Copyright © 2017 by John Wiber
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Hector and Thomas drive past the Sector A gates. There are cars backed up in long winding lines, waiting to be scanned. Hector brushes the back of his neck where the skin is slightly raised, feeling raw and sore. Thomas is at the steering wheel, his eyes like mirrors, unblinking and constantly scanning. Most of the buildings had been cleared away from the outer areas of the gates. There was no where to hide. It was all roads and open skies. The gates themselves were supported by giant concrete pillars reaching twenty feet into the sky. Between the pillars were the full body scanners, capable of scanning a BrainWave implant through the hood of a car.
There’s SSF agents everywhere, Hector thinks to himself, choking down a rather stubborn glob of saliva. He touches the back of his neck again.
Just then, a loud bang rings out and Hector’s neck twists to see a man being dragged from his car while his children are screaming in the back-seat. He watches the man’s wife attempt to exit the passenger side of the vehicle, and the woman is immediately tasered by one of the several SSF officers who have now surrounded the vehicle, all of them with their weapons drawn. Her body resembles a piece of paper caught in the wind as she convulses upon the pavement.
“Do you think this will actually work?”
Thomas grimaces and says, “We’ve got a shot.”
Hector wishes he would say more, but his companion had been mostly silent since they left the Dead Zone. Hector pulls at the collar of the SSF uniform, straining his neck and hoping the outfit didn’t look as tight on him as it felt. They will notice the slightest difference.
“Tell me again what they are planning?”
“Genocide,” Thomas says. “Mass genocide.”
“All the outer sectors?”
“And the detainment camps.”
“Not right away, no. They will keep the camps going for a while. It’d be a waste to exterminate all that free labour.”
“But why? Who will man the factories in Sector B? Who will run the shops and till the fields?”
Thomas sighs. “That’s not the point. This is about the sustainability of mankind. They’ve been building to this moment for the past two decades, ever since the Great Fall. It’s called the Security Wipe. The elected officials, the Executives, aren’t even aware of what is occurring. This is all the WIC and the SSF. They are in control. They’ve been in control all this time.”
“But… this doesn’t make any sense…”
“It makes perfect sense,” Thomas says angrily. “Those that manage to survive in the outer sectors, and there will be some who manage, if they can make it up North before the Wipe begins, they will be rounded up and used as human machinery. Free labour. Slaves. The beauty of it all is at that point there will be no need to pretend. Freedom will no longer exist in the traditional sense. If you are lucky enough to still be alive, you will be considered free.”
“The attacks will of course be blamed on the People’s Army, effectively removing all support for such terrorist groups and eradicating any hope of overcoming the State. Some people think we actually control and operate the PA, but that is false. We simply manipulate their operations with double agents and propaganda. It’s all easy enough.”
Hector leans back in his seat, letting his eyelids close for a moment while he takes a deep breath.
“You should probably put your mask on now,” Thomas says, looking over at him briefly from the steering wheel.
Hector pulls out the laser fitted latex mask crafted from the face of the SSF Officer, whose body was now ash after being fed to the furnace. We had no choice. The SSF would have found him and this whole operation would have been shut down before it even got started. Still, he felt bad. How do these monsters live with themselves? Day after day of ruthless human sacrifice. Killing one man had already taken its toll on Hector. He couldn’t imagine the weight of millions.
“So, like I said before, you shouldn’t have any trouble making it past the gate. SSF officers have their own separate scanners, so you won’t be in line with the rest.”
Hector nods, his eyes drifting out the passenger side window again, studying the giant metal arcs looming in the sky. They look like robotic arms.
“The tricky part comes next. Installing the flash drive into a central server.”
“I don’t even know what a fucking central server is.” Hector says, looking again out the window and seeing a troop of SSF officers rush by carrying automatic rifles, the black barrels gleaming in the merciless sun.
