President Lincoln’s nose was missing, Roosevelt was nowhere to be seen, Washington’s left eye was all that remained of him and Jefferson had the top of his head remaining. After the war, explosives had been placed at key points around the heads of the presidents of Mount Rushmore. Once in place they were detonated, a brazen attempt to remove the scars of the former government. What was left became the target of anyone with a gun, pot marking all that remained.
Members of the Sioux Nation saw the end of the war as their opportunity to reclaim their ancestral lands. With no central government left in the United States several tribes of former Native American’s formed a joint military force. With larger cities in Central America having been destroyed by nuclear weapons, there was no government or military to stop insurrections. The Sioux managed to reclaim most of their lands, destroying monuments built by the former American government. Going south into Oklahoma the Creeks, Choctaw, Seminole, Chickasaw and Cherokee’s, remembering their distant warring past, banded together and took much of Oklahoma and Missouri. The Navaho were able to retake much of their ancestral lands as well. Although members of other tribes had joined the campaign, there were not enough survivors to hold their own territorial lands and they settled within the lands of the other tribes.
After the World Medical Committee had established its form of government, wars once again broke out between the New United States government and the Tribal Nations, but this time the outcome was not as it was in the past. No treaties, no agreements, no concessions, the Tribal Nations wanted to be left alone and they had the military bases and firepower to hold their own. The Tribal Nations formed a central government and each tribe was represented, most of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, parts of Missouri, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona made up the new Tribal Nation. Along the border with the New United States the World Medical Committee had erected a massive fence, reinforced with electricity and razor wire. On each side they had laid land mines and remote infrared gun towers had been built every two hundred yards. Two miles distance on each side of the fence had become an American version of the North-South Korea De-Militarized Zone, where all who entered were left lying on the ground, dead.
The landscape was pitted with scars from the former United States. Former President Jefferson had signed an executive order authorizing the completion of the Dakota Pipeline through South Dakota and what was then the Standing Rock Reservation and Lake Oahe. With order in hand the Mid-West Oil Company resorted to cost cutting shortcuts to make up the money lost in the delay from protest. Those cuts resulted in a pipe rupture six months after completion, costing nearly five thousand lives from contaminated drinking water and the massive oil spill destroyed the land for centuries to come. Throughout North Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma derelict oil rigs dotted the landscape, making the surrounding area unless to plant, graze, farm or live on.
The World Medical Committee did not want to use military power to force the surrender of the lands taken by the Tribal Nation; so instead they built a fence and the DMZ, imprisoning the Tribal Nations within their own lands. However these were the ancestral lands of an ancient people, a people who knew the land well. They had managed to use natural resources to undermine the fence that the New United States had spent so much time and money to erect. Throughout the lands there existed a series of natural caves that provided a means to travel unseen. These were extended by digging tunnels where needed and thus they had created a network of passages leading into and out of the Tribal Nation. This allowed them to import the goods they needed to survive in their imprisoned lands.
Bo and Nancy had used one of the many tunnel networks to gain access into the Tribal Nation and once inside they turned north to return to the land on which his great-grandfather had once lived, the Black Hills of North Dakota. Bo was half Sioux by birthright of his father, and once he was able to return to the land of his family, he did so.
It had taken Bo and Nancy sixteen days to travel from the book store in Fuller City to their final destination, along the way stopping at E/D bases to relay messages to Bear so he could have the approximate path that Jim and Jennifer might have taken. After the fifth week had passed Bo had to accept that Jim and Jennifer had been captured and they were now likely in an incentive center somewhere, perhaps back in Fuller City. But a recent message had been relayed to Bo and it had come from Bear
“This is Bear; I’m back in the cave. Got me two rabbits while out hunting, one is fat and plump.”
It was a welcomed message. It caused Bo and Nancy to break down and cry; from relief and happiness.
Bo had many questions for Jim. However he knew they would have to wait until Jim was fully assimilated into The Grid. Bo had been a member since its founding and had to keep that from Jim and Jennifer, he had shared his secret Nancy once they left the book store and were heading west. The reality of how fractured the world really was did not surprise Nancy. She had never believed it possible for one central form of government to keep control of the entire world of mankind. Even when America was still united, before the war, it was fractured and in some areas the government lacked the ability to control its own people.
