I've mentioned before that being accused of something you didn't do is bad, right? I mean, remember when I got in trouble at school because of Larry? That was a really bad moment in life. But little did I know back then that something monumental would happen in my life. I would once again be accused of false things. But I wouldn't be the only one affected.
My whole family and my entire nation would endure terrible hardships at the hands of corrupt government leaders, other countries, and international organizations. We'd be mocked, abused, invaded, looted, robbed, plundered, divided, and for some, killed.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
It was June 23.
I got up that morning. A usual morning. I got dressed, got my things and drove down to the office.
Larry was already there, as usually happens. "Hey, what's up?" I said.
"Hi. How'd you sleep?"
"Oh, just great. Just great." I noticed that his desk was…well, kind of sloppy. "I see you've been busy."
He laughed. "Yeah, I know. I've been very busy. Want to guess what we've been working on?"
I sat at my desk and got my computer started up. "Sure."
"We're going to update our force field."
Yes, we also have a force field. We've had it for several hundred thousand years. When in times of crisis, it covers the entire country in seconds, protecting us from attacks, invasions, sieges, and even disease outbreaks. We can even make it invisible.
"We're trying a new method. We're going to use particle accelerators to speed up the molecules used in the layers. And I say layers because now the updated force field will have several layers. Each layer will have a coating of plasma and of black matter material."
I made myself a cup of coffee. "Really? Where'd you get the black matter?"
"Oh. We have it stored it. From all our voyages across the universe. We've gotten when traveling through black holes."
"Sounds interesting. I guess it's going to be useful, especially because two days ago we had that aerial attack from Egypt."
"Oh, yeah. Well, I'll say one thing: they're not going to be too happy."
I laughed. "Well, that's their problem. How did that whole thing start anyway? I mean, they must've had reason to attack us. I know it wasn't entirely unprovoked."
"Oh, that. Well, you see one of our Army tanks was on its routine patrol of the border. It made a mistake and got trapped into a corner. It couldn't swerve, so it had to make a U-turn."
I wasn't getting this. "So?"
"Well, you see he was trapped between two strips of land: Amarkian farmland and Egyptian territory. What do you think he chose?"
Larry nodded. "Yep. And I don't know how Egypt found out about that tiny track he left, but basically that's why they sent 30 fighter jets and bombed 75 houses in a town near the border."
I shook my head. "I can't believe the way they'd act."
Larry shrugged. "That's the way the world is. And besides, I have a whole of other reports which I have to mention to you before lunch."
I sipped from my cup of coffee. "Well, go ahead. Shoot."
He started paging through a whole stack of papers. "Uh, let's see…well, we foiled a plan of terrorism."
That shocked me so much that I sprayed the coffee all over Larry. He stood there, motionless, letting the coffee drip off of him. He blinked his eyes and cleared his throat. "Yes, well, uh, I can see you got that in your brain. And uh, let's see what else? Oh, yes! One of our treasury trucks crashed on a bridge."
"One of our treasury trucks? You mean, the ones that transport money?!"
"Well, they aren't transporting banana peelings."
I smiled sarcastically. "That's not funny!"
"It's hilarious. Anyways, it just so happened that a group of convertibles was on their way back from a car show and when the truck crashed, it spilled a whole ton of coins into the cars. Which just happened to have their tops open."
"Yeah, it was $15,000 worth of coins."
"Fifteen thousand grand?! In coins?!"
He shrugged. "Well, it was a pretty big truck."
"About the size of a school bus, more or less. It was one of the biggies."
I laughed. "I bet those car drivers must've been really happy."
"Well, you know the saying: Keepers losers, finders winners."
I stared at him. "What?"
"Uh, I mean, finders losers, keepers winners. No! I mean, losers winners, keepers finders. Ah! I mean…uh, how does it go?"
I sighed. "Finder keepers, losers weepers."
He smiled. "Yeah. That's it!"
