Publisher’s Note: I have been working on a novel this year and this will be the first excerpt I will release. My first attempt at long form fiction. Writing fiction is incredibly hard and I have suffered a steep learning curve in mastering the craft and am a long way from doing it with ease. I find writing non-fiction to be much easier so this is a whole new venture to create characters and narratives from whole cloth, string them together and most importantly, keep readers interested.
This is not the first chapter but an intermediate chapter that sets the new sequence rolling in the novel after the main protagonists are introduced.
In essence, The Cancer Club is about four terminally ill widowers caught in the net of the growing American police state and their decision to go down fighting. This particular chapter sets the narrative on an accelerated course. The novel takes place mostly in Tucson, Arizona in the near future as a representative built-up area for the backdrop to the story.
So I accept all the constructive criticism you can throw at me, I may publish other chapters in the future for your delectation.
This goes to the editor on 1 November and I have already delayed two months for various reasons including my laziness in writing.
My next book project this year will be easier for me as a writer. I will be analyzing and commenting on all of Lysander Spooner’s published work (six volumes and 2700 pages). I think he may be one of the least recognized and most influential intellectually of the individualist abolitionists in American literature. There is a tremendous dearth of study of his work in the mainstream. Certainly not a project to make me rich but a worthy windmill to tilt at.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Please be sure to email me or post comments. -BB
Chapter Fourteen: A New World
The industrial park was dark again and the car drove to the large block building in the cul-de-sac at the end of the complex. Timothy glided to the front entrance and stopped in the handicapped space. He slipped out and clicked the fob to lock the car. The BMW beeped back and he strolled through the front office.
“Good evening, Mr. Henry.”
“Evening, Janice, Harry in?”
“I’ll buzz you in.” She smiled and pressed the button to release the door lock.
Timothy proceeded through the entry and went down a corridor and saw the light under the last door on the left. He paused to brush some lint off the fabric of his Gieves and Hawkes suit jacket, he shot his cuffs and knocked lightly as he pushed it in.
“Evening, Harry, everything on schedule?” pronouncing the last word in the odd English quirk common to his Received Pronunciation, common to American ears that tuned into the BBC.
Harry’s office was neat as a pin with whiteboards and maps bedecking the walls around a Spartan desk with a computer monitor and a few stacks of paper. Timothy walked to the largest map on the wall and touched it. His fingers traced invisible lines across the surface and settled at the very point he was standing at right now. Five digital atomic clocks glowed above the map in a console. Two industrial shredders were against the opposite wall.
“Everything’s on schedule, some paperwork difficulties in Boston but everything is set. Countdown is at D-47 hours right now.” Less than two days until a multi-city simultaneous event that will rock the country to its core.
“We need to get the electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) synchronized across the entire fleet. The Feds want to eliminate paper logs but they want the electronic journal slaved to the on-board computers of the discrete trucks. Once that’s complete, we’ll be able to do it.”
“How many cloverleafs are mapped?”
“Interchanges in DC, Boston, New York City, Miami, Charlotte, Chicago and Seattle and LA on the west coast. The west coast events will take place the morning following the events on the east coast.
“You’re aware the DoD lost accountability for 36 Javelin Command Launch Units in 2003, we have managed over a period of time to procure 24 of those along with the associated missiles. Six of those have been expended in training overseas and two are inop leaving us a total of 16. Half of those are presently in the LA area being pre-positioned for D-Day. There are two Liquified Gas Cargo Carriers or LNGs in the basin in the next few days.”
“Let’s confirm timelines.”
“East Coast is the fulcrum at 1630 on Tuesday, Chicago will be 1730 CST and the freeway interchanges in California at 1930 PST. The Long Beach Terminal targets at 0915 PST the next day.”
“E&E in place for all the agents? At least the ones that survive.” Timothy winked and sported a toothy grin like a shark..
“Yeah, still tying loose ends in Chicago but the Canadian ratline is active now and we have a waterborne exfil in LA.”
Timothy stretched his lanky frame and yawned. “Alright, send the green-light in 24 hours, we are a go and Godspeed to all the targeteers.”
