Medal of Defiance- Chapter 7

DO NOT BE ALARMED!

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I redid my chapters to be smaller, so we are on chapter 7 now. Still at the same place in the story though.

Chapter 7

 

Are you kidding me? I screamed at myself. Winthorpe? I could have sworn I saw a man named that one time on a really old movie…How would I ever get used to hearing my name being Winthorpe?

Briefly I scanned my history that I should know…My parents’ names, my siblings, and my date of birth. As soon as I thought I could remember Annie James, Henry James, and Matilda James, I clicked off my flat tab and shoved it in my coat.

This was it. I was on my way down the corridor, everything dear to me was packed in my pockets so that was not saying much about my pathetic life. I was about to embark on a new future. One that I hoped would change the world for the better.

Jack was waiting for me and looked nervous to me. I cursed under my breath at his rigid demeanor. That could alert someone that there was something going on. These people were very good at reading body language. So I quickened my pace to get him out of the courtyard.

I was handed a backpack for the day. I figured I could get away with taking the water and perhaps my rations that were inside.

“You need to relax, man,” I said as I approached Jack.

“I am relaxed! I’m just anxious to see what you got done last night! I just sat there in bed wondering how you would pull this off,” he laughed and clapped me on the shoulder.

“Your lack of sleep has you standing like a robot. Take a deep breath and let’s go.”

We took off for our post, once again heading for Ladymeade Parkway. We were silent until sure we were out of surveillance at the base.

“So, how did you do it?” Jack asked.

I laughed out loud at his eagerness. I stopped walking and he followed suit as I dug in my pockets. Drawing out my new prints, I took one out of the sleeve to show him.

“Here it is…I just have to glue it to my finger. It is clear, it works, and I only have to use it when I know I will need to be scanned,” I said.

“That is amazing, Wes. Truly amazing. I would never have thought to do that. What did you use?”

I gave him the run down of the night in the supplies closet and showed him my altered ID. It was angry and red when I drew up my sleeve but I knew it would heal in time.

We started walking again.

“My name is Winthorpe,” I snorted.

Jack just laughed until he had tears dripping from his eyes.

“Okay, that’s enough I think. Maybe I could just go by Thor for short. He is a legend from another place in the universe who fights to change his world. Do you think he would mind if I shared his name?” I chuckled.

Jack broke out into a new bout of laughter. “I don’t think he would mind at all. But I think Marvel would probably hate you.”

“Most likely,” I replied.

We stopped a spell at the house Jack was working on.

“Been nice working with you, Winthorpe,” Jack said struggling to control his laughter.

“Yeah, take care of that wife and kids back home. I’m glad I met you, Jack.”

Jack just waved to me and started climbing in the rubble. I took a mental picture of him before I turned and headed the distance to the house that would change my existence.

The ground started to rumble under my feet. I felt dizzy, like I couldn’t keep my footing. I could hear matter falling all around me and a scream rent the stillness of the air.

“Jack!” I called out.

Nausea gripped me and when the shaking stopped, I got back to my feet and sprinted to where I had last seen my comrade. I could feel my hands shaking, my breathing was ragged and I thought for sure I would pass out.

I couldn’t see him. I couldn’t hear him. It was like the destruction had just swallowed my friend up. “No, no! Don’t let it take Jack!” I mumbled as I made my way through the large stones and bricks that lie on the ground.

I could hear the dust settling as it fell through the piles of wood and stone, like rain on a metal roof. “Jack!” I yelled out picking up debris and throwing it into the street.

It felt like it took me forever to wade through the aftermath of the small quake. But there, not even too far beneath, was my comrade. My accomplice in this whole charade. He had been crushed, his bones badly broken and his head leaking colors I never knew existed in the human body.

I threw up and the tears came unbidden to my eyes. There was a moment when I didn’t think I could even breathe. This man was a father, a husband, a son…and my friend.

I knew I couldn’t touch him. But I fell to my knees and cried.

When I felt hollow and spent, I replaced the pieces of rock that used to be part of that home…the ones that most likely did Jack in.

Once I gathered myself up a bit and dried my eyes, I realized that my time had come. No one could know about any plan since the only one involved had just died. I scrambled down and ran. I ran fast and hard until I made it to where we had placed the man I would replace in this world.

With every limb of my body shaking, I slipped into what remained of Winthorpe’s home. Frantically I searched for clothes and at long last, I found most of a closet left standing. I stripped my body of my soldier’s clothes and slid my body into the soft fabrics of clothing of quality. If I had been more aware, I would probably have reveled in the feel of them.

There was a bag, a man’s leather satchel that I snagged and tossed all of my paraphernalia in it. Hurrying back to dead Winthorpe’s corpse, I set about the task of dressing him in my filthy uniform. I could smell the rotten smell of decay coming from his bloated figure and I fought back the vomit that threatened to escape me again. I had to exercise control over myself. I didn’t know how much time I really had.

Knowing that the dead man would more than likely fall apart if I dared to drag him, I picked him up and carried him to where I had dug him out.

“I’m sorry about this, chap,” I said with sincerity before dropping him back in the hole and filling it in with the rubble.

It was time to hide. Staying in the house would not be safe, not if another aftershock came through. I could be buried in there. So, I took the satchel and left, not looking back. As I passed around the back of the house, something shone at me in the dusty light. I bent and picked it up.

Carefully I opened up the leather folder that sported a silver insignia. It was Winthorpe’s wallet. I had the man’s wallet. How it ended up back there, I have no idea. But all I could keep thinking was that this was a plan from a higher power. This was my destiny. No matter how humans tried to control the outcome of anything, Fate would always step in and steer people in the right direction…down their path. There was no other explanation.

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BOOK TOUR! Across the Threshold!

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So today was the official release of the anthology I have been so blessed to be a part of. The tour kicked off with a post at Twisted Willow Press. Then, we had loads of fun at a release party on Facebook. If you weren’t there, you can peek in and see what fun we had!

This book was a long time in the making. We started it with a group of people that all worked together. I can still remember the exhilaration I felt when our “Imp” asked if I would join the group. We had a deadline  of January 2013 so I feverishly abandoned my NaNo last year and wrote “On Wings of Silver”. It was an easy story for me to write since it plays as a prequel to my YA series that I will one day get to finish. I love Nahdea, my stubborn little faerie who falls in love with a human…instead of it being the other way around.

As time went on and we hit one deadline after another, we all sort of lost touch. Finally I grew impatient. I had worked so hard on that story that I was not about to do nothing with it. So, I contacted some of the original authors of the group and some that were new.  Together, we put together a collection of stories we are most proud of. We do miss our Imp very much.

When you download a copy of this book, you support the dreams of six authors who call themselves the Twisted Willow Wordsmyths and encourage future anthologies of different genres. This book gives you a variety of short stories to enjoy. Some are really short and some are longer, but they are all full of action, adventure, wishes and spells.

Be sure to catch my post on December 1st on my website. Should be a fun one! 😀

Pick up your copy in paperback or in Kindle versions! You know, Amazon has free Kindle apps so you can read books on virtually ANY device now. They also allow you to purchase a book as a gift and schedule its deliver by email. Perhaps you know someone who is getting a Kindle for Christmas??

