THE SEQUEL IS FREE!
As can be seen Chapters 1-3 of "eyes Wide Open" the sequel to "Still With Eyes Closed" have been posted. The first 3 chapters were posted in quick secession because they were totally completed. At the time Dave was still able to edit for me. Several more chapters have been written, but not edited. So moving forward I do not have an editor. I will do my best to self edit, but as many are aware no author should self edit his own work, you overlook too much. So if you notice errors from Chapter 4 onward keep this in mind...
THE SEQUEL IS FREE!
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.
Over the foothills of the Tasana Mountains lay a thick, heavy, wet blanket of snow. The moon hung low and full on the horizon, scattering its eerie blue-white ambient radiance to give a measure of light to see. In the distance the hillside was dotted with houses lit up in blue, red, and green, colors that offset the blue-white moonlight that reflected off the snow. Echoes of gunshots radiated in all directions, so many, and so often that it was impossible to ascertain their source. When the falling snow landed in Jim's eyes it blurred the mixture of lights, yet he continued to push forward. Behind him and tethered by a rope no more than four feet walked Jennifer, tired and three months pregnant. Within seconds of lifting their feet out of the snow, their tracks vanished, buried once again, leaving no trail behind them. They walked at night and rested during the day, there was less chance of being spotted either by drones or overhead satellites. Jim knew the trek would be difficult, but now he was starting to question if they would make it to their cabin. And if they did make it, would the cabin be usable after sixty six years of abandonment? He worried for his wife and unborn child, but staying in Fuller City was not an option and they both understood and accepted that, an acceptance that may cost them their lives. He looked at the houses along the horizon, many still lit up with strings of lights, blue, green, and a few reds mixed in. He could not understand why people continued to celebrate the different holidays that were based on religious concepts; the United World Nations had banned religion and all religious activity during The Transition Period. Yet people held on to the traditional customs, perhaps they never really celebrated the religious aspect before the ban. He longed for the safety and warmth of those homes, but he knew it would be a temporary safety.
His wife’s voice startled him and he abruptly stopped and turned to her.
“I have to rest, I’m so cold.”
He could hear the intense shiver in her voice, and see her body involuntary shaking in an attempt to keep warm. His instincts wanted to encourage her to push on, to push through the discomfort, but his love for his wife spoke otherwise.
“Fifteen minutes. We’ll use the warmers for ten minutes and then turn them off to conserve power. There may be enough light tomorrow to recharge them.”
Jim scanned the surrounding area looking for a snow free place where they could rest, twenty feet to his right he saw what he needed. He pointed in the direction he intended to turn and Jennifer turned to follow. They approached a long rock sticking out from the snow. It appeared to continue on under the white blanket for several more feet, but the exposed part would serve the intended purpose. Jim stepped over and spread out a small four foot by two foot waterproof pad and then helped Jennifer to step over so she could sit down. Once she was as comfortable as she could be Jim pulled an attachment from his pack and plugged in Jennifer’s warmer, than he sat down next to her.
“You’re not plugging in?”
“We need to conserve power. Two of us using it will drain it faster. I’ll be all right.”
Jennifer laid her head on his shoulder and he reached his arm behind her back and held her close.
“Did we do the right thing?” Jennifer asked.
“Feel that life within you and you have the answer.”
“But Jimmy; suppose we die out here?”
“Here, with the freedom to choose, or back there?”
They snuggled closer and she closed her eyes to rest, wishing for sleep and a nice warm fire. She reflected back to the night at Bo’s cabin, and the comical way that Jim filled the room with smoke, a smile etched across her face. She had formed some happy memories in this new world. She fluttered her eyes and thought she saw a light in the far distance, just another house and someone turning on their lights. She fluttered them again and the light was still there but closer and getting closer still.
“Jim!” The urgency in her hushed voice carried across the snow.
Jim snapped awake and stood fully alert; he quickly turned in every direction and then noticed Jennifer pointing toward the oncoming lights.
“Jimmy, this is a road!”
It was too late to scurry, no trees close enough to hide them and no time to run.
“Jimmy?” Jennifer urged.
“We wait, we’ve nowhere to hide, nowhere to run. We wait.”
Jim pulled Jennifer in close to him and the two waited for what Jim knew was capture.
The lights grew ever closer, and with them the roar of what could only be a combustible engine. As the lights grew larger Jim’s heart beat faster, but why would the New World Committee use a vehicle with a combustible engine to search for them. Maybe capture, but searching did not make sense. Yet he still feared the approaching unknown. The closer it approached the more detail he could make out, the lights were coming from in front of and on top of whatever was approaching, and the light in front appeared stretched and scattered. Then the realization of what was approaching had come too late to Jim's awareness, they would both be knocked backward and covered in several feet of snow as the plow passed them by. Jim and Jennifer sat back down and he pulled her tightly to him, knowing it was useless to try and hold her. They watched as the lights and sound grew closer, the falling and plowed snow scattering and warping the light in all directions. Jennifer closed her eyes, not wanting to see when the impact hit them. Jim wrapped her tight in both arms and waited, the waiting continued and then it seemed delayed, until another realization occurred to Jim. The plow truck was slowing and slowly came to a complete stop ten feet from where they were sitting. Jennifer opened her eyes when the expected impact never came and the sound subsided to a low idle. They could discern movement in the cab of the truck, but were unable to see clearly if the person or persons were attempting to exit. Jim stood and put himself between his wife and whatever approached from the truck. He took a deep breath and pulled his shoulders back and stuck out his chest. Useless posturing, but it helped to draw inner strength. After a few minutes another light was added to the vast array that covered the truck, but this one was smaller, dimmer, the overhead dome light from the opening of the door. It was soon extinguished and followed by a heavy thud. The lights in front of the truck dimmed and flickered. Then before the two of them stood what could only be described as a bear of a man. He was six feet ten inches tall and broad across the shoulders; Jim could not make out any facial features. The man folded his hands across his chest and tossed his head back and started laughing.
