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Life of Brian

By Josh Bracke


"Truth is never common knowledge."
--Joshua Bracke
“As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man—
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:—
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins.
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn.”

--Rudyard Kipling, exerpt from “The Gods of the Copybook Headings”

Throughout history, mankind has witnessed many different forms of government. Nearly all of the time, government begins with intentions that will benefit its people, with such things like security, prosperity, and happiness. Although, most if not all the time, government fails at its job because of corruption due to an over amount of power and thus no longer care for the best interests of its people, which undeniably, is freedom. The norm of a society forgets that to have freedom in this world is to be dependent on oneself, not upon a government. Government is capable of becoming corrupt, even with the most effective form of government; even the United States of America. This corruption is directed upon the congressmen and other lawmakers and law keepers, not working for the interest of the people. Imagine that at least half of the lawmakers in Congress are under the influence of foreign powers, bankers, and industrialists. These rich, powerful and influential men are oligarchists or a person who is in favor of world government. Very few people in this world know the intentions of these globalists and this is because it is a silent revolution.
This silent revolution is known as incrementalism, or the subtle fundamental change for the future of this planet. The globalist agenda is unknowing being projected through the major media outlets worldwide like CNN, CBS,NBC and others, the International Monetary Fund, IBM, and other international organizations and major banks are being controlled by these globalists. The quest for world domination is as old as civilization itself. Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and others built their empires in an attempt to rule the world. The strategy used was to “Divide and Conquer” an area by the use of force through the sword and shield. After several centuries however, this method of conquest proved to be ineffective. Dictators such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin built their armies in order to rule the world. Both Hitler and Stalin were globalists divided among other globalists of strategy for conquest of empire. Simply put, two groups of globalist were divided among its strategy to conquer, one to conquer by force, and other by silent revolution.
These globalists are projecting their shadow agenda by means of mass deception of the world. These globalists want us to be distracted with our own lives: our jobs, our families, our favorite football teams, and especially the mask of politics. Evil, in its purist form, is deceptive, not showing its true intentions, appearing itself as desirable. These globalists want to make the common people think that when all other governments fail and undergo much suffering they will demand world government.
Amazingly, this was all predicted nearly 2,000 years ago, in the books of Revelation and Daniel of the Bible. It foretells of the end of the age, when mankind will be in complete rebellion of God and refuse to follow him. This kind of rebellion is shown through slavery of the individual, not individual freedom. Naturally, this kind of rebellion would as take a hold of God’s people, born-again Christians, through persecution. Cataclysm is a dramatic and thrilling story that takes place just before these persecutions begin. It is told from the perspective of a teenager, who witnesses these persecutions, and becomes saved from them. Justin Thatcher and his best friend, Rose Benison are normal average teenagers who go to a normal high school. Through visions given to him by God, Justin and Rose, experience an escape from the persecutions, which predict dark times ahead. These events have been foreseen by a born-again Christian resistance called Refragatio, who resist against the New World Order and Mankind’s rebellion against God. They inhabit a place called Sanctuary, to prepare for the persecutions and any other form of disaster. Justin and Rose join them in order to prevent their own persecutions and to prepare for the dark times ahead.

