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Authors: Glen Tate

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BOOK: 299 Days IX: The Restoration
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It turns out Eric was a little too much of a “Patriot” – so much so that he could no longer be called one. He had always been hardcore, even angrier at the old government than Grant had been. Grant remembered the last time he saw Eric. It was at the WAB building when the riots were starting and all the WAB employees were evacuating. Eric came into Tom Foster’s office and yelled that WAB guys needed to go out and beat on the protestors. When no one would follow up, Eric stormed out.

Eric had gone ahead and taken matters in his own hands. In the report, Eric admitted that he formed a small group. Grant didn’t recognize any of the names and wondered how Eric recruited them.

Eric and his group started doing “overpass jobs,” according the report. In the first week of the Collapse, one of the members of Eric’s group would ride in a car down the highway with a little Motorola radio. The car would look for cars with liberal bumper stickers. The radio car would tell Eric, who was hiding on an overpass, the description of the lib car and its distance from the overpass. When the lib car got near the overpass, Eric would shoot the driver with a hunting rifle. Even if Eric missed, which was most of the time, the exploding windshield would cause the lib car to crash and either kill or injure the driver. They did four “overpass jobs.” Just having a bumper sticker, even a stupid one, should not be a reason to kill people, Grant thought. Grant felt a twinge of guilt because he had wished he could shoot some people with those bumper stickers, but Eric took it way too far and actually did it. At least four times.

Later, about two months into the Collapse, Eric and his group hit gang gas stations. They would start to fill up and, when no one was looking, tie down the latch on the nozzle so the gas kept flowing. They would walk away with the gas nozzle with gas gushing out. Then they would shoot a flare gun at the spilled gas. The gas station would go up in a fireball. Grant wasn’t opposed to killing the gangbangers selling gas, but many innocent people were killed, too. Blowing up gang gas stations, Grant had to give Eric credit, did reduce demand for gang gas. But too many innocent people got hurt.

Eric also admitted to a crime that Grant was silently cheering about. He had killed Bart Sellarman, the corrupt real estate licensing board monster that terrorized Ed Oleo in one of Grant’s and Eric’s cases back at WAB. The killing was a gruesome carwash slaying. Grant was ready to buy Eric a steak dinner for that one. Then Grant realized that this kind of vengeance was exactly what Grant was supposed to prevent, but Grant could smile. And the way Eric killed Sellarman. It was pure genius. Grant wished he could have seen that. Grant would never go into a carwash again.

The final thing Eric did was attempt to infiltrate the Red Brigade. Grant was fine with that because the Red Brigade were communist terrorists who thought the FUSA wasn’t socialist enough. But it was how Eric did it.

Right before the Collapse, Eric found out that the local leader of the various left-wing causes was a student named Maddy Popovich. She went to the left-wing nut job college in Olympia, the Evergreen State College. Eric started following her around. He even enrolled at Evergreen. He was determined to get her.

Eric found out Maddy had a roommate, a young woman named Michele Tarrant. Eric found out where Michele hung out and got to know her. Pretty soon, Eric was sleeping with her. She introduced Eric to Maddy and he got to know both of them.

Eric said he suspected, but admitted during interrogations that he could never prove, that Maddy was the leader of the local Red Brigade. Michele was not involved. She hated politics, as a matter of fact.

One night, in Michele’s bedroom, Eric slit Michele’s throat. He admitted in the report that he really enjoyed it. He went into Maddy’s room and did the same thing. He really loved that, too, he admitted.

It turns out that Maddy was a left-wing lunatic but not a Red Brigade member. When the interrogators proved to Eric that she was not a Red Brigade member, he shrugged to the interrogator and said, the report stated, “Whatever. A dead hippie. I did everyone a favor.” Eric fully expected to get a medal from the Patriots for slitting the throats of two innocent women.

That wasn’t going to happen, Grant decided.