“What's so blasted funny?” Jim used a deep gruff voice so as to appear meaner than the rich city boy he was.
“You Jim. You’re funny. I was told you might be coming up this way, but I doubted. See I thought anyone running from the World Medical Committee would surely avoid the roads.”
“You have me at a serious disadvantage. Who are you and how do you know me and that I'm running from the World Medical Committee?”
“Yeah I know everything; I have you right where you should not be. If I were anyone else you would be hauled back to Fuller City and handed over to Toby. Now get in the cab and warm up. Got fresh coffee in there waiting for the both of you.”
“No; I don’t think so, not until you tell me who you are and how you know me.”
“You would rather die out here in the cold? You’re not too far from it you know.”
“Yeah, we would.”
“I was told you would say that. Come on, it’s safe; I promise to fill you in back at my cabin. I was asked to see if I could find you once you made it this far. Been scouting every night, and low and behold you’re on the road, right where he said you would be.”
“In our defense, we didn’t know it was a road, it’s covered with snow.”
The bear-man turned and walked back to the truck. Jim helped Jennifer up and then packed up the pad in the backpack and stuffed the heating cable back in its pouch. They walked to the passenger side of the truck and Jim climbed in first then reached down and helped Jennifer up. The warmth of the truck quickly engulfed Jim and Jennifer; they removed their gloves and turned their hands over and over in front of the air vents. Bear-man handed them a travel mug full of hot coffee. In the full light of the cab Jim could see the drivers face clearly. It was aged and haggard, a beard covered most of it, what was left was windblown, dark complicated and wrinkled.
“It’s black, the coffee. Never thought to ask how you took it. Not the face you expected to see? Is it?”
“Black is fine and no to your face.” Jim said.
“In due time you’ll understand everything. Just be assured of this. You’re safe now, and you're among friends.”
“What’s your name?” Jim asked.
“My friend’s call me Bear, my given name is in the before time, before The Transition. I suggest you two get some sleep. It’s about a two hour drive to my cabin. Once there you can get cleaned up, rest up and then I’ll see you to the rest of your journey.”
“You know where we’re going?”
“It’s got to be that dilapidated cabin about to fall down on the east face of Chief Ole’ Ridge.”
Jim cut Bear off, “About to fall down?”
“No worries. Had a crew up there nearly every day for the past two weeks, got it dried in now. But you’re gonna’ have to put some blood into the place as well.”
Jim failed to understand much of what Bear had explained, but he nodded his head in agreement. “What’s the date?”
“Just wondering how long we’ve been walking.”
“When did you leave Fuller City?”
“Last week of November.”
“It’s December twenty seventh, been walking almost five weeks. You would have died you know?” Bear said.
“I know that now.”
“Your wife’s asleep, you need some as well.”
“Suit yourself. Nothing to see outside except blinding snow.”
Jim locked his gaze forward, out toward the heavy falling snowfall. Even though Bear had the headlights on dim, much of the outer light was still being reflected back toward the truck. The whiteness outside, the hum of the truck and the vibrations were too much on Jim’s exhausted body; he lost his battle to stay awake.
“Jimmy! Jimmy! Wake up.” Jennifer was pushing against Jim’s shoulder attempting to bring him to consciousness.
“What?” His voice was muted and full of cobwebs. Reaching up he pressed the palms of his hands into his eye sockets in an attempt to rub the sleep from them. “We’re here?”
“Where ever here is. I thought we were going to our old cabin?” Jennifer said.
“Suppose’ to – where’s Bear?”
“Don’t know, he was gone when I woke up. Do you know where this place is?”
Jim rubbed his hands together in front of the heater vent. Where ever Bear had gone he had left the truck running and the heat on. “No I don’t recall passing this place when we came up here last.”
“So what now?” Jennifer asked.
“Sit tight. He must intend to return since he left the truck running.” Jim had yet to complete his thought when a large figure of a man cut a path through the still falling snow.
When Bear opened the truck door a blast of bitter cold air removed what remained of the sleep in Jim.
“You two finally awake. Listen, you’ll bunk down for the rest of the night at my place, first light I’ll run you up to your old cabin on the snowmobile. Jennifer you’ll stay in the cabin tomorrow with my wife while I run Jim up there to check the place out. Gather your stuff and let’s get in. Keep the noise level down the kids are asleep. Hate for the six of those terrors to be awake this late, well early. I’ll never get them back down.”
Bear turned off the truck and climbed back out allowing Jim to slide out of the driver’s side and then he walked around to help Jennifer down. He grabbed their packs heaving one on each shoulder. With Bear in the lead, Jim took up the rear of their short hike to the cabin.
“This your place?” Jim asked as they entered. He kept his voice soft so as to avoid waking anyone.
“Sure thing. Me and the wife came up here as soon as we realized what would happen if we started having kids. In the beginning of The Transition it was difficult to keep a tight lid on all the information, many insiders got out quickly as they discovered what was happening. My wife and I had already taken our first few doses, so we are in great health even to this day and passed on some good genes to the kids. But I was not about to let those genetic mutants called the World Medical Committee take any kids I wanted to have.”
“So you’ve been hiding out ever since?” Jim said. He took a seat at the table next to Jennifer and across from Bear. A steaming hot cup of coffee was placed before him filling his nose with a warm fruity smell. Jim took a cautious sip and allowed the taste sooth him. “How did you manage to get French Roast coffee?”
“Call it connections. You’ll be included in time. During the beginning of The Transition the New World Government had a challenge before them. On one hand they were attempting to gain control of all world governments and genetically alter people, and at the same time obtain information on everyone and on those with no records to create a record. Problem was, they had too much going on at once, and it was easy for people to drop off the grid. There’s a whole sub-culture throughout the world, it’s a world within a world. A secret nation if you will.”
