*Final Chapter of Indivisible! For those who have not been following along, Chapter 1 of the fictional account of the collapse of the US dollar and its aftermath can be found here:
Plan B was the only option, or so the President thought. Revolution was spreading across the country like an August prairie fire. Resistance metastasized as cells found each other, linked up, and exchanged information, material and coordinated plans. It was getting beyond the scope of the old establishment to control and subdue and if there’s one thing any rotting establishment dislikes it is losing the ability to control and subdue. There have never been limits on what established orders will do to maintain their power— and this played itself out in America. Things never change.
The ‘collateral damage’ inflicted by the Domestic Security Force was sporadically broadcast out into the rest of the world. Images of tanks and armored personal carriers rolling through Beaver Cleaver neighborhoods, demolishing houses and cars along their route, troops in black, kicking in doors and opening fire on so-called DoComs were spreading virally worldwide.
The anxiety in the governmental ranks turned to outright panic after the Department of Homeland Security threw the internet kill switch. The security measure was authorized in a military spending bill so that the republicans would go along. The establishment managed to regain control of the information…for a whopping twelve hours, but a spontaneous order of thousands of computer hackers launched assaults on the government and their corporate shills, blowing their firewalls apart (virtually) with memory sticks and infecting and destroying the servers of many collaborators. They erased everything and replaced it with a scrolling ‘V’.
The truth was rerouted over land lines and radios. The pictures of the dead, the burned and bloated, the sounds of rage and grief all flowed again, blowing through the establishment’s filters and censors. No establishment can maintain ‘control’ without propaganda lies—the truth is anathema to tyranny. The Gordion Knot of the established order was being hacked through by the truth.
China condemned America’s response before the U.N., then Russia, then Iran and even the French piled on.
“Stay out of our affairs,” snapped the President’s Grand Vizier, otherwise known as the Secretary of State. “The United States is a sovereign nation and has a right and, more importantly, a humanitarian obligation to restore peace and security. We reserve the right to restore order by whatever means necessary.”
Washington D.C. stood nearly alone, wobbling, supported internationally only by the U.K. fascists on one arm and the Israeli fascists on the other. The Prime Minister affirmed the United Kingdom’s support of their ‘special friend’ and in their vicious deployment of “whatever means is necessary” to restore their Anglo-Saxon hegemony. Israel, increasingly isolated, simply reminded their baying-wolf Arab neighbors that they were quite ready to use their nukes to defend themselves if necessary. Canada and Mexico closed and soldiered up their borders.
A million people demonstrated in D.C. in the weeks following the Civic Center Park Massacre. But MRAPS and storm troopers in black body armor and shields rolled in and dispersed them. This actually worked against the State as the big, visible demonstrations diffused into millions of small, clandestine ones.
The American implosion spread worldwide, emboldening partisans and insurgents in the farthest corners of the rapidly disintegrating American Empire. The ranks of the Jihadis swelled. Already dangerously undermanned as troops were siphoned off to restore order in the U.S., American supply convoys were ruthlessly attacked. Airbases were overrun. Remote units were cut off from food and water and ammunition. A U.S. firebase in Talibanistan was encircled and forced to surrender. It was division strength, the worst U.S. military defeat in sixty years, an unmitigated disaster. The Army Colonel offered his life in exchange for giving quarter to his exhausted and starving men. The fanatics were all too happy to oblige. He was beheaded and the video gore was pumped out into the world. The Empire was utterly finished.
The humiliated President never left Air Force One, flying in continental figure-eights, flanked by fighters for four days at a time and refueling mid-air. He ruled in absentia, like one of those deposed, tin-pot despots. Things never change.
What will my legacy be? The President pondered. Will I be remembered as the Nero who lost America? The mere thought of posterity crippled his reason. He decided he had to take drastic action to save the established order.
He envisioned the first Savior of the Republic, the log cabin god-man from Illinois with his stove pipe hat and his sunken jowls reaching down from the heavens and placing his boney hand on the contemporary President’s shoulder. Give me the wisdom of Lincoln, the President prayed. The ‘wisdom’ came to him like a bullet to the back of the head. After a hastily arranged Cabinet meeting of his yes men it was unanimously decided.
America’s second Civil War was not going according to the 1861 playbook. There was no ‘militia’ to confront and subdue with supreme military force. There were no battalions of men in gray wool, aligning themselves in files to be annihilated with Gatlin guns. This revolution was everywhere, simultaneous, faceless. Civil disobedience froze the transportation systems and choked off the highways. Rogues fired shoulder held missiles at police and military helicopters. Where did they get them? Those evil Chinese bastards! Banker computer systems were hacked and the bank accounts of executives who were running things from Costa Rica were drained only to be replenished the next day by government keystroke entry. The prisons erupted. Communities began arranging their own security and black markets.
The DC establishment, embodied in human form by the god-pharaoh President, had one last desperate plan to restore the order. The citizenry had to be shocked-and-awed into turning against the domestic rebellion. When the Attorney General of Colorado, who was the highest ranking elected officeholder remaining in the state, demanded that all Colorado National Guardsmen return home, that was all the pretext that the President needed to implement ‘Plan B’.