The New United Nations and the World Medical Committee had created an illusion of peace and security. Those living the illusion were kept captive by their need for the serum. What existed outside of the illusion was never mentioned within the peace and security of the areas of the world controlled by the World Medical Committee. The few citizens of the New World that learned of those that rejected the serum either ignored them as genetically unfit or as an attempt to undermine the peace that the New United Nations had worked so hard to create. The reality of the state of the world was a controlled, hidden chaos. Throughout the globe the World Medical Committee had to build many walls, fences and DMZ’s. As it was in the old world, mankind’s version of peace was unstable and insecure. However the difference in this world was the ability to conceal the divisions from its citizens. Lessons learned from the old world; keep strict control of all media outlets, keep strict control of all technology, provide a dependency on the government that people must have to prevent uprisings and insurrections. Those lessons had been put in place and were kept under the watchful control of the few. With parliaments and congresses power was spread too thin, another lesson learned. Control must be kept in the hands of the few, the few with the ability to make decisions for the many. The World Medical Committee and the New United Nations provided the few to control the many. That few kept each other in check and prevented one from gaining too much authority. It was a system that had worked for decades and would continue to work even after the areas of resistance had died off from natural causes. Without the serum the pockets of rebels would soon die out, those taking the serum had the time to wait. When the Committee formed they knew it would take time to eliminate all undesirables.
Bo and Nancy had homesteaded on a patch of land to the southwest border of North Dakota, close to South Dakota. The snows were deep and the temperature hung low during the long winter that had taken hold of all of North America. It was the rugged and hard lifestyle they both desired and thrived on. As he had done in Tennessee Bo built his cabin along the shores of a lake, this time a much smaller lake that was fed by several small creeks and streams. Over the last six weeks he and Nancy had made a new home and a new life, in what they hoped was a safe environment. He hoped the same thing would happen for Jim and Jennifer. Inside the small two room cabin Bo stoked the fire and once it was blazing he returned to his oversized chair that sat next to his wife. She looked at her husband as he sat down she noticed that his beard needed to be trimmed.
“In the morning I’m gonna’ to take some scissors and a comb to that birds nest you call a beard.”
“Now just what makes you think that I want it trimmed?” Bo said.
“I never asked what you thought about it, I think what I said was I told you I was going to take a pair of scissors to it. I wish you would let me take the thing right off your face.” Nancy lowered the book she was reading to her lap and turned to look at Bo.
“One day, maybe, but not tomorrow. I wish we were there to help them.” Bo changed the subject.
Nancy lowered her reading glasses to the tip of her nose and scolded her husband with her eyes. “Don’t want to talk about your beard?”
“Rather not, it usually ends in us fighting, best just move on to another subject.” He turned and gave her a stern look, a look that she understood and she changed the subject.
“Okay agreed. Bear and Silent One will do just fine getting those two settled in. We might just end up in the way.” Nancy said.
“I wish Bear would just go ahead and tell them that I’m a part of The Grid. Its nerve racking to keep turning over in my mind what they may think when they find out.” Bo lowered his gaze and looked at the fire that was dancing in front of him.
“Then don’t think about what they might think. Just let it go until Bear calls and lets you know.”
Bo reached over to the small table between him and his wife and picked up a booklet. After the establishment of The Grid a small booklet started to be circulated. As news was relayed from one station to another it was noted down and once a week compiled into a booklet. Several areas within the government of the World Medical Committee had retained hard copy printing presses, nostalgic throwback for many people. The people of The Grid took advantage of the fact that printed newspapers, magazines and books were still in production and started to publish one of their own. Each zone within The Grid had its own cover design, but the contents followed the same general outline. The booklet was a continuing dramatic fictional story, with facts and news buried within. Readers of the booklet knew how to understand its content. It was the only means that The Grid had to dispense accurate news to its citizens.
Some people of the Tribal Nations had identified with The Grid, however most viewed it with trepidation, as another attempt by white men to create a central government that would take their lands once again. For the time the people of the Tribal Nations and the people of The Grid lived together in an uneasy peace, even though high ranking members of the Tribal Nations such as Bo were also deep within The Grid. The booklet helped to establish a common ground between the Tribal Nations and The Grid. To keep before both peoples the shared goals, hopes and desires. Zones under the control of the Tribal Nations provided the cover page for that area and additional content. It was hoped by this small means a lasting peace could be established for the long term, until the end of the World Medical Committee.
“You know, it’s a waste of your time to read that. You provide some of the content and all the other content you know about long before it’s printed.” Nancy said without looking at her husband.
“Yep; but what if someone slips something in that is not factual or in line with our viewpoint. Suppose someone from the outside were to slip in that it’s okay to take the serum or worse that The Grid was joining forces with the World Medical Committee. We currently have an uneasy truce with the Tribal Nations; we don’t need to shake that up with anything printed in here that can be taken the wrong way.” Bo held the booklet in the air and waved it back and forth as he spoke.