“I don’t understand.” Jim said.
“A bit at a time Jim. Just as the World Medical Committee needed to control its information so do we. Not that we don’t trust you, but we still need to ensure your safety. If I tell you what you want about The Grid now and you get captured – well you can just give that some thought. Soon, very soon you will know all there is about The Grid.” Bear said.
“That is what we have chosen to call our alternate form of world government, The Grid. You’ll learn, it’ll make sense.”
Bear rose from his chair and walked across the room to a table that sat in a corner and picked up a small black hand-held device. He turned it over thoughtfully in his hand as he looked back at Jim and Jennifer. He brought the device to his mouth and pressed a small button and started speaking.
“This is Bear; I’m back in the cave. Got me two rabbits while out hunting, one is fat and plump. How about that cabin on Chief Ole’ Ridge, is it coming along?” Bear released the button and lowered the device away from his mouth and turned his attention to the fire that danced and flickered, he had the look of a man that was impatiently waiting. He reached over to a chrome and wooden box, from which extended a curled black wire that ran to the hand held device he had spoken into. He turned some dials and a burst of static filled the room, he quickly readjusted the dial, and again he waited.
A low burst of static filled the air and was followed by a voice from a second black box sitting next to the chrome and wooden one.
“Cabin all dried out, got one solar panel working. Will have a fire going before you arrive. Excellent on the rabbit hunt. What about any cougars, see any out lurking in the night?”
Bear turned back to face Jim and Jennifer again, as he did so he brought the hand-held device up to his mouth, depressed the button and spoke into it.
“No, no cougars, just two very wet and worn out rabbits. All right, thanks on the cabin report. See ya in a few hours. TK. Out.” Bear lowered the device and waited.
Again a burst of static, followed by a voice. “TK, out.”
Bear hooked the device to a small clamp on the side of the box and returned to the table. He brought his cup to his lips and took a small sip of coffee and peered over the edge of the cup at Jim and Jennifer. He darted his eyes back and forth between them both, waiting for one of them to ask. But the two remained silent, with expressions of wonderment on their faces.
“It’s a modified CB radio. It allows me to talk to people all over the world, undetected by the watchful eye of the World Medical Committee.” Bear raised his eyebrows as he completed his explanation.
“How!” Jim and Jennifer said in unison.
Bear gingerly set his coffee cup on the table and allowed his wife to refill it. She rested her hand on his broad shoulder and then leaned over and kissed the upper hair-cleared area of his cheek. They both knew that Jim and Jennifer had to know, but – if one of both of them were ever captured and forced to talk, the entire Grid would collapse. Bear reached across with his right hand and rested it on his wife’s and gave her a trusted smile; she pulled a chair clear of the table and sat next to her husband.
After taking another sip of coffee Bear started to explain. At the beginning of The Transition a small group of people formed the foundation of what would become The Grid. They discarded their cell phones, computers, tablets and any others means of communication that could be monitored. But doing so left them without a means of communication, or so it appeared to the WMC. In twenty sixteen the Tennessee Valley Electric installed meters that self-reported electric consumption. These newly installed meters used wireless to transmit the electric usage back to the electric company. Wireless transmission is microwave based and each meter acted as a repeater allowing the signal to hop from one device to another. Technicians with The Grid were able to build encryption/decryption devices that attached to either an older CB or shortwave radio. The E/D device then converted the audio wave into small microwave packets that piggybacked on the electric meter signal. Since each meter acted as a repeater it allowed The Gird a form of worldwide communications system that was untraceable or detectable.
Some of the technicians that developed the self-reporting technology also joined The Grid, with them they brought their skill and knowledge of how to use not only the electric meter frequencies to communicate long distances but also tapped into existing water meters and other self-reporting devices, a technology still in use, but a long forgotten means of hacking. Bear explained that he managed the station on The Chief Ole’ Ridge, while other members of The Grid managed another stations throughout the world, including one in the Black Hills of North Dakota. By creating a network and continuous hops the people of The Grid could communicate worldwide without the knowledge of the World Medical Committee. However because it was a relay system there was at times a long lag before information could be passed along.
“It was due to that lag effect that it took me awhile to start looking for you. It took about two weeks to get word out that you were heading this way. But that word had to be relayed from a station from Eldorado Kansas, then passed on to Arkansas, western Tennessee and it finally reached me about seven days ago. Been looking for you ever since.” Bear brought his cup to his lips and took a long drink of coffee, ignoring the heat it gave off.
“With that kind of lag in your communication system – a hack could occur before word got out.” Jim said.
“We considered that, there is no way to hack the system. When we transmit, our packets are randomly inserted within the existing packets of information that normally use the self-reporting devices. So our packets appear to be a part of the conformation packet check system. Each transmitter and receiver must have an E/D attached to reassemble the packets.” Bear said
“If the old system taught us anything, everything is hackable.” Jennifer said.
“Normally I would agree with you. But keep in mind the old system was built on pure binary computer code, something that could be read and rewritten, hacked. This is really old school technology. More or less forgotten technology that we have merged with technology from before The Transition that many still use but is not considered important.” Bear said.
“The Enigma was hacked! The Nazi's un-hackable communication device. ”
“Yes I know Jim. But it was hacked because one had been captured and a room full of people studied the transmissions. Their goal, look for commons in the transmission. Our radios don’t need to be captured; they still exist, albeit in museums or storerooms. It’s not the radio in this case or even commons. It’s the random packets of information. If the World Medical Committee obtained a radio and an E/D and then managed to tune in the correct frequency all they would hear is static, nothing else. We use a second machine to reassemble the packets, so in total 3 devices are needed to understand the transmissions. That machine is also old, from the nineteen fifties I believe, nothing that gives off a signal that can be picked up, no wireless. It’s all old school. The World Medical Committee has yet to think backward, they have over thought their power. They believe all older technology is no longer useful.”