From the author,
Joshua Bracke

Prologue: The Summit

It was July, and the regular afternoon monsoon storm began to roll in as the sweltering hot of the Arizona Sun began to diminish with a majestic sunset. While most would be enjoying the majesty and awesome power of an Arizonan thunderstorm, Zach Keller was cursing it. Standing up on top of the third summit of Four Peaks, his personal haven, Zach was mourning. All that he had loved and held dear, was cruelly snatched from him. His beloved wife, Sydney, was tortured and killed nearly three weeks ago. All of the memories that they shared together were still burdening him. Zach painfully is burdened with all of the events prior, as each memory is near and dear to him. They had met shortly after construction began of a great underground bomb shelter, known as Sanctuary. It was made to “Prepare, conserve and plan for the future of the Church during the End Times”, which is its motto that comforts all who live there. It was created out of what many would consider an odd sequence of coincidences. Many of Sanctuary’s residents, including Zach and his best friend Trent Kay, were beginning to experience reoccurring dark and prophetic visions concerning the safety of Christians everywhere. All of those who experienced these visions came together and concluded that they prepare for the end times and eventually, the decision to construct Sanctuary went underway. Zach, who spearheaded the construction and planning of Sanctuary, said that, “God wants us not to argue over the specific details and events that are to occur that which were prophesied in the book of Revelation. He only wants us to be prepared and ready when he returns”, after a large amount of people began to become divided by what views that should be expressed and viewed as Sanctuary’s official creed. Afterwards saying this, Sydney admiring Zach’s powerful words of unity and compassion, came up and introduced herself. Zach, mesmerized by her beauty, found himself dumbstruck with his words, which made her chuckle innocently at his incompetence. He soon found himself in love with her, and the two began experiencing clich? romantic scenes: dinner by candlelight, cuddling while staring out a majestic sunset, and camping out under the stars.
Zach’s eyes woefully slam shut as he recollects all of the wonderful memories that they shared, resenting himself and the rest of the world. Suddenly, a small hatch cracks open which leads into the four hundred feet deep underground shelter. It reveals the tall and suave Trent Kay, carrying a bundled infant. Trent scanned the open dark sky, and surprisingly spots his best friend, staring out into the horizon. With all delicate care for his friend’s emotional state, he simply and quietly mutters:
“Hey”, Zach mutters back.
“How long have you been up here?” Trent says gingerly approaching him.
“I don’t know. A couple of hour’s maybe. I can’t even comprehend time anymore. Not after…well you know.” Zach says woefully but suddenly changes his expression,” You know, sometimes I resent my son; he has the exact features of her. Her dark mocha chocolate hair, dark baby blue eyes, long curved eyelashes, and plump rosy cheeks.” Zach says with a sigh.
“Listen Zach”, Trent says putting his arm over his shoulder in an encouraging way, “It’s been over a three weeks since Sydney’s death. I completely understand you being depressed with her gone, but she wouldn’t want you to go on in like this, hating and cursing the world. Do you think she would want you bringing her son up like this?”
“No.” Zach says bluntly.
“Exactly, she would want you to continue on and move forward. She would want you to teach your son and pass on your same Christian ideals.”
“Your right, Trent. I’ve had enough spending my time mingling with the dead. I’m ready to move on.” Zach says as he takes his newborn son from his friend’s arms.
“What are you going to do now?” Trent asks curiously
“I’m need to prepare him”, Zach says as he gazes into his son’s delicate eyes, “for anything and everything that is about to happen. I’m going to teach him all that I have learned from my failures and mistakes. And when he’s ready, we’re going to train him to fight and teach him Sanctuary’s ways.”
“Have you thought of a name yet for your son?”
“I have. And that reminds me. I need my change last name. I don’t want to pose any further threat to this place; I don’t want to almost compromise our whole operation here, like last time”, Zach says looking over the horizon, and with a burst of inspiration, “Sydney wanted to name him Justin, in Latin, it means righteous and just. Yes, his name is Justin Thatcher.”
Trent pats his friend on the shoulder, acknowledging his achievement in overcoming his dilemma. After on looking from the dark Arizona wilderness from the summit for several long quite minutes, the two, both full of confidence and assurance of the future, start the four hundred feet descent into the darkness. What they both don’t realize is that the future that they have prepared for will be much worse and will happen much faster than any of them either expected. And that Zach Thatcher will have to send his only son into a brave, new, and perilous world.

Act I: The Prophetic Vision

Chapter 1-> The Suspicious Letter:

