The moment has come! Andrew finally meets Miles and his compatriots. But first he tries to research some things that the Voices of the Right column brought up.
Be forewarned, it’s over 3000 words, and probably the longest segment I’ve posted so far.
Andrew decided before he was going to do anything else, he would try to research the Declaration of Independence. Maybe if he understood the historical reference a little better, he might understand Miles and the Voices of the Right as well.
But it would be hard to research something that was so old. And Miles was at least right about one thing – they didn’t teach about it in school anymore. It was just a blip on the radar of their history books. They spent much more time going over the events of the last 150 years or so, covering the Liberty Government ascent to power. They barely acknowledged the events that happened before the turn of the third millennium and apparently that included revolutions that gone before them.
Andrew didn’t quite know where to start and he was reluctant to ask one of the librarians for help, especially since he was going on his second cut class. The more he kept out of sight the better. So he searched for a computer terminal to use that was away from the hustle and bustle of the main part of the library.
He started out with the basics, looking up all the encyclopedia pages that mentioned the Declaration of Independence. Unfortunately there were only three and they didn’t cover much. There was the page on the convention of men who wrote it, a page on King George III who was the king of someplace called Britain when all of this happened, and finally there was a page on something called the Constitution, which was another document that followed the Declaration about ten years after and outlined the formation of the United States of America. Andrew sat down again and brought up a separate window to conceal what he was really reading about. Something that Miles wrote about, how the Government controlled all the information, made him feel ashamed to be looking up things that happened over three hundred years ago.
In many ways, the colonists (that’s what they were called before they formed their country) were in a similar position as people were today. They were forced to sit on the sideline as a force made choices for them that they had no power or input on. However as the 1770s rolled around, a lot of these acts and choices weren’t for the good of the colonists, but rather for the good of the crown. That was a major difference that set the two groups apart. Andrew wondered whether Miles and gang realized that difference when they alluded the Declaration. Andrew couldn’t deny that ninety per cent of what the Government did was with its’ people in mind. Even though he disagreed with the Government taking away his and Eileen’s baby, he knew in his gut that they wouldn’t have been able to raise a kid and finish school/start out in the workplace.
Soon, it was already fourth period. Andrew had skipped his history class, his science class and now his English class. As the day progressed he felt less and less guilty about skipping class. Once he had finished reading as much as he could on the Declaration of Independence and what they called the War of Independence, he decided to educate himself on abortion. As soon as he pulled up the info on it, he could get a sense that the Government was keeping info from him. There was plenty of information available to him, but it was all about how vital abortion was. After sitting through most of the debate and then reading the Freedom Fighter’s column, he knew that not everyone thought the same way the Government thought, yet their side of the story was not told. He remembered that there were a few girls in his philosophy class that felt that the baby was alive as early as mid-way through the first semester and they considered the Government terminating the pregnancy as murder. He remembered that Eileen was almost into her second semester when she got too sick and had to go to the hospital. Did the Government murder their unborn child?
Andrew spent the rest of the day grappling with the issues that the column had brought up in him. He even skipped his lunch period and proceeded to stay in the library through math and his last period. When he finished reading all the abortion information he could find, he decided to search for any information about the Voices of the Right. As soon as he hit enter, a dialogue box popped up saying “Warning, this information is restsricted. Any effort to access it will notify the Government.” Andrew paused. Should he click continue, and risk exposure? He could always claim it was an independent project for history and Mrs Gray forgot to file the necessary paperwork. It had happened before, a few years ago when Andrew was still in his 14th or 15th year. He couldn’t remember what exactly happened, but it didn’t seem like a big deal.
He clicked it anyways. The information popped up was even less than what he could find for the Declaration. It emphasized heavily that the Voices of the Right was a terrorist group started over thirty years ago from several students in post secondary education. At first their group was benign and easily ignored. But then twenty years ago, a man named Miles Baris took over and their efforts redoubled and got more dangerous. The current status of the group was unknown, because several of its’ leaders, including Miles Baris, were captured recently and Exiled.
So now Andrew had both the Voices of the Right view and the Governments view. Instead of clarifying things for him like he had hoped, he was even more confused. Part of him agreed that the Government could not and should not control all information, especially after how hard it was to look up simple things like the Declaration of Independence. But there was another part of him that was uncomfortable with the idea of denying a right based on religious views only, and knowing that the Voices of the Right was labled as a terrorist group also gave Andrew pause. He shuddered to think of how they got that designation.
Finally the bell that signaled the end of the day rang. Andrew slipped out of the library as quietly as possible as he still wished to avoid the librarians. He quickly headed to his locker. He was lucky that school work for those in their 18th year was finally slowing down. Though skipping the rest of his classes that day and spending it in the library did not help his workload.
