The Aftermath

January 29, 2012
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The year, as though it matters, is 2060. The date, January 30, is one month prior to the upcoming February 29th anniversary celebration, which has been dubbed 2-Score, meaning 40 years. February 29, 2020, the most famous and yet infamous date in modern history, marked the official ending of World War III with the signing of the “Leap into the Future Treaty – LIFT.” All of this goes through the mind of Colby Chase, former quarterback and five-time NFL MVP, as he climbs out of his sleep chamber, eyeing his virtual clock and calendar, knowing it’s time for attendance. It sounds so corny now, picking a date that exists only once every four years, to symbolize the false hope that was brought about from the nuclear ceasefire and subsequent “peace” accord. Assuming Zeus or Ra or the Buddha is looking down from the constantly dreary gray sky, the situation cannot appear any bleaker. Yet Colby isn’t as hopeless as the others. On this morning, his eyes sparkle with particular urgency and purpose.
Today is Friday, the last Friday of the month. Final Fridays are especially harrowing for not just Albany’s citizens, but for all of New York, and for all of the Americas. It is mandatory for all to show up at their registered truth center no late than 5am, to wait in one single line for untold hours. Humanoid robots stoically guard the one entrance, perform a retinal scan, and admit the citizens one by one. If the identification match fails, the impostor is removed from the line, no exceptions, and his or her fate is grimly sealed. Colby has witnessed such atrocities firsthand - eyes removed, and even lives extinguished. Each admitted person is then brusquely escorted to the truth chair, where he or she must demonstrate allegiance to the Americas by answering a variety of questions about government, religion and nationalism. After completing the “interview”, each person exits the truth room and is then sent down one of two final paths, at the Y-tree. To the left, memory cards for next month’s rations are handed out. This card must be guarded with one’s life. To the right, the humanoids escort non-believers down a path, which can lead to only one ending. Colby watches from his window, debating whether or not to participate in the required ritual. Surely, he realizes his absence would mean certain death. On the left, eyes shift back and forth, protective of the memory cards. Colby looks right, where defeated eyes look down, and is shocked to see his teary eyed brother. Colby stifles a scream and starts to run, only to see the waiting humanoid. He is trapped, unable to come to his brother’s aid.
Colby Chase is not just a former football legend, but also a key leader within a secret organization, known only as CAG (Citizens Against Government), whose plan is to reveal all of the secrets that the government has been hiding from the American people. He slides his sleep chamber aside and opens up a secret hatch, revealing a tunnel leading to CAG headquarters. He is careful to return the chamber back in place to block the view of the security cameras. When Colby arrives at HQ, he tells what he has witnessed. “It is the time to put all of our hard work to the test. We must act now!” The CAG computer experts have found a way to tap into the government’s hologram system. “I am through with waiting. The time has come,” Colby proclaims.
Although the atmosphere is tense, Colby clears his mind and remembers what brought the Americas to this critical time. Human civilization prior to World War III certainly had its share of problems. Poverty, hunger, and violence only begin to describe the plight. In reality, the world economy never recovered from the housing crisis and bank failures that began earlier in the third millennium. Jobs were more difficult to come by, and a college education no longer guaranteed success. Young people focused their energies on sports, entertainment, or technology. Making the next great iPhone app or video game, or in Colby’s case, winning the Super Bowl, or starring in a Box Office hit was still a viable path to financial and popular success. But that all changed when natural resources became so scarce that the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter could no longer be guaranteed. The future appeared grim. Eventually, the more powerful countries rationalized that imperialism could be reborn, exploiting weaker nations, and perhaps return to prosperity, regardless of the consequences. Survival of the fittest was the ideology.
Records are no longer kept, other than by the government. Newspapers and news telecasts have been confiscated or destroyed, although CAG was able to recover some. Colby absently grabs an old Albany Herald, dated March 1, 2020, and sees the headline about the formation of the four world powers that came to be at the end of WWIII – the Americas, Eurafrica, the Chinese Territory, and New Australia. Negotiating on behalf of the Americas, former childhood actor and U.S. President Horace Alger ensured American control of nearly one third of the world’s population and landmass, as well as his ascension to the new American Presidency. This only increased President Alger’s popularity, and he became so powerful that he was seemingly able to create or break, any American law that he wished. Capital punishment for political dissent, public torture for minor offenses, and other iron-fisted practices were common. Fast-forwarding real world DVR’s to today, nearly forty years later, and President Agler, is still America’s supreme ruler. The situation has only gotten worse, far worse. Where has that left the citizenry?

The average American works in the mines, constantly laboring for raw materials and metals. “Entertainment” and “media” are all seen and heard holographically, high up in the sky. The content is singularly controlled by the government. The “good” news is that these are free to the public. The bad news is that there’s no choice as to what is “playing”. If you don’t like it, go inside your house and try to stay entertained, knowing you can’t watch the TV’s in your house, since they’re only there to watch you. Any moment, President Alger’s broadcast outlining the 2-Score celebration will begin. All of a sudden, instead of the President, Chase appears. “It’s time to stop the lies,” he declares. “For almost forty years, we have been fed only deception. We can no longer stand by idly!” The people stand in shock, not knowing how to react to the hologram figure. Robots urge the people back into their homes, but all are too shocked to move. Time seems to stand still. “I am a part of a no longer secret organization called CAG, which knows the truth about what has happened since WWIII. With the insufficient resources left on this earth, no nation will survive unless President Alger is removed, and the four powers work together to find solutions. Controlling our thoughts, actions, and beliefs has only served to set us back. Can you remember the joy of watching my NY Giants defeat the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl 50? Even Dallas fans - you must’ve really hated me, but you had passion! Now I hover before you, a symbol of the lives we all enjoyed not so long ago. Shouldn’t we be spending all of our energy and efforts to get that back? Instead, we walk around mindlessly, listening to government propaganda spewed out by President Alger for forty years. I am old, and do not have much time left, especially after this speech. Nor can I stand by and watch my brother march to his death. Have you noticed the President never ages at all? In fact, what is real and what isn’t? Who is in control? Why are we going along with whatever we’re told? I would rather fight and die than live like this! Now is the time to break the bonds of tyranny and start the revolution!”

Everyone is stunned, men, women, children, and humanoids included. The Chase hologram fades out, and President Alger fills the early evening sky, looking as polished as ever. As he starts to speak about the celebration, a boy, no older than twelve, shouts out. “Go Giants!” Then a man with soot on his face from working in the mines, screams, “We don’t have to take this anymore!” For the first time, the humanoids look small and outnumbered, and the people of Albany have a spark in their eyes. One by one they leave the lines of the Y-path, both left and right, led by Chase’s brother, and join together. This is just the beginning.

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