Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Reviews from readers

Wow!I finished reading it last night - kept me up till 4am lolI really enjoyed it. I don't read much but it was my kind of 'fiction'The ending was sad that the mission wasn't complete, but it makes more sense that the resistance would be an ongoing thing, not over in a hollywood style final showdown so easilyI also really enjoyed the lesbian scene (I didn't realise the main character was male until about page 90, lol)Peckerstan and Cockster !! HahahaAnyway it was excellent from start to finishWell done and thanks for sharing--Matt

Honestly, I wasn't expecting much. I have read many, many stories from others and have been disappointed.Either they had no idea how to write (as in, they don't now how to form a sentence, use improper punctuation over and over, etc.) or they had no idea how to put the whole thing together and it was just a mess. I was very happily surprised when I started reading your story. It was well-written, it was salient, and it made me want to continue to read it. I'm kind of a wierdo in that I like the build up more than the delivery. (Don't all conspiracy nuts?) During the build up of "what the hell is going on here?" I was thirsty for more. You did hold back enough at most times to get me salivating again. Although once the overall delivery was there, it was a let down for me. It always is, so don't take that the wrong way. The ending was just as it should have been (although it looked like you a) rushed it and b) hurriedly wrote it... it's not of the same caliber as the first part of the story) I thought what happened to Daniel and the inevitability of his situation was very believable. Some of the things you wrote about folks who start fiddling with the thread of conspiracy to only pull the entire sweater apart in surprise, was startlingly on the mark. I read that with a smile, as you got it so incredibly correct. That is how we think and I couldn't have put it better myself. Also the GLP thing was hilarious. A couple of things I thought could be better/different (we're moving into my opinion now, so take this with a grain of salt).All this is written with the belief that you would like to get this story published. The exposition was well laid out and well written.The dialog was sometime contrived and stilted. I can't imagine some people talking that way. (I can give examples)The initial exposition (where the character starts giving some of the history of what has happened, and the over-arcing ideologies behind the story) was very well written, and while I loved the heck out of it, I wondered how, let's say a literary agent would read it. I started to think he or she would lose interest quickly, and then thought, "Hey! Teri (I don't even know if you are a man or a woman! Teri can be either! I assume male from the sex scenes!) needs a 'sidekick' for Daniel... someone who isn't in the know, who he can talk out this exposition, rather than just telling it to the reader!" I thought you could tell some parts of the exposition in the beginning, but leave some level of mystery there, and then... holy cow!!! You added a side kick! So, then I started thinking... in that long car ride where they are sitting together, you could strike up a conversation between them, and then you could flesh out the rest of the exposition through their dialog. Either make this a way that Celeste tests Daniel's knowledge, or act stupid and pull info out of him. That way, you don't lose those who are not as into conspiracy things as we are. That's a pretty big revision, but if your goal is to really get the thing published, it might be something to consider. The part where Daniel lets his door open for his cat is great. It paint's a better picture than 1000 words. It humanizes him very effectively. But he seems to lose that humanity somewhere along the line and I ceased to care if he lived or died. I wasn't as emotionally attached to him in the end as I was in the beginning. In the beginning he was ME living this story. In the end, he was just some dumb ass who got chipped. I don't know if that makes any sense or not, but hopefully you get what I'm trying to say. After Daniel shoots that dude in his house, and I believe that was the first time he'd really ever killed someone, I don't think you went in deep enough on his emotions. From what I have heard, it's pretty traumatizing to kill a person. So there might be some more internal dialog there of him rationalizing what he did to himself. I was initially pissed that Celeste was so hot. Why do the chicks in stories always have to be hot? But then when she turned out to be the love interest, I got why. The scene where Daniel is checking himself out in the mirror and flexing his bicep seemed to be opposite from how you initially painted him as a character. It illustrates him as arrogant and full of himself. Also, I thought that when you introduce Celeste standing on the side of the road, the first thing you should say is, "there was a red head standing there." Or whatever. In other words, contrast the color of her hair to the rest of the scene. You do this later in the story, and very effectively so. To do it earlier would establish her looks more strongly in the reader's mind than you did initially. (You mention her red hair, but only after we meet her.) Toward, not towards. Towards is British English, in the U.S. the standard is 'toward'. Sex. The scene where they got it on while on the road, was understandable. Made sense, and I was expecting it. After their escape, when she dropped and started blowing the soldier, I lost it. My disbelief went out the window! I was thinking, "Okay, I'm a dude. I going to take a leak. There I am with a full bladder, I am looking out for renegades, and (after? before?) I take my leak, there's a girl there, with her top off, coming at me, ready to suck me off."No way. Too unbelievable. One: When I need to pee, having sex is one of the last things on my mind. And RIGHT AFTER I Plus, the soldier should have been like, "WTF!" and backed away from her. If you were trying to somehow convince the reader that Celeste was serious enough to suck a guy off to fight the war, you didn't need to. I was already convinced that she was. Plus, you didn't need her to get a gun. There was no reason, since she didn't use it until after she was in the gas station... where she could have gotten a gun from the dude in there. Continuing on with this scene. I really REALLY liked the part where the gas station guy goes upstairs, and starts talking to someone... good.. scary... very suspenseful. HOWEVER! After they killed the dude who was looking for his gun, they left the station...where in the hell were all the other soldiers who were on the truck with the initial soldier? Daniel and Celeste just walked outside the station... and ... oh wait! They had sex again! I was really waiting for them to either fight their way out or to do something clever. This scene made me scratch my head. The scene, seemed ill placed in the story. At that point, we wanted our characters to get the hell out of dodge! Not stop off for a quick screw! There was also the entire scene where they try to get by the guards at the stop point, and she shows her ass and Daniel acts like a redneck... I groaned. There is no way that would work. The guards are prepared for stuff like that and wouldn't be fooled by some woman wanting to do them in the middle of the road while her traveling partner watched. Once again, my investment in the story waned... but I continued to read. The Pekerstan, Cock names, while funny, take away from the serious nature of the story. Mr. White or Mr. Pink... Reservoir Dogs style seemed better here. The whole puzzle thing confused the hell out of me. I think I understood it, but I was hoping there was more to it than it just being a puzzle. The ending sex scene really REALLY threw me for a loop. I can't reconcile that scene with the world we live in. I think I know why you did it, because she could never be with him again, but it made little sense at that time. I thought a more heartfelt, hug and tear would have worked better than a hardcore sex scene. I liked the ending, but I sure would have liked it more if he'd made his way to the countryside, and stood in the middle of some field as he could hear the copters approach, knowing he couldn't run because they were tracking him. Maybe some short internal conversation on December... Christmases he would never experience, the snow, whatever. Just him internalizing how good his life was while he was ignorant and how shitty it is now that knows. I did notice a few cross-talk scenes that were rough, and of course, as I said, the ending seemed rushed. (I always rush my endings because I usually just want the damn thing done!) but overall, the story was good, it was very mysterious, and kept me wanting to read more... with very few groan moments. Okay... I wasn't going to include an excerpt, but I can't help myself. This one scene shows more than I can tell what I am trying to say!
“Do you know how ‘Sleepers’ are done nowadays?”
“No. I missed that day in Government class,” still trying to be lighthearted. Celeste, on the other hand, maintained her stiff lips and stern gaze.
Okay. Here, I know Daniel is trying to be lighthearted. I don't need you to tell me. And Celeste's description (rule 17 of Strunk and White) can be whittled down to the following:
“Do you know how ‘Sleepers’ are done nowadays?”
“No. I missed that day in Government class,” I said.
Celeste glared at me for a moment before continuing.
And then you're right back into the story. Always remember, if you write your stuff well enough, the emotion, or sarcasm you are trying to get across will be understood without having to explain it. Once again, these are all my opinions! It's your baby so you get to raise it how you want! ;-) Overall I really liked it and thought it was fun. The information on the conspiracy stuff was awesome! -- Jason A. Myers

Here's something maybe not so disappointing:
The author of the novel "Dead By December" is sitting on a goldmine.
This writer will not disappoint you. The story reads and 'looks' like the screenplay for a film which would be well suited for our time. DBD shows a future eerily similar to the present, with a malevolent entity called 'government' prying into the lives of regular people, justifying all the paranoia of the past..
Much of the meticulous research that the author underwent to create this story may seem to be lost in the inevitable film version, but the story and acction move much to fast to be laden with the details of how things came to be so untidy in this Orwellian North American landscape. The characters are pushed about by often-unseen forces.
An enormous under-current in the mainstream thoughts of the world and America have already put enough pieces together to know what we must do, this story exemplifies what we must un-do.
The release of the "Dead By December" manuscripts, while perhaps a dangerous undertaking, will be another imperative step towards uncovering the huge lies of our created enemy, and learning why we c reated this adversary in the first place.
The People are already awakening, racing towards understanding of the world's complex puzzles. Even the disappointing few who pretend to not see, will soon admit they knew all along.
(The anonymous posting is simply a precaution; a reverberation of the old skills acquired during the recent and ongoing dis-unity of the world, soon to be a thing of the past!)


“We choose our sorrows long before we experience them”—Kahlil Gibran

I regained consciousness to the aroma of autumn, the smell of wet leaves carried on the crisp cool breeze that blanketed my face, complemented with a hint of flowery fragrance. I refused to open my eyes, thinking just for a moment that I would find myself in heaven. I inhaled the sharp cold air deeply into my lungs, basking in the subtle warmth of the sun. I heard a voice ask if I was waking up before I noticed the warmth I felt wasn’t the sun but soft hands stroking my head and caressing my face.

