The demonstrations became larger and more vociferous with each passing day. City residents, fully aware that their public displays of defiance were highly illegal, disregarded the district government as they marched in the streets of Kamloops and gathered daily in front of the former provincial correctional centre. Frank Carragher, despite being told constantly by his advisors to put a quick halt to the growing rebelliousness in the city, up until now had permitted the peaceful assemblies as a way of ‘building a strong rapport with the plebes.’
It was mid-July and the Pacific Northwest was suffering through one of the hottest and driest summers on record. As food become scarcer in the district, more citizens, knowing they had absolutely nothing to lose, joined the burgeoning chorus of discontent. Due to late or missing shipments of food and other essential supplies, each time people entered local grocery stores, there were fewer and fewer items in the shelves.
All farms in the Thompson-Nicola District had been placed under the control of the Ministry of Agriculture, a completely unaccountable federal agency with Gestapo-like powers. Under the pain of severe punishment, producers were extra cautious not to break any of the thousands of tiny regulations regarding what they were allowed to grow and sell. Rationing had been put into effect. To date, there had been two massive rallies in the city decrying the actions of a government that was increasingly becoming hated by all.
Frank Carragher stood in the large window of the Jim Canfield Building. Major Toombs stood beside him. On the street below, hundreds of city residents gathered in front of the large government office building. They waited to hear a group of local activists who had set up a podium near the steps of the Jim Canfield Building.
As the rally was getting underway, Robert Hunt and Marty Smith were walking down nearby Victoria Street. The charismatic-looking young man in his late twenties standing behind the podium with another man and two young women didn’t appear familiar. Steven Fenton was a popular social activist, writer and radio talk show host. The demonstrators mobilized in front of Fenton were a mixture of older residents, men, women and children. Many of them carried signs bearing slogans such as ‘Restore Civil Liberties’, ‘Canada is not the 51st State,’ ‘Canada is not for sale’ and ‘Destroy the New World Order.’
Toombs glanced over at his supervisor, who appeared to be deep in thought.
“Sir, they’ve pushed their luck to the limit. You give citizens an inch and they take a country mile.”
“This Steven Fenton character. What do you know about him, Major?”
“Not a great amount, Sir. I believe he’s from Vancouver. Amazing how he slipped under our radar.”
“We’ll just watch and see how this event goes. This hooligan has troublemaker written all over him.”
On the street below, all eyes were focused on Fenton as he placed his mouth to the microphone.
“Good afternoon my friends and neighbors! This is the people’s mic!”
“This is the people’s mic!” the crowd responded with fervor.
“Like all of you, I am sick and tired of seeing foreign military forces and corporations as well as our own traitorous Canadian government stripping us of our civil liberties, locking up our family members and friends and starving us into submission.” Fenton spoke with fiery passion. “To add insult to injury, these same traitors are sending our young Canadian men and women overseas to fight never-ending wars. All of this is being done in the name of a bloody, greed-stricken corporate agenda that serves no one except for the global elites and their cronies in the military industrial complex.”
Hunt and Smith were quite impressed by Fenton’s speech. The freedom fighters, who planned to stir up some mayhem themselves in the very near future, made sure that they were far enough away from the crowd should the goon squad arrive.
“People,” Fenton continued. “The time has come to send a message to our overlords in Denver that we will no longer tolerate being treated like serfs by this illegal regime. Turncoats in both nations have sold out the good citizens of Canada and the United States. As Canadians, it is our duty to protect our sovereignty and our natural resources.”
Frank Carragher’s eyes become more sinister-looking as Fenton’s speech intensified. He turned to Toombs.
“I’m ordering you to drop the hammer, Major. You’ve just been given the power to crush every one of those dissident aggressors.”
“I’m looking forward to it, Sir,” Toombs replied with an evil grin. He took a cellular phone out of his pocket and dialled a number. “Captain, send in the tactical force.”
Fenton took a sip of water before continuing his speech.
“We, the citizens of the Thompson-Nicola District, demand the release of all political prisoners.”
Fenton looked out into the crowd. A young woman jumped up and raised her hand to get his attention.
“You there,” Fenton said with a smile as he pointed at her. “Would you like to say something?”
The woman, who was in her early thirties, rushed up to the podium.
“What is your name? Speak into the mic. Tell everyone who you are.”
“Nancy Richards,” she announced to the crowd. “I have three children. My husband is dead. We haven’t eaten in two days. We continue to suffer while those pieces of shit in this building live high on the hog. Well, I say no more. It has to stop.”
At that moment, a column numbering over one hundred NAP troopers marched in lockstep in a v-shaped formation down the street towards the crowd. They were all garbed head-to-toe in thick black Kevlar body armor. Helmets with visors protected their faces. As they marched, the troopers hit their truncheons against thick Plexiglass shields. The demonstrators looked on in fear and apprehension as a couple of the riot squad troopers raised tear gas launchers and guns. In less than a minute, the crowd found itself overwhelmed by tear gas. People stumbled about coughing, wheezing and disoriented. Terrified children separated from their parents cried.
The militarized riot police fired a volley of rubber bullets into the quickly dispersing crowd. Several of the demonstrators reeled in horrendous pain as they were hit by the projectiles. Next, the troopers rushed headlong into the crowd. The demonstrators did their best to protect themselves from the blows the troopers mercilessly unleashed on them.
Marty Smith felt his adrenaline rising as he watched his fellow Kamloops residents being beaten and hauled away by NAP troopers. He went to go but Bob Hunt held him back.
“No Marty. Not here. Not now.”
“God sake Bob. We have to do something!”
“Don’t worry. Every one of those fascist goons is getitng what’s coming to them. Karma is a real bitch sometimes,” Hunt said. “But we cannot get involved now. Let’s just discreetly walk away before they see us.”
Nicole’s head hurt from sitting through three hours straight of mindless propaganda classes that were designed to completely brainwash and social engineer the political prisoners. A few of Nicole’s fellow detainees had begun to crack under the daily stress. Nicole made a vow to herself that she could never be worn down physically or mentally. In her heart, she longed to be free and that burning desire would never be extinguished.
Nicole had been informed that she had a visitor. It could only be one individual and she knew it. To ensure that the guards would not suspect she was harboring ulterior thoughts, Nicole played along each day, asking questions and participating in the re-education classes.
Nicole even pretended that she was in full agreement with the lies and deception spewed forth out of the mouths of the guards and government officials from the Ministry of Information.
As Nicole was escorted into one of the small interrogation rooms she’d been in umpteen times before, it was a contenting sight to see Father Julian Tuck sitting there.
“Hello Nicole. I just finished up my rounds counselling some of the other detainees. Lieutenant Paynter permitted me to meet with you but only briefly. I apologize for not being in to see you as frequently as I’d like. My life is busier now than it’s ever been. You’re holding up okay?”
“As best I can under the circumstances,” Nicole replied unemotionally. “I’m still unsure when I will be allowed to see Arielle.”
“You’re not the only one who’s been wondering about that. I’ve spoken personally with Captain Storey. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he has a vendetta against you.”
“Me and many others.”
Just then, the door opened. Janet Paynter appeared. “Alright, time’s up.”
Tuck smiled politely and slowly stood up.
“We will talk again very soon Nicole,” Tuck said. “I promise you that.”