I shook my head and smiled. "Really, Larry. Do the world a favor and don't ever enter a spelling bee or vocabulary contest."
I guess he didn't get the message behind that because he didn't respond and went back to his work. "Oh, and I have good news."
"Really? Is that even possible today?"
"I guess it is when you hear it now. We caught one of the most wanted criminals in Amarkia."
I perked up at that. "Oh, really?"
He nodded. "Yeah. Um, it was…oh, what's he called? I can't remember his real name but he had a nickname. He operated illegal nightclubs and casinos." FYI: nightclubs and casinos of all kinds are banned in Amarkia.
"Um…I think his name had to do with poker," I said.
"Yeah, I know. Was it Jack? No. Chip! That was it. He's known as Chip."
"Oh, yeah? You caught Chip?"
He nodded. "Yeah, we caught him. And red-handed. And of course, he asked for bail, but as you know that's very strict here in Amarkia."
I nodded. "I know."
Let me explain something about bails here in Amarkia. In other countries, when someone commits a crime, instead of serving jail, they pay a certain amount of money and they are freed. That's bail. That doesn't happen in Amarkia. We believe that when someone commits a crime, they gotta pay for it and that's that.
That's especially the case with crimes that demand a life sentence or the death penalty. Things like murder, terrorism, abuse of minors, domestic violence, or rape.
Well, the rest of the day was normal. Work as usual. We got out at the usual time. "Oh, and I forgot to mention something to you," Larry said.
"What it is?" I said, as we stepped out of the elevator into the main hallway that leads to the front doors.
"Tomorrow we're going to put the new force field into effect. We're going to be at the main plant. You and I are expected to be there with other officials. And uh, a reporter from The New York Times and who currently works for ABC came from the US. He found out about it and wants to cover the story and interview you. Is that all right?"
We were in the parking garage. I opened the door of TIV and sat in the driver seat. "Sure, it's all right. I can see why people from the world would be interested in that."
"Okay. I'll let them know that you said yes."
"Sounds good." I turned on the engine and we headed home. I sure wish I'd taken a much better look at my great capital. Or said hi to the guards at the Palace Gates and asked how their families were.
Larry and I were greeted by warm smiles and hugs from the family. Well…at least Larry got warm smiles. I usually get the hugs. We both went up to our room to wash up and get ready for dinner.
We went down to the Family Dining Room. The salad and drinks were already served. I went to the kitchen to see what the girls were cooking up. I must say that, even for a kitchen cooking a gourmet dinner, it smelled very delicious. "So what's cooking?" said Larry.
Patty laughed and said, "Well, something you'll love. Actually, Darla's sister recommended it to us. It's actually Darla's favorite dish."
"Oh, you mean we're having hamburgers and fries?" I said.
"No!" said Kathy. "Just like every evening, we're having a special gourmet dinner."
I put my arm around her shoulders. "And just like every evening, I always enjoy it."
She smiled and hugged me. "Oh, thank you Spiny! You're the best brother anyone could ever have!"
Patty said, "I agree. You know, if you weren't my cousin, I would tried a long time ago to try to steal you away from Lilia."
I laughed. "Oh, you're all crazy! But I love you anyway."
They both hugged me. Kathy said, "Aww. We love you too, Spiny." She grabbed something from her jean pocket. "But I must say that we're not the only ones."
It was a little gift box. "What's this?" I opened it. It was a bracelet. A silver bracelet. But not just any regular one. It was one those that you can engrave words into. It said You and Me, Forever.
Larry walked up to us. "Maybe it's from Stefanie Scott."
I looked at him. "Oh, come on!"
"Or it could be from Peyton List," said Kathy. "You like her, don't you?" she said teasingly.
I sighed and said, "That's ridiculous."
"Or maybe it's from The Girl Across The Street," said Patty.
"Now, that is possible!"
We had a good laugh. When dinner was served we all sat down at the table along with Robert and Greeny.
If I would have known what was about to happen, I would've appreciated that evening with my family a lot more.