“I suppose you’re right or maybe over paranoid, perhaps a little of both.” Nancy said.
As she spoke Bo started to nod his head in agreement, but when she called him paranoid he abruptly stopped and locked his gaze on her.
“Did I say something wrong or untrue?” Nancy asked.
“I’m not sure. After what I learned in regards to Jim, I don’t put anything past Toby, more so Nick. I also have some thoughts I’ve been chewing on for some time in regards to Jennifer.”
“Jennifer?” Nancy pitched her voice upward to indicate that she was asking a question. “What thoughts could you possibly have regarding Jennifer?”
“Think about it Nancy, that World Medical Committee was too eager to cyro her and Jim and for that matter, it’s almost as if Nick created the situation that lead Jim and Jennifer to arrive at the idea as if it was their own.” Bo explained.
“You think Toby lead Jim down that idea path? As if Toby somehow planted subtle seeds in his mind to suggest it and then Jim thought it was his own idea?” As Nancy spoke the question she realized just how shocking of an idea it was.
“The Committee had long been planning all that they ended up doing. Most of the members were millionaires several times over, two were billionaires. With that kind of pool of cash, how do you suddenly run out of money? I fail to understand how a group of people that rich and that had planned as methodical as they had could run short of funding. It’s off, it’s off the track.” Bo rubbed his hand across his bald head and curled his eyebrows as his mind rolled through the possibilities. Toby telling Jim that the Committee was out of money after Jennifer was aware of the future hope through a cyro bed was baiting him. But Bo could think of no reason why Toby would bait Jim and Jennifer into taking a cyro bed. Just the hope of waking up free of her cancer was enough to get her into a bed, why the extra incentive? Bo dropped his hand to his lap and turned to his wife to see the same look of confusion on her face.
“I had never thought of what you just said. Jennifer had every reason to trust Toby; he had been a lifelong friend to Jim. She also had no hope back in twenty fourteen, nothing. So like you just said, why the need to offer the extra bait to get everything Jim had and have Jim give up everything to get a bed as well? From what Jim told us the Committee had everything, they had it all. Why present a situation to Jim that would force Jim into a position to surrender everything so he himself could also have a cyro bed?” Nancy pondered the concept to attempt to understand what Bo had started to reason out.
“So the Committee had been working for years to create a serum that would save all of mankind from all sickness and lengthen out the human lifespan to perhaps close to a thousand years. The Committee had billions of dollars to pull from, and they had most of the technology to move the project along. What are we missing Nancy? Why drag Jim into the equation? What did Jim have that they did not?”
“Jim’s lab! Jim had been working on cyro-freezing people for a long time. He had perfected doing so without damaging human tissue. Maybe that was what the Committee wanted?”
Bo started shaking his head back and forth, indicating he disagreed.
“What?” Nancy asked.
“They could have bought Jim’s lab outright, Jim would have sold it to them, and in fact it was a transaction that Nick was working on.”
“But Jim told us that the Committee had run out of money to purchase the lab.”
“Which we both now know was never true. They had money the whole time. There has to be another reason why they wanted both Jim and Jennifer in cyro. They needed them both for something. But what?”
“I think you best let this rest for the night. Although you have a bald head, the smoke is still rolling off of it even though there ain’t no hair to set fire to.”
Bo gave his wife a big grin and opened the booklet to resume reading where he had left off. In turn Nancy pushed her reading glasses back against her nose and resumed reading a book she had found in an old used store, a book that William had alluded to back at her old store, a book entitled “The Boy in The Wood”. The aging couple sat in two oversized chairs in the middle of a small two room cabin with a dimly lit kerosene lamp between them. In front of them at their feet in a flag stone fireplace a fire burned warming their blood as it flowed through their bodies. Blood without enhancements, blood that carried their own DNA, blood that in a few more years would be the cause of their own deaths, blood that was theirs and no one else’s.
But the older couple was happy, they knew that what was inside them was theirs and theirs alone, they would live a life free of the serum that most of mankind had become dependent upon to live. As the evening drew late the older couple rose together and went through their nightly routine and by the time the clock struck eleven they had retired for the night. Bo knew that in the morning he would have more answers to some of his questions. Bear had been bringing Jim and Jennifer up to date on The Grid and at the same time presenting ideas to Jim that may help him to remember conversations from twenty fourteen. Bo and Bear hoped that by exposing Jim to these possibilities it would cause him to remember the past more clearly. There was a reason back in twenty fourteen for the Committee to insure that both Jim and Jennifer went to sleep, a reason that had to be known.
They had to have the answers within the next six months.