“I never usually oversleep,” I think to myself as I awake to my alarm clock at 7:45, exactly five minutes before school starts.
"Today is January 23, 2019. Good morning citizen, time to wake up and start a very productive day!" my Government Issue alarm clock said in that monotone, nasally voice that I absolutely despise, day in and day out. I hate that alarm clock. Thoughts rush through my head from proceeding dreams from last night.
These dreams turned out to be nightmares in which an all consuming fire that engulf the entire countryside, leaving behind a trail of death and suffering. An instant flash of light sent a shockwave of energy around all sides hundreds of miles long. In a matter of three seconds, life that was once abundant and thriving vanished in a poisonous cloud of ash and dust. At the end of this dramatic event, time seemed move at the speed of light showing the events there afterword. The survivors of the tragedy dwell in dusty ran-shake habitations, surviving only on scraps and breadcrumbs that had long been in contact with the ground. A voice was heard from the inside the slum saying, “Take this pail fill it from the river outside.” A young girl about the age of nine in a ragged stain drenched dress hauls a rusted pail from the outside and observed her surroundings. The ground beneath her bare feet hosted debris, dead plant life, and ash. Everywhere she looked hosted a new sense of horror in her eyes; other poor slums were seen in her field of vision where death could be seen daily. In the distance hosted a renewed sense of horror, several dark power plants threw out a dark gas cloud, which further added to the wretched smell of the atmosphere around her. The very air she breathed in was a poisonous fume, which further added to the suffering of those living in the slums and around the power plants. Around the power plants, were compacted buildings stacked upon each other where a large mass of people reside. Among the city, overlays a dark smog cloud. The polluted air was visible not only in sight but also in mind, where the atmosphere strikes gloom among the people in the slums. The girl treads to the side of the dark and polluted river, submerging the dirty pail. Suddenly, yells were heard among others in the slums, being taken away by men with guns. The girl stood overwhelmed in horror as she watched her loved ones be stripped down and searched. They were then seized by the men. It happened in an instant, and before the girl knew what had happened, she was grabbed by one of the monsters in gas masks. The only audible sound that fear could comprehend was the screams made by a nine year old girl.
This dark dream sparks something inside me to look at history. Specifically, I keep thinking back to my country’s' history, all the mistakes that were made and it's peoples failure to learn from their mistakes, time and time again people traded freedom for security. They were blissfully unaware of political corruption, the discernment of facts versus propaganda.
All of these things bring me back about how history repeats itself. It is just another example to add to an endless list of proof to the statement's relativity. In particular though, I think about what is going on right now. After the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, two years ago, the United States collapsed in every way possible....socially, politically, name it. People had gone well beyond the limits of desperation. They were craving not freedom but security and thus wanted to feel safe again. They were not at all concerned with what the consequences were...they didn't give a care or even a thought about what would happen to their neighbors, friends, family, much less their country. They weren't even concerned with the corruption in Washington, violence on the streets, or their own personal freedoms. They wanted out of the depression, civil unrest, famine, and drought. After the economic collapse of 2009, the people demanded that the federal government take over. In the middle of the year 2017, the Great Initiation took place. Because of this, martial law is now nationwide. Life for everyone had completely changed.
The law now demanded that I have a curfew; my limit is 8:30, which doesn’t affect me that much because my best friend, Rose Benison, usually comes over after school hours to work on homework together. Nevertheless, all teenagers in Arizona are ordered to apply for special "reeducation programs”, while the adults are told that if they are caught violating the law, they will be shot on sight as an example to the others. This does its job well. So much for freedom.
I think all of these things as I quickly jump out of bed and throw some clothes on not even bothering with what exactly I'm wearing. I dash down the hallway filled with portraits of my father, myself, and my deceased mother, pictures of aunts, uncles, cousins and numerous other relatives.
My backpack is sitting on the oatmeal lamanent floor in the small undersized kitchen. It is riddled with dirty plates and glasses from last night’s dinner, two weeks’ worth of mail, including electrical, water, and utility bills, and weekly state taxes. The damage that these extensive taxes imposed is clearly visible because poverty is present even in the richest of areas. The small kitchen is also littered with random assorted objects in places they shouldn't be, displaying the chaos in the house as well as in my life.
I race into through the kitchen, grab my backpack and throw it onto my shoulder, along with a mysterious letter with a U.S. Government seal addressed with to the name: THATCHER. From instinct, I grab the letter and decide to show it to Rose, considering its mysterious appearance out of nowhere and its suspicious intentions. Thinking about the letter makes me uneasy, I have this feeling that something bad is about to happen.
I throw the thought away. I can worry about this later, today I'm in a rush. With my thoughts behind me I run into the bathroom and rapidly brush my teeth. I glance into the mirror for a moment to brush my mocha chocolate hair. My dark blue eyes and tan skin seem to light up at the rising of the sun. I throw down the brush and race out of the house. I live in a small suburban housing sector just across from Red Mountain High School, about a five minute walk for an average person. But, time for me, is short.
So, I dash across the sidewalk with Palo Verde and Eucalyptus trees neatly arranged into sections all parallel to each other. I nearly get run over by a lime-green Prius while dashing past a couple young children and elderly women, nearly knocking them over into the street. I sprint beside the chain wire fence inclosing the school's field where the football and cheer teams hold practices and meetings. I arrive in the courtyard. Most of the students had gone to class seeing that the bell is about to ring. I am grateful that I was able to make it just in the nick of time. Looking around, I see Rose, standing outside of room 215, where Ms. Hutchinson holds her chemistry and biology classes. She is an un-typical prep, who attracts hot guys like magnets, but is not interested in any of them at all. The reason of her popularity is because of her sweet girly laugh, small stature, freckles, compassion and maturity which add to her beauty and child-like innocence. Rose stands 5'4, about four inches shorter than me. Today she is wearing a black skirt with long stockings, a stripped button down blouse and red vans. She nervously smoothes her long dark brown hair as she looks around when her green eyes meet mine, she excitedly exclaims.
“Oh finally! Justin I've been looking for you everywhere! Where have you been?!”
”Err, it’s nothing. I overslept", I reply.
"Well, did you not sleep last night, or something?” Rose said in a concerned voice.
"I'll tell you at lunch.” I say passively as we both walk into Ms. Hutchinson’s first period chemistry class.
We join our classmates, walk to the back of the classroom and sit at our usual table.
"Well, now that Mr. Thatcher and Ms. Benison have finally decided to join us, we can start today's lesson", Ms. Hutchinson says sarcastically. The entire classroom erupted with snickering while eyes glanced down at both Rose and I.
"All right class that's enough, now today we will be discussing the operation of a hydrogen or thermonuclear bomb. A Hydrogen bomb in general terms, derives most of its energy from nuclear fusion, knowing that most of this energy comes from the isotopes of hydrogen. A hydrogen bomb simply uses the energy released when two light atomic nuclei, like Deuterium and tritium, fuse together thus forming a heavier nucleus. This is done very easily because these two elements’ positive charges are very weak making them easy to fuse together...”
The lesson dragged on with what it seemed like for hours, but only forty-five minutes had passed by!
“Ugh, I am not a fan of this class”, I whisper to Rose, while Ms.
Hutchinson continues her drone.
“Oh, come on Justin, it’s not too bad. Once you get past the chemical formulas and the abbreviations of the elements.” she replies grinning.
”Yeah, but the chemistry isn’t what gets me, its Hutchinson’s annoying nasally voice!” I whisper loudly. Everyone around me looks around for the source of the sudden pitch that is my voice. Good Going Justin, I think to myself.
“What? Who said that?!” Ms. Hutchinson cried out with sudden calamity. Everyone around me looks at me subtly. Ms. Hutchinson understands the gesture:
“Justin Thatcher, are you trying to get expelled?”
“Err, No. I’m just not having the greatest of days”, I reply back, dumbfounded.
“Ah I see. Well then, I suggest that you keep your thoughts to yourself. Understand!?” she replied indifferently, trying to display her sense of authority.
“Yes ma’am.”, I reply stubbornly. An awkward silence fills the room. Seconds pass as Ms. Hutchinson and I glare at each other, although the amount of time feels like an eternity. Suddenly, a ringing sound enters my ear, signaling the end of class. I’m saved by the bell. I am the first one out of the door, while Rose and the other students lag behind me.
I walk to second period English 3 and then third period Algebra 2, which pass by with lightning speed, although my thoughts are elsewhere. I keep thinking about that letter marked with my name on it. It has suspicious and mysterious intentions. Why would the government send us a letter? They never do that. It is either very important or my father and I must have done something very wrong. Hmm I think back to my past and my father’s past. I couldn’t have done anything wrong in the time span of two years to upset this new regime and my father. I can’t think of anything that my father could have done. He is a very relaxed and laid back type of man. At least I think he is.
I come out of third period just as the bell rings, marking the lunch hour. Dozens of freshmen power walk out of their classes sighing with relief the end of class. Many pass me by as I slowly make my way to one of the lunch tables. The lunch area is overwhelmingly crowded with socializing teenagers, some of whom are making out, while others are viewing letters of their own. I overlook most of them until I spot Rose. Most of the time during lunch hour, Rose and I sit alone, due to the fact that we like each other’s company and do not like to be bothered by others. She, naturally, is waiting for me with her sack lunch. She motions me to sit down, again with a look of concern on her pretty face. I sit down and reach down from my backpack and take out my own sack lunch and start to eat.
“Listen to me Justin. You have been acting weird all day. Are you sure you’re all right?” she asks me out of desperation. I sigh while I take out the letter from my backpack and set in front of her.
“What is this?”She asks seeming confused.
“It’s a letter addressed to my father and me. It’s stamped with a United States Government seal, but what is the purpose for sending it, I’m not sure.” I tell her.
“Well, let’s find out”, she says while she breaks open the seal.
I move close to her chin to see while we read it aloud:

To the THATCHER residence:

A national broadcast via live satellite feed from the President is being held at the White House on September 23, 2019 at 7:30 P.M. For the sake of National Security, it is DEMANDED that every United States citizen view the live announcement at said time-frame. This announcement is to ensure the prosperity, security, and future of the democratic process.
In best regards,
Your State Senate Representative:
Senator Shawn Fain

“Hmm… this is interesting. We have never had letters sent out to us like this and we have never had a national broadcast from the president himself directly. What do you think Justin?” Rose says while she looks from the letter over to me with a confounded look on her face.
“I knew it. I knew there was something strange about this letter, not the letter itself but what it presents, it’s almost eerie.” I say with my hand on my chin thinking hard.
“I know what you mean. This has never happened before or been actually demanded that we view a television broadcast and that national security was at stake if we didn’t.” she says agreeing with me.
“You know what I think?” I say to her very seriously, “I don’t trust this letter let alone the government. No, nothing good can come out of what is about to happen.”

Chapter 2-> The Announcement:
The fourth period bell echoes throughout the courtyard, signaling the end of the lunch period. Still pondering over intentions of the suspicious letter, the bell takes both of us by surprise.
Instinctively, I stuff the letter into my backpack. Both Rose and I dispose of our empty sack lunches into an overflowing garbage can.
Finally, we head off to fourth period U.S. History. History has always been my favorite subject, although the history professor at Red Mountain High, Mr. Kay, is not my favorite teacher. And by this, I mean that I am the complete opposite of the man, as far as ideals go.
Mr. Kay, by my own speculations of his reactions to certain topics in history, like how communism is “better for society” than capitalism, I can tell that the man is liberal, and by contrast I am a conservative.
We enter the stuffy classroom where we meet Mr. Kay preparing for today’s lesson. Today he was wearing dark blue faded jeans, with a button down burgundy shirt, and Chuck Taylors. Mr. Kay has short, dirty blonde hair, with small oval clear lined glasses and stands about 5’10. He looks from his computer screen to the projector, which illuminates a power point slide titled, “Then and now: The Great Depression and The Great Initiation.” I smirk at the projection, showing a look of dissatisfaction, shake my head, and then turn to the professor. Mr. Kay turns and looks at both Rose and I and smiles.
“Hello Justin”, he says with friendly tone, while he shakes my hand. I smile with a look of unease while I shake his hand. “Are you all right, son? You look a little uneasy.” he says with concern, to which I shrug,
“No, uh I’m all right, I guess.”
“All right then, I’m just checking.” He replies back. He then looks from me to Rose then says to her, “Hello my dear! How are you today?” She looks at him startled and surprised,
“I’m all right thank you.” looking grateful for being acknowledged.
“That’s great! You should be, because it is a momentous and historical day today. There is a live announcement from the president this evening, to ensure the prosperity, security and the future of the democratic process! Did you hear about it?” Mr. Kay says, seeming overjoyed. Rose and I both glance at each other and then say together, “No”, while shaking our heads.
“Oh”, Mr. Kay says puzzled while looking from us to the security camera pointing from his desk at an angle, observing all of the classroom’s activities. Every classroom in the state has one, to make sure that the curriculum being taught is state appropriate.
“I thought that every citizen received one, they were sent out nationwide, and did you not receive one?” My heart immediately sank, thinking of the letter in my backpack. I reply shrugging my shoulders, “I believe so; I just haven’t seen it yet”. “Oh, all right, I wouldn’t worry about it, you will see it anyway. Actually, I might as well pay your father a visit; I haven’t seen my best friend for awhile anyway. I’ll come over tonight we’ll all view the announcement together!” he says enthusiastically. “All right, that sounds great.” I say sarcastically as I sit next to Rose in the middle row. In a matter of a couple seconds, a swarm of teenagers flood the classroom. Chatter ignites all around me as I try to catch up with the current events that have just occurred over the past five seconds.
My history teacher is going to come over to my house to view a live announcement? First of all, I don’t even remotely know the guy, or why he would come over to my house after school hours. Something else was also puzzling me, my father never told me about Professor Kay being his best friend. Although, it could have been some minor detail my father just neglected to tell me. “Oh, son and by the way, your history teacher is my best friend!” is something that my father would have never told me. No, my father is the type of man that did not deal with the “minor details” in life. I pushed the entire Mr. Kay-coming-over-to-my-house-tonight-idea out of my head, just as he addresses the entire class.
“All right class settle down, since it is such a momentous occasion, I have decided we jump ahead to ‘Then and Now’, a comparison of the Great Depression, its different presidents and how they dealt with the financial collapse, and how this relates to today. Now, due Wednesday, is an assignment that I expect you to write one pg summary on. I will give you the handout at the tail end of the period. Now get out a piece of paper, and get prepared to take some notes.”
The lesson that Mr. Kay gave seemed very redundant and seemed to drown on forever. It talked about the state of most Americans’ lives at the time, how their lives’ had been completely destroyed after the financial meltdown of 1929, and how only the government could save them and give them prosperity and security. I mindlessly take the notes directly off the power point not even caring about my education, seeing as Mr. Kay promoted the students be active in the learning process and think about what they are learning. My thoughts are high in the sky filled with tension, anxiety, and fear. Never before had an occasion like this announcement been so momentous and yet, in my mind, shout concern, fear, anxiety, and most importantly a sense of negative inevitability. Such a feeling that was so strong, left my entire spirit engulfed and drowned in doom, so strong that it feels as if my very existence is falling apart, and as if everything I have ever known is going to be destroyed. I look over at Rose sitting next to me, we look into each other’s eyes, and for a fraction of a second, see my own fears and anxieties reflected back. She was having the same thoughts as I. At that very moment, the same ringing sensation erupted in my ear as before, causing me to instinctively throw down my pencil and sort out my papers in my binder. I scamper to put everything away and shove everything into my backpack.