Grant hated to see what had happened to Eric. For whatever reason, Eric had decided that the Collapse gave him a license to kill people he hated—some of whom he didn’t even know. The reports told of his confession about a “good Eric” and an “angry Eric,” his dual personality, showing he was obviously mentally ill. The people who were killed by the angry version of Eric were not Lima military or police or FCorps. They just had a bumper sticker of a politician he hated, or he suspected they were terrorists. Hating and then killing people based on their politics or suspecting, but not verifying, they were terrorists was what the Limas did. But so did Eric. In a sense, he became a Lima.

The bottom line was that Eric had admitted to killing innocent people. Sellarman had it coming, but the drivers with liberal stickers didn’t. Maddy didn’t, and Michele Tarrant certainly didn’t.

Eric, a so-called Patriot, had been the one who killed innocent people instead of the Limas, who were usually the ones who did. Eric needed to hang just like the Limas who did that. He would. The box “Deny Pardon” was checked and initialed on Eric’s report. Grant hated to see that because he knew Eric. Grant wondered if he had spent more time with Eric whether he wouldn’t have turned out that way. No, Grant told himself, Eric had some hatred of a certain kind of people and when society broke down Eric decided this was his chance to go out and kill people. Eric was just as guilty as the Limas, and in some ways, more guilty. As a person with at least some Patriot beliefs, Eric should have known better. Now he was going to die.

Grant realized the political importance of hanging Eric. The population had to see the Patriots would not tolerate atrocities from their own side. The law applied equally. No matter if the guy you used to work with at WAB was the chair of ReconComm or not. The guilty hanged. Period.

Then Grant got a brilliant idea. Evil, but brilliant.

 

Chapter 326

Leaving Seattle

(January 21)

 

 

Prof. Carol Matson was living her merry little socialist life in Seattle … for a while. A few days after New Year’s Day, she noticed more and more harsh measures by the government. She also noticed the gangs seemed to be out more. Things were getting scarce again in the stores. But luckily, there were laws against hoarding, so Carol was confident that people wouldn’t be hogging things up for themselves. That’s what set Seattle apart from the barbarians in “New Washington”: people in Seattle cared about others, not just themselves.

Then she got a knock at her door one night. She answered the door, which was dangerous with all the crime. But she could see through the peephole that the men at her door had yellow FCorps helmets. Whew. They were safe to let in, so she did.

Once the three FCorps men were in her house, one of them asked, “Are you Carol Matson?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Is your brother Grant Matson?” he asked.

Carol felt all the blood drain out of her face. Oh no. They were after her because of him. “Yes,” she said, meekly.

“You need to come with us,” he said, as the other two grabbed her by each arm. They were hurting her arms and were yelling at her. She hadn’t even done anything wrong. Having a stupid hillbilly brother wasn’t a crime. Was it?

They took her to a prison, an awful, dark, overcrowded, filthy place. She found out that she was being held because her brother was the head of the New Washington “Reconciliation Commission.” He therefore had the power of life and death over many important government officials who had been trapped in New Washington.

“We are proposing a trade,” her interrogator told her. “You for him.”

Carol wanted to get out of that awful place. She didn’t want the authorities to get her brother, though. But she realized that she had no power over the situation. Either she would be traded for him or not. It wasn’t her decision.

Then Carol started to think about how awful it would be even if she were released. Everyone would know that her brother was some high-ranking teabagger. She could never show her face again.

After days and days of waiting, word came back that there would be a trade. Of sorts. She was released and allowed to go to Olympia.

When she got there, Grant was waiting.

“Welcome home, sister,” Grant said as he hugged her. She hugged him, too. He looked different and she almost didn’t recognize him. He was thinner, had a beard, and had a gun. Everyone around him had guns. Didn’t they know that guns were illegal? And could get them sent to prison forever? Then she would remember she was no longer in Seattle.

