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Sandwich, New Hampshire
Friday, September 11th, 2015, 2:00 am
‘What woke me? I have so much work to do; I NEED more sleep,’ Jared thought. He rolled over to see if his wife, Michelle, was awake. She was still sound asleep. There was a loud engine noise in the driveway. Jared looked at the clock. ‘Who would be bothering us this late at night . . .’ he thought, and then he remembered what his neighbors, the McConnells, had said. The ‘patrols’ had started throughout the area. It was just a matter of time until one reached Sandwich. ‘They’ll find my work,’ Jared realized.
“Wake up,” Jared whispered.
“Leave me alone . . . I don’t want popsicles,” Michelle murmured.
“Michelle, wake up.”
“What, let me sleep! Can’t you PLEASE go to bed?”
“Michelle, wake up! I think a patrol is here”
She listened and could hear the sound of the engine outside. “What do we do?” she asked.
“We’ll be safe in the lab.”
“The LAB? You always say to stay out because it’s not safe, and you want us to go in there while these thugs try to get in!”
“They won’t try . . . they’ll succeed. Trust me; we’ll be safe in the lab.”
Jared was in boxers. Michelle was in a nightgown. She started to get dressed as Jared went towards the door. He stopped her by saying, “What are you doing? WE HAVE TO GO!”
“But . . .”
They ran downstairs and heard some noise at the door. A voice said over a mega-phone, “This is a terrorist defense team of the Counter-Terrorist Force; we are here to inspect your house. You have thirty seconds to open the door.”
Terrorist defense team was a polite term for patrol. They were the smallest unit of the CTF (Counter-Terrorist Force) staff. CTF operated under the office of Homeland Security.
Jared led Michelle into the kitchen where the back door was. The kitchen also had an elevator that led to the lab. Jared said, “We have to use the elevator; they’ll stop us if we use the stairs.” The lab only had two entryways. They headed for the elevator in the kitchen adjacent to the rear door. The elevator was a large freight elevator that allowed Jared to bring heavy equipment down to the lab. The only other way into the lab was through the bulkhead at the side of the house.
As they ran to the elevator they could see people outside the back door. Jared shoved the gate to the elevator open and lifted the inner door. At this point the glass of the rear door shattered as one of the people outside broke it open. “Stop right there, or we’ll shoot,” said the intruder.
Michelle pressed herself against the elevator wall as Jared closed the door. As soon as the elevator door was closed, Michelle pushed the button. By that time, a few of the intruders had got through the back door. The elevator started to move just as the intruders started pulling at its door.
“What the hell are we going to do locked in the basement?”
Jared quickly replied, “I have . . . a weapon.”
“A weapon . . .”
“An axe, a knife, a flamethrower, a rocket launcher, a bomb, a grenade, or maybe just a sling shot. But you’re no David! Maybe we can use some paper to give them all paper cuts; maybe then they won’t want to rape me!”
“Listen, it’s really hard to explain,” Jared said with an odd calmness. “You know I’ve been working on something for months. Well, it’s finished.”
When the elevator stopped, they opened the door, pushed aside the gate, and stepped into the lab. The lab was already lit up by the different lights and computer monitors scattered about the lab. They left the door open so the elevator could not be recalled to the first floor.
Jared waded through his messy lab toward the front of the house and stopped at a table that had all sorts of odd tools and gadgets. There were three identical objects on the table. On each object a black handle was attached vertically to the back with a strip of metal above and below the handle. Centered above the handle was a tiny touch-screen angled at about 45 degrees. The keyboard was about three inches wide and two inches tall. Two long strips of metal that formed a 90-degree angle were in front of the keyboard and attached to the handle by the two metal strips. A tiny wire led from the keyboard to the metal strips. The metal strips had a very intricate and complex system of metal and glass covering most of the surface on the outer side facing out. Nothing was between the sheets of metal. The inside of the metal had thousands, possibly millions, of different sized holes. Jared did some work through the screen interface on two of the devices.
There was some noise coming from behind the door that led to the bulkhead. At first it sounded like the intruders were trying to use brute force to open it. Then there was a gunshot.
Jared snickered, “That metal is strong enough to cause their bullets to ricochet. I hope it hit one of 'em in the face!
“These are atomic builders; I call them builders for short. They take the particles in an area and re-arrange them into another object. So in a way they do two things. They disassemble atoms and then rebuild atoms and molecules to create objects. There is a bug with hydrogen, so we’ll stick to something simple. We’ll create gold out of these fools.”
“You’re kidding me! You built this . . . yourself. Is this going to work?”
“We don’t have time to discuss it. I already programmed it for you. When they come in, push the red blinking button that says build. Make sure to point it at the doorway. I set the builder so that it will only reassemble atoms in the width of the door.”