Harry smiled and leaned back in his chair, drawling in a thick Mississippi accent. “So far, everything is cyber-bleached to the extent we can and Janice and I will be destroying and shredding and burning all the docs over the next twenty hours. What little there is. Remember, we are simply the catalyst for the whole process, we’ll simply finish what Al Qaeda started. A little over five years to get here…long road traveled. The next time we see each other will be on the other side of the world.”
Timothy turned to the door. “See you on the other side, brother.”
Tuesday 1610 on DC Beltway
John beat the steering wheel in his car as he heard the latest update on traffic snarls on 495 near 267. Bumper to bumper and he had to piss like a racehorse, he was probably a good thirty minutes out from his favorite gas station to stop and use.
I hope Helen has something good waiting when I get home. She works evening shift tonight but at least I can heat it up and fall asleep in front of the TV. These two-hour commutes are brutal.
He looked around at his fellow inmates on the freeway and noticed a large semi pulled over at the overpass with safety cones and markers surrounding it and the hood tilted forward. The windows were tinted so he couldn’t see anybody inside. He noticed an ambulance coming down the roadway under the overpass perpendicular to his direction of travel. The ambulance picked up a man in a paramedic uniform at the bottom and drove on the shoulder. Funny, the paramedic hopped in and they sped off light on and siren blasting.
Jesus, wish I had lights and a siren to pass all these folks up…
Without warning, 10,600 gallons of liquid propane with a 1000 gallon pony sheath of welding gas and oxygen ignited in the semi parked on the shoulder and blew outwards in a firestorm that engulfed the entire interchange at the junction of the Dulles Toll Road and Capital Beltway. John was quite simply, vaporized. Later investigation would reveal the remnants of the propane container to be in a ten-foot deep crater a half-mile from the initial blast. The sound blast knocked out windows a distance of ten miles away and the resulting firestorm ignited and cooked off thousands of cars and trucks in vicinity to the blast.
Power poles and transformers blew up and surged causing a brownout throughout the entire Capitol region. Government facilities within the affected region automatically transferred to generator power. LX1 and LX2 at the Liberty Crossing Intelligence Campus were rocked, and suffered minor structural damage, with many windows blown out. It housed part of the counter-terrorism apparatus of the US government.
The small mushroom cloud that climbed into the air after the massive propane blast startled some folks into thinking a nuclear event had just occurred. They would later discover that all these non-nuclear blasts were linked. NORAD registered the simultaneous explosions which bloomed on the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite on a Kayline weather satellite. Temperatures in the blast area reached 3000 degrees Celsius near the origin.
Similar events occurred within thirty seconds of the DC blast in Boston, New York City, Miami, Charlotte, Chicago and Seattle and LA leaving tens of thousands dead and wounded on the East Coast commute, and thousands of dead and wounded on the West Coast freeway system.
Later estimates would reveal an estimated total of twenty six thousand dead and three hundred and ten thousand wounded. The credibility of the numbers would repeatedly be called into question.
Another perfect southern California morning as if the events from last night had not occurred, security was stepped up at the port but the tugs had anticipated the increase in port policing and had experienced no delays.
The two Q-Max LNG tankers that had moored at the Long Beach Terminal last night had capacities of approximately 260 thousand cubic meters of gas, almost half again as much as the next largest tankers available. Normally, the ships would not be so close but a medical emergency on board one of the ships forced a hasty entry to the dock of the second ship.The vessels were singularly odd in that they had dome configurations on their hulls.
The small tugs chugged lazily between the two huge tankers at dusk as LA was preparing to turn up the nightlife in a few hours. As the tugs came abreast of the two ships, small figures on the rear decks saluted each other and uncovered the Javelins hidden on deck and in ten second intervals of each other six small missiles arched up approximately 150 meters on pillars of smoke and then gracefully arced into the decks of the LNG ships close by. The gunners on the tugs knew they would not survive the salvo.
