Thursday, September 17, 2009

THE STORM (chapter one)

Even though he knew it was coming he's hart still jumped into his throat as the old Mercury approached the bridge just north of Hwy 20. Sitting caty-corner across the highway just a few yards in front of the bridge were two National Service Corps Hummers, with a third sitting straight on in the middle of the southbound lanes. No less than eight NSC volunteers were Manning the check point. They were all wearing the surplus desert storm type camos with the now recognisable American Flag shoulder patch with the bright gold NSC stitched across the face. The third Humvee in the middle of the road was maned by two Florida National Guard soldiers apparently supervising the check point, these were two members of the new Florida national guard, they were easily recognisable by the new woodland camo uniforms. The old guard had been disband last year for lack of funding , Florida could no longer afford to support it, so, the Feds had stepped in and nationalised it funding it from the presidents stimulus package as it had done in most of the other states. The guard had been greatly reduced in numbers of course, and was now made up of mostly officers and sargents , in a training and supervisory capacity, a system very similar to the advisers, used during the Viet Nam era some forty years before. The National Guard vehicles were also the only ones equipped with the heavier caliber SAWS mounted in the turent on top of the Humvee.

Mike had, of course, expected this, and had blogged about it on the old net as long as five years ago, but few read the blog and most were too busy getting their share of the "bail out" money to pay much attention to a crazy old coot ranting about a more and more repressive government that chose to ignore the constitution, "for the good of the people", and finally suspending it early in 2010 when the Neighborhood Protection and Safety Act was signed into law.

The old net was replaced with Net 2 on December 25, 2009 as a Christmas present to the American people. The new net was much faster, almost instant response time. This speed improvement was accomplished for the most part by eliminating all of the clutter that had existed on the Net, and reducing it to 1000 consolidated sites licensed by the FCC. Those with independent sites were allowed to sell the content of their sites to any of those new licensed sites, who wished to buy them. Some site info sellers made millions, and even the small anti big government sites like Mike's were bought up by the conservative conglomerates, who borrowed billions to buy them. They all went bankrupt in march of 2010 when the new Patriot Act III was passed, with the "fairness in reporting" clause and the "hate speech" clause were passed by the senate, making it illegal to use derogatory speech or writing when referring to any government official, elected, appointed, or hired, either paid or volunteer.

Mike's old joints were painfully jolted out of the day dream by the blaring horn, from the SUV behind him in the line. As he eased his foot off the brake to pull up to the check point, he turned to Kyle and instructed him to remember not to look any of the troops directly in the eyes, and to keep his hands folded in his lap, keep quiet and do exactly as he was told, and no quick moves. Morgan in the back seat was tearing up and was obviously frightened, her eyes as big as a Teddy Bear's , had he known the check point was here he wouldn't have brought his eight year old daughter along, until he had passed through the check point a few times and the troops were used to seeing him, and the danger of an "accident" or "incident,"as the media called them, was not nearly so great.

He knew the checks would eventually be installed somewhere near here, and they chose a good defensible spot, the reinforced concrete bridge crossed a small creek, wide enough and with banks steep enough to both stop any vehicle that tried to go around the check point, and offer good cover and firing positions for the troops should the need arise. There had been several "incidents" since the Neighborhood Protection and Safety Act had been passed . Over two hundred had been shot by the troops shortly after they arrived and set up the first check points. A Patriot group calling themselves the Emerald Coast Militia had confronted the troop head quarters at the old library about a week after they arrived and begin to set up the check points, the patriots brought their guns to show solidarity for the second amendment, the commander of the troops ordered his men to disarm the patriots after explaining the constitution had been suspended by Patriot ActIII, a shouting match instantly incurred, followed very quickly by a pushing and shoving, several shots rang out, both sides blamed the other for shooting first, the video from the security cameras were never released for National Security reasons, but the end result was that nine troopers and every patriot was wounded in some way, either from gun shots or rifle butts. One trouper and 114 patriots died on the day of the first incident,
There were many such skirmishes over those first weeks all around the country some much larger and some much smaller. No exact number of those wounded or killed were ever released "for security reasons" it was said, many were arrested and held incognito so the we never knew the numbers, and they ranged from several hundred to tens of thousands. Sense that first week there were other incidents in Bay county, most in Panama city and most of those in the poorer neighborhoods where the people were more inclined to challenge authority.

Mike coaxed the old Mercury forward to a position between the two pimply face teen NSC volinteer members, neither of which looked like they were much older than his 16 year old son, as he rolled to a stop he retrieved the packet of permit cards from behind the sun visor, rolled down the window and handed the cards to the trooper, as he did so he informed the youthful guard that his son would have to open the passenger door to present his and his sisters permits as the window wouldn't roll down on the passenger side of the car. After a nod of consent Kyle slowly opened the passenger door, being careful to move slowly, and keep both hands in plain sight of the guard on his side of the car just as Mike had drilled him to do. Each child of school age was required to always have their National Health Care card/ID, their shot record card, their school attendance card, and their volunteer extra credits after school lecture card. Any absences from school were dealt with by a personal visit to the home by an NSC volunteer with in three hours of the tardiness and an explanation of each was encoded on the chip on the attendance card. Each student was required to attend at least three "volunteer" lectures per week, any absences there were investigated by the Child Mental Health and Safety board.

The six cards Mike carried were a little more complicated but all were required. First of course was the National drivers permit/residence verification card it was introduced in early 2010 to replace the individual state drivers license in order to make it easier for travelers to comply with traffic laws which were now handled by the National Transportation Safety Board instead of individual states. The FED Credits allocation card was issued back in late 2010 when the dollar collapsed and the government moved to a cashless system. The assigned occupation card described the work each citizen was qualified to preform, sense Mike was retired he had no occupation listed, only the number of hours he had spent that week at the direction of the National volunteer Neighborhood help force, his requirement was 10 hours per week. The mileage permit, was of course, the card that allowed him to drive 150 miles per month, along with the Fuel permit which permitted him 81/2 gallons of gas per month. Last was the family food allotment card, allowing the two boxes of food every two weeks.

The cards were placed in the hand held scanner and cleared by the computer, the cards were returned and Mike was given the signal to move forward to the "sniffer hut". The sniffer hut was one of those temporary shelters you used to see at yard sales or craft shows before they were outlawed under the anti black market/contraband codes. Lined up out side the tent was a bank of computers controlling the sniffers that checked the air for gun powder residue, chemical bomb ingredients, sent from fresh food, illegal alternative fuels, tobacco, drugs, and who knew what else. The green light flashed on and he pulled out of the checkpoint at a crawl, passing two NSC guards with MP5s with 120 shot clips at the ready, he kept the car at a crawl until he passed the SAW equipped Hummer about 50 feet past the sniffer tent. Morgan in the back seat was sobbing, declaring, through gulps of air and sniffles, she wanted to go home and stay with mom, it was far too late for that.

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