“This is crazy! What if they gas us before they come in? What if they come in shooting? What if they use the elevator?”
Jared explained, “They don’t know we’re armed. While we know they get away with a lot, they can’t get away with killing unarmed people, which is exactly what we look like. As for the elevator, it’s dangerous to get onto the roof of the elevator car. And it would be even more dangerous to drop from the roof to the floor. Plus all they need to do to get through the bulkhead is to unhinge the doors. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.”
“I’m scared,” Michelle said.
Jared hugged her with one arm. “Me, too.”
It took about five minutes for the team to remove the bulkhead door. After the bulkhead door was gone, they rushed down the stairs to break open the door that separated the lab from the bulkhead. As soon as the door started to shatter with the weight of the two patrol members, Jared fired. A circular area almost the width of the doorframe lit up. The door and the two men turned into a mist or dusty fog. From the back, gold started to form reaching toward the front. Finally, there was one big ball of gold. Jared’s atomic builder turned off, making a beeping noise.
A shout from outside exclaimed, “WHAT THE HELL?”
Another voice shouted, “LET’S GET OUT OF HERE!”
“NO,” shouted a third voice.
The first voice shouted, “FINE, YOU STAY!”
There was some muffled discussion followed by an engine roar as the patrol left.
“We have to pack,” said Jared when he was sure they were gone. “They’ll be back in force. They’re probably based in Concord, but they could be based in Laconia, Conway, Plymouth, or even Meredith. At best, we have twenty minutes if they call in for reinforcements . . . forty if they wait to explain in person. Considering how crazy it will sound, let’s say thirty.”
“What about helicopters?”
“I doubt they have the credibility to get helicopters. Even if they do, it will almost take as long.”
“Fine, let’s pack this gold!”
“You’re right. We should remove the gold: but not because of its material value. We can always make more, but we must remove it because of its value as evidence. I know! We’ll turn it into oxygen.”
“Why didn’t you turn them to oxygen to begin with?”
Jared said, “Because they wouldn’t have been impressed if their friends merely disappeared from view. If they just vanished into thin air, or oxygen, they would have just thought it was a trick. The gold, however, is proof that their eyes did not deceive them and something happened.” Jared made some adjustments using the touch screen interface then pointed the atomic builder at the ball of gold. Like before, when the builder was started a fog appeared, but this time instead of gold forming from the back it disappeared completely as the builder made the beeping noise again.
“What do we need to pack besides clothes and these devices?”
“Get your most treasured possessions, like you grandmother’s jewels. Besides that we really can eventually make whatever we want. We’ll stop at the ATM to take out some money. I’m sure they won’t think to cut us off for days.”
“Why are you acting so calm?”
He paused, “I don’t know. I guess I always expected something like this to happen. All we can do we are doing.” He wanted to go on to say that getting emotional would make it worse, but wisely decided against it.
Michelle asked, “Where will we stay?”
“It doesn’t matter. We’ll figure it out later. We can’t call anybody because they’ll check the phone records.”
Jared and Michelle split up, each of them still carrying a builder. Michelle used the elevator to get upstairs. Jared suddenly realized they might not have all left, so he went outside with a builder to double check. The cars were gone. That was when he heard the scream. He ran inside through the back door where he found another gold ball. Part of the kitchen counter was gone, too.
He asked, “Are you OK?”
“I guess. There was a guy waiting here with a gun. He looked really confused and I was able to . . . to get him.”
Jared used his builder to turn the ball into oxygen as he had done with the previous ball. “I’m betting this guy had no clue what was going on and was just guarding the elevator. Are you going to be OK, Honey? I need to pack some things from the lab.”
She nodded and headed upstairs. Jared opened the rear door and backed his van up to the door. From the bottom of the van, he pulled out a ramp. His van was the same green as pine needles. In white lettering, the sides of the van read ‘Miller Research.’ He went down with the elevator. He set his builder down on the table with the other builder. Jared then went to the side of the lab where there was a large round ball covered in cloth. He got the ball onto a dolly and rolled the dolly onto the elevator. When the elevator arrived on the first floor, he rolled the ball outside and used the ramp to get the ball into his van. He then went back downstairs and packed some tools and the two builders. Next, he uploaded all his research to his laptop and packed it. Jared then turned most of the remaining equipment and computers into oxygen with a builder. Jared hoped that would be enough to stop anybody from getting builder technology. He put all of the stuff in the van except for one builder that he wrapped in cloth to conceal it, and then placed it in the front seat. By this time, about ten minutes had passed since the patrol had left.
Jared went upstairs. When he got there, Michelle was packing two suitcases. “I’m almost done; I just want to pack some shoes.”
“We can always get new shoes!”
“Not these shoes,” she said as she picked up a pair of high heels and put them in the suitcase.