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“Take my hand and come across the threshold where nothing is as it should be, yet everything is an adventure!

This collection of stories comes from a group of authors who have aptly named themselves “The Twisted Willow Wordsmyths”. Their imagination will take you to places you never knew existed. From the power of a human tree to the fanciful Three Little Pigs, the trials of a stubborn little faerie to the rhythm of ancient drums, the curse of an old ship to the possibility of stars making wishes. There are no dull pages, no putting the book down, but hours of wonderful moments with the characters that come alive in these pages.

We all hope you love this book and look forward to many more!”

Medal of Defiance Chapter 2-NaNo 2013

Chapter 2

 

The train moved quickly, high speeds of over 200 miles per hour. It is really hard to get a glimpse of much when you are moving that fast along the ground. But we could tell that life here was anything but normal. There was rubble and debris everywhere you looked.

I could feel the train slowing and was glad to finally be doing something. I felt bored and full of anticipation and dread all at once. I was always the jump now, think later type of guy so I just wanted to get started.

We stopped at the station in Surrey, near Guildford, and our doors opened. As we hit the ground, a backpack was thrust into our hands, as promised. I knew it would be heavy, but I hadn’t really thought it would weigh as much as I did. But I slung it over my back and slipped my arms through the padded straps.

I took that moment to survey the area of decimation. Homes were torn into pieces, store fronts were leveled. Smoke curled into the sky intermittently. I could hear screams of pain and terror, babies crying for their lost parents, and a complete lack of wildlife. No birds could be heard singing and no dogs were barking their warnings. It sounded like listening to the ocean in a seashell. It was strange and muted, disjointed from the rest of the world.

“Fall in, men!” DeVry shouted.

We all did as we were told, Jack sticking very close to me. Perhaps this was what being an older brother felt like…the weaker attaching himself to me and happy to just follow where I went. An odd feeling of watching over him hit me and a slight smirk twitched the corners of my mouth.

“This is Field Commander Jones and Field Commander Wilson. We will do this the easy way. The left side of this group will go with Jones,” DeVry called out motioning to a man about ten bodies in and swooshing outwards with his arms. “The right side will go with Wilson. You left here in the center will come with me. Jones, take the waterfront areas, Wilson, take the north end of the area, we will cover the rest. We meet back here at 1900 hours. Do you understand?”

We all told him we did with one chant in unison. The Field Commanders shouted to their ranks and started walking. Jack and I were staying with DeVry.

“Time to go! Pick it up!” he called out to us and we fell into step beside him.

The longer we were out there with no trees upright and no buildings to shade us, we got hot. I had spent my career to this point in a temperature controlled area, not out in the heat with a 150 pound pack on my back. Where I came from, we trained, but not simulated a crisis.

It wasn’t far to where we were working that day, perhaps a mile from the station. Most of the guys were all puffing and red faced once we had a second to rest. DeVry pulled out a map and unrolled it in the dirt, setting a rock on each corner to keep it flat.

“This is our area. Team up with someone and we will take sections. Got your buddy? Okay. Line up.”

Jonas gave us our orders, of course Jack tailed along with me. I suppose I could have gotten a worse partner for this project. We were to take the northeast section of the city of Guildford. From looking at the map, I felt confident we could find it as long as street signs or landmarks were still in the general area.

Jack and I took off in a trot at my hand signal to come along. Before we could get to our assigned area, we had people running to us and grabbing at our packs in desperation. We helped each other fend off the victims of this atrocity and kept moving but offered apologies to the people as we went.

We ran up Woodbridge Road until we hit our barrier of Ladymead Parkway. Jack and I agreed that starting at the back of our threshold and working our way back would be most productive. It was as I would imagine a war zone. Just piles and piles of stone and concrete littered the roadways so that we had to climb in places just to reach our destination.

“You start here, I will go just next door. If we are both working every other house, we will cover more ground!” I hollered at Jack. His nod told me he understood what I said.

It was as if we entered a whole new world. It was eerily silent except for the sound of my boots against the rocks and chunks of debris. The home I stood before looked like an unfinished jigsaw puzzle…the old fashioned kind that came in boxes of a thousand pieces. About a quarter of the home was still standing, three floors high, with only a few items of furniture out of place. The rest of the home lay in jagged bits like the puzzle pieces waiting to be locked into place.

“Hello?!?” I called out. Closing my eyes, I bowed my head slightly in an effort to concentrate on the task at hand. I wanted desperately to hear a plea for help but there was none.

I could faintly hear Jack the next house over throwing boulders of concrete against others. With a deep breath, I took off my pack and began to dig through what was out there.

In an hour’s time, I reached a smashed television and what used to be a bowl of popcorn. Someone was here.

“Hello?” I called out again and kept digging.

Stumbling across a sign of life made me realize that this was real. This was no exercise. Someone’s mother or father could be in this mess. Someone’s child could be too hurt to cry out. It made me hurry even faster.

The sun was sinking low in the sky when I heard a whoop come from Jack. I was tired and sweating from the mild temperatures that felt so hot since I was engaged in such physical activity.

“You find someone?” I yelled out on the still air.

“Yep! No vitals though!” he hollered back.

I let out a quiet growl. “You’ve got to be here!” I whispered.

Darkness was closing in and I knew it was time to head in for the day. I threw out one last stone with the thoughts that I could be burying those I was looking for in my newly formed pile. I felt defeated. Tears of shame stung my eyes and I fought to control them. A sigh rushed from my chest and I glanced down at my boots, dusty and filthy. I also saw what looked like a hand.

“Jack! It’s almost time to head back and I found someone! I called out. “Come help me quick!”

I worked feverishly to unbury what appeared to be a man, a young man. I could hear the footfalls of my comrade as I uncovered the man’s head and part of his torso. Together, we were able to pull him out and lay him on the ground. I crossed his arms over his chest. He was terribly broken. We looked for signs of life, but I called him as being dead.

We removed his right shoe and sock, placing a red tag around his big toe to show the cleanup crews that he was gone. Letting go of that tag was probably the hardest thing for me to do. It meant that a life had expired, that he would never rise and walk again, that his parents- if alive- would grieve his loss. He was no older than me, I speculated.

A lump of sadness grew in my throat, to my surprise. I couldn’t understand why I was so emotional…I was not an emotional person.

“Can you give me a minute, Jack?” I asked, my voice sounding raspy and strained.

“Sure Wes. You okay?”

All I could do was nod and I knelt beside my victim. I heard the crunch of earth beneath Jack’s boots as he walked away from me.

“I’m sorry you died, chap. That is what you call each other here, right? Chap? I hope you can sleep peacefully, my friend,” I said to him and patted his hand.

I heard a tinkling of metal on rock and looked for the item that had slid out of place. It was his medallion which slid off of his neck and onto the asphalt below him. I picked it up to put it back on him and I chanced a glance at it. Instant familiarity hit me and I sat still a moment, my mind searching its memories to recall this exact shape.

I gasped when it came flooding forward. This was the medallion that matched the princess. The Princess Paige of the royal family. She would have no mate.

