(This is a work of fiction entirely of my imagination… although it does make references to certain places, people, and situations that are alleged to exist in that place  called “In Real Life”. Perhaps, then it is more of a tale of what could be if we don’t watch where we step. If the reader finds a connection with current reality? Well, that is on them. -BTW)

After…2017 

by Brenda Ann Eckels, aMGC ©2017

Of course afterwards everyone said they had seen it coming.

“Of course!” you would hear in the pubs and bars, as the rickety tables would sway under an assortment of ill-matched glasses and tankards holding whatever at the latest intoxicating beverage was.

This bar was no different. Dimly lit by LED rope lights spread like a fungus across the ceiling, it was no different than any watering hole in any small town. Duct tape, string, whatever was needed to make a table or seat somewhat safe abounded, as did the clothing, shoes, pots, bric a bracket, and sundry items tossed  haphazardly in a large pile with a cardboard sign marked “FREE” on the dark unused stage. 

A man’s earnest voice rang out in the hub bub of quiet conversation.

“Of course! Everyone knew he had been trained by his father and his grandfather to attack America as soon as he saw that they were weak! The day he saw that bumbling old senile orange-head winning, he knew it was time!” The man thumped his mug in his table for emphasis.

Two tables over, a middle aged woman in a faded cocktail dress stood rather shakily, and held out her wine glass in a tremoring hand to the man as she spoke.

“And didn’t old orange-head just play the part doing everything exactly the way his master over in Moscow told him to!”

She looked around the room, and was rewarded with nods and glasses thumping on tables.

“Why do you think we fought so hard and why do you think The Resistance did all this work? Anyone with half a brain could see that we had to take our country back!”

She sat down with a look of triumph in her eyes, as the conversation turned louder.

The doorway was briefly shadowed as someone entred. 

Everyone went dead silent focusing on their drink as a tall woman in the familiar black uniform walked around the different tables, slowly tapping a small beat on her machine gun at her hip.

“Barkeep” she called out in a clear crisp voice. “Has there been any trouble in here today?” Her voice was calm but firm, loud but not shouted.

The bartender hastily wiped his hands on his apron and looked up at her as she approached the bar. “No ma’am everything is been just fine. Folks are just trying to relax a little from the strain of the day.” He tried to sound happy, relaxed, and almost pulled it off.

“I would imagine,” the woman said as she turned around scanning the room, “that there are a fair number of people expressing that they knew all along that the catastrophe would happen?”

Several faces flushed. 

She broke into a small smile. “Doing so isn’t a crime you know. It is okay. It is normal that afterwards, no one wants to be seen as being guilty of apathy. There is no crime in that. We are here to move forward and rebuild, not punish ordinary people who were duped!”

Her face turned more serious.

“But the United States of America will not tolerate any return to the sick delusions of orange-head or his 1% friends. The government is prepared to offer a sizable reward for information leading to the arrest of any MAGA operatives that may remain within our borders, or any who hold to their despicable ideology. Does everyone understand?”

Every person shouted out “Yes, Ma’am!” with many adding “Our Nation Once Again!” or “America, Land of the Free!”

The atmosphere gradually became more congenial and the officer ordered a drink at the bar.

“So…” The bartender started to ask..”Is there…”

She threw her head back and laughed out loud, startling an old man half asleep next to her. “Of course there is news from the front. Let me have a drink first, then I will report, ok? It has been a long day.”

“Of course. With some dinner. On the house, Ma’am.”

An hour later, word had spread and the bar was absolutely crammed full. There were working people, mothers holding babies, teenagers, elderly, even a few veterans of past Wars with their American Legion hats, their pins, and their medals. 

In the corner, one Resistance Volunteer was helping a man fill out a form while another, barely 18, was handing out packages of Band-Aids and deodorant. Next to them, a Libertarian sat under a faded yellow campaign sign with “Vote For Joe Demouth Town Delegate” written on paper covering the previous owner’s name. He too was handing out things, but the officer couldn’t tell what. 

On the opposite side of the room, two Green Party women were removing out of date notices from the large part of the wall turned community bullitan board. 

