all she was able to get out. Then she gave him a quick smile and hugged him for a second. She looked down at her feet as he said goodbye to Linda and left.

“Mom,” she started as soon as the door closed, “What did they do to him?” She started bawling again.

“Oh, Baby, it’s okay,” Linda put her arms around Heather.

“Was Dad like that after his re-education?”

Linda hesitated.

“He wasn’t, was he? Oh, Mom! I can’t believe I’ve lost him. I was so sure he was the one. Now they’ve taken him away from me!”

“I know you don’t want to hear this right now, but there will be someone else, Heather.”

“I’m just so sick of this, Mom,” Heather wiped her tears again. “When is this going to end? How have people lived in this kind of idiocy for so long? AAHHGG!”

“I know what you mean, honey. Things weren’t like this back in the day. I just don’t know how the Chinese and Russians and Cubans and the Venezuelans put up with it their whole lives. I guess the thing that helps me is your dad. I know he’s working to fight the system and, as long as he keeps on plugging away, I know there is a chance.”

“You are so lucky, Mom.” Heather broke down crying again. After a couple of minutes, Heather pulled away from her mom and told her that she was going to go up to her room for a while.

Wednesday 5:25 PM MDT

The doorbell rang. José visibly jumped in his seat causing Pedro to break out laughing.

Jacob leaped from the dinner table to answer it; he was expecting his friends.

“Jake, you ready?” It was Jacob’s friends Robby, Mike, and Steve.

Jacob turned aside so his parents could see who was at the door, “Mom, can I go?”

“Your dishes?”

“Just a sec, I’ll be right out.” He turned and headed back to the table to take care of his dishes. “Jimmy, you want to come?”

Dave had introduced Jimmy to the younger kids as Jeff’s son, “Uh… sure, I guess.”

“Hey, gentlemen, what are you guys doing?” Dave called out to Jacob’s dismay.

“Oh, just hanging out down on 12th with some friends,” Robby answered sticking his head in the door.

Julie smiled in his direction then looked away.

“Hanging out, huh? Sounds really fun,” Dave replied.

“Jimmy, what size shoe you wear?” Jacob asked as he left the kitchen.

“Usually, an eleven.”

“Great, I’ve got an extra pair you can wear – you’re not gonna want to wear those boots.”

“Yeah. No boots,” Mike agreed from the doorway.

Linda hadn’t seen all three boys, “Oh, hi, Mike. I didn’t see you.”

“Hi, Mrs. Stone.”

“Well, you boys be sure to take it easy on Jimmy. He’s not from around here, you know. He’s not used to the elevation.”

Jacob tossed a pair of sneakers at Jimmy, “He’ll be fine, Mom. It’s not that far, only a couple of miles.”

Soon the four boys were out the door and mounting bikes. Jacob let Jimmy take the ‘spare bike.’ Dave had been given the bike as a reward at work, but he refused to ride it. When he wouldn’t ride it home from work, Rick had it delivered to their house, but Dave refused to get on it. Jacob didn’t think the bike was that bad, but it was in no way comparable to Dave’s.

“Guys, this is Jimmy. Jimmy, these are the guys – Robby, Steve, and Mike. So… Jimmy just got here from Arizona, but he’s from Washington.”

They left the neighborhood from the northwest end heading toward Enlightenment Blvd. and, without cars on the roads, the boys were able to ride along side each other most of the way.

“If you just got here from Arizona, then you’re in the resistance, huh?” Steve asked.

“Yup, I’ve already been re-educated. I got out about two years ago and I’ve been doing what I can since.”

The boys were obviously impressed. “That’s awesome! I wish my parents would let me do something,” Mike started, “They are about as anti-government as the next guy, but my dad is afraid to do anything more than talk to us kids. He wouldn’t even let me bring one of Jake’s dad’s books in our house. He’s so afraid of getting caught.” Mike was taller than average, and very thin like most of the regular citizens; there simply wasn’t enough food to really bulk up these days, especially for a teenage boy.

“My parents are like that, too,” Steve added.

Jimmy spoke up again, “My parents were government officials, probably still are as far as I know. But I ran away when I got out of re-education.”

“What was re-education like?” Robby asked. “Was it like school all day long and stuff?”

“Well, juvie re-education is a lot more like school than adult re-education from what I hear. We had to get up at 5:00AM every day and go to school for 12 hours, but it was almost all videos of the Enlightenment and books about the Enlightenment and stupid global warming videos from the old days. They would try to get us to turn in our parents as capitalists and stuff. It was kinda dumb, though. My parents were idiots – I have to say, but they were loyal idiots. You know what I mean?”

Mike interrupted, “So how did you turn out to be such a rebel?”

“The thing is, at first, I just loved mechanical stuff. Me and some of my friends found an old junkyard and we started trying to put together old motors and stuff. Finding gas for them was the hardest part. Anyway, then we found most of a couple motorcycles; it just seemed that it’d be cool to get ‘em running, you know? So, when I was in re-education, I ran into this guy, Glenn. He was older than me, probably 16 or 17 or so, and he was all into the resistance and he talked about the Founding Fathers and freedom and stuff. He was telling everybody about the old days and how people used to have all these rights and stuff. I thought it sounded pretty cool so I joined his group and got this mark here,” he lifted his right arm up and showed them an “X” carved into his forearm, just below the elbow. You know, I didn’t even notice that other people had that ‘X’ until I had one, then I noticed that a lot of people had them.

“But, yeah, after listening to all their stupid lectures in class all day, we had to put in about two or three hours doing manual labor after school – to keep us in shape, they said. We were just moving a huge mountain of dirt back and forth across a two mile path, shoveling and pushing a wheelbarrow, dumping it, and going back for more. Once we moved it, we moved it back.

“So, I learned a lot from that Glenn guy. He got me all psyched up to join the resistance when I got out; especially after he got, well, after some punk guard beat him into a coma. It was really sad, but by then there were so many of us in the camp, we started carrying on his work, you know?

“So, when I got out, I ran to Portland and got in with the guys there and they taught me some stuff and trained me in combat moves and that. I heard about José and his guys so I went to Idaho to find José and try to get in with his group…”

Steve was clearly impressed, “No way! José Torrez? Are you kidding?”

“You just saw him a couple minutes ago. He was sitting there at the table when you guys came over,” Jacob said.

“That was José Torrez? Why didn’t you introduce us?” Robby whined.

“Because we were gonna be late. Speaking of that, we’ve gotta pick up the pace.” Jacob urged.

 

Wednesday 5:35 PM MDT

 

Linda came up behind Heather, who had just started washing the dishes, “Heather, honey, you’ve had a rough afternoon. I’ve got an idea, how about you and Julie take the movie passes your dad and I got for tonight. Obviously, we can’t use them with your dad’s friends here.”

“Really, Mom?” Julie said excitedly.

“I don’t know, I …”

“You can’t just mope like this, Heather. Maybe it will help you forget about it for a couple of hours.”

“Come on, Heather! It will be great! I heard they are playing this really great old movie at the theatre this month,” Julie pleaded. “We can’t just let the tickets waste. They are such a pain to get requisitions for.”

“I’ll finish up here, you go. Go, go, go.” Linda coaxed.

“Alright, Mom, for Julie’s sake,” Heather conceded.

“Yay!” Julie squealed.

Linda continued to gently push Heather out of the way of the dishes, “You guys will need to get going pretty soon. The movie starts early so it can get over in time for the news.”

“Ooh, and using paper requisitions always takes extra long, too. Hurry, Heather! Let’s get ready.”

 

Wednesday 5:44 PM MDT

“Are you serious, Jacob?”

Jacob pulled his shirt from his left arm first then flipped it toward the bench as he removed it from his right arm, “Come on, we’re skins. Take your shirt off.”

“Welcome to the deep, dark underworld of basketball speakeasies,” Mike laughed.

Steve started jogging toward midcourt, “Let’s go. Rod’s not here yet so you need to be our fifth so we don’t have to forfeit.”

“But I’ve never played real basketball,” Jimmy confessed.

“Don’t worry about it. We just need to keep the game from being a blowout for a few minutes until he gets here,” Jacob insisted.

“Okay, Ref, the Cougars are here,” Robby said to the referee.

“Alright, you guys know the rules. Let’s keep it clean. The time is 5:45 and both teams are present…”

Forfeits were a serious problem in speakeasy basketball. There were so many ways for a player or two to get hung up on their way to the game. The Cougars had one player, Kyle, who was currently grounded by his parents and two brothers, Ozzy and Randy, were serving misdemeanor World Service sentences for playing competitive sports (they had been caught practicing at home on a homemade basket). They had to stay after school and clean the playground area for two hours every day for two weeks.

From the tip-off, the Cougars were in trouble. It was obvious Jimmy hadn’t played basketball. He caught on to things quickly but his teammates almost immediately decided not to pass him the ball. Toward the end of the first quarter, Jimmy got his third foul.

“If Rod doesn’t show, we are gonna be toast,” Jacob panted to Robby during a time out.

“I know, 12 – 4 already.”

“Jimmy, you are doing great. Just remember, you can’t grab him just because he’s getting past you.”

“I know.  I’m getting better, but with my leg, I can’t run with them.”

Mike, always the one to boost the morale of his teammates, said, “Hey, at least you got one thing going for ya; you’ve been running up and down the court like a mad-man and you’re barely breathing hard.”

“Thanks! That will help if this turns into a game of last man standing,” Jimmy replied with a chuckle.

The whistle blew and the teams returned to the court.

 

Wednesday 5:55 PM MDT

 

“Wow, this place is a madhouse. I haven’t seen it this busy at a movie… well… ever,” Julie said.

Heather agreed, “I know, this movie must really be cool. I wonder what these glasses are for.”

“Well, I know it was from before the Enlightenment; it’s probably 20 years old, though. This is weird! It’s mostly older people, like Mom and Dad’s age, and maybe even older.”

“Thanks for making me come, Julie. I really needed to try and not sit around thinking about Joshua.”

“Hey, no problem. Here’s a place, let’s sit right here.”

The girls took their seats and had to wait only a couple of minutes before a Green Patrol officer stood up in front of the screen. The audience quieted down.

The officer began speaking through a megaphone, “This movie has been approved by The Enlightened One for all of us to view. It has been certified as truly enlightened. We thank The Enlightened One for this opportunity. We thank The Enlightened One, for he is kind and generous!”

The crowd immediately began chanting, “Thank you, kind and generous Enlightened One!

“Thank you, kind and generous Enlightened One!

“Thank you, kind and generous Enlightened One!

“Thank you, kind and generous Enlightened One!

“Thank you, kind and generous Enlightened One!”

“We are also blessed today to be able to watch this film in a revolutionary format called 3D. The Enlightened One had this technology created…”

A chuckle went through the crowd. Most of them were old enough to know that wasn’t true.

“He ordered this technology to be created so we could enjoy this film to an even greater extent. The special glasses you hold in your hand are the type that he personally invented to make this movie going experience possible.”

Another chuckle.

“I now present a short message from The Enlightened One, followed by the feature film.”

The house lights dimmed and the logo of The Enlightened One was projected onto the screen. After a few seconds, his image came on.

“I want to welcome you to this wonderful film experience. To help you fully enjoy this opportunity, I want to say a few words. First of all, you need to remember that even though the film was made before the Enlightenment, it is very enlightened.

“The capitalists tried to destroy every copy of this film and you will see why in a few minutes. I personally made sure that copies of this film were preserved because I knew that the Nazi-Capitalists must not be allowed to destroy such an important work of art.

“This film shows the evils of capitalism and it does so in a visually stunning way. This film is absolutely beautiful, but do not get too caught up in its beauty. You must listen to its message. This movie very effectively shows the evil of industrial capitalism and how its followers tried to destroy our world. It shows how the white people treated people of other races, especially the Native Americans. In the film, they use Americans to symbolize white people. So just remember that all of the Americans in the film represent white industrial capitalists. While there were a few good people, most of them were unrepentantly evil.

“The blue people, on the other hand, represent all earth loving people whom the capitalists want to wipe out. They show a proper reverence for the planet, and even when they enslave an animal, they do so in a monogamous relationship of mutual respect.”

The Enlightened One put on a pair of 3D glasses. “I have designed these glasses for you to wear to make the film appear in three dimensions. I know they look silly, but they really work. I hope you enjoy using them. Let’s start the show…”

 

Wednesday 6:15 PM MDT

 

Mike turned to the referee, “Time!”

“Time out, Cougars,” the referee said after blowing his whistle.

Jimmy looked up at the scoreboard, “23-8. Man, this is turning into a slaughter.”

“Well, at least we didn’t forfeit. I’d hate to have our perfect record ruined by a forfeit!” Steve said taking a drink from a plastic bottle.

Jimmy was still amazed, even as the game neared half time. They were playing basketball on a full sized hardwood court in an old carpet warehouse, there was running water in the fountains, and the players had plastic squeeze bottles — something Jimmy had never actually seen. There was even air conditioning! Everyone had been heavily screened to keep spies out and, over the previous five years, they had never been raided. Jimmy figured someone was really getting bribed well to let this place continue to exist.

“You guys were undefeated?”

“You sound shocked,” Mike said with a smile.

“Well, yeah!”

“Rod!” Robby called out, “You made it!”

Jimmy turned to see Rod taking off his shirt as he neared the bench.

“Not a moment too soon, I see,” Rod replied with a smile. “I got stopped by the Green Patrol. This stupid lard-butt made me carry his broken down bike to the sub-station at the Distribution Center.”

Rob was black, stood at least six foot seven, Jimmy estimated, and had the build of a true athlete.

“Jimmy, Rod. Rod, Jimmy. Jimmy, here, is why we are undefeated.”

“You got that right. Let’s protect my perfect record!”

Over the rest of the game, Jimmy only saw another four minutes of playing time – one minute each to rest Jacob, Robby, Mike, and Steve. They decided that since Rod missed most of the first half, he didn’t need a break.

In the end, the Cougars managed a comfortable 58-42 victory. The boys decided to stay after and watch the Vipers take on the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs were no good, but the Vipers had a new guy who looked like he might give them a slight challenge when they played next week.

 

Wednesday 8:10 PM MDT

7:10 PM CDT (Zion)

 

“Okay, boys, today we are going to be working on requirements 4b and 5 and, if we have enough time, we might get a chance to work on a couple of others. So let’s get out our packets,” the Scoutmaster of Troop 101 began. The door to their room opened a crack and he could see their special guest had arrived.

“Settle down. Now, we have a special guest today to help us study for this merit badge,” he signaled toward the door and the president of Zion entered the room. The president had been the Scoutmaster of the troop up until a few months ago, and was glad to be back with “his boys”.

The boys all immediately got up from their chairs and stood at attention, but as they stood fidgeting it was obvious they were not going to be able to hold it very long.

“Thank you, gentlemen. At ease, take your seats.”

The boys began to bombard the president with questions – how was he doing, how did he like being president, when was he going to come back to the troop full time. He answered a few questions then insisted they settle down so they could begin the lesson.

The president sat in one of the chairs in the circle and waited a few seconds for the scouts to get ready for their discussion, “Alright, Mark. Can you recite the Preamble to the Constitution for us?”

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America,” the 12 year-old replied from memory.

“Good. Thank you, Mark. We are supposed to pick out the six functions of government listed here and talk about how they affect your family and community. Let’s go around, starting with Brian – what’s the first function listed?”

“To form a more perfect union, Mr. President.”

“Great. You d…,” he cut himself off. He decided that despite the fact that he had known these boys for most of their lives, they were taught respect for the office and he was going to respect that, “What does that mean?”

There was nearly a minute of silence. “Does it mean the purpose is to make everything perfect, or what? What do you think, Brian?”

“No…” he took a breath, “It means, when they wrote it, the states didn’t get along so good so the federal government needed to help the states be more perfect in their togetherness.”

“Good! So one reason they wrote the Constitution was to make the states more unified. Under the Articles of Confederation, that wasn’t happening at all. So do you think that affects us today?”

“Our country is unified together, even though the old United States fell apart.”

“That’s true, Alex. Some of these questions are a little trickier now than when I was a scout, but do you guys think that this is a good principle for a government; that the smaller parts of the government should be able to work together and know who has what responsibility and to make those lines clear?”

The boys nodded, nearly in unison.

“Okay, Zack, what is the second function listed?”

Zack’s lips started moving as he recited the preamble to himself, “Establish justice.”

“Okay. That one seems pretty easy…Calvin?”

“There wasn’t courts that could, like, rule over stuff in all the states.”

“Good. So the role of the government is to make sure there is justice in the country. How does that affect us? Alex?”

“Well, if there are people trying to steal and stuff, there has to be courts to punish people who are breaking the laws, and then businesses know they can be protected against people stealing and stuff, and the same for our house and stuff.”

“Excellent. Calvin, what’s next?”

Calvin was ready for his turn, “Ensure domestic tranquility.”

“Tim, what does that mean?”

“That the states will get along?”

“So how can the government make sure the states get along? And why is that important?”

“I don’t think they can, really. There are always things that make people not get along.”

“That’s true, so what can be done to make them have a better chance of getting along?”

After a few seconds, Terence spoke up, “Maybe, just by being treated the same because, before the Constitution, the states didn’t think they were represented fairly.”

“Go on…”

“The states with a lot of people wanted representation by how many people there were, and the states with less wanted the states to have equal votes.”

“Excellent,” the president said. “So, when they created the House and Senate in the Constitution, that was an attempt to make both sides happy. Good. Now, how does that affect us today?”

The boys sat silently, mostly trying to avoid the president’s gaze. “No ideas? How does ensuring domestic tranquility affect us? Anyone? Brian?”

“Well, if our states are happy in the union, they won’t break apart like in the United States.”

“That’s true! The so-called Enlightened States used to include the whole country, but now they lost over a quarter of the states and it looks like maybe more will follow. Many of the ones that stay in are only there because they are being forced to by a foreign standing army. If there was a little more cooperation, maybe things would be better. Who knows?

“Okay, we just did ‘Ensure Domestic Tranquility’. Terence, what’s next?”

After a second, Terence answered, “Provide for the common defense.”

“And that means…”

A few hands shot up, “I see everyone wants to answer the easy one,” the president chuckled. “Jordan?”

“They didn’t have an army or navy for the whole country so they needed to make one instead of only state militias.”

“Did they get rid of state militias?”

“No!” a number of the boys answered in unison.

The president smiled, “They didn’t? Sione, why not?”

“Because every able bodied man is part of the militia. That’s part of our duty to the country.”

“We all would fight for the country,” Zack added, “We are all in the militia, not that my mom would be really happy to admit it!” The boys all laughed in agreement.

“My mom would bawl like a baby, but my dad says if we ever got invaded, I would be expected to do my part,” said Zack.

“That’s true, but we all pray that that never happens, don’t we?”

“Yes, Mr. President,” Zack said, toning down his zeal.

“Good, gentlemen. The country has a duty to protect itself and to have a unified force. In case of an external threat, we would all band together.

“Okay, what’s next? Jordan, your turn.”

“Promote the general welfare, Mr. President,” he replied quickly.

“Meaning?”

Terence spoke up this time, “It means the government is going to make a climate of freedom where everyone has a chance to succeed.”

“Excellent, but I thought it meant we should give everyone welfare…”

The boys jumped all over that one again, “Noooooo!” they hollered.

“Alright, Alright… So how does this one affect you and the community?”

Sione raised his hand excitedly, “My dad used to have to work at a place where people brought in their garbage to try and get some money, but now that we live here, he has his own company making swimming pools for people like he used to a long time ago when him and my mom got married.”

“Now everyone has a chance to do whatever job they want and to make however much money they want,” Calvin added.

“My dad works more, but he is a lot happier now because he has a job he likes,” Jordan added. “Before my dad was always angry and was always yelling at The Enlightened One whenever he was on TV…”

“Which was, like, always!” Alex added.

Jordan agreed, “I know, huh.”

“But don’t we need to give money to people who can’t find a job?” the president prodded.

“Duh! No way, then they w…” Brian started, then when the president looked his way, “Sorry, Mr. President. Sometimes I forget cuz you are just, like, one of our friends.”

“No problem, Brian. What were you going to say?”

“If you pay people who don’t work, they don’t have a reason to get a job. Our church helps out people when their dad is looking for a job, but they have to do work for the church for as long as they are getting money and the people in the church try to help them get a job, but everyone has to earn their money.”

“But wouldn’t it be easier if the government just took care of it?”

“Maybe it would be easier, but it wouldn’t be better. Besides, my mom says that you get blessings when you help people, but not from paying taxes.”

“Mine, too!” Zack agreed.

“Well, I agree. Good job, guys. Okay, that’s five. What’s the last function of government from the preamble? Sione’s turn.” The president returned to the task at hand.

“Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. That means the government has to protect our freedom and also make sure there is still freedom for our kids.”

“So how does the government do that? By giving us rights?”

“No!” the boys shouted.

Alex spoke up first, “Rights come from God!”

“The government is the people and we all have to protect the rights that we were born with,” Brian added.

The president smiled, “You mean you aren’t free because I gave you rights as president?”

“No way, Mr. President!” Terence said returning his smile.

 

Wednesday 8:25 PM MDT

“That was a lot of fun,” Jimmy said to Jacob as they left the warehouse, “I’m pretty bad, but it was more fun than when we played in gym class when I was in school. We just got to shoot the ball and there was a rule that there had to be at least five balls at every basket so people couldn’t start up a game and keep score.”

“Yeah, I remember when we were in elementary and I got suspended about eight or ten times for playing ‘horse’ or for keeping score,” Jacob replied.

Mike added, “Oh, they got so mad at us, especially when we kept score playing soccer that one time, remember?”

“Oooh, the playground czar was so mad! We were defiling their precious third world game!” Steve replied.

“Remember how mad they got when we would pick up the ball and run?” Jacob asked as they got to their bikes.

Robby started, “Yeah, that Tongan kid… oh, what was his name?”

“Tomasi?” Mike offered.

“Yeah, that was it. Remember how he was trying to teach us rugby?”

Jacob started laughing, “Oh! That was classic! I thought Ms. Emmett was gonna have a cow! I can still see her face as she was running.”

“Her face was all scrunched up and she was growling like a mad dog!” The boys were all cracking up now. Even Jimmy couldn’t help but laugh as Mike was bent over laughing hard.

That story led the boys into several other stories and they spent another ten minutes laughing and shouting at each other before they were able to mount their bikes and start their trek toward their neighborhoods.

“So, what do you guys do besides play in secret basketball games and run recon for the resistance?” Jimmy queried.

“You know, just hang out mostly,” Jacob said. “You only have a couple hours to do stuff every day.”

“Yeah, pretty much I do my homework and if my dad doesn’t have some resistance stuff for me then, I don’t know, mostly we just try to avoid getting in trouble,” Mike added.

“Yeah, there just isn’t much to do any more. Who wants to go eat a tofu burger or a TVP taco?”

“There used to be some underground restaurants where you could get some real food, but once they got real popular and there started to be so many people hanging around, it was obvious to the greenies that something bad was going on there. They eventually all got closed down,” Steve said as they turned onto Enlightenment Blvd.

Jacob jumped back in, “Yeah, that’s why we can only play basketball once a week. If there is too much traffic in the area, they’ll get busted and shut down.”

Jimmy replied, “That sucks. So, you guys don’t really get to have much more fun that I’ve been having.”

“But at least you get to do real fighting. My dad doesn’t let me go on real missions,” Jacob lamented.

“My dad, either. The only shooting we ever get to do is once a year when we get to go shooting out in the desert during the fireworks show for The Enlightened One’s birthday,” Robby said.

“Pretty much most of our friends at school just spend their time getting high and stuff. Unless you try really hard to find better things to do, there just isn’t much going on,” Mike said somberly.

“There are community dances, but mostly people are just there looking for drugs and sex. It’s stupid. There are some legal sports places, but they sit there and watch you to make sure you aren’t competing with anyone,” Jacob said.

“There are movies, but they are all so lame and everything closes at 8:00 or 8:30 so people can be home by 9:00,” Steve added.

Jacob nodded and continued, “Yeah, and it’s not even dark! It’s so dumb. Sometimes we’ll have an hour or more after the news, but you never know how long the news will run so you can’t really do too much after except hang around in your neighborhood.”

Jimmy tried to sound positive, “Well, I’m glad you guys found out about the basketball place. At least that’s better than not doing anything.”

 

Wednesday 8:48 PM MDT

 

The Stone girls made their way out of the theater after the crowd had dispersed for the most part. Their ride home wasn’t that far. “Thanks for talking me into going, Julie. I needed to get my mind off of things.”

“Hey, no problem! What are sisters for?”

“At least the blue guy didn’t remind me of Josh. If he did, I might have been sad when he defected to the tree-hugger side.”

Julie had to chuckle at that. “But, wow, that movie was really… beautiful wasn’t it?”

“It really was,” Heather replied. “The computer graphics were awesome and the whole thing was total ‘eye candy’. It was so cool to look at.”

“It makes you wonder why the movies they make now are so lame by comparison.”

“I guess when they took over all of the movie studios, most of the people just destroyed all of their computer equipment and stuff.”

“Oh yeah, I remember when Dad was telling us about how when the government started confiscating private computers, and the big chip makers were all protesting, and there were a bunch of ‘accidental fires’ in plants all across the hemisphere.”

“Yeah, they didn’t know if the government or the companies st…” Heather cut herself off as the front of her bike started to wiggle, then she angled off to the side of the road as she found herself riding the rim of her front wheel. “No! Not now!”

Julie pulled off of the road alongside Heather. “We are gonna be late. We can’t be late.”

“I know. Crud!” Heather contemplated the situation silently for a few seconds.

Julie was frequently quick to panic and was visibly worried, “What are we going to do?”

Dozens of people were riding past quickly, also afraid of being late. There was no way anyone was stopping to help.

“Well, we’ve got about seven minutes and a little over half a mile to go…”

Julie cut her off, “But it’s mostly up hill. I don’t think we can push it fast enough.”

“Maybe we can just hide my bike up there in the bushes and come back for it after the news. I’ll just have to run.”

“You ladies look like you could use some help.”

The girls tuned around to see Jimmy smiling at them as he brought his bike to a stop.

“Oh, Jimmy, my hero!” Julie said just as she saw Robby come up behind him.

“I thought I was your hero,” Robby said smiling at Julie.

Julie blushed, but Jacob was about to make it worse.

“No one gets to be my little sister’s hero unless you both agree to a duel tomorrow morning at dawn!”

“Jacob, stop it!”

“Flat tire, huh?” Mike asked as he and Steve joined them as well.

“Well, how about me and Mike each take a side on the handle bars between us,” Steve started.

“Yeah, and I’ll let you ride on my handle bars, Heather,” Jimmy offered.

“Not with that leg, I’ll do it,” Robby said, “Besides, maybe I’ll be Heather’s hero!”

“Oh, thanks so much, you guys. You saved our lives!” Heather said.

Jacob reminded them, “Not yet, we haven’t; only if we get home in time. Hurry up, let’s go!”

 

Wednesday 9:50 PM MDT

As soon as the news ended and Scott and John were put to bed, Dave and his band of rebels donned their counterfeit dark green coveralls and left the house in a group. They took a short walk up to the northeast corner of 20th North and 33rd East where they found the regional substation of the Green Patrol unmanned, as expected. Dave took out the key to the station that one of his operatives had made a few months back. They went in, grabbed a handheld radio, then went out back to the bike corral. Having secured transportation, they started their journey out to the far east side of the valley to the old copper mining community that had long since been abandoned.

As they made their way east on 14th North, they passed the school where Dave had taught in the old days. When he saw the marquee, he couldn’t help but shake his head in dismay. The marquee now read, “Welcome to Al Gore High School – Home of the Icebergs.”