Without giving it another thought, I quickly swapped mine for his.

The ID number! Panic made my heart thunder in my ears and my breathing came faster than I could handle. I had to disfigure that number on the man’s wrist. Digging in my bag I came away with a pair of scissors that I ran across the numbers. I could barely believe I was doing this. I could be killed for deviating from the path. I was committing a crime…or was I? I would be responsible for the Europe Nation’s royal family to continue on. But if I was ever found out, I would be in some serious trouble.

My scissors left a nice gash through the tattoo. Satisfied that no one could piece it together again, I felt a wave of shame run over me. I just desecrated a dead body for a reason I didn’t even understand. It wasn’t like I loved the princess. Maybe I admired her, but I definitely didn’t know her.

There was still time…I could put the medallion back. I could continue on as a nameless, faceless soldier here to dig the dead out of their graves so they could just be buried again. I froze. Something kept me from going back to who I had been my whole life. This was a medal I could wear proudly. It was a medal of defiance meant to snub the very ones who thought to control the world and how people felt about each other. This medal would change my fate.

“You ready to head back?” Jack’s voice startled me.

I spun on him, my new medallion making noise against the buttons down the front of my jacket. I’m sure my eyes looked wild and the quickened breathing gave me away. I saw his eyes look at the medallion and knowing dawned over his face.

“What do you think you are doing, Wes?” he freaked out at me but kept his voice down.

I just put my index finger over my lips to hush him. Then I bent down to grab my pack and threw it over my back. “I’ll explain later, Jack.”

My mind was whirling with so many different thoughts. I would have to do a really good job of covering this up if it was going to work. In the forefront of my mind was how to change the number on my body? I knew it was impossible to involve anyone else. I had to figure out how to alter it on my own.

And what was I going to tell Jack? I had no idea why I did it in the first place. How in the world could I explain this? Subconsciously, I slipped the medallion within my jacket. If asked why, I would simply tell them it was in my way while digging. That would buy me a little time.

There was just an error, I justified to myself. If anyone says a word about my identity, I would merely shrug it off as an error. We are, after all, only human. Errors are made all the time.

“You know that you will have to fake your own death, right?” Jack announced.

“Why would I have to do that?” I asked him, casting him a sideways glance.

Jack looked far ahead down the road.

“You can’t win, Wes. They will still find out whether it is by DNA or thumb scans. You have to find his body again and keep samples of his hair and blood. You will have to disappear, man. They would never believe that an orphan from Chicago could be matched with a person in Europe,” he chuckled.

“Let’s go back and hide his body until I can figure out who he is and what I’m going to do. Come on! Help me!” I cried out and we both ran back to where the dead guy was lying on the ground.

I yanked the tag from his toe and we carried him behind a pile of debris.

“She isn’t just anyone, Jack. She is Princess Paige. That’s who matches this medallion,” I told him as we once again headed back.

“You lucky bastard!” Jack hissed. “I’d probably do the same thing if I were you.”

“How in the world am I going to pull this off?” I asked aloud although it was more for myself.

“It’s not too late to go back, Wes.”

“I feel like I was meant to find this, Jack. Twisted or not, I feel that this gives me some purpose. Something I have lacked all my life,” I smiled feeling invigorated.

Jack shrugged his shoulders. “I will help you as much as I can. But if I get outed, I’m squealing to save my own neck!”

“I don’t blame you one bit,” I replied.

Once back with the rest of our troop, we headed back on the train for what knew as base. We were sent straight to dinner and then had the opportunity to shower and relax a while before “lights out”. This was when most men wrote to their families of which I had none. I did feel a pang of jealousy and desire as the guys pulled out their flat tabs, as they were called, and composed emails to send to their parents or even their wife and children. I wished that Jack was in my room instead of these two yahoos. At least then we could start a game of dice.

I took my flat tab out of my bag and turned on the power. It glowed brightly and I glanced over the top of it to make sure my roomies were otherwise engaged. Then, I opened my browsing window and searched for tattoo ink, where to buy it, what kind the hospitals use and how to apply it. It was unlawful to tattoo the body these days due to an epidemic that began and was traced back to contaminated inks in tattoo parlors clear back in 2098. Shops were shut down and artists were then placed in hospitals to brand babies as they were born.

I sighed and allowed my small machine to rest over my chest. Closing my eyes to think, I must have drifted off for I woke to one of my comrades whisking it off my chest, laughing as he waved it around and then turned it around to look at it.

“What’s Cam been up to? Writing his mommy and daddy back home? Is that why he never talks? He can’t live without his mommy?” the man taunted and pressed the power button.

I panicked. If he saw what I was up to, I would be discovered. I had to get it back!

“Here, let me see,” the second roommate chimed in.

I grabbed at the flat tab and they kept it out of my reach.

“Oh, he has it locked!” they whined and tried to breach my security defenses.

I’d had enough. My temper flared and there was no way I could allow them to see what I had been looking at. I balled my fists and let them fly, solidly connecting with the one holding my machine. It fell to the ground and landed beside the one that had been holding it, but now he was holding his ruddy face where I struck him.

The man who started the situation threw his hands up and backed away. “Whoa, man. No offense…I wasn’t trying to cause trouble, just having a little fun with you.”

I threw him a dirty look and stooped to pick up the flat tab that was blaring the search results I had been looking at. The fall to the floor must have disengaged my lock. Quickly, I took it into my possession and appeared to be inspecting it for damage, casually passing my finger over the history erase button and that got rid of any evidence.

“Don’t touch my stuff. I don’t touch yours, stay away from me,” I glowered and sat back down on my bed, stuffing my tablet into my bag. I pulled my shirt over my head and spread out my body over the thin mattress. I just begged for the lights to go out before anyone noticed that my tattoo did not match my medallion.

“What’s his problem?” the smacked down guy whined.

“Don’t worry about him, Seth. Just leave him alone,” the second guy said.

I could hear the squeaks of the two beds as they hunkered down for the night. It was then that the lights went out but I didn’t fall asleep. My mind raced.

How would I change my identity? How would I create my own death so I could be reborn as another person? Ideas filtered in and out of my crowded head and settled on Paige. Was it possible I felt a twinge of feelings for a woman I had never met before? Was that my motivation for breaking nearly every law there ever was?

My pulse hastened involuntarily when thinking of the consequences of my actions. I just couldn’t do it. I made up my mind to go back in the morning and switch the medallions back. There was just no way. Even if I could alter my tattoo, passing the DNA and fingerprint checks would be a disaster. It wasn’t worth the stress.

Morning came more quickly than I had expected. I felt unrested and irritable from my lousy night’s sleep. No one in my room said a word and my roommates left for breakfast before I did.

Digging through my bag for clean pants, I stuck my finger in something sticky. I didn’t remember packing anything like that, so I pulled it out to find that it was a putty to hang things on the wall. A chuckle of insanity escaped me and I tossed my head to look at the ceiling, pocketing the putty.

New ideas sprang to life and I began to rethink swapping my necklace again.

“Heard you laid out Seth last night,” Jack laughed when I caught up to him at the buffet.

