Untitled – Page 5
It suddenly seemed much colder to the soldier, sitting alone on the bench. Nothing had happened. His commanding officer did not appear; the woman from the ear piece hadn’t either. Had he misheard something? Was he hallucinating? It had been nearly five minutes since he sat down. That alone would have been cause for his superiors to show up. Patrol shifts were two hours walking, two hours hidden among the shadows keeping watch, then repeat. There were no breaks.
He tried to listen to his surroundings; he wanted to look around, but fear kept him looking straight at the building in front of him. While all the windows were dark, he knew the building was full of people. Officers, political leaders, gophers always running around. All of them monitoring the common citizens. Most citizens had no idea the amount of information the government was collecting. Anyone who tried to call out the surveillance was labeled a “loony” or “conspiracy theorist” by social media. A few gained some followers, for a while at least, then they would disappear. If your ideas made you stand out and get people on your side, if too much attention was being drawn to you, you didn’t last, and neither did your supporters.
Of course, these disappearances were always explained, car crashes, armed robberies gone wrong, an electrical fire. Occasionally an influencer, as they once were called when social media was a more innocent beast, would disappear and come back, re-branded in full support of the government and its leaders. There were plenty of people who were against the government, but they kept quiet. It was better to stay quiet and keep your life, than speak up and lose it.
A plate crashed in the kitchen, “Ope, someone’s fired.” Eric tried to joke with Andra. She was staring out the large picture window that looked out on to the downtown streets. He doubted she even heard him. When they had planned this lunch, they both thought that it would be a victory date. Andra had worked so hard throughout the campaign, and the vast majority of those she ran into adamantly supported Stein. After the third and final presidential debate, the national polls had shown Stein ahead 80% to Peters 19% with 1% still undecided. Eric and his dad could not remember a time when a race was this decided. Maybe Reagan, Eric thought as he watched Andra.
She sighed, pushed some hair out of her face, then ran her hand hard down her cheek and looked at Eric, “I’m so sorry. I’m having to try really hard not to break down right now. And I know, I know I’m the one who insisted on keeping our date. I need to eat something, but I’m not hungry. I want a glass, or three, of wine. And truthfully, I want to run out in that street and scream. But look around, everyone in here looks dazed, confused, angry. How did this happen? Peters is a horrible person. After the first debate when he actually spit at Stein, his approval rating dropped 20 points! His own party turned on him.” Andra was getting worked up, rightfully so, and a couple at a nearby table, turned to join our conversation.
“He’s an asshole! Someone needs to do everyone a favor and get rid of him, if you know what I mean?” the man nodded at Eric and Andra. “Mark my words, he isn’t going to last. Something fishy is going on, it’ll be exposed, and he will rot in jail.”
Eric shrugged, “What’s your theory? Oh, and before you speak, I intern down at Channel 3, I may want to use your comments in a story if you don’t mind.”
“Of course I don’t mind! My name is Jerry Roy. I own the theater across the street there. I have for 30 years now. Hopefully going to sell next spring. But here’s my theory. Peters is rich, he’s been rich for a long time. He and his family have connections all over the world. Influential people in multiple countries, especially the Middle East. That’s where everyone is going to point. But Peters’s dad, you know where he made his money? Japan. You know? where all the high tech gadgets come from. Peters’s dad owns the majority of one of the video game companies, and apparently is best friends with some of the politicians over there, including the emperor.”
“Japan has been one of our closest allies for years,” Andra interrupted Jerry.
“Yeah, true, but hear me out. I bet, with the mandate that this election be 100% digital, that Japan hacked it, or maybe look into the voting machines. Where’d they come from? You look into those machines, you will have your answers,” he picked up his glass and took a quick sip. “I’m across the street. Feel free to come tell me I was right when you uncover the truth.” He turned back to his friend, and they continued their lunch.
“Thanks,” Eric said then looked at Andra. Her forehead was scrunched the way it did whenever she was contemplating something, or when she was working on her 100s of spreadsheets tracking the election. “Hun?” he broke her out of her thoughts. She looked at him slowly. “Quite a theory, huh?”
“Eric, I think he’s 100% correct.”