He decided he should head back home, cutting through the forest that was near his house. He saved nearly ten minutes of walking by going right through it instead of walking around it. He was not the only one who cut through either. Plenty of kids who lived on his side of town used it as a short cut. He tried to avoid Eileen – as the debate in philosophy class was still bothering him – and set off alone. The afternoon sun was very bright, casting shadows from the buildings and the trees. Andrew did not rush home with the early crowd, but took his time to walk alone.
“Andrew!” He thought someone called his name, and spun around to look but couldn’t find anyone near him. He had just convinced himself that he had imagined someone calling his name when he heard “Andrew” again, this time louder. Spinning around, he still couldn’t find anyone even remotely near him along the path to call his name as loud as he heard it.
“Hey Andrew! Over here!” This time it sounded a lot like it was coming from the left of him, off the path. Andrew scanned the forest, trying to find whoever was calling him. Finally he spotted a man hiding behind one of the larger trees. “Andrew!” he hissed.
The man shook his head. “Follow me.” He walked further into the forest, leaving Andrew on the path. Should he follow this mysterious man who knew his name? Andrew hoped he would lead him to Miles. He had a lot of questions for Miles that needed to be answered. Andrew looked up and down the path, he was still alone. There were people who were way ahead of him and were getting further and further away. He slipped into the dense wood and started to follow the man.
They walked for a good ten minutes, but it felt like hours to Andrew. Whenever there was a tree directly in front of the man, Andrew could have sworn he saw it through the man, but he never could get more than a few seconds glimpse. The man walked at a good pace in silence and Andrew had to focus on not tripping on the various roots and plants that populated the undergrowth. Finally they reached a small clearing. Andrew judged by how dense the trees were right around it that they were in the heart of the forest.
“Welcome Andrew.” A man said from the middle of the clearing. He was in the center of the small group. The man who led Andrew to the clearing walked to the group and stood with them. The five of them looked just like the five prisoners in Andrew’s dream.
The man nodded. “I’m glad you came. We have been waiting for you all day.” The five of them sat down at a picnic table in the middle of the clearing. It used to be an old cook out area. “Would you like to sit down?” Andrew sat one one end of the bench, across from Miles and two other men. The lone women and the man who brought him there sat on the same side of the table as Andrew.
“Do you know who we are?” Miles asked.
Andrew looked at the five of them one at a time. “I know you’re Miles,” he looked at the woman “and you’re Rose, right?”
“That’s right,” she said. Her long brown hair was just as messy as Andrew remembered from his dream. He thought he even saw a leaf stuck in there.
He looked at the remaining three men. “But I’m afraid I can’t tell which one is which.”
“I’m Leon,” the man sitting to the right of Miles said. He had dirt on his forehead and hands, probably from running through the forest all day. His hair was buzzed close to his skull. He looked pretty young with his hair cut that short.
“Leon’s been by my side for over twelve years now,” Miles cut in. “We’ve worked on a lot of projects together.”
“So… how old are you?” Andrew asked.
“I’m James,” the man on the other side of Miles shook Andrew’s hand. He also had smudges of dirt on his cheeks and around his eyes, which were such a bright green that they shone even when surrounded by dirt. He looked to be in his late twenties, with his hair longer than Leon’s.
“James was – or should I say is? – the person who got us anything we needed, be it food, shelter you name it.”
“Say is, I don’t like thinking in the past tense.”
The man sitting next to Miles didn’t introduce himself. “This is Ryan. He used to work for the Liberty Government up until about a year ago. So he’s been very helpful keeping us one step ahead of them.”
“Until a month ago,” Ryan said. Andrew noticed a faint tattoo on his hand as he held it against his chin.
“I keep telling you, Ryan, this was part of our plan.”
Ryan scowled. He didn’t believe Miles.
Andrew couldn’t wait any longer. “So how exactly am I part of your plan?”
Miles smiled. “We want you to join the Voices of the Right.”
“Woah! Woah! Waitaminute! You want me to join what?”
“We want you to be part of our group. You read the column we wrote?”
“Well you know we have people on the outside working for us, helping us before we were Exiled. But now that we have been Exiled, we need you to be our liaison between them.”
“You’re the only one who can see us. It’s a special gift that you were born with -”
“Wait, what! How do you know about this ability and I didn’t?”
Miles shifted on the bench. He eyed Ryan and Rose before speaking again. “This is difficult to explain. Do you really want me to tell you?”
“Okay. Just under eighteen years ago, one of our members was working for the Government, in a branch of the Agency for Child Welfare.” Andrew shuddered slightly at the name. “You know them?”
“Well, no… they just forced my girlfriend to get an abortion a year ago and today in school we had a debate about abortion.”