“He had my flat tab and wouldn’t give it back. So I showed him I meant business. I was freaking out, dude!” I replied and lowered my voice to a whisper, “I was searching tattoo information on there. If he had seen it, I would be so done for!”

Jack’s mouth dropped open and his eyes grew wide. “Are you kidding me? Oh, man! You were lucky! But punching him in the face makes people wonder what you are hiding, you know? You have to tone it down a little bit.”

“I know, I know. I had decided to take back my medallion as I fell asleep last night. But I woke up this morning and came across this,” I whispered holding out my hand with the putty in it.

“What’s this for?” he asked me.

“For making a mold of the guy’s thumb print. Look,” I said and squished my thumb into the soft substance. Pulling my finger away, it left a perfect imprint of my thumb.

“Wow! You are a genius, dude!” Jack squeaked out in excitement.

Quickly, I hid the putty away. “See, Jack? Every time I decide not to go for it, something else pops up to make it possible! This is my fate. I am supposed to follow this path and not the one the monarchy made me choose!”

“I envy you so much. You aren’t afraid to step out and be your own person. I hope that one day I can do the same,” Jack told me.

“So do it,” I replied shoving eggs in my mouth. “We can figure it out together.”

“Naw, man. I’m just too chicken. Not my style. But I will help you as much as I can.”

“I still have a really long way to go, Jack. But I do feel I can do this,” I said and shoveled more food in.

My roommates called out across the room, “Looks like we have conspirators in our midst, boys! Cam and Allen over there are probably spies from another nation to bring us down from the inside! Probably from the Russian Nation or something!”

There were many snickers that went around the room. I wanted to kill these two fools. So I stood up to stare them down. “That’s why I talk with such a thick accent, you morons! You should be careful who you are calling out, guys. I heard what you had to say in your sleep, Seth! But don’t worry, your secret is safe with me…until you make me mad!”

The room erupted into laughter and Seth bowed his red head in embarrassment. I could hear Jack giggling like a little girl, trying to hold back. I sat back down and finished my breakfast. It worried me a little, becoming something of a celebrity meant it would be more difficult to disappear.

I was befriended by several guys in the unit between the buffet and returning to our site. Backpacks were distributed once again and we took off for Ladymeade Parkway. I felt light as air and it hit me that any reputation I gained would be lost when I took another man’s identity. But if I could hold my own against my military unit, I was positive that I could pave my own way as a member of the royal family.

The first thing we did was verify that the man’s body was still there where we left him. He was. Being unsure of how long he would stay supple, I took out the putty and smoothed it the best I could. Then I pressed it securely against his thumb, pulling it away and revealing a perfect mold for a print.

I studied the man’s face and wondered what his name was. He didn’t look all that different from me in that he had a sandy colored head of hair, just a tad darker than mine. His was a little longer in length and able to be combed neatly at the part. It looked as though he hadn’t taken the time to shave for a few days as the light sprinkling of facial hair dotted his chin and upper lip. I pried his partially open lids further apart to reveal blue eyes behind them. Mine were close, but held a bit more green to them than blue.

“You are going to have to swap him clothes, you know. He can’t be you if he isn’t wearing your uniform,” Jack pointed out. He was right.

“How do I get back to base without my blues?” I asked.

“You just gotta make the break, man. You do it and don’t look back. Let’s search the house for clothes. Then, tomorrow, you can make the switch and disappear,” he replied.

I sighed deeply. “I’m a little worried that I have no plan, Jack. I have some specifics, but I need time.”

“You don’t have time. This body will start rotting more each day making it more impossible to pass him off as you.”

“I know you are right, but…”

“Here. Get your prints made tonight. All you have to do after that is learn his history. You can take his hair and leave yours on his body. More than likely they will take hair that appears to be sticking up. Just leave a few and some on his clothes. You know, he will need your prints as well, man. Then swap clothes and hide his body back under the rubble. I will report that you had a part of the house fall on you and killed you. From the looks of it, you will be the sole survivor of this family and the real you dies off. Stay in areas of this house until you can find a camp of victims. Sounds like a great plan and you could get it done tomorrow,” Jack said thoughtfully.

“But if you tell them I was buried and killed, they will dig me up and find out that the body has been dead longer than I supposedly was. No, better to return after working tomorrow and tell them I was missing when you came to find me. It might take them longer at that point to figure out where I was, giving me a chance to decompose enough,” I added.

“Good point. See? You have it all figured out just fine. It is a matter of actually doing it now.”

I nodded in agreement feeling numb. I knew he was right.

That evening felt strange to me. We had our meal and sat around just talking…like chums. The more I learned about Jack, the less I wanted to make the break. She was just a girl. I didn’t even know her, but I knew Jack. I could do my work and return to my normal life and still visit this new friend from time to time like normal people did.

I did stop to wonder for a moment if people felt anything close to what I did when they were dying of an illness. Did they feel as detached as I did? Logically, the only difference was, I could choose not to die. I could simply take back my medallion and forget all of this nonsense. Then, my life wouldn’t end.

But, if I didn’t do this, who would? When would this Noah’s Ark approach be broken and people free to do as they wished where love was concerned? I could be a hero, the first to fool their system into thinking I was someone very different.

Could I keep my secret? Even from a woman I might marry? What sort of union could be built upon a lie? These thoughts disturbed me greatly and I frowned.

“Hey,” Jack said in a serious tone, “don’t forget me. When I come looking for you, you had better acknowledge me.”

He took me off guard for I didn’t know our friendship meant anything to him at all. “Of course, Jack. We will always be buds, right?”

He smiled and drank deeply of his cup. “Just feels weird that you are gonna be gone, is all. That’s the way my life has been. I get close to someone, they die or they leave. I wake up each day wondering if my wife will be there when I get home. Rotten way to live.”

“You shouldn’t have to live that way. I give you my promise that I will always be here for you. Give me your electronic address and I will write you when I can,” I replied sliding a scrap of napkin his way.

He gave me a chuckle and pulled out a pen from his pocket, scribbling down the information.

“I need to go find some materials, Jack. Do not follow me. I don’t want you implicated if I am caught. Please say nothing if anyone asks about my actions. Think of your wife and kids,” I pleaded.

Jack nodded his agreement and I left him sitting alone at a table to slink the halls and find what I was after.

Finding a supplies closet, I took a peek around to be sure I was alone in the corridor. Then, I carefully turned the knob and stepped inside, palming my small flashlight as I closed the door behind me. Clicking on the light, I made quick work of looking for something to transfer prints.

I took down a can of liquid latex, one that we used that sometimes for waterproofing our gear. My heart thundered in my chest as I held that small can in my hands. I knew it would dry clear to be unnoticeable. Perhaps some clear glue to affix it, I thought.

Skimming the shelves once more, I did find a tube of glue, strong glue, that I knew would work until I could figure out something else. My breathing came fast and I started to sweat. This was it.

Hastily I set the latex down and opened it, praying it didn’t smell too strongly to attract any attention. I had to work fast. I removed that putty from my pocket. After picking the fuzz from the print, very carefully in fact, I dipped my finger in the latex and smoothed it over the print. I could feel it drying on my skin as I spread it evenly.

