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Author Topic: The Patriot's Warning - Chapter one - seven pages.  (Read 1428 times)

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« on: August 25, 2017, 03:42:55 AM »


Sierra decided the drive to town was worth the risk. The kids would be thrilled if she came home with fruits, vegetables, and fresh milk. Okay, maybe not the vegetables, but perhaps she’d get lucky and find some bacon. Toilet tissue would be a bonus. As she walked past the park near the grocery store, she paused. Her face warmed, and she found herself mesmerized and tormented by the families waiting to be processed.

Long lines, like the ones in the park, spread out across the country as anxious, tired, hungry families made a final attempt to get their household IDs before the quarantine began. Without them, they would not receive food or medical rations.

How many would suffer because of her cowardice? Dozens of children hovered close to their parents or lay asleep on the ground when they should be running around or playing on the teeter-totter. Thousands would soon go to bed hungry, but she won’t be doing without. Ashamed, she sat on a bench and watched.

The audience of The Sierra Nicole Show perceived her as a strong-willed woman with a tenacious appetite for being in control. They didn’t associate the political talk show host who treasured shredding a politician’s confidence with the philanthropist who championed the poor, the unfortunate, and the oppressed.

The real Sierra had a gentle soul and found it difficult to disregard a begging hand or a pair of woeful eyes. Suffering was unacceptable. She’d emptied her wallet on more than one occasion after stopping to talk to a street beggar or homeless person, and her home would have resembled an animal shelter if not for the long hours she dedicated to her TV show. To appease her guilt, Sierra often made generous donations to animal aid or rescue foundations.

She tried to count the number of families filling the playground. There were only two processing clerks and at least fifty families waiting in each line. It was already past noon, and more people were arriving.

She overheard a woman arguing with her children. “No, we cannot go home! We stay here again all night if we have too! How many times do I have to tell you we can’t risk turning in a late application? There’s no telling how long it might take to get them approved. Do you want us to go without food for days or weeks?”

One man snapped. Sierra wondered how many others lost their temper because of the lack of sleep coupled with fear and the whining of exhausted children.

“Get that damn kid to shut up!” the man growled at the couple behind him.

“Leave him alone,” the father replied. “He’s only six, and he’s tired and hungry.”

“I don’t give a rat’s ass! He kept me awake all night! If he was mine, I’d whip his butt!”

The father cracked, slugged the angry man, and they became ensnared in a skirmish fueled by fear and desperation.

The patrols rushed in and pulled them apart.

“Break it up! Both of you take your families to the back of the line!”

The father sobbed and tried to explain, but the patrols didn’t want to hear his excuses. He apologized to his family and ushered them to the rear.

The angry man protested and refused to obey, so they threw him to the ground and cuffed him.

“You’re under arrest.”

The man’s wife wept as an officer removed her and her family from their place in line and reminded her that the processor would not include her husband in their headcount.

Sierra swept the tears from her eyes as vendors made their rounds with the typical street fare and parents begged for lower prices. With the excessive cost of food and the government regulating purchases, many waiting to be processed couldn’t afford to feed their families.

She approached one vendor.

“How many hot dogs, chips, and sodas do you have?”

His eyes narrowed. “Why do you want to know?”

“How many people can you feed?” she shouted.

The vendor flinched and said he had enough for about three dozen but could get more.

“Good. You’re going to need it!”

Sierra ran to her car and grabbed her hidden bundle of cash. She was thankful for the warning to keep as much money on hand as possible. She had more than enough to feed every family and send them off with a little extra. She adjusted the required surgical mask and asked a patrol to assist her. They started at the front of the lines. They’d been there the longest. Lord knows when they last ate.

There was no time for accepting hugs and appreciations; the kids were hungry. She thanked the officer for helping, sat back on the bench, and watched. Witnessing the desperation in person was more profound than she’d imagined. She needed to remember this day. She pinched the damp mask to stop her runny nose. You’ll pay, President Kimber. You’ll pay.

“Next!” the processing clerk barked. She tugged at her surgical mask and winced.

The mask did little to hide the snarl as she snapped at the thin woman who stood before her. “Your form is for two adults and two children. Where's the other adult?”

The woman’s answer was faint. “My husband couldn't come. We were at the hospital when they delivered the forms. He broke his leg and had to have surgery. He — he's bedridden.”

The woman behind the desk scowled and furiously scribbled through the man's information. “Listen, lady. This mask has rubbed my face raw, and I ran out of patience a long time ago! I'm sick of you people not following the rules!” She thrust an ID at the woman.