Sargent Janyee SheWhoWalksTall looked at the crowd and sighed. Being a Truth-Teller was not an easy post and she didn’t take her duty lightly. 

“Well, what is this?” She asked as a small group of children approached. 

Each one had some kind of uniform. One girl wore a Brownie Vest, another a Navy JrROTC dress uniform. There were two Cub scouts, a Boy Scout, and 4 teens in 4H gear. In the middle were a pair, one wearing a Daisy Vest and the other in a Little League Uniform, carrying a picnic basket. With flowers on top.

Every one of them had a Guy Fawkes mask perched on the tops of their heads. The town’s Junior Resistance.

The Navy JrROTC teen was obviously in charge. Marching up, she saluted smartly and began speaking. 

“Our Town, part of the United States of America, is honored to have a Truth-Teller in our presence, ma’am. On behalf of the Junior Resistance, we would like to present you with assorted food and toiletries for your stay in our town.” Then bellowing “Troops Present!” 

The young people shouted back “Yes ma’am! For our country free at last!”

The little ones, barely 5 years old, came forward as shyly as any 5 year olds would have done before and set the basket at the officer’s feet. She reached down, enclosing both in a hug, and then was fairly buried under happy, excited kids. Even the ROTC teen cracked a smile. 

After congratulating each of them for a job well done, the woman motioned them to go sit down. 

Straightening her cap she climbed atop the bar and once again the crowd fell silent.

“Good evening I’d like to thank all of you for coming. 

My name is Sergeant Janyee SheWhoWalksTall, US Marine Corps, 1st Truth-Teller Division. 

I left the Border of the Republic of Texas 15 days ago and I have met with five truth tellers.”

“Welcome Truth Teller!” The crowd rang out in unison. Some applauded.

Straightening her back, she continued “Here is my report, feel free to raise a hand if you can’t hear or understand me.”

“There is sporadic fighting on the Republic side of the Texas Border but our Army units are unable to tell if it is Republic forces fighting citizens of Texas, or Republic forces fighting refugees from the south.”

“The week before I left the Texas border, there were a total of 22 individuals who tried to cross the DMZ to our waiting troops.”

“One was a suicide bomber with “God Hates Fags” written on his coat. The Army detected the explosives, sedated him in the DMZ with a medic-drone, and Special Forces retrieved him and deactivated the bomb. The man gave his name as Stephen Brietbart, a frequent practice of Texas suicide bombers, and he is incarcerated in the Oklahoma War Crimes Psychiatric Unit awaiting DNA identification.”

“Of the remaining 21 Texans who crossed the DMZ, 10 were children with no accompanying adult. All Truth Tellers are reminding Americans who still have spare bedrooms or living spaces that applications for Foster Parenting War Victims are available on every Community Bullitan Board. The government pays up to $1,000 a month of your rent, mortgage, or other living expenses, and each War Orphan has a Federal Benefits allotment card.”

“A family of 5, a family of 3, and 3 single women were the rest who crossed the DMZ that week.  After debriefing and medical exam, all but one were reunited with family in America. The single woman stated all her family were killed by the Republic militia when they refused exile to Mexico. She has asked to stay in Oklahoma, and is doing volunteer work while staying at a Resistance Shelter.”

“There were 4 individuals who attempted to cross from America into Texas last month. As has been the case since K Day, they were all shot from the Texas side of the DMZ. Our drones retrieved the bodies, and notified family when able.”

“Four individuals were arrested in Oklahoma City last month on charges of inciting violence and treason. The group was found holding American Nazi Party meetings in a house and soliticing with brochures titled “Miss MAGA? #ItsNotOver”. Anyone seeing materials related to this or any other group promoting homophobia, racism, discrimination, or other hate crimes is urged to inform your local Resistance office immediately.”

“As of the end of last month 40,000 police officers in 8 states have completed the mandatory 6 week “Law, Order, and Peace Officers” Training, and disarmed.”

“This state has had a 30% drop in violent crime over the past three months. No suspects in any crime were fatally injured during arrest, and no officers reported any injuries except for one in the state capital who broke an ankle. Mental Health warrants also decreased by 5% since the opening of 5 Doctors Without Borders Mental Health Centers in the past 3 months. Even so, Depression and Anxiety symptoms are expected to occur, and all Town and Area Delegates are urged to offer drop in screenings frequently.”