It was a comparatively small neutron bomb by military standards. It was detonated low in the atmosphere so as to contain the arc of the electromagnetic pulse. The concussion, nevertheless, flattened several square miles of an industrial section south of Denver. Thousands of civilians were eviscerated or badly burned or blinded or deafened by the explosion. It was unfortunate ‘collateral damage’ but utterly necessary in lieu of the dire circumstances. Think of how many lives would be saved in the long run, was the excuse.
The bomb achieved its goal with the radio-flash instantly frying the circuitry of anything receiving a current or not well-grounded. All the running automobiles stalled with their electronics cooked. A half million cars would never be started again. The streetlamps all went dark. Home computers and televisions and phones and radios went off. The power surge melted a good portion of the grid. Electricity was gone. In an instant, it truly had become 1861 once again— Denver was Atlanta after the vainglorious Sherman punitively burned it to the ground. The message was sent loud and clear to the rest of the country and to the world: Respect Washington’s authority or there will be dire consequences.
The fires raged for two days as there was no water to put them out. Vaughn’s mother kept watch over the night from her window as the twenty foot flames engulfed a nearby school and burned it to the ground in only a few minutes. The fire trucks just roared past it, their eerie sirens descending into the smoke. They had other destinations and other things to save that night.
Something told Vaughn’s mother that it was time to go. She gathered Jessica and little Brooke and they headed north, walking right down the middle of the ten lane I25. The night sky was illuminated in orange by the fires and permeated by the invisible roar of fighter jets and the thumping of helicopters above. They were not alone on the ground. They walked in clusters of a dozen or so, thousands and thousands of silent refugees, moving, escaping, surviving.
Ten miles they walked that night in the wailing fire glow until they reached her ex-husband’s house. He took them in and they boiled water in a pit in his suburban backyard. It was the longest night of their lives until the next one, and then the next one after that. But they would survive.
On the morning of the third day, a patrol of Humvees left Camp Anubis. Their orders were to liberate the Jefferson Country police station in Evergreen that had been taken over from the Feds by its own deputies.
The mechanized unit worked its way down Sante Fe Boulevard, right into the neutron carnage that was once known as Englewood. Their Geiger counters crackled as they motored through the stalled autos and the crumbled warehouses and past a still burning commuter train which rested on rails curled up like Christmas ribbon.
A heavy soot cloud blanketed the sky and occasional snowflakes (or was it ashes) floated down as they advanced in that cold morning. The column of eight vehicles turned onto Hampden and rolled west. The soldiers were given assurances that the radiation levels were benign. They were inoculated just to be safe, with doses of ‘Antirad’ which was manufactured by Dow who scored the exclusive and lucrative military contract. Never mind the side effects or if it even worked. Even if the place was radioactive and the ‘Antirad’ was really just a trillion dollar placebo, the remaining soldiers of the Domestic Security Force, many of them new recruits filling the cavernous void of defections, were fully prepared to follow their orders. That’s what soldiers do, they follow orders. Things never change.
The urban Hampden Avenue morphed into the mountainous US285 and the patrol lumbered upwards into the wooded foothills. They had to go by this odd route as intelligence reports indicated that the road up through Idledale had sloughed off in an avalanche and was impassable. They turned off onto a winding two lane road and kept advancing. The convoy’s diesels rumbled slowly around the snaking, narrow road, the walls steepening on either side. The Master Sergeant cursed the other drivers when they bunched up.
“God damn idiots!” He screamed in his radio.
His lieutenant rolled his eyes at this outburst.
The sergeant urged the young lieutenant to reconsider the route. They could loop around one of the tendril roads, head back out to the highway, and come back in up CR73 which was not so snaking and canyon-like. The Ivy League know-it-all lieutenant refused. Military intelligence reported that CR 73 might be littered with IEDs.
Not knowing what you don’t know is chronic in youth. Young, arrogant officers refusing to heed the knowledge of their seasoned NCOs is nothing new. Things never change.
The lead Humvee stopped as it wound around a bend and the convoy coiled up behind it sending the sergeant into a rage. The way was blocked by a three car wreck. Apparently, they had collided a moment after the radio-flash had seized their engines and locked up their brakes.
The armored DSF vehicles idled under the ponderosa pines and the overcast skies on the narrow canyon road. A cold breeze blew through the treetops.
A DSF soldier, in freshly procured black camouflage and gas mask, exited the first Humvee and carefully approached one of the cars. He found a driver slumped over the wheel. He reached in, grabbed him by the hair and pulled him upright. The man’s face was pale but he looked like that actor guy…what’s his name? McDougal?
A glimmer caught the soldier’s eye. It came from McDougal’s wrist. The soldier reached down and pulled off a shiny watch.
“Movado!” He proclaimed. “Very nice.” He tucked it into his breast pocket.