“I bet they have a top-notch global warming curriculum,” Dave said to himself.

Even after all these years, it made Dave sad to look behind the school where the football field had been. It was now filled with rows of greenhouses as were the whole sections where the baseball and softball fields had been.

Soon they reached the barricades that were setup to keep the people from the toxic remains of the town.  Of course, the mine was actually miles away. This was just another suburb of Salt Lake. However, rumor had it that when the nearby missile design company was being closed down, there was a huge blood bath and battlefield nuclear weapons had been used against them.

The rumors weren’t true; they had used chemical weapons and chemical residue levels had ceased to be a threat to people years ago. To Dave’s advantage, however, people’s fear of this area made it a perfect place to hide weapons.

They went around the barricades and headed to the far east end of town where “downtown” had been 100 years previously. There was an odd combination of feelings going through Dave: fear, because, of course, what they were doing was dangerous and it was past curfew; nostalgia, because he and Linda had owned their first home out here and this was where they lived when Dave ran for the legislature; melancholy, because everything was so run down and, in the nearly full moon, he could see the devastation that had been brought on the town. Dave also had a sense of calm, however, because being in such a remote area after curfew, there was little chance of getting caught.

“You know what’s crazy?” Dave asked rhetorically as they approached the end of the old single street downtown area which still had road signs that said ‘2700 South’.  “This part of town looked like this the whole time I lived here, no matter how hard the Chamber of Commerce tried to get businesses to move out here… We’re almost there.”

At the end of the street, there was a large asphalt slab that had been used for drivers’ education back when everyone was allowed to know how to drive and off to the right was a large vacant lot where there had once stood a school. These lots were right on the border of the land that had belonged to the mining company and were rarely traversed, even in the old days.

“The entrance is just on this side of the fence up here,” Dave said as they peddled up to the back of the asphalt covered lot.

“This is a pretty sweet setup, Dave,” José said, “Nice and remote. They even tore up that freeway over that way, didn’t they?” he asked, pointing off to the south.

“Yeah, the interstate is still up a few miles farther, but it’s heavily restricted,” Dave agreed as he picked up a homemade lever and fulcrum and began moving a large stone covering to the door of his hidden bunker.

Having given his comrades access to the bunker, he hopped on his bike and headed a couple of blocks southwest to the heavily treed area adjacent to the old golf course where one of his stolen trucks was concealed. He put his bike in the back, grabbed the keys from his hiding place in a nearby tree, got in, and drove back over to his cache.

“Whoa, Dave! This is the mother lode! We might have to rethink our strategy. Maybe we’ll have to scrape up some more gold and get another load or two,” Pedro said, obviously coveting the wealth of weapons he had just seen.

“Don’t worry, my friend. I’ll get you in touch with some folks in South Mexico who’ll be able to set you up without having to make such a dangerous flight down here,” Dave responded as he got out of the cab.

Over the next few minutes, they loaded up the truck with the agreed upon armaments and explosives, tossed their bikes into the back, closed up the cache, and headed out.

A few minutes later, they were heading north on the old 8000 West. As they reached the end of the road and headed west toward the barricades they had come through, Dave pulled the emergency brake and killed the engine. Dave and José, who were sitting in the cab of the truck, both saw the lights up ahead at the same time.

“Oh, crap!” Dave said as José swore.

They sat momentarily to scope out the situation, hoping their movement had gone unnoticed.  There were no lights pointing in their direction which they knew would probably work to their disadvantage. Someone was more likely to see them a mile away with the moonlight than with a flashlight or a low power spotlight.

“If I put it in reverse, the reverse lights are gonna come on and we’ll be toast,” Dave lamented.

“Maybe we can make a u-turn; just take it slow,” José suggested.

Meanwhile, Jeff had cracked open one of the crates of AK47’s and Pedro was opening up a case of ammunition.

“Let’s just give it a minute, first. I think holding still might be the best thing right now,” Dave countered as he started going through the channels on the handset radio they had commandeered from the Green Patrol substation.

The flashing blue and red lights of three patrol cars were stationary outside the barricades but from their vantage point it was hard to tell what the officers with their flashlights were looking at.

For the moment, moving the truck at all seemed too risky.

Pedro, Jimmy, and Jeff hopped out of the back and approached the cab on the passenger’s side. When they got up to the cab, Pedro suggested they go up and take a look but that Dave stay behind in case he needed to move the truck.

“We don’t have any papers; we are dead if they stop us. They must be EG cuz I’m not getting anything on the radio. They brought out the big guns for somebody,” Dave said in a very despondent voice. The Enlightenment Guard, or EG, was the name for the elite police forces of the federal government. Most countries would call them secret police but their activities were far from secret. If the EG was coming for you, they announced it and expected everyone to help in the search. They also had cell phones, which were rare – especially because of the small number of working cell sites. Since cell phones had been banned for the general public, the EG were really the only people who could communicate secretly.  There were no land lines, either. Every dwelling had a VOIP phone which ran through government phone servers and every call was monitored and recorded. Computers were banned in homes so all of the bandwidth in the country was used by government offices, the phone network, and television.

“All right,” Dave acquiesced after a minute or so, “but keep it low and slow, and no contact!”

“You got it, Dave,” Pedro assured him.

Jeff and Jimmy took the north side of the street where there was an overgrown fence line to give a little bit of cover but Pedro and José’s side of the street had no cover at all except for a small strip of fence in front of some abandoned building less than a quarter mile up the road.

The next twenty minutes seemed an eternity to Dave, as the car-top lights continued to spin and the spotlights seemed to move around almost indiscriminately. A couple of times he felt the urge to just go ahead and try to make the u-turn and get off of the road, but he thought better of it. When José and the others returned, he wished he had.

“Man, you ain’t gonna believe this,” José said when they returned.

“It’s a freakin’ party!” Pedro said. “Like, the second to last house on the street must belong to one of those EG guys.”

“They got no idea what’s going around them. They are using their cars for dance lights,” Jimmy added.

“Well, crud, what are we gonna do? This is the only section in the barricades we can get the truck through,” Dave said, relieved now but frustrated none the less.

“We could try to wait ‘em out, but if this thing goes all night, we’ll get stuck out here until sundown tomorrow,” Pedro said. “Either way, Dave’s got to go back; he’ll be missed.”

“I don’t know, man,” Dave shook his head, “If we don’t get all of the bikes back, we might bring on an unwelcome investigation.”

“Dave, you call it,” José said. “They gotta get bikes stolen all the time, don’t they? In my neighborhood, those Green Patrol guys were usually scumbags.”

“I don’t know. They are just regular guys around here, you know. The EG are generally low-lives, but… uuuggghhh! I don’t know… I don’t think we’d better risk it,” he finally decided.

“I think you’re right,” Jeff said. “Better safe than sorry.”

“That’s why my man, Dave, is still around after all these years,” José concurred.

“Alright, let’s get this truck back. We’ll try again tomorrow night,” Dave said, the burden of the decision now lifted from his shoulders. He felt much better about the whole situation now.

They pulled a u-turn in the grassy field on the side of the road and headed back to where the truck had been hidden.  They left the contraband in the truck, hopped on their bikes, and headed down 14th North rather than 20th, avoiding the party. Less than an hour later, they were leaving the substation and heading back to Dave’s house.

Thursday

9:30 AM MDT

 

“Where can I get some coke?” Donald asked the woman standing on the platform near the bottom of the stairs.

The woman, a young looking twenty-something, gazed up at Donald with an adoring stare, usually reserved for rock stars and the like, and stammered, “Uh…uh, just up there, on the corner,” she caught her breath and pointed northwest of the train station. She composed herself then re-stated, “There’s a distribution center there on the corner.”

“Thanks,” Donald said giving her a cordial nod and plunged into the crowd quickly in the appropriate direction.

It was at this point that Donald realized just how hot it was in the train station.  He looked up at a banner proclaiming, “Welcome to Salt Lake City”, hanging from the ceiling of the newly refurbished train station. Donald really needed a hit. The train ride seemed incredibly long and a lunch stop in a piddly little town like Salt Lake was not helping his mood. At least they had joined the Enlightenment and had built Cocaine distribution centers in convenient locations. There were still some areas of the country where the D.C.’s were almost hidden. In fact, Donald had had to walk almost a mile to find one in Omaha; what a royal pain in the butt some towns could be!

As he made his way through the crowded station, he couldn’t help but feel contempt for all of the people around him. Although he could sense many adoring looks coming his way, he knew that he wasn’t exactly the most popular man in Salt Lake City. It had been his idea to move E-school to Sundays in Utah; he wanted to root out all the Mormons. He hadn’t really rooted out that many of them. Most of them had fallen into inactivity in their church anyway.

“Oops. Pardon me,” a man said in a decidedly lower-class English accent after he bumped into Donald.

“You clumsy fool!” Donald shouted at the man.

“I am so sorry, sir.  Are… Aren’t you Donald Holder?” Mick stuttered out, feigning surprise and adoration.

“Of course, you idiot!  Now get out of my way before I have you arrested.”

“Oh, isn’t there something I could do to make this up to you?”

“How about dropping dead, you little fleabag,” Donald said as he continued on in the direction of the Distribution Center.

Mick stood there for a moment until Donald was lost in the crowd. Then he looked down in his hand at Donald’s Save the Earth! pass card; just what he needed to make his escape.  It would get him access to restricted areas and through checkpoints, at least until they discovered the body. By then he would be plenty far away. He slipped the card into his back pocket and headed toward the train.

“Oh, come on…,” Donald said to himself in disgust. The line at the Distribution Center filed out of the building and onto the walk way. As he approached the end of the line a good twenty yards from the door, he was eyed suspiciously by those in line. Donald surveyed the people. He noticed that, for the most part, the people standing in line were shabbily dressed – their blue coveralls didn’t fit properly and their sunken eyes revealed their proletarian upbringing.

“Slackers,” he thought. “They probably bought those coveralls and fake ID’s just to get free coke.  I shouldn’t have to wait in line behind these losers.”

Donald decided to exercise his position of privilege. He got out of line, much to the excitement of the six people behind him, and headed toward the door. As he approached, a rather large Polynesian man in dark green coveralls with a gun strapped to his hip stopped him.

“I’m sorry, sir, you need to return to your place in line,” the large man said.

Donald looked as his name tag and in as polite a tone as he could muster said, “Officer … Lapauaho, I’m on a short, scheduled stop and I really don’t have time to deal with this right now.”

“I feel for you, sir, but rules are meant to be enforced.”

Donald’s tone now changed to his air of superiority tone, “Don’t you know who I am, you insolent fool?”

“I’m sorry, sir, but as of now, I’m sure I don’t,” he signaled to some of his nearby co-workers. “Would you care to have a visit with our interrogators?”

Donald began back pedaling a little, “No, no, officer. Look… I’m Donald Holder. I’m sure you know who I am.”

“Sorry, sir, but either I’m a little foolish or insolent today. I think you’ll need to talk to my supervisor.”

“What’s the problem?” Officer Bateman asked as he and Officer Valdez approached.

“This gentleman seems to think he can cut in line,” Lapauaho replied.

“Look, I’m… Donald… Holder,” Donald was looking through his pockets for his identification.

“Oh?” Valdez queried, “HQ didn’t mention any VIPs coming through today. You got paperwork?”

Donald became more feverish in his search. “This is an outrage!”

“Sir, we are just doing our jobs. If you are who you claim you are, you should be glad to see us making sure no one is trying to falsely pass themselves off as you,” Bateman offered.  “I’m just saying, what if someone claimed they were you and got free use of the Save the Earth! suite in the depot? Who knows what kind of carbon footprint they might try to make in your name.”

“Listen here, you stup…”

Lapauaho undid the snap on his holster and Valdez followed suit.

“I must have left my ID card on the train. I will go get it and then… we will conclude this conversation.”

“That will be just fine, sir,” Bateman said.

Donald turned and headed back toward the train. Just as he reached the current end of the line, he passed two members of the Green Patrol heading toward the Distribution Center. “Probably shift change,” he thought. Then he became more and more angry. The stupid jerks probably wouldn’t even be there when he got back; that was assuming he still had time before they departed for Vegas.  “Thankfully the stretch from Vegas to Los Angeles is on high speed rail. At least Old Harry had been of some use,” he thought.

When he got to the train, he remembered he was going to need his card to get access to his car. This better not be a hassle, he thought, as he headed toward a steward standing on the platform a couple of cars down.

Luckily, the steward didn’t give him any hassle and soon he was entering the car without tipping the steward for his help. Donald went into the sleeping compartment and headed over toward the nightstand, which seemed to be the most logical place.

The nightstand had seemed logical to Mick as well. Watching from the bathroom, Mick waited until Donald passed the door then sprung out catching him completely by surprise. Mick covered Donald’s mouth with his left hand, pulled his head back, then plunged the four-inch blade of the knife he held into Donald’s throat and pulled it across.

Mick had never seen such a sight. Blood was everywhere. For some reason, Mick had not counted on this and the euphoria he had expected to feel from exacting his revenge never came. Instead, he immediately began to panic. He needed to clean the blood off his face and hands and change clothes. He needed to hide the body in case someone came looking for Donald in his car, but then he realized, “What good would that do?” If someone came in the bedroom at all, there would be no denying what had happened.

He needed to get out of there and as far away as possible. He cleaned up quickly then started going through Donald’s clothes looking for something that was large enough for a normal-sized man to wear, but to no avail.

Mick looked at his pants, desperately hoping that the blood would be in an area that could be covered. Then he could get to his own car and into his compartment unnoticed but the blood made a thick trail all the way down to his right knee.

By the time he was considering “streaking” through the platform, he came across a pair of sweat pants.  They were too short but he would simply cut them off at the knees.  He cut the back of one of Donald’s t-shirts so it would fit around his torso then took a jacket which was slightly larger than the rest of the clothes. It was still too small but at least it covered the back of the t-shirt.

He looked in the mirror. He looked ridiculous but it would have to do.

Mick exited the car, verified that the door had locked behind him, then turned toward his own car. Just as he climbed the stairs, four Green Patrol officers and a civilian walked past him. He heard the civilian talking about making the apology sound sincere.

Mick made it back to his compartment without drawing any attention, as far as he knew. He quickly changed into his own clothes and looked around a little. Realizing that he didn’t have anything he could take with him, he decided he was just going to head out. He would go over to the Coke Distribution Center, pretend he had missed the train, and catch a later train. It looked like he was going to miss the big STE! conference in LA. He would catch up with Trevor Jensen in San Francisco.

Step one of the plan seemed to be going well. He went to the Distribution Center to get some drugs. The next ten minutes waiting in line were the longest of his life. He tried not to look around too much but, in the end, he decided his nervousness probably would help in his rouse.

It was quite obvious to the girl behind the counter that he was new at this; he didn’t even know what to do. She had to remind him to take the drugs with him as he went off to a private little room to “get his fix”. Only newbies asked for private rooms. Most people just snorted it right there in front of the counter.

The rest would be fairly easy. After waiting a few minutes, he would come out and stumble into the hallway and follow the arrows to the “waiting area”. He would then curl up in a ball and pretend to fall asleep.

However, just as Mick started down the hall, screaming alarms began going off. After just a few seconds, Green Patrol was swarming the whole train station. Mick began to panic. He had been forced to leave his clothes in Donald’s car. If someone recognized his clothes, he was dead. He decided it was time to take drastic action. He made his way out of the Distribution Center in the confusion and headed toward the VIP door at the north end of the station. He wasn’t sure what he would find there, but it seemed the thing to do.

Mick arrived at the VIP door and reached out to swipe Donald’s card in the reader. As he did so, another alarm immediately sounded and bars dropped from above the door sealing it off. He quickly turned around to flee just to see bars also descending from the foyer entry way. He was trapped.

 

Thursday 11:15 AM MDT

 

As the lunch bell rang and the children filed out, John lingered by his desk. Then when all of his classmates were gone, John approached his morning teacher.

“Ms. Gomez-Stepnoski?”

“Yes, John?”

“You know how we were reading about Anne Frank?

“Yes, of course.”

“Well, I was just wondering… what if someone was … uh, hiding people out in our day. You know, when we watch the news at night, everyone has to watch, right?  Well, what if you knew of someone who was hiding people in their house and they never watched the news at night?”

“That’s an interesting question, John. Do you know someone like that?”

“No… I was just thinking. Would it be bad like the Nazis to tell on them or would it be good to not tell on them – cuz what if they were Semites or something?”

“Well, I’d have to say that if they aren’t watching The Enlightened One every night, they probably wouldn’t be Semites, ya know?”

“Yeah, I think so.  Okay, well, I better get out to lunch.  See you tomorrow!”

“Bye-bye, John.”

 

Thursday 12:30 PM MDT

11:30 AM CDT (Chicago)

 

Geoffrey immediately broke down in tears when he heard the news. The day had started as the greatest day of his life but now his world was crashing around him.

Geoffrey woke up that morning in the largest bedroom he could ever imagine. It was larger than the whole suite he lived in back in Los Angeles. The STE! condo was more luxurious than even the most incredible hotel room he had ever seen in a movie. A character who stayed in a room like this was always the capitalist villain and, consequently, was always destroyed in the end. But that was the movies. In real life, Capitalists no longer existed. Now the real heroes of the world lived in the luxury suites; people like Geoffrey. It seemed kind of ironic.

He finally had his own assistant; someone to do his bidding. No more kissing Donald’s boots. Now, Charlotte Chen would be kissing his boots. The cool thing about this, he thought, was now he could make someone else do all of the humiliating, menial tasks that he had been performing for Donald for the past five years and for other STE! officials for 10 years before that. Poor Charlotte, he thought. He hadn’t even met her yet but already had big plans for her.

After Geoffrey’s first completely unrestricted shower since he was a teenager, he was greeted with a banquet table of fruits, juices, croissants and, as he moved down the table, he found pancakes, french toast, then bagels and danish. At the far end, much to his surprise, he found eggs, bacon, and sausage.

At first he was horrified, then he thought maybe it was a trap. He hadn’t eaten meat in at least 10 years, probably longer, he thought. But when Charlotte came to his room with his itinerary, the assistant very casually took a piece of bacon from the table and ate it as if this was nothing out of the ordinary.

Geoffrey wasn’t sure if he was more shocked at Charlotte’s table manners or his appearance. Charlotte was obviously male with a thin beard going from sideburn to sideburn but he wore a pink dress suit and a short, curly, blonde wig – in the style of Marilyn Monroe.  Though he appeared to be of Chinese ancestry, he was obviously a native English speaker and had a rather deep voice for a … Geoffrey was so shocked by his appearance he couldn’t remember the proper term to call such a person.

“Are you going to eat that sausage?” Charlotte asked.

“N…No,” Geoffrey stammered. “I, uh, don’t eat meat.”

“Oh, good! We are gonna get along just fine! Just don’t tell the cooks. I’ll take care of this stuff for you,” Charlotte said as he picked up a couple of links and stuffed them into his mouth whole. “I just told them to prepare things as if Mr. Jensen were staying with us.”

“What I mean is, I haven’t for a long time. I might try some later,” Geoffrey decided he’d better protect his turf.

“Okay,” Charlotte said, obviously disappointed. “So, Mr. Shell, you have about fifteen minutes until you need to be down to your car.”

“I have a car?”

“Of course. We have been told to treat you just as if you were Mr. Jensen. You are here in his place. As far as we are concerned, you are him,” Charlotte replied as he grabbed another sausage from the plate.

So this was actually Trevor Jensen’s suite, Geoffrey thought to himself. Trevor’s assistant, his cooks, his driver, everything. Wow! He was going to be living as if he were one of the most powerful people in the world!

“Great, I’ll get dressed,” Geoffrey said, suddenly realizing he was still in a bathrobe.

“Yes, you better hurry. Cody is waiting for you in your closet.”

“Uh, okay…” Geoffrey was afraid to ask why someone would be waiting for him in his closet.

He went back into the bedroom and found the bed already made. “They must have done it while I was in the shower,” he thought. He walked through the room to the closet where he found a short, thin, balding man waiting for him.

“Sir, we have to get you changed quickly. Let’s get that robe off,” Cody said.

Geoffrey hadn’t been dressed by someone else since he was a toddler and it was as awkward as he feared it would be. Soon, he found himself in a limousine dodging pedestrians and bicyclists in the streets of Chicago on his way to the capitol. Charlotte was briefing him on etiquette and the message Trevor wanted delivered when a voice on the radio said something about a code 21 emergency. All of the sudden, the limo accelerated, squealing tires, and nearly running down several pedestrians.

Less than a minute later, the limo pulled up to the fifty-foot high gate at the outer wall of the capitol building. The guards on duty quickly searched the limo for bombs then allowed them to continue on to the fortress. Once inside the outer wall, the limo driver slowed to a normal pace.

Geoffrey looked out the window. Off in the distance he could see the top of the fortress about 20 miles up the road and the thousands of troops stationed on the campus of the capitol that were on high alert. As they approached the middle wall, the number of troops was noticeably greater and the inspection of the car more thorough. When they reached the gates at the inner wall, they were removed from their own car and placed in a military transport for the final half-mile of the journey.

It was when they reached their destination that Geoffrey was given the bad news; Donald was dead.

 

Thursday 1:30 PM MDT

 

Vice-principal Davis spoke loudly as she peered into room 206, “Jonathan David Stone.”

The class was suddenly very quiet. John looked up but didn’t say anything.

“John? Did you hear Ms. Davis?” Ms. Li, asked.

“Yes.”

Ms. Davis opened the door further, “Well, come along.”

There was a little murmuring among John’s classmates as he walked toward the door. It was not very common to have a student called to the office.

John walked two paces behind Ms. Davis and followed her silently. As they entered the office, John could see through opened blinds in the large window that there were three men standing in Principle Ortega’s office. They were wearing matching black, polo-style shirts and black slacks and John suddenly became very nervous.

Ms. Davis opened the door, still without saying a word, and directed John into the room with a hand gesture. John stepped just inside the doorway and stopped.

“Jonathan David Stone?” Principle Ortega asked, although she already knew the answer.

“Yes, Principle Ortega.”

“Stone?” one of the large men said to another with a hopeful look.

The other man replied with a smile and a knowing nod. The first man grinned with pleasure.

“Jonathan, these men are here to visit with you for a few minutes. I will be out in the secretary’s office until they are done,” the afternoon principal said as she stood, closed the blinds to her inter-office window, then went out to the receiving area.

The shortest of the three men stepped toward the principal’s desk and sat on it. He gestured to John to sit in a chair in front of the principal’s desk and said in a heavy Chinese accent, “You sit here.”

As John took a seat, he noticed the distinctive EE logo on the man’s shirt. The other two men remained standing right behind the chair John had chosen.

“Herro, Jonosan. I am Agen Smiss, dis is Agen Jones, and Agen Mac…a …Donalt. We haf quession off you. We wash a fideo off you deesa mornink when you talk to Ms. Gomez-Step…o…noski. You say ‘what about if someone knows bout peoples who doan washes de news’, and I sink dat a fery good quession. So, I come to you today to gif you same quession. If I sink someone not wash de news, I shoult tell someone?”

John was pretty sure he understood what the man was asking him but he was scared to answer. He had only heard of the Enlightened Enforcement squads. He knew they were secret police but he only had a vague understanding of what that really meant.

One of the men behind John – Agent Jones he believed, put his large hand on John’s shoulder and said, “Jonathan, ve only vant ze truuss from you.” His Russian accent was about as heavy as the Chinese accent of the short man.

Again, John sat quietly.

The last man now spoke, “Jonathan, I think you do understand the question and I think you had better answer.” John didn’t recognize Agent MacDonald’s accent as Bostonian but there was no sense pretending he didn’t understand what was being said to him.

“I understand, Sir. I was just thinking… Ms. Gomez-Stepnoski really didn’t answer my question. But really, it was just a question.”

“Dat okay, Jonasan. We juss want to know what it is dat you sink. We sink you haf fery good quession.”

Well,” John started, “The Enlightened One has given us so much good advice and his pronouncements are always on the news so everyone will be better off if they watch the news, even if it is kind of boring sometimes. So, I guess it would be best for everyone to watch the news. So I guess you should tell someone, like a teacher or Green Patrol or Enviro-force or even the police.”

“Dat what I sink, too, young Jonasan. I am glat you would say dat to me. It make me glat to my heart to hear dat. So, you know of some of dees kinds of people?”

“If you do, I’m sure you vould tell us, vouldn’t you?” the Russian man said, slightly tightening his grip on John’s shoulder.

“Oh, yes!” he said, nodding in an exaggerated manner, “But I don’t really know of anyone like that. It…it was just a question.”

“Dat make me fery glad, Jonasan. We all luf de Enlighten One and we hear his worts wiss mush joy to our heart. He tell us so mush importan ting. We all muss lissen eferysing he say.”

“Oh, yes,” John agreed, “I think we owe everything to The Enlightened One. Our world would have been ruined by the capitalists if he hadn’t stopped them.”

“Well, not only Enlighten One, we are fery glad to Hu Jintao and Fladimir and Hugo and many osser enlighten leader, too.”

“Of course, you are right,” John answered quickly.

“We sink you are good boy, so you go back in your class and if you sink of someone dat you sink dossn’t washes de news, you tell de teasher, okay?”

“Oh, yes, and I will not ask such a strange question again. May I go now?” John asked.

“Yes, young Jonasan, and be fery sure you tell no one of our confersations. Espec-i-ally not any grown up.”

“Of course,” John began to stand as the Russian man loosened his grip on his shoulder. “Long life to The Enlightened One.”

“Yes, Jonasan, long life.”

As John left the office, the Bostonian said, “He’s loyal, I can tell, but he knows something. We’ll put surveillance on his house.”

“Maybe we finally get Dafid Stone. We get promotion for dat,” the Chinese man added.

“Ms. Ortega, you vill come back in now,” the Russian said.

She stood and wiped a speck of dust from her blue coveralls and returned to her office.

“Ms. Ortega, you are doing a fine job here. This randomly selected student seems to be well versed and loyal to The Enlightened One. You are to be commended for your work on behalf of the people. Good day,” Agent McDonald reached out to shake her hand.

“Oh, thank you. It is my pleasure. If there is anything I can ever do to be of assistance, please let me know,” Ms. Ortega said, obviously relieved that all had gone well with the random student survey.  She had never heard of such a thing, but with the EE, anything was possible.

 

Thursday 2:15 PM MDT

 

Scott knew if he could beat Tork to the tree, Tork would have to slow down to go around it and he would be home free. Jacob had told him that the trees were kind of like blockers and he should always try to use them. Tork tried to slow as he approached the tree but slipped in some standing water. Now Scott was wide open. He raised his hands high above his head, “Throw it here, I’m open!”

Jory was about to make another pass but he heard Scott at the last second and let the frisbee fly in his direction. Scott could see Andy coming at him from the side but he would never get there in time. It was a perfect throw, right in the chest. Scott caught it easily. His whole team gathered around, yelling in celebration of their victory.

“Scott Stone and Jory Webster!” The high pitched scream was truly frightening to the bulk of the kindergarteners on the playground.

“Stop it NOW!” another screaming voice followed closely.

Ms. Chavez-Wilson and Ms. Jones-Lopez were running as fast as their legs would carry them. The kids stopped in their tracks. For the most part, they knew better than to mess with the playground czars.

Scott and Jory were an exception to the rule. “Scott, let’s split up,” Jory said.

“Why? They already know it was us.”

“We are already in trouble. It will be fun.”

“Alright.”

The boys, even at their age, were far faster, more nimble, and had far better endurance. They looped around groups of their classmates, jumped onto and over benches, and hid behind trees.

Pretty soon their classmates were clapping and cheering for the boys, distracting and disorienting the adults. They began forming human walls to slow their progress and hide their friends. Pretty soon, the two women were huffing and puffing and refusing to give chase any more. Then the bell rang.