“Being an American means looking out for each other – both mind and body.”

Jaynee stopped to take a big slug of the watered down beer everyone was drinking. 

“Is everyone ok? Do we need a break before I go on?”

Shouts of “No!” “Tell us more!” “I’m fine!” rang out.

“Ok, I will hang up a copy of the report from Doctors Without Borders in Western Mexico that outlines their efforts to alleviate suffering from the North Korean missile number two.” Jaynee handed the report to the nearby Green Party member, who hustled over to the “Foreign Affairs” part of the wall.

“However it is obvious to them that a massive amount of Mexican people, fearing the “FatMan” or the winds, are moving away from the North West of Mexico, and they report many are trying to reunite with family in Texas, Arizona, and parts of America.”

“1,256 citizens of Texas have been located around the Louisiana area or pulled from the ocean, and housed in refugee camps inside the United States of America since last month. I will also hang this list up for anyone looking for relatives.”

“There was one report of a citizen of southern California arriving in Las Vegas by flight. The woman had taken a large number of recreational drones and attached them to a rowboat and then set off in flight, apparently with multiple people. However, according to the report of East West Truth Teller Sargeant Louis Verdance, who I met, this woman was the only one alive when the contraption crashed. There is no word yet of her condition.”

A collective groan went around the room. “Every month the number of Californians who arrive gets smaller.” Sobbed one woman. “I try to accept that SanDiego is gone…but my daughter…” 

The bartender handed the Sargent a box of tissues as she crouched down to hug the sobbing form in front of her. Several hands reached out, and led the poor mother to a seat while the Sargent stood back up. 

Clearing her throat, Jaynee continued..

“Our Division has received the following update from the Coordinated Forces of the UN:”

“In Russia, massive groups of young Russians continue to battle in the guerilla war against “The Apostate” and have politely declined UN assistance. The Eastern parts of Russia have largely fallen to Russian Green control, and several members of the Oligarchy have been turned over to the Hauge for trial. Moscow and Siberia however appear to be under The Apostate’s control.”

“Damn that Putin to hell!” shouted a man in the back of the room. Murmurs of agreement swept the crowd.

One young man looked up. “The Green Russians ‘politely declined’ UN help? What is that all about?”

“The Green Russians consider this to be a matter of religion gone amuck.” Stated the sergeant in a flat tone. 

“They don’t consider it to be a revolution… more of a theological correction. A religious matter within the Russian Orthodox Church. And they feel that they can handle it by themselves. In the areas they control there is democracy very similar to here with an unusual restriction that no one making over a certain amount of income is allowed to hold any political or religious office.”

“Our President, Angus King, feels we have no right to interfere with what these Russians see as a religious issue, and that we have enough problems of our own to deal with right now.”

Again the crowd murmured agreement.

“Ok, then, Next. The Hermit Kingdom continues to be too radioactive to investigate, as is Missle One and Missle Three in California and Missle Two in Mexico.”

“No new survivors have emerged from the Koreas and surrounding parts of Russia and China in the past month, although there continue to be sporadic episodes of seismic activity centered in North Korea. A Japanese satellite attempted to take photographs, but the images were described as looking ‘like the surface of the Moon just craters and blowing dust.’ the satellite photos of South Korea show intact buildings but no sign of activity as in the first weeks.”

Jaynee cleared her throat again. 

“Rescue ships remain in South Korean Waters. The UN forces have moved inland in South Korea about 10 miles from shore. They report many apparent suicides, but no radiation related deaths, and no survivors.”

“That flotilla did its job!” A man wearing a battered SeaBeas hat crowed. “Imagine it! Thousands of their boats, our planes and helicopters, scooping up South Koreans by the bushel!”

The crowd murmured approval, and many looked kindly at the old Veteran.

“The number of surviving South Koreans at the camps in Antartica has gone down to 1.2 million with most deaths being due to acute radiation illness. However, there is good news. There are 15,000 South Koreans at the “Invincible” camp who have been decontaminated, show overall good health, and who will graduate to permanent placement next month.”

A cheer erupted. 

