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By TYLER ROBERTS
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Tyler Roberts
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Chapter OneThere is a Latin proverb"Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur". "The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived."
Once again I find myself here, resting on the old grey steps of this farm house. Reflecting on all that has happened and what lies before me, I pause a moment and listen to the darkness around me. I want to absorb it all and take it with me, for I do not expect to see this place again.
In the end, the nuclear bombs weren't the worst of it, for the holocaust was not what people anticipated. But the economic collapse, starvation and ghastly executions went far beyond anything imagined. The blade that severs life and divides our future from the past still glints an evil eye across the landscape and I think only of the fate being left to my sons.
The stars shine as brilliantly tonight as they did in ancient times. With the twinkle of an eye they greet. We were partners, they and I, witnesses to things no man should be required to bear. Much more than me, they were a constant in the maelstrom. So I assemble here late this night, to abide again with the one companion who has observed my struggle, endured as I have endured and seen what I have witnessed. For nothing is left untouched, except the stars.
The rustling leaves of the poplar stir my soul and the siding on this old house cracks and pops in the cooling air, relaxing, breathing easier. Once a thriving farm on the outskirts of town, it was abandoned when the city expanded, bringing a halt to its country way of life.
In another age, another time, I used to ride my bike down the lane, past these quarters, often waving to the couple who worked the potato fields here. It's a pleasant memory and in my mind's eye I still see them standing not far from where I now sit. For reasons I've never understood, the land this house rests upon was not developed and I wonder if it wasn't meant to remain for these times, just as I was destined to survive.
A sea of housing flows past me on three sides and laps at the front door steps, leaving only the single field behind. An enormous church sits across the intersection. Though in need of paint, the boards sorely worn, it remains untouched and for that I am glad. The surrounding sub-divisions are filled with burned out houses, shallow graves and lost souls. The people who remain resemble the sub-divisions themselvesbeat up, lifeless, worn and weathered.
The church and this farmhouse sit at the intersection of town and country, much as they sat at the crossroads of both unspeakable trials and compassionate moments of sacrifice and friendship. Their constant, unchanging nature comforts and I employ the peace they bringa balm for my aching mind and dying body.
Now the first streaks of sunlight stretch fingers of orange and grey across the eastern sky and I am reminded that I sit astride two centuries, though not as centuries marked on a calendar. What was new is now old and what was old is now new. The day will come when these people look out upon a new dawn and a day without the bridle, the whip or the execution, though the saddle of remorse will remain. I wonder if they will attempt to rebuild what was, or if they have learned not to repeat the same mistakes. Oh how I wish it were true, but history, that wise old sage, will argue otherwise.
I have been left here for reasons unknown. A quirk of fate, unseen hand, or crack in time allowed me to slip through the grip that wrenched our nation's soul to sift bone from sinew, father from son and hell from the pit. Just how it is I remain, an old man, left over from another time, I do not know.
My horse whickers, as if to remind me time is short and I must go. Though regret would bind me to this place, there is one job still required of me. Muley stomps his feet as I move to untie the reins and I leave you now to join my eldest son.
Chapter Two"I hope our wisdom will grow with our power and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be."
Chen was growing anxious to leave the god-forsaken ground where fate had abandoned him these many long months. He was tired of the dust and the parched landscape with its prickly vegetation that grabbed at him wherever he went. The tented awning under which he sat provided shade but only modest relief from the heat. He longed for the warm, moist climate and lush vegetation of his home in Southeast Asia.
Lazily swatting at the ever present flies, Chen withdrew a photograph from his attaché case and gazed longingly at the dark haired beauty smiling back at him. They came from two different worlds; hers, affluent and well appointed; his, poor and wanting. Even so, and against the will of her parents, they'd kept their relationship alive. Chen had vowed that somehow he would acquire the wealth needed to win her parent's approval. It wasn't going to be found in this forlorn and desolate border post in northern Mexico, but he was working on a plan.
His thoughts were interrupted by the sudden rush of feet and salute of his communications officer.
"Relax Kang. What has you so excited?"
"The orders, sir."
Chen leaned back in his chair, read the hastily scribbled note and closed his eyes for a moment. Upon opening them he gazed into the distance, towards the southern border of the United States.
Exhaling loudly, Chen returned to the moment. "Finally Kang, our moment of redemption draws near." Chen reached for his attaché case to retrieve two small glasses and a bottle of scotch. After pouring the drinks, he offered one to Kang.
