“everyone must give voluntary service to the community. its mandatory.”
The Homeland Service Corps was a measure designed to give “work” to disadvantaged “yutes”. It was formulate as a para-military organization. It had fatigue pants, heavy dark blue shirts, a blue web belt, and combat boots. Pants were bloused; on formal occasions, it was topped off with a red beret.
It reminded the thinning fat old white man of what he’d red about the red shirts, the brown shirts, and the black shirts. Now we had the blue shirts.
He was swept up in one of the night time street sweeps. There was a curfew, but it was mostly ignored. Like the myriad of laws, regulations, rules, and diktats, there wasn’t much respect for anything administrative. Everyone was poor. Everyone was hungry. Everyone was subsistence. He was one of the lucky ones; he had a niche. He was a licensed web designer. Couldn’t just allow anything to be put on the web. He’d fooled them; pretended to believe all their drivel. Had to; he and his family needed to eat. He was the support of what had been three families in the old days. He wondered what they’d do now without him. While he still had his passport, he now be missing critical attendance stamps. That verified that you had overnighted on your “block”. Without those stamps, he’d be arrested when he came or went from his block. Anne Frank’s attic came to mind. But would this ever end. But those were future problems, he was here and now. He smiled at all the web sites that would display different content when he wasn’t there to reset their timers.
They were herded into trucks one afternoon. World War Something Deuce and a half. A dozen. Since he was out of the compound, he was looking for a chance. It might kill him. But he had no illusions. He was white as were all the other “campers”; Homeland Service was all “ethnic”. He’d talked to WW2 Death Camp survivors. Never stop looking for a crack. As was his custom, he was wearing his thin blanket as a “roll” under his shirt. Losing weight meant he had space under and ever too big shirt. They were all dirty and smelly. The ride went on for an hour. THey were allowed to dismount. THey weren’t really “guarded”. As a matter of fact the guards were all grouped together getting instructions. He saw his chance. He slipped under the frame. He’d read about GIs rigging hammocks under their trucks to get shade in the dessert. His blanket made a U for his hips. His hands and feet had loops to hold. He was expecting a rough ride. If no one saw him!
They rode for another hour. It was dirty dusty and at times excruciating. A few times he almost lost it. But the blanket held. So did he! For dear life. The convoy stopped and the cargo was herded off to the side. He waited until it was quiet. Then he slipped off the other side. He could not free the blanket; the knots were tugged tight. Taking a chance he peeked in the truck cab. It smelled of something. He couldn’t place it. On the seat was wicked looking fixed blade knife; he stole it. He moved as quickly way from the convoy as he could. There was no real cover so he had to improvise. He mentally outlined a grave and with the knife sliced the brush and turf. Using the knife like a spatula, he peeled back the “cover”. He laid down and pulled it over him. Had no idea what it looked like but it was the best he could do. It was getting dark. He had to hope it covered. Then he heard thunder.
It wasn’t thunder but automatic weapons. Massacre? He thought of the “Great Escape”. It didn’t last long. He tried not to think about it. He heard voices coming in his direction. He heard water pouring. The voices departed.
It had been a while now. It was dark. He “arose from the dead”. The trucks were still there. At the back of the convoy, he could see a large fire. The Homeland Service goons were there. Most were sitting silently. A smell was reeking form their direction. A sweet smell. He moved away from them. He slipped up in the dark to the lead truck. He was hoping to score anything from the cab. There was a guard asleep. In his best commando movie style, he crawled up. Got a hand over the mouth and slit a throat.
He was up into the cab. Found a pack. And was off running. It was dark. It was rough. It was dangerous. He wanted to put a mile between them and him. It was exhausting. No water. No direction. No idea but to flee.
At the false dawn, he could see lights ahead. The city. A city. His city? No likely. He rested and examined his prize. Passports. Money. Watches. Rings. Ears!? And, packs of green oregano with the sweet smell.
He’d bury this a the next milestone. Maybe it was evidence.
The bag with its contents was presented to the Grand Jury. There was DNA reports from the human tissue. A few of the passports aligned with the DNA. Most did not. There were 800 or so documents. As the Great Leader stood in the dock, these murders were charged to him. They were specific.
The gaunt drawn old man testified to the terror. To the camps. To the result. To the authenticity of the bag.
The Great Leader was hung.
The nation was never the same. And, not surprisingly, the nation never returned to its former greatness. It dissolved into little warlord states. Constantly fighting and bickering. Along clan lines.
The old sickly white man, thin and frail, died in his sleep. He’d taken down the Great Leader. Avenged his fellow campers. But never did find his family. Sad to the end, he just passed quietly.
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