The Sargent motioned for quiet.

“The winds from both the Koreas and our West Coast continue to distribute fallout according to this updated map, which I will have hung up. In this area, all farmers and gardeners are reminded to keep the clear PVC cover over any vegetation or livestock and to run ventilation fans only on days emergency radio announces it is safe.”

Jaynee handed the papers to the Bartender, who was now hanging them up.

“Ma’am?” Asked a twenty something in overalls. “Could we break for a bit so those of us farming can look over the map?”

“Of course. Everyone! I will start again in 20 minutes! Thank you!”

The Sargent started toward the rest room, carrying the picnic basket. Everyone parted ways, and when she closed the door, Jaynee let out a long sigh. 

She didn’t know who had the harder part in her division. 

Sure the Marines diving into the Rocky Mountains, doing anything they could to get any information and people out of California certainly were risking their health. 

Her buddies in Arizona were getting shot at by rebels AND Mexican mafia. 

But she and the others who were doing “interior” ?…traveling a set route, over and over, bringing the news to towns big and small, connecting with other Truth-Tellers in an intricate grid?

It was long and exhausting work, one part Pony Express, one part rebel hunting, one part Florence Nightingale on a macro scale, binding wounds of a shattered society. It took a mental toll that was different then the other two groups of Marines, and the brass were pushing recruitment hard to make sure Truth-Tellers only did 6 week tours with a 6 week R & R. This visit, this town was easy. Do report, answer questions, hand out and take in mail. 

In three days she would leave for the next town. Two families would be visited before Report, and told their soldier was not coming home. 

There was no broadcasting except Emergency Radio and Voice of America using the PBS system. Even so, many areas would be going for months without electric, internet. 

The last town had been lucky. The Resistance had quickly taken over the gasoline stations, and rationed out to people with generators IF they opened their homes to others. 

They discovered one little old widow, hunched in her wheelchair, one night investigating a light. At some point in 2014, the woman had realized that she needed to start generating her own power.A little at a time, she had been buying inexpensive solar panels only about a foot by foot. These were daisy chained together and were slowly, steadily drip charging an assortment of old laptops. By sunset, the low power LED rope lights went on, the campfire was lit, and a Catholic lay liturgy was said around it as she sat with a folding table for an altar. Everyone in the town went every night, and when Jaynee was there it was surreal to see Muslims praying to one side, a group of Jews saying nightly prayers, while a trip of Wiccans gathered near a tree. Jaynee gave the report while a group of kids roasted marshmallows to make carob s’mores.

The Widow had a radio, a stereo actually, and during the day she cranked Voice of America through her neighborhood. In an otherwise dead car she had, folks could sit and listen to the emergency channel. She even had torn the wires out of a Dish and rewrired it, and spent 2 hours a day on a laptop, scanning to see if she could pick up the internet from a Canadian satellite she had studied before all hell broke loose. 

All these memories, stories were a Truth-Teller’s most potent weapons. They carried hope, grief, and connection from town to town. They were selected as carefully as any ordinance to bring the people back to the truth: the world did not end, we are all one people, we can rebuild and overcome this disaster as Americans.

Propaganda on steroids, no lying allowed, just apply truth. 

She tossed the wet wipes into the trash, feeling for the world like she had just been pampered in a spa. Wipes. The community shared the baby wipes. Amazing. Humbling.

She pushed open the bathroom door.

“OK! Your gift, everyone! Thank you! I feel like I am fresh as a Daisy! Thank you!”

She jumped up on the bar.

“Ready?”

The crowd roared in approval “YES!”

Jaynee looked around. “I bring letters from the border, from Oklahoma, and up and will be moving north in three days continuing until I reach our Canadian brothers and sisters.” 

A murmur of excitement rippled through the crowd.

The Sargeant took another deep breathe and spoke in a more somber tone.

“The orange-head, his family, most of his administration, the Congressional Republicans and Democrats, along with the top five levels of the military and federal government are all in custody at the UN facility at Neuremburg.”

“Good place for ’em!” Hollered a woman, to cheers and applause.

“They will all get a fair trial, people. President King is insistent that ‘We separate the gullible fools from the criminals, offer reconciliation to the first and just punishment to the latter.’ and that those exonerated may return to resonable political activity.”