“That’s okay, I know where one is – Gate 142. After you make it past the scanners, you’ll see two doors. The door on the right takes you directly into the tunnels leading to the underground headquarters. And the other one leads you into a small room with a wall full of computer screens and wires. It will be impossible to miss. On this wall of flashing lights and knobs, you will find a small outlet for the flash drive. All you have to do is plug it in.”
“How do you know all that, huh? Just who the hell are you?”
“Well,” Thomas sighs. “I was a computer programmer back before the Great Fall. It’s funny, you know, my father was a carpenter. A hard, stoic man. He was always disappointed that I ended up a scrawny kid with an obsession for computers and technological gadgets. He told me it was all a waste of time, that I should learn to work with my hands like a real man. And in the end, after the Fall, it was me who made it inside Sector A, while my father was left to rot in the outer Sectors. He had lung cancer by that time anyways, but I can still remember the look in his eyes the last time I saw him; he was still disappointed in me.”
“That doesn’t explain how you know the goddamn layout of the place like its written on the back of your hand!”
Thomas chuckles. “Well, naturally. I helped install the server myself.”
They drive a while longer in silence. Hector keeps his eyes on the gates as they pass them. Every gate they passed looked the same as the last one. Imagination is truly dead. Steal. Robotics. Scanners. Technology. It was all so inhuman.
“Okay,” Thomas says. “We’re almost there.”
Hector can see a sign with GATE 142 written in bold letters on it, an arrow pointing to the correct lane.
“What are you going to do?” he asks Thomas.
“I’ll stay in the car and get in queue. Now, you make damn sure you wait for my car to reach the scanner before attempting to cross, got it?”
Hector nods. “But… what about you, Thomas? They will surely apprehend you when they see you’ve been excavated.”
“Yes, Hector. That’s the point. It’s called a distraction.”
“But… they’ll take you below. They’ll torture you…”
“Don’t you worry about me. I know the risks.”
Hector looks on as Thomas drives past Gate 142.
“Time to get out, Hector. Good luck. You will need it.”
Outside of the car, he can hear the low humming and buzzing coming from the giant scanners, rumbling beneath his skin like a tremor in the earth. The mask feels hot and sticky against his face, and he prods at it gently with his fingers as he watches Thomas make a U-turn and proceed to the queue of cars waiting to be scanned at the gate.
Hector sighs and can feel a tingling rush moving up his spine. This is it.
He’s going to be arrested.
And so am I.
There really was no way of getting around it. It was a foregone conclusion. His only hope was that enough chaos would ensue after the virus had been uploaded, giving him an opportunity to escape back into Sector B. And even then, the SSF would surely be on high alert, so there was a good chance he would be apprehended as he attempted to escape. But, if things played out how they were supposed to, he wouldn’t be held captive for long, not if the revolution succeeded.
They might just kill you.
He begins moving slowly towards the side entrance of Gate 142 reserved for SSF officers. He watches one of them move quickly through the individual scanner. These scanners were much smaller than the ones used for vehicles, and resembled a metal detector. A green light flashes at the top of the scanner and the man keeps moving through to the control room.
The door on the left.
Thomas is about three cars from the scanner now, and so Hector quickens his pace. This had to be timed out perfectly.
His heart pounds against his ribcage. He felt on fire. Like he was a light bulb bursting with electricity. He could feel sweat breaking out on his forehead and armpits, and hoped the moisture wouldn’t attract any added attention.
He scratches the raised skin on the back of his neck again.
It was time to move. Hector scrambles towards the side entrance, his hands bawling into tight little fists of anxiety. Your teeth are clicking. Stop them.
Only a couple more feet.
He thinks of Shirley, her smile, the way her nose twitched when she giggled, her eyes like emerald skies, and hopes that she is still alive. He knew it was unlikely that they would ever see each other again, but still, it couldn’t hurt to hope.
There’s a giant glass window pane set up perpendicular to the walk through scanner, and a guard watches him as he moves closer. He can see the guard scrutinizing him, his eyes narrowing into tiny slits. Hector gives him a nod but the guard offers only an icy glare in response. The scanner is five feet away.
