This is not a happy piece. This is just writing off the cuff about a nightmare, I have had the last few nights. So, I thought I would write it out as a story.
Anna stood still in the spot they had directed her to. A large black circle on the floor. She had to strip naked along with all the other people in this room. There was no chance for modesty. It was no longer considered a valued social construct. Individualism, free thought, free expression, freedom of speech, freedom was no longer a valued construct. They were told to bring all of their clothing with them when they arrived at the center. There would be no other clothing allowed than what was given them by the state. Everyone’s hair had been cut short. Her once auburn hair was peppered with gray and she used to love to braid what was left of the bright color into a braid. Cold tears fell down her face. She was older, 56, and a bit thick in the middle. Her body was not the lean athlete of her twenties and she wished she could hide. She was grateful no one was staring. They were all too worried they were being stared at as well.
There were others crying too. How had this happened? What the hell had happened? Just two weeks ago this was all supposed to have gone away. Two weeks ago there was hope that this monstrosity of a government would be overthrown by the rebellion. It had gone on for over 3 years. Both with physical fighting and with legal fighting in the courts. And then suddenly, almost like a light being switched off, all hope was gone. The rebellion was crushed both physically and legally. It had been too late to stop the global monstrosity that had eaten away the soul of the world.
She had been part of the underground and was shamefully grateful that she had not been one of the ones caught. They had had a dozen hangings and firing squads in the last week of anyone caught supporting or found guilty of supporting the insurrection as the government called it. Chris stood in front of her. Even with the recent cuts and bruises, he was a beautiful man. She had always fantasized about what it would be like to be twenty years younger and meeting him for the first time, and him not being a married man. They had always had a wonderful friendship though and she was grateful he survived. She had not seen his wife Helena, and she could see he had been badly beaten and starved for several days until he had submitted to the regime. She had wondered what had happened to him after the last meeting. It was over a week ago, now she knew. He gave her a quick look over his shoulder, but no other acknowledgment that he knew she was there. It was too dangerous for him to do so. They were always looking for looks or gestures that indicated who knew who.
She looked forward out the window toward the plaza. There were pillars of smoke and flame from the burning of books, papers, works of art that were considered too dangerous to the public. Lincoln’s head lay atop the pile of rubble that had been his and other memorials. Anything that would inspire a person to think, feel or be any more than what they were told to be was systematically being wiped from existence. It had all started so slowly, insidiously. Like cancer that eats away at the body. It had taken decades. Decades of the media feeding lies, division, and hatred, while promoting it all as social unity and correcting the social ills of the past. We should all be one people as long as you know your place in the matrix and stay within your box. Political correctness has gone mad. People couldn’t even talk to each other because they were so afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. And toward the end, it could actually get you thrown in jail, for even the smallest infraction and it may be your own family that turned you in. And it all worked, the constant division, the erosion of the family unit, the erosion of society, morals, right from wrong, the dumbing down of our youth, culture, even though we fought, oh how we fought. But, not soon enough, not in the right ways and not in the right places. To her, it looked as if Hell had come to Earth. And maybe it had. There were other countries still fighting the globalist movement. And they were holding out. Israel, Russia, Hungary, and Poland, with large groups of insurgents scattered throughout. The One World Order had claimed victory nonetheless and said there was no use fighting. We were one world, one society and we had to accept it or die. As part of the punishment for those who had rebelled was to see the beloved Constitution burned on national television while they extolled the virtues of a truly free society. Free of Capitalism and old ways of thinking. Free as long as you thought and acted as they dictated.
Two people in regimental uniforms came and stood by her, snickering at how she looked. She didn’t dare to move her arms to cover herself, they would have beaten her. She had seen it happen to a young man three rows over. They used two devices as they circled around her and it took her measurements. A cart behind them opened a door and three packages came out. One contained white undergarments, three sets. Then three stretch tops in Dark grey and three stretch pants in Black. A grey hood that looked like a scuba hood was on top of the pile. They pushed them into her arms and told her to dress. She saw out of the corner of her eye others getting dressed. Not everyone was in grey. The older people wore grey, the middle-aged were given a dark blue and the youngest of the group were given light blue and white clothing. Once dressed the room was a mix of nondescript grey, blue and light blue “people”. No hair colors showed, no visible way of telling one from the other unless you looked directly into someone’s face or see their hands. She was surprised they hadn’t figured out some way to block that too.