Chen simply nodded and raised his glass in a toast. "To success and to returning home." The men tossed back their drinks and Kang returned to his station. Chen poured himself another drink in an attempt to control his impatience for the night's events to begin.
Finally, the wait is over. Tonight we infiltrate the U.S. and prepare to pay them back for the wrongs perpetrated on mighty China.
* * *
Shortly after midnight, at the Animas Valley border patrol outpost in New Mexico's Bootheel, Buzz Peterson poured two cups of coffee and stepped into the communications room. His partner's growing agitation was out of character.
"Steven what's going on?"
"I can't believe what's happening. Seven border patrol stations are under attack.
"Are you sure?"
"It's all over the radio. Every available unit including the National Guard is being called in to assist."
The lights dimmed as the stations power switched to battery backup.
"Power's out Buzz, we'd better go ...
Explosions rocked the building and a fire burst into flame in the kitchen. Heavy caliber bullets were pounding the station's bullet proof glass as Buzz and Steven crawled through the smoke towards the backdoor. Then the backdoor exploded in a blaze of brimstone and light. Buzz and Steven lay dead.
* * *
Chen relaxed in a canvas backed chair smiling to himself and rubbing his hands with delight. Everything was going exactly as planned. The Americans were in a panic and confusion reigned across the airwaves. Soon the order would come to send in his aircraft and their mission would be complete.
Chapter Three"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence; it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."
Scattered gray clouds rode across the sky on a chill zephyr born of winter, while a cool breeze played hide and seek throughout last year's raspberry canes and raised the hair on the back of Cliffson's neck. The meager spring sun was spending all its energy pulling the first new blades of grass from the ground and doing little to keep him warm.
Cliffson, needing some time alone to think after a restless night, had prepared a hot cup of coffee and found his way to the garden. He regretted the city had spread to where he lived and the loss of that country feeling, but most the time he still found solace in his garden.
How do people miss the stench riding these winds of revolution? Our nation is sliding into the abyss, yet few take notice. It's so similar to what happened in Nazi Germany and to Rome. What about my family, my brother? And what should I be doing to prepare instead of standing here with this coffee?
These were some of the things he pondered while watching the geese fly north in "V" formation. The warm mug of coffee interrupted his thoughts, returning him to the soft ground of his garden. Coffee. Even the gods must need a first-class cup of coffee each morning. I wonder how long I'll be able to afford it.
Cliffson was startled out of his reverie by the sudden appearance of six military vehicles in desert camouflage, descending on his elderly neighbor's home across the street. Two humvees with mounted machine guns positioned themselves to cover the house and surrounding area. At least twenty men dressed in camouflage, dark helmets and tall black boots poured from the vehicles, smashed the front door and stormed the modest home.
Shocked, senses returning in time to catch the rising tide of anger boiling up inside, Cliffson suppressed his emotions at the sound of a Blackhawk helicopter approaching from behind. Raising his hands, he backed away, withdrawing deeper into his own property. From there, he watched jack-booted thugs drag two elderly people from the house and throw them into the back of one of the vehicles. Cliffson flinched at the sound of their groans rattling through his own aging body, almost as if he were receiving the beating himself.
Marge and Harry were in their seventies, and about as innocent as one could be in a nation filled with so many laws that no one person was entirely free of their entrapment. If the government felt threatened by them, how much longer would it be until he was taken away in the same manner? Though the two neighbors had been active participants in protests against the ever growing power of America's police state, they'd never been violent or threatening.
Such was the state of America in 2016. The Bill of Rights was suspended, and American citizens deemed a threat could be detained indefinitely, or worse. The president had commandeered the ultimate power of judge, jury and executioner. His personal "kill list" was updated weekly, as those rubbed out with drone attacks and sniper hits were dropped and the new names added. Drones monitored all activity and no one fell outside his purview. The right to a speedy trial by a jury of your peers was no longer recognized. Citizens were deprived of their liberty and property without regard for the due process of law.
All forms of electronic communication were monitored, and even in private, friends held hushed conversations if speaking of the government's actions. You saw them in the corners of local pubs, discreetly gathered under the cover of night. Hushed conversations shared in secret, as one or the other furtively glanced about, wondering who might be the traitor in their midst. Who present was planted by the Bureau of Security? The slip of a quivering tongue voicing opposition to the government was all it took to be swept away and disappeared.