The children made a mad dash toward the building; recess was over. Scott and Jory mixed in with their friends and headed toward their class.

Mr. Luanga was a large African man and his grip was firm. “Scott and Jory,” he said as he put a hand on the shoulder of each boy, “I need to speak to you two.”

There was no use running at this point. Besides, Mr. Luanga was nice, not like the playground ladies. He had come to America as a teenager just a year before The Slide.

“Yes, Mr. Luanga?” Jory said, trying to sound innocent.

“Just wait here with me, boys. The playground czars – they want a word with you.” He took his hand from Scott’s shoulder and pulled out his walkie –talkie, “I’ve got the boys in question right here, by the north entrance.”

A minute later, panting for need of oxygen, the two ladies stumbled up. The rest of the children were already inside.

“Jory, what were you guys doing?” Ms. Jones-Lopez asked.

“Playing frisbee.”

“That’s not what I saw,” she countered.

“That’s all we were doing,” he insisted.

“Scott, were you children playing Ultimate – in direct contradiction of the decree of The Enlightened One?” Ms. Chavez-Wilson pressed.

Mr. Luanga decided to step in in defense of two of his favorite students. “Comrades, these young men are some of my finest physical education students. I’m sure they would never do such a thing.”

Ms. Chavez-Wilson was not to be deterred, “I heard the children screaming ‘we won’ over there, and I ran immediately. You boys know there are no winners or losers. We don’t do that kind of thing in school. Only capitalists do that! We can’t tolerate such vile…”

“Now, Ms. Chavez-Wilson, I saw what was going on.”

“Oh, did you now?”

Scott and Jory, both with their heads down, turned toward each other and gave each other a knowing smile.

“Yes, Jory threw the frisbee in the spirit of cooperation just like I teach the children in PE class. Scott had missed a previous throw…”

Scott started to lift his head to deny that claim but Mr. Luanga stopped him with his firm grip.

“And when he made a catch the next time, all of the children were so proud of his effort in support of the collective, they spontaneously started chanting praises to The Enlightened One.”

“Oh, come on, Mr. Luanga. That’s just silly…”

Mr. Luanga began to raise his voice, “Maybe that’s why you are a playground czar instead of a teacher; you don’t know how loyal our children are. In fact, I feel like you are attacking my credibility in front of my students. You know that is expressly forbidden by the collective bargaining agreement. Perhaps we will have to take this up with Ms. Ortega.”

The bell rang again and another group of children began to pour out onto the playground. “Mr. Luanga, I suppose we could have misunderstood what the children were saying. We’ll get back to our duties,” Ms. Jones-Lopez conceded.

“I’ll escort these boys to class. You two may carry on now.”

“Thank you, Mr. Luanga, we will,” Ms. Chavez-Wilson said as they turned to leave.

Mr. Luanga and the boys headed toward the door, “Now listen, boys. Two things… First, tell your friends to keep their voices down next time. You guys will get me in trouble for teaching you that game. They already banned all games that have a ball. And second,… Scott that was a sweet move you used to get open. Way to go!”

“Thank you, Mr. Luanga. My big brother taught me.”

 

Thursday 5:15 PM MDT

 

“Mom, where do Jimmy and Jeff and Pedro and José go at night? It seems they are here when we come home from school and they stay here all the time but they are never watching the news with us at night,” John asked Linda.

“Well, honey, they have a hostel they are staying at down by the Distribution Center. They ride their bikes down there and watch the news and sleep there,” Linda lied.

“Oh. Why can’t they watch the news at our house?”

“Because,… their optical prints have to be at the place they are registered. That’s why you can’t ever stay over at a friend’s house because we would have to report that you were there and it’s a bunch of paper work and stuff so it’s always easier to just watch the news at your own house. Your dad’s friends are looking for new places to live because their apartments burned down and they have to stay in the hostel until they have a new place.”

“Oh, okay. Can I go play outside?”

“Sure. Stay on our street, okay?”

John was already heading out the door, “Okay.” As he left the house, he looked around a little and, as he had suspected, there were no bikes outside for his dad’s friends.

 

Thursday 6:30 PM MDT

 

“Julie, remember, it’s your turn to do the dishes,” Linda said. Everyone else had already abandoned the dining room.

“I know, Mom,” Julie was a little irritated by the reminder but Jimmy used it as an opportunity.

“I’ll help you,” he offered as he turned around and headed back toward the dining room.

“No, that’s fine.”

“Really. I feel like I need to do something to help repay your mom for all of her hard work,”  Jimmy was sort of being honest. He had learned to be respectful and grateful for the efforts of others but getting to talk to Julie a little bit might be a nice fringe benefit.

“Okay, twist my arm,” she replied with a coy smile.

“It’s always easier with some help,” Jimmy said as he took a pile of plates from the table. “So, tell me about yourself, Julie.”

“There’s not much to say. I’ve lived here my whole life. In fact, I think we moved to this house when I was about two or three. I get good grades in school, I stay out of trouble, and I actually like my parents.”

“Yeah, your dad is a great man. He’s a legend. So was your grandpa.”

“I barely remember Grandpa Stone. They took him away when I was only six.  He came up and visited us right before he got hauled off.  We never heard from him again after that.  They took him back to Arizona to go to trial and that was it.”

“Well, he is known as one of the great leaders of the Resistance.  He helped Texas get their secession movement off the ground. He was the first vice president of the New South Mexican Republic and his efforts led to the creation of the Northwestern Liberators…”

“I know. I guess I just remember him as Grandpa. I mean, everything you read about him in text books and stuff is always so… hateful.”

“Well, there are a lot of people who think of him a lot differently.”

“You know, it’s crazy, we just found out the other day that he was at the Great Convention. I suppose it makes sense; he was so active in politics. He really loved the Constitution and he really drilled it into my dad,” Julie said as she wiped off the table.

“Your dad is one of those larger-than-life, yet, mysterious guys. He’s kind of like a ghost. It’s like the whole resistance knows him, but he still flies under the radar. He lives in a single family house, he has a regular job, he has only been busted a couple times – and for minor stuff. But if you believe half of the stuff they say, he’s practically running the resistance from here. He never gets caught. Come on, he watches the news at night! Geez! How can he seem like some regular guy?”

“He is a regular guy. He just tries to do what he can. I really am proud of him.”

“Well, it really has been an honor to get to meet him. You know, Jeff came up here just to meet him; he looks up to your dad like an idol. Anyway, enough about all that. What else about you? You graduated early from high school?”

“Yeah, but now I’ve gotta do a year of World Service before college. It’s kind of a rip-off,” Julie’s frustration and trepidation was starting to show.

“Do you know where yet?”

“No, I haven’t heard. But it seems like they are sending a lot of people down to Alaska these days. That would stink! It’s so cold. You know it’s colder than it was back before The Slide? I guess being on the South Pole is colder or something. I don’t know.”

“What are you going to study in college?”

Julie was reaching for a plate to start drying when Jimmy asked the question. It was then that she noticed his deep dark, brown eyes.  He was looking at her with such a sincere face, like he really cared about what she was going to say. It kind of took her by surprise. She was used to the boys just making small talk to fill the awkward silences that seemed to occur naturally when teens first meet.

“I am planning to study mechanical engineering.”

“Serious? Wow!  I didn’t realize you were some Einstein or something.”

“I’m not that smart. I just really like knowing how things work. And who knows, maybe when all of this mess ends, I’ll be able to help rebuild our country into what it was before,” Julie smiled a little, realizing how idealistic she must sound.

Jimmy looked directly into her eyes and said in a very sincere tone, “That’s why I do what I do. I want you to live your dream.”

 

Thursday 6:45 PM MDT

 

“But, Jeff, I thought you were a member of the church of the Left Behind,” José chided.

“I’m not saying I’m gonna go be a Baptist now or something. I’m just saying this pastor I talked to had some good points. I don’t see how all this can’t be the Tribulation, and if it is the Tribulation, then either, A: We missed the Rapture and no one even knows it happened, and that means everyone I know wasn’t worthy to be taken up, or B: The Rapture is coming at the end of the Tribulation. Even with the lies they tell us on the news, it’s obvious that Jerusalem is under attack and has been for years. It could still be the mid-trib but the signs started too long ago. I don’t see how we could only be half-way through all this.”

“Okay. But what if there isn’t any rapture?” Pedro asked. “Like, I know lots of people who are leaving their churches cuz they just lost their faith.  They think, ‘well, there wasn’t no rapture, so it’s all a lie’. That’s, like, kinda crazy.”

“I’m not sure when belief in a rapture became fundamental to your salvation,” Dave interjected.

“It’s just sad to see people lose their faith because someone’s interpretation of some scriptures turned out to be wrong,” Linda added.

“I know what you mean. It’s just that you get raised one way, you know?  I always thought God would have not made us suffer with all this. I guess… It’s kind of good, because it’s a real test of faith. I think there are a lot of Christians out there who, you know, are Christians in name only, and when things got tougher than just saying you believe, you know, when their faith was really tested, they bailed. The Rapture was just so vivid in all of our minds, you know.  We were just so sure,” Jeff explained.

“You know, I never got that; belief in the whole, like, Rapture thing,” Pedro said.

“What’s not to get? It’s still going to happen, just later.”

“Nothing personal, Dave and Linda,” Pedro looked over at Dave with a smile then turned back to Jeff, “but you guys bashed on Mormons because a 14-year-old boy said he had a vision. But your whole rapture thing came from a 15-year-old girl who had a vision, right?”

“Yeah,” José interjected. “Didn’t the whole idea start in the 1800’s? No Christians were teaching about a rapture before that.”

“Look, I don’t know when the teachings started. All I’m saying is that, now, I think it’s possible that the Rapture will come soon, and hopefully before ‘The Wrath’,” Jeff responded. “Besides, you guys don’t even believe in a millennial reign, right?” he added.

“The 1,000 year millennium of peace is a Protestant idea, so no, we don’t go in for that,” José said.

“Of course, if Dave and the Mormons are right, I think a lot of people are gonna be in trouble, Man,” Pedro added, “They think Jesus is gonna be, like, living here just like a regular guy, right?”

“Yes, that’s right in one of our Articles of Faith. We believe that Christ will reign personally upon the earth,” Dave answered.

“So I guess when Jesus comes we’ll get to have a lot of questions answered,” Jeff agreed.

“Yeah, like, if you Mormons are right, it would be pretty cool and all,” Pedro said. “Like, Jesus living like a person on the earth…that would be pretty awesome.”

“I think so, too,” Dave said.

“The Bible says he’s going to show his wounds to the Jews so I do believe he has a body,” José said.

“We’ll see how it all plays out,” Jeff said. He thought for a second then added, “Have you ever thought about if you had a chance to ask Jesus just one question, what you would ask?”

“Like Joe Smith?” Pedro asked. “If what he says is true, why did he ask what church to join? I could like, think of a better question than that.”

“Well, you know, he didn’t expect to have a visitation when he went to pray. He just went to pray to God about what church to join. That was the question on his mind so when he had a chance, he asked it.”

“Yeah, I guess. It would be cool, though, if you could ask God anything,” Pedro responded.

“I know what I’d ask,” José offered.

“What’s that? If there’s chili verde in heaven?” Pedro joked.

“Ooh, I didn’t think about that,” he replied smiling. “No, I’d ask if I was really going to be with my Chelsea in heaven.”

“Well, you know what we think about that,” Linda said with a smile. “That’s up to you guys.”

“Yeah, I know. It would just be so cool to have Jesus tell you for sure, you know,” José said sincerely.

“You know what I’ve always wondered about,” Pedro started, in a more serious tone this time, “If the Jews are still God’s chosen people, why did the Holocaust happen?”

“You know, I’ve wondered about that, too. We knew it would be rough on the Jews in Israel in the last days, but what about Hitler and all that?” Jeff said.

“It was so horrible,” Linda added.

Dave replied, “Well, I can offer my two cents, but I can’t really say this is what God was thinking. But you’ve got to remember, God commanded the Jews to return to Israel and rebuild the temple and those things have finally been done, but not until just a few years ago. They only recently finally decided to get with the program.” Dave paused for a second, “You know, I’m not saying God wanted Hitler to do what he did, but the Jews didn’t get started on this stuff until after the Holocaust. Everything that made them a powerful people all happened after World War II. Before that, most European Jews gave up on their faith on returning to Israel and rebuilding Zion. In fact, many of them decided that their return to Jerusalem was only a fairy tale. Back in 1819 in Hamburg, less than a year after completing the first Reform Jewish temple, the Ashkenazi Jews wrote a declaration stating they would delete all references to returning to Jerusalem from their prayer books. They said they wouldn’t build the temple and they wouldn’t be the people of God. Then in 1885 in the Pittsburgh platform, American Jews reiterated these beliefs saying they were no longer a nation. The German and Polish Jews who ascribed to these two proclamations were the very same people who were killed by the tyrants during World War II. They said they wouldn’t return to Jerusalem and they never did. Very few of the Ashkenazi Jews lived to see the establishment of Israel and fewer still were able to migrate there. You know, Stalin killed as many Jews as Hitler did. It was an insane loss of life. Personally, I think the Jews lost faith and I guess that’s why I feel that the Holocaust was allowed to happen.”

“Maybe so,” Pedro said. “It’s kind of like America. Back when, you know, when our government went so… just completely anti-religion, things started falling apart pretty fast.

“Now the U.S. isn’t even a country anymore and what’s left of it is a joke. Do you think we asked for it?”

“Not all of us,” Dave said.

“Just too many,” Jeff added.

“The thing I never really understood,” Pedro started, “was why were so many of the Jews so loyal to The Enlightened One? Like, he was always an enemy of Israel. He was tight friends with so many Jew-haters.”

“It seems to me that they were big government Statists first and Jews second,” Linda offered. “That wasn’t strictly a Jewish trait, you know.”

“I know. We had plenty of people in our church who were Catholics by tradition or convenience,” José said.  “They wanted to support the Pope when it fit into their political beliefs.”

“Yeah, there were people like that on both sides,” Pedro concurred.

“It just made me crazy when you had these idiots out there trying to compare Mary and Joseph to homeless people. How do you politicize the birth of the Savior?” Dave asked rhetorically.

Thursday 8:30 PM MDT

10:30 AM BDT (Babylon)

 

Khalid Jamal wasn’t high enough up in the chain of command to know exactly what was going on.

“Sure, we understand. Don’t worry. Ché is a pro. She’ll do great,” Arwa said confidently.

“Good. We are counting on you. The people will have many questions today. You two will wait here during the broadcast and the Secretary General will be in immediately after. You will see him deliver his comments on the screen along with everyone else. We want you to ask your questions just as they come to you; ask the questions you are sure everyone else is asking, then we can address all of them quickly.”

“I understand,” Ché said as she took her seat and adjusted her ear piece, or her ‘life line’, as she and Arwa called it in private.

 

 

 

Thursday 9:00 PM MDT

8:00 PM CDT (Chicago)

11:00 AM BDT (Babylon)

10:00 PM PDT (San Francisco)

 

“… You’re tuned to the news of the people; the only source for information you can trust…”

 

Dave still thought it ironic that they bothered to run the self-advertisement at the beginning of the news. Who did they think they were fooling?

 

“… Ladasha Johnson and Michele Nguyen … Contessa Gomez-Jackson with weather… and Svetlana Matsushita with Planet Watch.”

 

“Hey, Jacob. Do you even remember when they had sports on the news?” Dave asked his oldest son.

“Um… nah,” Jacob responded.

“I kinda do,” Heather said. “I just remember they used to talk about World Cup Soccer all the time.”

“Good Evening, I’m Pablo Perez Garcia, in tonight for Ladasha Johnson, who is on assignment in Palestine.”

“And I’m Michele Nguyen. Rather than starting off with our traditional coverage of The Enlightened One’s pronouncements of the day, tonight’s top story is the tragic murder of one of our most beloved leaders, Donald Holder.

“This afternoon, in Salt Lake City…” She started to sob, just a little at first, but as she tried to continue, she completely broke down and began bawling uncontrollably.

Pablo picked up the mantle as soon as the script could be shifted to his teleprompter. “This afternoon, in Salt Lake City, Donald Holder was murdered by Christian radicals. Mr. Holder, ever concerned for the welfare of others and for the planet whom we all serve, was on his way to an important conference with Trevor Jensen when an estimated 40-50 Christian radicals boarded his train at a scheduled stop and began slaughtering all of the women and children who would not swear an oath to Jesus and to the so-called prophets of Jerusalem.

“An avowed, lifelong pacifist, Mr. Holder could not stand to see the slaughter of innocents and approached the radicals armed only with his love for human-kind. We pick up the story there with Nichole Bigwater, who is live in Salt Lake City.”

“That’s right, Michele.” Apparently her teleprompter hadn’t been informed of the anchor trade-off in the studio.

“Donald Holder, six-time winner of the ‘Distinguished Citizen’ award for his work with Save the Earth!, approached a group of these radical Christians and tried to persuade them to show true love for the earth by stopping the ‘Hatred of Jesus’ and turning to the true love of The Enlightened One.

“Eye witness accounts vary as to how many of the radicals dropped their weapons, being immediately won over by Mr. Holder’s charisma. But in the end, Mr. Holder’s bravery was not enough for the brute force of the radicals. We may never know how many… lives… Donald Holder ….” She was beginning to sob, just as her cohort in the studio had. Pablo knew he needed to move in and take control again if the people were to ever hear the whole story.

“Thank you for your on-the-spot analysis, Nichole.

“We are going to go live now to Chicago where Ashley Pelosi is standing by at the capitol awaiting The Enlightened One’s address to the nation. Ashley…”

“Yes, Pablo, The Enlightened One is about to come to the microphone. This openness and desire to keep the people informed has been a hallmark of The Enlightened One’s reign since the first days, even before The Slide. Besides being infinitely compassionate and enlightened above all, The Enlightened One has always been revered for his oratory skills.

“Despite the horrific nature of this occasion, this should be a treat. We have rarely had the opportunity to hear the ‘Daily Pronouncements’ live. Oh, oh, oh, here he is!”

The Chief of Enlightenment stood before the crowd with The Enlightened One just behind him over his left shoulder. He began his introduction, “People of the Enlightened States, it is with great pride that I present to you The Enlightened One.”

The assembled world press began a raucous round of applause as The Enlightened One took his place behind the podium with the Seal of Enlightenment.

 

Optical recognition cameras went off in living rooms all over the country.

 

“Today…, we are, uh, here to make the… Daily Pronouncements. It is with a … heavy heart that we come before you today, but, uh,… well, that is what is required of us on this occasion. So… that having been said…, we’ll… make the pronouncements for today.

“So, first, the whole nation will begin a two week mourning period tomorrow morning in respect for Mr. Holder’s work. We will show our, um…, gratitude to Mr. Holder, uh…for his work… by making an effort to reduce the alcohol consumption for the duration of the mourning. So, there will be no alcoholic beverages in the stores for the next two weeks as we mourn.

“Second, Mr. Holder was a firm believer in the… power of music in our lives. So,… we will enjoy an extra half an hour of singing… by our youth in the ‘Places of Singing’ in every city for the next two… weeks… as, uh, well.

“Thirdly, oh, wait, um. The extra half hour of singing will be from 4:30 until 5:00 local time before the youth return to their place of residence.

“Okay, thirdly… uh, because of the sadness we are being forced to endure because of these radicals who dare to call themselves Christians, we proclaim six months of strict adherence to the Code of Ginsburg and an extension of the Time of Gathering and Chanting in that all are, uh, required … to be in the common area of their… community on Saturdays and Sundays from 5:00 AM until 7:00 AM each … week for the next, um, six months. Work… schedules will be … modified… as needed to allow for this to happen.

“Now, um, you all know Donald Holder as the right-hand person of Trevor Jensen, just like ‘The Messenger’ was for… uh… me…” Memories of The Messenger’s death always choked up The Enlightened One, even if he had ordered the slaughter himself. The Messenger had once been so loyal. He had even legally changed his name to prove to The Enlightened One that he didn’t have any dilutions of grandeur.  “But we knew him, Mr. Holder, that is, as one who promoted moderation in all things and so we hereby pronounce all food rations will be … moderated during the time of mourning as, uh, well. This will vary by bio-zone, but in particular, no consumption corn will be harvested this year. Starting today, all … corn will be transferred to the energy czar for use as fuel for the Earth Fleet.

“Okay… we think that is enough pronouncing for today, so, um, thanks for all of the work you do for the planet and remember, an enemy of the planet is an enemy to us all.

“It has been said.” 

            The screen now showed a somewhat more composed Michele Nguyen as the optical recognition cameras flashed again.

“That was, of course, The Enlightened One with today’s ‘Daily Pronouncements’, live for all of us. Apparently, he does always know just what we need. At this time of crisis, his words are so comforting.”

Pablo’s face appeared on the screen and he was clearly pleased with what he had just heard. It took a second for him to re-focus on his teleprompter. “Be sure to stay tuned at the conclusion of tonight’s telecast for a special tribute to Donald Holder, his life and legacy. But, Michele, we do have other news tonight, don’t we?”

            “Yes, Pablo. There has been historic activity in Babylon today. We go to Ladasha Johnson in Palestine with more on the situation.”

            For the next five minutes, Ladasha Johnson explained that there would soon be an increased number of helicopters in many areas; evidence of a new initiative to increase the CO2 absorption qualities of trees globally. She assured the viewers that the helicopters were hydrogen powered and emitted almost no carbon footprint. The pilots were given express orders “not to harm a blade of grass” on their mission. She reported that the helicopters were made of recycled metals made available through the efforts of a dozen middle eastern countries who had recently completed the dismantling of their militaries.

World-wide weaponry was now below pre-Crusade levels, she explained, and there was almost no military conflict anywhere in the globe. She assured the viewers that any rumors of rebellion were overblown and that talk of such a thing was simply manufactured by a tiny minority of racist subversives whose mental disorders caused them to have “anti-Enlightened One delusions.”

Next, Contessa Gomez-Jackson gave the weather report. She spent nearly 10 minutes explaining what global anti-pollution initiatives were responsible for which lower temperatures over the previous year. There was never a mention of record highs or lows anymore; just one year over the last, always stating that progress was being made.

 

 

 

 

            “Truly Enlightened, Sir,” Geoffrey said as The Enlightened One returned to his office from the studio where he had made his proclamation. “But…”

“I know, I know. I messed up the time frame on alcohol consumption,” The Enlightened One said as he strode over to his desk and sat down.

Geoffrey had not stood when The Enlightened One entered, but he stood now. “I was very clear on that point before the speech. Why do you refuse to read from the teleprompter? We put the message right in front of you, but you…”

“People can tell when I’m on prompter; my speech is too fluid. I don’t have those … dramatic pauses that the people love so much. I try pausing, like I’m looking for a word, but it just comes off so fake. Besides, the papers already have the transcript from the prompter. They will report what I was sup… what I meant to say.”

“Yes, but now we have to send out edited video of the speech. Do you realize how time consuming and expensive that is?” Eloise Spencer, the Enlightened Communications Director, spoke up. She had followed The Enlightened One into the office.

“I know, I know. But when has cost ever gotten in the way of telling the people the truth?” The Enlightened One asked rhetorically.

“That’s not really the point, is it?” Geoffrey said sternly. He was really going to like this job.

The Enlightened One knew exactly what he meant and conceded the point with his silence and a slight shake of his head.

 

 

 

 

 

Just as Michele was beginning to turn the time over to the local news offices, Pablo interrupted her. “Sorry, Michele. This just in… The Secretary General of the United Nations has just announced that he is going to make a live statement in … about two minutes, so we will be staying national for the moment. Any idea what this could mean, Michele?

Michele sat silent for a second.

“No, not really, Pablo.”

“Okay. Thanks, Michele. Let’s go to Ladasha for just a minute as we prepare to bring you the Secretary General. Ladasha, have you heard anything about what might be going on here that would cause the Secretary General to be going global with a live statement?”

The director cut to Ladasha’s camera while she was still putting in her ear piece. As she fastened the top couple of buttons on her blouse, which she had undone because of the oppressive heat, Pablo asked again, “Ladasha, have you heard anything about what might be going on here that would cause the Secretary General to be going global with a live statement?”

“No, Pablo. We just got word here as well.”

“Okay,” Pablo was obviously frustrated that none of his cohorts had anything to say, and thus he had to fill the time while they were waiting. “I know you are hesitant to speculate, but… the UN did meet in general session last week, didn’t they? Perhaps something was discussed at that time which might warrant this unexpected broadcast?” He waited a few seconds but Ladasha just stared into the camera. “Or perhaps he just wants to comment on Donald Holder’s death?” 

Again, Ladasha stared into the camera for a couple of seconds longer than the satellite delay. “Well, I don’t know, Pablo.” Apparently, her teleprompter was blank.

“Thank you, Ladasha. I’m being told that we are going live to Babylon right now.”

The screen went to a full frame graphic of the UN logo for almost a minute as they waited for the Secretary General to begin his speech. The logo slowly faded and revealed the Secretary General standing behind a podium with the crossed UN and STE! flags behind him.

“Fellow citizens of the world, as many of you are fully aware, immediately following my second inauguration as Secretary General, I announced the creation of a special commission on theocratic myths.  The ten members of the Security Council made up the commission. I am happy to say that this very day that commission has reported to me.

“I’d like to first of all thank the member states of the commission for their tireless efforts. To China, Cuba, France, Laos, North Korea, Russia, South Africa, Venezuela, and Vietnam I’d like to give thanks, but especially, I’d like to give thanks to Italy.

“Many of you might not be aware of this, but the Italian government suffered a violent coup by Christian radicals last month. Many thought the Italian government had suffered a fatal blow. This, however, was not the case. The Workers of Europe came to the rescue of Italy. Millions of volunteers from across Europe and the Middle East came to the aid of the workers and destroyed the religious extremists.

“The results of this commission are all the more fitting today as they are now on full display. It was Christian radicals who killed our beloved Donald Holder. It was Christian radicals who tried to kill Italy.  It was Hindu extremists who tried to destroy India with cattle. It was Buddhist radicals who refused to serve in World Service and caused untold millions of deaths by their selfishness. There are even reports that a small group of radical Muslims, bent on sabotaging our war effort in Palestine, is beginning to form.

“Over the past decade, many religious communities have given full support to the United Nations and all of our efforts to clean up the earth. They have been full partners as we have worked to create a paradise on earth. However, many religious centers have been corrupted by those with evil designs against our planet.

“Every year on this day, the radical element in Islam has performed public prayers calling for their 12th Imam. Even worse, some churches are said to be secretly advocating a return to capitalism. I know this is a small, radical minority, but a cancer such as this must not be allowed to grow.

“The commission has recommended to me and I have accepted their recommendation that religious intolerance must be dealt with swiftly and severely. Effective tomorrow, February 11th, we have a new revolution to celebrate; a revolution of true religious freedom! From this point forward, religious observance of any kind will be dealt with using lethal force.

“All religious edifices will be torn down as soon as can be arranged. I am sure that this announcement with be met with a mixture of emotions. Some will be relieved, feeling this has taken too long. Others will feel great joy as they realize that finally our world will truly be free of hatred. Others will feel liberated as the burden of religious slavery will be lifted from their backs.

“I know this mixture of joyous feelings might cause some of you to want to speed up the process and take to the street and perhaps even take things into your own hands, but this will not be tolerated. Any protests, even protests of joy in the streets, will be met with deadly force. Do not let this day of joy be turned into a day of sadness and bloodshed.

“In closing today, I wish to re-iterate our support for Trevor Jensen of Save the Earth! and send condolences to him with the passing of his friend. Mr. Jensen has been our most avid supporter and, without his aid, we never could have built the world we have built.