Miles nodded in understanding and continued, “this branch helped people who wanted to get pregnant but had difficulty -”
“Wait, you’re telling me they had a branch helping people get pregnant working under an Agency that would force teenagers to get abortions?” Miles and the others nodded solemnly. “Unbelievable!”
“Yes, just another hypocrisies that is the Liberty Government.” Ryan said bitterly.
Miles cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention. “Now, as I was saying, this person worked with in vitro fertilization. Your parents came into one of the clinics. We realized they would be a perfect couple to test our theory on. The eggs he injected into your mother were modified.”
“Modified how?” Andrew knew knew his parents had difficulty conceiving. He always assumed that he was an only child because they were too busy to have other children.
“We altered one of the genes to give you a special power. As we are all Exiled, we are invisible to everyone -”
“Except me?” Andrew looked at everyone sitting at the table. He could see them perfectly as if they were normal people. Miles nodded.
“Prove what?” James asked.
“Prove to me that you really are Exiled, and this isn’t some sick joke to get me in trouble.”
“Why you little – Miles, do we really need to be listening to this… punk?” Ryan spat out.
“Andrew, it will be difficult to prove to you until you are with other people and they can’t see us,” Miles said. He got up from the table and started to root around the ground for a stick. “But I think we can show you that we are telling the truth.” He found a large stick and walked around the table to the side that Andrew was sitting. He held the stick underneath his arm and showed Andrew. “You see?” Andrew stared at his arm for a good minute. He could see a faint image of the stick through his arm. So he really did see the trees through Ryan as they walked towards the clearing, “Woah! And Exilement did this to you?”
“Yes.” Miles handed the stick to Rose, who held it on the other side of her torso. Andrew could see it barely. This time it grossed him out. “Wow.” He said.
“So you see why we need you to help us?”
“But what if I don’t agree with you?”
“You don’t have to agree with us to help us,” Leon said.
Andrew was unconvinced, and still conflicted. Part of him did want to help Miles and the Voices of the Right, but part of him knew he would be committing treason by helping them. He didn’t think it was worth the risk – especially if he didn’t whole heartedly agree with the message he was helping to spread. “Uh… what exactly would I be helping you with?”
“Well, if we need to tell anything to the people who have been helping us, it’ll have to go through you. We can’t leave them messages and they can’t see us.”
“Is that it?”
Miles looked at his four compatriots before nodding. “That would be it, at least for the time being.”
“Andrew!” Everyone at the table turned to see a man come into the clearing from the opposite direction that Andrew had come in. The five members of the Voices of the Right got up from the table and put some distance between themselves and Andrew. “What are you doing here?”
“Do I know you… Respected?” Andrew didn’t notice that the man was a leader of the Church of the Almighty until he had gotten closer.
“The name is Malone. I work with your father.” Respected Malone took out what looked to be a flashlight and started to screw on a dark tinted plate.
“Oh,” Andrew had no idea whether this Respected was even telling the truth because he didn’t know at lot about his father’s work, only that it kept him insanely busy.
The Respected started to shine his modified flashlight around Andrew and the picnic table. Andrew squinted his eyes, thinking the light was going to be bright, but it wasn’t. “You still haven’t answered my question.”
“Sorry. I came out here to think . School was a little intense today and I wanted some alone time before I went home. I stumbled off the path and discovered this old clearing.” There was no way in the Almighty’s name that Andrew was going to lie to a Respected’s face. But half-truths were okay.
“Mmm.” Respected Malone kept up with his search for another few minutes but didn’t say anything else. Andrew could see Miles and everybody else stand safely out of the way. They were right, the Respected had no idea they were there. Maybe that was why he was using the weird flashlight. “Well, I can’t tell you to stay on the paths, but I would be wise to do so from now on. Strange things are afoot.”
“I will. Thank You Respected.” Andrew bowed his head slightly. And Respected Malone retreated back into the forest with out saying good bye. Andrew got up from the picnic table. “I should go. Mother’ll be expecting me.” He backed away from the table but they walked after him.
“Just promise us you’ll be back tomorrow morning!” Rose asked.
“But I got school! It’s my last year and if they catch me skipping -”
“We know,” Leon cut him off. “When is the soonest you can get here?”
“Lunch. I can come here during lunch tomorrow.”
“Fine. Go to your school. We’ll just sit here doing nothing!”
“Ryan!” Miles barked. He turned to Andrew. “I’m glad you will come back. Not a word of this to anyone. Now you know where to find us. Goodbye Andrew.”
“Oh great! Get to lie to my parents even more.” After a withering glare from Ryan and a disapproving look on Miles face, Andrew wanted to get out of there. “Um…Good bye.” Andrew walked out the clearing and soon found the path home. He was not expecting how many new questions would be raised and how few answers he would get from talking to the Voices of the Right. But he would keep his word and return the next day.