A boy raised his hand and waved it madly. “So, there might be good Democrats and Republicans after all?”

The Sargent sighed. This was a touchy area in many towns. “People may do bad things but still be good people. If that is the case? That is what reconciliation is for. It is only because of how severe the crisis was that right now Democrats and Republicans can not run for Federal Office. Congress will be reviewing that Executive Order every 12 months. In the future, we all hope to see a 6 color Congress, but for now it will probably be just the 4. Times change and the War in Texas will end someday. Keep your hope up young man!”

The adults broke out in grateful applause.

It was getting late. Jaynee quickly went on.

“Of the 1%ers, there are still notable persons wanted including Mark Zuckenberg, Melinda Gates and her children, several investment bankers, and a few Rothchilds. All 1%ers are considered innocent until found guilty in a court of law, and it is illegal to kill a 1%er.” 

She scanned for any signs of vigilantes, and returned to speaking.

“Here is a list of 1%ers who have recanted, paid their just taxes, and have pledged alligence to The United States of America.”

A cheer rose up again, but quickly died down.

“On foreign policy, I’d like to note that Dean Kamen has signed a treaty with America, after agreeing to open his island as a new settlement area for displaced persons with a bicameral legislature, three pillars of government and a Constition. He has also agreed to term limits of no more than 3 non consecutive terms for their Congress and Executive Branch. He has expressed a desire to help the South Koreans.”

“He should quadruple that fartsy island and take more South Koreans. He can afford it.” Grumbled a woman trying to keep two toddlers on her lap.

Jaynee ignored the comment, although she agreed Kamen got off easy.

“More good news. It is expected that the first graduating group of Californians from Camp Peace in the Sioux Nation will be offered the opportunity to move to permanent placement within our borders, but will also be free to remain citizens of Sioux Nation, who has been deeded all land from The Dakotas to the Pacific Ocean including the Missle Three area.”

“Discussions continue with the Republic of Arizona who currently control the Missle One area of California up to 100 miles south of what was Los Angeles.”

“And supplies will be arriving in this area from the UN Relief Services on Tuesday….”

Applause and cheers filled the room. The Sargent smiled. Best part of the day, she thought to herself. 

“Ok, ok, let me continue…” She said. “I know how you need the supplies. Please have this town’s delegates arrange for a convoy to go to the National Guard Armory for pickup. If you don’t mind, I have more news…”

“The Unified Electric Cooperative of America continues to work on the electrical grid of our nation. This will take time but they expect to have satellite internet service to all state capitals by Spring.  In addition, we have help from our allies. Poland and Denmark have sent a large amount of equipment to establish solar generation plants in states that are currently without power. Uganda has sent 5 solar powered buses currently being used for Refugee movement that will eventually be sent to cities that need mass transit.”

A small girl, maybe 8, standing on a table, holding onto her father piped up. “Will we ever have ‘lectric all the time again?”

Jaynee sighed. “That’s a really good question young lady. Our first priority is always to make sure that hospitals and the nursing homes have electricity. Then we focus on making sure that the fire department and police department and the street lights have electricity. By getting the state capitals back on the grid we can improve communication between states and you all won’t have to rely quite so much on us Marine Truth Tellers. I think that America will be able to have electricity everywhere again, but we will never take it for granted will we?”

The little girl smiled and said “No! We will be good stewards of light just like they teach us at school and we will make our own with sun, wind, and water!”

Several people chuckled at the singsong way the girl spoke. Near the bar, a craggy faced old man muttered “if we had just listen to Old Man Dole and started singing that song back in the 90s we wouldn’t be in this mess!”

The Sargent looked down at him. “Hang in there sir” she said. “It won’t take long to rebuild because this is the new greatest generation, right?”

The man slowly nodded yes.

Jaynee stood again. “As I said, I leave in three days at 0500. Please have any letters ready for pickup here by Tuesday night closing.”

“Any questions? Requests?”

The crowd applauded, and the chant went up…”Anthem! Anthem!”

The tired Sargent took a deep breath and sang “Oh, Say Can You See….”

The End?

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