“Will any of us ever forget how our Mr. Jensen was able to get the governments of the world to voluntarily destroy the excess satellites surrounding our planet or how, on the day of Space Reclamation, Mr. Jensen stood in front of the newly completed UN building with his hands stretched to the sky? It seemed that he was calling down fire from the heavens as the satellites burned up in the atmosphere.  Those were days we will never forget.

“But Trevor Jensen didn’t stop there. Some of you may not be aware that he was responsible for the creation of our new Global Green Communications system for the UN. He created life-like models of our new UN building which have been placed in every government building on the planet. From these models, broadcasts of our proclamations are made 24-hours a day with zero carbon emissions!  This is truly a miracle!

“So, during this time of sadness, we are so happy to show our gratitude to Mr. Jensen with this crackdown on religious zealots. We will be glad to do all we can to support him in this time of need.

“We are glad to turn this day of terrible tragedy into a day of triumph. In the words of Trevor Jensen, thank you for all of your efforts to make Mother Earth an especially great place to live and for minimizing your impact on her. Good Night.”

Pablo’s face was absolutely beaming as the camera came back to him. Two of his heroes had been on the telecast tonight! Then, just as Pablo was beginning to turn the time over to the local news for the second time, Michele interrupted him, “Just one minute, Pablo. I am receiving… yes, yes… We are indeed blessed this day. I’ve just been informed that Trevor Jenson is now preparing to address the citizens as well. We will now go to Silvia Pondwater outside of the newly completed Save The Earth! headquarters on Angel Island, California. Silvia …”

“Thanks, Michele.”

“The mood is somber here outside of Save the Earth! headquarters. We have not been briefed on what Trevor Jenson wishes to address us on, but we are sure it has to do with the death of Donald Holder. As you know, Mr. Holder was one of the early pioneers at Save the Earth! He was on his way to meet with … Oh, we are told Trevor Jenson is ready to address us.”

            A second later, the screen faded to black then opened up on a scene of Trevor Jenson sitting behind a glass desk in a very austere looking office with his fingers interlocked.  A globe on the desk was the only decoration beside the obligatory crossed flags in the background – the UN banner on the left and the STE! flag on the right.  The angle of the light streaming in through the windows told the observant viewers that the address had been filmed hours earlier.

Trevor never was one to beat around the bush, “This will not stand!” He stood. “Those who have done this to Donald will pay! Donald was a close friend and a true comrade in the war to save the earth and he will be avenged.

“Effective immediately, all persons over the age of 18 in Salt Lake City and its surrounding areas are under a mandatory 24-hour curfew. Only Level 4 and higher Green Patrol members, Citizen Guards, and educators will be allowed on the streets for the next three days, and educators will only be allowed to travel to and from school. The Green Patrol will handle transportation of the children. The Time of Gathering and Chanting will, of course, still be held this weekend so roll can be taken.”

Trevor took a breath and allowed his demeanor to soften and returned to his chair.

“As all citizens are aware, Donald Holder was spear-heading the drive to achieve 80% participation in the ‘Credit Chip’ program.”

A graphic appeared on the screen over his left shoulder showing the green and gold logo of the credit chip program and the “80% by Year’s End” slogan underneath.

“Physical forms of tender are antiquated in our day. They are a detriment to the earth. So, as a tribute to Donald, all nations will immediately institute a new initiative to require all adults to have credit chip implants installed by September 1st, Donald’s birthday.

“Implant stations will be open 18 hours a day to accomplish this task.  Many will question our ability to do this, but to them I say…” He paused for a fraction of a second to allow everyone to join him. Then, as he said, “Yes, we can!” he was joined by billions of others around the planet in their own time zones, and optical recognition cameras quickly flashed.

“Beginning September 1st, no commerce will be allowed except through use of the credit chip. The use of hard currency of any type will no longer be tolerated. Requisition vouchers will no longer be issued or accepted. Violators will be swiftly dealt with.”

“As you can see, we are always able to turn tragedy into triumph. Donald’s death will be the catalyst for tremendous changes that with further the work of the New Earth Revolution. Those who oppose the earth will always be defeated!  Thank you for all of your efforts to make Mother Earth an especially great place to live and for minimizing your impact on her. Good Night.”

Michele’s face now came on the screen. Her mascara was running but through her tears of joy, she was able to get out her lines this time.

“What a glorious day it has turned out to be! We now turn the time over to your community information offices for local headlines and proclamations. 

 

Dave sighed deeply and gave Linda a troubled look which he tried to cover with a quick smile but she was already fighting back tears. “Here it is,” they both thought, “It’s really happening.”

Thursday 10:15 PM MDT

 

“Dave, we have got to do this tonight,” Jeff was really becoming insistent.

“It’s just too dangerous,” Dave countered, “You want to know why I’ve been able to be successful for so long? Because I’ve kept myself alive to fight the fight for such a long time. I think before I act. I plan, then I act. I know going into a situation what my parameters are and I don’t push the edges. Jeff, I know what I’m doing and we are going to have to wait it out.”

“Dave, I know what you are saying, but we have family and friends at home and they are counting on us. Besides, they just saw the same broadcast; they are going to be scared out of their minds. We have got to get the stuff and get out of here,” Jeff pleaded.

Dave sat quietly for a few seconds. Then Jacob spoke up, “Dad, maybe they haven’t even set up a perimeter out in Magna yet. Maybe it will be just a quick grab and get the heck out of there.”

“But, maybe is the problem. What if they started their sweeps out on the far east side? This murder happened hours ago. They might have things clamped down already. We just don’t have any intel yet.”

“Dave, man, I think maybe we gotta do this. We’ll be cautious. We’ll bail at the first sign of trouble,” Pedro spoke up after remaining quiet through the bulk of the conversation.

“José, what do you think?” Dave turned to his friend of many years. “You’ve been quiet, too.”

“I don’t know, Dave. We’ve gotta get back to Arizona and the sooner we can get out of here, the better, and the safer for everyone,” José replied.

“Jimmy, am I alone?” Dave asked the last of the group.

“Mr. Stone, I think so. This lockdown could be weeks or even months. I think this is the best time.”

Dave exhaled heavily and rubbed his eyes, “You guys have got to give me a few minutes to discuss this with Linda, especially the part about Jacob coming.”

With that, Jacob’s eyes lit up. Until now, though he had trained with his dad for several months, he had never been on any live action missions beside reconnaissance.

Dave noticed Jacob’s demeanor and, as he stood, he pointed to Jacob, “Don’t get your hopes up there, young man.  I’ll be back in a little bit.”

Dave came up out of the reading room then went up to his bedroom where Linda was sitting in her reading chair with her scriptures open. She already knew what was coming. She had been around all of this for a long time.

“Dave, let’s just pray about it,” she said as she stood and stepped toward him.

“Jacob?” he asked.

She knew this would be coming soon as well. Her response was predictable, “Is he ready?”

“Yes,” Dave answered with no hesitation.

“Then we’ll pray about that, too.”

 

Thursday 10:30 PM MDT

12:30 PM BDT (Babylon)

 

“Come closer, my desert flower,” the Secretary General was trying, unsuccessfully, to use an alluring voice.

Ché had been fully prepared for this meeting. She knew what to expect, how to react, what to ask, what to avoid. She was to become a member of the Secretary General’s harem if all went well.

The interview stage was set and already lit.

“Mr. Secretary, thank you for allowing me this audience. May I ask your indulgence and allow my assistant to remain in the room for the interview?”

“The goat-girl? I suppose, as long as she remains in the shadows.”

That answered one question the way Ché had hoped; she would still offer Arwa to the Secretary General as a formality but Arwa wouldn’t be joining them in his bed that night. She was an excellent assistant but her long triangular face did look sort of like a goat.

Arwa knew where to go. She had to feed Ché questions during the interview since there was no prompter. She took a non-descript corner of the room behind the Secretary General as the other two took their seats before the cameras.

“My men will be doing the editing so ask what you like, Miss Williams. The cameras are rolling. You may proceed at your leisure.”

After a few seconds, she began with the regular platitudes – so glad to be able to meet with you today, I know your schedule is so busy, blah, blah, blah. After a minute of this, the cameras captured some pensive looks on their faces to interject into the final edit. Ché sat for a second as though to gain composure. However, she was actually waiting for the first real question from Arwa. “Mr. Secretary General, today must be a great day of pride for you – having been able to lift this great burden that has hung over your people for so long. Tell me, Mr. Secretary,… was the brutal murder of Donald Holder by Christian radicals the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back or, with all of their horrific acts they had committed, was this enlightened step you took today already planned? Was the announcement of the new policy on this day of tragedy just a coincidence?”

“You ask a good question, Miss Williams. This policy has been in the planning stages for many weeks now. However, I must admit, I had planned to wait to announce the policy until May 5th, the anniversary of the birth of Marx. I thought it would only be fair. We already celebrate Lenin’s Birthday with Earth Day, Stalin’s birthday with Slide Day and, of course, Mao’s Birthday with Gift Day on December 26th. But there has never been a proper day of celebration in honor of Marx.

“I was going to call the end of all religion ‘End the Opiate Day’ in honor of Marx, but now we will have to develop a new celebration for him later. Instead, we will honor February 11th as ‘Slay the Whore’ day.”

“The Whore?”

“Yes, you see, religion is nothing more than a bad habit we tolerated for far too long. Whereas Marx saw religion only as an opiate – something to keep the masses down, to prevent the world revolution – we know religion was so much more and we learned to make it a tool in our hands.”

“Like when the UN banned the Evil Eight religions?”

“Exactly. We banned churches that wouldn’t play ball; the ones who wouldn’t succumb to the truth. The churches that refused to advocate abortion for population control, the ones who refused to allow gay unions or gay clergy had to be made an example of. The ones who spewed this kind of hatred of their fellow man and the planet couldn’t be allowed to continue. If they didn’t properly support the cause of Save the Earth!, how could they be trusted to stay loyal to their government?”

“Yes, Mr. Secretary, but what of Islam? Why were Muslims allowed to continue on with their intolerant religion?”

“This is why I have referred to religion as a whore. Muslims have been great supporters of our war in Palestine. They have slain millions of Jews and Christians for us, but now their usefulness is done.

“We must clean our house. We slay the whore who has serviced us so well in the past. Now we accept only those who will be pure, who understand the true nature of the world we live in. Those who place the needs of the planet above all else and who understand that we at the United Nations know what those needs are better than anyone else.”

“I see. We had indulged in whoredom for too long. Now we need to get serious about saving the planet in the long term.”

“Exactly.”

“That is just awesome. Like you said in your comments this morning,” she looked down at her notes to read the quote, “‘I am sure that this announcement with be met with a mixture of emotions. Some will be relieved, feeling this has taken too long. Others will feel great joy as they realize that finally our world will truly be free of hatred. Others will feel liberated as the burden of religious slavery will be lifted from their backs.’ I think you summed it up so well. That was exactly how I felt.”

“Yes, I know. Throwing off the harlot and running her through with a sword of truth feels wonderful. I just hope people can control their euphoria and there will not be too many incidences when the police have to use lethal force to put down riots of joy. That would be a shame.”

“Indeed it would.”

Thursday 10:35 PM MDT

 

It had been almost twenty minutes since Dave had gone upstairs and Jeff was beginning to tire of pacing. Jimmy had taken the opportunity to go talk to Julie. There was something special about her, he thought. Jacob had gone up to make sure John and Scott were off to bed. José and Pedro were both sitting quietly on the sofa in the reading room watching Jeff pace and cleaning their side arms.

“Okay,” Dave said as he reached the bottom of the stairs, “We are going to have to leave the stuff we brought up from the river cache. We just can’t bring the truck by here. And we’ve got to go out the back over the fence; we can’t be seen leaving the house. We will evaluate up at the Green Patrol station. If there aren’t sufficient bikes and weapons, we know they are already in high gear and we don’t go. Okay?” he added, looking at Jeff.

“Sounds good, Dave. Let’s get it done.”

“Okay, Jake, suit up,” Dave said shifting his glance to his son.

Jacob leapt up from the couch, “Yes! Thanks, Dad!” he said as he ran up to get his green coveralls on.

The men all changed their clothes and left the house in two groups. They climbed over the back fence into the backyard of the neighbors then over their fence out into their front yard, which was facing 20th North.

It was eerily quiet tonight as was to be expected and hoped for. They made their way up to the station and entered without incident. They were all glad to see that the gun racks were full as were the bike racks. They commandeered two radios, in case they had to split up and grabbed the bikes and weapons they required. It also helped them look more appropriate for the occasion should they be approached by real “Greens”.

The trip out to the far east side was just as quiet as they had hoped and they soon found themselves at the location of the hidden truck which appeared to be undisturbed and still had a bed full of weapons.

“Okay, let’s get this thing over to the cache and replace the weapons we had to leave at the house,” Dave said.

They threw José’s bike in the truck and José hopped in the driver’s seat, started the truck, and they all made the short trip over to the cache.

They quickly opened the bunker and began loading weapons into the truck when Dave heard the distinctive crack of a .308 echo from up on the hillside.

“Sniper!” he called out and turned to his right just in time to see Jeff fall to the ground. The bullet had torn right through his neck.

The only cover nearby was some scrub oak or a truck full of weapons, ammunition, and explosives. They scattered to take shelter in the trees.

“Who in the heck is that?” Dave thought out loud. There had been literally nothing on the radio for the past five minutes or so and the radio silence continued after the single shot.

The brightness of the moon caused harsh shadows to be cast all around the trees and large shrubs that dotted the landscape. Dave couldn’t see any movement.

“Pedro, you see anything?” he asked.

“Nothin’, man, but it definitely came from the hillside,” Pedro answered, trying to see anything through the branches that sheltered him.

“I’ve gotta get to the bunker. I’ve got night vision goggles and a couple of scopes.”

“I don’t know where I should lay down any covering fire. You might be wide open,” Pedro responded.

Just then, Jimmy made his way over to where Dave was and broke in, “I think I saw the flash from up in that grouping of trees right…over there, just under the summit,” he said, pointing up at the hill.

“How sure are you?” Dave queried.

“Pretty sure, Sir.”

Dave thought a second. “Okay, Pedro you lay down fire in that direction. Jimmy, you keep your eyes open and I’ll make a break for it… Here we go… now.”

Pedro let out a volley in the direction Jimmy has suggested, Dave sprinted to the open door of the cache and jumped down using the handles on the ladder to slow his descent. There was no return fire, much to everyone’s relief.

Dave knew right where the night vision gear was. Even in the dark he quickly procured a set of goggles and put them on and grabbed another set, just in case. He found his trusty M24 case, fitted his weapon with his custom night scope, and made his way back up the ladder.

He began scanning the hillside but didn’t see anything at first. Then he saw the unmistakable image of Jacob working his way up the hill through a small group of trees. Soon he felt sure there was no one he could see on the hill so he left the bunker and made his way over to where Pedro and Jimmy were waiting.

He handed the goggles to them as he reported, “My son is up by that clump of trees there.” He pointed in the direction Jacob was creeping up the hill as Pedro put his goggles on.

“Yeah, I’ve got him.”

“I don’t see anyone anywhere. Maybe they are up over the ridge.”

“Wait a sec. I think I see someone behind that single tree, up above the grouping we were watching before,” Jimmy said.

Pedro quickly confirmed, as did Dave as he pointed his M24 up at the tree. Dave estimated that the target was about 500 yards away — plenty within the range of his weapon. Dave chambered a round and found the target again.

Jacob was still a good 100 yards from where the target was hiding and there was a lot of foliage between them. Dave was unable to tell from the movements of either one if each had seen the other, then, Jacob stopped.

As Dave watched, he saw Jacob kneel down on the ground and set his weapon up against a tree.

“What’s he doing?” Pedro asked.

By this time, José had made his way over to the rest of the group. “What’s going on up there?” he asked.

Dave’s heart was pounding hard in his chest. It looked like Jacob had stopped in the darkness of the trees top pray.

“That kid’s praying? Now?” Pedro said before Dave could answer.

“Sure looks like it,” Dave said. His chest was tight, but he couldn’t tell if it was from fear or pride. Right in the middle of a potentially life or death matter his teenage son had chosen to seek inspiration from the Lord.

“You got a crazy kid, man,” José whispered.

It was then that Dave noticed that Jimmy was no longer with the group. He could see Jimmy making his way up the hill. Dave estimated he was now about 50 yards behind Jacob. A few seconds later, Jacob picked up his AK-47 and appeared to be looking back up the hill. Then he stood and started walking toward the clump of trees where the sniper seemed most likely to be hiding.

“What’s that crazy kid doing?” Pedro said. “He’s walking right up to him and it doesn’t look like he’s even trying to hide anymore.

“Your kid on a suicide mission?” José said in a worried voice, “Maybe he was praying to get right with God before he died or something.”

Dave’s heart felt as if it were going to explode from his chest. What was Jacob doing?

A few seconds later, Jacob was only a few feet from the tree where the sniper was hiding, but all Dave had been able to see of the sniper was a leg and the occasional movement of an arm. It appeared as if he was sitting with his back against the tree, facing up the hill. Dave could see Jacob train his weapon toward the figure behind the tree and quickly come around to the side he was sitting on.

After a couple of seconds, Dave could see Jacob lower his weapon. Then it looked like he bent over and picked up something but, whatever it was, it was behind the tree and Dave couldn’t see it.

Just then, Jimmy came up on the far side of the tree from Jacob and he lowered his weapon as well. Jimmy pointed his AK-47 east and began moving up toward the ridge above them. At this point, there still was no sign of anyone else so Pedro headed in their direction followed closely by José. Dave followed more slowly, occasionally stopping to look over the ridgeline through his scope. There was still no sign of anyone else.

Just as Dave reached the others, Jimmy called out from near the top of the ridge, “Look! Trucks coming through the barricades.”

Dave turned and saw six sets of headlights off in the distance coming through the barricades where they had entered earlier. Only at this time did Dave notice he heard something odd.  He looked to his right and saw the sniper sitting on the ground crying. It looked to Dave like he couldn’t have been more than 13 or 14 years old.

“Come on, man. We gotta go,” Pedro called as he grabbed Dave’s arm.

“Just leave the kid. Let’s go,” José insisted.

Jimmy dashed past them all as they headed down the hill back to the truck.

Dave and Pedro closed the door to the cache and covered it as José hopped in the driver’s seat of the truck and started it. Jimmy and Jacob lifted Jeff’s lifeless corpse into the back of the truck then hopped in as well. José pulled the truck around and Pedro jumped in the back and Dave got into the cab.

Leaving the lights off, they started directly north down the road they were on, since it was on the very east edge of town, hoping to out flank the trucks and make it around them to the barricades and get out of town. Just as they reached the north end of the road where it turned west toward Salt Lake, they saw the convoy of trucks a couple of miles west of their location cross the road heading south. It looked as though the plan would work.

For the first time in several minutes, radio silence was broken and Dave heard chatter about neighborhood sweeps several miles away in Salt Lake City itself. There was nothing about these trucks, the sniper, or anything else that seemed related to them. Dave couldn’t figure out what the deal could have been with those trucks but now wasn’t the time to try and find out.

The rebels made their way to the barricades then turned the lights on so as to not appear conspicuous if anyone were to see them, but again the roads were completely barren. They managed to make it back to the Green Patrol station without seeing a single vehicle on the road.

As they began unloading bikes and returning AK-47’s to their places, Jimmy turned to José and said, “José, you know what? I think I’d better stay here. Let’s leave my bike in the truck.”

“Why? You can’t take the heat at home?” Pedro chided.

“That might be part of it, I guess,” Jimmy smiled, “but I think you are gonna be close enough on weight without me in the plane and, besides, I think … well, I guess you’re right. It’s hot down there.”

“Julie doesn’t have anything to do with this, does she?” Jacob prodded.

“No. She’s nice and all, but… uh, no… I just think Jeff’s body needs to go home and I would be taking up too much room that could be used for ammo and stuff.” At the mention of Jeff’s death, everyone got quiet for a minute.

“Look, Jimmy, if you want to take a stab at Salk Lake, we can put you up for a while, until this all blows over.”

“Thanks, Mr. Stone. I really appreciate it. I think I will.”

“You really can call me Dave, though.”

 

 

 

It was decided to leave three bikes in the truck for the return trip but the radios and all of the guns were returned to the Green Patrol station. They headed down to Redwood Road then turned and headed north toward Camp Williams.

The last five miles before the border were now dirt roads with miles and miles of corn everywhere. Dave was furious when he saw all of this corn being grown in their limited Bio-Zone. Corn was rarely allowed for food now that the government trucks were converted over to use a 90% Ethanol blend and The Enlightened One’s speech that night had told them that none would be used for food this year.  Soon there would be 24-hour armed guards patrolling the corn fields until the harvest was complete.

They managed to get the provisions loaded into the plane and were actually able to get a body bag for Jeff from the base supply house.  It was a little later than when they had wanted to leave but so much of the flight was over tribal land that they decided it was worth the risk. They said their good-byes and headed back to Phoenix.

Dave had a storage building for the truck set up with some of his contacts in the “tribe” so he was able to safely leave the truck until he could come back for it.

It wasn’t until they were on the way back that Dave finally had a chance to ask Jacob about what had happened with the sniper back on the hill.

“Well,” Jacob began, “I just felt like the Spirit was really telling me to go up the hill and that everything would be fine. I was scared, but I just went. Then I was just, all of the sudden, totally being overcome with fear so I knelt down and said a little prayer so I would know what to do and so I wouldn’t be so scared.

“Then, I think I literally heard a voice tell me, ‘Do not fear. He poses no threat to you. He can neither hear nor see you.’ So I just walked up there and I could hear this kid crying. He was just bawling. He was saying something about how he thought we were Greenies coming to steal their stuff, and how sorry he was, and he never shot anyone ever before. It was just so sad.”

“Well, I’m so proud of you. You took your concern to the Lord, even in such a dangerous situation. That was awesome. I hope you will write this in your journal so you will always remember how you felt. And be thankful it wasn’t you shooting someone and finding out it was just a little kid trying to protect his family. I think the Lord blessed you so much tonight. I just hope you never are faced with such a situation again,” Dave replied.

Jimmy thought this all seemed kind of odd, but didn’t really know what to say. He had a strange feeling of peace in his heart, but he didn’t say anything.

Dave, Jacob, and Jimmy returned the bikes to the Green Patrol station about half an hour before sunrise and made their way back home without anyone knowing that they had violated curfew.

 

 

Friday

7:00 AM MDT

 

John had gone up to brush his teeth as soon as breakfast was over so Jacob quickly put together a plate of food for Jimmy and headed down to the reading room. They had decided not to let John and Scott know that Jimmy was at their house during the 24-7 adult curfew.

Jacob knocked at the door and Jimmy answered and invited him down.

“You’ve gotta tell your mom thanks for me. I know this is a real pain, especially right now,” Jimmy said as he and Jacob both took a seat.

“Hey, no problem. You doing alright cooped up down here?”

“Yeah, it’ll be okay. I can hang around upstairs while you guys are at school and me and Julie can hang around and talk.”

“Oh, I see how it is! Making some moves on my sister.  I knew that’s why you wanted to stay here,” Jacob said with a smile.

“She is really cute but, no, she’s not why.”

“I was just kidding, man. It’s okay,” Jacob assured Jimmy.

“Truth is, I wanted to stay because I needed to talk to you and I needed to sort out some things in my head first. Julie helped me a lot.”

“Really? What?”

“Well, you know last night when we went to get the weapons?” he didn’t wait for an answer, “I was so freaked out about what you said about hearing a voice telling you what to do and not to be afraid of that kid. I just… well, I just felt like something was telling me in my own head that what you were saying was true. I didn’t exactly hear something or anything like that. It was more like I felt it.”

“Well, it really did happen. Nothing like that has ever happened to me before, at least not so strongly. So, it doesn’t happen all the time or anything.”

“I know, but… what… what made you stop right in the middle of everything that was going on and kneel down and pray? That just seems so crazy.”

“You know, I guess it’s just that I believe God is there and he hears our prayers and if I ever needed to talk to God, it was then.”

“Okay, but, you could’a got shot. Kneeling on the ground with your eyes closed while some nut is up there with a sniper rifle – we didn’t know how many there were.”

“Well, the way I see it, if you’re gonna go, what better way than praying, right?” Jacob said, only half-kidding.

“You Mormons are crazy, man,” Jimmy said.

“Why? What religion are you?”

“Religion? None. I’ve never had any real need, you know.”

“It’s funny. I can’t say I’ve met any members of the resistance who weren’t religious to some extent. Even José is actually pretty serious in his Catholic beliefs. He just down-plays it since his wife died.”

“That’s funny cuz he told me your dad almost made him into a Mormon.”

“Huh? I’ll have to ask my dad about that,” Jacob seemed genuinely surprised.

“Yeah, actually, he was the first one who ever told me about the Book of Mormon stuff and Joseph Smith and all of that.  There were some pastors in my town that really hated the Mormons so I didn’t really know much about you guys except what I heard from local government hacks. Pretty much, I only knew you guys were in an illegal church cuz you wouldn’t let gays get married in your churches and you wouldn’t let women into the priesthood and you guys are all polygamists,” he held up his hand before Jacob could cut him off, “which Julie already told me wasn’t true. Then, of course – and your parents are proof of this one – you guys like to have huge litters of kids! That was really all I knew; sexist, homophobe, enemies of the planet.”

“Well, I wouldn’t put it that way.”

“I wouldn’t either but it just seems like all the churches that were still allowed to be open were just playing along with the government games. They bashed all the banned churches and they would trot out their gay priests and say ‘Look how inclusive we are!’ I just thought it was all so stupid so I never even seriously looked at religion at all.”

“So, do you believe there is a God?” Jacob asked.

“That’s funny. That’s the first thing Julie asked me. You guys all think the same way, too?”

“I don’t know, to some extent, I guess. We were raised in the same house and all.”

“Well, I’ll tell you what I told her. I think that there probably is a God but I don’t see how we can be sure. But one thing I know is that you can’t follow the government and their little group of scientists they always trot out. I guess if you are known by the company you keep, they are a bunch of lying sacks of … well, you know what, and if they try to tell me there is no God, then there probably is. But I know that’s kind of weak reasoning, you know. If there is a God, and you are supposed to worship Him, I guess I’d fail that test.”

“There is still time,” Jacob counseled.

“Repentance. I know. Julie said the same thing. She was talking about that and atonement and stuff. I don’t know. It all just seems kind of far-fetched.”

“Like hearing the Holy Ghost talk to you and telling you what to do?”

“I don’t know.  I really believe you, Jacob.  I could feel that what you were saying was true. It was just like … a burning in my heart.”

“That is the Holy Ghost talking to you. Serious, Jimmy. I think you’ve had a witness straight from God. I think you better pray to Him about it and find out what you need to do next.”

“I was afraid you would say something like that. I just don’t really even know what to do or say or anything.  Where do I even start?” Jimmy asked sincerely.

“Well, we think praying is a four-step process: You call upon God, you tell him what you are thankful for, then you tell him the reason you are praying, then you close in the name of Christ…. I could pray with you if you want,” Jacob offered.

“I don’t know. You know, there is one other thing.”

“What’s that?”

“What if I get an answer? What if… if I’m not ready to go full into something like that?”

Jacob thought for a second, “I don’t thing ignorance is going to save you in the end. I really believe that if someone just tries to ignore God, that’s as bad as denying Him so I think you are better off to find out for yourself and let God go to work on you.”

“You’re right,” he paused for a couple of seconds, “I’ll see what I can do today. I’ve been reading these scriptures over here. I started last night and I’ve already read, like, about 100 pages or so. It’s pretty cool and it’s not as hard to understand as I thought it would be. I guess I might need some help praying. I’ll let you know.”

