Sunday, March 3, 2024

2054, Half VI: Standoff at Arlington

18:46 April 15, 2054 (GMT‑5)

Arlington Nationwide Cemetery

That evening in her condo Julia Hunt ordered in sushi and watched the protection of Slake’s botched press convention on her front room couch. Days later, Slake’s panicked responses to the questions on Castro’s dying continued to air, and so they appeared even worse on the information.

Hunt raised a chunk of salmon sashimi between two chopsticks as she learn the chyron for the following story: Castro Post-mortem Leaked on Frequent Sense Confirms Foul Play and White Home Lies. She dropped the fish onto her lap.

Information of the withheld post-mortem exploded. On each channel the prime-time anchors flashed printed copies of the report back to the digicam. They learn complete sections aloud, describing the size of the marble-sized mass of cells inexplicably lodged in Castro’s aorta and the excerpted transcript of the post-mortem itself, during which the chief internist concluded, “This could’t be the identical coronary heart.”

Throughout the hour, Truthers flooded the streets in cities across the nation. As Hunt scrolled the channels, a information crew in Lafayette Park was conducting interviews with the rising mass of protesters, considered one of whom she acknowledged; it was the person within the wheelchair she’d met on the Metro. She had considered him typically. Now she discovered his id: retired gunnery sergeant Joseph William Sherman III. Beneath his identify on the display had been the phrases Truther Volunteer Organizer. She positioned his identify in a search engine and discovered that he’d misplaced his legs within the Spratly Islands and that the Chinese language nuclear assault on San Diego had killed his spouse and three daughters, who’d lived at close by Camp Pendleton. Hunt might hear in Sherman’s voice how deeply he resented a president who whereas alive flaunted constitutional norms by clinging to energy for an tried fourth time period and whose successor, Smith, now flaunted norms once more by withholding an post-mortem and refusing to be clear about his predecessor’s dying.

“Level your digicam right here,” stated Sherman, thumbing towards his lacking legs. “I sacrificed these for my nation, and also you’re going to deceive me … you’re going to deceive all of us.” He gestured expansively to a cluster of Truthers who’d positioned him at their middle, the core of them veterans, sporting previous army fatigues adorned with medals that dangled from their chest pockets. “It’s a lie that Smith is the reliable president when he so clearly had a hand in killing Castro. Is that this what America has turn out to be? Dreamers drunk on energy led by a dictator-president. Lies to the numerous as long as it offers energy to the few.” Sherman held the digicam’s focus along with his insistent blue eyes.

His tone was so resolved, the correspondent felt compelled to reply him. In a meek voice, she stated, “I don’t know.”

“After all you don’t.” Sherman leaned into the digicam. “President Smith,” he started, “you might be illegitimate. You can see that on a regular basis Individuals—we patriots who demand the reality about your crimes and the excesses of the Dreamers—won’t be led by a thief, by somebody who stole the presidency. We served our nation earlier than, and we’ll serve it once more. And don’t even consider attempting to put your predecessor in Arlington’s hallowed floor.” Sherman swiveled round, turning his again to the digicam, and wheeled himself away.

The information minimize to industrial.

Julia Hunt rested her head in opposition to the arm of her couch, her eyes nonetheless glued to the display. Weeks of exhaustion swept over her. Whereas she waited for this system to return, she fell right into a black wilderness of sleep. Deep into this sleep, within the early hours of the morning, she started to dream: Right here, within the dream, she is asleep in her girlhood bed room and is woken earlier than daybreak by a noise, the sound of one thing hitting the ground. Her environment are acquainted, the adobe ranch home in New Mexico the place Sarah Hunt had raised her. Carrying her nightgown, she fastidiously shuts the door behind her and steps into the darkish hall. At its far finish a single band of sunshine escapes from the bottom of one other door. She begins to stroll down the hall. The tiles are cool beneath her naked ft. As she attracts nearer, she will be able to hear what seems like a wrestle.

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