From the left:
As he talked Colby listened and thought. He was standing away from them just staring at the ocean formulating his plan. Colby Ohlbinger could have been a great doctor, engineer, or chemist. He was incredibly intelligent. But this is what he wanted. This is where his mind worked best. He was close. He just needed to bring it together. As Scotch Anderson continued to talk he said something that sparked Colby’s mind. And he knew he had them.
“Hell Colby, my own car was hit by a rock from some protester just yesterday. And it’s mild here in the city compared to other places. I mean, some of my friends are already thinking about bugging out to New Zealand until this blows over. I’ve got a place over there myself and I have to admit, I’ve considered it. You’re going to start a civil war if you don’t tone this down a bit.”
A broad smile came across Colby’s face. He saw a lone small wooden chair sitting off to his right. He walked over to it and picked it up. He carried it lazily to the center of the sofas. He put it down and turned it around so its back was facing Anderson and the governor. He lowered himself to the chair and crossed his arms over the back of it resting his chin on his arms.
“You people don’t understand a damn thing. Do you think this isn’t already a civil war?”
Anderson and the governor both tried to interrupt and Colby just raised his right hand. “Stop it. Both of you. Scotch you need to know one thing. This is a civil war and if you leave, you can’t come back. If we win the resistance will say you were a traitor. If the right wins they will say you are the enemy. So if you leave, don’t think you can ever come back.”
Then he turned his head to face the governor. “And you have the audacity to accuse me of violence? Governor, you are either very stupid or insane. “
She tried to protest. Colby lifted his head from the back of the chair and screamed at her.
“Stop it! For years you were the one dividing this country. You told us every Republican was a Nazi. You told us they were out to get us. You said that elections were stolen. For years you told us we were the victims of social injustice. You told us they were destroying the planet. You filled us with righteous indignation.
And now? Now when we listened to you and start to fight for you what? You want us to quit? You say they aren’t that bad and it takes time? You say we are crossing the line? You started this. You did this. Every bit of this is your doing.
You’ve lived your entire political life riling up people like me. Okay governor, it worked. Your soldiers are here now. And if you abandon us now, if you in any way shape or form get in our way, I will make sure I see you hung from the capitol steps. And I’m not speaking metaphorically here. I mean I will see your old neck being stretched by rope.”
The governor was for the first time in her life silenced. She knew he meant business. And she also knew in some small way that Colby Ohlbinger was right. He turned to face Anderson again.
“So it got too much for you eh? It’s not your company that you can control every little detail, is it? You did this too, Scotch. I read some of your blog. You were smarter than all of them, weren’t you? Well, you won too. I am your soldier and I am here fighting for what you said you wanted.
Now leave me alone and let me finish it. Or leave. Go to your bugout mansion in New Zealand. But like I said Scotch, don’t think you can ever come back. And don’t think that your money is going to follow you. All that money you gave me? It’s gone Scotch. I bought rifles and ammunition with it. I’ve bought and stolen tens of thousands of guns.”
He stood up and pointed to the window.
“They’re out there now Scotch. The Governor’s soldiers are out there fighting for what she told us we should be fighting for. And we aren’t going to lose.
He turned around and looked at the rest of the silent and stunned faces. “You’re all in this now. Every last one of you.”
He pulled his phone out of his pocket. Flipped on the camera and scanned it around the room. When he was done he hit send.
“Johnny you get that?” He said.
He nodded. No one was sure he was talking to anyone, but they were too afraid to question him. He hit the end button and put it back in his pocket.
“Now I have my insurance for the ones I don’t know. I need more money. I need millions. I need a million in cash and I need millions more in bank accounts that I can access from anywhere. Make it happen”
He started to walk towards the door and stopped.
“One last thing. Don’t any single one of you ever act like this wasn’t you. Don’t ever act like you didn’t do this. If it hadn’t been for you people, I wouldn’t be doing this. People have been killed because of your politics. Don’t ever fucking pretend that this is anyone’s fault but yours. All you have done here today is expose yourselves. I believed you.”
He took a short step towards them and they flinched in their seats.
“Do you know Steve Oxley?” He asked with tears in his eyes.
“I killed him. I did it because I thought he would threaten what you set me up to do. So, please. Either get the fuck out of my country or get behind me and do as I say. But don’t ever act like you are innocent.
He looked at the governor. Her entire physical appearance had changed right before his eyes. Her shoulders were drawn in and she was sunk deeply into the back of the sofa.
He pointed his finger at her. “You. I want a press conference tonight. You are to blame the police for this and tell them you are calling for an investigation. And at the end of that speech, I better be a national hero and my supporters all better look like angels. He then looked at Anderson again. I need the money tonight. I’m at the Hyatt.”
As he walked out of the room, not a word was said. In the coming days more than a million immigrants would converge on Sacramento. He controlled the state.
From the right:
Hartwick was watching it all unfold live. The men had been forced to sit down in the center of the road. There were bottles thrown at them and occasionally someone would kick them.
Someone stepped forward and pulled on the rope for them to stand. He then marched them towards the sidewalk out of the street and against a building. The man grabbed a megaphone.
A group of three more joined him. All had rifles slung over their shoulders.
The man with the megaphone started speaking.
“These men are responsible for the murders of our friends. These men killed seventeen people in cold blood!”
The crowd was screaming. The noise was so loud the reporter couldn’t even be heard. The sentence was carried out quickly. Zachary Hale, college dropout, full-time protestor, and part -time graphic designer dropped the megaphone, pulled a handgun from his coat pocket, turned with the other three men and executed the five accused murderers.