“I’ll be there for you, Jimmy. Seriously, just be careful around my sister. She’s not all sugar and spice like she seems.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that. She seems pretty sweet to me,” Jimmy confessed.

Their conversation turned to some of the books on the shelves as Jimmy ate the breakfast Jacob had brought to him. After a few minutes, Jimmy was done and Jacob opened the door to head out of the reading room carrying Jimmy’s plate and glass. As he reached the top of the stairs, John came around the corner.

“What are you doing? You know we can’t have food in the reading room. I’m gonna tell Mom!”

“John, don’t be so lame. You sound like one of those little ‘Earth Warrior’ tattle-tales,” Jacob said in disgust.

“So? What’s wrong with that? Maybe I will join the Earth Warriors! Just cuz Dad says I can’t doesn’t mean anything! I can do whatever I want,” John shot back.

“Whatever, you little brat. Come on, the bus will be here in a couple minutes,” Jacob said as he took the dishes into the kitchen.

John looked down the stairs, thought for a second, then followed his siblings out to the bus.

 

Friday 8:00 AM MDT

9:00 AM MST (Arizona)

“Nathan, we are so sorry. Your dad was a great man and a real patriot,” Pedro said to Jeff’s oldest child.

“I know, Pedro, thanks. At least he gave his life fighting for freedom and not …well, you know.”

Pedro did know. The whole Turley family was still baffled by Nathan’s mother’s actions.

Luckily for Pedro and José, Max had managed to get a truck from the reservation and had gone out to watch for them each morning from 4:00 until 6:30 or so. Another two or three days and Max and the rest of the guys might have assumed the worst. They would have been forced to bury Jeff ‘s body in a secluded spot by the airport.

Their first priority was to return Jeff’s body to the family before they dealt with stashing the weapons. Having completed their first task, they found the second task was going to be easier than they had figured.

“Last night, after that idiot Holder got taken out, the South Mexicans began a new offensive during the news! What a hoot! They overran the border and went all the way through Tempe with hardly any resistance. I guess they pushed all the way to South Mountain and, while you were talking to Jeff’s kid, I heard over the short wave that there is a huge battle going on for the Sky Harbor Airport,” Max explained.

“That’s awesome,” José exclaimed. “If they lose the airport, they are going to be in trouble.”

“Serves ‘em right for closing down Luke and tearing up the runways,” Max agreed, though the closing of Luke Air Force Base had been bitter-sweet for him. Max was career Air Force before the Enlightenment. He was stationed at Luke and worked on F-16s for a good portion of his time in the service. The thought of Mig-30s flying out of Luke made his skin crawl so, although he was sad to leave the Air Force, he was glad when they tore the base up and moved the military aircraft to Sky Harbor.

“Hey, maybe we’ll put you back to work pretty soon,” Pedro started, “Stone gave us the codes we need to meet up with the South Mexicans and I’ve seen them flying F-16s out of William’s Gateway,” he explained, referring to the airport between Gilbert and Queen Creek.

“I hope so. That would be terrific. It’s been a long time,” Max said hopefully.

Having left Nathan’s neighborhood at the edge of town, they were heading west on Lost Dutchman when Max turned north on Idaho, much to Pedro’s surprise. Rather than heading on toward Bulldog Mine Road where they had their hiding place for the truck, Max was heading right toward a government checkpoint and he showed no sign of slowing down. “Max, what are you doing?” Pedro nearly screamed as they blew right past the checkpoint.

Max started to laugh as José looked back at the guard shack through the side view mirror and said, “Bro, there ain’t no one at the checkpoint.”

“The Greenies have all bugged out! There aren’t any government troops or officials anywhere in AJ, man. They started leaving Wednesday,” Max explained.

“What? That’s great!” Pedro nearly shouted.

“Yeah, we’re gonna go to town hall and add your stuff to the arsenal there,” Max said, turning left into the City Hall parking lot. “Look, they didn’t even leave us any of their cars. How selfish of them,” he added as they pulled up in front of the building.

“Pedro! José! We thought you guys got lost, man!” It was Eric, one of Pedro’s long-time comrades who was standing (actually sitting) guard outside the main doors.

Pedro swore, “…they can’t stop me, no way! Look at this haul we brought.” He got out of the truck and headed toward the back.

Soon they were done unloading the truck, pausing only for a minute or two a couple of times to savor the air conditioning in the building. When they finished up, they all sat down in the Mayor’s office with a tall glass of ice water. There, Pedro’s men proceeded to fill them in on all that had happened over the past couple of days.

After their attack on the Water Company, some of the Apache Junction Nephites decided to capitalize on the situation and the next night they busted into all eight of the Green Patrol offices. They stole all of their weapons and bikes then torched the buildings. The government officials knew they were probably out-gunned and decided they were going to have to leave peaceably and regroup. They had sabotaged the electric substations but the rebels were able to repair them and get electricity flowing from the Apache reservation by Thursday morning.

The people had emptied out all of the government produce stores and eaten what they could before everything went bad but now they were going to have to count on what they could get from the Salt River Reservation or, perhaps now that Pedro had returned, the South Mexicans.

When they heard about the Holder assassination, they braced for possible retaliation but instead were greeted with news of the South Mexican offensive. So, for the most part, the people were holding up well. They had electricity, water, and a little food but most of all hope for a better tomorrow.

“Well, it’s almost nine. Let’s see if we can’t get a hold of these guys,” José said, looking at the clock on the wall.

They all went into the communications office and José and Pedro continued on behind the counter and went to the short wave radio. José turned the radio to 15210 kHz and they listened for a minute to make sure there was no chatter. Then he broadcast, “Liberty.” Five minutes later, he did the same thing.

“Now we change to 15215 and listen at 12:45 and 12:55. Apparently, from 12:30 to 1:00 every day, they broadcast a series of three-digit numbers and that is when they will let us know that they hear us,” José explained.

“Assuming they do, after all they might be kind of busy, you know… fighting a war and all,” Eric said.

“Oh, they will. They have a communications office dedicated to rebel channels,” Pedro explained.

Friday 9:15 AM MDT

“This rare video from many years ago shows two polar bears stranded on a shrinking iceberg…”

 

The eyes of the kindergarteners of Scott’s class were glued to pictures on the screen even if they didn’t understand the indoctrination they were receiving. The narrator paused as the helicopter shot circled around the pair.

 

“This was before The Enlightened One implemented his plan to stop global warming. Today, there are millions of polar bears roaming the ice fields of the South Pole.”

 

New shots of polar bears running across the ice were shown.

 

“In fact, The Enlightened One’s policies have been so successful that the Polar Bears have begun to sense that because of their numbers if they don’t turn vegetarian they might cause global warming themselves.”

 

The image on the screen turned to penguins huddled in a large mass in a huge snow storm.

 

“The Enlightened One saved the penguins from extinction as well but they do get part of the credit themselves. The penguins have taught us that if we live huddled together in a collective, we can survive even the worst weather capitalists can manufacture…”

 

The class was starting to become more and more fidgety but Ms. Castro couldn’t tell through her eyelids. The video had been going on for nearly 45 minutes. During the presentation, the children had also been told about how The Enlightened One had pretty much single-handedly saved the dolphins, whales, turtles, frogs, pandas, caribou, bears, coyotes, tigers, lions, eagles, and a number of others.

Kindergarteners didn’t need to learn about the thousands of other small animals, insects and such he had saved. The list was too long and complicated. It would come later as would the list of endangered plants.

 

“While The Enlightened One undeniably deserves the credit for saving these animals, he acknowledges that he couldn’t have done it alone.”

The picture of the globe faded and the image of The Enlightened One came on the screen.

“I am so glad to talk to you children today. While I have done much to save the endangered animals of the world, I couldn’t have done nearly so much without the help of others. I’m sure you recognize my friend, Trevor…”

He held up a photo of Trevor Jensen.

“Trevor Jensen is one of the people who has helped me protect these animals and save the earth. But there is someone else just as important, my young citizens…You!”

“You are the future protectors of the earth. Remember, we can only save these beautiful animals if we stop the capitalists. There are still capitalists who live among us. You might even know some. You can save the earth by telling your teacher if you ever think someone is a capitalist.

“Do you want panda bears to die?”He paused.

 

The students were supposed to answer the screen but since Ms. Castro was sleeping, they knew better than to wake her.

 

“Of course not! You know what to do! Sometimes it’s hard to know who the capitalists are so here are some suggestions to help you:

“If you know someone who is sneaking eggs or meat in their house, tell your teacher.

 “If you know someone who is sneaking out of their house at night, tell your teacher.

“If you know someone who has a computer in their house, tell your teacher.

“If you know someone who plays illegal games, tell your teacher.

“If you know someone who believes in the Jesus cult, tell your teacher.

“If you know someone who complains because the electricity turns off at night or because they want to take a shower every day, tell your teacher.

“If you know someone who says mean things about me, tell your teacher…”

Friday 9:30 AM MDT

 

“Ms. Gomez-Stepnoski?” John said as he approached his teacher’s desk.  The rest of the class was still working on posters for their protest that afternoon.

“Yes,” she said in an exacerbated voice. He didn’t say anything immediately so she looked up angrily from her Sudoku then forced a big smile to her face. “Yes?” she repeated, this time as a question with a hint of sarcasm.

“Ms. Gomez-Stepnoski? You know how we were reading Anne Frank: Semite Pacifist in the afternoon?”

She rolled her eyes a little bit. She didn’t understand why Ms. Karensky-Molotov insisted on teaching such things to the class. “No wonder she OD’d,” she thought. “Yes, John.”

“Well, when Ms. Davis came to get me the other day, … Well…”

“Yes?” she was obviously anxious to return to her puzzle.

“I talked to some agents from the EE and…”

“Yes?” Now he had her interest.

“Can we talk out in the hall?” he asked.

She got up, showing none of her earlier frustration, and they walked out to the hall.

When the door closed, John began, “Well, they said if I ever knew of people not watching the news, I should tell a teacher.”

“So, who isn’t watching the news, John?”

“Some of my dad’s friends came over to our house and they kept staying there for the last few days. They were always there when I got home from school. They would stay until time for the news. My mom said they were staying in a hostel about two miles from our house cuz their apartment burned down but they didn’t have any bikes or anything and there is no way they could go home that fast. Then, one day they came back only a few minutes after the news got over and another time they came back when they thought I was asleep already and then they would sleep…” he paused.

“They would sleep?” she asked, prodding for him to continue.

John hadn’t really planned to tell anyone about their reading room but, all of the sudden, he thought that The Enlightened One would want him to tell the whole truth. It gave him a strange sensation to think about it. A picture of The Enlightened One came into his head and suddenly his stomach was in knots. He hadn’t really considered the full effect of what he was doing and what it might mean to his family. He barely remembered when his mom was re-educated after Scott was born but he knew it was very hard on her. At the last second, he decided to conceal the reading room.

“In our basement. Our house has a small basement and I think they were sleeping there,” he finally said.

“You think? John, this is very serious. What you are saying is very serious. You know that, right?”

“Yes, I know.”

“So, are you sure?”

“Pretty much. I mean, we never go down there very much so I never saw them down there but…” he paused again but started again before she could say anything, “I didn’t see them this morning but I think they might be hiding in our house.”

Ms. Gomez-Stepnoski swore, then said, “We better get you down to Ms. Ortega’s office. She’ll help you get with those agents and they will know what to do.”

Friday 10:15 AM MDT

 

Heather’s eyes were red and swollen from crying again.

“I just wish there was something I could do, Heather,” Julie lamented as she sat down next to Heather on her bed.

“The curfew has made it so awkward. I don’t want to talk to Joshua but he keeps calling and he knows I’m home because I’m not allowed to leave. AHHH! This is so stupid!”

“At least you haven’t had to see him face to face again.”

Heather blew her nose into her handkerchief, “I guess.”

“Maybe you just need to tell him the truth – that you can’t see him anymore.”

“What is my excuse? I can’t tell him it’s because he’s a mind-numbed robot. He’ll turn me in. Even if he didn’t… the phones… you know.”

“Just tell him you fell in love with someone else.”

“Maybe,” She was looking down at her hands, “but it just wouldn’t be right to do it on the phone.”

“Are you really sure he’s not faking? I mean, maybe he’s being monitored real closely.”

“I’d know. We have been friends for so long. I know him… knew him,” she corrected herself, “better than anyone.”

Julie put her arm around her sister and gave her a squeeze.

Heather started crying again, “Why do things have to be so dumb? What gives them the right to mess with someone’s head like that? They tell us what to eat, how much to eat, when to shower, how much toilet paper we can use. They lie to us about everything. They make us watch their garbage on TV. They make us use those stupid tiny refrigerators and they banned freezers. They tell us what we are supposed to think, what we are allowed or not allowed to believe, what kind of material our clothes have to be made of. Come on! Cotton is ‘too hard’ on the earth? What a bunch of morons! Fruit is too water intensive? Melons are an enemy of the planet? They arrest people for not recycling or not composting food. What is the point of composting? They won’t let us have a lawn or a garden.

“They limit the number of kids a woman can have and ban marriage. They make us chant praises to the freakin’ Enlightened One. They throw people in re-education for playing football or keeping score at a soccer match and expect people to peek in each other’s windows to tell on their neighbors, for what? An extra blanket in winter or an extra bag of sugar in their rations?

“They take pictures of us to make sure we are watching the news! Come on. What’s next? Are they gonna bug our house? Are they gonna put video cameras in our bedrooms or bathrooms? Julie, I just don’t think I can deal with this anymore!”

 

Friday 10:40 AM MDT

 

“Dafid Stone! I can hartly belief it! Dis too wonterful to sink off!”

“Agent Smith, you and your men have done a fine job. The Enlightened One will be pleased to learn of your efforts. We will begin planning the assault immediately. Do you have surveillance in place?”

“Agen Mac…a…Donalt say he put it in place dis afaternoon or else in de mornink.”

“There’s nothing currently in place?”

“No, not yet. Dis afaternoon, essept maybe for de curfew, mayabe not until in de mornik.  When it done, we have fideos an audios.”

“Okay, we will set the assault for Sunday morning, perhaps during the Time of Chanting. We can’t go in there blind, not with Stone’s reputation. Good work, agent!”

“Sank you so fery mush, Agen Larson. We see you den.”

Agent Larson set the receiver down then leaned back in his chair. This was cause for a celebration, even if it was only 10:45 AM. This was going to be a great two days. He would surely get all of the credit for Stone’s arrest.

Larson opened his freezer, grabbed some ice cubes, put them in his glass, then opened the bottle of Scotch he kept in his liquor cabinet in the office. His cabinet was only half full these days but he felt sure that would soon change. He took a celebratory swig, refilled his glass, and walked over to his thermostat. He always got hot when he drank so he turned the AC down from 72 to 70 in anticipation, then called in his secretary.

“Yes, Agent Larson,” she said as she entered and saw him filling his glass again.

“Get the news commissar on the line and call Agents Pope and Miller in here. We’ve got work to do.”

“Yes, Agent.”

A minute or so later, his phone rang. “Ms. De Louise with the News Commission is on the line, Agent Larson.”

“Thank you, Kelly.” After the click, he said, “Ms. De Louise, this is Agent Cash Larson with Enlightened Enforcement.”

“Oh, yes, Sir. How can I help you?”

Larson could practically hear her posture improve; he was used to that. “I want you to put together a story saying we caught the murderers and that the 24-hour curfew for adults will be lifted at 1PM tomorrow and they will be free to leave their homes. Normal work schedules will resume on Sunday.”

“Who should I say we caught?”

“Just put together some mug shots of people we’ve arrested in other states – no locals, or they will know it’s a rouse.”

“A rouse? Who will know?”

“We are setting a trap for the real killers. Just make sure to have it done before you get off today so I can review it when I come into work in the morning. Tomorrow, at about 11:00, we’ll need you to send out a TV alert signal. Everyone will be home so they will be sure to hear it. Run crawlers telling everyone that the noon news is mandatory and optical recognition will be used for all registered adults. Then, we run the story at noon. Got it?”

“Yes, Sir! Thank you, Sir. Long life to The Enlightened One!”

“Yes, long life, indeed.”

Just as he set down the receiver, Agents Pope and Miller entered the doorway. “Come in, ladies. We have work to do and I get off at noon.”

Friday 11:15 AM MDT

1:15 AM BDT (Babylon)

 

The banner across the front of the hall was in five languages, “Religious Freedom”.

Ché could smell the Secretary General coming up behind her, “Why didn’t I do this earlier? Religious freedom is so liberating, so… um… free!”

The party was into its sixth hour and the Secretary General was well passed blitzed.

“Did I ever tell you I grew up in Syria? We have much in common, you and I. You used to work in Damascus and I lived there. You worshiped at the Walter Cronkite School. I visited the Grand Canyon once. You know this pâté is a little salty. Anyway, we are both desert dwellers, you know…” He tried to take another drink but found his glass empty.

“You don’t have to try so hard. You have already won my company this night,” Ché said, in hopes of preventing another telling of his tales.

“Did I ever tell you of my heroics in the war against the Zionists?”

“Only four or five…”

He cut her off, “I was a Hezbollah Freedom Fighter in my youth, you know. We used to blow up so many Jews… I… I think I need another drink.”

Ché pointed him in the right direction, “The bar is over there.”

“Oh, thank you. I’ll finish my story later.”

“I can hardly wait.”

 

Friday 11:35 AM MDT

12:35 PM MST (Arizona)

 

José turned up the volume on the channel which had been droning on since 12:30 with a constant stream of seemingly random three digit numbers – one, four, seven … six, eight, two … nine, nine, four, etc.

“It’s almost time,” José said.  At least it was a pleasing female voice, he thought.

“Six, seven eight … four, two, four … six, six, one … four, nine, six … two, one, two … three…”

“There it was!” Pedro said excitedly. “212! Okay! They will repeat it in ten minutes. When they do, then we go through a confirmation and set up a meeting.

Over the next hour, messages where exchanged using the codes Dave had given the Torrez brothers and a meeting was set up for that night at 9:00 PM at the Gilbert Town Hall.

 

Friday 12:45 PM MDT

1:45 PM PDT (Los Angeles)

 

“…It is now my esteemed pleasure to present the one… the only… the savior of our planet…Trevor Jensen!” screamed Van Dunn, the communications director of Save The Earth!

The Enlightenment Coliseum in Los Angeles erupted into a frenzy of euphoric screaming as Trevor stood. He was already on the stand so his custom of waiting until the crowd was in a near riot state before taking the stage was unavoidably removed from his performance, but his signature way of delivering his speeches before a live audience hadn’t changed over the years.

Thirty seconds later, as the crowd settled down for the second time, he began very quietly, forcing the crowd to be absolutely silent to hear him. “Today… we celebrate the life and accomplishments of Donald Holder but we also look forward to taking advantage of his death to move forward our agenda.”

Trevor loved speaking these days. There was no fear of being taken out of context, no Fox News to challenge his statements, no surprise videos showing up on You Tube.  He was totally free. Free to say what he thought and say it how he meant it – no beating around the bush – except, of course, when he needed to lie to keep up appearances. It was his public persona that mattered.

“Donald’s death was sad. He was one of my closest friends but we will be able to capitalize on it in an unprecedented fashion. This one death will become an example of true sacrifice, one that those who oppose us will surely learn from.” There was a rally already planned before Donald’s death but his manner of death had given the rally a grand new purpose.

Trevor had summoned Donald to this meeting in Los Angeles in order to orchestrate his death. The plan was relatively simple; Donald’s world was going to collapse around him. His assistant, Geoffrey, was given the job Donald was next in line to get, a fake note from Nancy had been placed in his train car to get his hopes up just to have them crushed when he arrived in L.A. for the meeting. Nancy was going to meet a tragic end right before his eyes before he could talk to her. Now Trevor would find another use for her demise, so she survived for now. Donald’s home in L.A. was going to go up in flames, five male co-workers had all been lined up to charge him with sexual harassment, a neighbor was going to accuse him of cruelty to neighborhood cats (she would have incriminating video evidence), then it would be discovered that he had been working with Neil, and some other rebels, in Europe.

“Donald Holder was a true warrior in our battle to save the earth from all of the evils that surround us. Each and every one of you…” His voice was beginning to crack, but as he appeared to regain his composure, his volume increased slightly, “Each and every one of you would increase your value to the planet by taking a page from his book.” He paused briefly to allow for a few seconds of applause.

It wasn’t that Donald was really an enemy. It was just that Trevor was beginning to fear Donald’s popularity. Nancy was on the same track. Their deaths would help him further solidify his power as well as the good will he was sure to receive from the sympathy he would certainly gain from most women.

“Today is a day to look forward but, for just a moment, it is appropriate that we look back to help us all remember how far we have come,” Trevor continued, slowly and in a low voice, cutting off the applause. Because he was purposefully speaking below the level of the applause, the crowd quieted quickly and he repeated himself.

“Today is a day to look forward but, for just a moment, it is appropriate that we look back to help us all remember how far we have come. Many of you are too young to remember how things were in the old days before the Enlightenment… when the capitalists ran things.”

After a short pause, he continued, his voice now at a conversational level, still a little quiet for such a large gathering, forcing the attendees to really listen to hear what was being said. “Despite almost 100 years of effort by our progressive forefathers and mothers, the capitalists ran roughshod over our planet for nearly half of a millennium.

“Christopher Columbus enslaved the Native Americans, which of course led to the creation of slavery as an institution. Only a few years later, more capitalists invaded the nearly utopian world that existed on this continent. I say only near utopian, in that some of our native brothers had been corrupted by the practice of eating meat. They were definitely more eco-friendly in that they didn’t domesticate the buffalo and divert precious water resources to the enslavement and cultivation of these animals, but I digress.

“Within a few years, the enslavement of the natives turned to genocide. For the next three hundred years, white capitalists stole land from the native population, murdered the men, and raped the women and children. They codified slavery to bring Africans over to build the country with their sweat and blood. The clever thing that the capitalists did was that they used slavery to oppress the white workers as well.

“You see, the aim of a capitalist is to steal the labor of others. However, they are smart enough to use a carrot and stick when they need to and to pay some sort of low wage when necessary. White workers, most of who came to the Americas in a condition of servitude, were told that by virtue of their race, they could work their way into the propertied class and become part of the Bourgeoisie. They could eventually save up enough of the pathetically low wages they received that, one day, they would be able to oppress others as well.”

Trevor’s voice began to rise now, slowly at first. “They were told – work hard, boy, keep your mouth shut, do what they tell you at church, and one day, you will be the boss. ‘The Boss’… what a fraud. What they meant was you got to be the ‘House Nigger’. It was the same lie they told the slave – just a different carrot dangling from the stick.”

Trevor became even more animated now, “The American Dream, they called it! What a farce! One day you can oppress your neighbor! What a load of garbage! The American Dream?… The American Dream? … How about the American Nightmare!”

He was now yelling to be heard over the screaming crowd, “Here, boy. We’ll let you work 60 hours a week to produce 100,000 in profit for the company and we’ll pay you 1,000 for the privilege. Then we’ll loan you 100 grand so you can ‘own’ a house and think you are one of us now and you only have to pay us back 400 grand. Now, WE OWN YOU!”

“Capitalism was a lie! … Capitalism was a lie! Just a carrot dangling from a stick. … Capitalism was a lie!”

The crowd was screaming at the top of their voices now and Trevor was standing silently at the podium preparing for the next round. He dearly loved this part. The screaming adoration of the crowd was a special kind of fix that he couldn’t get any other way. After 20 seconds or so, he raised his hands and began signaling for them to quiet down. As the noise level in the coliseum began to dissipate, he spoke again – very quietly, just as before.

“You see…” he paused to let the crowd quiet down a bit more, “You see… the African slave had to be taught the lie of Christianity before he could be allowed to join the white slaves chasing the so-called American Dream. This is how the capitalist works. This is how he keeps a willing work force under his control; enslave the minds of a people with religion. Once their minds are enslaved with this false myth, their thinking could be manipulated in all areas.

“Tell them that working hard for their master is their Christian duty. Don’t covet the master’s wife, or his house, or his profits. That’s against the Christian ethic. Just keep your nose to the grindstone, pray to the mysterious god and, one day, you will be rewarded – probably in the next life,” he added sarcasm to the last phrase bringing a chuckle from the crowd.

“Capitalism needed a constant stream of Christians to willingly be the underclass. When the Africans were allowed to join the Whites in the underpaid class, this really didn’t affect wages because there were always so many immigrants coming over to join the American lie. They came from Ireland and Germany, Southern Europe, then Eastern Europe and, of course, the rest of the Americas. America was the leader in capitalist deceit and was always able to draw more people into its clutches with its façade of prosperity and so-called freedom.”

Trevor was back to his conversational voice now, “But, over a hundred and fifty years ago, there arose a group of people who were willing to look behind the curtain and expose the truth. Marx and Engels began a movement that would eventually lead to an enlightenment that would save the planet.

“This wasn’t an easy road. There were many diversions but I thought today was an appropriate occasion to revisit how we got past the evils of capitalism, as we remember the achievements of our fallen comrade.

“Marx and Engels were, of course, just the beginning. The first of the true founding fathers was, of course, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin, whose birthday we celebrate every April 22nd, calling it ‘Earth Day’.”

Trevor paused for a moment to allow for the appropriate applause. “If it were not for Lenin, we would never have been able to stop the capitalist destruction of the earth! Senator Gaylord Nelson deserves our thanks for his foresight in recognizing Lenin in such an open way. Let me hear you!”

The crowd went crazy, screaming praise for Nelson, but mostly for Lenin. After a few seconds, the screaming morphed into a chant of “Lenin, Lenin”.

Trevor didn’t wait for the chant to die down, preferring to yell over the noise. “Yes! … Lenin! … The man with the guts to take the first step!… He saw an opportunity and he took it! … He freed the peasants! … He liberated the workers! … He took everything from the capitalists!”

The time to scream had come again, “He stopped the capitalist war! … He killed the capitalist generals! …  He KILLED THE CAPITALIST CZAR! ….”

Trevor was cut off right on cue by another spontaneous chant, “Kill ‘em all! Kill ‘em all!”

Trevor was obviously loving this. He stood with a huge smile on his face as the crowd continued to scream at the top of their voices. This was his style. He had learned this style of speech delivery from watching old videos of Hitler. Trevor was in his element and life was good.

Hitler was one of those guys that people like Trevor had to secretly hold as an idol. In Trevor’s mind, Hitler was an ideal leader in so many ways. He ruled with an iron fist. He had the businesses in his pocket. He had actually had control of businesses without having to pay for them or physically take them over – all of the benefits without the headaches. He opposed religion and sought to replace the church with devotion to the state. He euthanized the unfit. He understood the Jewish threat. He was a strict vegetarian. What else could you want? Obviously, he had his flaws. He was an old-fashioned nationalist (no doubt but that was just Hitler’s failure to be fully enlightened) and he fought against the communists but Trevor could forgive him for that flaw. At the time, socialists like Hitler didn’t really understand that communists were their allies, not their rivals. The Communists just tended to have a superiority complex when it came to socialists. Communists thought socialists didn’t have enough backbone to “go all the way”. That wasn’t really the case. The socialists were just trying to build a “larger tent”.

Trevor raised his hands and signaled for the throng to quiet down. The noise level in the coliseum faded and he began to speak very quietly, just as before. “With a utopia in Russia and inspiration from Trotsky, communism burst into a global movement. Most of the world is quite aware of all of the successes that followed the creation of the Soviet Union, … the Soviet liberation of all of Eastern Europe, … the blossoming of Mao’s People’s Republic of China, … The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,… The Republic of Cuba, … The Democratic Republic of Vietnam…”

The cheering became more and more raucous as he listed country after country: Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, Ethiopia, Somalia, Mozambique, Benin, Congo, and others. By the time he finished his list with Venezuela, he had reached the time of the Enlightenment. The crowd was standing on their chairs screaming. People were passing out from exhaustion. It was, once again, time to bring his volume level back down and give his minions a chance to rest.

