MAY GOD HELP US ALL.
No explanation was necessary.
Jesse knew exactly whom the text was from, and what it was about.
When he frantically entered his room, he slammed his door shut and locked it, drew the blinds closed, then grabbed a flashlight and retreated inside the closet.
As soon as he grabbed the black leather box buried in the far left corner of the closet, covered himself and the box under a black blanket, turned on the flashlight, and turned the key to unlock the box.
The first item visible inside the box was a handwritten note. Jesse’s clammy right hand picked up the paper and focused his eyes on the black text.
AS YOU READ THIS LETTER, I PRAY IT’S NOT TOO LATE.
I AM IN HIDING WITH MY FAMILY IN AN UNDISCLOSED LOCATION. WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT, WE WILL RETURN TO NEW JERSEY. I’M AFRAID, HOWEVER, THAT DAY MAY NEVER COME.
IF YOU ARE READING THIS, THEN NOT ONLY OUR ARE LIVES IN JEOPARDY, BUT THE LIVES OF MANY FREEDOMIANS, AS WELL. THE REASON I HAD A FALLING OUT WITH FRANCIS STEWART, WHICH ULTIMATELY BECAME THE REASON I LEFT THE GOVERNMENT ALTOGETHER, WAS BECAUSE I BECAME PRIVY TO SOME DISTURBING AND DANGEROUS INFORMATION.
LONG STORY SHORT, THE HISTORY OF THE DIVINE REPUBLIC OF FREEDOM TO THIS DAY IN LATE 14 N.G. HAS BEEN A COVER FOR SOMETHING TERRIBLE. IN THE EARLY DAYS OF THE DRF, THE GOVERNMENT CHAMPIONED THE PRINCIPLES OF ‘PEACE OR DEATH’ AS A MEANS TO HEAL US EMOTIONALLY AFTER THE ENDGAME, TO REMIND US THAT A BETTER WORLD IS POSSIBLE, AND TO ENSURE THAT ARMED CONFLICT ENDED ONCE AND FOR ALL.
WHAT YOU, YOUR FAMILY, AND EVERY OTHER FREEDOM-LOVING CIVILIAN IN THIS COUNTRY WASN’T TOLD, WAS THAT THE ONLY WAY TO ACHIEVE PEACE OR DEATH WAS TO TRUST THE ULTIMATE MINISTER AND ONLY THE ULTIMATE MINISTER. OVER THE LAST FOURTEEN YEARS, FRANCIS STEWART HAS ATTEMPTED TO COERCE THE FREEDOMIAN POPULATION INTO ACCEPTING THE PRINCIPLES OF A THEOCRACY. IN OTHER WORDS, WHAT FRANCIS STEWART SAYS GOES, AND ANY DISSENTER IS AN ENEMY OF THE STATE. THE THIRD INTENTATION IS SIMPLY A SAFEGUARD; ON ONE HAND, YOU HAVE STEWART’S TRUE AMBITIONS RESTRICTED TO VIOLATIONS PROVEN IN A COURT OF LAW, ON THE OTHER, YOU HAVE THE GREAT COMPROMISE OF THE FREEDOMIAN PEOPLE TRADING PEACE FOR ABSTINATION OF CRITICISM OF THE ULTIMATE MINSTER.
WE ARE REACHING THE POINT WHERE STEWART HAS LOST HIS PATIENCE. HE’S GETTING OLDER, AND HE WILL STOP AT NOTHING TO AVENGE HIS DEFEAT IN THE ENDGAME BY BUILDING THE UTOPIA OF HIS DREAMS AT ANY COST. THE FIRST STEP TO DOING SO IS BY IMPLEMENTING THE SOURCE OF THE AFOREMENTIONED DISTURBING AND DANGEROUS INFORMATION.
HE’S GOING TO SIDESTEP THE RULE OF LAW AND ENFORCE TREASON EXACTLY AS HE SEES FIT.
THIS IS STEP ONE OF WHAT YOU’VE COME TO KNOW AS PLAN ZERO.
Jesse gasped. Suddenly, the executions of LaForge and MacDougal made sense.
