Friday, August 22, 2014

Chapter 26

Calling myself every kind of fool I knew of I told him, "I was at the graveyard."

Raising bleery eyes to look at me Sloan said, "What?"

"I said I was at the graveyard. I was saying goodbye to my family. Now that you have your answer lets get you ..."

He refused to release my hand. "Don't."

Past beginning to lose patience with both the situation and him I said, "Sloan you need to rest."

Proving he was more like my brothers - in stubbornness at least - than I was comfortable with him being he responded, "I will after I'm sure that if I lay down you'll be here when I wake up."

Exasperated I huffed and asked, "What?"

In a low voice he mumbled, "Don't go."

Surprised, I wasn't sure what to say. "Sloan ..."

He shook his head even though it obviously hurt. "It's a hell of a thing for a man to say, to have to admit Teaghan, but ... I don't want you to leave. OK?"

I sighed too weary to deal what I was going to have to deal with. "Sloan don't. We both know this is the only way to safeguard the farm and everything else."

Not liking my words Sloan said, "Now just wait a minute. I don't know what is going on in your head but I can keep you safe. You just have to cooperate."

I stopped fighting and just let him hold my hand. "I haven't been safe since the moment of my birth and my grandmother said, 'It's a girl.' And there's not a thing you can do about that. I finally figured things out."

Cautiously Sloan looked at me before asking, "Er ... what do you think you have figured out?"

"I'll tell you if you'll go back to bed."

His eyebrows came down and his mouth got a pinched look to it. "That's blackmail."

I shrugged. "Your the one that put the opportunity in my lap. Plus it's the best bargain you are going to get."

He was panting in exhaustion and pain by the time I got him back to bed and propped up on pillows but he still refused a pain pill. "I've fulfilled my part of the bargain, now you."

I sat in the chair and ordered my thoughts. "This goes back to the Second Civil War. I know it's history and I know you know it but it helps me to put order to my conclusions." At his nod I started. "The CW2 was short, brutal, and for everything it corrected, it fractured a couple more. For the sake of peace there were compromises made on both sides. One side saw gains politically and socially as most of the long term programs of financial support through taxation and redistribution were abolished. The other side saw victories in that it had converted a lot of people to their way of life. For about ten years - years spent climbing up out of the economic quagmire the country had fallen into - a little improvement was made in most people's lives every year ... even those who thought getting rid of the entitlements would be a bad thing found out that it actually normalized the economy and produced opportunities for people that hadn't been seen since before the turn of the previous century. Then the war. Our country would have stayed out of it save for the fact that the disenfranchised from CW2 had infiltrated the government and been waiting on their chance to return themselves to the power they had before and even more. Didn't work out quite as expected because their connections to the warmongers overseas was discovered before some of their plans could come to fruition and and that evidence was broadcast far and wide. We almost had another civil war as people took sides. Most of the problems went underground and areas were basically off limits to anyone that wasn't already stuck there. Eventually every got so bad that everyone turned their full focus on the war. Then the cease fire, the pandemic, then the abrupt restart of the war, and then the final cease fire. Things were a royal mess."

Sloan looked at me through slightly narrowed eyes, not in anger but in surprised concentration I think. Like changing his view of me was giving him a headache.

"The pandemic had done a lot of damage ... it had broken a lot of families, destroyed social and ecological balance in many places. I'm not going to go over all that because all I'm concerned about right now is how I got to be where I am. See, nature abhors a vacuum. That's a cliche but it is also true. Into this vacuum of grief and everything else first came the wolves in sheep clothing. They called themselves a relief and aide group. What they should have said was that they were social engineers trained in the way of gorilla warfare. They exploited people's weaknesses and if they didn't have weaknesses the led them down a path that made them weak. They pulled a lot of strings, guided things so that our community could be plucked like a ripe plum. From this point forward I'm guessing but I think I'm right. See what these soldiers of social engineering didn't realize was that there were people that had figured out what they were doing almost as soon as they arrived. They probably put the weak in their sights and manipulated the strong to stay on the sidelines."