Once everyone had dressed the carts came down the aisle unescorted, stopping in front of each person. The top she had on had an embedded gem at the collar. The machine scanned the gem and told her to hold out her hand in a sterile mechanical voice. She did as requested a bracelet was placed on her wrist and when it snapped shut around her wrist the chronometer started running. Years, days, hours, minutes, seconds. 10 years, 3 days, 15 hours, 45 minutes, and seconds running down faster than she would have liked.
No more guessing about how long she had to live. She had already heard the mandate. When you reached the age of 67 you were going to be given one week to say goodbye to your family and make any arrangements. Then you could have your family physician help you to sleep or you could report to a euthanasia center. The population must be managed and the old and useless were not to be a burden on society anymore. They had already started the mandatory aborting of babies that were found to be disabled or potentially disabled. It was too expensive for the state to take care of them. It was better for everyone we were told. The disabled adults and children were already being “taken care” of. Her friend Maria had run with her son Jarod the week before. There were still isolated areas that where people were fighting and those who were running could find refuge. No one knew how long it would last. Her heart had broken for her when she saw Maria in another line entering the center. By the tear-stains and sorrow etched on her face, she knew what had happened.
A platform was raised in the center of the room. Lydia Cromwell, a well-known actress stood in the center. She was dressed in a canary yellow dress and high heels, makeup, and hair done to perfection. “I was chosen to speak with you as you all probably know who I am. But, if you don’t know..I am Lydia Cromwell. I am to be the new Secretary of Social and Cultural Norms.” No word was spoken, no acknowledgment of her presence was given. We had already seen that the “elites” who had supported the government would be allowed to live as they liked. Anna wished she could spit in her face. One lady did spit on the ground and glared at the yellow puppet on the platform. A guard came up and slapped the woman hard and made her lick up the spit off the floor. Lydia stammered “I know this is a difficult time of adjustment. But, it is for the good of our world. You will learn to function and fulfill your place in the order of things. You each will be given a monetary allotment to live off of. Anyone who owned homes previously will find the government now owns your home. You will have to share with one or more families until the new government housing has been completed. Once completed you will have to relinquish your home completely to the state. This is for the betterment of society. No person will have more than another person” “Except for you and the lapdogs of the regime” thought Anna.
Anna watched the faces of those around her. Anger, fury seethed just beneath. “The old way of living is gone. The old neighborhoods and homes will be demolished for other accommodations, land reclamation for farming and industry. This is for the betterment of our world. We will have less pollution, we will consume less and we will replant our planet. The population will be stringently controlled with mandatory birth control and abortions for those who have “mistakes’. One child per family when it has been approved by the state, two if there was a death of a child.” She noticed the carts moving again to all of those of childbearing age at the end of these words. They were told to hold out their arms and expose the forearm. A needle came out and quickly injected a long-term birth control implant. One for men and one for women. One woman withheld her arm. “I am already pregnant!” she yelled out. “You can’t do this!!” The guards grabbed the woman by the arms and dragged her from the room. People began to murmur angrily. “Calm yourselves. She will be alright. If she is pregnant she will be allowed to have this child before mandatory sterilization.” That did nothing to stem the rising tide of anger in the room. Agenda 21 ran through Anna’s mind. A plan for a world population of little more than 300,000,000. And “mating” would be controlled so that distinct skin color would eventually be eradicated from the gene pool. One color for all people. One cultural identity, one purpose, to serve those in charge, on religion, the religion of the state, she wasn’t even sure what that was. It made her shudder. Were we even going to be human anymore?
She realized some of how she was feeling may be over exaggerated, but it was part of the plan as she understood it. Her mind whirled with dark thoughts on how they would try to erase music, poetry, art from the very soul of mankind. Those things were as much a part of humanity as breathing. How could you erase the desire to love another person? Erase a person’s desire to sing or write a story? When she looked at the back of Chris’s head all she could think of was how beautiful a person he was and was he ever going to have the chance to write his music, play his guitar, paint, and dance. He could do a mean tango. Was that all gone too? Reserved for only the most deserving, the most talented as decided by the state.
Suddenly she thought of her cats and dogs she had at home. Was she even going to have a home when she left here and who would be sharing it with her when she got there? Was the allotment going to be enough to feed them too? She had always depended on donations to help her cover the costs of fostering her animals. She had a feeling pets were going to be considered an unnecessary expense and not allowed. She let a stifled sob at the thought of losing her “family.” She would find a way to keep them somehow. She had to. Lydia droned on and on about all of the changes taking place immediately. With each word, the light in the world dimmed to darkness.