“Holy shit. What the fuck!” John Hartwick screamed at his television.
“What John? What happened?” His wife asked.
“They just executed five guys. They said they were the ones who had killed the people earlier this week.”
Hartwick stared at his wife in silence. There were tears in her eyes. She instinctively called the kids in from the back yard where they were playing.
“I have to go. I have to do something.” Hartwick said.
“No John, you can’t go down there.” Audrey protested.
“I’m not. I’m going to I-70 and 465. I just want to see if other people have had it with this. Something has to be done Audrey. These people are insane. All of them. Normal people have to do something. Where the hell are the police?”
Hartwick pulled off the exit and into the huge parking lot where all the big box stores were. He was stunned at how many people were standing around talking. It was cold and he had his big gray North Face coat on. In the right pocket was his gun and in the left a box of .38 caliber bullets. He felt a bit foolish now for taking it. He had calmed down on the drive. He didn’t know what would happen, but he knew something had to be done.
There were some rough looking men in the crowd of about a thousand people. But most were like himself. Well dressed and groomed with coats and gloves. He parked his car and walked towards an area where a group of thirty or forty had gathered. A younger man, tall with black hair was talking.
“We’ve got to get back in there. We have to take the city back. Run those fucking socialists out.”
Most of the men were just listening. A few nodded in agreement. John Hartwick wanted no part of this. He knew there were thousands, maybe tens of thousands in the city. He decided to speak up. He had to find out where this crowd really was. If they were hell-bent on a gunfight he would just leave.
“Seems to me the best option is to just close them in. Don’t let anyone in and don’t let any trucks in past 465. They’ll get hungry and the out of town trouble makers will leave.” He offered.
“Fuck that. They’ll just come back. We have to go in there and either wipe them out or load them up and ship them out to California where they belong!”
The younger man retorted.
“I don’t know.” Hartwick said. “We’ve got maybe a thousand or so here. We could win, but just like those other guys, a lot of us would get killed. Why don’t we just trap them in there?”
“How?” Another man asked.
“We just need to block the major highways. Stop them from getting past 465. Then we slowly pinch closer to the suburbs to help those folks but close off the city. Stop them from getting food. When we get close enough, shut off the electric and cut the phone lines, or the cell towers or whatever we need to do. But, let them leave. Let them go back to Chicago or wherever the hell else they came from.” Hartwick said.
“That sounds like a better plan.” The other man said. Pretty soon most of the crowd was agreeing with John. But the dark-haired, younger man was belligerent and would not budge. The small crowd quickly grew to listen to the debate. When it became clear that most of the crowd agreed with Hartwick the young man blew up.
“Fuck you guys. I came here to fight. I started this shit and now you guys want to fucking just stand around until they get tired. Then what? Yeah, they might leave for a while but they’ll be back. Fuck it. I’m going back to Missouri to be with my own people.”
And with that, he walked to a nearby truck, jumped in and sped off.
“Who the hell was that guy?” Hartwick asked.
“I think it was that Tanner Ritchie. The guy on TV that said he and his group killed all of those people last week.”
Hartwick just shook his head. “Sheesh. I don’t think some of these folks are right in the head.”
He started to talk about the containment plan. Someone had a pen and a notepad and they counted people and figured out how many could be at each highway. And then someone was yelling. The group turned to see two men running from their cars towards them. “They’re attacking the sporting goods store!”
When they got closer they were able to talk. A large group, over a hundred was attacking a sporting goods store the next exit up. They were trying to take all of the guns. Someone looked at Hartwick. “We gotta stop this don’t we?” “Is it that Tanner Ritchie and his group?” Hartwick asked. “No, it’s the protesters from the city. The left wingers.”
“Yeah, I think we need to stop this.” Hartwick said.
Hartwick screamed out orders. He had no idea how he had ended up in this position. Perhaps it was just luck he figured. He’d spoken up against Tanner Ritchie and that had earned him at least a temporary leadership position. He told them to get there fast and make sure they didn’t get out with those guns.
He jumped in the front passenger seat of an SUV with a few other men he did not know. They introduced themselves on the ride to the sporting goods store.
They could see the chaos even before they got off the exit. People were running out of the stores with rifles in their hands and bags that they all figured were ammunition. They were all running away from the store towards the back of the parking lot where several dozen cars were parked haphazardly.
“Stop here!” Hartwick screamed. “We can look down on them from the overpass and stop them.”
Others ahead of them were already pulling into the lot. The rest soon understood the plan.
John ran as fast as he could with his pistol in his hand yelling at the resistance group to stop. He yelled that they were surrounded. He heard a shot and felt a bullet whizz past his head. He instantly fell to the ground.
He was laying on the ground trying to fumble for his pistol that he had dropped. He realized it wasn’t even loaded. But as he reached for the bullets in his other pocket the sound of gunfire became deafening. All around him, behind him and off to the side the men he had come with were firing into the crowd below.
He stopped trying to load his gun and slowly raised his head to witness the carnage. Bodies were dropping everywhere. The people stealing the guns had not bothered to stop and load them. John saw no return fire at all.
After a few long minutes, he could hear people yelling ‘cease-fire’. Finally, all was quiet. A few lone people in the parking lot below stood slowly with their hands raised high.
John stood up and slowly made his way down the hill into the parking lot. After just a couple of steps, he looked behind.
Most of the men were following. Guns were still aimed. John became aware of how fast and hard his heart was beating. His entire body was slick with sweat and he was shaking violently. He had never been more terrified.