THE NEXT STEPS AFTER THAT ARE TOO MUCH FOR ANY HEART TO WITHSTAND, AND TOO DISTURBING FOR ME TO DETAIL IN THIS LETTER. STEP TWO, I’LL BE HONEST, IS SOMETHING I HAVE VAGUE DETAILS ON, BUT I WILL SAY IT HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH PROJECT MIRACLE. A FEW MONTHS AFTER THE ENDGAME ENDED, THE PROJECT WAS EXPANDED BEYOND IT’S SCOPE. THIS IS BECAUSE STEWART STUMBLED UPON SOMETHING PECULIAR, SOMETHING…UNFATHOMABLE, ABOUT THE HATHAWAYANS. I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS, BUT I DO KNOW THAT FRANCIS IS ABSOLUTELY DESPERATE TO LEVERAGE THIS FOR HIS OWN MEANS. IT MAY BE SOMETHING MORE HORRIFIC THAN PLAN ZERO. IT IS WHY HE WILL BETRAY EVERY SINGLE MEMBER OF THE SAA, AND WHY ANY DISSENTER OF HIS WORD IS IN GRAVE DANGER.
THIS IS WHY I HAVE ENCLOSED, IN THE BOX BELOW THIS LETTER, AN UNMARKED COPY OF A BOOK THAT IS OF GREAT INTEREST TO YOU. I CAN’T REVEAL DETAILS. YOU NEED TO READ IT YOURSELF, AND I’M SURE YOU’LL APPRECIATE WHY WHEN YOU’RE FINISHED.
THERE ARE IMPORTANT REASONS WHY I AM ENTRUSTING THIS TO YOU. YOU CAN BE AS ANGRY AT ME AS YOU WANT FOR PUTTING YOU INTO HARM’S WAY, BUT AS YOU READ ALONG, I THINK THINGS WILL START TO MAKE MORE SENSE. PLEASE DO NOT LET ANYONE ELSE SEE THIS.
ALL I CAN SAY ABOUT THE REST OF PLAN ZERO, FOR NOW, IS THIS: FRANCIS STEWART HAS HAD HIS EYES ON YOU FOR YEARS, JESSE. HE KNOWS HOW GIFTED A STUDENT AND ATHLETE YOU ARE. HE IS WELL AWARE OF YOUR POPULARITY IN THE MEDIA. HE’S GOING TO ENSURE YOU ARE PART OF HIS PLANS. TREAD LIGHTLY.
THE ONLY THINGS I ASK OF YOU ARE AS FOLLOWS: PLEASE DO NOT RESPOND TO MY TEXT ASKING YOU TO OPEN THIS BOX. IF STEWART DISCOVERS OR TRACES MY LOCATION, AND IF HE FINDS OUT I PUT YOU IN POSSESSION OF THIS BOX, ME AND MY FAMILY WILL BE HUNTED DOWN AND KILLED. SECOND, I BEG YOU TO KEEP AN OPEN MIND AS YOU READ THIS BOOK. AFTER YOU’RE FINISHED, I TRUST THAT YOU ARE SMART ENOUGH AND HAVE ENOUGH INTEGRITY TO DO THE RIGHT THING.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY. I PROMISE I WILL CONTACT YOU WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT.
DARK DAYS ARE AHEAD. MAY GOD HELP US ALL.
PETER J. HARRISON
P.S YOUR UNCLE IS NOT A BAD PERSON. GIVE HIM A CHANCE.
The flashlight slumped out of Jesse’s left hand as he leaned backward, as if the weight of the virtual box had forced his posture into the slouch position.
For the next ten minutes, he remained that way, attempting to reconcile his entire life leading up to that moment.
Everything suddenly made sense to him now.
Why Stewart wanted him to be the next Ultimate Minister.
That Plan Zero was real.
That the conflict with New Alaska was pre-planned.
The gravity of such truth, though not totally unsurprising, was enough to make him question his life, and if it really would be worth pursuing further.
What was his education worth? His athletic skills? His relationships, good and bad, to his family and friends?
Suddenly, he remembered his parents and his aunt. Vicariously through their voices, Jesse motivated himself one more time to not feel sorry for himself, and to make the best of the situation.
In that moment, the only way he knew how was to open the cardboard box within the black box.
Jesse removed the unlabeled thick book with plain green cover from the box. Its weight nearly collapsed under Jesse’s wrists; he figured it to be at least a thousand pages. He flipped through portions of the text to find handwritten notes, pictures, and edited syntax.
Finally, he settled on the first page, which contained, in enormous black font from top-to-bottom, text that would shake the foundations of his flesh and bone to the core.
It was the moment it finally hit him: there was no turning back. Ever.
THE DIARY OF
THE ALL-AMERICAN MARINE.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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