“Hey, D, wake up.” It was the most wonderful sound to my ears as I instantly recognized Celeste’s voice. I still refused to open my eyes, afraid I’d open them to the realization that my hallucinations were imaginary. I wanted Celeste to be real to me for as long as possible. She was at this moment so real I could feel the dryness of her lips when she kissed my forehead and cheeks; so real, I could feel the warmth of her tears instantly cool on my face when the soft breeze once again cooled with the smells of impending winter.
“Come on, D. Please wake up.” With my eyes closed, I could almost believe this beautiful redhead loved me. The slight falter in her voice convinced me so. I really didn’t want to wake up, but as my thoughts of reality started to overrule my hopes and fantasy, I couldn’t help but open my eyes and face reality.

There she was; my beautiful Celeste. Still the green-eyed redhead of perfection even though opening my eyes reminded me of her disguise. I was welcomed with the brightest smile I’d ever seen. She pulled herself closer to me, hugging me and kissing me, sincerely happy to see me awake.

“Well, good to see you made it, Daniel,” said another familiar voice, only this time it was the nurse who had helped me in the hospital. “I’ll just leave you two alone.”

“Celeste, how did I….” I wanted answers, but for the moment forgot what to ask, wonderfully distracted by the soft tender kisses with which Celeste bathed me.

“D., please make love to me,” she whispered in my ear as she unbuttoned the shirt I couldn’t remember wearing, “Please.”

Celeste’s body was hot, keeping me warm even in my nudity, even hidden within the barren trees whose foliage was long lost in the early fall storms. Feeling her on top of me, feeling her breasts touch my chest and her erect nipples brushing against my skin resulted in the most delicious combination of sensations. We were openly naked and exposed for all the world to see and we didn’t care. At that moment there were no others. When she took me inside her, the heat from her body emitted a passion incomparable to anything I’d ever experienced. She held me close as she swayed her hips slowly and melodically, building up for her, the most explosive climax she’d ever had. I felt her legs quiver uncontrollably as small glistening droplets of sweat traced the contours of her forehead before I felt her go limp on me. I sat up just enough to wrap my arms around her, pulling her into me tightly before I rolled her onto her back so that my body now laid on hers. I felt her legs wrap around mine as we both became a perfectly tuned song, until we both felt the tension and release of climax. I melted once again into her, both of us sweating, both of us breathing hard, both of us lost in our moment. “I love you, D.” she whispered in my ear. “Don’t ever forget, I love you.”

We remained silent as we dressed, stealing every glance, every small touch we could from each other. She helped me onto my feet, holding me erect as I positioned my crutches under my arms. “You know how to use these right?” she asked me.

“Yes, all too familiar I’m afraid,” trying to steal another smile from her. She stood before me, her arms wrapped around my waist, her eyes staring into mine. She didn’t say anything. Her eyes told me. The happiness we’d just experienced was painfully brief. She knew. I knew. We would never be together. We would never again see each other. I had been chipped and her mission, our agenda, was much bigger than our love affair. So in our final moments together, we cried. We held each other and cried.

“Don’t ever forget I love you, D.” Once again she gazed into my eyes, holding my hands, before backing away from me until our fingers no longer touched. “You’ll want to take that road,” pointing to the north, “it’ll lead you into town.” Then she turned her back to me and started walking away.

“Celeste….I love you, too.” I watched her get into the car with the other nurse. I stood in shock, motionless as I watched the car pull away from me, waiting for her to turn around just one more time. But she didn’t. And before I knew it, she was gone and I was completely alone.

I’d never been in love before. Not to the point of physical pain. The pain I experienced at that moment exceeded anything inflicted on me from the car accident. I ached so deeply inside I couldn’t even pinpoint an exact location. This pain left me feeling lifeless and lost.

It was this good-bye that brought me here, in the morgue of an abandoned hospital, wishing I was one of those bodies crammed into little spaces in the wall. I am no longer part of the agenda and there is nowhere for me to hide. The chip is the size of a pin head and inserted into my blood stream, flowing through me with every heartbeat, making it virtually impossible to detect and remove. My only consolation is hoping, no…knowing Celeste and her team are successful.

As the first snow in November makes its debut today, bathing the remnants of this city in a blanket of white cotton, I reflect back to Celeste’s puzzle. Such a huge task that puzzle would have been, with so many choices. She only showed me two, poppies and flames. Each of us a separate piece interacting and entwining, sometimes perfectly, sometimes not, with the pieces that surround us. I sit here in the dark, documenting my legacy on crumbled pieces of paper that once defined this hospital in which I hide, I can’t help but chuckle at the irony my life has become. I started this journey alone and depressed, until ‘purpose’ paid me a visit in the form of a beautiful redhead. And now, with nowhere to go, I will most likely die alone and depressed. I no longer have my good looks or strong legs, I no longer have a home or a family and most sorrowfully, I no longer have my freedoms. Yet as life would have it, I still have choices, and my battle to make a difference isn’t over, even if my final attacks are in the form of a pen and some paper. There will be someone who finds a way to remove these chips. There will be an enlightenment found in the ashes of burnt cities and dead hate. And from the flames that spread destruction, will be the fertilization that feeds the poppies.


Chapter TWENTY

“Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix.” --Christina Baldwin

“Daniel…Daniel, can you hear me? Daniel.” The woman’s voice was soft, almost song-like in her melodic tone. I welcomed the opportunity to once again open my eyes. “There you are Daniel, I was wondering if you would ever wake up.”

“Huh, what?” I was still feeling incredibly dopey but in no pain. “Where am I?”

“It’s alright, Daniel, you’re feeling groggy from the pain medication. You’re quite the fighter I hear, refusing anything we offered to help.”

It was then that I realized where I was. I was in a hospital, surrounded by the very people we entrusted to help us. Kind faces of men and women who swore to save lives over respecting personal decisions, at any cost.

“What happened?” I asked, trying now to sit up. “I don’t remember.”

“You were in an accident, Daniel. Your right ankle was crushed. We’ve had to reconstruct portions of both your Tibia and Fibula bones as well as replace the Talus.”

“Why does my neck hurt?” noticing the bandages when I reached to show her the location of pain.

“The window shattered into your neck. When they brought you here, there was a huge hunk of glass imbedded in your neck, lacerating your jugular vein. We had to do immediate surgery in order to keep you from bleeding out. You, Mr. Daniel Peckerstan, are a very fortunate man.” She helped me with the pillows on my bed and offered me another for my head after raising the bed to a more comfortable position.

“Was anyone else brought in from that accident?” I was not sure I wanted to hear the reply.

“No, no one else was admitted. Do you know who was with you?”

I wanted to truthfully answer her question, to tell her that my beautiful Celeste was with me, and I almost did. I felt a momentary sense of panic creep up on me at the thought of her injured and alone in her effort to stick with her plans. The plan. The agenda is what changed my mind.

“No, I was hitchhiking and some guy picked me up.”

“So it was another man in the car?” Sounding surprised. “I was under the impression it was a woman who was driving. Do you remember his name? We’ve had a few unknowns come in since your accident with some interesting injuries.”

“No, I’m sorry…I never asked for his name,” wondering how she knew it was a woman. “What made you think it was a woman?”

“Witnesses.” She never bothered to elaborate.

“Well, he had long hair, I think he was in a band or something,” I stated, trying my best to keep Celeste’s identity confidential. I had figured at this point, if she wasn’t here, injured and treated, then she was still in a position to carry out her mission. I resigned completely back into my pillows, feeling a sense of sadness that was unfamiliar to me, feeling the despair of my situation taking hold of me.

“So who’s Celeste then?” catching me completely by surprise.

“Celeste? How do you know that name?” forcing an air of ignorance, hoping the doctor would find me believable.

“Please, Mr. Peckerstan, I’m a doctor because I’m smart,” not hiding her sarcasm in any way.

“She was my girlfriend before the shit hit the fan,” I looked away from her. “I hadn’t thought of her in some time, it just surprised me to hear you speak her name, that’s all.” I tried desperately to keep my answers as vague as possible.

“Fair enough. I’ll have the nurse bring in something for you to eat.” She took another quick glance at my chart before exiting the room. “Oh, there are some soldiers here to speak with you. I’ll send them right in.”

I laid helpless in my bed, absorbed in my thoughts and lost in confusion as to what had happened. I looked to my left and saw an unconscious black man with many tubes entering his body. To my right, I saw an older gentleman, Asian I believe, who looked at me but never spoke a word. He jumped ever so nervously every time the black man twitched or made a noise. I thought about Celeste and what she could be experiencing. Was it hard for her to leave me there, I wondered? Was she injured and uncared for? Had she been caught before she could escape? So many questions with no hope, no sign of answers anywhere in sight. Deep into my worry and fear, I never noticed the two officers enter the room.

“Mr. Peckerstan, we have some questions for you and would appreciate your full cooperation.” The gentleman who spoke stood tall and erect. His dark uniform was decorated with stripes and medals symbolizing different accomplishments in his obviously lengthy military career. He looked to be in his late 40’s, maybe early 50’s, with short salt and pepper hair and clean shaven face. I hated him instantly. The other man, a younger fellow, didn’t share the stern expression that only experience could carve. He stood silent and equally erect by the door.
“I’ll get to the point. We found guns in your vehicle. Where did they come from?” Spoken with a tone of arrogance that told me he already knew the answer.

“I don’t know.” Not bothering to elaborate.

“Your fingerprints are on them.” The soldier never once relaxed his stance or relieved the tone of suspicion in his voice. He stood over me, staring me down, reading every motion my expression and eyes would offer him.

“He was showing them to me. I’d never held a gun before,” meeting his stare with my own expressionless eyes. I made sure to keep my hands on my lap, palms down, fingers lax. I concentrated very hard on my breathing, making sure to keep my breaths consistent.

“HE? Do you have a name for me?” He knew it didn’t matter, that I would’ve fabricated a name if I had to.

“I don’t know. Introductions were never made.”

“So why were you in the vehicle?”


“To where?”