Lydia stepped closer to the rail and reached toward the pedestal in front of her. She pushed a button and everyone in the room dropped to their knees yelling in pain. The bracelet on her arm glowed red and tightened around her wrist. She looked up and saw the slightest smile cross Lydia’s face as she witnessed the pain going on beneath her. She released the button and the bracelets loosened and cooled instantly. There had been no technology on Earth like this before. Anna started to believe the other rumors concerning alien races being part of the take over of their world and their having a hand in the creation of this One World Order. Anna looked at her wrist and a sob caught in her throat. The mark. How could they do this!!. There was a barcode burnt into her skin. “You will not be able to buy anything, ride transit or gain any kind of service without displaying this barcode. Your monetary allowance and social point advancements are tied to this code. If you try to remove it or damage it in any way, you will be imprisoned.” The shouts and yells from the people below were drowning out Lydia’s words. People were rushing the pedestal and throwing the guards to the ground trying to get to Lydia. She just smiled that evil smile and pushed another button on the dais. Agony filled Anna’s body and the body of everyone around her. “There is no escape, there is no disobedience. Pain or death will be your only reward for such actions.” Lydia released the button. “Show them to the transport. Time for them to start their new lives.”
Anna and the others were herded to the exit doors toward the transit cars that waited outside. The new rail system everyone had been so excited about just a short time ago as the fastest, cleanest form of transport for the city and the suburbs, was now packed full of people. It felt like there was no room to breathe. She felt arms wrap around her waist. She was about to start panicking when a soft voice whispered in her ear. “Don’t be afraid, it’s just me Anna.” Chris wrapped his arms protectively around her. He hugged her close and she felt his tears fall into her hair. “I don’t want to live in this world, Anna. And I won’t. Come with me.” Anna closed her eyes and leaned back against him. He kissed her neck and held her close to him. His hands moved up to her breasts and held them in his hands and he suddenly turned her toward him and kissed her, long and hard. Passion burned within her. She could feel him hard against her. It had been years since she had been kissed like this. Why now? Why when it all was ending did he have to relight that fire in her? She felt their tears mingle on her face. “Don’t leave me Chris, Please!” She held his face in her hands.
His blue eyes shone brightly with tears and a lock of his red, curly hair slipped from beneath the cap. “I just wanted to say goodbye, I just wanted to kiss someone I loved, one more time. They took Helena from me. I feel..so lost. I am sorry. The kiss was out of place, I just wanted to feel something other than this pain.” He gently slid her hands from his face and kissed her palms. The bracelet on her wrist moved down showing the angry red mark on her wrist. Anna whispered, “They didn’t even give us a choice. You know what this means to me, don’t you?” Chris ran his finger over the mark. “Yes, I do. What are you going to do about it? You know what the choices are now?” He looked down into her eyes. “I would rather die on my feet, with my belief intact, then die a slave on my knees.” Anna knew she said this louder than she should have and got the attention of several other people in the car. They all looked at their wrists and she could tell they had made a decision. Chris turned and whispered in the person’s ear next to him, and each person did that with the next as discretely as possible. It was a miracle no one turned them into the guards yet. As they approached the first tunnel, they readied themselves. The bodies were packed so tightly they hoped it would dimish the signals to the bracelets. They would only get one chance.
They entered the tunnel and darkness overcame the railcar except for the dim ceiling lights. The four guards barely were able to activate the cuffs before they were set upon a mass of human flesh. They kept tightly packed together and as each row fell the next was able to reach the guards and knock them out. Disabling the cuffs. There was no way to get them off though. There had to be a central code somewhere that controlled all of them. People looked to Chris for answers and he suddenly realized he didn’t have any. “Christ, what have I done Anna?” “Where are we all going to go?” Anna had been looking at her bracelet when she realized something very simple about them. She took a hairpin from her hair and pushed into the corner of the lock. There was a small hole just at the seam of the bracelet. It looked like one of those reset “buttons you find on small digital watches. She had a feeling it was no mistake that there was one. They were being given a choice. God would not let them go down without a fight. And fight they would. Her bracelet popped off. She gave the pin to Chris and he started unlocking all of the bracelets of those that wanted them off. Some made the decision to stay and fight from within. They would just have to be knocked out to make it look like they were trying to fight back with the guards.
Plans were quickly made for how to contact two of the people who agreed to lead teams of the resistance fighters. John Cleary and Steven Harkness. They and those that were going to remain were knocked unconscious. “We don’t have much time Chris, maybe 5 minutes.” Chris pulled the emergency stop and pulled the doors open. “Everyone remove your tunics. I am sure those “gems” in the collars are tracking devices.” Anna said as she pulled her hood and top off. They still had their undergarments. It would be cold, but they would get different clothing if they reached the safe house.