 

Friday 2:30 PM MDT

 

“Okay, class, make sure you have your poster then get in line. Destry, hurry up, now,” Ms. Li prodded. Soon the class was all lined up and ready to go do their weekly protest.

Kindergarten through second grade protested on Mondays. Scott’s class had been loaded up on busses and taken to the on ramp at 14th North and I-215 to protest the existence of elevated roadways and to demand that they all be torn down. Scott’s poster had a picture of a dolphin and said, “Dolphins don’t need bridges!” Scott’s teachers usually disagreed with his poster ideas, especially because only a couple of his classmates could even write their names, not to mention write a complete sentence. He tried to make a poster that seemed really silly but wouldn’t get him in trouble. When they had protested against people stealing corn for food, his sign had read, “Polar bears don’t eat corn!”

The third and fourth grades protested on Wednesdays and the fifth and sixth grades went out on Fridays. Even some members of John’s class thought it was dumb to protest when there was a curfew, but at least they got to go outside for a while.

“Alright, one last check. Everyone hold your signs in front of you so nothing gets left behind. She proceeded to walk down the line of children making sure everyone had a sign and it was appropriate for the demonstration.

Today all of the fifth and sixth graders in Salt Lake were protesting in favor of composting. The teachers seemed to prefer to march against something, but they had no say in the protest schedules. The protests where set up by the County Board of Educational Self-Expression and Enlightened Support Services. Ms. Li was a substitute in this class, but was on campus everyday just in case she was needed. She worked playground duty a lot and was familiar with most of the students, so she knew which posters might need to be double checked.

She looked at John’s poster and smiled. His sign said simply “Composting Saves Lives”, in large letters surrounded by small peace symbols, flowers, rainbows and earths. “Very nice John!”

“Thanks, Ms. Li.” He was beaming.

Her demeanor changed when she got to Andrew and Jason. “Andrew, do you really think this is in keeping with the spirit of the rally?”

“What? It’s in favor of composting,” Andrew answered, feigning innocence.

John looked over at him and rolled his eyes.

“It’s just kind of … violent,” The teacher answered.

The poster showed the silhouette of a city in flames with large black lettering above reading, “Compost,” and below it read, “Or the world will burn!”

“It’s true isn’t it? That’s what they said in that video in geography class the other day,” Andrew defended himself.

“I suppose it is. Just maybe tone down the picture a little bit next time. Now Jason, your’s is…”

“Awesome! I know!” He held his out proudly. Jason’s sign showed a man behind prison bars with AK-47’s on both sides of the main picture. The top read “Composting,” and the bottom read, “It’s the law!”

“Yes, it’s awesome for sure, but …. never mind, you’re right. It’s awesome.” Ms. Li couldn’t tell if Jason was sincere or not, but in the end she decided it didn’t really matter. No one would see their protest anyway.

The intercom on the wall beeped then a voice followed, “Ms. Karensky-Molotov’s class, you are free to express yourselves now. Please proceed to the main exits.”

The class filed out and gathered with the other classes on the front lawn. Ms. Dickenson, one of the afternoon vice principals, stood on the sidewalk with a bullhorn. “Since there is a curfew and we don’t have enough transportation, we are going to march through the neighborhoods here by the school today. Remember to yell loudly so the people can hear you and they will be inspired to look out the windows to see what we are saying. Composting is a very important part of The Enlightened One’s effort to save the earth, so let’s do this right.”

 

Friday 4:00 PM MDT

5:00 PM PDT (Los Angeles)

 

Trevor wiped the perspiration from his brow. He looked down at his watch and realized that three hours of his speech had gone by already. “Hugo’s got nothing on me,” he thought. “I’ll show Teo! That pompous dweeb thinks I’m nothing but a frat boy, but no frat boy could give this long of a speech, especially one with such undeniable logic.” He continued.

“Today, the world also looks to the other enlightened people’s dictatorships in Brazil, the New Soviet Union, India, England, and France.” This time he was speaking quietly without pausing, not giving time for applause. “Now, I would like to focus for a minute on our own People’s Republic of the Enlightened States of America.

“I’ve focused on countries around the world, that doesn’t mean that the struggle for freedom wasn’t making progress in the belly of the beast. The old United States typified all that was wrong with capitalism; greed, exploitation, rampant population growth, abuse of Mother Earth, enslavement, deception, indoctrination – these were all ingrained deeply in society. It took special people to see the weakness of the system and a century long struggle to get us to where we needed to be.

“Progressivism took a multipronged approach in order to bring about this change. Many of the ideas coincide with the Communist Manifesto. In the Manifesto, Marx gave us 10 places to start, so let’s see how we did:

“1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes,” he read from the huge screen behind him which was now displaying the first of the goals.

“Even before the Enlightenment, the old government owned about 30% of the land in the country including 48% of Arizona, 45% of California, over half of Utah, Oregon, and Idaho, 69% of Alaska, and 84% of Nevada. Of course, that worked out to our benefit when it came time to sell off that land to repay our debts to China. See here, how forward thinking Marx was?” he added rhetorically.

The screen changed to show the second goal, “2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax. When Marx wrote this, the U.S. had no income tax at all. In the beginning, Congress promised to tax only the very wealthy and at the small rate of only 1%. Once the tax was in place, incremental changes were easy. Eventually, everyone was being taxed. But as long as the rich were paying more, no one seemed to mind. More than once, we were able to get the top marginal rate all the way to 90%. That level of taxes came and went a few times, but by the Enlightenment, it was permanent and 98% of the taxes were being paid by 25% of the people. We had succeeded in removing all of the proletariat from the tax rolls!” Trevor paused for a moment for the applause to die down.

“3. Abolition of all right of inheritance. That was a simple one. One hundred percent inheritance tax on anything over $100,000 was an easy sell. Who actually had that kind of money to leave as an inheritance? Only greedy capitalists!” Trevor again had to pause for thunderous applause.

He continued with his measured tone, “Now, number 4, Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels. This one is very interesting. Take away property from any enemy of the State, but why the immigrants?” Trevor never did understand the difference between emigrants and immigrants. “Well, think about it. When a new immigrant comes into a country penny-less, they have to turn to the State for help. The State becomes their support system. Then we collapse the system! That’s the whole point of Cloward-Piven.”

There was thunderous applause again at that but Trevor cut it off short. “Their strategy was used to more than double the number of welfare recipients under Johnson and Nixon. They even forced New York City to declare bankruptcy! We also see in this item Saul Alinsky’s rule to isolate and demonize a group then make them a scapegoat. That’s the way we overcame the capitalists in the end; through ridicule and a solid divide and conquer strategy.”

That brought the crowd to their feet with thundering applause. Sometimes he wondered how they could keep up the screaming for so many hours, but he was glad they did. “That’s right! … Give yourselves a hand. You all played a big role in that one!”

At that, the screaming became deafening and the crowd spontaneously began chanting, “Save the Earth!… Save the Earth!… Save the Earth!”

Trevor took a sip of water from his glass and joined in the applause. After nearly a minute of chanting, Trevor brought them back under control. “Number 5 was probably the easiest one of all; Centralization of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly. Do I even have to say it? No, I don’t. You say it.”

The crowd shouted out, nearly in unison, “The Federal Reserve!”

“Of course!” He had to wait for the applause to die down again.

“Now number 6 was a little trickier; Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State. Over the years, our progressive forefathers were able to regulate the living daylights out of the capitalists, but our allies in the media always seemed hesitant to surrender all of their autonomy to the State. Since the beginning of the Progressive Era, they were always willing mouthpieces but it wasn’t until The Enlightened One came along that they were willing to jump in with both feet on government control of media. The Internet proved a little tricky for a time but, during The Slide, it finally fell into State control as well.

“Transportation wasn’t too hard in the end since almost all modes of transportation endanger the planet. We simply had to regulate, then confiscate.” Any mention of protecting the planet was a sure-fire applause line. Trevor was forced to pause again for another round of chanting.

“Next slide… okay…7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan. Of course, Marx couldn’t have foreseen the damage to the planet that the capitalists would eventually do but, even back in his day, he knew the only way to build sustainable habitation for all of us was to have the government take ownership of all of the factories; first, through regulation, then centralized planning to restore the land to its natural state.”

Trevor’s comments didn’t really make any sense but he was talking about saving the planet again so the whole crowd was up and screaming and chanting.

Once they had calmed down, he proceeded with number eight, “Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture. …” he paused for a second, then shouted, “Equal pay for ALL!”

The crowd went bonkers again! Soon they were chanting, “Share the Wealth! … Share the Wealth! … Share the Wealth!”

Trevor took another drink of water then signaled for the crowd to settle down. “9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country. Again, this one would never have been accomplished without you! Give yourselves a hand!” The cheering and chanting started again.

He continued, “It wasn’t until after the Enlightenment that we were able to accomplish this. The Enlightened One laid the foundation but it was you who finally made it happen!”

The crowd erupted.

“You helped us get everyone moved into the cities, set up the Bio-Zones, and educated the people as to the necessity of all of these things! Give yourselves one more hand!” he shouted.

After another minute or so of chanting, he continued, “The last item, number 10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production. Wow! How important was that! John Dewey, a great progressive educator, and many of his cohorts, pushed to get rid of any education that competed with a State-run system. Public Schools became the foundation of our children’s indoctrination. The minds of the children need to be turned to the State and, once they learn to go beyond self-interest and embrace the State, they can be made to embrace the world as a whole. Educate the children to know what the State needs them to know. Teach them what to think, how to be loyal to the leadership, how to overcome what their parents and churches try to cram down their throats!”

The crowd erupted yet again. This time as they calmed down, Trevor turned to his old standard – speaking very quietly, bringing the crowd back to silence. “So, as you can see, Marxism wasn’t dead in the United States. It just went by a different name for 100 years. We redefined democracy then convinced the uninformed that our version of democracy was the only real one.

“How about the 17th Amendment? That one progressive idea single handedly destroyed the power of the states. After the 17th Amendment, the Senate was no longer a protector of the rights of the States. The era of federal mandate had begun. It was always easier to persuade the masses than to get an elected body with its own agenda to hop on your bandwagon.

“In the early years, progressives worked for social justice in many diverse areas. They fought to have true professionals run the government. Sure, we could elect a mayor and a city council, but what we needed were lifelong bureaucrats to run the show; hire a city manager to actually run the place. The concept of a citizen legislator was naive. We needed trained professionals and community organizers to run our cities. This professional class would enforce its decrees uniformly and bring far greater efficiency.

“They fought to abolish the idea of seeking out the clergy for counseling and help in a crisis. Government trained social workers could give better advice and solve your problems without bias concerning your lifestyle.

“They worked to abolish poverty by supporting the goals of organized labor; shortening the work week to create more jobs and creating a minimum wage that would force the capitalists to pay all workers a living wage regardless of their abilities. Everyone has the right to a good paying job.

“This is true social justice!” The audience was on their feet again. “You may as well stay standing for this one, too!” Trevor shouted over the applause. “It was our progressive forebears who started our modern environmental movement by confiscating billions of acres of land to be used for the public!” As he predicted, the coliseum went crazy. It took almost two minutes to finally get them calmed down again.

He quietly continued even though he knew he was about to cause a meltdown.

“We have so many people to thank for all they have done for us. It has been a real team effort – far more than in Cuba, Venezuela, China, or even Russia. A couple I’ve already mentioned, but let’s just lay a few of them out there: John Dewey,… Woodrow Wilson, … Teddy Roosevelt, … Roger Baldwin, … Margaret Sanger, …Upton Sinclair, …” The screams between names was nearly deafening.

“Robert La Follette, … Franklin Delano Roosevelt, … Richard Cloward, … Frances Fox Piven, …Henry Wallace, … Lyndon Johnson, … Paul Erlich, … George McGovern, … Saul Alinsky, … Teddy Kennedy, … Paul Wellstone, … Ralph Nader, … Noam Chomsky, … George Lakoff, … Hillary Clinton, … Bernie Sanders, … Russ Feingold, … George Soros,… Dennis Kucinich, … Cynthia McKinney, … Valerie Jarrett, … Kathleen Sebelius, … Van Jones, … Howard Dean, … Al Gore, … Donald Holder, … and … of course… our very own Enlightened One!” With the mention of The Enlightened One’s name, a spotlight illuminated a 15-foot tall poster of him, and the crowd went absolutely ballistic.

After nearly three minutes of pandemonium, Trevor finally brought the audience back under control. “As I mentioned in the very beginning, today… today is a day to look forward. We can’t sit on our laurels and bask in the glory of past accomplishments. This very week, you are all going to be witnesses to the next phase in the evolution of human kind. Let me give you a glimpse of tomorrow, today.”

The house lights went dark and the presentation began on the massive screen behind Trevor. Trevor needed to visit the restroom then get a hit before the presentation ended. There was still another two hours of speech to give.

Friday 8:00 PM MDT

9:00 PM MST (Arizona)

 

“General Thompson, these are José and Pedro Torrez,” said Colonel Hatch.

“It’s a pleasure to meet both of you. Your reputations precede you,” General Thompson said, extending his hand to both men for a handshake. “The Northwest Liberators are quite a thorn in their side.”

“Thank you, Sir,” José said, “we are doing what we can.”

“And I understand your group deserves the bulk of the thanks for driving the government goons from Apache Junction, Pedro,” General Thompson had actually grown up in Mesa and he also refused to call Apache Junction, Native American Bluffs.

“Well, thank you, Sir, but that bunch of Mormon kids have done their fair share, too,” Pedro said humbly.

“That might be so. I’ve yet to meet with them but I know they are just a small part of what’s been going on down there. So, what do you call your band of rebels?” Thompson inquired.

“We don’t really have a name. My wife calls us ‘The Team’,” Pedro answered.

“Well, that’ll work. Colonel Hatch here tells me that you have just returned from Salt Lake. How is Mr. Stone doing these days? I haven’t spoken with him in several months.”

“The truth is, Sir, things are awfully quiet down there. There seemed to be very little action before Holder was assassinated,” José said.

“Yes, they seem to be a complacent bunch down there, don’t they?” the General lamented.

“Dave was very frustrated by it all. He said that in the early days there was a lot of resistance but now many of his former comrades have just thrown in the towel. They’re keeping their heads down and hoping for the best,” José elaborated.

“It seems he spends most of his efforts these days supporting rebels in Nevada and working with the Ute Reservation,” Pedro added.

“Gentlemen, you see, the Ute Reservation is under our control – has been for nearly two years now. We have been smuggling in troops, weapons, and other equipment in preparation for a major offensive next spring. Assuming all continues to go well up here, we should have them pushed out of Phoenix by April, and then a two pronged attack on northern California through the winter. Then we unleash our troops in Central Utah and head south through Salt Lake, and hopefully down through Idaho where we have a lot more guerilla activity. Stone has been vital to our operations down there,” the General explained.

“We are looking forward to working with you and your men on the southern frontier. I’ve heard you can probably round up a thousand men or so. If I could get you the arms, do you expect you could double that number?”

“Now that the Enviro-force isn’t breathing down our necks, I think we’ll have far greater success in our recruiting,” Pedro said.

“That was my thought, too,” the General said. “Well, let’s get it done. Colonel Hatch will show you to the trucks we’ve prepared for you when we’ve finished here.”

“Thank you, Sir!” Pedro said.

“We have already loaded Max and Eric up with a truck load and sent them back,” Colonel Hatch added.

“We are going to be partners now. You and your men take care of recon in your area and help us secure the route around the Apache reservation and we’ll take care of you.”

The General led the Torrez brothers to a large table which was completely covered by a map of the Phoenix metro area. The General explained to the brothers what areas they would be responsible for, how the secure communications worked, their chain of command, etc. An hour or so later, they were each driving a new truck back to Apache Junction loaded with weapons, ammo, communications equipment, and a fresh outlook on life.

 

Friday 9:20 PM MDT

Contessa Gomez-Jackson approached the green screen and attempted to look into the camera, but she was still quite dependant on her monitor to see where she was supposed to be pointing.

“As you can see, The Enlightened One’s policies have brought us some beautiful weather, a little warm as to be expected during this time of the year, but nothing like before the Enlightenment.

“Boston reached 38 degrees today. Baltimore was just a hair over 40, almost three degrees below the average highs the decade before The Slide. In the northwest they had much the same story with 39 in Atlanta and 33 in Miami. Over in the northeast there was a front of high pressure move into the area bringing temperatures into the low to mid 40’s but, again, this is nowhere near the high of 57 set in the year 1BE. The Enlightened One has seen to it that we will never have to face such high temperatures again.” 

 

Julie quickly did the math in her head, “Wow, isn’t that about 135? No wonder you moved down here, Dad!”

“Well, it was even worse when you consider it didn’t rain in Phoenix for over a decade, either.”

“Wow, things sure were bad when we had global warming!”

“That’s for sure!” John agreed without the slightest hint of sarcasm.

 

“Be sure to stay tuned to your local news for the forecast in your area.”

Michelle Nguyen was now on the screen.

“That was truly enlightened, Contessa. Now we will turn to Svetlana Matsushita with Planet Watch.”

Svetlana’s face came onto the screen but there was no sound as her lips began to move. Pablo Perez Garcia was speaking and the camera found him a second later.

“Just a moment. Sorry to cut in, but we are just getting urgent news from Salt Lake City. We are going to go live to Nichole Bigwater who is standing by in Salt Lake City. Nichole…”

“Yes, I’m live at the Enlightened Government Complex on Center Street in Salt Lake City where we are about to receive a message from the city manager, Brett Horiuchi.

“As I’m sure you recall, Donald Holder was murdered by Christian radicals here in Salt Lake City yesterday. Witnesses reported 40-50 Christian radicals boarded Mr. Holder’s train and began slaughtering all of the women and children who would not swear an oath to Jesus and to the so-called prophets of Jerusalem.

“At the time, we didn’t know if Mr. Holder was the target of the attack, but we believe Mr. Horiuchi is going to confirm this for us when he comes to the microphone. Oh, here he is.”

Horiuchi lowered the microphone so his face would be unobstructed by the stand, “Persons of the world, I want to lay out for you exactly what happened on the day of Mr. Holder’s death to dispel any myths.

“First of all, we now know that upwards of 100 Christian radicals boarded Mr. Holder’s train. It does appear that Mr. Holder was their intended target, but these vicious beasts began slaughtering all of the women and children within their reach – quote, ‘for practice.’ Mr. Holder approached the radical Christians and tried to persuade them to stop the ‘Hatred of Jesus’ and turn to the true love of The Enlightened One.

“It is now known that 34 of the radicals dropped their weapons being won over by Mr. Holder’s charisma. It wasn’t reported before, but we can now confirm, that three of the terrorists literally fell over dead from the force of his witnessing against them.

“Thanks to the tireless work of the Enlightened Enforcement, the remaining 62 Christian terrorists have been taken into custody. You can see their pictures here on the screen…”

           

Friday 11:00 PM MDT

Saturday 12:00 AM MST (Arizona)

 

Half an hour after leaving the Gilbert Town Hall, the rebels were at Pedro’s house. They parked the trucks back to back in front of the house and decided that looting probably wouldn’t be an issue but they would sit on the front porch and keep watch for awhile just in case. As they approached the house, Leslie came down the stairs and met Pedro with a giant kiss.

“Oh, Pedro, I’m so glad you are home!” she exclaimed.

“What’s up? I’ve only been gone a couple of hours,” he seemed surprised by her enthusiasm.

“The news tonight…”

“The news?” José sighed.

“Yeah, we still get the broadcasts and… well, old habits die hard.  Anyway, they were saying that they had found the people responsible for the Holder murder and they had arrested 62 people in Salt Lake today. Then they announced that they would immediately be sent to Liberia for permanent re-education.”

Everyone knew “permanent re-education” actually meant they would be executed.  The Enlightened One spoke against capital punishment in public but handed it out in private on a daily basis.

Prisons, in general, made a hypocrite of The Enlightened One. In the early years of the Enlightenment, he strongly criticized the prison system saying that prison should be for rehabilitation rather than punishment. He said the conditions were inhuman and he regularly went on tirades condemning the racial inequalities in the prison population, so he set about releasing Black and Hispanic prisoners until their numbers were down to 12% and 13% of the prison population, respectively. The prisons were to be transformed into re-education centers for the rest. The “guests” of the prisons were to be well feed, decently entertained, properly educated with a college level education, and returned to society.

In order to keep the racial percentages correct, The Enlightened One began deporting Mexican nationals to Mexico and Blacks to the UASA. However, their governments protested loudly, and that practice was soon stopped.

For a short time, he tried forced military service for those physically capable, but morale in the military completely collapsed to the point that over 40% of the officers resigned their commissions, which actually worked into his overall plan for the military anyway.

So, after less than a year, re-education took on the meaning of forced manual labor in Soviet gulag-style camps. The conditions were hard, the comforts were completely absent, and the only education was constant playing of speeches by The Enlightened One over the camp public address systems and propaganda films at night.

Sentences were generally short the first time, but increased exponentially for repeat offenders. However, to keep the racial percentages in line, Whites were automatically given twice as long of a sentence as any racial minority.

“Did they have pictures? They generally like to parade enemies of the government in front of the cameras,” José asked.

“Yes, they had mug shots for all of them. The thing is, I recognized one of them. He was that one guy who got busted a year or so back for defacing posters of The Enlightened One. Remember? His picture was on the news every night for two weeks until they caught him.”

“That guy, Jordan… ugh…something. Yeah, I remember. How did he end up in Salt Lake? I figured he would have done his re-education in Parker or Bullhead City,” Pedro said.

“That’s what I thought. What if it’s a setup?” Leslie said, obviously worried. “They lie about everything. Maybe they made up those arrests to get people to let down their guard.”

“Don’t worry about Dave, Les. He’s too smart for them. If it’s a setup, he’ll be able to avoid it,” José assured her.

“I so hope you are right.”

“José is right,” Pedro said. “I just know it. Things are going good now. We’ve got no thugs spying on us, we’ve got a ton of weapons, the South Mexicans are helping us out, the Greens are on the run…It looks like they lost the airport,” he gently grabbed her arms and started rubbing them up and down. “Things are good. You’ll see.”

 

 

Saturday

6:08 AM MDT

 

Dave looked down at his watch; it was only 6:08. They were barely over halfway done. He noticed the Green Patrol officer had lifted his AK-47 into the air and turned at the front of his row and was coming his way, so he joined the chant.

“What’s best for all is best for me; The Enlightened One enlightens me,” the people chanted.

“What’s best for all is best for me; The Enlightened One enlightens me.”

“What’s best for all is best for me; The Enlightened One enlightens me.”

“What’s best for all is best for me; The Enlightened One enlightens me.”

“What’s best for all is best for me; The Enlightened One enlightens me.”

A local official stood on a twenty-foot platform with a megaphone leading the chant between the reiterations of the past week’s pronouncements. This was the Time of Gathering and Chanting.

Normally, every Saturday and Sunday morning at 5:30 AM every person meets in a designated location in their neighborhood, but the murder of Donald Holder had increased the time to a full two hours, from 5:00 – 7:00 AM. Dave wondered if they ever considered the havoc they were causing to people’s schedules when they did stuff like this. Probably not, he decided.

The Stones were assigned to line up in a cul-de-sac just a block and a half from their house. There were numbers painted on the ground to which every person was assigned. Dave stood on number 215 near the back of the formation. Linda was closer to the front on the number 18 and the kids were dispersed throughout the formation as well. They liked to separate family members in case the Green Patrol needed to speak one-on-one with a child.

“To give us strength to carry out the work of the people, The Enlightened One has pronounced there will be an increase of potato entitlements to .8 kg per person per week! The Enlightened One is wise and merciful,” the official called out.

This was, of course, a 20% decrease from the previous ration.

“Thank you, wise and merciful Enlightened One!” the people chanted.

“Thank you, wise and merciful Enlightened One!

“Thank you, wise and merciful Enlightened One!

“Thank you, wise and merciful Enlightened One!

“Thank you, wise and merciful Enlightened One!

Dave casually looked around at his neighbors. He often wondered what they were thinking. Were they as upset about all of this as he was? There were other rebels in the community, most of whom Dave had never spoken to in public. Did any of these people believe the propaganda? Were any of them real supporters of The Enlightened One? There were less than a handful of families in the whole neighborhood who came out to their church meetings, yet most of the people he knew in the neighborhood were people that he had known from church before the Enlightenment.

“To give us strength to carry out the work of the people, The Enlightened One has pronounced there will be celery entitlements in July! The Enlightened One is kind and generous,” the official called out.

Dave figured six months must be plenty of time for people to forget, in case the celery crop was a bust like the previous year.

“Thank you, kind and generous Enlightened One!” the people chanted.

“Thank you, kind and generous Enlightened One!

“Thank you, kind and generous Enlightened One!

“Thank you, kind and generous Enlightened One!

“Thank you, kind and generous Enlightened One!

The Green Patrol officer passed by Dave as the Official announced the next chant.

“What protects the earth protects us all; The Enlightened One protects us all!” the people chanted.

“What protects the earth protects us all; The Enlightened One protects us all!

“What protects the earth protects us all; The Enlightened One protects us all!

“What protects the earth protects us all; The Enlightened One protects us all!

“What protects the earth protects us all; The Enlightened One protects us all!

“This morning it is 24 degrees! The Enlightened One has helped us have pleasant weather to work in! Twenty years ago it was nearly 36 degrees at this time of the morning! His policies have cooled us by 12 degrees! The Enlightened One is compassionate and all knowing.”

“Thank you compassionate and all knowing Enlightened One!” the people chanted.

“Thank you compassionate and all knowing Enlightened One!

“Thank you compassionate and all knowing Enlightened One!

“Thank you compassionate and all knowing Enlightened One!

“Thank you compassionate and all knowing Enlightened One!

Of all of the things going on in the world, the Time of Gathering and Chanting got under Dave’s skin the easiest. Most of the other stuff he could blow off and explain to his kids, but this was different. You weren’t allowed to speak except to repeat the chants. He could see John standing in his assigned spot from where he was. It always frightened him to see how animated his son would get at these things. It made his heart sink. Today, he seemed exceptionally enthusiastic to Dave.

Dave had done all he could to teach his children the truth about the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was merely a new Fascism. The new eco-friendly world they now lived in was nothing more than a totalitarian fascist dictatorship. Freedom was almost totally gone; you were even told when to take a shower. This was a new Fascism, though. It wasn’t based on nationality like the Fascism of Hitler and Mussolini. It was based on planetary concerns and “sensitivity”.

How could you argue with this type of Fascism without sounding heartless? Everyone lived on the planet; they all had a stake in its survival. What was wrong with clean air and clean water?

The answer wasn’t always an easy one to explain. It really boiled down to common sense. Unfortunately, common sense seemed to be lacking in the world and few people had the attention span to learn and study. Feel-good slogans were easier to hold on to.

“Equality is liberty. The Enlightened One has made us free,” they were now chanting. Dave had spaced out for a few seconds and had missed the last pronouncement. As he snapped out of it, he realized he was in sync with everyone else.

“Equality is liberty. The Enlightened One has made us free.

“Equality is liberty. The Enlightened One has made us free.

“Equality is liberty. The Enlightened One has made us free.

 

 

 

Saturday 11:00 AM MDT

 

“Remember, Jennifer, we talked about this at the beginning of the school year,” Ms. Gomez-Stepnoski replied. “Yes, there was stuff that happened before the restoration of the United States but since the war was so big and made the country so different, it was basically just like starting over. So today we consider the history of America to begin when all of the states rejoined the country and submitted to the control of the Central Authority.”