Trying to see it in my head I said, "They got a lot of followers. Even weak people are strong when they run around in numbers. Before the pandemic it got to where no woman could be out in public without a body guard. Dad decided we were to come home and stay there. It was the only way he and my brothers could safeguard us. After the pandemic it was even worse and Dad and my brothers doubled down. We didn't live in town so I didn't see what was going on from a window ... only through what they let me know. You notice we don't have an entertainment unit. The subscriptions were too expensive was always his excuse. After a while I just didn't notice what was missing. I didn't notice what he wasn't telling me or how much they were filtering what I heard. It wasn't a bad life because they went out of their way to make sure it wasn't. My brothers were ten years older than me. How many grown men do you know that would have played with their much younger sister the way my brothers played with me? We played ... but they were learning games. I learned to hunt, fish, track, shoot." I shrugged. "I loved it. I loved the attention. And I loved when I was able to beat them at their own games. Dad encouraged all of it. He was so grief stricken but he still tried to stay connected to things for my sake but he was relieved my brothers had taken over some of what he would have had to do. Then came that day. I'm still only guessing but I don't think it was supposed to go down the way it did. My best guess is that something happened at the Market that tipped things out of control but I don't know."

Sloan said, "There was a fight. One of the bigwigs of those you are calling the social engineers got shot. Then a woman that had been speaking out against what was going on got shot. And from what I understand things happened so fast after that point things were almost a done deal before you could even take a breath."

I nodded. "I thought it had to be something ... something that caused people to take sides. Two murders in a really short span of time would certainly do it. But it must have been part of a plan as well. Especially shutting up that woman. I've been thinking about all of the families that lost members in the first massacre. They all had women in them ... every single one. Daughters, sisters, wives, mothers ... but they were all young enough, no gramma's in the bunch." I looked at him and asked, "Am I getting close?"

All Sloan did was sigh. "Thought so. Now this next part is also guess work. The people that had been standing back, waiting, biding their time, suddenly had to act or perhaps never be able to act again. Maybe the time line got pushed up or not, but whatever it was they rode in like the good guys, saved the day, destroyed the enemy ... and filled the vacuum left behind." I rubbed the place between my eyebrows to try and relieve some of the pressure that was building. "They moved too fast or before they had wanted to ... they had managed to get supporters through out the county but only Butler Brook is completely under their control. The sheriff's department is theirs right?" Sloan nodded. "But the Highway Patrol isn't so that must mean it isn't statewide." Sloan nodded again. "So they're a big fish in a little tank ... for now."

I chewed on the inside of my cheek. "More guessing on my part but I think the school is for indoctrination ... get 'em young and teach them something that sounds like the truth but isn't. Because this whole situation isn't a short term venture if what I'm thinking is true; these people are after a way of life. Most of them probably actually believe that crap in the history book they're using up at the school ... and the kids they're telling it to will for sure. They might not share the religion of those we fought in the war but they're infected by the same type of superiority complex. The pandemic simply gave them scope to explore just how warped they can be."

Sloan asked, "You a women's libber?"

"If you can ask that you never have bothered to try to get to know me at all."

Quickly Sloan said, "Easy there Teaghan ... I was just trying to lighten things up a bit."

To let him know what I thought about that I curled my lip. "Well don't. There is nothing light about this. Now that I see it I can't believe that I didn't see it before. Part of me understands why Dad did what he did though it is easier to understand why Jeremiah and Jason would do it the way they did. But another part of me ..." I shook my head. "I'll never understand it. Loving someone and protecting them from harm doesn't have to mean keeping them ignorant and caged up."

"You were their baby, the youngest. They didn't want to scare you."

Irritated I told him, "Maybe scaring is what I needed. Maybe it is what makes us stronger if we let it. It's not like my brothers didn't have it in them to scare me because they used to do it plenty just in jokes alone. Maybe if so many of us hadn't been 'protected' to the point of being made all but useless there would have been more soldiers to fight this war they've brought down on us."

"Don't exaggerate. It's not a war."

"Not yet ... but it will get there. Or are you saying you agree with what they are trying to do ... subjugate and use women for whatever purpose they have for us. To serve, to wait on men, to be seen and not heard, to be turned into baby making machines."

"Where did that come from?"

Then I gave it to him with both barrels because I was full up with thinking about it all by myself. "Check your calendar. I'm a week late. And if you find the responsibilities you've got now hard to handle you just wait until I'm big and fat and unable to get around like I need to. You'll feel like your head has been turned inside out."


1 comment:

  1. Wow what a woman she is turning out to be! Love the story Kathy...