He walks through.
“Stop right there!” a voice booms over the intercom.
That’s it, I’m done for.
“We didn’t get a proper read. Please pass through the scanner again.”
The guard behind the glass is on his feet now, arms crossed, waiting for Hector to double back and go through the scanner again. Hector makes his way around the scanner until he is back on the giant white arrow painted on the floor. He looks over at the guard, who nods at him and gestures for him to move through.
He walks through.
Whirling his neck around, Hector exhales in relief as he sees the green light flash above him. He was through. The guard nods at him again, sitting back down in his chair and flipping open a magazine.
He had only seconds.
Scooping the flash drive from his pocket, Hector moves forward towards the pair of doors in front of him. At the last moment, he breaks off and slips through the left door, shutting it behind him quickly. There’s a click as the door closes, and Hector finds himself staring up at a wall of technology, like some sort of massive computer board. It was daunting, to say the least.
An alarm sounds out overhead, and he can hear the sounds of commotion coming from outside the door: people shouting, the sounds of boots scuffling against the floor, and the ominous clatter of firearms being loaded. You have to do it now.
Hector bends over and begins searching for an opening, running his hands over the various knobs and buttons. There were several different outlets, although none seemed to be the right size for the flash drive. The wall beeps at him as if mocking his efforts. Finally, he finds a slot the proper size, and inserts the infected drive. He waits until the little red-light flashes alive upon the USB.
He sighs, stands up, and closes his eyes. He had done it. The virus was in.
Stepping out of the room, he watches a couple SSF officers rush past him with their automatic rifles clutched against their chests. Through one of the many windows, he can see Thomas standing outside of the car, surrounded by SSF officers. They are pointing their weapons at him, although Thomas seems oddly calm. Suddenly, his head turns and he makes eye contact with Hector, smirking as he begins to point at him.
What is he doing?
Hector watches in horror as some of SSF officers begin to turn, their attention slowly shifting towards him. Through the glass, he can see Thomas’s mouth moving rapidly as he continues to point at Hector, jabbing his finger at him like a loaded pistol.
Before he can think to do anything, he feels a blow come from behind, the butt of a rifle striking him in the back of the head. He falls to one knee, clutching at his head. His arms are quickly grabbed and pulled back, as the invisible force pulls him to his feet. He watches the SSF officers come pouring through the doorway, and several of them grab his arms as they lead Hector outside.
They walk him over towards Thomas.
“What have you done?” Hector says, spitting. A spike of pain flashes behind his eyes, and he can feel his head swelling from where he was struck.
Thomas simply smiles at him.
“Apprehend this one,” an SSF officer shouts, pointing at Thomas.
“Not so fast, gentlemen.” Thomas says, holding up a finger. “First you’ll want to go ahead and shut down all power, the entire grid. Hector here has just uploaded a virus into your system, and the only way to stop it from spreading is to kill the grid. Do it now.”
“You’re in no position to be giving orders,” the officer snarls.
“Oh, but I think I am,” Thomas says, and with much dismay, Hector watches as his companion reaches behind his head and begins to pull. The latex mask comes peeling off and Thomas gasps with the rest of the SSF officers, while the man who was no longer Thomas smiles back at him, his eyes like black marbles.
“Oh my god! It’s him! It’s the president!”
And then Hector is knocked unconscious.
Travel to the year 2039 in this dystopian North America where the governments of Canada, America and Mexico have consolidated, and society is segregated into Sectors. A haunting glimpse of what could become of our increasingly militarized society, as the public's privacy is slowly reduced to absolutely zero and where the ruling class have adopted a new religion which guides their horrendous motives throughout the series; Darwinism. In this last ditch effort to prevent the Security Wipe from killing off a large portion of the human population, Hector will be forced to place himself in a vulnerable position in order to save humanity. However, there may be other factors at play which he failed to pick up on...