Olympia, now under Patriot control, was fundamentally different than Seattle. Carol marveled at how there were no lines for things. In Seattle, she stood in line at every store and paid for things with an FCard. In Olympia, there were small businesses springing up. People paid with New Dollars, which was the currency of the southern and western states, and with some weird local currencies. They still bartered, but it was weird for Carol to watch people buy things with cash. It was all cards in Seattle.

Being in a Patriot city was very strange for Carol. She was in teabagger central. She expected to see Klansmen running around hanging blacks. That’s what she had been led to believe. She actually expected to see that.

After the initial shock of not seeing Klansmen, Carol’s next emotion was extreme indecisiveness. On one hand, she still feared the Klansman that she expected to see in that teabagger town. On the other hand, she was thankful for being out of jail and out of Seattle, which, she now had to admit, was crumbling. She could see with her own eyes, from the conditions in New Washington, that things were much better here.

However, she could not instantly feel comfortable in Olympia. She thought people would mock her, or would preach to her some fundamentalist Christianity, or wanted to hurt her because she was from “evil” Seattle. Yet, she knew it was better here. She could not decide if she belonged in New Washington, especially since she couldn’t feel comfortable in New Washington. She didn’t need permission to do things here. Everything was legal. There were so few police and soldiers around. People were making decisions for themselves.

Carol found this very hard. She had difficulty making decisions, even about little things. It was frustrating to make decisions. It seemed like too much work to make her own decisions. Then she would realize that making decisions was normal and having them made for you was not normal. She was slowly adjusting. Grant realized that his sister was suffering from what newly released prisoners often struggled with. They had had decisions made for them for so long that freedom was hard to adjust to.

Grant told Carol about the deal that got her out. A straight one-for-one swap of Carol for Grant was laughed at by the New Washington leadership. A war hero and head of the ReconComm for … a Spanish literature professor? The New Washington leadership never told Grant about the situation in case he did something stupid like turn himself in to Seattle to save his sister. Later, after he found out, Grant had to admit that he never would have done that. He barely knew his sister and she had made repeated choices to stay in Seattle. He didn’t want her in jail, but she chose to live in a place where people went to jail for no reason.

Just as the New Washington leadership suspected, Carol was the opening bid in a negotiation. When it was all over with, the Patriots and Limas traded prisoners. Equal numbers for equal numbers. The Patriots bent their own rules and counted Carol as a Lima prisoner to be swapped. So they got her out, but it only cost them a random Lima, not a prize like Grant’s capture.

As Carol settled into New Washington, she had to hide her identity because, as a family member of the chair of the ReconComm, she was a target for Lima attacks. She would also be a big target for a kidnapper because she could be used to get pardons from Grant. So New Washington issued her a new identity and she found a job working at a small bookstore. No one needed a Simon Bolivar-era Spanish literature professor anymore.

 

Chapter 327

Reconciliation Starts … Tomorrow

(January 29
)

 

 

Grant was in Olympia for a few days between speaking engagements for the ReconComm. He still hadn’t heard from Lisa. He had written her off and had other things on his mind.

Grant needed to visit someone. The Team was enjoying some R&R in Olympia, so he arranged for a State Patrol EPU detail to take him where he needed to go.

“Sorry to trouble you guys,” he said to the EPU agents, “but I gotta have a political discussion. It’s all hush-hush.”

“No problem at all, Commissioner Matson,” the senior agent said. “It’s an honor to be on your detail.”

The younger agent, who was driving, asked, “Where to, sir?”

“Meconni’s,” Grant said, “You know, the sandwich shop.”

“You got it, sir,” the younger agent said.

When they got to the Meconni’s parking lot, Grant said, “Hey, guys, I’m trying to lay low in town here. Do you mind if I have someone in the car. It’s sensitive and we don’t want to be seen in the restaurant.”

“We’ll be outside the vehicle, sir,” the senior agent said. Maybe Commissioner Matson was meeting a girlfriend. He didn’t seem like that kind of guy, but maybe.

BOOK: 299 Days IX: The Restoration
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