The resulting BLEVE (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion) was one of the largest non-nuclear events recorded. The shock-waves knocked down buildings within ten kilometers of the blast and completely destroyed most of the Long Beach Terminal and half the ships were lost. Later estimates would peg the kiloton yield to a large 700-kiloton nuclear device. Casualty estimates were in the tens of thousands and the destruction in the tens of billions of dollars.
The explosions literally rocked the nation and cased a tectonic policy shift a mere thirteen years after 9/11. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had turned the American economy on its head and created a multi-billion dollar security industry that had drawn the nation into wars around the globe and lashed a crippling anchor on productivity.
All the American news outlets dutifully broadcast the President’s response within hours of the crisis. The teleprompter message was oddly reminiscent of Bush’s speech on 911 in 2001.
“Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts.” That is what President Bush said before me a little over a decade ago. But our vigilance flagged and now tens of thousands of our fellow Americans are maimed and dead.
The victims were in cars, trains, airplanes, homes or in their offices — secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers. Moms and dads. Friends and neighbors.
Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.
Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government’s emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it’s prepared. Our emergency teams are working throughout the country to aid with local rescue efforts.
Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured and to take every precaution to protect our citizens at home and around the world from further attacks.
I am pleased to say that the functions of our government continue without interruption thanks to the plans and efforts of DHS and FEMA to secure us since 911. Federal agencies in Washington, which had to be evacuated today, are reopening for essential personnel tonight and will be open for business tomorrow.
The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I’ve directed the full faith and credit for our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.
The Congress is meeting this evening to craft a full package of reforms and improvements to make sure the American homeland is never exposed or attacked like this again.
Thank you. Good night and God bless America.
The American people flocked for government protection and they would get it good and hard.
Four days later the Congress passed three items of legislation that would be approved by the President and become law.
The first was the Protection of American Modal Transportation Network Act or PRAMTRAN as the networks called it. The Act authorized a wholesale expansion of the TSA to have the authority to monitor and de jure federalize all transportation nodes on Earth used by US carriers’ worldwide and foreign carriers domestically. The TSA was the lead federal agency under which all other FLEAs would be subordinated in the conduct of their modal duties and badged and armed TSA agents were authorized for the first time.
The second act was the Secure Gun Rights or Sanders-Schumer Act as the media referred to it as they feted the sponsors for their achievement. Even though no weapons were used, the government thought it prudent to establish more rigorous controls to head off the possibility of their malevolent use in the future. The bill would require the federal registration of all privately owned firearms, would outlaw the possession of any Class III weapons (machine guns and destructive devices), require all concealed carry permits to be federalized in a national database and impose a 100% tax on all ammunition. The NRA was critical in the crafting and passage of the bill hailing it as a “sensible compromise” in the tumultuous times in the nation.
The third act was the Law Enforcement Organizational Consolidation and Initiative Act or Lee-Oh-Chi ACT as crowned by the parrots in the media. The act would de facto and de jure federalize all 19,000-law enforcement agencies in the US to better streamline and make effective efforts by the national government to protect the people. The government unions and their associated police entities to include most chiefs of police were behind the initiative on promises of higher pay equilibration with their FLEA counterparts. In an effort to more effectively centrally plan these efforts, the DHS would be the lead agency in the effort.
While the mainstream media and many internet outlets championed and applauded these efforts as a tremendous response to the attacks. Many in the Internet commentariat raised the alarm bells but few in the talking head media were worried by the enormous shift of power to the Federal government this encouraged. The blogosphere was filled with speculation on how this could lead to new tyrannies unimagined with the PATRIOT Act and NDAA. Most of this went unheeded until the abuses began…
The TSA wasted little time in establishing checkpoints and roadblocks across the states on the major Federal highways. The smaller interchanges would come later as more agents were hired. Black shirts and new shiny badges now replaced the blue uniformed shirts of the TSA. All the agents now carried weapons and had been working with other agencies to get qualified for long guns. The newest aspirants in the Federal ranks now jointly manned the ICE/BP checkpoints and roadblocks peppered across the American southwest. The charter of the checkpoints had always been immigration and drugs but now a broader interpretation of the “Constitution-free” zones enabled the TSA Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams to tear down any car they pleased if it met the lowered standards of suspicion necessary to harass Americans. The ATF had also used the checkpoints to do random weapons checks and sweeps at the roadblocks. Most of this dragnet resulted in plenty of furious citizens and outraged victims of the myriad new police powers granted the state agencies and the Feds. The light bulbs had gone off in many a Federal bureaucrat’s mind that transportation and its control was the final solution to total control of a population.