“At Nancy’s we used older technology. I’m sure that Nick has discovered that by now.” Jennifer said.
“And I don’t doubt that he has; but will he make any connection to us from what he learns there? The Grid knew nothing of Nancy so it’s unlikely they’ll tie her to any faction or rebellion toward the World Medical Committee.” Bear said.
Outside, in the distance, beyond the ridge, a faint light started to fill the sky. The moon had long ago rested below the horizon and left a snow filled ambient sky in its wake. But now through the lightly falling snow the outline of Chief Ole’ Ridge could be seen. In the east the sun was starting to make its presence felt once again. Jim stood and walked to the large window that fronted the cabin. He rested his left arm on a small shelf intended to hold cooling pies and dropped his chin to his forearm. He let his gaze fix toward the east and out into some distant past, before The Transition, letting his mind drift as he continued to listen to Bear tell the history of the world after he and Jennifer had been put to sleep.
With the skeleton of the Grid Network up and running it gave local areas the ability to check for ones wanting to break away from the beginning of the New World. As the New World Government began to take hold on the freedoms around the world more people gravitated to The Grid. However it was not until the end of the nuclear war that tens of thousands defected from what they had hoped would bring peace to humankind. E/D radio bases started coming online in Russia, Israel, China, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Mexico, the UK and the United States. A sub-world was starting to unite with a common goal, to remain free from the New World Government.
“It’s ionic you know? Most of those nations were at war with each other back in twenty fourteen.” Jennifer said.
“Yeah, ironic. Some were dictators, communists or worse. But when the citizens of those countries were faced with a greater enemy, it united those who were left. In some parts of the world people of The Grid have had to live among ones of the New World, they walked a dangerous path.” Silent One, Bear’s wife said.
With her words Jim lifted his head and looked across the room to the kitchen where Bear’s wife now stood. “How so? How is it they are walking a dangerous path?” Jim asked.
Silent One placed the percolator back on the wood cook stove, wiped her hands on the towel that hung from the sink and looked thoughtfully at Jim and Jennifer. “Walked, past tense. We have people in every part of the world and in almost every city. We live, work and play with ones who are injected with the serum. Those who choose to live amongst the others had to do so for a very limited time.”
“The ones of The Grid, they don’t take the serum, do they?” Jennifer abruptly interrupted Silent One.
She slowly nodded her head back and forth, no. A tear slid down the side of her cheek, and then another. Silent One buried her face in the hand towel to muffle her sobs.
“Her mother and father chose to live among them. They did good for about twelve years. But, her dad took ill. He stayed in their apartment, keeping from the watchful eye of the World Medical Committee.”
A deafening silence filled the room, broken only by the muffled cries of Silent One. The silence continued unchallenged for more than ten minutes, it was Jim who broke it with the scraping of his chair as he pulled it from under the table. He sat down and allowed Silent One to refill his coffee.
“What happened to your mom and dad?” Jim asked.
“Nick.” Was all that she was able to answer.
Jim and Jennifer turned and looked at Bear.
“Nick and Daniel to be exact. If you fail to show for work after three days – Jim we had no idea that the World Medical Committee had the ability to monitor inside a person’s apartment or home. Her parents were taken to an Incentive Center. We never heard from them again.” Bear said.
Jim reflected back to his own apartment, and how Toby was able to know everything he said and did and even researched. He now realized just how tight of a hold the Committee had on people that had come to depend on the serum to live.
“We put the word out on the ED as soon as we put it together. Most of our people faded out of the cities and into the country side. They took to living in the woods or small towns. The World Medical Committee could track them if they wanted, but they took to living a slow boring life they were of no interest to the Committee. Others however were captured and taken to Incentive Centers. We lost tens of thousands of people.” Bear said.
Jim stood and returned to his place at the window and once again locked his gaze out and across the distant horizon. In the sky small areas of black-blue were making an appearance, the storm was moving out and the clouds were giving way to the sky above them. Flicks of sun rays were clipping through the small openings and finding their way through to give some light to a new day.
“So what happened? You survived as did others?” Jim asked.
“As I said we abandoned the cities and moved. Me and Silent One were already here, others came. Some went west to the Black Hills, Rockies, and deep in the desert, what is considered useless land by the World Medical Committee. They want people kept together in cities. It’s easier to control people if they are huddled together.”
“But when you do have to interact, with random serum testing, how do you get around it?” Jim asked.
“We have medical experts that have developed a harmless virus that alters our blood. If a Fuller Center anywhere takes a sample it resembles the Fuller Life Serum. So far it has worked, but we know if it’s analyzed in detail we’re exposed.” Bear said.
Jim let his mind drift to those that made the sacrifice to expose the World Medical Committee’s ability to monitor within their homes. The lives lost and lives still being taken to ensure that the World Medical Committee keeps control of the world. He wondered…
“How many are left worldwide; of The Grid?” Jim asked.
“We do attempt to keep count. Last census gave us a total of about 24,670.” Bear said.
“And before the exposure?”
“We topped out at over two hundred thousand.”
Again silence filled the room and this time hung for more than fifteen minutes. The house creaked and shifted with the rising of the sun and the warming air. Outside small forest animals scurried around and birds started to stir from their nightly rest. The number was haunting; more than one hundred and seventy five thousand had been killed or taken to an Incentive Center. Jim felt the weight of guilt as it slammed down on him. Guilt for wanting his Jennifer to live, guilt for creating this world, guilt for killing billions of human lives. In the park, their park was a statue, forever to his praise, forever to his guilt. If he had not been so selfish, so entitled to have her, if he could have let her die and then had taken his own life, this world would never have been born. One man, one choice, billions dead, it had been Jim’s choice.
“It was not your fault Jimmy.” Jennifer broke through his thinking.