“No! No! This isn't fair!” The frail woman swooned, steadied herself on the table, and pled between choked gasps of breath. “Please, ma'am, we won't have enough food if you don’t include my husband.”

The processor leaned toward the woman, rested her palms on the corners of the table, and pursed her lips into a pout.

“He needs medicine,” the woman begged. “He's in terrible pain! An infection will kill him!”

The processor shrugged her shoulders and mocked the desperate woman. “Then get a letter from the doctor and come back.” She rolled her eyes and looked past her. “Next!”

“Wait!” the woman shrieked and labored to breathe. “Please! Me and the kids, we've been in line since yesterday!” Tears dripped from her mask, and she trembled as shouts from the angry people behind her grew louder.
She pointed to her two children. “They slept on the sidewalk!”

Her four-year-old daughter stuck her thumb in her mouth and sucked feverishly.

“He'd be here if he could. Please, have mercy. I'm begging you! They'll see him when they do a head count!”

“Sugar,” she cooed, “if I can't see him, he doesn't exist. Next!” She slumped back in her chair, shooed the woman, and called the patrols.

The frantic mother continued to argue her case while her children clung to her shirttail and cried.

“Please, Mommy, please! You're gonna’ make her mad! Please stop!” her son whimpered. His eyes filled with terror as his younger sister crumpled to the ground and curled into the fetal position. Her thumb-sucking grew more aggressive.

The officers lifted the terrified children and caressed their heads to comfort them as they escorted the family away.

One officer brushed a tear from his eye. “Ma'am, do whatever it takes to get the papers so you don’t have to wait and add your husband when they do a head count. That might be weeks. Godspeed, my friend.”

Sierra had watched in dismay. This is happening in every city and town in the country! The tight knot in her throat constricted her airway, and her stomach ached. How could the processor be so callous and just dismiss the anguish of that poor woman and her kids?

As usual, Sierra looked for the motivation behind the processor's cold heart. Her mask barely camouflaged the crimson, thick, hairy birthmark that covered the left side of her face from her forehead to her throat. I bet she’s been tormented her whole life. Now, she was in charge, and no one would dare make fun of her. She had the power of the pen. Sierra acknowledged the situation but pitied the processor's soul. The haunting birthmark was no excuse for her lack of empathy. The explanation was simple: the bullied was now the bully.

Unable to witness more suffering, and powerless to help, Sierra raced to her car. She pounded the steering wheel, tortured by the frightened faces of the mother and her children.
“This isn't right!” she screamed. “I have so much, and they have nothing!”

How could she save thousands of others when she wasn’t even sure she could keep herself and loved ones safe? She remembered her interview with Mr. Garcia and how it had infuriated her, but he was right. She never thought it could happen — not here. Even after the Patriot’s warning the year before, she’d tried to dismiss the possibility. Now, she struggled with gratitude — and the guilt of knowing she’d warned her family and friends, and they were able to prepare. How she wished she could have warned to her audience. At least we've got a chance. What will happen to that woman and her family?

“It's about choices, Sierra.” Her brother-in-law's words echoed in her mind. “You can choose to prepare for emergencies, or you can do nothing and hope the government will take care of you. It's your decision.” She cupped her hands over her ears to muffle the voices in her head.

The many warning signs danced in her brain, and she tried to wipe away their memory along with the tears that stung her eyes. She felt in part responsible for the millions who scoffed at the idea of preparing. On the Sierra Nicole Show, she often ridiculed the doomsday crowd and assured her viewers there was no need. Hoarding food was for lunatics who lived lives filled with conspiracies — not for sane, rational people.

Overcome with pangs of sorrow and blame, Sierra blindly made her way home.

She looked up to the heavens. “They’ll suffer because I'm a coward. Please forgive me.”
« Last Edit: August 25, 2017, 03:47:28 AM by Carladet » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2018, 06:33:24 PM »

   I know this is an older post but there wasn't any replies so I thought I'd give one. I am not good at critiques, so keep that in mind.....I felt there was an interesting premise but there was a lot of telling and not showing. I felt I was being told Sierra was a dutiful mom and remorseful for her part in not preparing her fellow man for the worst but I'd like to see her reactions and her emotions beat by beat. I'd like to feel the desperation in the crowd and in the scuffle. I think you can easily add that missing piece of this puzzle, so I hope you give this chapter another try Smiley
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