After the military vehicles left and the roar of the Blackhawk faded, a shaken Cliffson pulled up the collar on his insulated jacket and parked his six foot three inch frame on a wooden bench near his tiny vineyard. News of these crackdowns was common and though the media always portrayed them as the round up of more terrorists, Cliffson knew otherwise. But the news was one thing. To see your friends beaten and dragged away rent his reality and crushed his spirit, which was, of course, the intended result.
Having watched the government thugs from her kitchen window, his wife Jean came to join him. Numbed by the attack on their friends, the two sat together on the bench consoling one another. Perched beside them in the limbs of a Norway spruce, yellow feathered finches were in full throat, unaffected by the turn of events or the cool breeze. Sitting quietly in the solitude of their garden, Jean and Cliffson spent a few more moments together recovering from the trauma of the attack. Both believed their day would come. They would confide in a trusted friend and one day be taken away by government agents. Yet, there was really nothing to be done, outside of laying low and getting by the best they could.
"I'd better go check on the stew," Jean said, and patted Cliffson's knee before returning to the kitchen. Cliffson stared across the street at the open door to his friends' empty house and shook his head in disgust over the government's brutality, before ambling back to the vegetable plot.
Not knowing what else to do, he found himself contemplating how it just didn't seem right the weeds would start growing so far in advance of the desirable things. And why was it the pests liked his garden so well, but never touched the weeds? Certainly life would be easier for the sparrow if they drew sustenance from the dandelion. Couldn't the mice and voles feed as well on the weeds as they did the new peas and lettuce bursting forth from the ground?
A blaring horn startled Cliffson out of his reverie and he turned just in time to see the Cranks flipping off the car they'd nearly hit while backing out of their driveway. His neighbors, Cliffson thought, what a piece of workrude, obnoxious and all about themselves. Cliffson saw them as the perfect example of what society had becomeentirely and completely self-absorbed.
It wasn't just the Cranks though. People everywhere were rude and angry. There was a strain in life that pulled on you like gravity and was just as ubiquitous. It choked you when you breathed, tugged at your feet when you walked, and clung to you like a cold wet fog whenever you left your home. If you were one of the few people who still cared about others, you recognized it and knew something was wrong. Not a small somethinga very big something.
It was part of the reason Cliffson and his wife Jean had drawn even nearer to the basics of life and self-sufficiency, much in the way of their grandparents. They canned garden produce, dried fruit, swapped labor for beef, kept bees and raised chickens. Recognizing what would eventually happen to their paper currency, they stored extra clothing, necessary supplies and returned to heating with a wood stove.
Heck, they didn't even own a cell phone. A "social disease" as Cliffson called it, claiming it kept people from being neighborly and destroying any sense of community.
Monk, their next door neighbor, and their best friends, the Wests, were the only people they knew who also recognized how warped and out of balance things were.
Yet, most people had no sense of it and seemed quite oblivious to the demise of common sense and honest values. Cliffson had come to think of them as "Zombies".
Neighbors and acquaintances often made fun of the frugal way they lived. They treat us as if we were building an ark or something. Cliffson thought. They just didn't get it when he tried to explain. Of course it wasn't raining when Noah built the ark, so he figured he was in good company.
Cliffson viewed the simple life as a blessing and recalled the days of his youth when people made things with their hands and took pride in their work; a time when agreements were struck with a handshake and a steady look in the eye. He was a fish out of water in today's world where people followed the herd, rarely even questioning their place in line, much less where it was headed.
The following day, Cliffson found himself back in the garden. Dark clouds threatened rain and a cool breeze descended from the north, but the weeds were getting ahead of the lettuce and spinach seedlings, so Cliffson set to the task of pulling them. But his real reason was to be there for the neighbor's daughter who was expected home this day.
When she arrived, Cliffson walked over. For the lack of a front door he knocked lightly on the side of the house, and though he could hear weeping coming from inside, Cliffson received no answer. Softly he stepped inside the darkened hallway as Jessie rose from the couch on unsteady feet and rushed to embrace him. Her tears wet his neck and broke his heart. The younger generation was going to pay a terrible price for the government's foolishness but most of them had yet to realize it.
An adopted daughter, Jessie was just twenty-one and her parents, for that is what she considered them, meant everything to her. Cliffson comforted her as best he could, but there was little to be done outside of offering her a place to stay. Jessie thanked him for being there for her, but said it wouldn't be necessary.
Together they walked outside to her car where he told her their door was always open if she ever needed anything, then stepped back and waved good-bye. He was heartsick for her.
Excerpted from Truth's Blood by TYLER ROBERTS Copyright © 2013 by Tyler Roberts. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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