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Chapter 12: Backlash

Everything has fallen apart and Commissioner Torres may already be dead. I'm apparently under house arrest and have no idea what will happen next. But just to keep the narrative up, I'll try to explain what happened.

This is going to be a lot harder for me because I don't have it all recorded. All I can do is write what I remember of a very tumultuous yesterday.

We had been pretty worried about threats from the townies. They never seemed to have any sympathy for our patients, and the patients don't have any sympathy for anybody. The townies complain that they wander "off the reservation" and do anti-social things over where the "normal" people live. They do some stealing, some sexual harassment (mostly exposing themselves), and a little arson; or so we're told. Worst of all, they're just plain destructive.

Mr Lohgren put a fence up just outside our offices. He let the townies know that it was to keep our patients in. I doubt that it was very effective at keeping them in, but I know for certain that it was no good at trying to keep the townies out.

This whole program turned into a military operation yesterday morning. I was, as usual, the only one in the office. I heard a screeching noise just outside. When I went to the door, I saw a bulldozer earth-moving machine crashing through our gate and taking yards and yards of our fence in with it!

Behind the machine came a host of angry men from the town. They were wearing those aluminum and plastic hats that oil field workers and construction men wear, and some of them seemed to have fashioned some kind of homemade armor. All of them were armed with rifles and pistols.

Here on our side, only a handful of security guards are armed, and they've never fired a shot. All they do is guard the medicines. Those are the only weapons. We couldn't have anything like that around the addicts. If the mob had stayed together, like soldiers, I suppose they'd have taken over everything easily, because we had practically no defense.

But if the townies had a plan, it ended after they came through the gate. They spread out all over the place. The staff and the addicts could either raise their hands and give up or they could run for it, and most of them ran.

I saw at least a dozen people shot down in just a moment or two. There were men in the office before I had time to think. I sat down in the doorway and put my hands behind my head. I peed myself a little, but I kept quiet while guns were going off everywhere and some of the buildings began to burn. The bulldozer was knocking down everything else, but not the office.

It didn’t take them long to find Commissioner Torres and drag him to the front gate. I could see that he was trying to walk along with erect carriage and a little bit of dignity but they were pushing him and roughing him pretty much at every step. As far as I could tell, nearly all of the prisoners they gathered were staffers. At least, I didn't see any addicts among them.

I have no idea, and probably will never find out, if the invaders intentionally targeted the addicts and spared the staffers. Or possibly the staffers were the only ones with the good sense to realize that resistance was futile. Still, it was especially sad, because all of the addicts share only one common characteristic, being pathetic.

Right in front of where the gate had been, I saw the only instance of fightback that happened. When one of the townies struck the Commissioner with his gun butt, one of the other prisoners screamed like a banshee and jumped the townie barehanded. It was Jane Early!

She isn't that big, so she didn't have a tremendous effect other than knocking the fellow down at first. They pulled her off the top of him, still swinging her arms and legs both and screaming. I was kind of amazed, because she had always seemed like the calmest person.

The time from the beginning of the resistance to the end of it was just a few seconds. Through it all, the Commissioner stood erect with his arms at his sides. I think he knew what he was doing.

They tied up Jane Early, then they tied up the unresisting others, hands and feet. They just sat there in the dirt until their captors realized that they would have to carry them if they didn't untie at least their feet. So, they were partially untied and marched off in the direction of the residential area.

Meanwhile, I was left sitting in the doorway while rowdy men confiscated every file in the office. They hauled them off in the same direction the Commissioner had gone. Two men told me to come back here, in the office, and they set up a guard outside. So, I guess that’s house arrest.

The guards aren't really such bad fellows. I tried to find out what was going on from them, and they didn't mind telling me as much as they knew. They said that everybody in our program was either dead, arrested, or driven out into the prairie. Every building was either knocked or burned down, they said. Nothing was left!

They didn't really know what would happen to the other prisoners, and they didn't actually know who Commissioner Torres was. They assumed there would be some kind of a trial.

One of them told me, "After all, this is America."


--July Eason, Project Archivist


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