The reaction of the state of Arizona was unusually compliant to the Federal standards, the Arizona Civilian Defense League (AzCDL) put up quite a fight but ultimately the Governor vetoed most every objection made and the Feds got carte blanche except on the closure of all private gun sales which neither the Governor nor the legislature would budge on. The ATF found other means to harass and cuff gun owners at the various roadblocks established and made a secret pact with the TSA to alert on gun violations.
The consolidation of police agencies to become more effective omnibus agencies centrally controlled from the top down had already proved much easier than not with the decades-old relationship between the locals and Feds on the Drug War which had enriched all levels with Pentagon weapons giveaways, asset seizure and forfeiture and a blanket RAS/PC complex that could easily be obviated by drug dogs.
But the reaction would not stop there, the steady increase in enforcement and boldness of the TSA asserting its newfound power would prove to be the virtual death knell of commercial trucking in the US as the TSA would apply the same incompetence and small-mindedness that made their exploits at airports the butt of jokes and the object of derision universally in the US.
The architects of the terrorist attacks may have had this effect in mind much as Osama bin Laden predicted his million dollar investment would ultimately cost the US trillions; it would bankrupt the country in economic seppuku in addition to the universal approbation following the expanded military adventures around the globe.
Royce Pennycamp had been driving long haul trucks since he was 18 and been around them since he was a child. He came from a long line of truckers who prided themselves on the care and diligence they rendered the loads they were charged with. At 51, he was about ready to retire.
Royce had gotten fed up in the last few years by the endless regulation and police attention the trucking industry had attracted especially after 911, things had gotten even worse. He had a sinking feeling in his stomach when he watched the newsreels of the BLEVE and propane attacks and what the Federal over-reaction would be to that mess. He needed to retire soon.
At five in the morning, this extent of I-10 after leaving El Paso was almost as barren as the eternal leg between Midland and El Paso; sort of like driving on Mercury. He had the speedometer pegged at 60 and had been driving within his regulated hours when he saw the flashing lights in his rear views, he downshifted and pulled over to the side of the road. He put the interior lights on, unlocked the doors, activated his interior & exterior camera suite and waited. Minutes later he heard a knock on the passenger side door and lowered the window. A state trooper looked in and asked for his CDL, insurance and logbooks per NM regulation. Royce handed him the papers and asked him if he was free to go. The trooper scowled and replied no. He then asked him if he knew why he stopped him. Royce refused to answer the question per his own procedures. The trooper stepped down and returned to his vehicle.
A full ten minutes later, the trooper returned and had a friend with him. The men identified themselves.
“I’m Trooper Harlan Smith and this is my colleague, Agent Ben Iverson from the TSA. Do you consent to a search of your vehicle?”
“I do not consent to a search. Why did you stop me?”
“I stopped you because you were weaving in the lanes in front of me in the last fifteen minutes.”
“Trooper, I have a live-feed dash-cam mated to a time-stamp and I will bet a call back to my HQ will show you may be mistaken.”
The trooper got red-faced and spluttered a bit. “You are not free to go and I am detaining you effective now.” He spoke into his mike. “I need a K9 unit to my location immediately.”
A few minutes later, two other vehicles lined up behind the initial patrol vehicle that had slipped behind him. Several flashlights bobbed along the passenger side of the truck.
The trooper knocked on the passenger cab and Royce lowered the window.
“I need you to step out and follow me to the rear of the vehicle, please.” Royce grabbed his flashlight, camera and keys and stepped out of the cab. As he stepped out of the cab, he heard glass breaking in the rear of the container. He stepped out and went to the rear to inspect where he found the back of the semi damaged. The trooper looked at him and stated that the broken light was a safety infraction and he would be ticketed for that. Royce did not alert him to the security camera he kept over the rear doors so he could nail the crooked cop later.