The putty sat in my shaking hands and I waited for the liquid to set up, just staring at it and watched it change slightly in color, the gloss slightly turning matte. The edges started to lift so I carefully pinched a spot and pulled gently. It came off easily and I inspected the copied print in the bright light. It was perfect.

A smile spread over my lips and I felt a moment where I wanted to laugh with relief. I set that prototype on a shelf and went about making several copies. I knew one would not last forever. As the putty prints were drying, I filled my time making copies of my own print. That man out there would need my identification.

When satisfied that I had made enough, I found a blade and cut just around the edge to remove the excess. Not wanting the newly made prints to bend in my pocket, I found a small plastic sleeve to slip them into…one for his and one for mine. The tube of glue made its way into my pocket as well and I prayed that it wasn’t so obvious that someone asked about it.

My next task was more difficult. I had to alter my code. A temporary fix was not practical. I had to do it right. From what I read with my searching, I should be able to use a pen.

With hands still shaking, I took apart a pen I happened to find on a clipboard. We didn’t have much need for writing pens these days. In efforts to save our planet, or rather the people on it, our society went paperless in every way possible. That implemented the thumb scans. It became our personal digital signature. Pens of all kinds ended up in storerooms like this one. I suppose you could say that I hadn’t ever been so happy about finding a pen in my life.

I used the razor blade to snip off the end of the plastic tube that held the ink. Nervously, I licked my lips and could feel the perspiration accumulating on my brow and upper lip.

I took a steadying breath and removed one of my officer’s pins from my jacket. Dipping the tip of the pin into the tube of ink, I then laid my arm out on a shelf. I went about altering my number: 11593104 to the number on the new amulet: 71608109.

I didn’t care if it were perfect. I had grown since I had been given my number and it had stretched and distorted a bit. No, perfect edges were not of necessity. I just needed it to pass.

Into the skin, into the ink. Into the skin, into the ink. Again and again, changing that 1 into a 7 with just a few pokes. Morphing the 5 into a 6. Hoping the 9 looked enough like an 0. And turning a 3 into an 8, then making the 4 appear a 9. Little droplets of blood oozed where I had pushed the ink under my skin.

Sure, I had read that pen ink could cause infections, it could make me sick, but I had little choice. The only people who had access to the right ink for marking were in the hospitals. They wouldn’t take kindly to someone just walking in asking them to break the law and alter their ID number. No, I was doing all I knew.

Tapping into the first aid kit, I ran a swab of alcohol over the blood spots and dabbed on a germ killing salve. I was not about to bandage it and draw attention to myself so I clicked off my flashlight and sat quietly, hoping no one needed supplies.

Several minutes later, I turned my light back on and wiped my wrist with some gauze before putting new salve on my irritated, raised skin. Satisfied, I pocketed the tube of salve as well. The light went out and I listened intently at the door.

Silently, I cracked open the door and slipped back out into the corridor. It was done. I had no choice now. My number was different, my medallion matched my number. I had my new identity. At this point, if they scanned my thumb, I would see the inside of a prison cell. I was beyond the point of no return.

“Where have you been?” the guys asked when I made it back to our room.

“What are you talking about?” I mumbled back at them and flopped down on my bed.

“Dinner ended hours ago. They just called for lights out about fifteen minutes ago. We were just about to turn in when you snuck in.”

“Oh. I didn’t realize it was that late already. I was just sitting outside in the courtyard,” I lied.

“We didn’t see you, Cam. They had a fire out there tonight and toasted mallows and had beer.”

My heart leapt into my throat. “Well, that’s because I just wanted to be alone a while. Just missing home, I suppose.”

There was an awkward silence. The lights went out and I rolled onto my side wishing my brain to shut down so I had some chance at sleeping. It wasn’t long after that I could hear my comrades snoring.

I really can’t say that I slept at all that night. I could only imagine that was what prison escapees would feel as well. It was the moment of my rebirth.

But who was I? I had no idea who this new man was, who his family was. Yet I didn’t dare to turn on my flat tab. If the guys woke up, my plan would be spoiled.

The wake up call came as the sun was just beginning to lighten the sky that morning. When Seth and Turner left to shower, I pulled out my flat tab and turned it on, finding the identification site. I could find anyone’s identity by scanning their thumb on this website put out by the Chamber. It was the moment of truth.

I took out one of the prints from the dead man and set it on the square that was highlighted on my screen. I pressed my thumb over it, allowing the heat of my skin to activate the search of the database.

The screen blinked at me and blue lines faded in and out over the blackness it had left behind. When the screen returned, it had a name on it and it wasn’t mine. Just to be certain, I checked the ID number. This was who I was. Winthorpe Goldman James.

Medal of Defiance-NaNo 2013-Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

 

I can remember the days that brought me to where I am now. Just a young man in the Corps of Humanity, I was content. It was almost like I was programmed to do the same thing each day and I did it because…well, that’s what we do. We conform.

After I graduated from my studies at the local Chapters of Education, I joined the Corps. I was given a choice to serve my fellow men or work in a career chosen for me in a lottery. In all truth, the monarchy tried to match a person with their talents and genetics in efforts to avoid conflict and suicides from happening. My fear was that I would be chosen to bake bread for the storehouse so I chose the one way I could make a decision for myself. Now, I help others in times of need. I believe a higher power directed me to make that choice for my life would be completely different if I hadn’t.

I remember getting up at 4:00am. My clothes neatly hung in the washroom, freshly pressed. I would step into my steaming shower at 4:35am and step out at 4:50am. I would comb my hair and brush my teeth and roll deodorant in my underarms. At 5:00am I would cook me three eggs, scrambled but cooked soft and add three slices of bacon to my plate. I would sit at my stool at 5:20am and eat my meal of protein, topping it off with a piece of fruit and a cup of hot lemon water. At 5:40am I would shrug into my jacket of navy blue and red patches on the shoulders, the flag of my nation, the American Nation on the right side just beneath the shoulder. I would slide my flat topped hat over my close cropped hair and clip the holster holding my stun laser at my waist. At 5:50am, I walked out my door to catch the tram at 6:00am that would take me to base. After six stops through the city, I would step off the tram at 6:45am for the short walk to Chicago’s military base and check in with a thumb scan at 7:00am. I would eat lunch at 11:00am and scan out at 6:00pm for the tram ride home. I would sit in the terminal until 6:30pm and wait patiently for passengers to disembark and step on until I arrived at my stop at 7:15pm and make the short walk home, unlocking my door at 7:25pm. I would call for the lights and remove my cap and jacket, hanging the holster for the next day. At 7:30pm, I enjoy a meal of hot chicken and mixed green vegetables, a cold glass of water making my glass sweat and my throat cool. At 8:00pm I would step into the shower and be in bed by 8:30pm. That was my day…everyday. There was no deviating from my schedule.

There were two days I didn’t have to report to base and on those days I would work out my body and send electronic mail to my loved ones. My parents were long gone, being lost in the Resistance wars. I was raised by a couple who was barren and could not have a family of their own. Lucy loved me as her own child and Trenton taught me how to be a man and conform to what would keep the masses safe. As a child, one always has thoughts of how to improve the monarchy, but Trent would kindly reel me back to toe the line.

The Resistance days were difficult, akin to what I have read in history books of World War II. So many lives were lost, so many sons and daughters buried, and those who lived through it were careful not to take their new leadership for granted. Trent was one of those who loved his nation and would not stand for rebel influence to change his way of life. I was not allowed to have an opinion, I was to do as I was told…and I did.

I lost Trent and Lucy in a freak storm that manufactured a tornado four years ago, just months after I chose my path once school had ended. He was so proud of me and that I wanted to serve my king and my people. I still write him and Lucy letters every week.

I had a handful of friends that moved to different areas of the city and outlying areas when they chose their careers. I write to them as well to keep up on what they are all doing with their lives. Most have found their matches and have a child that cries day and night, driving them insane. They envy my life, they say when they return my predictable, mundane messages and I envy theirs.

Sometimes I would wonder, “If I were gone, would anyone realize it?” And then just as quickly as I think it, life happens and the thought passes. I slip into my robot mode and allow my work to consume me.

Rarely did I travel, rarely did I meet up with my pals from the base for a seltzer, and never did I waste my funds on things like movies or simulations. The fact was, I felt alone and felt destined to be that way. I had no desire to search for “her”, the one who held the matching medallion to mine, the one who had the same identification number tattooed on her right left wrist: 11593104. No, somewhere in the world would sit a lonely spinster of a woman, bitter about her match never finding her and thus condemning her to a life of utter loneliness. At 23 years old, I didn’t care.

It was a call that came in the year of 2124 that changed my life and direction I had chosen to tread.

That sexy woman’s voice woke me up at 3:27am, “Incoming call from Ruger…Would you like to answer, sir?”

I rolled over and drew my leg back up on the mattress, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. My voice was low and scratchy as I answered with a sigh, “Yes, Rachel.”

The sound of panic in my commander’s voice hit me. He was distraught and commenced telling me of the disaster that had taken place thousands of miles away in the Europe Nation. “It is bad, Cam. So many lives were lost today in that quake. I am assembling a team of my men to head over there and lend the Relief Alliance some help when they deploy. You are one of my best and I am sending you on that plane. Be packed and ready to depart on the train to New York at 2100 hours.”

I sat up in bed trying to digest this order. I was leaving, but not just my home, I was leaving my nation as well. This was what I signed on for, to be of help to others as a humanitarian aid in relief situations. I swallowed hard and answered with a feeble, “Yes sir.”

“Don’t come to base this morning. Get your things packed, only necessities, and check in with me at 1930. You are limited to one pack so make the most of it. Take only what you cannot find over there, soldier,” Ruger replied.

“Wha-Will there be places to buy supplies over there? Where exactly did it hit?” I remember asking in bewilderment.

“Necessities, Cam. Nothing more. The quake obliterated the Southern Europe region. I have no other information to give you before you make it to base later this evening. Don’t tell a soul. Most don’t know about this disaster yet and we don’t need pandemonium on our hands. Other units on the coast are preparing for tsunami activity. It is up to the rest of the units to send help their way. Ruger out.”

I just sat there numb. “Lights on,” I stated and there was light.

A long sigh rushed from my lungs and I debated on rising or going back to sleep. I would be exhausted for the flight if I got out of bed at that time. Granted, it was only a half hour before I would normally wake, but my night was not going to end at 8:30 this time.

I let out a small growl of frustration. A change in routine never went over well with my personality. “Lights off.”

My room became black once again and I flopped back on my pillows. I don’t remember falling asleep, just tossing and turning as thoughts of dying people and piles of rubble ran through my mind. I envisioned myself pulling bodies from the destruction and wrapping wounds on the living. When I could no longer take it, I did get out of bed and summoned the television to spring to life.

The glossy panel on the wall opposite my bed burst into color, searing my eyes. I took a moment to allow them to adjust before looking back. “World News,” I called out and the channel flipped.

There was now coverage of the horrific event in the Europe Nation. So much for keeping it quiet, I thought and stared in horror at the utter desolation of the land and homes and people. There were wounded people crying and running toward the camera holding parts of their body that were oozing blood. There were corpses littering the roadways and strewn over toppled homes and buildings. Medics were on the scene in many footage shots, trying to calm the injured and clear away the dead. A ticker in the corner of my screen said it was estimated at that moment to have 3,000 souls confirmed dead.

I ran a hand through my hair. I did not want to go into that. I think it was a lot of fear bubbling up when I normally felt secure and that bothered me.

The screen switched to show an old clip of the royal family in London standing on the very famous stone balcony. King Alexander stood tall and proud with his family. The camera zoomed in on their faces, one, two, three, and four that were one happy family unit. Lady Caroline with her long, dark hair swept up, the little boy baby, and Princess Paige who had been in the news recently after finishing her schooling and starting her own crisis center for troubled teens. She looked amazingly like her mother. It was strange to see the young woman as a normal person, a casual skirt and blouse draped her body and her hair was curled like I remembered the girls in school. She was very ordinary and yet I had to respect that.

The words on the screen blared out that the royal family was very distressed about the damage done to their nation. The newscaster told their audience that the royal family had not been seen at all since the quake shook their part of the world. I wondered if they were still in the palace or if they had left seeking safety until it was declared a safe area once again. I snorted and thought the very worst of them. I called them cowards.

Feeling resentful of having to give up my life to travel thousands of miles and help people who would not appreciate it nor would I make any difference at all in such a horrific ordeal, I strode into my gaping closet where I grabbed my blue duffle and threw it with all my might at my bed. It slapped sharply against the blanket and flopped rebelliously to the ground.

Once I had packed my bag as tight as it would go, I had my meal of eggs and bacon, wondering when I would be back. I knew the food would go bad before I returned and irritation puckered my expression. All my rations would get thrown away.

As I chewed the salty slices of the pork, I came to the resolution that I would take what I had to a young family in my building. I was sure they could use it. It was better than tossing it into the compactor.

Once I had showered and changed into my blues, I spent the day preparing for my departure by paying my bills that would be due and packing the perishables that I would donate. I was grateful that I didn’t have a family to leave behind for it was hard enough to leave just my home. I couldn’t imagine a small child pulling on my leg, begging me not to leave them.

I then simply sat on the sofa and stared at footage of the disaster even as night fell upon them in the nation of Europe. The ending of the first day of terror was nigh and even as I knew I would step aboard a plane in a matter of hours and possibly close my eyes against life, it was unlikely all those souls in Europe would do the same. They would live the misery reigned down upon them for weeks and soon, yet soon I would join them. It would be my terror as well. My normal life would cease, my mundane job would become one that raced time, and I was just one person; just one in a sea of many. I was no miracle worker. And by the time I was walking out the door for the tram, I was annoyed.

I made it through to my commander’s office to be briefed before making the train to New York.

“Commander Ruger,” I saluted when I entered and stood stiffly at attention.

“At ease, Sergeant,” Ruger replied sounding bored.

I dropped my bag beside a chair and sank my body into it.

There was a moment of silence between us. Finally, Ruger met my eyes and sighed. He was tired and I could sense his stress. “I’m sure you have been watching the news all day, Weston. We tried to keep the media contained but it didn’t happen that way. The cat is out of the bag and we really don’t know what we are sending you men into over there. The atmosphere is panicked, of course. Your responsibility is only to help the RA by recovering bodies, identifying them, and clearing the affected areas. The wounded should be sent to the hospital immediately. There are shuttles in all areas that provide transportation only to medical centers all over Europe Nation. They are apprised of what centers can accommodate those people. It is not up to you to play hero and escort them yourself. Put them on a shuttle and get back to work. Understood?”

“Yes sir,” was my only reply. Then I swallowed hard. This was going to be ugly.

“I don’t care how many tears they cry at you, how scared they are, or if they become your best friend, Weston. I meant it. You are to stick to your order given by me,” Ruger reiterated firmly.

I winced at his scolding for I had never deliberately strayed from his orders as other had in the past. “Yes sir,” was all I could say. My breathing accelerated and my heart began to pound. Perhaps I could just not fathom how bad it would really be.

Satisfied with my response, he gave me a stern nod of his head and handed me the tickets I would need to travel abroad. I stood and saluted him once more, just to be dismissed.

The ride to New York was a comfortable two hours from the base in Chicago. I then boarded the small plane for military personnel at midnight. We were encouraged to sleep and would arrive in London, Europe Nation in roughly seven hours. It was said that when we got to London, our day would begin with dropping our bags and grabbing a shower at our Embassy. Then, we would get to work until we were told to stop for the day. If we didn’t sleep on the flight, we would still work through the day.

I hunkered down with the small pillow and blanket given to me and reclined my seat. My mind was racing and I had never flown before so my nerves were jumpy. I closed my eyes and stared right at the back of my eyelids until I fell into sleep.

London was teeming with people of all walks when we arrived at their noon hour. There was a smell of brine in the air and more humidity than I had expected. However, for May it was a mild temperature, although I had nothing to compare it to for I hadn’t ever been to London in my life. From what I gathered, it was one of the most gloomy areas of the world. But the day I arrived, it was a glistening paradise beneath the rays of the sun, the buildings full of history, the smell of pastries in the air, and the sound of the Big Ben clock chiming out the twelve o’clock hour for the city to take note.

I stayed close to the group of men wearing my same jacket and soon after stepping out onto the sidewalks, a very muscular man with no hair and black visors over his eyes strode up to the group.

“I am Jonah DeVry and I will be taking you to your quarters on behalf of the RA. Once you throw your bags in the room, you will report to the mess club for a bite and then we will throw you to the wolves out here. Understood?” the man said in his loud, military style voice.

We all answered with a stout “yes sir” and he spun on his heel leading the way to a stone building that reeked of days past. We were shown to rooms like closets with one latrine in the corner, three beds per room. There were footlockers at the end of each bunk for our things, something I hadn’t ever even thought about.

It was true. I was spoiled. I lived within my means, yet I hadn’t ever been forced to share housing with anyone. My closet in my apartment was larger than this entire room. I wasn’t used to sharing a latrine with other men nor was I expected to shower under a community sprinkling of water. I had the luxury of a duvet on my bed, not this thin woven fabric.

“Come on! Bags down, let’s go!” Jonah yelled out, clapping his hands impatiently.

The distinct sound of duffles hitting the floors or squeaking mattresses was heard and then the thundering of heavy footsteps as we all filed out into the hallway. We followed DeVry’s dark head of hair through tight corridors with missing tiles on the floor in places. Our guide finally stepped aside and ushered us into a large room, the smell of mystery food wafting on the air.

It was like a true “club” from home, there was music playing louder than we could talk, the tinkling of forks and spoons against glass plates filled more of the void, and buzzing voices and ringing laughter filled the rest. The lighting was dimmed to create a lazy, relaxing sort of experience and there were men puffing on vapor cigarettes.

I could feel a smile dance over my face as I took it all in. We saw empty tables and we sat in them, not being invited by any waitstaff since there was none. When we were all in a seat, DeVry stood at the buffet bar and called out his instructions on respect for others in the room and eating until satisfied but not full. He numbered the tables, each seating six men, and in order, we advanced on the bar of food feeling starved.

There were some foods I expected to see, but some I was afraid to try. Being one who ate a very clean diet due to rations, these foods were enough to make my stomach rebel. I filled my plate with roast beef and no gravy, roasted potatoes and carrots, and three fried eggs, steering clear of breads and pastries. At the end of the line, tall glasses of tap water were waiting.

It made me nervous to drink water that I didn’t know what it contained. I had heard rumors that drinking water in the southern American Nation could make your stomach sick. I took a glass anyway and trusted that the RA would not put my health in any danger by giving me contaminated water.

“It’s clean water, soldier,” DeVry stated dryly as I passed him by.

“Thank you, sir,” I mumbled back, preoccupied with worry. I must have been giving the glass a serious stare down for my commander to notice.

Lunch tasted wonderful to my hungry belly and close to an hour later, we all headed outside in a courtyard for a briefing. We all sat upon stone benches that circled the grassy clearing in the middle of four buildings, much like the one we were bunking in.

As my comrades from all over my nation sat, I studied the grey stone of these buildings with fancy columns and carvings, tall windows framed with shutters of red and a roof of black. I doubted very highly that it was all original from the time it was first built and I tried to envision it back in the day when architecture was an art of true proportions.

“Where are you from?” a young voice asked at my left side.

I whipped my head in his direction and regarded him rather coolly, I think. “Chicago,” I answered him.

“Never been there,” he replied. “I’m from Idaho.”

I chuckled at the kid. “I thought you guys all spoke with a cowboy accent. Where is your base in Idaho?”

The kid joined with me in merriment. “I’m stationed at the Boise base. I suppose some of us have our own sort of accent out there, but these days, most have transplanted from all over the nation. I don’t think I know a single native there. Then again, I don’t get out much.”

“So where did you transplant from if you don’t have an Idaho accent?” I grinned razzing him just a little more.

The kid grew pretty quiet and somber for a moment. “I don’t know,” he answered.

I reeled back as though he punched me in the face. “How can you not know?” I asked callously.

He shifted his gaze to his hands that were folded before him, his elbows resting on his knees. “My file says there was some sort of accident that killed my parents in Vegas. I was sent to a family who adopted me when I was two and I have no idea what my parents even looked like. I can’t recall anything from that long ago.” He gave a weak laugh that signaled vulnerability. “It chases me, those shadowy thoughts. I think that most of the time I invent my own history just so I can stop thinking about it.”

“That’s rough. I’m sure sorry,” I replied feeling foolish.

“No worries. We all have our ghosts, I suppose,” he said looking back at me, the haunted look that had washed over him was gone. “What’s your story?”

I threaded my fingers behind my neck and stretched my back with a sigh. “I don’t really have one. I wake up, go to the base, and go home. My parents are dead, my adopted parents are dead and I have no ties to anyone,” I answered him.

“Ah, so no matches have come up for you then?” he asked giving my medallion a flick of his finger making it sway to and fro on the chain.

I looked away from him. “Nope.”

“Yeah, me either. At least not yet. Kinda thankful that I don’t have those ties, you know? Doing this job would really stink then,” he stated.

“I think the whole idea stinks. But that is just me. I don’t want the ties. I don’t want to pretend to care for an individual I have never met before. Just isn’t natural,” I replied. I felt that I needed to gather my wits again. Talking to others never led to anything good.

“You have a name?” the kid asked me changing the subject.

“Weston. Weston Cam. You?”

“Jack Allen.”

“Nice to meet you, Jack. Anyone ever harass you about having two first names?” I laughed making light of the conversation.

He laughed back. “Yep. All the time. Nice to meet you Weston. Sounds like you will fit in nicely here with the Foxbouroughs and the Ashton Brookehouses of this area.”

“I just need a dinner jacket and a vapor pipe and a glass of wine. Maybe a top hat on my head. They would never know,” I said through my laughter and wiping my eyes.

“If you girls are done over there, I will continue,” Jonas boomed.

I sobered immediately, the attack from my commander feeling slightly personal.

“As I was saying, we will convoy to the station where we will take the train being held specifically for us. Each of you will be given a backpack that will contain clean water and first aid supplies. There will be some MREs in there that are to distribute to victims, men. These are not to be eaten by the likes of you! Is that understood?” DeVry bellowed as he paced back and forth through the circle of grass.

“Yes sir!” we all called out in one unified voice.

“The water is for you to drink, distribute as you see fit and clean wounds for temporary dressings. There isn’t a lot so use it wisely. Each night, when you return to your rooms, a cart will be sent around to collect the packs and ready them for the next day. It is lights out at 2200 and wake up call at 0500. We try to get you back here at dusk, before the sun sets, as a safety precaution. However, we will use every bit of daylight to help these people. Any man found sitting while on shift will be reprimanded severely. You are not here to be pansy boys, you are not here to dilly dally, you are here to make a difference! If you choose to be a nancy boy, you will not be well received here. Wear your uniforms proudly and do your duty to the people in need of your training, your services. For many of you, it is the first time being out in the field. This is not an excuse for failing to do your job! If you question yourself, it isn’t right. If you question yourself again, it’s probably pretty wrong. If you act on something that I would question myself on, you will be severely reprimanded! Do I make myself clear?” DeVry shouted.

Our chanted affirmation led him to nod his head.

“If you find that you need to speak with me about anything you might see, please make an appointment with our liaison, Drake. He will be scheduling my time and I will be limited, but I am here if you need me to lend an ear to your troubles. You will see some horrible stuff out there, men. It is not uncommon to need to unload those thoughts on someone else. Get it out of your head so you can move on and do your job. You are soldiers, not robots. I get this. Do not bottle it up inside. That is an order. Now get up! We have work to do!” Jonas stood up tall and slipped a hat over his head.

A train was being held for our group of supports of the RA and we all scrambled aboard, not unused to the procedure, as a bunch of individuals, not a team of men on a mission of relative compassion. Few of us spoke to each other on the short ride to the south end of Europe Nation. Jack sat beside me again but we stayed silent. It was my thought that everyone on that train was thinking the same things. We were all imagining the worst, many of us wondering what a real dead body looked like, felt like and smelled like.

We all sat together somber and brooding, as if we were all on our way to a funeral.

Medal of Defiance- NaNoWriMo 2013-Prologue

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Okay, I am posting these chapters as I write them. Most likely, I will post about half of what I do get done in case I publish. This story was something my stepson and I worked out. I told him I would write it just for him. Well, being a NaNo project, I have made the time to finish with him in mind. Remember, these are rough drafts. If you have suggestions, comments are always welcome as long as they are constructive. I really do appreciate you reading my work!

 

Prologue

 

“It’s the year 2124 and the world is a much different place than it was for my ancestors. Gone are the days of trust. Gone are the days of compassion. Today is the day of control. Control by those who put themselves in power and who play God to the rest of the world.

Today we see nations run by kings and administrations that control the masses. We are matched at birth and allowed two births per couple. We are branded like the victims of the Holocaust and denied the quest for true love.

There are rules and guidelines to follow, more so than any other time on this planet. Because freedom and Democracy failed the public, our rights have been disbanded and we are left shallow, hollow people.

I suppose to those who lived in the early “2000” years, our world would seem perfect. Yet like our ancestors, we yearn for yesteryear when things were lighthearted, music was racy and wild, people could carry guns to defend themselves, and owning a car or a home was convenient.

In my time, all homes are owned by the monarchies and cars were collected from the people to reduce emissions into our fast depleting Ozone layer. They were all recycled and melted down to use for military weapons support, making our carbon footprint smaller for the life of our world. We now run strictly on electric trams that run through cities and then relying on the popular rickshaw to maneuver the empty streets. If you are smart, you live where you can just walk anywhere you need to go.

Airplanes are used only from continent to continent travel as the high speed trains are nearly as fast to get from one city to another without the costs of fuel that would further damage our world. Vessels out on the water run strictly on solar energy as weather patterns have changed in the last century so that we see the brilliance of the sun more often than not.

Along with that change, our ice caps have melted, the last glacier disappearing in 2115. For a time, many coastlines were under water, but the more years that go by with more sunshine than rain, the oceans seem to be receding. Areas that used to be known as California, Florida, and Louisiana are once again coming into view, the rooftops of homes peeking above the waves more each day.

We are not without moments of misery. By banning GMO foods, we fight the ever changing climate to grow adequate amounts of food that we can buy from storehouses where it is rationed to the people by the monarchies. The weather can change from warm to freezing in moments and a dash for cover is required. These strange weather patterns confuse the atmosphere and create other natural disasters that cannot be determined, they happen so quickly. Humans are tracked by a chip inserted at birth, but also by their fingerprint and DNA. There is no way to deviate from the straight and narrow path set forth by the rulers of the world.

The world. How it has changed. There is no government aside from the World Human Affairs Chamber that works directly below the different monarchies of the continents. There are seven nations that govern the people. Borders were removed, governments were replaced, many world leaders were tried for their heinous crimes against their people. But all were brought to justice and removed. The Chamber was created by those who led the resistance armies and thwarted the evil that is politics. These were very intelligent men and women who saw a better life for us. The Chamber then chose leaders to begin the journey as kings for the nations: Europe, American, African, Arab, Asian, Russian, and Hispanic. This created a sense of contentment, once they realized that one head of state was better than the turmoil of democracy. The children of these leaders and their generation were referred to as the Genesis Generation. They were responsible for evolving into what we are today; a simple people with a rigid structure.

My parents were a part of the Genesis Generation. It was an effort to rebuild life, to structure it for the benefit of humanity. For too long had the people lived unruly and poisoned lives. Now, their fate is decided and they are a healthier people for it. The tales of old passed down from one family member to the next has taught me that it is our responsibility, Generation Renaissance’s responsibility to continue our parents’ hard work to restore order and glory to the planet. We are Gen R and the fate of all humans rests in our hands.”