I race out to meet up with Rose outside our fifth period art class, when suddenly the intercom erupts through the entire school,
“Attention students and faculty, due to the national live television announcement going on later this evening, fifth and sixth period classes have been cancelled for the day.” Static erupts as the intercom is disengaged. Rose and I look up with shock and delight at the intercom. Without saying a word, we both work our way out of the school with relief. We trot down the school steps and walk, locking arms, down the sidewalk. “
So, now that the school day is over, what do you want to do?” Rose asks me with enthusiastic curiosity.
“Hmm…I don’t know. Why don’t we go down to my place, work on our homework together, and then hang out? Sound good?” I suggest.
“Ok. Would you help me with some Algebra 2 homework? There are some concepts that I just don’t get.” She asks me wholeheartedly.
“Sure. No problem”, I say as we both trot down the sidewalk, arm in arm, to my house. Both of us overwhelmed with false sense of bliss, not even giving a thought or a worry to the events that will soon unfold.
The scorching heat of the September sun was beginning to lower in temperature at the approach of the late afternoon. Rose and I went to Palo Verde Park to work on our homework for Algebra 2, Chemistry, and English 3. We took us spent 2 hours at the park completing our homework. We spent at least an hour more discussing school, our lives, and idle chatter, without mention of the letter or what to become after the anxiety and suspense ended. After several moments of silence, I suggested that we go to my house, seeing as the time of the announcement was approaching. We strode past the grass of the park, crossed N. Sunvalley Blvd, cut across the main building of the high school and the faculty parking lot. As we crossed across E Brown, I closely observed the surrounding area and took in the changes they had undergone over the years. Mesa like many other surrounding towns across the valley, were in very bad shape. Once the Depression deepened, most commercial and residential areas fell to neglect because of foreclosures or abandonment, and as a result, fell into disrepair. Houses, shopping malls, hospitals, grocery stores and other buildings saw robberies and vandalism due to desperation for food or other necessities due to hyperinflation and the eventual collapse of the U.S. dollar. Street gangs began to form from caravans of people wandering the streets looking for an opportunity to jump someone and pick their pockets. The buildings had a dull, faded and lifeless appearance. Paint was becoming faded and peeling, mold was visible on the outer walls of the interior, and drywall was visible and exposed.
Towns like Apache Junction, Gilbert, and Queen Creek saw similar results to the depression, these effects from violence, due to fear of unknown future that beheld many people was audible with blaring sirens of fire-engines, squad cars, and ambulances which are heard constantly. My neighborhood was especially affected: robberies, vandalism, and shootings were very common. My father advised me to always be armed with a 9mm, despite state and federal law, just in case I come in contact with a “hoodlum”, as he liked to call them.
I always tell Rose to walk with me to and from school, just to protect her from any potential harm. She always listens, but doesn’t know that I’m constantly armed.
We arrived at my household seeing my dad’s pickup parked onto the driveway and wonder why my father was home so early. I lead the way into the entry and throw open the door. I am welcomed with a hearty “Hey Justin!” from my dad. I walk into the living room and see my dad sitting at the coffee table surrounded by mounds of last month’s bills. My dad’s shirt was un-tucked, showing a sense of relief being home. My dad has hazel eyes, short brownish black hair, and stands at 5’11. I reply to his welcome, saying,
“Hey dad, your home early.” He replies gratefully,
“Yeah, my boss let all of us off work today for some reason; he mentioned something about a government announcement. He said that every citizen received a letter about it, but we haven’t gotten one, At least by my knowledge.” I pull out the letter from my backpack and say,
“We did get one. I just took it to school to show Rose, because I thought it looked suspicious.”
"Well, wouldn't she have known about it considering her parents received a letter also?” my dad questions me curiously. At that moment Rose appeared in entrance way and smiled to my dad, who responded with nod.
She responds to my father's question with,
"Well my parents aren't really active in government and they could care less what happens to them. Sometimes my mother and father are too drunk to stand, much less try and support me. They probably threw the letter away thinking it was an eviction notice. The reason why I’m able to walk with Justin to school nearly every day is because my parents are too stoned to take me anywhere.”
"Oh I see. Well, do you have a place to stay tonight? Because I highly doubt that you will be able to make it home by curfew."
"Um, no I don't. Thank you Mr. Thatcher that is too kind of you", she says thankfully looking as if she was grateful not being able to go home. Rose looks from my father to me, with happiness and confusion seeing as we didn’t discuss such an arrangement. I'm glad she'll be there with me to confront the butterflies and anxiety that will soon be over. I almost forget to tell my dad that Mr. Kay is also coming over, when suddenly a Nissan Maxima appears next to my father’s pickup.
“Hmm… Who could that be?” my father announces looking to the driveway from the entryway. Mr. Kay gets out of his car, shuts the door, and looks to my father saying,
“Hello Zach! Long time no see! I thought I’d might as well come and visit my old friend!” My dad looked surprised and replied looking from me to Mr. Kay saying,
“Trent! This is such a surprise, Justin never told me you were coming over”. My father glared at me while the both of them gave each other a one arm pat on the shoulder.