“Wherever there wasn’t a racial battle taking place.”

The soldier then walked to the chair between my bed and the Asian’s, pulled it closer to me and sat down. He leaned back, relaxed and crossed his arms in front of him, remaining silent long enough for the uncomfortable doubt to creep into me, demanding even more of my attention to my breathing and body language. It seemed like an hour before he spoke again, a tactic used in interrogations that I’d learned about a few years ago. He was hoping for a sign or gesture of guilt; hoping his stares and silence would make me feel so uncomfortable I’d slip up. But I didn’t. I sat beside him, equally prepared for his tactics, armed with knowledge and a degree of self-discipline that surprised even myself.

“Do you know this woman?” he asked as he reached into his inside pocket and pulled out a 3x5 photo of Celeste.

I carefully and casually held her photo in my hand, looking it over before answering an adamant “No,” making sure his eyes remained locked on mine when I responded.

“You’re very coy, aren’t you, Mr. Peckerstan? If that is your real name. You’re very careful not to volunteer any information. What intrigues me the most is your lack of curiosity. Is there anything you’d like to ask me?” He tried his best to be discreet in changing his tactics.

“You want information I can’t provide. Not because I’m unwilling, but because I honestly don’t know.”

“Well then, allow me to share with you what I DO know,” looking at me again with such scrutiny, hoping to see any indication of nervousness on my part. “I know this woman was in the car. Her fingerprints were found on the guns along with yours. I know these guns were registered to two soldiers that were killed on I-80. I know that you were not in our system of information, well…” falling back into his seat, “not until now.” I couldn’t help my reaction at this time. What he was telling me was validation of my biggest fear. I had been implanted with the RFID chip.

“You fought my men off quite vigilantly at the scene of the accident. I couldn’t understand why until we brought you hear and tried to recover your medical history. That’s when we discovered you weren’t, shall we say, current on our most advanced technology.” He Smiled in a manner that instantly enraged me. I couldn’t help but breathe deeper and quicker. I was fighting against all hope to keep my self-control.

“I told you,” sounding as nervous as I felt, “HE picked me up about four miles before we got into the city. I don’t recall any soldiers nor do I recall this woman,” I responded, handing back the picture.

“Hmm. You do realize that I can bring in those two soldiers to identify you, right?” He leaned closer to me. All I could do was shake my head.

“I thought you said they were dead?” I tried my best to fight off the feeling of despair and guilt that washed through me like a violent storm.

“The two soldiers that let you into our fine city,” still harboring the sense of superiority he knew he had over me.

“Go ahead.” I looked down with a complete understanding of failure. I had failed Celeste, I had failed myself, and most important, I had failed the cause.

“Well then, you can expect my return in about an hour.” With that said, I watched him rise from his seat and with a simple gesture of his hand, invitedhis partner to join him in leaving my room just as a nurse was entering.

“Mr. Peckerstan, how are you feeling?” she asked, looking around the room, carefully observing the condition of my roommates. She leaned in to adjust my pillow and bed, when she whispered into my ear, “I remember you from the camp. Celeste sent me to help.” She stood back up, “Do you need to use the restroom?”

“Yes, please.” The nurse then opened a closet door and grabbed a crutch before joining me at the side at the bed and helping me up.

“Lean on me, and we’ll get you to the bathroom,” making sure to speak in a tone above normal before whispering, “What can I do to help you?”

“I’m embarrassed to ask but would you help me into the bathroom, I’m still dizzy and...”

“Of course, Mr. Peckerstan.” She allowed me to lean on her until we were inside the private stall, then helped me sit down on the toilet. “Not exactly the throne you’d hope for but at least here we have some privacy.”

“Thank you. So Celeste is ok then?”

“Yes, she’s fine. She knew they’d send you here and commissioned me to help out since I’m already a nurse.”

“Great.” I felt relieved again that my situation wasn’t as dire as I’d thought. “That soldier is coming back with two of his men. Men who can identify Celeste as the driver. Please, can you help me out of here?”

“Well, there’s a guard at your door and that’s the only way out. Let me talk to someone and I’ll get back to you in 15 minutes.”

“Thank you,” We stood there looking at each other, another moment of uncomfortable silence, especially when I realized I really did need to urinate. “Um, I really do have to go.”

“Yes, I know, let’s get you back in bed.”

“No, I mean…I have to pee.” I still couldn’t help but feel slightly embarrassed at my announcement.

“OH, oh my gosh, I’m sorry…ring the alarm if you need me.” And with that said she left me alone.

I stood before the mirror, wondering how bad my neck had taken the hit, if the glass had left some hideous scar. I slowly removed the tape that held the bandages on my wound and gasped when I saw the ugly black stitches that monopolized the entire right side of my neck. At first glance, someone would think I was partially decapitated. Blood still oozed in small droplets from my stitches, resulting in convulsions of my stomach trying to vomit its contents. I had no contents to spew, but it didn’t stop my body trying.

When she returned not five minutes later, I was still in the restroom, wiping the drool that escaped my lips. She didn’t bother knocking; she simply entered the room and told me to take some kind of pill. I remember asking her what it was after I’d already swallowed it, and before I could hear her reply I had the most incredibly intense pain in my chest. A pain that brought me to my knees and restricted my breathing. The last thing I remembered was a numbing ache in my right arm before collapsing to the floor in yet another state of unconsciousness. Such a trusting soul I was.


“When we assumed the soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen.” – George Washington

We were directed to hit some back roads to I-80 West, which then led us directly into the Salt Lake Desert. This long stretch of road offered nothing but flat lands with a few mountains in the distance to distract you from the never ending scenery of shrubs and dirt. I watched Celeste for a moment, reading her lips that created words without sound. I couldn’t help but chuckle; she looked so focused, so intensely wrapped in her thoughts.

“What are you doing?” still chuckling. I must have surprised her. For a moment her eyes looked at me in the same manner as a deer’s caught in oncoming headlights.

“I’m counting,” was the only explanation she volunteered.

“Counting? What, the poles?” I really thought she was joking.

“Yes, the map indicates 123 poles on the right side before we need to stop and look for a white stone the size of a grapefruit.”

“HUH? Ok, now you’ve lost me. I didn’t see anything on the map that says that.”

“Ok, stop here, D,” which I did as instructed. She got out of the car and stood still, looking around the barren scenery that now surrounded us. She walked around the car to my window, opened the door and knelt down before me, showing me the map. “This map was written cryptically. There are instructions here that only a few of us would be able to interpret. Like right here,” now pointing to a section of the map with some numbers separated by spaces. “For example, this first number here, two, tells me that I’m to search in the area to my right. This symbol here,” showing me a small circle with a diamond inside, “tells me I’m looking for a dead tree, like that one,” now pointing to the not-so-obvious remnants of a tree whose trunk was flush with the ground with the center of it hollowed out in the shape of a diamond. “This number here,” pointing to the 77 that followed the symbol, “tells me how many steps I need to take before our next clue.” Celeste had the biggest smile, like a child playing hide-n-seek. She oozed a sense of excitement that I found to be very contagious. “It’s like a treasure hunt!”

“Ok, so we need to take 77 steps, but in which direction?”

“Doesn’t say, but see these letters here?” now pointing to ‘WS’ on the map. “That means we’re looking for a white stone. SO, you go that way,” pointing me in the direction of the sun, which was east, “and I’ll go this way.” She then opened the truck of the car and grabbed two huge roll of twine and a stake. She jammed the stake into the center of the rotten hollowed out tree trunk before tying the ends of each rolls of twine to the stake. “This will help us cover a large area. If not, we start all over.” Before I could begin, she was already moving away from me, counting out loud her footfalls on the dirt unraveling the twine as she went along.

I stared at the ground and counted my own steps leaving the taut trail of twine behind me. Looking around me for any white stones proved to be a challenge in itself, due to the over abundance of small white stones in various sizes that riddled the entire area we searched. I stopped and looked back toward Celeste, who was still consistently making strides away from me. When we both reached our 77th step, Celeste indicated to me in gesture that she was unsuccessful, then began walking toward me in an arc formation, keeping the end of her twine tight. I followed her example, walking toward her, keeping my own line tight.

“I found it!” she yelled not long after we changed directions. She began digging underneath a white stone about the size of a grapefruit resembling Half Dome mountain from Yosemite National Park. What she found underneath 6 inches of hard dead soil was a thin cylinder tube about four inches long. When she unscrewed the cap, out popped another map, apparently hand scribbled. “This map tells us where to go once we get inside the duct system at our station.”

I sat on the hot surface of the desert and laughed. I couldn’t help it. All of this seemed so staged, so movie-like, that in times like this it was hard for me to see the severity of our mission.

“What’s so funny, D?”

“How long had your group been working on this to go through such lengths to keep it covert?”

“Oh, I see. The testing we put you through and now this treasure hunt. I guess it would seem funny without the dark cloud of reality looming over us. Yes, we have been planning this for some time. There are a LOT of us who worked together in secret to make this happen, including some military personnel responsible for the construction of these Stations and ventilation systems, the very ones we will be using to reach our destination. So come on, I’m hungry, tired and in dire need of a shower. We still have about an hour’s drive before we reach our motel.”
I stood up first, grabbed Celeste’s hands and lifted her into my arms. She subtly tried to break free, but I held on tight until she gave in. I leaned in to kiss her, feeling her breath on my lips, watching her eyes slowly close the nearer she came to me, noticing how her lips parted slightly, inviting my own lips to hers.

We were so intensely focused on each other, we never heard the jeep approach us. It wasn’t until we heard the squeal of its brakes that we knew we had company. Celeste lowered her sunglasses back over her eyes before we both turned to see who was now with us. There were two young men adorned in the new and improved uniforms of the military, proudly displaying the Logo of Unity, as they now referred to the symbol. One of them spoke with a strong German accent, barely understandable. He was angry and gestured accordingly, using the back of his rifle to direct us where he wanted.