“She’s right Jim. You had no way to know. Toby was supposed to have been your friend. You never expect your friends to betray you, not the way Toby did.”
“That’s not enough to overthrow the New World Committee?” Jim said.
A look of confusion struck across Bear’s face, and then he realized what Jim was suggesting.
“Jim you misunderstand. It’s not our intent to overthrow anything. You have seen the inside of a Fuller Center, you have seen the inner workings of the New World Committee, you know over turning anything they have done is impossible. Dogs Jim; even though eighty percent of people hate this world, they don’t want to get some dreaded disease and die. No one wants to fight HIV again or to have a child with Downs, and no one wants to watch a loved one die of cancer again. Most hate this present world, but many would die to keep it.” Bear explained.
“Then what? Why go through all the trouble to form The Grid and create the E/D Network? That’s a lot of effort if you don’t intend to overthrow that, that committee.” Jim slammed his open hand hard against the pie shelf, the slap sound reverberating through the open kitchen and turning his hand deep red.
“Jim; look around you. This is my cabin, my home. My kids are mine; they are in the other room sleeping in their own beds. I have a baby just nine months old that has his own blood pumping through his veins, his blood Jim.” Bear locked his gaze on Jim. “My blood, Silent One’s blood, my kids blood is clean. We will die, but we will die with our own clean blood. Don’t you think living with your own blood and your own DNA is worth what we have done? Even if what we have done must remain hidden and we have to live in the shadows?”
Jim turned the palm of his hand toward his face and studied the redness as it faded back to the natural tone of his skin. He knew inside that Bear was right, but this world was created upon his name, his company, his technology, his money. He turned back to face Bear.
“No Jim; you did not build this world. Toby, Nick, Daniel and the others did, using you, a person in a comatose state, to build it on. Why do you think they did that?”
Jim gave Bear a puzzled look.
“Why do you think your friends used your company, your technology, your money and your name after they had put you to sleep? Why not transfer the trust in name as well as in power?”
“I don’t follow you on this Bear.” Jennifer said.
It was then that the logical development played out in Jim’s mind. If the New World Committee had failed, if the project had failed, if the attempt to take control of the world’s governments had failed, their names, the names of the committee members would be clean. But Jim’s would be covered in blood. All the blood the Committee had spilled. Bear saw the look of recognition that came across Jim’s face.
“You understand; don’t you?” Bear said nodding to Jim.
Jim only nodded his head yes.
“Jim was the scape goat; if the committee failed Jim would be awakened and he alone would take the fall for the committee’s failure.” Silent One said.
Jennifer gasp she was unaware she had been holding her breath.. “What else? Jimmy what else have they done and covered up?”
The thought was new to Jim, but it was a thought that was now based on fact. It was a thought that sent waves of fear through his mind. He looked at his wife, at Jennifer, at her swollen abdomen. Their unborn child, their baby, what else did Toby know and what else was the committee hiding.
“I wish I knew if Bo and Nancy made it.” Jim said, hoping to change the subject.
“They did; it's Bo that's been keeping me in the loop about you two.”
Snow covered the brown cobbled walks of Fuller City. The wind howled in between the buildings as it blew the white flakes into deep drifts. Shop windows were latticed with crystals of ice and snow. Overnight the temperature had dropped and the mercury was now straining to reach twenty six degrees. People walked about in layered clothing, pushing against the wind driven snow as it swirled in several directions before reaching the ground. Doors to businesses and stores became blocked with drifts as owners continued to battle the forces of nature. Atop many of the stores could be seen cell sweepers, teenage boys hired to keep the snow off of the solar panels. If the panels remained covered for too long the Mg-Ion batteries would quickly drain and power to that building would be lost. Each panel had to remain completely cleared in order to capture every particle-wave of sunlight. At random locations night post lamps lit up under the dense cloud cover. Fuller City was engulfed in an early winter storm.
For the last thirty years the winters had been returning earlier and had become increasingly more severe. During The Transition Period and for decades after the effects of global warming had been reversed, however it was becoming apparent that the reversal had set into motion another climate change, a cooling period. Man’s attempt to repair the Earth from their own destruction was causing even greater damage. The United World Nations created a special climate control committee to examine the cooling effect to determine what if anything could be done to prevent a worldwide disaster. The winter of twenty eighty to twenty eighty-one was setting out to be the most bitter in the history of humankind.
Across Fuller City residents were stockpiling food and Mg-Ion batteries in hopes of enduring the next four to five months of bitter cold and deep snows. Even with all the advances in city infrastructure, water pipes would still freeze and solar panels could be covered causing power outages. Each individual resident was responsible for maintaining their panels and water infrastructure; it was the solution to out-of-control city budgets. Some business owners decided to lock up their own shops and return home to share the bitter cold experience with family or friends.
Three miles to the North of Fuller City sat a large network of buildings. The residents and employees did not need to be concerned of a power loss or frozen water pipes; no resource was spared to keep The Fuller Education Center and The Fuller Incentive Center fully operational.
The Fuller Incentive Center was comprised of one small insignificant gray on white building. The corners of the building were faux offset gray stones that appeared stacked until they reached the roof. The outside walls were smooth to the touch and glistened bright white. No windows adorned the outside and the only entry was a heavy brushed steel door that sat in the middle of the wall facing the sidewalk that ran along the road. Inside the building the floors and walls were of brushed stainless steel; no color to distinguish one wall from another, every wall, ceiling and all the floors were the same brushed stainless steel.
