It certainly wasn’t the most glamorous assignment Frank Carragher had ever been given by his superiors. Nothing like the postings he’d had in Montreal, Ottawa, Washington, D.C. or even Canberra, Australia, when he had worked with the Canadian embassy. The eldest of three children who were raised in the affluent Montreal suburb of Westmount, Carragher had known nothing but privilege for all of his fifty-five years. Not that his childhood had been a shining success. While growing up, the considerably overweight man had lacked the ability of many of his peers to excel in sports. His often overbearing father, a bank manager, had expected too much of the awkward young man, constantly putting him down. He had earned a degree in business administration from McGill University and from there began a long career with the public service of Canada.
Over a span of thirty years, Carragher had fought and schemed his way up the fiercely competitive bureaucratic ladder, holding a variety of high management positions in various departments and agencies. A close-cropped beard covered a hammy, slightly-wrinkled face. The senior bureaucrat had an austere mien; it was next to impossible to force a smile. To compensate for his self-confidence that had been shattered, as a youth, Carragher had developed an unhealthy obsession with gaining power. He craved power and monopoly over others the way a junkie craves his next fix.
At the time of the merger, Carragher had been working with the Department of Justice. At first, he was a bit hesitant to leave Ottawa and the comforts of his million-dollar home for some nondescript city in the interior of British Columbia.
It quickly dawned on his bitter, scheming mind that the Thompson-Nicola district could become his own little fiefdom. It was simply too good of an opportunity to pass up. The seat of administrative power for the district was the Jim Canfield Building located in the heart of downtown Kamloops. Its prior status had been the home of several B.C. Provincial Government regional offices. There was a knock at the office door.
“Come in.” Carragher said flatly.
Carli, a young, somewhat naïve woman peeked inside.
“Mr. Carragher, Major Toombs is here.”
“Send him in.”
Though they shared similar views, Major Dan Toombs and Frank Carragher came from very different backgrounds. The six-foot-one, two-hundred pound Toombs had been raised in a strict fundamentalist Baptist family in Birmingham, Alabama. Fiercely patriotic almost to the point of being blinded, Toombs eagerly wanted to serve his country. He had received a scholarship to West Point. With his shifty eyes and close-cropped black moustache, Toombs appeared dashing, though in a villainous way. He’d spent twenty years in the United States Army, twelve of them as a ranger. When the North American Police was formed, he was hired on and permitted to keep his rank from the U.S. Army.
Toombs entered, dressed in the jet-black long-sleeved buttoned shirt and pants commonly worn by commissioned officers in the NAP. Carragher rose from his desk.
“Welcome major.” Carragher extended his hand as he greeted the career soldier.
The men shook hands.
“You’re certainly a long way from home.”
“I certainly had my misconceptions about Canada,” Toombs stated in a slow Southern drawl. “It’s actually quite okay up here.”
“I was to the Yellowhammer State once. Passed through on my way to New Orleans. Anyway, we should start discussing how we are going to govern his district.”
“Sir, I must say that I’m a tad peeved that the NAP’s northwestern division is only giving me three-hundred and fifty personnel.” Carragher could tell his subordinate was angry.” For crying out loud! This district is over forty-five thousand miles, sorry, kilometers. I really don’t know what in the name of God is going through the minds of those pencil pushers in Seattle. I require more personnel if I am to maintain order.”
“You have to admit, it was a rather intelligent move on their part,” Carragher stated. “Fly those NAP troopers in on commercial airliners as not to spook the generally dumbed-down populace. In addition to the twenty APCs, there are two surveillance helicopters. We are also getting a contingent of UN…”
“About them, what is their country of origin?”
“The United Kingdom. British Parachute Regiment,” Carragher replied. “Their role will be to guard the bridges that cross the North and South Thompson Rivers and the airport, as well as vital pieces of infrastructure, including that massive substation on the outskirts of the city. They are on their way here now.”
Toombs mulled this over.
“Paras.” He nodded his head with approval. “Tough outfit for sure.”
“To further assist us in quelling any resistance that may arise, the Brits are keeping a squadron of Apache attack helicopters at the airport,” Carragher explained.
“Sir, I’m afraid that if we don’t clamp down hard on even the slightest show of insubordination, resistance will be a real possibility. Just look at northern Washington State, right along the border. Rebelliousness spreads like wildfire. I’m just thankful that your government, well, what used to be the Canadian government, had the good sense to abolish the private ownership of firearms.”
“Major Toombs, I can see that you indeed have many misconceptions about Canada that have been engrained into the American psyche. Some frozen, pussified, socialist paradise. In fact, truth be told, there is a higher rate of gun ownership in the Great White North than in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. Take into account that we are in western Canada. Very conservative and libertarian-minded. One would have to be incredibly naïve to actually believe that every citizen dutifully handed in their weapons to authorities. Mark my words, there are hundreds and thousands of guns buried in the ground all over B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan…indeed, the entire country. And people are merely waiting for the right time to dig them up.”
“Sir, the list. May I see it?”
“I nearly forgot about that.”
Carragher retrieved a sheet of paper from a desk drawer. He handed it to Toombs.
“As with every city, Kamloops has its share of citizens who hold subversive views and are liable to cause trouble,” Carragher said.
Toombs looked over the list.
“These are two hundred names and addresses my staff has compiled,” Carragher explained. “Some are libertarians; others belong to gun rights or free speech organizations. Being as this is B.C, there are a handful of environmental radicals on there as well.”
“Sir, what truly concerns me is the ex-military people, those with the skills to construct weapons and train fellow citizens to fight as insurgents. It is imperative to keep a lid on them,” Toombs said with urgency in his voice.
“We will be doing our best to keep a lid on everybody.” Carragher looked out of the expansive window of his office into the city below. On the flagpole in front of the Jim Canfield Building where the Canadian flag once flew proudly, the new flag of North American stood in its place. The design was an unusual melding of the colors of the Mexican and U.S. flags with a red maple leaf in front of them.
“Major, once all of those individuals have been arrested, some will be housed in the former regional correctional centre on the outskirts of the city while others are being shipped to labor camps in the mountains.”