“What you doing here?” he asked aggressively, “You have weapons?”

Celeste, always the surprise, answered his questions in German. This surprised the man somewhat and he seemed pleased, almost eager to speak to such a beautiful woman in his native tongue. That was until he noticed the cylinder and map in Celeste’s hand. The other soldier had walked around the car, and also took notice of the map that laid in perfect view on the dashboard. There were words shared between the soldiers which resulted in an expression on Celeste’s face that injected fear into me.

They directed us to our car with a shove, allowing only the rocky surface near the tires for us to sit. We watched with a nervousness only impending doom could cause as they searched the rest of our vehicle. Celeste told me that they saw and interpreted the maps.

“They are going to take us in!” she whispered to me, “We can’t let that happen, D. When I act, you need to follow.”

“Stand UP!” the one shouted at us, jerking on Celeste’s arm in the process. Once on our feet they instructed us to turn around with our hands behind our backs, I watched and followed Celeste’s lead, and just before she placed her hands behind her back she swung around and dropped to one knee swinging her other leg in such a manner that it took the soldier in front of her down. I reacted with a backwards head butt into the nose of the other soldier just as he was about to handcuff me, resulting in a spray of blood and enough of a distraction to allow Celeste to take one weapon and fire off three rounds, killing both men.

“Shit, Hurry, D, we’ve got to go now!” She took back the maps from the soldier’s hand and grabbed his other weapons and extra ammo before taking reign of the driver’s seat and racing back the way we came.

“This isn’t where we’re supposed to go,” I reminded her.

“I know; that route is compromised now, we need to find another way.”

“Hold on, how is it compromised? You took care of them. They aren’t going to tell anyone, and by the time they’re discovered we’ll be long gone.”

Celeste took her eyes off the road just long enough to meet mine, “They are chipped. Someone will discover a lack of movement from them and become suspicious. How long do you think that will take considering we are between two military facilities?”

“Point taken. So where to now?”

“I don’t know,” she threw the map in my lap, “find us a destination.”Celeste remained very silent and emotionless during the remainder of our evening’s trip. I directed her to one of the ‘friendly’ motels at which we could stay, promising us both a hot shower, food and rest.

The rest of our journey remained uneventful due to Celeste’s very careful selection of back-roads. The sky was painted in brilliant orange and red splotches which stretched on until it hid behind the distant range of mountains, growing more burnt in nature where the sky met the horizon, and the last of the yellow glow of the sun became barely visible. We saw in the distance the faint lights of a small town, flickering near the ground.

“YES! Food.” It was all I could think about then. As we approached the small town, we immediately noticed the large military occupancy there. Every where we turned we saw tanks and jeeps, with soldiers marching in formation, again reminding me of those old pictures of WWII, Germany, in school history books.

“Martial Law,” Celeste spoke with a sense of melancholy in her voice.

“Nationally enforced?” I wondered, “so soon?”

“I don’t think so.” She spoke softly, “With those two military bases in this area, they probably don’t want the surrounding towns to escalate beyond their peaceful control.” She threw the guns and ammo under the seat, before telling me to find a way to hide both maps in the cylinder we’d found earlier. “We’re going in there.”

“What? Are you serious?” feeling incredibly nervous at her bold decision. “Do you think they know about those soldiers yet?”

“I don’t know, most likely they do, but unless there were hidden cameras on that jeep, I can’t see how they’d know it was us, not this soon.” I handed her the cylinder with the two maps in it before she pulled the car over. She walked over to the trees that momentarily hid her from my view still holding the cylinder in her hand. When she returned the cylinder was gone.

“What did you do? Bury it again?”

Celeste smiled at me, before acknowledging my question with a quick, “Sort of.”

I sat silent and motionless, lost in my thoughts as we approached the town. We were stopped, as expected, at the entrance to the town, next to the sign that said ‘WELCOME, Population 322’. There were two more military men standing on each side of the barricade they half-heartedly erected, blocking entrance from either direction to town. The man that approached us looked less adversarial than our previous encounter, while the other man stood still with his rifle aimed in our direction. He tapped on the driver’s side window, then motioned with his fingers to roll it down. Celeste accommodated his request before asking if their was a problem.

“Well, ma’am,” speaking with an American accent, “two of our guys were attacked earlier on I-80. We have to search all vehicles coming into town.”

“Oh,” Celeste responded with a tone that indicated to me that she had put on her mask of ignorance, “are they dead?”

“Yes, ma’am, they are. Now would you and your passenger please exit the car and stand over here by the tree.” He watched me first exit the car before asking Celeste how we knew each other.

Celeste looked at me with a smile before winking, then got out of the car, intentionally dropping the keys on the ground. She bent over to pick them up, purposely aiming her beautiful buttocks at the soldier before her and answering his question from this position, “I picked him up in Nevada for company.” Looking behind her to validate his unblinking gaze, she said, “Like what you see, soldier?” I watched in silence from the tree as Celeste slowly stood up and leaned against the car door, shutting it with her buttocks before rubbing the tips of her fingers along her neck and down her cleavage line, carefully unbuttoning her blouse, never once looking away. “I get lonely traveling and I look for companionship wherever I can find it. Is that wrong?”

“Well, now,” the soldier responded as he leaned closer to her, forgetting just for a moment he was supposed to search the car. Celeste distracted him even further by lightly stroking the young man’s arm, running her finger softly along the barrel of his rifle, sticking her finger in the open end, subtly implying the sexual innuendo, making sure to keep his eyes locked within her own. “You’re not hiding anything in your car, are you?”

“Me? Oh no.” Celeste again opened the car door, bending over to unlock the back door and open it, giving the soldier another glance at her perfectly rounded ass, then she stood up and gestured the soldier to have a peek, which he half-heartedly did, seeing nothing unusual, confident we were no threat before focusing again on Celeste’s enticing form.

I walked over to the other soldier, acting as stupid as possible, intentionally tripping over an invisible rock, hoping against all odds that Celeste wouldn’t have to ‘perform’ for this soldier like she had done in the past. “Um, scuse me, sir?” I asked with the biggest hillbilly accent I could muster, “Don’t know much bout what’s goin on, we at war or somethin?” Then I scratched my groin area before pulling out the non-existent wedgy from my ass.

“Sir, you’ll need to go back to the car,” he said, appearing disgusted, even turning away when I started picking my nose.

“Well, I don’t know if that other man thar wants me to, he’s lookin kinda busy with that girl thar.” Making sure he noticed her along with me, I said, “She shar is perdy, ain’t she? She’s my ride here.”

“Sir,” he was getting quite angered, “please return to the car.”

“But look man, she’s fixin on gittin busy with your pal and,” looking at him again. “Why ain’t you over thar gittin you some of that too?”

The soldier looked in Celeste’s direction, watching Celeste bring the man in for a deep passionate kiss. “Well GO ON now, go get you some!” I told him.

“DALE!” the soldier yelled, “Come on man!” noticing his partner was ignoring him.

“Well, I don’t know bout you, but I’m a goin to go git me some!” then I walked away, again tripping over the same invisible stone before I heard the soldier cuss, “DALE, God Damnit!”

“Your friend is getting mad.” Celeste followed with another kiss, seeming very convincing of her part, that was until one word was finally spoken from his cohort that resulted in instant detachment from Celeste. All three of us looked at the soldier by the gate when he yelled out, “Rosemary!”

“Shit!” he responded, pacing if only for a moment in small steps around Celeste, “Ok, just go, Jimmy, let them through!” followed by one final expletive.

Celeste continued her role, sighing loudly and pouting subtly, “well I guess I’m stuck with him now,” pointing in my direction. I responded with a very loud, “YEEE haw! Well come on now!”
Celeste drove slowly beyond the make-shift gate, making sure to be out of hearing distance before we both finally exhaled loudly. I looked in the side mirror back at the soldiers just in time to see Celeste’s target get slapped in the back of the head by his counterpart. I couldn’t help but chuckle at that sight. Even now, it’s a memory I treasure. “So, I’m thinking Rosemary is the wife!”

In town, we encountered only stillness. There were no more road blocks or suspicious soldiers eager to question us. It was black and still as if the end of the world had happened, and we were the last two civilians alive. The street lamps were off and all the local pubs and eateries were closed, some permanently as indicated by the boarded-up windows. We were relieved to see homes with lights and TV’s on. The only lights working were the stop lights, controlling traffic that existed only in the local’s memory. Our light was red, and while waiting for the change, we noticed a two level home on the corner with a small boy leaning out the window. He had in his hand a pellet gun. Celeste and I both watched in delight as he randomly began shooting little hard stones at the nearest stop sign to him. Celeste continued watching the boy with a smile on her face; I watched Celeste with the same smile.

“Do you have any kids?” I finally asked her. She turned to me without a response and held my gaze in hers with a look that made me feel foolish for asking, “of course you don’t; stupid question.”

“Now why would you think that?” She asked sympathetically.

“Well, I wouldn’t think your occupation would have room for a pregnancy or a child to raise.”

“You are correct.” She responded without elaboration, before she turned to look back at the young boy in the window.

“Well, I don’t have any either. At least none that I know about.” This got her attention, rewarding me with a suspiciously friendly sparkle in her eyes.

“Yeah, whatever, D!” noticing the light had finally turned green. I turned one last time to see the boy in the window stand up and point as if he’d just seen a ghost. I looked in the direction he pointed and saw the bright lights that flooded momentarily the entire car before I felt the shockwave of impact throw me into Celeste; then all was black.