As he stepped back from the car, a sense of uneasiness shot through him. Something was out of place. What’s wrong, here? He asked himself. He drew his rifle and scanned the trees. The branches swayed gently in the wind. Nothing. No movement. No shiny reflections. No geometric shadows. He looked up into the featureless gray heavens. He watched as a black crow flew overhead and disappeared behind the tree tops. There would be no air cover, today. Flakes of ash (or was it snow) fell down.
He scanned the cars.
Yes! The car before him was the only one with a driver in it. That seemed unusual. Maybe the others were too hurt to help the poor bastard out, he thought. He checked the damages and crumple zones of the wrecks. But the crumple zones in the fenders did not align with their collision points. This was no collision. The cars were pushed there!
“Something’s wrong,” the soldier whispered into his radio. “We need to get turned around.” He started to back towards his Humvee which was a lumbering chore in all the radioactive mitigation gear that he was wearing. He expected the zips of bullets or explosions at any moment. He caught a glimpse of a shadow within the shadows. It was motion in the woods.
“Turn around! Turn around!” He shouted. But there was no room to do it. The Humvees would have to back up. They lurched into reverse. Their bunching up, which was a function of their arrogance and lack of experience made the maneuver a complete clusterfuck. The rear Humvee at first tried to back into the nearest turnout and whip around but this jammed all the other vehicles up waiting for him. The sergeant hopped out and started flailing about in an effort to coordinate the retreat. The point man hopped back into his Humvee, yanked off his gas mask and pointed his rifle out the window.
“Get ready,” he informed the driver.
“Oh, lighten up,” replied the driver. “There ain’t no one out here with the balls to attack us.”
The rear Humvee whined as it backed a full fifty yards into the next turnout. It grind-shifted into drive just when the first IED, triggered by sniper fire, went off, knocking the armored truck ten feet up into the air. Fireballs blasted out from its windows as it flipped rear over front, landing on its top, blocking the escape route for the others. The remaining seven Humvees were trapped and a turkey shoot ensued. The trees came alive with muzzle flash. Bullets and rocket propelled grenades and white phosphorous reigned in on the convoy from the highpoints on either side. Within twenty seconds, all of the 50 caliber gunners were dead. The patrol’s Ivy League lieutenant radioed frantically for air support. It would take at least fifteen minutes to get there and the cloud cover would make air support a tricky operation. They would all be dead by then, anyway.
Five more IEDs exploded, knocking two more of the Humvees off their wheels. The point man cajoled the terrified driver to step on the gas and run through the barricade of mangled cars. It was their only chance to survive but the driver was paralyzed with fear. The point man grabbed the wheel and stomped on the gas himself. The truck lurched forward, then tore straight ahead into the wreckage where it bounced up into the air and onto the top of dead McDougal’s car. It did not quite make it over the top. It was high-centered at a forty five degree angle with its four wheels spinning a hundred miles per hour with no surface to grip. Its doors were sealed shut by the wreckage.
In a panic, the three surviving DSF troops inside fired wildly outwards in all directions. If they could only hang on for a few moments…hang on until the cavalry arrived. But it was not to be. A phosphorus grenade exploded in the cab and all the soldiers trapped inside were cooked into charcoal within seconds.
It was over.
The partisans came down out of the trees to gather up what they could. Three or four more shots rang out which were either euthanizing bullets or ammunition exploding in the intense heat of the fires. The helicopters approached frantically from the east, chopping up the gray sky with their rotors. They knew they were too late. It was now time for payback on some DoCom traitors and they were going to kill anything that moved down in that canyon.
“Move, move!” ordered Captain Rick. “Thirty seconds.”
A dozen men in ponchos converged on the burning Humvees. They quickly grabbed whatever was left of any use: ammo, guns, diesel, tools. They stripped the Humvees and dead soldiers clean with military efficiency. Then they disappeared, exfiltrating into the forest as the air cavalry approached.
One of those partisans was Jimmy Marzan and something in the burning lead Humvee had caught his eye. Several more rounds popped and clanged. The flames rumbled. The sky thumped with the approaching gunships.
“C’mon, Marzan. Let’s go!” barked his partner.
But Jimmy had to take a closer look.
“The gunships are coming! Let’s go!”
Jimmy looked over the burning dead man riding shotgun in the lead Humvee. He stepped in close enough that he could feel the heat.
A bullet zipped past.
Marzan looked into the DSF soldier’s burning charcoal face that was splitting down the middle. It looked as though something had grabbed hold of the scalp from behind and pulled it back so taut that it had ripped away from the skull. The eyes were soulless caverns. The nose had already burned off. The mouth was stretched all the way open revealing a set of white horse teeth.
Several pings of exploding bullets rang out.
Jimmy could feel the sound of the approaching gunship rotors thumping in his chest. They were close but Jimmy remained. The eyeless wraith stared into Jimmy Marzan’s soul. Jimmy stood firm, staring right back into the devil. He glanced down at the spectre’s smoldering claw still clutching its M4. There, Jimmy found the silver ring and the eye of Osiris.