“But my dad says that the most important stuff happened more than 100 years before that, even before the first Constitution was written,” Jennifer Holman said.

“Well, that’s just not true. Sometimes your parents aren’t as smart at you. Some of your parents still don’t understand that it was their fault we used to have global warming. You need to explain to them that sometimes they need to keep their opinions to themselves. Unless they are certified teachers, they don’t have the skills necessary to know what’s important and what’s not,” Ms. Gomez-Stepnoski explained.

“Yeah, you should hear some of the stuff my dad tries to tell me. I just let it go in one ear and out the other,” John offered.

“That’s a good policy. You’ll get some of the boring stuff from before the Lincoln War when you are older. Don’t worry about …”

“Jonathan David Stone?” Vice-principal Carter said as she opened the door to John’s classroom. “Come on, those agents want to talk to you again. What are you up to?”

“Nothing, Vice-Principal Carter,” he replied as he stood.

“Sure, sure. Come on, I’ve got more important things to do than shepherd around delinquents,” she said with a sigh.

When they reached the office of the Morning Principal, Ms. Golightly, John saw the familiar faces of Agents Smith, Jones, and McDonald.

“Herro, Jonosan! I haf fery good news for you. We are welcome you to Earth Warrior! You will come wiss us afater school dis day.”

 

Saturday 11:15 AM MDT

 

Beep…beep…beep (five second pause) beep…beep…beep. Linda went to the front room and pushed the flashing red light on top of the television, silencing the alarm.

She turned on the TV and read the scroll at the bottom of the screen:

 

Attention: Today’s noon news broadcast is mandatory. All adults are to be in front of their television during the duration of the broadcast. Optical recognition will be used. There will be important information regarding the curfew.

 

The message was repeated continuously on all channels for the following forty-five minutes leading up to the broadcast.

Dave had been taking the opportunity of the lockdown to show Jimmy his setup in the house and teach him a few things. He showed him the maps with the locations of his caches of weapons and how the shortwave radio and messaging system worked so Jimmy could operate independently if needed. He introduced Jimmy to some of his contacts and gave him his own code-name: Blitz. His distress call was Screen. Jimmy didn’t get the relevance but Dave seemed to think it was clever.

The two of them had spent the bulk of the morning in the reading room going over weapon manuals and cleaning procedures. Linda sent Julie down to tell them that lunch would be early and they should come on up.

After they finished lunch, Heather joined her parents for the news since she was a registered adult, but Julie and Jimmy went down to the family room to stay out of view of the cameras.

“So, Jimmy. Have you read any of the stuff I gave you?” Julie asked.

“I actually read almost the whole stack,” he replied.

“That’s great!” She seemed genuinely surprised.

“Well, I’ve had a lot of time the last couple of days,” Jimmy said.

“I guess so. Well?”

“Well, what?” he said with a straight face.

“You know what I mean,” she said as she smacked his arm. “Have you prayed about it?”

“You know, Jacob offered to help me yesterday, but, I don’t know. I’m just not sure if I’m ready to make some kind of commitment like you guys. That whole first vision thing is pretty hard to swallow. God and Jesus having bodies? I guess I’ve always thought Jesus was a separate being from God the Father, but actual physical bodies?” Jimmy responded.

“You do have to pray to find out if it’s real. Nothing anyone says can convince you that it’s true.”

“I suppose that’s true. It’s just that… oh, I don’t know. It all just seems so convenient. It, I don’t know, it seems like the stuff in there just happens to answer all of the questions that people want to know about, you know, the whole grace and faith thing, what the afterlife is like when we are waiting for  the resurrection, why Jesus was baptized, one church only – named after Jesus, the stuff about baptizing babies – it just comes out and says, blatantly, not to. Come on, how coincidental is that?”

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence. God knew what questions we would have in our day and he had the prophets put the answers in there; it was written for us,” Julie said.

“I just don’t know. I felt good about a lot of it, though,” he confided.

“Did you pray about what you read? That’s how you can know that it’s true. If you pray about it and you find out for yourself, you will know it’s true. Then you will know that it is God’s word,” Julie explained.

“You are right about that. I just don’t know if I’m ready to find out,” Jimmy admitted.

“Can I tell you something?”

Jimmy nodded.

“I honestly think you better get ready. All the stuff that’s going on… Jesus is coming back, and soon.”

“Do you really think so?” Jimmy said in a more concerned voice than Julie expected.

She took his hand, “Jimmy, I do. The time to choose is now. I’m not just saying that, either. You know, it’s up to you. I would love to have you join the Church but no one is going to make you. We believe that the most precious thing God gave us, besides the Atonement of Christ, is our agency… the right to make our own choices. Without that freedom, we would be just as miserable as Satan is.”

“Well, I…”

“Jimmy, Julie!” It was Heather. She stood in the dining room looking over the rail at them.

Julie quickly dropped Jimmy’s hand.

“Come here, you guys. The curfew has been lifted.”

Saturday 12:15 PM MDT

 

“May I help you?” Linda asked the two men standing at the front door. They were dressed in the blue overalls of the workers.

“Are you Linda Stone?” the taller of the two men asked.

“Yes,” she replied warily. The curfew hadn’t been lifted for more than 15 minutes and there was already someone at the door.

“Linda, we have a letter here for you and David. Wait until we’ve gone to open it and tell no one of its contents. Others will be receiving the same letter and you will know what to do.”

“Uh, thanks?” Linda said quizzically.

The two men turned and headed down the stairs of the porch to the walkway.

When Linda turned around, Dave was just coming up behind her. “Who was that?”

“I don’t know. They dropped off this letter and left.” She briefly examined the envelope, found it blank on both sides, and asked, “Well?”

“Well, open it,” Heather, who had also joined them, urged.

Linda lifted the sealed flap. “The guy said not to tell anyone what’s in it and that other people would be getting the same letter.”

“Well, let’s see it,” said Dave.

“I’m working on it…. Okay, the top has the Seal of the United States on it, nothing else.” She began to read.

My fellow Americans,

We live in serious and tumultuous times. You are receiving this letter because you have been chosen to join our next company of settlers to journey to our land of Zion. You are surrounded by people who have had their spirits beaten into submission but you have not succumbed to their fate. You have remained strong; you have defended liberty, you have continued to worship God, and you have taught your children to do the same.

We are building a new world here where people like you are valued, cherished, and can find kindred spirits at every turn – no more worrying if someone is listening in on your private conversations, no more socialist indoctrination of your children, no more worshiping in the shadows. No longer will you have someone metering out water to you by the thimble. No more will you or your children go to bed hungry because of the decisions of some faceless government bureaucrat. No longer will your family be forced to chant your love for a false demigod. 

We can’t give you complete instructions at this point, but what we can tell you is this:

Bring anything that will be of value to you in your new life – you will not be returning.You must leave between 3 and 4:30 AM tomorrow morning. This is your only opportunity. You must travel east on Interstate 80 to Cheyenne, Wyoming. The path will be made clear. Trust only those of like-mindedness. You may travel in small groups. We trust that you will be able to find each other without jeopardizing the mission. The choice to come is, of course, yours. We hope to see you in the near future.

Sincerely,

Your Brothers in Zion 

 

“Dave, do you think this is for real?”

“This is really it!” Dave said, hugging Linda, then kissing her. “I can feel the Spirit telling me, ‘Dave this is it’. I have no doubts.”

“This … I don’t know, seems so… coincidental. This could be a trap. They send out a letter with anti-government sentiments, tell you exactly where to go and when, and tell you to gather with others who feel the same way. Why? So you can testify against each other?” Linda said, still skeptical.

“And what about John? How are we going to get packed up without telling him what we are doing? He’s such a brat. We’ll probably have to lock him up or something so he won’t tattle,” Heather added.

“She’s right, David. What about our son? I hate to admit it, but I can see him running off if we tell him.”

“Linda, I’m telling you, I know this is the right thing to do. The Lord will make it all work out – I can just feel it. The Spirit has testified to me so strongly. Look, here’s what I think. I know you need to pray to get your own confirmation but, in the mean time, we need to prepare the best we can and we’ll deal with him as the time comes. Maybe you should start with his stuff so it can be ready before he comes home.”

“That’s a good idea,” Linda agreed.

“Dad’s right,” Julie said. She had been standing nearby at the top of the stairs of the family room.

“We have so much to do and we have to leave in the morning!” Linda said, obviously feeling overwhelmed. “We need to make a plan. Get your inventory sheets and I’ll get some paper and…and…let’s get started right now. I’m glad you girls are here. You can help out so much.”

“What do we do about Jimmy?” Dave asked.

“Let’s just ask him. Be honest with him and let him decide,” Julie suggested.

 

Saturday 12:30 PM MDT

 

About fifteen minutes later, as they sat at the table making their plans as to what resources they would try and gather, as well as Dave’s plan to deal with John, Linda had a sense of déjà vu when the doorbell rang again.

Jimmy quickly headed back down to the reading room as Linda went to the front door.

“May I help you?” Linda asked the three men and a lady standing at the front door. The men were dressed in blue overalls but the lady was wearing the black uniform of the EE.

“Ms. Stone?” the woman started, “These men are here to do maintenance on your television.”

“Okay, come on in,” she replied with a sense of trepidation.

“Ms. Stone, we have a report that your optical recognition cameras malfunctioned,” the Agent lied. “It showed that there was no one watching the news here during the special noon broadcast and while uh… we are sure you were watching the news, I’m afraid I will need to speak to everyone in the house and make sure that they can verify that they were watching the program. I’m sure you understand.”

“Oh, sure,” Linda answered. “Dave, Heather, Julie? Can you all come here, please?”

They all came up the stairs from the family room, “What’s up, babe?” Dave said innocently.

The three men had already gone to work on the television installing a new camera system and the agent was walking to the table with Linda.

“Four people?” the agent was sincerely confused.

“Julie is…” Dave started.

The agent cut him off, “Please, no talking. All of you sit quietly at the table until I make a quick search of your house.”

The four of them sat at the table while the agent when through each room. She took almost a minute in each bedroom upstairs – planting bugs – Dave assumed correctly. She went through the family room and down into the basement were she also spent an inordinate amount of time, considering the size of the room. This made Dave nervous but, when she came up, it appeared that she hadn’t seen anything suspicious.

“Okay, all seems in order. So why are there four people here? I don’t show that any of your children are absent from school today.”

“As I started to say before…”

“Don’t take an attitude with me, Mr. Stone. I will report you,” she snapped back.

Dave took a breath and started over, “Julie graduated from high school last month but she is only 16 so she isn’t registered as an adult. She is currently waiting for her assignment to serve the earth before she starts college next fall.”

“Uh huh… I’ll be following up on this claim, Mr. Stone,” she said as she scribbled something in her notepad. “Okay, Mr. Stone… no, wait… Julie. You, in the red hair, I presume?”

“Yes, I’m Julie.”

“Okay, I think I will start with you. Let’s go into the living room where we can kill two birds with one stone. The rest of you… not a word until I return for you.”

They went into the living room and Julie sat on the love seat while the agent had a couple of words with the television tech. Then, she went over and sat on the couch across from Julie and began the interrogation. Dave couldn’t hear what was going on but he saw the agent pointing to the TV a number of times while she spoke to Julie. Then she called someone on her handheld radio.

After a few minutes, she seemed to be satisfied with the answers she was getting from Julie and sent her back to the dining room table with orders to send her mother out. When Linda arrived, the lady was still writing on her pad. Linda started to sit down on the love seat when Dave could see the lady gesturing for her to sit in another seat, and then began interrogating her.

Dave could see the lady alternating between asking Linda questions and talking on the radio. She had Linda change seats twice. Then, after a couple of minutes, the television repairmen finished packing up their tools and headed out to their van. A minute or so later, Linda and the agent both stood and came into the dining area.

“Mr. Stone, Heather, I don’t believe I need to interview you. I believe everything is in order here.”

She turned to leave but after taking a few steps, she turned back and said, “By the way, congratulations. You have been chosen to beta test our new TV cameras. They still have optical recognition but they also can capture video and stream it live to the Information Czar’s offices on demand. Oh, and they also have audio now, as well. It’s going to be wonderful. When we have completed the beta test, we will be able to put these cameras in every home. It will make things so much easier because now you won’t have to worry about moving too much and getting false readings.”

“Thank you very much. We are honored,” Dave lied through a false smile.

 

Saturday 5:15 PM MDT

 

“So, was John with you at The Time of Singing?”

“No, Mom. That’s what I said – I haven’t seen him since this morning. He was sitting by Scott on the morning bus when we got to my school and that’s it,” Jacob replied.

“And when he got off the bus he told me I was a stupid farthead, just like every day,” Scott added.

“I didn’t get a call from the school. Where could that boy be?” Linda lamented.

“Maybe they had a field trip we forgot about?” Jacob offered.

“Oh, I just can’t imagine that.” She thought for a moment, “I’ll try the school again but I’m pretty sure all of the office workers leave at the last bell to help out with the ‘ToS’, don’t they?”

“I think so, but if they are on a field trip, maybe someone is still there,” Jacob said with a hopeful tone.

Linda picked up the phone, punched in her ID number, then when the dial tone came, she dialed the number.

“Gracias por llamar a Harry Reid Junior High School. Para continuar en español, por favor, pulse uno…”

Linda pressed 4 for English.

“We’re sorry, school is out. Please call back between the hours of 7:30 AM and 4:15 PM. If this is an emergency, please hang up and dial 911 to be put in contact with your local Green Patrol office and they will be able to direct you to the proper emergency services personnel.”

Linda placed the receiver back on the hook, “Maybe your dad will be able to find out something through his network.”

“I don’t know, if…” Jacob hesitated.

“What, Jacob?”

“Well, yesterday morning… I don’t know, he threatens to join the Earth Warriors all of the time. Maybe…” he shrugged, “I don’t know.”

Linda exhaled in frustration, “That might be possible, but do they just keep a kid after school?”

Linda realized she didn’t know. None of her kids had ever joined or even threatened to join the Earth Warriors. Linda thanked the Lord in her prayers every night that her children had been good kids and had given her and Dave so little trouble. The two girls had breezed through school and neither had seriously dated anyone. Even Heather’s relationship with Joshua had always been pretty platonic as far as they had been able to tell. Both of her girls were young women of the highest virtue. They went about their lives not seeming to care what the world around them promoted or thought about them.

Jacob was only slightly more of a challenge. He was a good boy, no doubt, and despite Julie’s early graduation, he was definitely the brightest of the three. Jacob had been given so many blessings from God, Linda thought, but she was often sitting on pins and needles wondering if he and his friends were going to get themselves in trouble. He had the attitude of the invincibility of youth. She wasn’t really afraid of him making bad choices so much as she was afraid of him making unwise choices. Jacob definitely had his head on straight but he was… well, he was her little boy and she just worried.

John, on the other hand, had been a problem for the last two years. Linda often wondered how a nine-year-old could become so rebellious, but he was living proof. The problem seemed to originate in fourth grade with his afternoon teacher.

Most of the teachers Linda had ever dealt with had been there to teach the kids what was in the text books and to tow the government line, but Ms. Jackson was different. She was a hardcore believer and filled her students’ heads with tales of glory from the early days of the environmental revolution. She glorified it all and, in many ways, actually seemed to deify the leaders.

John began coming home telling stories of Trevor Jensen’s youth and how Trevor was just like him. Trevor Jensen became his hero, along with Donald Holder, Nancy Klingler, and the rest. Ms. Jackson had them reading the glorified picture-book biographies of The Enlightened One, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and others, but then moved on to having them do exercises where they role played how they though the great enlightened leaders would deal with the capitalist and religious criminals of the past.

The following year, Dave and Linda were again dismayed. Ms. Jackson transferred into the 5th grade and was John’s teacher again. She had them take part in mock trials of Adam Smith for creating capitalism, Martin Luther for perpetuating the myth of Christianity, and Thomas Jefferson for the hypocrisy claiming freedom for all men while being governed by racism in all he did. She made the kids build cases against Herbert Hoover for intentionally creating the Great Depression to destroy the working class, against Harry Truman for secretly conspiring against FDR to develop a nuclear bomb to destroy the Japanese and Chinese as races, and against Ronald Reagan for causing a false fear of the World Revolution.

When they tried to get John moved to a different class, the school decided she was doing something right and district trainers came into her class to learn from her techniques. She was moved to Chicago at the end of the school year to become the new Political Enlightenment in the Elementary Schools Czar. Now most of the teachers in the district were trying to make a name for themselves to get in good with the administration – hence, his teachers’ convoluted teaching of Anne Frank: Semite Pacifist. 

John became really fond of Ms. Jackson and began ignoring his father’s attempts to correct what he was being taught. One night a year ago, John had even threatened to turn in his dad to the EE as a “Hater” – one who taught the philosophies of the Hatred that existed before the Enlightenment. At that time, Linda hadn’t believed John would really do it but, as of late, she wasn’t so sure. His threats to join the Earth Warriors were becoming more and more frequent.

“Oh, what if he really did it?” she thought in dismay.

Saturday 6:00 PM MDT

 

“David? Have you found anything?” Linda was becoming more and more concerned as each minute passed.

“Babe, it’s only been a few minutes. We haven’t found anything yet. Daniel managed to hack the principals’ and teachers’ computers, but there is nothing in any of them that tells us anything. Earnest and Samuel are still going through the IP phone calls for the last few days but, so far, there doesn’t seem to be anything there, either. I just don’t know what to do besides go down to the school and hope there is still…”

Dave was cut off by the ringing of the phone.

“Hello!” Linda nearly shouted into the mouthpiece.

“Ms. Stone?”

“Yes?”

“This is Ms. Herriman-Janikowski. I’m the Commissar of the District Health Directorate for Elementary Schools and Preschools of the Northeast Valley.”

“Yes, is this about John?”

“Yes. Sorry to call so late but we have had a busy day today and didn’t get to all of our guardian calls before school let out. You will be glad to know that we were able to mark John as excused from school, so you will not have to mess with a visit from Enlightened Enforcement.”

Linda was ready to start screaming at the bureaucrat at the other end of the line but, luckily, she gained control of herself, “Thank you. Do you have any information on our son?”

“Citizen Jonathan David Stone needs to have his tonsils removed – the doctor determined this earlier today. The surgery will be tomorrow. We will inform you of his progress tomorrow evening.”

“Thank you, but where is he? Can’t we come see him?” Linda asked as calmly as she could manage through her tears.

“I’m sure you have many questions. Unfortunately, I am unable to answer any of them. You wouldn’t have time to get here and return home before the news anyway, so I will speak to you again tomorrow evening, Ms. Stone. Goodbye.”

Linda turned as she replaced the handset, “David, we’ve got to find him. They said they have him in some hospital and they are removing his tonsils.”

“Linda, we will keep doing what we can. At least now we know we need to broaden our search.”

Linda’s tears transformed into uncontrollable sobs and she buried her face in Dave’s chest.

“Don’t worry, Baby. We’ll find him.”

John’s tonsils had been removed when he was seven.

“The Government really picked an inconvenient day to plant bugs in the house,” Dave thought. The whole family was busy quietly packing up all of the useful supplies they could get into the garage and Linda’s blasting of her favorite Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD’s on her portable player helped cover the noise they were making. Most of what they would take from the house was already moved to the garage and the time was quickly approaching when they had planned to nap for a short time since they would probably be up all night long. But by 7:00, Linda’s fury of activity was giving way to a terrible sense of dread. Where was John?

Dave was also beginning to seriously consider the fact that maybe that letter was all part of a plot to expose him; they get the letter and the EE shows up with new bugs and sound-enabled cameras for their television, the other children had returned from school at the normal time, but there was no sign of John, the hospital person who had talked to Linda hadn’t told her where John was, but had said they would call back with more information tomorrow.

What if he was just being paranoid? Maybe John was sick and his guys would find out where they were keeping him and they’d go grab him and everything would be fine.

This was the kind of thing that drove Dave nuts. There was a plan; move everything to the garage for quicker loading into the trucks, then take a short nap – if nervousness would allow. Dave and Jacob would then hop on their bikes and run the risk of a late day ride to pick up the trucks so they could be back in time for the news. But now there was this.

“David,” Linda’s tone of voice spoke volumes to Dave.

“I guess we could try going down to the Distribution Center. Maybe he’s in the clinic there.”

“The hospital lady said we wouldn’t have time to get there and back before the news so maybe he’s actually in Salt Lake,” Linda said.

“I just don’t have many options left. Pretty much my whole network has gone dark. Guaranteed, everyone is packing to go. Maybe there is somebody there, I just kind of doubt it…” Dave suggested with a shrug and a slight shake of his head.

“I think you better go, she agreed. I just don’t…” She was cut off by the ringing of the doorbell.

Dave was standing only a couple of steps from the door so he answered it to find one of their neighbors there.

“Trudy, hi,” Dave said as Linda came right up next to him.

“Hi, Dave. Hi, Linda,” she replied looking around a little as if she was afraid she was being watched. She looked up and to the right in the direction of the newly installed camera in an attempt to give the Stones a signal.

Dave could tell she wanted to come into the house and get out of plain sight but, under the circumstances, he didn’t think it was wise. Instead, he and Linda came out onto the porch and Dave said, “The outside camera doesn’t have sound. Just face the door and we’ll be fine.”

Trudy’s nervousness was even more apparent. She took a breath to help muster some strength then began, “I was just talking to Josh about what he did at school today and he said John told him he wasn’t going to be taking the bus home anymore.”

“You mean he was at school today?” Linda said, her voice trembling.

“Yes. He said that John said something about … and maybe John was just making it up – you know how kids are. Anyway, Josh said John told him that he was going to be leaving for some secret Earth Warriors camp today and that he would be gone for a couple of weeks.”

Linda’s lip began to quiver and she put her hand up to her mouth to cover it up but only a second later, the tears in her eyes were giving her away as well.

Trudy’s eyes also began welling up, “I just thought I’d let you know what Josh said. Has John come home yet?” Trudy asked, pausing for a few seconds to try to regain her composure.

Dave simply shook his head without responding.

“Like I said, I don’t know if John was just telling a story or what, but I figured you’d want to know.” She paused again, “I assume you guys got a letter today as well.”

Dave just nodded.

“If there is anything Jim and I can do, let me know, okay?”

“We will, Trudy, and thanks,” Dave said as he put his arm around Linda.

Trudy turned to leave but then turned back, “When are you leaving?” Trudy asked, knowing that the Stone’s would answer the call.

“We had actually planned to leave at 3 o’clock sharp,” Dave said, blocking his mouth from the camera. “You guys?”

“We don’t really have any way to do it, Dave. I don’t know what we are going to do. We only have two bikes for the three of us, … and we would just be a burden if we came. We…  just aren’t prepared. We always… we hoped some chance like this would come.” Now Trudy was crying, too.

“Look,” Dave started, turning his head from the camera, “Tell Jim to come over after the news. We’ll work something out.”

“Dave, are you serious? Really?” Trudy’s tears instantly changed to those of joy. “Oh, thank you, Dave. We’ll do the best we can to not be a burden, I promise.”

“It’s fine, Trudy.” He was standing strategically to have his face out of camera shot again. “Just get some basics packed up and be ready to go by 3:00, but Tell Jim to be here right after the news.”

“Oh, thank you! Thank you!”

“It’s okay. We’ve got to get some stuff done, too, so…” Dave said, trying to get her to leave.

“Oh, sorry… okay, I’ll tell Jim. And we’ll be ready.”

Dave and Linda went back into the house and headed up to their bedroom. Linda was still crying but was trying her best to be quiet to avoid being heard by the microphones.

When they made it to their room, Dave grabbed the bug that the agent had placed under the window sill and took it out into the hallway and placed it on the door handle of the linen closet at the end of the hall.

Returning to their room, Dave found Linda sitting on the bed sobbing deeply.

“Dave… What are we gonna do?”

“I don’t know, babe.”

“We can’t just leave him. We just can’t.”

“What other choice do we realistically have?”

Linda turned to Dave who was sitting next to her now with his left arm around her and buried her face in his chest. Her sobbing, though muffled, was getting louder. “Dave, we just can’t. I can’t leave my baby behind.”

Dave knew he was about to step into a hornets’ nest but he felt like he needed to say what he was thinking. “Linda… I don’t think it is a coincidence that he chose today to pull a stunt like this.”

“David, how could you say that?” Linda replied, sitting back up straight.

“Listen, sweetie. The day we get a call to go to Zion, the one member of our family who would fight against the idea isn’t here. He’s run off to join the Earth Warriors or something. I just think…”

“Dave, he’s just a kid. We can’t just leave him behind. He’s my baby. I can’t even believe you are saying that.”

“Linda, I’m not saying that’s the way it is. It’s just that, maybe … well…” Dave started as he stood, “Linda, I think there comes a time when we have to act on our testimony and, maybe, this is one of those times.”

“You can’t be serious,” Linda said as she wiped her eyes with the sleeves of her shirt.

“Do you believe in agency?”

“Of course, but he’s just a little boy.”

“Do you believe that children are accountable at eight years old?” Dave asked.

Linda knew this question was coming, “That’s not fair, Dave. He is old enough to know right from wrong, but… He can’t really understand the consequences of his choices. Come on, David.”

“I know he is bombarded with their propaganda every day but, look… he’s the only one to get sucked into it.”

“But…AGHH!” She picked up a pillow and buried her face in it.

“I just think we need to pray about what we are supposed to do,” Dave said.

“Dear Lord, should I abandon my child? What kind of prayer is that?” Linda asked with sarcastic venom. Then she threw herself back on the bed.

“Linda, we have to make a decision and we have to do it in short order. Maybe we’ll have a chance to find him after the news, but we just have so much we have to do now. I think we’d better ask the Lord about it, that’s all.”

“Just… Just leave me alone for now.”

“I’ve got to plan for the Johnsons now, too. We have a lot to do and not much time. I’ll be back up in a few minutes to check in on you.”

Linda didn’t answer. She just rolled over on her side with her back to Dave.

 

Saturday 7:15 PM MDT

 

“No, Jacob!” Dave said sternly.

“So you are going to let Jimmy decide for himself but not me? I’m older than him. I’m almost 18, Dad.”

“This is not the same thing.” Dave knew he was being hypocritical on the point but that didn’t stop him from making the argument. “And don’t bring Jimmy into this. He’s not my son.”

They were both rolling an empty 55 gallon drum along its rim toward the back door so they could take it through the house to the garage and fill them with water once they had them on the truck. “You have been fighting this battle for all of this time and you are just going to walk away? I’ve been waiting for my chance to do my part since I was Scott’s age. I just want to do my part,” he paused for a second, “I don’t know how I could get to Arizona anyway, but what if I just stay here with Jimmy?”

“He still might be coming, so that’s not even up for discussion,” Dave said as he worked his drum through the doorway into the family room.

“Julie is trying to get him to come, but I don’t think he’s going to,” Jacob said as he made his way into the house as well.

“Son, you are old enough to know what’s at stake. This is it. I mean, it! It’s going to get really ugly around here really quick, especially if a bunch of people suddenly take off like this. I just don’t see how we can turn down this opportunity. Jacob, I have done what I’ve done in hopes of giving you guys a chance to live in freedom. How can I run to freedom and leave my family behind in bondage?”

Jacob didn’t respond.

“We might have already lost your brother. If you stayed behind, too,…  I don’t think your mother could take it,” Dave said as he finished rolling the drum into place in the garage.

“I know. I just… I don’t want to feel like I’m running out on my responsibility.”

“Is that what you think I’m doing?” Dave asked.

“No. I mean,… you’ve done your part for so many years. It’s not the same. You’ve done everything you could possibly do. I just want to do my part.”

“Jacob, we aren’t all called to do the same thing. The Lord will have a great work for you to do in Zion. I’m sure of it.”

Jacob sighed.

