Being separated from her mother was crushing Arielle. By now, she had made friends with all of the other kids locked up in the unit of the former correctional facility. Each day, the detainees were forced to listen to propaganda regarding how wonderful the Republic of North America was. It especially pained Arielle and indeed every child in there to be told repeatedly that their parents were traitors and enemies of the state. Arielle was constantly plagued by nightmares about that traumatic day when the masked gunmen burst into their home and forced them outside at gunpoint.
The children of the unit had just finished eating breakfast. It was time to prepare for the first class of the day. As the children filed into a classroom and took their seats, Ron Storey stood at the front of the room. Being in Storey’s presence caused Arielle to shudder. He was every bit as loathed by the children as he was the adult political prisoners.
“Good morning. I firmly believe that you are finally starting to make progress.” His scary eyes narrowed as they scanned the timid faces in front of him. “Some of you, at least. The rest stubbornly cling to the outlandish notion that life will magically return to the way it once was.”
Storey pulled down a slide showing the North American flag. It followed another side of President Asher as well as the massive federal building in Denver that was the seat of the new republic’s government.
“As far as any of you are concerned, President Asher is your father. There is no God, only the state.”
Becky, a cute-freckled twelve-year-old girl, raised her hand. Becky’s parents had been sent to a labor camp near the B.C.-Idaho border. She had been raised in a Baptist home.
“It says in the Bible that as Christians, we cannot serve two masters, meaning God and Man.”
Irate, Storey glared upon her.
“I couldn’t care less about what the Bible says.” Becky drew back as he came aboard her. “Religion is superstitious and dangerous. And it has been outlawed by the North American government. Now I don’t want to hear any more of that talk. If it continues, I will order you locked up in isolation.”
Storey turned his attention back to his unwilling audience.
“There is no magical man in the sky who is going to swoop down and save all of you. Only by being good citizens and purging your minds of seditious thoughts can you be free again.”
“You keep trying to scare us but it isn’t going to work,” Arielle uttered, a glint of defiance in her eyes.
Storey got right in her face.
“You’re exactly the same as your mother,” the commandant said.” Insubordinate. Always insisting on pushing the envelope and believing you can get away with it. If you do not start conforming, you will stay here and that bitch mother of yours will be shipped to a labor camp either in the mountains or up north. Life is brutal in there. She will be forced to work sixteen hour days in often freezing or roasting hot conditions. And that’s the last you will ever hear of her.”
Arielle kept up a tough façade despite two single teardrops that seeped out of her eyes. It was plain as day that she had inherited her mother’s side of the family’s streak of stubbornness, of never backing down or giving up.
“Miss Clare, this is your last warning.” Storey spoke in a somber tone. “One more outburst and you will be sent to solitary confinement indefinitely.”
Nicole yearned every bit as much to be with her only child. It was monotonous and depressing spending each day locked up like a dangerous criminal. The only thing that kept her going strong was the relationship she had developed with Bridgette. During the long hours that they were in their cell together, the two women talked, often sharing intimate details of their lives. They had even prayed together a few times.
A sense of dread and trepidation swept the female prisoners, particularly the younger, very attractive ones. Ron Storey and a group of high-ranking correctional officers, including Janet Paynter, were running a lucrative racket that included, almost always through coercion, compelling those young prisoners to sleep with North American Police officials, UN soldiers as well as high-ranking federal government officials who were posted in the city.
The illegal operation netted Storey and his cohorts generous sums of cash. Nicole, although older than many of the girls that had been selected was quite attractive herself. She too was concerned about the prospect of being forced to do such a revolting thing.
Nicole, Bridgette and another woman named Karen were getting tired from mopping up an entire corridor of the facility. Nicole resented having to do what amounted to little more than slave labor. The three women took little notice of Officer Stanford as he leaned against a wall supervising them. Compared to almost all of the other officers that worked in the facility, Stanford was friendly.
“That priest who came to visit you a couple of weeks ago. Is his name Father Tuck?” Bridgette asked.
“Yes,” Nicole nodded.
“I believe my husband spoke to him on a couple of different occasions. Probably at the ecumenical meetings that used to be held at the university. I believe he operates a side business keeping bees and selling honey.”
“He does from his home.”
“Ladies, less talking and more working,” Stanford said in a polite tone of voice.
Nicole winked at Bridgette as she focused on her work.
“You and I will have a chat later.”