“Our dog alerted on your container and we need you to open it for inspection.”
Royce smirked and unlocked the container, the K9 officer lifted his dog into the trailer. The officer hoisted himself into the unlocked trailer and started jacking the load. Royce voiced his concern and the cops just started getting agitated at his interference.
The original trooper was busy writing the ticket for the damaged light when the TSA agent asked to search the cab. Royce did not consent. The trooper then asked if Royce had been drinking. At this point, Royce said he would no longer answer any questions. At this point, Royce was lifted from behind by another officer and slammed to the ground.
The original trooper who now deployed his taser started yelling stop resisting while Royce lay on the ground with his head ground into the asphalt accompanied the officer. The TSA officer came running back with a Glock in his hand that he had gotten from the cab of the truck.
TSA: “Trooper Smith, this is a felony violation of the new Sanders-Schumer Act, I recommend arresting this man immediately.”
Trooper Smith nodded as he was hogtying Royce with the other officer. Smith shoved Royce to the ground and put his knee on his back as the others scrummed on top of the trucker. By this time, five cars had arrived and eight officers were on deck to maul Royce on the ground.
He would end up in the hospital with a broken arm, five broken ribs, a concussion and a variety of contusions and bruises on his entire upper body. He would be charged with weapons trafficking under the new law and a whole battery of resistance and obstruction charges. All would be dropped when Royce’s sons released the trailer rear camera video that recorded the entire event. The officer’s statements were at odds with the video, which went viral and revealed the duplicity and mendacity of all the departments involved. No officers were disciplined or fired after the incident.
The meeting between the Arizona DPS and the various representatives of the Tucson vicinity law enforcement entities was in a posh conference room at the JW StarrPass Resort in Tucson. After introductions around the room, a tall and portly man in an expensive suit stepped to the front of the room.
“Good morning, I’m Grant Harrison, I’d like to welcome you to the orientation meeting for the new initiatives the Congress and Executive have just implemented. I am the senior DHS Coordinator for this project in the southwest region.” In a clipped New England accent, he continued on. ”A number of representatives to include the TSA Regional Director and the Phoenix-based FBI Special Agent-in-Charge are also in attendance.”
Chief Brian Haggerty from Tucson Police Department spoke up first: “I noticed the Governor’s representative is here, does she agree with moving ahead with full compliance on what the Feds want here for consolidation?”
A nod from the Governor’s representative confirmed the agreement.
Grant smiled at Haggerty and clicked the remote in his hand, which started the PowerPoint presentation on the big screen on the wall.
“Continuing, here is a chart showing the new consolidation of the Southeastern Arizona Law Enforcement Fusion Center which will be subsidiary to the Los Angeles Joint Regional Intelligence Center. So we don’t get confused, this is completely different from the DHS intelligence fusion entities scattered throughout the region. To avoid confusion, the DHS has reflagged those as Regional Intelligence Portals identified by a numbering system that will be coordinated in the next 48 hours. Pinal, Pima, Cochise, Graham and Santa Cruz counties will comprise the element I just described. This will include rolling the fire departments into these functions to streamline leadership and save money.” He paused and took a sip of water. “Much like the previous consolidation efforts before the LEOCI Act, the Feds aren’t taking over the local policing efforts so much as providing resourcing and leadership functions the states and regions simply don’t have the resources to support.” He winked.
This last statement was met with scowls and groans from the audience in the room. Harrison held up his hands and smiled. A reptilian smile.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a new era and a new century and it is time to cowboy up. The United States has just suffered a catastrophic attack that significantly overshadows the events of 911. You are either onboard or you will be replaced. I come here with the full authority of the DoJ and the White House to do whatever it takes to implement this law. You are either for us or against us and if you are the latter, your career from this moment on has a short fuse. I will be followed by the Regional TSA Administrator who will detail the integration of the VIPR teams into the broader scheme of enforcement.”
The room quieted down and the meeting went on for another two hours. There was quite literally a new Sheriff in town.