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A branch cracked behind him, but before he could react, the soldier on the bench was being smothered. “Great,” he thought, “this is exactly like every bad suspense movie I’ve ever seen. I’m going to go unconscious, wake up in some panel van with my hands and legs bound with zip ties and gagged.” It was the last thing he thought before he felt himself give in to whatever chemical was on the rag.

Two figures, covered head to toe in a dark material, grabbed the soldier and slowly carried him away from the Capitol. It was as if they were making a point to anyone that was watching. They were not afraid of being caught. They were not afraid of being injured. They were in 100% control of the situation, and this soldier was now theirs.


She slammed the door of her eco-friendly coupe. Andra decided that it would be best for her to go to her favorite little yoga studio and unwind a little. She had still not checked her inbox or any of her social media accounts. It would be too overwhelming. She hadn’t even contacted her boss, although today was a day off. That had been decided months ago. No matter what happened on election night, the next day was a no-work day. They all thought they’d be too hung over from all the celebratory champagne when they made that decision. 

Eric had not been as on board with Jerry Roy’s theory as Andra had. His exact words to her had been, “Don’t just jump on the first conspiracy theory you hear. Use your rational brain.” That conversation did not end well. She stared at him for a moment, then balled up her napkin, threw it on the table, and stormed out of the restaurant. Andra was thankful that Eric was a stand-up guy and wouldn’t leave without paying the ticket, so he wouldn’t follow after her. Since her phone was on silent and stowed away at the bottom of her purse, she had no idea if he had tried to call or text. She convinced herself that she did not care and drove away to escape.

Their relationship had been going on for three years now, and Andra had the sinking suspicion that he was going to propose. Which terrified her. Yes, she loved him, but marriage seemed so permanent. It was causing her to stress and be on edge every time they were together recently. The election stress didn’t help either. 

With the election being over, there was a new stress facing Andra. She was jobless. True, she didn’t know what job she would have had if the election gone differently, but she knew that she would have had one. Stein had personally told her during her last stop in the Midwest that she had been impressed with the work Andra had done and asked her if she would be willing to relocate to the DC area after the elections. She and Eric had even discussed how the move would affect their relationship. Now, not only was she unemployed, but her relationship was feeling rocky.


The sound of a car door slamming woke the soldier. His feet and hands weren’t ziptied, and he wasn’t gagged. He couldn’t see though. The one thing he had forgotten about the old suspense movies. It had been a while since he had seen a good thriller. There had been quite a few regulations put on the movie industry when the new administration had taken over. Within a year a new committee was formed, The Federal Entertainment Agency, and the amount of power they had over what was produced and the way the vetoed projects had almost bankrupted Hollywood.

“Private Marshall, we’re here. We’re going to leave the blindfold on for a while. For safety’s sake.” For Safety’s Sake had been the president’s go-to line any time a new executive order was passed. The soldier heard a snicker from someone else nearby.

“Really? Using his words?” a woman’s voice.

“Well, they fit the situation,” the first man said. The soldier could imagine him smiling. “Also, we strip searched you while you were out and scanned you for GPS tracking devices. You’re wearing new clothes, so when we take off the blindfold, don’t freak out. We promise we didn’t do anything else. Now if you just swing your legs to the right, you’ll be able to hop out of the vehicle.”

The soldier swung his legs as suggested and found his footing on the pavement outside. “Will I be able to ask questions?”

“You just did,” the woman’s voice again. “Let’s get him inside. We can question him in there.” 

The soldier felt a hand under his right arm guiding him. He knew it was highly unlikely, but the woman’s voice sounded so familiar. He wanted her to talk again, and maybe he could figure it out, but instead they walked on in silence. A warm blast of air hit his face as they entered the building. He could hear movement all around, but there was no talking. It felt very strange.

“Ma’am, the room is ready. This way,” a third voice said, and the soldier was led into a room where he sat in a plush chair. He felt a hand at the back of his head loosening the blindfold. It fell down around his neck. He blinked a few times to let his eyes adjust to light even though the lighting in the room was dim. Then he saw her, a face he would recognize anywhere, although it had been years since he’d seen it.

“Eric?” she gasped.

Next page: Chapter 2

Author:

14 years of teaching experience 100s of books read Countless tacos eaten

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