I woke up for a moment to see only my thighs, with the rest of my legs buried and immobile beneath the crushed steel. I tried to turn my head to see Celeste, but couldn’t move. Every time I tried, the most intense pain would shoot through my neck and down my right arm. I called out Celeste’s name, forgetting the potential impact my doing so could cause. I hoped against impossible odds that she had escaped injury. There was no response. My first thoughts were that she was unconscious until I felt myself fall victim to my own encompassing darkness. When I woke again, there were people around me and a commotion taking place outside. I remembered feeling groggy like I’d been drugged, lapsing in and out of consciousness, remembering only bits and pieces of the activity around me. I vaguely remembered the medics that finally freed my legs from their steel prison, like the little boy in the window who stood over me, talking about what he saw, before I blacked out again. Every time I regained some level of consciousness, I felt I was functioning in slow motion. The conversations around me sounded distorted and deep as if my mind was unable to keep up with my other senses.

When I came to once again, I was able to move my head with less effort and slightly less pain. Again I asked for Celeste, without any response from those immediately around me. I tried to sit up and look for her but the medic caring for me pushed me back down, telling me to relax and not move. Another started asking me a million questions once they realized I was somewhat coherent. They asked me my name, where I was from, and if I felt pain anywhere else.

“Who’s Celeste?” one asked, “Who else was in the vehicle with you?”

“Look here!” a soldier hollered, waving another soldier to the crunched up pile of glass and steel that used to be a car. “They have guns!”

“What are you doing with guns?” another soldier asked. “Where’s the other driver?”

“Huh?” was all I could reciprocate before once again falling victim to the pain in my right leg when they lifted me onto the stretcher. It was as if someone had inserted a burning hot steel rod into the heel of my foot and forced it up the inside of my leg. It was so intense it stole my breath and voice; I couldn’t even cry out in my agony, resulting once again in a total lack of consciousness.

I regained my awareness again just as they were preparing a syringe. This was when I became completely coherent and became overwhelmed with a sense of panic I’d so desperately tried to contain. “No, no I don’t need that.” Trying my best to fight them off, still feeling as if my movements were not my own.

“Sir, this is necessary. You are severely injured and this will alleviate the pain.”

“NO!” lashing out at the very man trying to help, knocking the syringe from his hand. “NO, give me a pill then, NO injections, NO!” trying my best to maneuver away from the needle. However, every time I moved even the slightest, the pain that traveled up my leg and the stabbing sensation in my neck produced agonizing outbursts followed by an unstoppable rush of tears.

“Strap him in, he’s going into shock!”

The two soldiers in the ambulance with me restrained my arms and strapped me in the stretcher with handcuffs wrapped around my wrists. I remember crying out in anger, lashing out at the obstruction of my personal freedom of choice. I fought now with only my voice, struggling within my confines until I felt the sharp prick of the needle enter my arm, until I felt the slightly cool liquid entering my veins. I once again succumbed to the total euphoria of unconsciousness, only this time not as a result of pain and shock, but the medication they injected into me.


"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose" -- Jim Elliot

Celeste was now national news and as a result, our assignment had changed. CM Station 1 in Alaska was originally assigned to Celeste. She was the best and most trusted to deliver and detonate the device that sat on the table before us. Albert said the risk was too high to take now that Celeste was made, and switched us with Nate’s team to V Station 3, located near the Grand Canyon. This sight was more challenging due to the vast open spaces we needed to travel just to get there. Albert handed us our map, which Celeste and I looked at together. The highlighted route takes us through the Great Salt Lake Desert and down to Mt. Trumbull, where we would find another map outlining the stations air duct system. From there we travel south toward the Canyon where just before the visitor center, about two miles, we’d find a small road traveling back to where we’d locate our marker. Again, the space is open and unprotected, so our efforts would have to be swift and most likely at night.

Albert handed us the keys to a little 1988 Mazda 626 he said was parked two blocks down in a church parking lot. The envelope he handed us with the keys had registration papers under Celeste’s new name, Annabell Stevens, as well as the names of two ‘rebel friendly’ motels. As a special bonus, included was a small mom and pop diner with, and I quote, “The best Salisbury Steak in the country.”

The race war was not as bad as it could get yet and most of the smaller towns still remained unaffected. However, the endless barrage of news reports couldn’t say the same for the bigger cities. Before we all left, Albert had suggested we sit for an hour and watch what’s being reported. He turned on his T.V. and sat in silence with the rest of us. At this time, what was reported was the complete destruction of our smaller cities, cities like Dayton, Ohio, that became the new home to African American enthusiasts hell bent on retaliations against the White Supremacists that successfully burned down the entire East side with pipe bombs and flaming arrows. Chicago was hit hard due to much of the city being occupied with Muslim and Arab citizens. The fatalities being reported there were staggering. The same suicide bombings we’d heard about in the early years in Iraq had progressed to a few a day in our own major cities. They took out the Sears tower, but not before the violence had left the building mostly abandoned.

Businesses both large and small had taken such huge hits with these attacks that people progressed from hate to panic. Many started attacking others for food and supplies, changing the atmosphere of this country to something completely unexpected. I thought back to my days on GLP and how many of our conversations revolved around “safe haven’s” should an event like this occur. Places we had prepared in advance, stocked with food, water, guns and whatever other provisions would be needed to survive independently from society. Most of our reasoning revolved around some form of natural disaster or terrorist attack; something that would instantly effect the entire country. None of us were prepared for an event that would start small, hitting isolated places first, then graduating to the extent that it had.

Up until this point I had remained relatively open minded, and panic never motivated my actions. We all gasped when the announcement was made. They had closed all borders to this country, allowing only foreign visitors to leave, and for one week only, Americans to return. We were now prisoners in a country that was founded on its freedoms.

“This is insane!” commented the young scar-faced man.

“How could this have happened? Why didn’t any of us see this coming?” asked the same woman who didn’t know what an E-Bomb was.

Albert stood up and solemnly faced his audience. “Do you remember in the early years, when it was being reported that famous people were publicly expressing their racism in rants? Do you remember how the news played these events up, exposing this hate to the whole world, exposing them to the whole world as disappointments…yet replaying over and over again the rants in full, unedited detail? This was intentional. First it was directed at the Muslims when 9/11 happened, TV stations showing celebrations and support by these people for the attacks. Then the attention diverted to the Jews, with many of our public figures expressing contempt for these people, even going as far as to repudiate the Holocaust. It wasn’t long before another public figure brought the African Americans into it. These events were the seeds, the idea of hate being planted into the impressionable minds of millions of people. Once the seed is planted, once small events serve as reminders to this growth inside us, the trigger needed to start a war doesn’t need to be some grand event like another 9/11. It just needed to be an event or series of events that target what’s already growing within all of us. As much as I hate the idea of segregation, the idea of separatism has some degree of validity to it; but this country, the USA, has successfully been able to adapt to the vastly different cultures and personalities that share this great land. We had, until now, found a way to live together with only minor incidents. But now, with the stereotyping we’ve been conditioned to accept; with the hate we’ve been forced to feed and with a need to defend ourselves, we are now very much a part of this Race war.” Albert had a sadness to him that we all saw. He looked tired, as if maybe he’d already surrendered to the agenda and was simply going through the motions to appease the rest of us.

The media then began explaining the black out of the internet as an important tool in the efforts to diffuse this volatile situation, stressing how the spread of hate, protected by the 1st amendment, had resulted in these attacks. They blamed the liberal attitudes of the “politically correct” crowd for what was happening now; stressing the need to set very specific ground rules for what’s acceptable and what’s not. The media played sides and we all commented on the hypocrisy expressed. Station after station encouraged interviews with eccentric individuals hell bent on proving they were right. Racists on all levels demanded the need to segregate the blacks and whites, the Hispanics and the Middle Easterners, laying emphasis on a need to “send them back”. What was most shocking was the unprecedented support many of these individuals received. It was argued how great men like Martin Luther King Jr. had made strides in equality for blacks only to have the blacks push for separate schools, separate TV programming, and even forcing a recognition of their own version of the English Language, which was countered by mentioning all the situations where the blacks were stereotyped in schools, TV, and employment, forcing them to unite and establish separate institutes to feel equal. More and more, up to this point, the media played sides, favoring one side above another, encouraging even further that subconscious manipulation of its viewers. It was the exact vicious cycle outlined in the packet we’d all received at that meeting. And humans, like any other creature of habit and instinct, fell prey to these manipulations as predicted.

What was most frightening was seeing how many people were so scared for their own safety that many started encouraging the use of the RFID chip. Many started believing the media, that this chip was the answer, the solution to all the violence around them, that this chip would create the long desired equality among ALL humans. Commercials were even broadcast for these chips, sponsored by Valordian Pharmecuticals, a new company to the public, yet very old in history, whose name had undergone many changes until now.

Every station on the TV discussed the riots and destruction taking place, followed by a commercial advertising the ValorChip, with uncomfortable regularity. Each of these commercials displayed families with children young and old, smiling, playing and enjoying their new-found freedom from such stresses as children being kidnapped or becoming victims of a hate crime. They mentioned the convenience of having your medical records available to any physician at any given time, emphasizing the elimination of misdiagnosis or toxic prescription combinations. Everyone would be on the “same page” when dealing with the health of your family. This advertisement was then followed by more news reports of racial violence. Like a broken record, every station was the same.

I turned to Celeste and held her hand. “You are right,” I said to her, “this chip is the biggest threat to our freedom and nothing is worth getting chipped. I don’t know if this whole ‘dig a hole and find the hatch” plan will work, but if it’s the only one we have right now, then we will find a way.”

Celeste leaned in and gave me the sweetest kiss on the lips, once again melting me into a man completely at her mercy. “Then maybe we should get going,” she whispered.

“Celeste, be warned, where you are going is occupied heavily by the military. As you know, Hill Air Force Base as well as the Wendover Gunnery Range are located there. I would almost guarantee military activity there, so please PLEASE be careful.” Albert stressed.


