Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Illuminoimia Ch 10: Black Storm Rising

In 1975 Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson published The Illuminatus! Trilogy. It remains a seminal work of conspiracy fiction. Today, The Omnivore continues a serial-fiction experiment: Illuminoimia. 

Everything You're Afraid Of Is True.

The skies above Atlanta are filled with black smoke from the inferno the city has become. A division of the Georgia Militia looks on in horror, realize the enemy is now among us. Will they fight ... or run?
Previously On Illuminoimia
Mission Patches For Classified Programs

Chapter 10: Black Storm Rising
June 6th 2013 Outside of Atlanta
Jon Barrows watched through binoculars from his vantage point near Lake Palmyra. Lawrence Booker, only 19, stood beside him, clearly shaken. Jon could see the young man trying to summon his courage. He put a hand on his shoulder to steady him.

“We knew this was coming,” Jon said. “We’re prepared for it. We’ve trained for this and it’s time for action, Booker. You’re ready.”

“Yes sir,” Booker said. His voice came back--surprisingly strong. Sunset was still sixteen minutes away and the sky over Atlanta was awash with smoke. Multiple plumes rose and continued to rise into the blood-red sky. It looked apocalyptic. It was apocalyptic.

Jacks brought the field radio: it was a huge handset from another era--but it was reliable. It would work. For what was to come it would have to work. He depressed the TALK button.

“SITREP Four-Forty-Nine Six. I say again Six. Over.” He intoned. The radio code was: Georgia Militia district 449 on standby.

The radio crackled.

“Acknowledged 449, 35 South by Southeast approximately fifty miles out on the move. Target looks to be your neighborhood.” This meant Command reports enemy troops--Homeland Security or United Nations fifty miles S-SE coming towards you. “Orders are to pick up move to chase point Alpha Zero Six. I say again Alpha Zero Six. Over.”

Jon pushed the button. “Roger that. Out.”  Understood. Will comply. Goodbye.

It might be goodbye for real, he thought, turning to look at his men. The Georgia Militia Districts had roots in the original, official Georgia Militia which had fought in the Revolutionary war and the war of 1812.  Despite that body having more or less dissolved into the national armed forces, the battalions themselves were kept very much alive. Or at least they’d thought so. Now everyone was going to find out.

Now they were going to answer the question militia groups had been asking for more than a decade: “What if?”

As in: What if we finally had to do it?. What if we had to fight the American Government?

He stowed the field glasses and turned with Booker and Jacks and headed down the ridge to where the men waited below. He saw fear--real, raw fear--the kind he hadn’t seen since watching green troops in Afghanistan in 2003. But even that had been different: that was a real army with real recruits. These were not all young men. Most of them had wives and family at home--and the enemy? The enemy was the worst one he could imagine.

He planted his foot on the bumper of his pickup and heaved himself up, moving surefootedly to stand on the top of the cabin so he could see everyone. They were spread out, up and down the shoulder of the road, standing in small clumps, upturned faces pale in the waning light.

“There is a report of a column of Homeland Security vehicles on the move,” he said. “To our location--with bad intent.” There was a shuffle then--movement--but no shouting yet. Good. “We have been ordered to fall back to Alpha Zero Six and take a Ready posture,” he said.

Still nothing. “You have exactly five minutes to make a decision,” he told them. “To saddle up and go--or to go home. It will not be held against you if go.” He looked out over them. “You do what you have to--but make a decision. The clock starts now.”

He came down off the truck to a sudden cacophony of voices. “Platoon Commanders!” he shouted from the ground now using his deep ‘command voice’ which went through the men like a crack of thunder. “On me, NOW!”

The orders had come for the men to leave their cell phones back at the rally point. That was a damn good thing too: not just because they could be tracked but because the men would, facing what was almost certainly the hardest decision of their lives, want to call their wives. Any man who did would almost certainly not go with him--and he was going to need everyone he could get--and then some.

But he was sure some men had carried their phones against orders--and that would cause problems. His PC’s had hurried over--older men--usually with service experience. A couple were bearded, fat--but all of them would go, he thought. They all knew the score.

“Did they say how many?” That was the first question Doyle asked.

“Did not. Just code 35.” That could also be United Nations troops according to the code-book. He was pretty sure things hadn’t gone there yet.

“Are they sure they’re after our location?” Rogers. “If they have helos--” If they had helicopters they could track them wherever they went.

“Unclear--but we have to move now,” Barrows said. “Whatever they’re thinking we don’t want to be here when they get here. If they want to follow us out to Six that’s on them.”

“Fucking piece of shit mother-fucker,” Doyle swore, looking in the direction of Atlanta. “Goddamit.” He squinted through the trees. It was getting dark, for real--but they could still see the smoke. At this distance? That was whole blocks--whole buildings--big ones--burning out of control.

“Get your men. Prepare yourself--and let’s go.”

The men snapped salutes--some crisper than others. Jon returned them--and moved out.

Immediately the 449th lost half its men. The motorcade pulled out--cars and trucks dispersing a bit but all moving with intent. The night darkened.

Jon kept the FM radio off: he could only imagine what the “official story” going out was. He didn’t care either--anything on civilian channels would be a lie. Mentally he counted his remaining force, over and over, trying to account for his losses and assess the 499th’s fighting condition.

When they got to the checkpoint, the night, now black around them, it was clear they were probably going to lose more.