“Well come in. come in. I wasn’t expecting anyone at all tonight. It seems Rose will be joining us also. I might as well make some dinner.” My dad leads all of us into the kitchen, clears out the mess, and pulls up three chairs in front of the counter and sparks conversation while he prepares dinner.
Several hours pass. Conversation begins to die down as my father and Mr. Kay began conversing in inaudible voices while clearing the dirty dishes. Rose and I sit relaxed on the faded leather couch while we whisper things of larger than life quantity.
"Without the smog and the pollution dominating everything, this would be a beautiful area to just lie in the grass and stare up at the clouds just after a monsoon storm. It gives me peace just thinking about doing nothing in life except wasting time blissfully staring up at the clouds.
It's like a little piece of heaven," Rose whispers smiling but suddenly changes her expression towards anger,
"Sometimes, I just wish that life could be simpler so we could worry more about growing crops and loving one another rather than worrying whether or not a country decides to bomb us." Rose's beautiful dainty voice sounds like music to my ears. Her words comfort my anxiety as the announcement’s eerie and dark intentions begin to unfold. The minute hand closes in on the six, nearly five minutes before its scheduled time. I lean in closer into her cheek, move my mouth close to her ear and whisper,
"How wonderful would that be if we could lie in the grass in bliss and wonder? If only we could be like small children again, blissfully unaware of our surroundings only caring about when summer vacation comes around. But now that were older, the only things we care about is barley getting by in life. We no longer find joy in the things we once did. I wish that things would appear like they once did”.
The clock closes in on the six with only ten seconds until the announcement’s proceedings. My father and Mr. Kay join us on the couch with anxious expressions on their faces. Rose takes my hand and says,
”No matter what happens tonight, no matter what they try to impose upon us or how much damage it will inflict, I just want you to know that we will endure it together to the end."
She says while I display an expression of comfort and companionship. She returns my reply by gently squeezing my hand, which I reply back. But almost instantly, our expression changes from comfort and joy to melancholy out of fear of the unknown. I look from Rose to my father, who displays a similar reaction. Suddenly the television in front of us automatically switches on at the moment the second hand stroke twelve. The camera loses focus while it zooms in on a podium. The U.S. Seal is printed upon it and is leavened with pure gold, shining the reflection of the President while he fidgets with his microphone headset in lodged in his ear. To his right stands the Secretary of Defense, who grunts out loud and says,
"Mr. President, we are live."
"Oh", he responds while embarrassingly readjusting himself for the camera, “I didn't realize". He laughs at his own incompetence with a sneer. He regains his focus and stares into the camera dead on and began speaking.
"My fellow Americans, nearly ten years has passed since the Greatest Depression began to inflict our great country. Millions of Americans were stricken with horror, desperation, and shocks seeing all of their hard-earned savings crumble before their very eyes. These were but the beginning of a series of birth pangs that resulted from the worst economic collapse in human history. Many banking, industrial, commercial, agricultural, and many other Institutions were declared bankrupt within a matter of twenty four hours. At least seventy-six percent of all small businesses were closed down in the nation, not only resulting in the dreams of millions of Americans shattered but also resulted in a severe decline in our economy. After months of suffering and hardship, millions of American’s took to the streets in protest to the presidency at the time. Due to the presidency’s failure to gain control of its people, a minority of Americans, known as the “tea party protesters”, took matters into their own hands. These radical racist right wing extremists bashed the president of the time, President Barack Obama, and his policies that would fix the nation’s problems. As the suffering continued to engulf the nation, these radicals decided to use violence and brute force in order to complete a coup d’?tat of the United States Government. For ten years, violence, suffering, hardship and poverty was the state of a majority of Americans. However during this long time suffering, the American spirit would once again become revitalized. Many Americans realized that in order to restore peace, prosperity and security to the nation was able to become unlocked with stability. By our marvelous and perfect democracy, the majority of Americans became awakened to the truth. To a truth that would ensure the end of suffering and pain. You, the American people, decided that the United States military take control of all aspects of life. Education, commerce, transportation, industry, agriculture and many other infrastructures were transferred under the control of the military. Through a project called, The Great Initiation, the transfer of power to the military began to take underway. This process has been slow and at first progress was able to be seen in small pockets throughout the country, especially in Arizona, where the damage of the depression was the greatest. Soon millions of Americans were again able to experience the essence of American life. The standard of living soon rose by sixty percent within the first year, and we again were able to experience prosperity. However we still are not satisfied. We are still not satisfied with the lack of pain and suffering still present for countless of Americans. By the authority invested in me by the people of the United States through Executive Order #606060; I declare, that for the continued prosperity of this great nation that, you the American people relinquish some freedoms. For the sake of stability and national security, I declare that freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of peaceful assembly, and the freedom to keep and bear arms to be outlawed. Effective immediately, these laws are to ensure that as citizens of this great country, you will all stay safe from a potential threat to your security, stability and prosperity from means of growing domestic terrorism. ”