"No reserves. No retreats. No regrets" -- William Borden

We backtracked between trees and fallen branches until we found the small road, then turned toward our next destination.

“First thing I need to do is color my hair. If I’m marked then this hair will give me away.” Celeste had driven about two hours to a small town not yet affected by the violence around it. She pulled up to a small drug store, gave me money and told me to get her some dark hair dye.

“Yea! And I know about hair dyes!” rolling my eyes as I exited the still running truck. When I walked into the store, I noticed immediately only two people, both were standing behind the cash register, staring at the T.V. not taking any notice of me. I stopped to see what was on and wasn’t surprised to see reports of more attacks. The police had just opened fire on some Militia camp in Montana that rebelled against their duties. Apparently these men and women joined the Militia knowing without doubt the guns they kept would be used to fight the very entity allowing for their ownership. These people were chipped so their preparations weren’t undercover; they were always tracked, watched and rated. They faked their devotion to the militia, attended all the meetings, kept up with current events and government decisions, and remained outwardly adamant about their support to the government, all the while making secret preparations to the contrary. This confrontation resulted in 62 deaths, most of them being the police. Reports were blaring about the need for military to step in, flashing images of newly uniformed soldiers all proudly displaying their loyalty, traveling down city streets in truckloads.

“OH SHIT! Did you see that???” one of the girls started yelling, “Did you see that, Steph?”
I stood there staring at the T.V. with my own mouth gaping. I quickly turned and paced aisle after aisle looking for the hair dye. I threw the money on the counter and without waiting for change, rushed back to the idling truck.

“Damn, D, what took you so long?” Celeste asked without even looking at me.

“In the store, they had the T.V. on, reporting about a militia camp that was attacked by police. Right when they were reporting the number of fatalities, the cameraman shot a video of four soldiers who turned their weapons on other soldiers, gunning a bunch of their comrades in one ten second burst of bullets!”

“Well, that can be expected I suppose. I don’t see your excitement in this.”

“It means there are more advocates to OUR cause than we realized! People on the inside, Soldiers! These people can help!”

“How, Daniel, how can they help now? The war is already happening, it doesn’t matter who kills who for what now, don’t you see that?”

“It means that if we can make copies of these documents and start leaving them everywhere we go, on the ground, counters, near registers, it doesn’t matter; then more people will understand. This is the only way to spread the message, Celeste. Isn’t that the reason we were all dragged into this?”

She got silent, regaining her full focus and attention back to the road in front of her. “D, all we have is the map of those stations. Besides there’s still the mission for which you’ve been specifically chosen that hopefully hasn’t been cancelled.”

“Now is a great time to tell me what this mission is.”

“I will tell you when we get to our destination. It all depends on whether or not our other contacts have made it.”

“How far is this place? Can you tell me where it is?” I noticed the sun had disappeared behind low lying clouds in the Eastern sky. Celeste didn’t answer. She just smiled, then grabbed my hand, holding it for another 15 minutes before pulling into the parking lot of a motel. Now, I’ve never been uncomfortable traveling to unknown destinations, but this motel filled me with strong apprehension. It looked very much like the one from Psycho, run down and isolated even though it sat along the highway we traveled, showing no signs of having any other guests visiting. The doors were chipped and dented and there was tape on some of the windows to hide the cracks. The driveway and parking lot hadn’t been paved in quite some time, made obvious by the deep pot holes we tried to avoid.

Celeste pulled up to the main office and waited for me to check us in. When I walked in I was relieved to see a girl instead of Norman Bates sitting behind the counter, feet up on a stool, reading a magazine. There was a TV in her little office and I found myself a bit relieved to see it wasn’t on. People on edge tend to be quick to judge or question those around them.

“Hello!” she spoke enthusiastically. She was young, maybe 13, adorned with a lot of make-up and jewelry. She wore a denim mini skirt and a pink T-shirt and no bra, even though she had started to mature. When she stood to greet me I noticed a small 9mm on the desk behind her that was exposed when she stood up.

“I need a room please,” watching her movements very carefully now that I saw her weapon. "Got a license for that?” pointing to the gun, knowing she was too young.

“Oh that? No, that’s my dad’s. He left it for me just in case, you know.” She took a pen and registration form out of the drawer behind the counter.

“Your dad, where is he now?” wondering which side he was on.

“Oh, he was called to duty, you know, when all these attacks started happening.” Focusing her attention now to the questionnaire on the form, “Name?”

“I was wondering, if I paid you extra in cash, can we forego the paperwork?” Staying in a motel owned by Militia members was not my first choice, but Celeste was desperate to change her appearance. I took out the wad of cash, deliberately flashing it within her sight.

“It’s $35.00 for the room and $200 for me to forget you were here, and you have until 6am to be out.” Sounding much older than she appeared, she no longer smiled but matched the intensity of my gaze, looking me over as perfectly as an Eagle to its prey. Without breaking our visual understanding, I handed her the cash she requested. She in turn handed me a key. “I got you around back, the last room on the right. No one will see you there.” She spoke in such a manner that suggests she had done this before.

“Thanks,” trying to offer my most sincere smile. “Oh, and be careful with that thing!” nodding toward the gun. I could feel her stare even as I turned my back to her and walked out the glass door.

“That was quick.” Celeste still had both hands on the steering wheel, looking around nervously. “So where to, D.?”

The room we were given looked as if it hadn’t been cleaned in months. There were cobwebs in most corners and the smell of mildew and mold was very pungent. There was one bed with a very discolored comforter, host to two stained pillows, one t.v. with Rabbit ear antennas, a nightstand that offered no bible, a phone which didn’t work and a lamp. Celeste investigated the bathroom after tossing our guns on the bed.

“Ugh!!” I heard her yell, “this is disgusting!” The grout between the tile in the bathtub was black with mold, as well as the floor where the tub sat. There were dark brown stains in the sink and a grayish slimy-looking ring in the toilet complemented by the urine stains on the seat. When I moved the shower curtain to the side, three roaches responded by scrambling back down the open hole of the tub’s drain. I turned on the shower to run water through the pipes, hoping to flush out the roaches. The faucet handles were stuck and required some slight pounding to get them to turn followed by the moans of pipes that hadn’t been used in quite some time. The water came out in sputters, spitting brown droplets until the pressure had built enough to offer a consistent flow.

“Let this run a while, the brown should go away,” I said, Turning on the sink faucet as well. “Geez, 235 bucks and they don’t even give you towels!” looking around for a place to wipe my hands.

“You paid what???” Celeste looked at me with her endearing smile that let me know she wasn’t angry, just surprised.

“Yeah, that girl worked me over pretty good!” sharing her light hearted reaction. “You know she had a gun?”

“Really? Where did a kid get a gun?”

“Her dad is Militia.”

Celeste got serious again, “Militia. That changes things a bit. The sooner I get my hair done the sooner we can leave.” With that said, she pushed me out of the bathroom, grabbed her box of hair dye and closed the door.

I walked to the TV so see what stations came through. 3 of the 4 channels it offered were unreceptive, entertaining me with the common black and white specks of nothing scrambling the screen. Seeing this always made me think of that feeling you get when your leg falls asleep, the pins and needles part. The channel that did come through showed more images of the riots and attacks taking place, still contained in larger cities and known rebel camps. Small towns like the few we went through, as far as we knew, remained unaffected. I froze in disbelief when the news switched to a piece on our deceased Vice President, talking about the circumstances around his assassination while displaying a large picture of Celeste on the screen. They labeled her as an assassin who was armed and dangerous. Her image had now graduated from private emails to widely televised broadcasts! They explained her position as a top secret advisor to the white house, who was recently discovered to be associated with one of the most threatening terrorists groups in the United States, the same group that funded and planned the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. They labeled her as the mastermind to that attack as well as other miscellaneous events that were thwarted by our finest in military support. The picture was a close-up shot of her face, which was made unforgettable to anyone due to her spectacular green eyes.

“Celeste!” I yelled, “We’re going to need some color contacts for you!”

She came out of the bathroom, asking me for a pillowcase to wrap her now wet black hair in. “What did you say?”

“Celeste, look.” I pointed toward the screen, now plastered with her face. “We need to get you some colored contacts.”

“Holy shit! What are they saying about me?”

“They said you were a WH big wig who secretly worked for the terrorists that blew up the government building in Oklahoma. Hell, Celeste, they said you were the mastermind for that attack, and worse, they are saying you killed the Vice President!”

“Shit! That girl you paid off, she didn’t see me, did she?”

“I watched her closely and never saw her look in your direction. She didn’t have her TV on either.”

“Ok then. I’m almost done,” not sounding completely convinced she was anonymous. I wanted to turn off the TV, wanted to block out whatever else they were accusing Celeste of, but I couldn’t. Just like when 9/11 happened, I was glued to the screen, to the news being reported, to the images flashing in hypnotic regularity. Another startling announcement was made. Due to the quickly spreading violence and for the protection of people and cities not yet affected, the internet would be temporarily shut down as well as cellular communications. They’ve now authorized a complete black out. It was explained that by cutting off communications, the attackers would be more vulnerable. They would have to meet personally, stressing again the necessity of the chip. This report was followed by a commercial announcing the locations where people could be chipped for free. The next news report was that myriads of people at various medical facilities around the country were standing in line to be chipped, convinced it was for their own protection. Just like the HPR1 vaccinations, people had lined up in their cars and on foot, just to get injected with something they believed would keep them safe. This massive influx of volunteers indicated another very detrimental fact; those Network Stations were now fully operational.