“Fine, I should know not to come between a woman and her shoes.”
“Yes, you should,” she said with a grin.
Michelle had already changed into blue jeans and a black t-shirt. Michelle was 36, had long straight red hair and stunning green eyes. She was five feet six inches tall.
Jared was six feet five inches tall. Jared was 40 with blue eyes and long dirty blonde hair. He also had a short beard. Jared quickly put on blue jeans and a white t-shirt with a lizard on the front. The lizard had a small gold crown on his head.
She closed the suitcases, and Jared picked them up. Michelle took her jewelry box, purse, and builder. Then they headed downstairs.
“We should take the van and your SUV. The van will draw unwanted attention, so we’ll need to use your SUV once we get to safety. We’ll use our satellite phones to talk.”
Similar to the older style of CB functionality that some cellular phones had, satellite phones were usually equipped with CB capability. Due to unreliability and the cost of cellular phones, satellite phones had quickly replaced cellular phones once the price became comparable.
About fourteen minutes had passed since the CTF had left. Jared and Michelle started their cars and headed out. They had a long dirt road to drive down before they had to make any major decisions on their destination.
Jared led the small caravan. His satellite phone was mounted on the dashboard and attached to a hands-free headset. He put on the headset and tuned in the frequency they always used. The CB functions did not use the satellite, so even if they lost service because CTF would eventually have them disconnected, they could still communicate over an encrypted medium.
Jared started a session, and it connected. “Let’s head to Aaron’s place in the city.”
By the city, Jared meant Nashua. He pulled up the address using his van’s navigation system, uploaded it to the phone, and sent it to Michelle.
Michelle’s voice came back, sounding like the phone was being used as a speakerphone. “Does he have room for us?”
“Are you kidding? Haven’t you seen his place? He has room.”
“OK, what about the ATM? This path brings us through Route 25. Let’s use our bank’s branch there,” Michelle suggested.
“Sounds like a plan,” Jared agreed.
“OK. I’m going to hang up so I can listen to some of that techno music you hate. It’ll keep me awake!”
Jared laughed, “Good. I’ll be able to play my alternative music that you hate. We’ll get some coffee at the 24-hour gas station on Route 3.”
When they arrived at the bank, Jared used the drive-through ATM. He took out his maximum daily amount of $500. He then walked to Michelle’s SUV. “You should take out as much as you can too. We might get cut off soon.”
Michelle also took out $500. They proceeded until they got to the gas station on Route 3. They both filled up. While gas prices were fairly high, $10 a gallon, Michelle’s truck could get 200 miles per gallon and Jared’s van could get 150. Most of the mileage was due to the hybrid engines in the vehicles.
They got some doughnuts and coffee for their ride to Nashua. The ride would take about one and a half hours. It was already 3 am.
When they got onto 93, there was a police officer on the side of the road with another car, which the officer had presumably pulled over. The police car pulled out onto the highway . . . behind Michelle.
Michelle’s voice came through the satellite phone, “Do you think there is an APB out for us?”
“I hope not. I doubt it, but it’s possible.”
“He’s in our lane . . . BEHIND ME.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll be fine. Just drive normal.”
“Normal, what’s normal?”
Jared said, “The opposite of panicky . . . or suspicious!”
After about five minutes, the cop turned his lights and siren on.
Jared said, “Where is your builder?”
Michelle said, “Right beside me.”
“Don’t make any sudden movements. Let’s pull over . . . and keep your phone on.”
“Won’t he think it’s odd we both pull over?”
“No, we’re the only cars on the road, and we’re traveling together . . . obviously a caravan.”
Michelle and Jared pulled over to the side of the road. The police car pulled in behind them. The police officer walked up to the passenger side of Michelle’s SUV.
“Evening, Ma’am, are ya familiar with the driver of the van that pulled over?” the officer said pointing at Jared’s van.
“Yes, Officer, that is my husband. We are traveling together.”
The officer asked, “Where you heading so early in the morning?”
“We are going to Boston.”
“May I see your license and registration?”
“Yes, Sir,” Michelle answered. She opened the glove box. She kept her car very clean and sparse. All that was in her glove box was the registration, insurance information, and the old-fashioned paper manual. Most people only used the manuals in the car computer, but she didn’t want to be without it if the car’s power system was ever down. She took out her registration and got her license out of her purse.
“Here you go, Officer. Is there a problem?”
“No, Ma’am, just standard procedure. Give me a few minutes, and you’ll be on your way.”
He walked back to his car with the license and registration. Jared’s voice came through the satellite phone. “Good call saying Boston.”
After a few minutes, which seemed like forever to Michelle and Jared, the officer finally came back. “Ma’am, I’d like you to step out of the car.”
“Why, is something the matter?”