When you entered the building a single kiosk stood by itself just inside the door and off to its right was a security pass through. When entry was granted through the heavy steel door the entrant must then pass a retina and facial recognition scan. Failure to be identified would result in a permanent stay at The Fuller Incentive Center, in most cases as fertilizer in the flower beds that adorned the entryway. Beyond the security kiosk a brushed stainless steel door allowed entry into a long narrow hall, the walls and floor of which were covered with the same brushed stainless steel. At the end, another security kiosk and another brushed stainless steel door, through which was a large open room. Inside the room were two sets of elevators, each with its own distinct destination. The elevator to the left went two floors down; the one to the right went one floor down. Exiting the elevator on the right was a large room which had rows upon rows of desks. At each desk an operator monitored a computer terminal; each operator was assigned a single occupant that resided on the floor below. Each terminal had two computer monitors, one to adjust necessary settings; the other, a video feed that followed the assigned occupant. Each Fuller Incentive Center occupant had been injected with a tracking chip that synced with its operator; regardless of where the occupant went his or her activities was displayed on the assigned operator’s terminal. The elevator on the left went forty feet below the operators and under the surface of the Earth where the occupants of The Fuller Incentive Center resided.
Each resident occupied their own room, nine feet by six feet. Each room contained a single bed and toilet made of brushed stainless steel, the walls, ceiling and floor were also of brushed stainless steel. In one corner of the ceiling was embedded a single LED natural white light; it emitted enough light to allow shadows and outlines of the contents of the room. Since the LED emitted from the corner it cast odd shadows that kept the occupant disoriented. Daily the occupants were removed and led to a feeding area then to a cleaning station. Once fed and cleaned they were sectioned off to separate medical testing facilities. After morning test were completed they were escorted back to the feeding area and cleaning station and then returned to the testing facilities. There was no attempt to separate men women or children, as each operator above had complete control over the behavior of their assigned occupant. Any action that was considered a violation was adjusted with images of pain in the violators mind.
Children that had been deemed unfit by The World Medical Committees standards to allow their genetic material into society were allowed to continue a natural seventy or eighty year life span in a secured environment to itself. During that time their DNA was tested and examined, altered and re-injected into them in hopes of disabling undesirable traits that could later become manifest. Some of the adults had started out as children at the center; others were Transistors, ones that could not or would not conform and still others were traitors to the State. Room number thirty two held such a traitor, his operator above was also designated number thirty two.
William J Crouch had been stripped of his personal identity. Embedded in the brushed stainless steel wall outside of his room was a brushed stainless steel plaque that had etched “Occupant 32”. Like all other occupants he was dressed in a one piece lime green jumpsuit that closed with Velcro up the back. It was the only piece of clothing each occupant was allowed to have, no underwear, no shoes, no socks. William was familiar with what happened to the occupants of The Fuller Incentive Center, in his past he had assisted in some medical procedures. As he had every morning for the last six weeks he sat on the edge of his cold metal bed knowing what awaited him. As with all his other days he would not let fear control his actions.
He had told his four captors at the book store that he never married and had children, it was now a decision he deeply regretted. Had he married and even had children knowing what he knew, at least someone would miss him. As it was he had no one, no family, no real friends, and no one that loved him. He would be missed by no one. Exactly at seven in the morning a chime echoed throughout the facility and then a second later his door slid into the wall. William stood, paused and then walked to his doorway where he remained until ordered to proceed to the feeding area. It was not long before a tall slender man dressed in a red one piece jumpsuit waved him from his room. In his hand was a black round slender object about sixteen inches long, the end of which had two short prongs. William knew the current that would pass from the Paton and into his body if he resisted. He stepped from his doorway and followed those in front of him to the feeding area. The room he entered was as all other rooms; floor, walls and ceiling made of cold brushed stainless steel. He formed rank along with the rest of the occupants and again waited. Once instructed he took his assigned seat, bench thirty, table thirty seat number two, the cold of the steel bench pressed against his buttocks. Again he waited. A bowl and spoon were placed in front of him and he waited until instructed to eat. When the order was given he picked up his spoon and started to eat.
To his right in seat number one was someone he had not seen since arriving. Above his right eye was an indentation about the size of a quarter, across the top of which was a fresh scar. At the base of his neck William noticed another scar and the left side of his head had been shaved of all his hair.
“Names Thirty Two; what’s yours?” William extended his hand to the newly arrived occupant.
“He ain’t anyone new; he’s just been away for a while.” A ‘boy’ sitting across from William explained.
“Well he can speak for himself can’t he?”
“No. See that scar along his neck? They did something to his vocal cords to shut him up. He always screamed, never would stop screaming. Scream, scream, scream. Nicknamed him the ‘Screamer.’”
“What’s your name?” William asked the boy across from him.
“Names Thirty Eight, been here since I was four, so has Thirty One. We grew up in here together.” Thirty Eight said.
“Why, what defect did you have to keep you in here?” William asked.
“Nothin’. We started out in an Education Center, but we fought a lot, got labeled as bullies. They tried to educate it out of us, but they said we would always fight.”
“Did you; always fight?” William asked.
“No; well I don’t think we did. We only started cutting up when we were four. We always wanted to be outside to play, but outside time was only on Saturday. So we got bored and wrestled. We formed wrestling groups and when the Controllers tried to stop us, the other kids stopped but we kept on. We were just bored. I hated being trapped inside and having nothing to do.” Thirty Eight said.
“How long ago was that?”
“Forty two years now. I got my last serum shot when I turned four, as did Thirty One there. So I suspect that soon we’ll start looking our age.”
Thirty Eight and Thirty One still had the appearance as if they were in the mid-teens, not in their forties. William lamented having ever played a part in the Fuller Education Project.
“So why did they snip his vocal cords?”
“Like I said, you not listening to me? They working on your ears?" Thirty Eight leaned to his right than to his left, looking at each of William's ears in turn. "He screamed all the time to be let out. That hole in his head, they took out a piece of his brain to make him calm.”
“So you two were not genetically flawed? Just hyper?”