Celeste looked different. She still had on the tattered dirty skirt and blouse from the morning before and still wore her high heel sandals, only without the heels, which we had broken off back in the cave after the chaos had found us. Yet the black hair she now had exaggerated the dark circles underneath her eyes, dulling the amazing effect their color had on anyone looking into them. Amplified even more was the pale complexion of her skin, giving her an almost sickly look. She let me drive while she slept, exhausted from all the disappointments these last couple days had brought her. She was still so beautiful to me, even in her dirty torn clothes and mane as dark as the sky outside. We left the motel room as inconspicuously as we had arrived, making sure to leave no evidence of our visit, even smoothing out the wrinkles in a bed in which we never slept. The news I’d heard had me more awake than I’d ever felt. My mind buzzed like a hornet’s nest with all this new information, desperately trying to put these pieces together so I could see what image these series of events would form. Celeste’s soft subtle sounds of snoring were comforting to me simply because it was Celeste. I felt so grateful to be in her company, to know that I wasn’t in this alone, even though being with her now had higher risks.

I rolled down the window of the truck, breathing in deeply the crisp night air that predicted an early winter even though it was early September. The sky was painted a shiny acrylic ebony with an amazing display of stars and a full moon to illuminate the road just enough to fully appreciate the vista around me. These long straight country roads always offered the most serene traveling. No other headlights shone for miles in either direction. The cool breeze that gently stroked my skin instilled in me a new zest for life. Invigorating hope resulted in a desire to show Celeste how important she was to me.

I stopped the truck on the side of the road where a creek met a small lake surrounded by these small bright orange and red flowers; poppies. Excited at this discovery, I quietly and quickly jumped from the truck and picked a handful of these flowers, laying them softly on her lap and placing one of them in her hair, to let her know that she will always be that beautiful red-head to me. When she finally woke, the sun was once again making its appearance in the eastern horizon.

“What’s all this?” She asked, smiling widely at the flowers that surrounded her. “Poppies!” She looked at me and tears filled her eyes, making them shine even more brilliantly than before, reflecting back at me my own smile. “Thank you so much. I love poppies.” She moved herself closer to me and offered me the softest kiss on my cheek, just as we were pulling into the outskirts of a small city.

The sign announcing the city said we had another twelve miles to go, but the numerous pillars of black smoke in the distance had me feeling very leery. I stopped the truck, got out to stretch my legs, and stared in disbelief at what I saw.

“It’s to be expected, D. We’re at war now, remember?” She wrapped her arms around my waist and kissed the back of my neck.

“Is that where we need to go?” desperately hoping her answer would be ‘no’.

“Yes.” She paused a long time before explaining, “There’s an old abandoned green house just on the other side of the city that we need to get to.”

I stood for a long while, staring at the burning city ahead, once again feeling lost in circumstances that were beyond my control. “You know, Celeste, it’s already started…there’s not a whole lot we can do now. Why don’t we just go somewhere else, do something else?”

“Like what D? Where are we going to go that this won’t touch us? How are we going to survive as free Americans when we don’t even have American soldiers policing our nation?”


“Who do you think these soldiers are when all of our guys are overseas?”

“You’ve lost me Celeste, and you’re scaring me.”

“Yes, this is another piece of the puzzle you’ve been missing. Part of the ‘plan’ was a trade. Our troops would police other nations, and other nation’s troops are here to do the same. This prevents the likelihood of rebellion within the forces. Foreign troops won’t turn on our government and would have less of a problem killing our citizens. Our American troops, would you say the same of them?”

“So those men back there, those uniforms, they weren’t American? Who are they then?” I felt despair creep up on me from behind, ready to sucker punch the life right out of me.

“I’m not sure, but I do recall overhearing a conversation about German troops on more than one occasion.”

“How incredibly ironic.” Now feeling despair grip my chest like indigestion.

“D, there is nowhere to go. Over there,” pointing towards the burning city, “there is still a small degree of hope. Hope that we can still get OUR message across. Hope that our example will encourage others to take a stand.”

“Will you share with me the plan now?” I looked deep into her eyes, hoping she’d enlighten me, giving me some hope as well.

“Not just yet. Soon, D, I promise. Come on.” She took the driver’s seat once again, forcing me to ride as a passenger. “You better load the guns, all of them, and put those extra clips in your pockets or anywhere else you can carry them.”

The closer we got to city limits, the more edgy I felt. My palms were sweating all over the rifle I held tightly, finger on the trigger, ready to shoot anything that came our way. Celeste noticed the white knuckles on my hands and smiled, patting my knee before she too, reached for her .45 and laid the loaded gun on her lap.

The city was by no means abandoned as we had hoped. Riots were still taking place, but not on every street as the damage would indicate. It had been condensed to small patches of mobbing, mostly destroying what was left of the city still intact. Celeste made the decision to drive straight through the middle of the city, confident it would be the safest route. That was until we were fired upon, shattering the passenger side window into my lap and face. Celeste stepped on the gas, picking up the pace just as another shot was fired, this time shattering the rear window and cracking to a blinding degree the front window. It was at this point, I felt my despair turn to rage. I aimed the 12 gauge out the space that used to be the rear window and fired on the first moving target I saw. The explosion inside the cab was deafening, forcing me to squint in pain. I did, however, notice I had hit my target. He stumbled out from behind the door that had concealed him, struggling to lift and fire his AK-47 at us one last time, but fell dead before he had a chance. The gunfire drew the attention of a small mob that was directly in front of us, now distracted from their destructive efforts. Most of them had bats or pipes in their hands; some had guns and started firing at us.

“We can’t take them all…HOLD ON,” Celeste yelled at me. I aimed my rifle at the crowd now quickly running toward us and fired off the second shot, knocking two of them down. I didn’t have time to reload, so I took Celeste’s gun from her lap and just started shooting random victims as Celeste sped toward them. She ran three of them over while the others tried desperately to immobilize our vehicle with their bats and pipes, missing us every time a shot was fired. I looked over my right shoulder just as we were departing our attackers, and noticed a little girl, maybe three or four years old. She sat against a blood splattered wall with the body of a woman next to her. She had her arms wrapped around her knees and just stared at us with eyes as lifeless as the body beside her when we drove by. She was in shock and we were in no position to help.

With the majority of its citizens evacuated, the streets were relatively easy to cross. The truck was four wheel drive with big mud slinging tires that could travel over just about anything undamaged by the shards of glass and broken pipes and sheet metal that had been ripped from other vehicles and places of business. Before long we were on the other side of a city that no longer mattered. Celeste slowed down again, instructing me to reload the weapons while I could. That experience left us both speechless. The poetic irony was all around us, beautiful poppies now buried underneath broken glass.

She drove another twenty minutes before we turned a corner and saw the abandoned green house. The same one I was arrested in less than two weeks earlier.

“You’re not going to leave me here again, are you?” acknowledging to her that I recognized this place. “No wonder I felt like we were going in circles.” I was still trying to find humor in our grave situation.

“Everything happens for a reason and it all comes full circle.” She grabbed both .45 pistols then led the way back into the house, both of us fully-armed and ready to shoot. She walked up to the wall that had the recognizable blood splattering on it and started hitting a section of the wall until she found a support beam, then started hitting the beam downward until she found what she was looking for. There was a click before the sound of a latch being released was heard. She then walked around the corner toward what used to be a closet, lifted the carpeting and exposed yet another trap door.

“You people just love your trap doors, don’t you?” This was responded to with yet another recognizable look of annoyance, but this time I reacted with an even bigger smile. This trap door didn’t offer stairs. We had to dangle and fall to the space below. Once down in the unknown basement, we were instantly greeted with the cold circular ends of rifles to our temples.

“Who the hell are you?” echoed a familiar voice in the darkness..

“Albert, it’s me, Celeste.” Still holding up her hands in a submissive manner, until the rifle was completely out of aim. “You remember Daniel?”

Albert shined a flashlight at Celeste before he finally recognized the Brunette standing before him. “Celeste! I am so very happy to see you!” Offering her a huge embrace and leaving me still at the mercy of the rifle end. “It’s ok, Nate,.” instructing him to “at ease.”

“Nate COCKster, love the name!” I noticed my sarcasm was unappreciated as he returned the gun to my head and asked Albert if he had permission to shoot.

We followed Albert into another room locked by a very high tech retina sensor, followed by the familiar beam of light that bathed us in a red glow just for a moment when we walked through the doorway. Seated sporadically within this room were about sixteen men and women. Some looked familiar, others not. They sat silently as Albert introduced us all.

“I wanted to wait as long as possible for you to make it her, Celeste, but I was getting worried.”

“Well, we’re here now. Heston is dead, you know.”

“No, I had no idea. I’m sorry, Celeste, he was a good man.” There was a moment of silence as we all showed our respect for Heston, as short as our silence was.

“Please, Daniel, Celeste, take a seat.” I again watched Albert walk to his desk with that twist in his foot, shaking my head, laughing to myself once again at the irony of where I found myself.
“Ladies and gentlemen. Our plan has changed a bit due to recent events. There was a leak in the White House to our plans and as a result, it forced them to act ahead of their carefully thought out schedule. As much as this has set us back to some degree, it can also help. It has instilled in all of us the urgency to succeed. Our mission, our plan, was originally to distract the authorities with aggressive propaganda efforts. Taking the information you all received at that meeting and spreading it widely, using whatever avenues you could to get the word out. We wanted to expose on a large scale the documents that justify the actions the government has taken against us, exposing their ulterior motives. I am happy to inform you here that the fatalities experienced at the camp the other day were far less than we had expected. Many of you escaped with your packets; many of you have already started your personal campaigns to spread the truth.

We know about the black out. This doesn’t effect us or the mission of which you are all now an important part. I feel very confident of those who escaped. Very confident they will all, each and every one of them, spread this message widely despite these technological set-backs.
Now, let’s get to the mission at hand.”

“FINALLY!” I couldn’t help myself. I was actually very excited to finally learn my purpose in all this. My reaction though was met with a sharp stinging slap to my knee, followed by a very audible “shhhhhh” from Celeste.