The announcement lasted only three minutes long, such a short amount of time, but so emotional, traumatic and stomach lurching. It was an important announcement indeed, one that for the first time in American history destroys the very foundation from which it was established. I look to Rose; she continues to grasp my hand, afraid of letting me go. She appears white as the brightest snow and her eyes wide with an appearance of glass. I am distraught with overwhelming emotion; I can never again protest the policies passed by my insane government, I can no longer openly express my beliefs nor can I worship God at all in this totalitarian society. These dreadful thoughts consume my very being. I lose all of my strength to stand and lose my mental and emotional strength.

Suddenly, everything and everyone around me disappears and a landscape appears out of nowhere. The horizon is peaceful from setting sun. The flowers and trees were lush with life as spring approached replacing winter's place on earth. Suddenly, a white horse with a rider in white a white garment raising a bow rides across the landscape. He strides majestically across the peaceful landscape and brings light out of his tracks. The land is overwhelmed with light, his sign of domination. A second horse with eyes and a mane of fire appears preceding the first. The rider raised a large rapier over his head; he raced across the landscape leaving fire from his tracks. Screams are the only sound audible as destruction dominates the land. A third horse appears with a mane black as the night, with the rider carrying a pair of scales, leaving behind agony and hunger pains in his tracks. A fourth horse appears pale as Rose’s skin carrying with him the burden of death in his path. The fourth horseman strides across the landscape, leaving a sea of dead bodies. Among the thousands dead, only a half a dozen people survives, all of them overwhelmed with the pain of persecution and suffering, their bodies covered with lashings of hatred and despise. They are dressed in dark trench coats, all wearing crosses on their necks. They all are branded with a patch on their right shoulders with a strange insignia. The logo looks like a cross with two R’s back to back parallel to the upward line, intersecting the arms of the cross. The group gathers in a circle, join hands while their heads bowed to the ground. They suddenly disappear, escaping the pains of the outside world and take refuge inside a mountain with four peaks. The landscape is suddenly stricken with a white light, twelve hundred times brighter than the sun. All of the darkness that once burdened the landscape was once again rejoined with its creator, and the half a dozen who had escaped the darkness were abiding in the light, awake and alive in new bodies in white garments.
These images fill my head as I collapse on the living room floor. Everything around me becomes enveloped in darkness. The last things I hear before I lose complete consciousness are the overwhelming shrieks of horror from my loved ones.