“Look, Jacob. I’ve done what I’ve felt I needed to do. I’m gonna have a lot to answer to the Lord for, but I’ve tried to always do the right thing. That doesn’t mean I’ve always been proud of what I’ve had to do. All I can do is beg for the Lord’s mercy. I just don’t want you to have to face those same feelings.

“Look, you’re right, it’s up to you. All I can tell you is to read your scriptures and pray about it. Let’s see if we can’t raise Mario on the shortwave. Maybe we can get another truck for the Johnsons.”

“Okay, and I will, Dad.”

 

Saturday 7:45 PM MDT

 

“Julie, I just can’t,” Jimmy turned, put his hands on his head, and leaned up against the wall. “This doesn’t make sense. Your dad has spent all of these years and so many people have died fighting for this and now he’s just gonna pick up and leave? And you think I should come with you guys?”

“Of course, Jimmy. Don’t you see? The wars are just going to get worse and worse and this is our chance to avoid it.”

“I don’t want to avoid it. I want to do what I can. Whatever happened to ‘I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country’? Sometimes you just have to fight to the end, no matter what. I thought your dad understood that,” Jimmy retorted.

“My dad does feel that way…”

“Then what is he doing? Why is he running?”

“He’s not running. He’s answering a call from the Lord. The Holy Ghost testified to him that he should answer this call,” Julie said, clearly becoming exacerbated.

“Oh, come on! You really believe that?”

“Yes, I do,” she replied, in a quiet yet firm voice.

Jimmy exhaled deeply and decided to try and work on Julie with logic. “Ok, look. Just answer something for me.”

“Okay, I’ll try.”

“If God wanted your dad to do all that he has done for the Resistance, why would He want him to abandon it all now?”

“I’m not sure, but there are all sorts of prophecies about the end times and one of the things they say is that the whole world will be at war with Israel. I think my dad has always held out hope that America wouldn’t be part of that. Maybe he thought he could somehow stop it. But now it seems like the time has come, and with the government we have now, it seems inevitable.”

“But why would God have you fight for years just to change his mind and tell you to do something else? There isn’t even an army in the Enlightened States; they are afraid of arming Americans. They are all UN troops. I just don’t see how this is the right choice – anyway you look at it,” Jimmy countered.

“I told you before. The Lord has told us to be ‘anxiously engaged in a good cause’. He has told us in the scriptures and through the prophets that our agency – our God given freedom to choose right – is the most precious thing we’ve been given beside the Atonement of Christ. We have a duty to fight for freedom. Our family has been committed to that cause for my whole life,” she paused. “This has to have been a really hard thing for my dad. Sometimes things don’t seem to make sense at first but, when the Lord speaks to you, you have to do it.”

“The Lord speaks? Come on. I just can’t swallow that. That letter wasn’t from God.”

“It wasn’t the letter. It was the Spirit telling my dad to do what the letter said,” Julie was becoming visually frustrated. “Jimmy, we aren’t trying to force you to come. We believe that we are all free agents and have the freedom to choose. We also believe that we have a duty to warn people and tell them what their choices are.”

“Julie, I know you are sincere and you believe what you are saying. Thank you for the offer. I just can’t do it.”

 

Saturday 9:45 PM MDT

 

As soon as the news ended, Dave commanded everyone to go to bed for the benefit of the listening devices then they proceeded to spend a couple of minutes pla- acting before moving all of the bugs into John’s bedroom and closing the door.

Jimmy and Jacob were immediately dispatched by bicycle to pick up a truck from Camp Williams. The neighbors, Jim and Trudy Young, came over and Dave told Trudy to make sure that they had at least five days of clothes and food and that cooking supplies and bedding would also be good – that might be all they would have room for if Jimmy and Jacob came back empty handed. If they did get another truck, they would be able to take more.

Dave told Jim to fetch whatever weapons they had managed to keep then return immediately so they could take care of the spies watching the house and head out to Magna and pick up the remaining two trucks there. He told Trudy to return at 1:00 so they could load the trucks and get out of town.

Taking down the two guys on stake-out across the street from the Stone house was simple. The van windows were rolled down because of the heat so the girls distracted them by walking across the street and waving at them while Jim and Dave each put a tranquilizer dart in one. They bound the two spies and closed them up in the van. They had enough tranquilizers coursing through their body to keep them down until the shift change. By then, the rebels would be gone.

Saturday 11:30 PM MDT

Saturday 1:30 PM BDT (Babylon)

 

“Do you want to see one up close?”

“Not really,” Ché answered honestly.

“Come, let me show you but leave the goat behind in the truck, okay?” The Secretary General insisted.

Ché nodded towards Arwa, who obediently retreated.

The Secretary General loved showing off his latest trophy. The men were always jealous when he showed up anywhere with Ché on his arm. Now he was touring the military installation in Babylon. “These helicopters are going to change the world. We have begun staging them across the globe. They will all be in place to begin their assault on May 5th. Marx will finally have his holiday.”

“I’m sure they are very nice. What I’d really like to see is those two so-called prophets’ heads on a plate like you promised.”

“This is the next step in my plan. These beauties will allow us to break the siege of Jerusalem. Then, our grand Army of the East will march into Jerusalem and when the Jews fall, the rest will fall as well. I promise, by the end of the year, we will have their heads on a platter.”

 

Saturday 11:45 PM

 

After a quick trip out to Magna, the men returned with their two trucks a few minutes after midnight and the boys returned with their truck fifteen minutes after that. Everything had gone without a hitch.

Linda was more than ready for Dave when he returned.

“David! We cannot leave our son behind!” Tears were gushing down her face again. “I spent the whole time you were gone trying to find out if any of our friends or contacts had heard anything about John and I think he’s at the EE office at the Distribution Center.”

Her voice was trembling and she was sniffling but she gave the appearance of optimism as she continued, “You know that nice lady, Cassie, from the produce office? Well, Kelsey Hill ran into her taking a walk after the news – she was asking around for me – and Kelsey said that Cassie thought she had seen John going into the EE office when she was leaving work today. Apparently, all the produce people had to go down there to see what food was salvageable so there weren’t any customers. She said when she saw the agents with John, it stuck out because she was so fond of John. He was always so polite when he came shopping with me. She would try to sneak him an extra berry or some other fruit whenever she could. Oh, Dave, I know it’s a long shot but what if he is there?”

Dave sat down and buried his face in his hands. “What am I supposed to do?” he thought to himself. He began to massage his temples and forehead but still didn’t speak.

Why did things always seem to pile up like this? The government bugs his house, his son decides to run off and join the Earth Warriors the day they have to leave town, his oldest son wants to stay behind and join the resistance instead of coming with the family, and he was now looking out for another family beside his. What was he going to do? Looking into Linda’s eyes, the answer was easy.

“We’ll see what we can do but, Linda, we have got to be packed and ready to go first. I’ve got to insist on that.”

Linda gave Dave a big hug, “Thanks, Dave! I love you!”

Over the next hour and a half, the three trucks were filled with the supplies that had been staged in the Stone’s garage and from the Johnsons home as well. Fortunately, they were now over an hour ahead of schedule.

“Dave, I really do want to thank you for all you have done for me. You have taught me so much. I wish you all the best.”

“Same here, Jimmy. We’ll be praying for you. Now, you have the codes, the radio, the rest of weapons from the house. Did you take any of the books we left?”

“A couple. It seems kinda sad to leave so much stuff behind. Especially cuz if they find it, they’ll have enough evidence to shoot on sight,” Jimmy lamented.

“Well, you have the key so you can come back and take what you want if you feel like it. Just be careful.”

“I will. Thanks so much!”

“One thing, though, Jimmy. Can you give me two more hours?”

“You’re gonna take a stab at finding John?” he said as he re-opened the truck door.

“We have to try, don’t we?”

“I had a feeling. What’s the plan?”

“Just a quick snatch from an EE office if he’s there. I honestly don’t know; a frontal assault?”

 

 

Sunday

 

2:15 AM MDT

“Stone! You weren’t gonna sneak out without us, were you?”

“Colonel Stein! I was hoping you were leaving tonight. Good to see you. Whoa! Where did you get this sweet ride?”

Dave hadn’t seen an H1 Alpha since before The Slide, but somehow it wasn’t surprising to see Robby and Colonel Hans Stein climbing out of one.

“It’s times like this when you pull out all the stops. I just hope we can keep her fueled up.”

“Robby,” Jacob called out as he came out of the garage and saw his friend. “Are you guys coming, too?”

“Of course. Anything to get out of taking another one of Ms. Clinton’s tests!”

“Look, Stone, we don’t have any extra room in the Hummer for stuff but it’s just the two of us so if you’ll have us, we’d love to join your convoy. We public enemies need to keep together.”

“We’d love to have you with us, Colonel. We just finished up packing and we were about to embark on a little side mission before we can leave.”

“Excellent, just let me know what I can do to help,” the colonel said, tapping on his sidearm.

 

 

 

Sunday 2:45 AM MDT

 

“Go, Go, Go,” Dave called out in a subdued voice to his team. The Colonel, Jim Young, Jimmy, Robby, and Jacob all sprinted from the H1 to the fire ladder leading to the roof. The boys took the lead up the ladder, followed immediately by the others. Robby stayed at the top of the ladder as a look out while the rest of the squad headed toward the center of the building.

This was far from Dave’s first visit to the EE offices in the Enlightenment Boulevard Distribution Center. These offices had frequently been a goldmine of information, but now the stakes were much higher.

Dave knew they weren’t going in totally blind. He knew the layout and how to disable the cameras and the alarms without leaving any evidence. The office was generally empty at night, but Dave had been assured that this wasn’t the case tonight.

John was believed to be inside but the rebels didn’t know how many agents might be in there with him. Would there only be one or two to keep him company? Would there be a large company of trained soldiers standing guard waiting for just this sort of excursion?

The hatch leading down to the catwalks above the offices appeared to be undisturbed since Dave’s last visit over three months ago. The lock opened when he entered the pass code, one that he had chosen himself, which was a good sign. No one had learned that the code had been re-programmed and rectified the situation.

“Jacob, you stay at the hatch. Watch for any sign from Robby.”

Jacob’s demeanor showed his disappointment, but Dave’s look told Jacob that this point was not up for negotiation. Jacob simply nodded.

Dave opened the hatch slowly and couldn’t see any light coming from below. He climbed into the hatch, lowered his night-vision goggles, and began his descent.

 

 

 

 

“What am I doing here? Babysitting a run-away? Come on…”

“Calm down, Juanitica. I’m so sick of your whining,” Bionca Miller said. “It’s better than some of the jobs Larson gives us.”

“I know,” Agent Pope said with a sigh. She thought for a second and a slight grin came over her face, “Remember how he had us collecting the bowel mov…”

“Did you hear that?” Agent Miller cut her off.

“Yeah, it sounded like the door. I’ll go check it out. Go check on the brat.”

Agent Pope headed toward the lobby while Miller went the other direction toward the employee lounge. The lights from soda vending machines lit the lounge sufficiently that she didn’t need to turn on the fluorescents to see John fast asleep on one of the couches. Seeing all was in order, she turned around and headed back.

“Bionca,” Pope called out, “It’s…”    Miller came around the corner and she lowered her voice, “Larson.”

“Agent Larson, to what do we owe this pleasure?”

“I was on my way home from the Enlightened Enforcement Director’s house,” Larson liked to drop names, “So I thought I’d stop by and let you know that your relief will be a little late, so,… you know… don’t be surprised.”

Everyone stood silently for a full two seconds.

“Thanks,” Bionca said quizzically.

“So, uh… how about you go get us some coffee or something,” Larson said.

“Sure, that would be great,” Pope added, fiddling with the top button of her blouse.

“Uh, okay, not too subtle, guys,” she said as she turned and went back in the direction from which she had come.

Miller returned to the lounge and headed toward the left back corner where the coffee vending machine stood. Halfway across the room she happened to look up and saw a ceiling tile was missing near the right back corner. It took only a fraction of a second for her to process what she was seeing, but that was a fraction of a second too long.

The Colonel covered her mouth easily with his large, rough left hand and grabbed her sidearm with the other before she could react. Having disarmed the agent, he struck her in the back of the head with enough force to send her to the floor where she remained lifeless. Jim was through the opening in the ceiling just as the Colonel turned to see if John had been awakened in the short ruckus. John was still lying on the coach motionless. A few seconds later, Jimmy and Dave came through the ceiling as well and they were discussing the next move.

“Maybe we just get out of here now. It could be half an hour or more before someone notices he’s gone and we’ll be long gone by then,” Jim offered.

“But it could be 30 seconds,” the Colonel countered. “Besides, we still don’t know how many there are. I say we eliminate all threats first, clear the offices, then we go.”

“The Colonel is right,” Dave said, “Jim, you get John up to the ceiling while we clear the rest of the office.” He went over to the couch where John still slept and gently rubbed his shoulder to rouse him. Jim went to the entrance of the lounge to make sure no one was in the hallway and Jimmy and the Colonel moved a table under the opening in the ceiling to make their escape easier.

John lifted his head, obviously still in a daze. Dave put his index finger to his lips telling John to keep quiet.

John quickly realized what was going on and he nodded his understanding as he sat up.

Dave, Jimmy, and the Colonel took their positions in the hallway and began their sweep. Jim stood in the entrance as well, M-16 in hand, watching the others move toward the front of the offices.

Jim returned his weapon to his shoulder and turned to get John to start their journey to the roof but he found himself staring down the barrel of Miller’s Glock 9mm.  The Colonel had set the pistol on the table next to the couch while they were moving it to the corner of the room. Now it was in the hands of an 11-year-old boy with a determined look on his face.

“John, it’s me, Jim.”

“I know who you are.”

“What…what are you doing?”

“I’m an Earth Warrior now,” he said in a determined voice.

“Come …” Jim started to reach out toward the gun.

John flinched a little, pulling the gun off to the right as he fired. The sound of the shot rang out like dynamite in the enclosed space as the hollow point bullet tore through Jim’s left shoulder, sending him reeling back against the wall and sliding to the floor.

Dave turned and ran back to the lounge just as John pulled the trigger again, this time putting a slug right into the center of Jim’s throat as he sat up against the wall.

“John! What are you doing?” Dave was in utter disbelief.

“I’m an Earth Warrior now! I’m protecting The Enlightened One and the earth!” He turned the weapon on his father.

“John, no!” Dave pleaded, holding his own weapon up in the air.

Just then, Jimmy put three rounds into the shirtless chest of Agent Larson who had come out of his office to see what was going on.

The Colonel signaled to Jimmy to head to the door from which the Agent had come. Since he was shirtless, they assumed he wasn’t alone in the office.

“Dad, you always said we had to stand for what is right. This is right. The Enlightened One is right. The earth is right! Don’t you see, I’m finally doing what you told me.”

There was a cracking sound above John’s head. He looked up just in time to see Jacob come crashing down on him. The gun discharged harmlessly into the wall as the two boys tumbled to the ground. Jacob’s weight had sent John up against the wall and his head slammed into a framed photo of The Enlightened One, leaving a small splatter of blood on the shattered glass before he collapsed to the ground unconscious.

“Don’t shoot!” Agent Pope cried.

She had managed to put her shirt back on during the firefight and she slowly came out with her arms extended and her blouse still undone.

Jimmy kept his weapon trained on her as the Colonel forced her to a chair and tied her arms to the back of it. They quickly checked the remaining six offices and, finding no one else, headed back toward the lounge. The Colonel couldn’t resist knocking over Agent Pope in her chair as he walked by. The unmistakable sound of cracking bone could be heard as she instinctively tried to stick out her elbow to soften the fall. All it had done was cause her to break her right arm, just above the elbow. She screamed out in pain but the Colonel didn’t seem to care. Jimmy wasn’t about to criticize him, either.

They walked into the lounge to find Dave holding a crying John in his arms. Bewilderment shown on their faces so Jacob spoke up.

“John shot Jim twice then he was going to shoot my dad so I jumped down on him through the ceiling tiles.”

“He was gonna what?”

“He was pointing a gun right at my dad. He was really going to do it!” Jacob reiterated.

“He smashed his head on the wall but he’s just knocked out.”

“Dave, we’ve gotta go,” the Colonel said.

“Just grab him and let’s go,” Jimmy insisted.

“We’ve got to leave him, Dave. You know we do,” the Colonel said. All the while, Juanitica Pope was screaming in pain. “Go shut that wench up, Jimmy.”

Jimmy hesitated for just a second, then went out in the hall toward the lobby where Pope was lying on the floor screaming.

“Dave, we can’t take him.”

“Hans?” Tears were streaming down his face. “What am I supposed to do? What am I gonna tell Trudy? What am I gonna tell Linda? How can I just leave him?” He began bawling uncontrollably.

Thoughts of John’s short life up to this point began to flash through his head; his sweet innocent baby picture, him sitting in his highchair with strained squash all over his face, how he used to try to ride their St. Bernard, how he would push Scott around in his stroller when he was barely tall enough to see over the top himself. But then, the visions faded and were overcome with the hatred in John’s eyes as he said, “Dad, you always said we had to stand for what is right. This is right. The Enlightened One is right. The earth is right! Don’t you see, I’m finally doing what you told me.”

How could this happen?

Suddenly, Pope’s screaming stopped. Jimmy had stuffed some paper in her mouth. He was sure the Colonel had a different idea for her, but Jimmy wasn’t about to start shooting helpless women bound to a chair with a broken arm.

“Let’s get out of here,” Jimmy said on his return. “Dave, the Colonel is right. We have got to leave John. He can’t be trusted. He’s made his choice.”

“How can you say that?” Jacob said. “He’s just a kid.”

“Yeah, a kid who almost shot your dad! Wake up!”

“He can change…” Jacob stopped. The evidence was against it. “Dad, it’s up to you.”

“Dave, we’ve gotta go. We’ll support your choice but you’ve got to decide now,” the Colonel said, obviously more nervous with each passing moment.

“Jacob, help me with your brother.”

Jimmy was the first up through the ceiling, followed by Jacob. Jacob was sitting in the trusses with his arms extended down to his father who was lifting John up to him when a burst of rounds flew over Dave’s head. Dave instinctively shrugged and jumped from the table he was standing on. Several rounds slammed through John’s mid section, two passing straight through, hitting Jacob’s thigh.

Pope and Miller’s relief shift had shown up. Seeing Pope bound on the floor, they snuck in the door and made their way back to where the voices were coming from.

The Colonel had put a three round burst into the chest of each of the agents, but not before the agents had delivered their volleys.

John’s lifeless body fell to the ground next to Dave, blood streaming all over. Jacob screamed out in pain at first but then gritted his teeth and did his best to hold it in. Dave began to weep over John’s body one more time, but this time the Colonel wasn’t going to wait for Dave.

“David, we must go now.”

“I know… I know…” His thoughts suddenly turned to Jacob. “Jake, are you okay?”

“I’m okay, but we’ve gotta go, Dad! I think I need a doctor. There is a lot of blood,” he replied, trying to control his voice.

Sunday 4:00 AM MDT

Saturday 6:00 PM Babylon

 

“Enlightened One?! How about Incompetent One! What an idiot! We have given him nearly 1,000,000 troops this year to fight his rebellions, yet he still cannot contain them. He thinks he’s deserving of 5,000 of the helicopters?”

“Yes, Mr. Secretary,” General bin Laden insisted. “He fears the insurrections in the north, and our intelligence concurs that Texas and South Mexico are on the verge of an alliance that may well cause the collapse of the entire desert northeast, putting California in danger.”

“Ahhhh! When will this end?” he paused for a second, took a deep breath, looked up at the ceiling of his beautiful palace he had built, admiring the mosaic tiles. “Yes, we must protect the interests of Trevor Jensen. We owe this much to him, and more, if the truth be known. California must be defended and the rebels thrown back.”

The Secretary General knew he owed all he had to Trevor Jenson and his supporters. It was just such a pain having ‘peaceniks’ for allies. They loved to see the UN engaging their common enemies. The blood of capitalists flowing in the streets brought joy to their hearts, but they would never fight their own wars. They had an image to protect.

However, pulling resources from the war to liberate Palestine was always a last resort. Rumor had it that the Grand Army of Asia was to be literally 200,000,000 strong. Recruiting in China and India had gone extremely well in the wake of Trevor’s Asian tour. Even 10,000,000 troops had been gathered from what was left of Indonesia. He just had something about him.

“Funny,” the Secretary General thought, “The one man who could possibly challenge me for power and he is the one man I really know I can trust.”

Trevor Jenson and Save the Earth! had given focus to the progressive movement in the Enlightened States and had been the model for the countries who had dilly-dallied for so long in Europe. He bolstered the communists in North America and persuaded them to fall in line with Venezuela. He single-handedly raised the funds necessary to revitalize Cuba from his friends in Hollywood. He used that fat slob propagandist to glorify all that was anti-capitalist then tossed him aside when he was no longer needed.

Trevor had chosen those who he allowed to survive very carefully. The more of a true believer, the more useful they were. It was so interesting how, in America, the devotion one expressed in saving the earth and destroying capitalism tended to correlate precisely with one’s lack of intelligence, common sense, and morality. It also corresponded in almost every case with an abundance of arrogance, an air of superiority, and an exceptional ability to project one’s own traits onto the enemy.

Jensen had an uncanny knack for knowing who he could trust and for how long. Dozens of political allies had met untimely deaths over the years, and the Secretary General had no doubt that Donald’s blood was all over Trevor’s hands, but at least he was always a straight shooter when dealing with those outside his inner-circle.

The UN had all of the power – Trevor knew it, and he seemed to like it that way. He never pretended otherwise. He controlled public opinion and the UN swung the hammer.

Even the leaders of countries were nearly all in Trevor’s pocket, but rather than use that fact to elevate himself, he used it to encourage them to show absolute loyalty to the UN. Now Trevor Jensen needed his help but, as usual, not a word was spoken by Trevor or anyone at Save the Earth! Instead, the plea came from The Enlightened One. Sure, The Enlightened One was a puppet, just as the Premiere of China and the Grand Commissar of Russia were, but Trevor Jensen never stooped to asking for help personally.

“Approve the transfer of helicopters from China. Japan will have to wait. Palestine cannot. We have waited too long for this,” the Secretary General said as he poured himself a shot of bourbon and sent his general on his way.

 

Sunday 6:00 AM MDT

5:00AM CDT (Chicago)

Saturday 8:00 PM BDT (Babylon)

 

“Teo, alone this morning, I see. I hate to wake you, but…” Geoffrey started.

“Don’t call me that!” the voice of The Enlightened One came from underneath one of the pillows on his double king-sized bed.

“Trevor insisted that I start calling you Teo. He thinks it’s clever.”

“Whatever,” The Enlightened One said as he sat up in his bed.

“Anyway, the Secretary General has agreed to the distribution of 5,000 of the new helicopters, but he was very clear that they are to be used on the Arizona and Idaho fronts first. California must not fall. He was emphatic on that point.”

“So, why are you telling me? You know I don’t actually have anything to do with what the military does here. I’m all about domestic affairs. The UN takes care of the rest.”

“The Secretary General wishes to speak with you immediately and accept your gratitude face to face. I just wanted to prep you so you won’t make a fool of yourself.”

“Geoffrey, don’t talk down to me like that.” He got up and grabbed the silk robe from the rack next to his bed. “I can talk to that pompous windbag just fine.”

“I’m glad. Turn around, he’s on a video call right here on this table,” Geoffrey said, pointing to the laptop sitting on the table on the far side of the bed.

“The pompous windbag is over here,” the voice was coming from the laptop speakers. The Enlightened One closed his eyes in disbelief as he looked into the smiling face of the Secretary General.

“Your Excellency,” he said as he bowed to the laptop.

“Stand up! You really are a fool, aren’t you?” the Secretary General laughed.

“I deeply apologize for… uh, anything that might have just happened that might have been… offensive, your Excellence at .. uh, any… uh…”

“Just thank me for bailing out your pathetic country again.”

“Thank you, sir…” He bowed again. “I, uh…”

“Gratitude accepted. Now sit down and listen.”

The Enlightened One silently slid into the chair in front of the laptop.

“Trevor Jenson has set a very ambitious goal of getting a chip implanted in everyone by September 1st. I will personally hold every head of state responsible if this target date isn’t met. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Good. We will protect California, as agreed, and destroy your rebels all across the eastern part of your country. You get ready to get them tagged.”

“I understand. Thank you very much.”

The screen on the laptop went blank.

 

Sunday 6:15 AM MDT

 

Another beautiful Sabbath morning was breaking, the sun climbing over the Oquirrh Mountains and illuminating the majestic peaks of the Wasatch Mountains. The miles passed slowly as the sun began its ascent behind their convoy. Linda had finally cried herself to sleep in the cab of the truck next to Dave and he was glad to see her rest, but now Dave felt very alone in his torment. Emotions in the Stone family had run the entire gambit that day; the boredom that accompanied monotony, the anger engendered by government spying, indescribable joy as an opportunity for escape presented itself, fear for the wellbeing of a child when John failed to return from school, anticipation as they planned their escape, confusion and hesitation as Dave contemplated what to do about John, and, finally, the anguish over the death of their son.

They had been forced to leave Jim and John’s bodies behind at the EE office. Jacob’s wounds were hurriedly bound and he had to be carried. Dave worked hard to persuade Trudy to come with them but, in the end, she and Josh had lost too much. Trudy knew it was risky to try and come up with a story that would distance her from Jim and the Stones and not have her end up in re-education, but she said that she felt she would be abandoning her husband if she left. Dave knew it was a long shot, but he let her go her own way. The mission was a complete failure and Dave blamed himself and knew the blame must stay with him.

Dave knew it was always tempting to find someone else to blame when a mistake is made. Hadn’t Adam blamed Eve? And hadn’t Eve blamed Satan? It seemed to be part of our nature and Dave wasn’t immune from this type of justification, either. Dave hadn’t wanted to perform such a risky mission in the first place. Linda had insisted through her tears and Jacob, Julie, and Heather had all prompted him as well. Then again, wasn’t it really John’s fault in the end? John had made the choices he had made. In fact, he had started the shooting.

Then there were the teachers who had brainwashed John. If John hadn’t been sucked in by teachers and the propaganda of The Enlightened One, none of this would have happened.

Dave knew that he was playing a stupid blame game. Why should he stop there? Wasn’t it the fault of every person who hadn’t stood up to the unconstitutional laws that The Enlightened One and his minions passed? What about everyone who had voted this dictator into office? What about the environmentalists who lied about global cooling and global warming, or the uneducated people who believed them? How about the godless communist, anti-Vietnam war hatemongers of the sixties, or the fascist progressives before that? Why not blame Marx or Darwin? After all, the cults of Darwin and Marx had really been at the root of almost all of this, weren’t they?

Dave peaked back in the side view mirror at Jimmy who drove the truck behind him. With Jacob wounded and Jim dead, Jimmy had agreed to make the journey to Cheyenne with them, but hadn’t agreed to more. Colonel Stein drove the third truck and Robby followed up in the rear with the H1.

As promised, there were no check points and no troops on the roads. They fell in line with three other military trucks – people Dave was surprised to realize he didn’t recognize – some of whom he probably knew only by their radio call names. As they passed others working their way up the canyon roads on bicycles, he was nearly overcome with a sense of pride.

They were not alone. There were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of others still fighting the fight underground just in Salt Lake, people who still valued liberty. People who were willing to lay it all on the line to fight for the ideas set forth by the Founding Fathers. They believed that all men were created equal, that they were endowed by their Creator with the inalienable rights of life, liberty and property. They believed that all men were born with an inbred desire to breathe free, to seek after what they wanted in life without an oppressive government holding them down. They were going to be the ones to try the great experiment again — to prove that the flame of the human spirit had not been extinguished by a progressive elite who thought they knew how to enforce a better way.

 

 

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