Is this it? thought Jon. Did we just lose--just give up--without even a fight?

The chase-point was an American Legion hall with an expanse of forest behind it. The woods were lit with headlights and tail-lights and he could see the men silhouetted in them--milling about--he could see the chaos and tension in the way they stood.

Jon was not a superstitious man: he did not believe in omens or signs--and he didn’t think God was going to step in to save America: if America was going to be saved it was up to the citizens themselves. And if the whole of the army--or even just Homeland Security--was against them? The odds weren’t good.

No, Jon didn’t believe in omens--but he was a very perceptive man and knew what he had seen on that hilltop was not new. He had seen those images before--on TV on the science fiction shows that Emily and the kids liked to watch where civilization had fallen apart and the cities were on fire--or there was a plague and no one to put out the flames--or aliens attacked … and everything was destroyed.

What he had seen from the woods was what the movies showed when they were telling you it was the end of the world. It was what 9/11 had looked like from across the river--except there was more of it. Could Atlanta be gone?

He didn’t believe in messages from God and certainly not from TV--but he knew how these men would see it: they would see it as Armageddon and they would be afraid.

“Jon--you gotta get over there--” it was Rogers--breathless--and angry. “Bobby has them fucking all riled up. He’s--he’s gonna have everyone cutting out.”

Robert Benton. Fuck. Jon nodded. “Okay.”

“It ain’t okay--he’s saying we’re all gonna die.”

“I know--I heard you--” Jon was walking. It wasn’t okay--no--but it wasn’t entirely unexpected. Jon had had concerns about Benton for some time. He had a little semi circle of people around him. He was holding court.

Bobby saw Jon coming and changed his posture--from bending forward--gesturing emphatically with his hands to more upright.

“What is this nonsense?” Jon demanded, his voice flat, hard.

“Bobby says the DHS has shock troops and two hundred and sixty million rounds of ammo and armored vehicles and checkpoints.”

“I know. You know that too: it was in the newsletter. We knew this day might come,” Jon said, looking straight at Bobby. “You knew it too. If you thought it was too much for you why’d you come out?”

“I’m a patriot,” Bobby turned--”But Jon--you’ve got to look at this--” he had his phone out--one of those video phones with TV and stuff on it. MASS EVACUATIONS FROM CITY CENTER. THOUSANDS TRAPPED. FIREFIGHTERS UNABLE TO STOP BLAZE.

Screaming red letters. Pictures of the apocalypse.

“They say there are terrorists in with the protesters--and in with the militia--”

“It’s true--” Gary cut in. “It says it on his phone--”

“Are there,” Jon demanded. “Are there terrorists here?” He was moving now--he grabbed the phone and wrenched it out of Bobby’s grasp.


“ARE THERE?” Jon was in his face. He was bigger--harder. Bobby was flabby--he retreated--suddenly afraid. “ARE YOU A TERRORIST?”

“What?!? No!--I’m no fucking--” Bobby started.

“No,” said Jon. “You’re not--you can’t be--can you. You’re a government employee so you can’t be a terrorist. Right?”

“I work for the Post Office.” Robert was suddenly defensive. Jon wasn’t sure when that had become a reason to suspect someone--probably some time in the 90’s--but it had.

“I know--and you’re on a list for FEMA contractors aren’t you?” Jon pressed.

“Those are building contractors--it’s through my cousin--he does debris removal--”

“You’ve been for training--for orientation?” These were guesses--but Jon had had a feeling about Bobby since he’d arrived six months ago. He’d had Booker poke around on the computer and found some stuff that gave him pause.

“I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about--” but he was out of breath. He did know. The crowd … turned.

“You motherfucker--did you know this was going to happen?” Someone shouted.

“I didn’t know any--”

“You brought a cell phone--was that so you could show us? Scare us--?” someone asked. Their voice was a snarl. Jon liked the intensity--but not where it was potentially going. He held up a hand--and then bellowed.


People shut up.

“You get the hell out of here, Benton,” he said. “Right now.”

Bobby took a look around--made his decision--and started backing away.

“You know what’s going to happen,” he said to them. “Jon--the big real patriot army man--is going to ask you to take arms against the lawful United States government--and they’re going to kill most of you and try and hang the rest.”

“Georgia has lethal injection,” Doyle said.

“They hang traitors--tell ‘em Jon--you know!”

Jon glared--and Benton turned--fell--picked himself up--and ran.

Everyone was looking at him--waiting.

“Platoon Commanders--set up a perimeter. Turn these vehicles off this minute--I want eyes and ears one hundred yards down that road in both directions as well as out towards town. GO!”

He took a moment in the sudden opening space to let his shoulders sag slightly--to exhale, counting slowly to four.

Booker stood there--waiting.

“What?” Jon asked.

“The Colonel is coming. They called on the radio just as Benton--”

“That guy was a plant--I knew it--” Jon swore.

Booker nodded. “Think he’s the only one?”

“I don’t know. He’s the only one I had a feeling about.”

Booker nodded. “Maybe we should get some people into town? If anything starts happening there they might give us some early warning?”

Jon nodded. “That’s a good idea. Take Jacks and go. Get one other person--go in civilian. Don’t draw attention.”

“Will do, sir.”

It was going to be a long night. He looked at the telephone. It was one of those Apple phones you couldn’t take the batteries out of.

It was tougher than it looked--but he was able to smash it to pieces all the same.
"Let Them Hate So Long As They Fear"

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