They and fifty other people ran into the darkness of the tunnels. Chris found a side access tunnel for maintenance and brought everyone inside. They ran down flight after flight of stairs to the sewers below. “We can follow the sewer lines to the river. From there, I am not sure where to go.” Anna looked at the walls and knew there had to be a system map close. Her father had worked on the sewer systems when she was younger. There was always a system map close to intersections. They felt their way to the next intersection and found a maintenance locker with a map over top of it. They grabbed the emergency lights. They headed in the direction the map indicated keeping close together. A few small shrieks from both women and men as rats and other vermin scrambled over their feet. A couple of left turns and a right turn brought them to a tunnel with light shining in the distance. She and Chris handed their lights to the two people behind them and proceeded forward cautiously.
When they reached the end of the tunnel they were pleasantly surprised to find there were no regimental police or agents waiting for them. It actually made Anna uneasy. “This was too easy Chris.” “It does seem that way doesn’t it.” He replied. Something in his voice made her turn around. “Why, did you do this? Why do all of this?” Anna asked softly. “It is a game to them. One Lydia asked me to play. They have Helena and they promised me that if I found out who would fight back and who would easily give in that I could have her back.” Anna looked at Chris’ face”Did you ever love me, even a little?” She put her back to the opening. “Goodbye, Chris.” She fell backward from the opening. Chris didn’t even yell out or try to stop her. “Yes, I loved you, my friend.” He closed his eyes and let the tears fall before turning to the others and telling them they had one choice, jump after Anna or go back with him. He waited with the group for about 10 minutes to give her a head start. They would find her if she lived. No one was getting away. The others followed Chris back through the tunnels.
Anna thought sure she would hit the rocks below, but she fell into the water. As the current pulled her along she looked back to see the others falling into the water, a couple landed on the rocks she had somehow avoided. She swam away from the center of the current and stayed close to shore. They would look for her and the others, she was sure of that. But, at least she would die on her own terms, not on theirs. Or maybe she wouldn’t die soon at all. The others caught to her quickly with the current and she motioned for them to follow her. “We need to stay in the river for at least another mile. I know of a place we can get out and get warm.” They got out of the river where there was plenty of cover and underbrush. She was freezing, but she and the others couldn’t stop, not until they reached the cabin. It was old, very old, but it had a large heater run by solar power. They could get warm and there was fresh clothing inside. It was a backup location for the underground and as far as she knew still undiscovered. They had to get warm and it was the closest place she trusted.
They reached the cabin and she pushed open the root cellar door. A gush of warm air blew by her. They wouldn’t stay above, it was too risky, the heater was in the root cellar anyway. She got everyone inside and pushed the door shut and bolted it. She heard someone whisper quiet. That wasn’t someone in her group. She turned slowly and clamped her hand over mouth in relief. It was Bernard Evans. The leader of her cell. He rushed over, shushing everyone as he made his way over. He whispered in her ear. “Anyone follow you?” “No…I don’t think so. I never told anyone about this place. And we jumped into the river a good 5 miles up.” He smiled as he grabbed her hand and held it firmly. As he did so he saw the mark on her wrist and dropped her hand like a hot potato. “They didn’t give us a choice. They aren’t giving anyone a choice. You get a bracelet, then they activate it with a button and it brands you.” Anna just sank to the ground and cried. “I will understand if you don’t want anything to do with me or us. It is too risky now that we are branded.”
“It was just as risky before Anna. I am sorry about my reaction. It was just that you were one of the last people that I thought would take the mark.” Bernard sat down beside her and held her wrist in his hand. “Sneaky bastards.” “What do we do about this. I am afraid there is a tracking signal attached to it. They had to have tracking devices on us. We took the tunics off with the gems attached. I know that was part of it, but I am sure they thought of people taking those off. They would have had a more permanent means of tracking us.” Bernard nodded. “We thought of implanted trackers. Just not branded in the skin that way. But, these may work.” He handed everyone a plain metal band. This metal, I don’t know what it is, was given to us by higher-ups to use on defectors with the mark. Put them on.” Anna slid the smooth, dark band on her wrist and covered the mark.