“Daniel, your enthusiasm is very welcomed. It’s that kind of attitude that fills me with confidence. We will succeed. Whether we succeed to such a degree we change the future remains to be seen. It will take the cooperation of everyone involved. Our mission is to buy time for our people to spread the word.” Albert walked over to a small casket looking box about twelve inches in length behind him, instructing another man to carry the box to the table in front of us. Opening the box exposed a device that looked more like a shiny, futuristic space probe than anything earthly. It was about two inches in diameter with an inverted cone shape on one end and a pointed tip on the other. Albert first set up a small tripod stand before he took out the device and carefully positioned it within the slightly larger ring center of the tripod, pointed end face down.

“What you are looking at is a scaled down, crude version of an EMP. Our own scientists were commissioned to build this last year when Celeste obtained her information about the Network Stations.”
A hand went up, like in school. One of the women didn’t know what an EMP was.

“Electro Magnetic Pulse weapon.” I volunteered, “Genius!”

The room remained silent as we all tried to picture in our minds how this small phallic looking tool would work. The silence was finally broken when a young man asked permission to speak, inquiring the specifics of this device.

“This device is built to inject Electro Magnetic Pulses into whatever its aimed at with the same destructive results as its larger brother the E-bomb, rendering anything with a circuit board and electrical components useless.” This answer satisfied only a few of us. The unquestionable confusion on the faces of most of us demanded further explanation, which Albert patiently provided. “EMP’s and its effect on surrounding equipment was discovered accidentally in our early experiments with the Atomic bomb. EMPs are a weapon of mass destruction designed to disable anything electrical within the range of the weapons explosive output, without the fatalities conventional weapons would have. Our weapon here accomplishes the same thing but in more confined spaces. The explosives within this tube are packed inside a copper coil. Just before this device is exploded, the coil is brought to life by the capacitors within, resulting in a magnetic field which moves downward, creating a traveling short circuit that will seek and destroy its target. Our goal is to release one of these into the server rooms of all three stations; a smaller, more confined direct hit.”

Another hand goes up, another young man, maybe twenty-something, with glasses and obvious scars of an acne ridden adolescence. “Won’t these stations be heavily protected from even devices like these?”

“Yes.” Albert walked over to the wall behind him, and pulled down a map. “These Stations are located in places not easily traveled. They are, like the camp we visited, buried underground. There are only two ways to enter these facilities. One is the entryways used by the military and maintenance crew, which are heavily monitored and protected.” Pointing to the three mountain looking sites on the map. One was in Alaska, with the circle indicating its location, looking very miniscule compared to the mountain range that surrounded it. Another was located south of us, amidst the Grand Canyon; and the third near Virginia, where another well-known military base hid beneath the mountain range. “The other is through the air duct system.” The aura of the room became very ominous and thick. We all felt it, that subtle inkling of despair creeping up from behind, ready to steal away any remaining hope we each held onto.

“I want you all to remember something extremely important. We are not alone. Within the walls of the White House, Military and civilian sanctuaries are individuals who believe in our cause, people who have been fighting against these changes for years. We were fortunate enough to have inside contacts whose information and assistance came with a price tag worth paying.
The extent of underground occupancy in this country is staggering, spanning from one end of the nation to the other with only a few civilians knowing about it. MANY of our most secretive explorations into science and technology were done from deep within the earth. Because there are no indicators above ground to ANY of these facilities, finding them is virtually impossible, unless you are one of the outside contractors that were used to help build these underground cities. We later discovered that a few of these contractors knew, without validation, what they were building. They took liberties in their designs and incorporated unauthorized ‘extras’ into the layout. One is a small pole about ten inches tall by half inch diameter that was erected near the server centers of each of these stations. These poles will be hard to spot since they are made with a reflective metal to camouflage their locations.”

“Ok, so we have these markers that tell us where the stations are, how does this get us inside?” another gentleman asked with the same determination in his tone.

“These markers were meticulously placed above a hatch door which can only be opened from the outside, roughly eight feet beneath the surface. This hatch will drop you inside the air duct system which will take you to the server room.” There was a long pause from Albert accompanied by the uncomfortable silence of the room as we all tried to see the plausibility in this plan of attack. I laughed, not because I thought the idea funny; I thought the idea ridiculous. I had so hoped everything I’d been exposed to these last few weeks would lead me to a more realistic plan of attack. This plan seemed so Hollywood-like that my disappointment could no longer be masked, replacing the excitement and hope I struggled to hold on to with anger and apprehension.

“So, let me see if I have this straight.” My turn to speak openly, “We have a government agenda whose foundation was laid over 70 years ago to rule the world, with extensive secret underground labs and operating stations that will track every living person on this planet through a very large computer, right? And your plan is to find some intentionally built secret hatch door buried underground allowing us rebels to enter a HIGH security military base and explode a slop job of an EMP wannabe weapon. This is outrageous! What if everything that’s going on out there has absolutely NOTHING to do with any secret government agenda? What if that death camp is for the disposal of those already dead from this virus they keep talking about? Not only that, but those documents, hell, my online experience, has shown me that ANYTHING can be manufactured and labeled authentic. I mean, I don’t doubt something is going on out there! Hell, I had to kill people just to be here! But all this is crazy! You had me going until the whole ‘secret hatch door’ plan!” I stood up, and faced the rest of my peers, “This is crazy and you are all buying into this?” Turning back to Albert, I waited for his retort as the room remained silent with all eyes on me.

“Ignorance...” Albert stressed, “is how those we’ve elected throughout the years have been able to get this much control without us, and I mean the people, ever knowing. We’ve blindly elected officials based on their public personas, entrusting them to do what’s right without accountability when they’ve failed. We’ve allowed a president to stay in office even though we knew he wasn’t voted in. We allowed a bogus war in Iraq to continue even though the lies were exposed supporting our efforts there. We HELPED terrorists kill over 3000 people and more in order to kick-start the hate needed to fuel this war! These few history making events that we all chose to ignore resulted in the loss of our freedoms, the invasion of even more countries, and a Constitution that’s as useless now as a gun without bullets! Ignorance is why you are all sitting here listening to me and many people are out there dying. Daniel, if you truly believe we are all full of shit, that everything you’ve seen and experienced is nothing more than coincidence, then please, take your ignorance and leave.”

The room’s entire sets of eyes now focused on me, awaiting my reaction. Their stares burned small holes in my skin, heating my blood to boiling point. I felt the walls closing in as rage began filling the empty spaces. I got up to head out the trap door when I heard Celeste call out my name, followed by Albert instructing her to let me go. I stood below the trap door which was about arm’s length above me, just out of my reach, when I realized they would never let me go, validated by the whisperings in the other room regarding the danger of letting me leave. My knees grew weak and I collapsed to the floor and buried my head in my arms.

“D, I know this is hard for you.” Celeste in all her haggard beauty, sat beside me offering me her warm soft hand, kissing the backside of mine with a tenderness that instantly melted away my impatience. “This whole thing has snuck up on all of us. A few of us knew years ago that something was in the works, but when I saw the documents, when I saw the underground facilities,” now holding both my hands in hers, “when I saw that Death Camp, I had to let go of my own ignorance and blinding trust and make a decision. I sat right here, right where we are now, thinking the same thing…how in the hell is this possible?”

“So what answer did you come up with?” looking into her green eyes, seeing a woman I was, for the first time in my life, falling in love with.

“I didn’t. What’s been done is irrelevant now; it’s what we can still do that counts. D, you have two roads, the easy one which costs you your freedom and privacy, or the difficult one which takes away the comforts of life but costs you nothing but faith; and for that price you keep your freedoms.”

“How is it free to be living under the radar? If I can’t have the security of a home, always hiding, always running, how is this freedom, Celeste?” I looked intensely into her eyes, “If I can’t securely and confidently support a wife and kids, how is this better? My GOD, Celeste, this is so much bigger than you, me or anyone else in your network! The whole world, Celeste?!”

“I know what you’re feeling. This is bigger than all of us here. And personally, I’m not focusing on the whole world, I’m not even focusing on this race war. I’m focusing on the one thing that pisses me off more than anything else and I’ve chosen this one small fraction to devote my efforts and energy. Now maybe it’s just me and my stubbornness, but I don’t want just anyone knowing who I am. I don’t want Joe Blow at the drug store pulling up my entire medical and financial history just to fill a prescription or buy tampons. I don’t want my life so manageable that spontaneity ceases to exist. I don’t want to be classified and sorted like junk mail with my existence and purpose pre-judged just because of which stupid Monitoring station I’m recorded in! But most importantly, D, is once you are chipped, once everyone is chipped, then who’s left to argue the future decisions of our government? You see, it’s not just our privacy we are losing, we’ll be losing the right to control our own destiny, our own finances and our own elected representatives. It really is our freedom that’s in jeopardy! Think about it, never again will you be able to buy groceries before making your house payment; never again will you be able to buy alcohol or cigars on a whim. This chip is about more than security. With this chip they can bar you from certain purchases, from certain places, they could bring back prohibition, they can control your finances, insure corporations get their money first before your personal needs are met. You have no idea how far this chip can dehumanize us! The empowerment it gives the government…is it worth it just to be secure?”

I couldn’t argue with her. For the first time it became clear that this battle is more about RFID chip than the global management system they are trying to create. And she was right, they were all right. I looked at Celeste and realized that I would never have a wife, I would never again have a house and I would never have children. All I would ever have now are the few wonderful moments I shared with Celeste and a unanimously shared desire to die free.

“You have to put your energy and focus on that one thing you personally want to stop, and you need to use that as your fuel, make it your passion and reason for living, make it your cause worth dying for.” Celeste helped me up and led me back to the main room to hear the details of our mission. Everyone in the room had heard our conversation and looked at us with a new-found understanding. “Forget about the rest of the world, this is about us!”