“Step out of the car, Ma’am.” His voice sounded slightly menacing.
Michelle paused, briefly seemed to consider grabbing the builder, then got out of the SUV. He waved for her to come to the back of the vehicle. She slowly went. The officer pointed towards her bumper, “Ma’am, I pulled ya over because your license plate ain’t properly illuminated. It looks like your light is out. You need to get that fixed within the next few days.”
“Yes, Sir, I’ll get it done today.”
“Well, I wouldn’t rightly expect you to do it today. But make sure it’s done within a week. Here’s your license and registration.” He returned the documents to her.
The police officer got back into his car and drove off. Michelle started back to her SUV, and Jared got out of his van and walked to her. He wrapped his arms around her tightly. “Are you OK? What happened?”
She replied in a mock authoritarian voice, “Your license plate is not properly illuminated.” They laughed.
“I can’t believe this nation has fallen so fast . . . and so hard.”
The US had not really fallen that fast. In a way, it all started when terrorists attacked the twin towers, although many would say it was because of George W. Bush winning the election. Had it not been for Florida’s votes, none of the dark days that followed would have occurred.
Alexander Bradshaw became the president in 2008. The threat of terrorism that grew worse and worse throughout Bush’s term made Bradshaw the logical choice. The Democrats wanted so badly to oppose the Republican stronghold that they spoke against the Republicans’ every action. This forced the Democrats to firmly oppose the counter-terrorist measures. When the election came, Bradshaw won by a landslide. The people wanted a candidate to protect them. What they did not realize was the price the protection would cost.
After the ‘Patriot Act’ was introduced, more and more crimes were slowly called terrorist actions. Even California fires were blamed on domestic terrorists. Murder, arson, kidnapping, theft, and drug possession were soon labeled as terrorist actions, no matter how unconnected the crimes were to political and social objectives.
The US Department of Homeland Security slowly became more and more powerful. The counter-terrorist force slowly became a witch-hunt like the McCarthy trials of the 1950s. Only this was far worse then the McCarthy hearings. The trials were done as war tribunals. The suspects were considered criminals of war. Anybody who spoke against Bradshaw or the CTF was quickly found guilty and almost always given the death penalty. This included judges, senators, and congressmen.
Then the darkest of all days came. First, the 22nd Amendment (presidential term limits) was repealed. Next, Section 1 of Article I in the Constitution was changed from giving all legislative powers to the Senate and House of Representatives to the president. Finally, the term of president was changed to life.
Any judge who stood against the changes disappeared or was found to be either a terrorist or aiding a terrorist. The Republican majority that made most of the changes was rewarded handsomely by all Republican supporters, since now special interest money only had to go to the president.
The economy had gone bad in Bush’s term. The costs of September 11th and the war with Iraq put the US deeply into debt. At the same time, trying to avoid the mistake of his father he kept reducing taxes and giving rebates.
NASA was closed due to its cost and the lack of public interest in space flight. Most of the equipment was sold off to different nations.
The UN closed its New York headquarters and re-opened in Switzerland. States rights were again put to the test after the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico seceded. Next Hawaii declared their independence, then Alaska, and finally Texas. Bradshaw fought back, but unlike Lincoln, Bradshaw had no higher moral ground. He attacked Texas first, but his army was weak due to having much of it still located in Iraq. In addition to the army being split, many reservists quit and some even fled to other nations. The UN imposed sanctions on the US because of their treatment of prisoners in Iraq and because Bradshaw never allowed a new government to take over in Iraq.
To prevent further secessions Bradshaw placed much of the US under Marshall Law. The National Guard and US army were spread throughout the remaining states with heavy concentrations in states that bordered Mexico, Canada, or either coast.
In retrospect it could be asked, why did so many stay? Why did the country survive? Who would want to live in a place so dreadful? The truth was that it had not changed that much. The changes were big, but they were on a large scale. The day-to-day lives changed little. Fear was added, but so many people have stayed in countries led by terror. It has been seen in the recent past with Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba and China. Even further back, it has been seen in Russia and, of course, Germany. It is so easy to look back upon Hitler’s Germany and ask, ‘Why did so many Jews stay?’ In some cases, people couldn’t afford to leave because of the economic fall. The main issue was that nobody wants to leave his or her home. A home is like a living thing. If you leave it, you lose a part of yourself, a part of your past. Leaving home means starting over, starting fresh, giving up those people and things that have been your world. Hope played a part too: the hope that the next day would be better, a hope that the country would redevelop what had made it great. People held onto that memory and hoped for it to return. Some even did what they could, but it was never enough. Denial also kept people in the US. They denied anything went wrong. In many cases, they actually believed it. They needed to believe it was not happening. It was just another conspiracy theory being spread by people who hate order or by terrorists.
Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford