The Second Civil War : Chapter Three
Day One MId August : Second Civil War
To read chapter one, go to The Beginning.
The President’s office was packed to capacity and the mood was grave. Senator Tom Grey was speaking. “It wasn't me – I wasn’t anywhere near California at the time, and I certainly wouldn’t have said something like that.”
The White House press officer eyed him and said, “The LA Times isn’t in the habit of running news stories that aren’t true.”
A voice came from somewhere behind the president, “Why would the Dems split California in two and take lives in the process? It doesn't make sense.”
“Well the south has always been more GOP than Dem. I'd say they were drawing sides with a no man's land in between. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.” There was a pause before General George Stokes contined. “It looks like a local operation - not foreign.” The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff continued firmly, “Both the NSA and the Feds concur on this. Appears there’s been a Dem Militia group in Northern California for some years.
Senator Grey spoke again. “It still doesn't make sense. Dems don't do war, and whoever was at that meeting, it wasn't me." He looked bewildered. "I most certainly didn’t say that there was a war brewing between the two parties-- It wasn't me! I was in my office in Washington and my staff can validate that, as can the security videos.” He voice reflected his frustration.
The Republican representative said harshly, “Lies. You were seen there, Senator Grey. Stop the posturing! We’ve all known that this day was coming. There are extreme points of view on both the left and the right.”
The General intervened. “Actually Congressman, it looks very much like it was a Republican militia which started it, and then a second militia took up where it left off. We have no evidence that it's liberal."
“Well, what are you going to do about it?’ The voice was tense and belonged to a senior member of staff of the Federal Reserve.
Everybody turned to face Tim Smith, the Federal Reserve representative.
“Gentleman-- When the banks closed their doors yesterday afternoon, it created panic. The stores are losing money and the people are in need of food, water, gas, and more. We could print some more money - quantitive easing - but it's been tried before, and I don't think the people will buy it."
“I don't understand what's happened to all the money. It can't just vanish.” The president spoke harshly to Smith.
Smith, the most senior person alive since the shootings of the Federal Reserve leaders the previous day – said, “Pointing fingers isn’t going to fix the situation. I do believe that we need to create another Federal Reserve like institution, only we won’t call it the Federal Reserve. We can call it the American’s People’s Bank. Fortunately, we have had these plans on the back burner for some years as we anticipated this happening.”
“So we can have the same old system? How does that help us?” It was Senator Grey who spoke.
Smith replied, “Isn’t that rather obvious, Senator? Perhaps you might stop with the hypocrisy?” There was an audible gasp from someone, but Smith continued, “Wasn’t the purpose of appointing a well-connected private group to control the money of the rich and keep it from falling into the hands of the poor? If you feel that the goal of the Reserve has changed, now is the time to tell” Smith knew that it would always be the money that controlled the power. Then he said, “Isn’t it good policy always to have a back-up plan? We have a back-up plan. Let’s use it.”
The president shook his head as he sat himself at his desk. The people needed a leader and he knew that he was supposed to be that leader. His brain raced. In one way, the situation was simple. There was enough food, water, and shelter for everybody if there was no hoarding. But that wasn't going to happen. Weren't people supposed to help each other in crises, he wondered?
He didn’t know what to believe anymore. He was feeling fragile and the people did not need a fragile president. The situation needed a clear mind and a strong course of action. He wondered if he should hand over to his vice-president.
More thoughts rushed through his head. There was no money. It looked as if civil war was on the horizon. With Texas seceding from the union and and others looking to follow suit, he worried about his inability to solve the problems. They were too vast, and he was only human. Why had he ever thought that he wanted to be president?
Now southern San Francisco reported that a massive stink bomb had been detonated and it was was forcing fast evacution. The stink was so vile that people were leaving in droves - some going north while others were going south. Whirly birds reported that the belt of foul gas stretched from the ocean to the edge of Nevada.
It was forcing a temporary separation between northern and southern California. It occurred to him that it was rather an innovative way to establish a no-man’s land. How had all this happened? The Joint Chief of Staff was right. This was an attempt to create a no man's land. Why?
There were other reports which were even more disturbing - from the CIA and Intelligence services two hours earlier. Those who had remained in the area, in the vain hope that the stench would lift, were dying. The thought of biological warfare was not welcome.
Reilly said, “I should have locked the door.” Jennifer didn’t say anything. She just looked at him. She couldn’t believe that this man who had been a neighbor for two years, and for whom she had nursed a secret crush, was pointing a deadly weapon at her. She didn’t say anything because she didn’t know what to say.
Reilly thought for a moment, then picked up some rope and said, “Tie your legs together, and do a good job. I taught you how, so don’t try anything.” Jennifer took the rope from him and remembered other things he had taught her. He had said that if someone tied you up, there was at least time to make a plan, and that there wasn’t currently a plan to kill you. She did what she was told.
When she was finished, he walked over to her with another piece of rope, then tied her hands behind her back, then sat her down on a chair and tied her to a chair. He then proceeded to pack the cache of weapons into two separate containers, put them on wheels, pushed them to his car and came back. He then disappeared for thirty minutes during which Jennifer tried her best to loosen her bonds, but it wasn't happening.
When Reilly came back, he said, “Your parents are both in my car. They don’t know anything. I’ve merely told them that you’ve made arrangements for us all to go away because there are terrible things happening in America. We’ve been friends long enough for them not to ask any questions. The way I see it, you can either play along, or I can shoot the lot of you."
Jennifer believed this man she once thought a friend would do that. "Shows how little I really knew about this man in the two years I thought I knew him," she thought to herself. But she wanted to live, and so she played along. Reilly untied her and they both exited the house and climbed into the car. She gave both her parents as cheerful a good morning kiss as she could, and settled down as Reilly started the car and headed she didn’t know where.
Harold Parkins, a billionaire twice over, was shepherding his family to his private jet. Thankfully, he had not been in New York when the EMP bomb had detonated. The family had been enjoying a summer break at Disney and the family jet had been parked in Miami. Considering it pointless to return to New York, he had managed to use his influence to obtain permission for his family and himself to travel without the necessary papers to safer havens in Europe. Money and power opened doors, he knew.
After speaking to Chris Roberts, his assistant, in New York, he had instructed him to get the family passports and other travel documents and Fedex them to their destination in Europe. He wasn’t yet sure which country he wanted to go to, but the family had homes in Barcelona as well as in Florence.
As he was about to board the plane, a stranger stepped down onto the gangway from the jet and walked towards him.
“Mr. Parkins,” he said.
“Yes,” replied Parkins, rather curtly.
“You won’t be traveling today.”
“Who are you?” Parkins was unaccustomed to being told what he could and could not do.
“I’m the guy who has been sent to tell you that you won’t be traveling today, and that if you choose to travel, then an EMP bomb will detonate within a minute of your take-off.”
For all of three seconds, Parkins looked stunned. Then, the wheeling and dealing of a lifetime took over. “I can pay you for safe passage.” There really wasn’t a simpler way of putting it. Parkins didn't doubt the veracity of the man’s threat, but he also didn't doubt the power of money and corruption.
The man before him looked slightly familiar. He hadn’t noticed that immediately, but now he struggled for a name. Then it came to him, and as it did, he struggled for words, “Aren’t you-“ The absurdity of the question he was about to ask stopped him. But there it was, the man in front of him was the splitting image of Luciano Pavarotti.
For a moment, there was a faint smile on the lips of the stranger, then he said, “Mr. Parkins, there are a lot of people in the city of Miami who would be very grateful for any generosity you extend to them, but you will not be leaving the United States in the foreseeable future.”
He indicated for the family to return to the terminal, which they did. As they reached the doors, he gave Harold Parkins a long steady look. Parkins received a clear message from those eyes, then slowly nodded to his family and said, “Let’s find ourselves a hotel.” His gut told him it wasn’t going to end well.
Bett Clark and her family had arrived in their compound in the northern California town of Nevada City at around two in the morning, a little later than they anticipated.
They had not been surprised to note that others were migrating to safer pastures as well. It occurred to Bett that there had been rumors of revolution in America for some time and these people were all prepared, as her family had been. Truthfully, she hadn’t really seen it, and her family had not been happy with her decision to deal casino games just north of Santa Rosa on one of the reservations. After briefly, greeting those who were already there, she made her way to her room, and when she finally put her head to pillow, tired as all hell, she slept peacefully.
In the morning, the sun woke her, and she could hear movement of those who had woken earlier than she had. The memories of the previous day came to mind and she hopped out of bed in a flash. Bett grabbed jeans and a tee, then made her way to the kitchen where the smell of freshly brewed coffee welcomed her. Her mother was sorting through the tins in the pantry.
“Morning, darling,” she said to Bett.
“Need any help, Mom?”
“Need you ask?”
Bett smiled, took a clean mug from the sink, poured the heavenly black brew into it, added cream and sugar, and then joined her mother in the pantry to help. It occurred to her that stockpiling all the cans of foods on the shelves might not have been the result of paranoia but the result of inside knowledge.
Bett sorted through the tins and various containers with her mother and set aside packets of seed to plant. An hour later, the job was done. Bett thought it time to speak to her father and find out exactly what was going on.
It was time to break for lunch and the man who bore a striking resemblance to Pavarotti looked around to see if his relief was close by. Everything had been well organized and it was essential that no planes leave Miami. There weren’t many of them but they had been practicing the scenario for many months – one might even say years.
In the distance, he caught sight of another famous character. He smiled. The dead were definitely walking again. How nice, he thought, to add some silent humor to these dire proceedings. Einstein joined him two minutes later.
After handing over to the fake Einstein, Pavarotti made his way to the rest room. There he locked the door, quickly discarded the wig, removed some stuffing from his mouth (they altered his cheeks), donned a pair of dark glasses, turned his two-way jacket inside out, and walked out a changed man. He headed towards the food court. A man had to eat after all.
At one in the afternoon - Washington time - the President once more stood before the podium. He had delivered speeches at eight, at ten, and now again.
At eight, he announced that the Federal Bank would dissolve and that a new bank would be formed to take care of the interests of the American people. When asked by journalists who would control the bank, it turned out to be friends of the president and buddies of the congressmen and senators.
At nine thirty, he had to deny rumors of pending civil war between factions of the GOP and factions of the Liberals. His denials didn't reassure anyone, and when the journalists asked him who he thought was responsible for the EMP bombs, the President did the presidential thing and said, “As soon as we have more information, we will let you know.”
Now, at one, he had even worse news. He thought, perhaps, he wouldn’t run for reelection after all.
“Fellow Americans,” he said. “We live in the greatest country of all time, and as a consequence, we sometimes face greater than normal challenges. Now is such a time. But the American people have always overcome their challenges, and we will do so again. As a people, we are always well prepared.”
He breathed. Now to tell the tale.
“Both the National Intelligence Service and the FBI have confirmed that there are biological weapons being used to force a separation between northern and southern California. Although there have been very few deaths, we do not want there to be any more and so we must ask you in the strongest possible way to respect the boundaries that have been artificially enforced on the sunshine state.”
“Doctors from the CDC have been working in the area since early this morning trying to establish what the virus is. We do know that it is man-made and that it is fatal.
“Marines from Camp Pendleton are en route to the area to ensure that there is as little collateral damage as possible.”
Perhaps POTUS should not have paused to breathe at that moment because it gave opportunity for those below the podium to ask questions.
“What do you mean by collateral damage, Mr. President? Are we talking Americans here?
The President was having a bad day.
Peter Allen accepted the salute from the men of the militia. The break-out from the jail had been easy. From the moment he had punched the President in the face, the tone had been set for what was to follow. It wasn’t that he had planned the event. It was just that he couldn’t control his anger any longer. It was his frustration at the persistent pandering to the privileged classes thereby ensuring that the rest of the people were in a state of perpetual poverty.
Of course, there had been no exact plan for revolution. It was more that they were ready for the revolution when it came. Many had known that the revolution would come, and so, it was really just the combination of circumstances which had triggered everything. He wondered, though, who was responsible for the EMP bombs. That hadn’t been his people. Yes, his people had taken out the Federal Reserve – bloody robbers, every single one of them. He also wondered just how many sides there would be in this war. He knew that many would be caught in the middle, "Sometimes," he thought, "you have to pick a side because the middle ground wasn’t the safest place to be." Sitting on the fence wasn’t going to pay big dividends in this revolution, he knew.
Before he was ready to speak to the members of the militia, he turned and softly said to the man next to him, “Has my family been taken to safety?”
“Yes, Congressman. The moment you were taken to jail, we went to get them. Your daughter has only just arrived and your wife has already been settled into the designated home.”
Peter Allen wondered if his relief showed on his face. He mounted the make shift podium to speak.
“Soldiers,” he said, “the time has arrived for you to demonstrate your patriotism. The choices will be difficult for it will be one state against another state, one friend against another friend, and one brother against another brother. The choices, I say to you, will not be easy.”
“How will you know which choices to make in future days and months?"
“You have before you only one goal and that is to remove the poison that has beset this nation. There can be no un-American values anymore. We cannot have homo-sexual marriage. We cannot have mothers who are not married. We cannot have people living in our country illegally. We cannot have corporations employing people in another country while our people starve because there is not enough work for them. In short, we want our country back, and if we have to take it back through the use of force, then that is the way it will be.”
“You will all know by now that we did not set off the EMP bomb, and that means we are not the only party in this war. The people who did that may be our friends, or they may not be our friends. Security to be maintained at all times.”
“Some of you will lose your lives in the coming months. You will be remembered by your comrades, and when the day of remembrance comes, as it does each year, we will remember you. God be with you.” Congressman Peter Allen stepped down from the podium. He was anxious to see his wife and his children.
Bett finally caught up with her father in the late afternoon. It had been a busy day for all of them. They made sure that the well was supplying water and that the fruit trees were still bearing fruit. They didn’t have any livestock but the boys had gone off to see if they could buy some breeding hens and a cock from distant neighbors.
“Pops,” she said, “We need to talk.”
“Yes, of course, we do.” he smiled softly as he spoke. Lance Clark might not always have agreed with his daughter’s choices, but he had a healthy respect for her brain. And he had a healthier respect for her determination to get something she wanted, and she wanted the truth.
“There’s a group up in the north who have been training men for some time. Heard about it from Ben some years back, before he vanished. He said that it was a bunch of hippies that had decided that they needed protection from the Republican militias that were forming. Didn’t sound like they had much in the way of weapons, but obviously Ben didn’t tell me that. Yesterday morning, before the EMP bomb went off, Ben came round. Said it was time to leave. And that’s all I know.”
Bett believed him.
The crowds in Los Angeles were getting ugly. Phone lines were down. Microwaves didn’t work. And if it had previously been thought that social networking couldn’t be stopped, then the thinkers had been in error. For while there was an occasional working computer, the electronics in all the routers had been fried. Dead burglar alarms now served no function. Motor bikes, cars, and anything that had had an electronic component were as dead as last year fashions.
Shopkeepers didn’t open stores because staff couldn’t get to work. The governor had no idea what to do because he didn’t have sufficient resources to deal with an entire city of people who were rapidly running out of food and water. In short, Los Angeles was getting ugly.
Anne Shapiro and Douglas Martin stared out of their apartment onto the streets below. Both were naked but that didn’t prevent them from seeing the fire in the distance. Anne was a professor of social studies at UCLA while Martin was a mechanical engineer who contracted out his skills to the highest bidder.
Douglas put his arm around Anne’s shoulder for he felt her fear in the same moment that it occurred to him that while love making had detracted them from the dramas of the previous day, it most certainly hadn’t made any of it go away.
“We’re going to have to get out of here,” he said.
“Yes,” said Anne. “I think the entire population of Los Angeles is probably thinking that way by now. It’s not difficult to work out that there aren’t enough resources in America to fix this mess up anytime soon.”
“The fire looks as if it’s pretty close to your father’s bike store.” He couldn’t tell though, as the afternoon light was muggy with a smog that seemed to have permanently settled over the city of Angels
“People will begin looting because they have no other options. It’s going to be very much survival of the fittest and the rich will probably make a run for it. The middle classes will try to be civilized about it all for a bit, but that won’t last. And the poor have probably started the looting already.” Anne’s knowledge of sociology painted a clearer picture for her than most. Martin wasn’t far behind, though.
“We should probably have left LA yesterday,” he said with hindsight. Even as he said it, he was grabbing clothes and reaching for his backpack in the closet He opened the bedside drawer and took out a small revolver. “I’m glad you know how to shoot,” he said to Anne.
The woman gave one final twist to the latex on her face, then lifted the blond wig from the stand next to working area. She fitted it snugly onto her head and looked at her reflection. Marilyn, blond bombshell of the 50s, stared back at her. The woman donned three quarter jeans, flat sandals, and a pretty blouse to complete the picture. Now to do the act that the late actress would never have done, she thought to herself..
She walked to the kitchen, opened the refrigerator, then removed a package which she packed carefully into her handbag. When that was done, she reached for a petite gas mask which she also packed into her handbag. Satisfied, she opened the front door of her apartment and stepped out into the lovely early evening of New York city.
For chapter four, return to The Beginning, and click on link to next chapter. If it has not yet been published, it will only be a few days.
© 2016 Tessa Schlesinger