“That’s what it seems to be Thirty Two. Be glad they snipped him, he’s right next to you. He would be keeping you up all night if they hadn’t. Hyper kids, back in the old world I heard they achieved the same results except with drugs. Called it Hyper-Activity-Disorder or something like that. Hyper kids were given a pill to shut them down, dope them up. Today they just send you to an Incentive Center pull a plug from your brain and snip your vocal cords. In the end it has the exact same effect. But that’s not the worst part about being raised in this forsaken place.”
“Yeah?” William asked.
“The RB’s. They’re the real bullies. They tease, beat, trick, play mean games, they’re really mean. The Operators told us that the RB’s are part of the re-education procedure. But if that’s so, then why were me and him put in here?" Thirty Eight pointed his spoon at Thirty One. "The RB’s are the real bullies. They have those electric sticks; they sneak up from behind and zap you for no good reason. Wet myself every time.”
All security personal in all Fuller Incentive Centers were required to wear a one piece red jumpsuit and carry sixteen inch long Taser sticks. The color of the suit made them stand apart from the occupants, to avoid confusion, the stick gave them the power to keep the occupants under control. Since the occupants were the genetic defects of society there were no restrictions on what actions the security personal felt was necessary to keep them in control. Over the decades and throughout all Fuller Incentive Centers the security personal had come to be called RB’s; Red Bullies for the distinctive color of their jumpsuit. William felt compassion for the two boys. They had no defective genetic material, just what had been deemed an ‘undesirable trait’. They were highly active children who hated sitting for hours a day.
With conversation ended William turned his attention to eating a bowl of unflavored oatmeal and then obediently followed the others to the cleaning station. The room retained the same décor as the rest of the facility and along the walls were long stainless steel benches. Above the benches at two foot intervals were numbers, and above them, shelves. He made his way to seating area number thirty two and removed his one piece jumpsuit and then entered a large room with shower heads dropping from the ceiling. He stood motionless under one of the shower heads and waited. When the other occupants had entered the room a water and soap mixture fell from the shower heads. William lathered himself and then waited for the rinse cycle, when the clean water stopped; strong jets of air filled the room from the floor, ceiling and walls. The occupants then exited back into the changing room and there on the number thirty two shelf was a fresh clean lime green one piece jumpsuit. William got dressed.
As everyday over the past six weeks his heart raced as he was lead down a hall, from which doors to examining rooms opened along its length. He had never thought of his own death or suffering, but now it could be a reality; a tear broke loose from the corner of his eye and rolled down his cheek. He was instructed to stop at the tenth door on his right and to stand facing it. He obeyed as he had every morning. Every day for the past six weeks he was led to the tenth door and told to remain standing, facing the door. Every day the door never opened and everyday he was escorted back to the feeding area at lunch and then the cleaning area and back to the tenth door to stand, waiting, until time to return to his holding room.
He had stood motionless for thirty minutes never expecting the door to open but this day the door slid into the wall, startling him. He slowly entered. His own genetic alterations were about to begin. He was still looking at the floor when he heard the door slide shut behind him; he did not look up to see what awaited him. Another tear slid down his cheek and he watched it as it fell to the cold hard stainless steel floor. He now fully comprehended the fear he had instilled in others as he had done his job in the past. For the first time he felt regrets.
“Come over here and have a seat William”
William knew the voice and he told himself he should comply, but the voice instilled fear in him.
“It’ll be okay, come on over.” Toby said.
William forced himself to raise his head as he approached a large oversized plush chair. Before sitting down he took in those that were gathered, along with Toby was Nick and Greg, William sat across from the three men.
“Would you get our guest a glass of orange juice please?” Toby instructed an unnamed attendant that was dressed in a red jumpsuit. The attendant disappeared through another door and returned a few minutes later with a large glass of orange juice. She handed it to William.
“It’s safe to drink. Just good ole' orange juice.” Greg said.
William took the glass and eagerly drank the beverage.
“Why am I here; with you?” William asked.
Toby turned and nodded to Greg. “Well it’s like this, Daniel wanted to dig through your brain and reprogram your genetics, but we persuaded him to give us a chance at another option.” Greg said.
“What’s that?” Without realizing it William’s tone had turned cyclical.
“Be careful William, I don’t appreciate you’re tone.” Toby had snapped back so quickly that it startled William.
“Sorry I didn’t realize.”
“It’s understandable under the circumstances. The Committee is fully aware that everyone makes mistakes, and if we never attempted to work with those that did we would be just as bad as they are and, well soon enough we would be out of people to work with.” Greg said.
“William, before we go into our offer keep one thing in mind, this is our one and only offer. We'll not be back a second time.” Nick said.
“Make your offer.”
“Central System was able to ID the third man that was with you and Jim. His name is Anthony Christopher Williams.” Nick said.
A look of surprise washed across William’s face. He had known Anthony by the name Bo and it did not take long before he realized he was a dangerous man.
“However we highly doubt he still uses that name.” Toby said.
“So who is this Anthony?” William said.
“He is or was a Secret Service Agent, on Presidential detail back in Twenty-Fourteen. He was with President Jefferson in the UK when the nukes went off. He returned to the US on Air Force One and soon after landing disappeared. It was assumed he entered the hot zone of Washington DC.” William gave Nick a puzzled look. “Sorry; Anthony’s family lived in Washington and were home at the time that the bomb exploded. He was seen on security cameras approaching the outskirts of Alexandria along US Highway 1, we lost track of him as he passed the last camera that hadn’t suffered loss from the effects of the nuclear detonation.” Nick said.
“Since Central System was able to ID Anthony that means that he did not enter the hot zone and suffer from the effects of nuclear radiation. What we want to know from you is what name he’s now using and why he was with Jim?” It was Toby who finished the explanation.
“That’s all you want in exchange for my freedom?” William asked.
“Of course not. We’re also aware that you left them an encrypted warning, from that we were able to determine that the five of you in some way bonded. William those four have some sort of trust in you, we want to exploit that trust and use it to our advantage.” Nick said.