Act II: Truth and Reconciliation

Chapter 3-> The Aftermath:

Screams of horror burdened with persecution and suffering pass through my head as I jump awaking in a cold sweat. I hear a trembling voice calling out my name in desperation. I yelp out loud in fear and realize that I am engulfed in sweat and feel my pulse race from the events that have just occurred. As I slowly regain my consciousness and sight I see Rose dabbing a damp cloth over my forehead.
“Justin! You’re awake!” Rose says in relief.
“Hey”, I gasp weakly, “What happened?”
“Well, you collapsed and lost consciousness. We couldn’t feel your pulse or hear your breath. We were sure that you died from a panic attack. Soon after a while we could see that you pulse returned and were coming out with a fever so we lied you down. Afterwards you began talking, screaming and gasping out in pain.” She says with aghast.
“What was I saying?” I ask curiously.
“You were describing things. You said something about horsemen, some mountains, some kind of logo, and a bright light. We were sure you were having a fit or something. Can you remember seeing anything at all?”
“No. In fact, I don’t remember anything. After the announcement, I was so shocked that my emotions must have gotten the better of me and I passed out. After that though, it’s completely blank.” I say struggling to sit up while I try pulling my thoughts together.
“Well whatever you saw or heard must have been triggered by that sudden whiplash of shock and trauma. But whatever it was, it isn’t something we should isolate as insignificant.”
“Yeah, you’re right. But all things considering, I did go into some dramatic fit of panic.” I say chuckling in order to eliminate the anxiety from my stomach as I look over to Rose with a slight smile. She notices my anxiety and weakness from the effects of comatose and looks just as weak as I. Hesitantly, but gracefully she bends down onto my mattress and reaches for my cheek. Her pale cheeks suddenly beam the moment her fingertips meet my skin. She breathes in deep and mutters,
“Justin, listen, I—“
Before she could continue, the door flings open as my father appears. At light speed, Rose removes her hand from my cheek and is taken aback ten feet, with the weight of surprise on her shoulders. My father looks incredibly exhausted, with what appears a five o’clock shadow and three layers of bags under his eyes, a cup of black coffee shows his inability to fall asleep or rather a want not to. His dark eyes light up at the sight of me awake, he jumps up letting his coffee leap out of its cup spilling upon the carpet, shouting,
“Justin! You’re awake! Thank God, we were worried sick about you!”
“Hey dad. You look like you’ve had a rough night.”
“You’re telling me. You weren’t the one the witness the shock of almost losing his son. It was almost like losing your mother all over again.”
“Yeah”, I say with a look of sadness,” What happen after I, you know, passed out?”
“Well there wasn’t much we could do. All of us were shocked and were sure you died of a panic attack. But, Rose and I looked after you and tried to nurse you back to health. Trent, however, left on very urgent matters.”
“So he left? I thought no one could go out past curfew.”
“Your right Justin no can. But he has special connections that allow him to go out passed curfew hour.”
“Dad, frankly, I don’t understand why you trust him. He is such a liar and he plays for both sides. He should either work with us or against us!”
“Justin, I know where his loyalties lie. He is a good trustworthy man.”
“If you say so dad.” I say bitterly.
“Well, you and Rose better be getting to bed. How about I pull out the couch for Rose here?”
“No that’s fine. She can take my bed, I can crash on the couch,” I say in her direction. She looks reluctant to take my bed after the recent course of events and struggles to object my offer. But without another word between either of us, I tread over to living room and immediately sink into the living room couch until morning.

Brian Falkner Books