“The crew is coming back shortly with the boat. We will leave after dark. I was just waiting for the last group. Hey! There is this guy that says he knows you.” Bernard started to say something else, but Anna interrupted him, “Please don’t say, Chris! You didn’t tell him to come here!? He betrayed us, betrayed me.” Bernard jumped up and started grabbing the camouflage gear. “Then we had better get going now. The boat can meet us further downstream.” They got everyone ready and out the door of the cabin within minutes. It wasn’t a half hour before they heard the helicopters overhead and calls for them to surrender. It was all for public show. They had no intention of letting them surrender. The cabin exploded in a ball of flame. The trail was well hidden by camouflage nets from above and undergrowth. No one had used these paths for jogging or walking for over 10 years. They were overgrown and difficult to traverse, but they ran as fast as they could. They ran further ahead into the woods and took shelter under an old footbridge.
It was starting to sleet and they huddled together for warmth. Once the helicopters had left they started out again. The boat came up silently from the fog and signaled for them to climb onboard. Anna sat on the floor of the boat, thinking of her home and her pets. Everything would be gone by now. They would have taken everything and given it to whoever was now their loyal followers. Bernard noticed her crying. “What’s wrong Anna?” “I was just thinking of Arnie, and all the others I had to leave. What will happen to them? Are they dead already?” Bernard smiled softly, “Well, when we heard you were taken with that last group we got together and pretended to be the cleanout crew. The whole neighborhood was being cleaned out. So, it wasn’t hard to blend in and get them and your things. They are okay Anna. We got them out to a safe house. Pets haven’t been outlawed yet. And when they are, people have already created a network to get them out. We got a lot of your books and papers too. All of your medical stuff that we could carry. The safe areas are growing Anna. More and more people are fighting. Maybe not outwardly, but there is resistance.
Anna woke to the sound and jolt of the boat pulling up to shore. A group of people were helping them out of the boat and getting them into the back of delivery trucks. There were two other boats with people that looked to be coming from downstream. “Everyone who has been marked needs to come over here and stand in line. Hurry up.” A young man in a military field jacket and a young girl in similar gear and carrying a briefcase looking device walked behind him. “We need to deactivate your trackers before you go any further. Hold out your wrist, DO NOT! remove the bands until we tell you too.” Everyone stood in a straight line. There were the twenty from her group including herself and about ten from the other groups combined. It didn’t take long for them to place an electrode under the bracelet and charge it. The person receiving the shock yelped a bit, but otherwise, there were no agonizing shots of pain like when they received the mark. She looked down at her mark after they had shocked it. It was dark and ugly and it almost seemed like it was moving. “What is it doing? Anna asked as she looked at her wrist. The man and the girl stopped and looked at her. “It is part organic and part mechanical. We kill the organic part. That is what makes it not work anymore. It is dying. It will stop moving shortly.” They both turned back to their task and Anna stuffed her hand in her pocket to stop thinking about what was happening on her wrist.
Those of them who had the mark were packed into one truck and everyone else in the two ahead of them. They would be in the rear of the column. Just in case not all of the marks were deactivated fully. The bracelets would remain on until they were sure. It was another 6 hours by truck and by the roughness of the ride they were on very rural roads before they reached their final destination. An abandoned Coal Mine in West Virginia. It was isolated and the hill folks were excellent allies. They walked down into the dark and into the large central cavern lit with torches and lights. It was full of people, talking, cooking, children running and playing. Bernard led her to one of the side tunnels and a carved out chamber. “These are the leaders of the resistance or this cell of the resistance, Jack Tomlin, Mary Hardy, Ellen McNeil, Foster Little. No one knows who the others are exactly or where they are located. You need to let them know what is going on out there.” Bernard led her to a chair. Anna told them her story from beginning to end. Showing them her mark was the hardest part. She said she wanted her hand cut off. They told her no. “Did you voluntarily take the mark Anna?” “No, I didn’t.” “Then you are not damned. and we need you with both hands. You know medicine right?” “I know enough to be helpful, with the right books, enough to be more helpful, but I am no doctor,” Anna replied. “Better than nothing, Anna. So, you will need that hand”
On the last day in the mine, Anna walked out into the light and felt the breeze across her face. She walked to her favorite place to meditate and pray. They were going back to a new world. Bernard had been killed on a reconnaissance mission three years after their arrival here. She missed him still. After a time, their adopted son Jonathan, one of the seven children they had taken in, walked up behind her and hugged her. “Time to go” It was seven long years of war, fighting, near misses, deaths before the regime was finally overthrown and pushed back. Pushed back across the ocean. Pushed back to the final battle. Seven long years of pain and heartbreak. There would never be the United States again, it would be better, based on what was originally intended in the founder’s vision. There were too many copies of the Constitution and Bill of Rights out in the world and in our country before they took over. The idea of true freedom never dies. Treaties were signed, pacts were made. The world was different but in a good way in so many ways. The spirit was reborn and so was the world.