“I told you back at The Fuller Life Center that I had no interest in helping you. Why do you now assume that anything has change?” William said.
“Six weeks in this place.” Greg said.
William bowed his head. In his mind he realized that the offer included keeping all of his current genetic material intact and keeping his current stable mentality. If he refused he would linger in death for decades, if he agreed to help he would regain all he had lost and more without suffering any loss to himself. He thought of the two boys he had met during the morning feeding, he would once more be a part of the genetic cleansing. He dismissed their plight and returned to his own offer of self-preservation. He had not realized that Bo or Anthony was part of the former resistance to approving the serum, or at least that is how history reported the actions of the US Secret Service.
“Okay. I want out before I talk. This place stinks and smells of death, besides the people in here are completely unstable.”
Nick stood and approached William, extending his hand. William in turn stood and took his hand in his.
“Toby and I will get the paper work processed; Greg will remain here while you go in there to change. There’s a suit waiting for you.” Across the room, in the direction Nick had indicated was a small bathroom.
“So you knew I would accept the offer?”
“Any person that has the chance to get out of here would take it, or else they really do belong in here.” Nick said.
Toby stood and approached Greg, “We’ll meet you out back in about twenty minutes.” With that Toby and Nick exited the small medical testing room through a door at the back.
“Get changed quickly, once you’re done we’ll follow them out that same door. We’ll not be walking through the facility.” Greg said.
William wasted no time changing out of the lime green jumpsuit and into the navy blue casual suit. They had even considered his need for underwear and socks. Once he had the black dress shoes tied he felt human again and exited the bathroom. Greg looked him over to ensure he was presentable and then approached the same door that Toby and Nick had exited, when William followed Greg through he at last realized he was free of The Incentive Center and had no intention to ever return. Outside of the medical testing room the two entered a small hallway, the end of which opened up into a large room. There they rejoined Nick and Toby.
“Its official you’re a free man.” Nick said.
Nick had already pushed the button on the elevator and stood by the doors waiting for its arrival when the others joined him. When the elevator doors parted the four stepped in and were taken up to the ground floor. There they exited the back door and got into a black Tesla SUV.
“That’s it. You're out. Start talking.” Nick said.
Toby’s voice instructed the car to start and then entered their destination as The Barn’s Firm. After the car was in motion; Toby turned the heater to full to remove the bitter chill.
“He goes by Bo, never heard a last name. They took me to an apartment above an old book store. The owner was named Nancy, again no last name.”
“Central System got you entering and exiting the book store, we were able to get the owners information. But we were unable to get any information from Central System after you entered.” Nick said.
“Figures. She installed some sort of damping field at some point in the store. They marched me upstairs and into an apartment. There was no new or current technology in the apartment at all, everything was from the mid nineteen nineties or perhaps even older.”
“What was their interest in you?” Toby shifted sideways in his seat to face William.
“They wanted to know everything about the serum, how it’s obtained and why we keep children until they're five years old.”
“And did you tell them?” Greg leaned forward and into the question.
“Of course. I was leaving The Fuller Education Center; I had to get it out of me. I've never married and I was starting a new job the next day. I figured it was a nice way to confess my sins.”
“Now William; surly you don’t look at the extraction of the Fuller Life Serum as sinful?” Toby asked.
“It does give one nightmares after fifty years of service. Sorry.” William shrugged his shoulders.
“Maybe that's something we need to consider, honoring transfer request more often.” Greg said.
“I think it would go a long way, don’t get me wrong we all need the serum to live, but it can be difficult to face those children day after day. Little kids crying for their parents or wanting to be able to play or just be hugged. And the constant testing they are subjected to. I know it's something that has to be done, but the adult tech's that are put through that need some time away.” William said.
“Nick, you care to make a note of that, I think that it would be a good idea to consider shifting personal around more often. Let's consider it at the next meeting.” Greg said.
“So you confessed your sins. What then, they just let you go?” Nick asked.
“Yep. They videoed the entire conversation and told me that if I ever spoke they would send a copy of it to you, the committee.”
“Surely Jim had to have known I would get around to telling him everything, why did he push it.” Toby looked through William. “Is there something else you’re not telling us?”
William turned his gaze to watch the snow as it made it’s decent from the sky. He watched as it covered the ground in a fresh white purifying blanket. All that was dead and ugly underneath was hidden from view to be reborn in the spring. He had gained his freedom and he did not want to return to the Fuller Incentive Center, he wanted to keep his liberty. “The reason they wanted the information in the first place.”
“Which was?” Toby’s voice took on a dark sinister tone.
“Jennifer is pregnant.”
Years ago i published the book "Still With Eyes Closed" and it was successful. However I lost interest in finishing the sequel because readers who enjoyed the book never bothered to leave feedback on Amazon. Feedback is extremely important to help sell books and with thousands sold and only 17 Feedback and a few of those fake it was a let down.
But alas, most of the sequel is done so instead of publishing it I will post it chapter by chapter here. I do not have a time frame or how often a chapter will be posted, just check back.
If you have not read "Still With Eyes Closed" click the book cover to be taken to Amazon to purchase it.
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Some of my readers may remember when I had the store in Livingston Tasana Computer Repair. Well I have brought back Tasana Computer Services.
Tasana Services was born in 2006 in Livingston Tennessee. At the time I had just left Dell Computers working in the Gold Tech Department. Dell was stopping the service. I opened Tasana Computer Repair and from within I repaired computers and built websites. Later I added video services.
Today Tasana Services offers a wide range of services. Computer repair and service; website building and monthly service; as well as a full range of video services.
DeWayne Watts: I started out writing short stories and poetry. Some of which was published in the 1980's. I have parts of 5 novels written and have completed 2 novels. I have been married over 25 years and raised 2 wonderful sons who have been a great addition to the human family.
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The 3 Novels/Books Written By DeWayne Watts
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"The Boy in The Wood"
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