For those of you who haven’t read any of the Journey Of St. Laurent before: You are now reading an online serial pulp novel. If you didn’t start at the beginning, you may want to do so. Chapter 1:Â Down By The Bay. This serial is the sequel to my first novel, Oasis.
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Chapter 14 â€“ Federal Comfort Measures
I turned to face London directly. “We’ve got to get going.”
As I reached for the television, yet another interruption cut on. This time, it was the secretary of state.
Her suit was well pressed, and all in all, she looked far more in control of herself than she deserved to be.
“The president has asked me to issue a statement. In the past few minutes, several attacks upon American people have taken place. Our hearts and our prayers go out to the victims and their families. While these attacks are reprehensible and saddening, it is imperative that a few things be made known. First, all four attacks were instigated by aggression from Americans.”
Four attacks? Does she know something we don’t?
“In every case, American citizens fired upon the flying craft before being fired upon. Every case. It is crucial to grasp this. Well meaning citizens acted outside the bounds of the law and common sense, and the alien crafts acted in self defense. These people’s recklessness endangered and ultimately caused the death of many American lives. Second, now is the time to get ourselves under control. The president has asked me to make this announcement because as we speak, he is personally calling every governor and asking them to deploy all national guard units to help control any further rioting and prevent any further aggression toward the aliens. In the days to come, he will also be activating most of the reserves. We have not discussed it at length, but we will most likely be bringing troops home from various foreign theaters.”
She cleared her throat, put both hands palms down on the lectern, and continued her cold speech. “Order must be preserved before we court further destruction. Third, it is of paramount importance that despite our fears and now our sadness, we all need to go to work today. We cannot allow the machinery of this nation to grind to a halt. If necessary, law enforcement and military personnel will be asked to assist in making sure factories and transportation lines stay open.”
How? Are they going to force us to work, or just do the work themselves?
“I realize that this time will be difficult for many. If we work together and we do not court more defensive aggression from the extra terrestrials, we will not have anything to fear, and we will not garner anything new to mourn. Thank you for your attention. Unfortunately, I cannot take any questions at this time. ”
I clicked off the TV.
Already going from bad to worse.
London grabbed my shoulder. “Did she just say it’s our fault?”
I looked into her green eyes. “We’ve got to go, and now.”
In a heartbeat, we were back on the road.
The streets were empty. San Antonio looked like a ghost town. We drove almost ten minutes before we saw another car.
I guess the order to go to work didn’t really stick.
Michael, of course thought this was the new greatest weird thing he’d ever seen and went on and on about how everybody was hiding and they were all too afraid to drive on the freeway now but he wasn’t really afraid and why isn’t anyone even outside at all and about a million other random questions and thoughts.
I tried to ignore him, but as I found it impossible, I flipped on the radio to listen to the Alan Jex show.
He was ranting about how the government was apparently taking sides with the aliens. He played clips from three different senators who had already issued statements regarding the attacks. Not one really dissented from what the secretary of state had said. One of them called on the president to go one step further and declare martial law for our own protection. Another called for an immediate and complete disarmament of the people, as we obviously can’t be trusted. The last one practically came out and said that the aliens are good, hard-working beings who may have slightly overreacted when we fired upon them.
How does he get this stuff so fast? And how did the senators issue the statements so fast? It almost like theyâ€¦ but they couldn’t have known, could they?
Alan started calling on all people that could hear his voice to prepare themselves for a fight. In fact, it sounded an awful lot like he was trying to raise an army.
London backhanded my chest. “You just missed the freeway entrance.”
“Nice to see you’re back with us.”
“You know, because yesterday- never mind.”
I flipped the radio back off, spun around, and sped onto the freeway.
Traffic was extremely light, in fact we didn’t see anybody else on the freeway except the occasional semi truck or large military vehicle. The wrecks like the one we had seen yesterday had all been cleared to the side of the road.
Driving in a topless Jeep Wrangler in Texas in the summer gets old pretty fast. It’s too hot to be comfortable. That, with all the rush of air, drys you out pretty fast. It’s too loud to hear anybody talk, although that didn’t seem to matter much to Michael. Every time I glanced back in the rear few mirror he was still yapping about something.
About the only thing to do was notice the little towns as we passed by and try to guess how they were responding to all this.
One community had parked three bulldozers across their freeway exit. In another town, the visible streets were alive with activity. We passed by so quick, I couldn’t tell if it was due to a riot, or some kind of community effort.
Things got worse as we approached and drove through Houston. There were more crashed cars pulled to the side of the road. Most of the streets were empty. However, anytime we could see a grocery store, there was quite a crowd around it. Back in some areas we could see smoke, and I wondered if the aliens had hit here too.
It only took us about three hours to get to Baytown, which did not look like it was in good shape. As we drove through a couple of the more residential areas, we did see a few more people peering through windows or sitting on their porch, occasionally with shotguns or other arms, and watching us with distrust and disdain.
In the more commercial areas, windows had been smashed out of a few of the shops. Nothing appeared to be open on purpose. The world had shut down.
I drove around, hoping that I would just see the jail and not have to stop for directions. The problem was that Baytown was a little larger than I had expected. Eventually London convinced me to stop and get directions, or at least a map.
I found a yellow pages at a public phone booth. My instincts must have been pretty good, because the jail was only another couple of blocks away.
The parking lot at the jail was practically barren. I didn’t even see any police cars.
What if he’s not here?
A couple of rusted out cars sat in one corner, but that was all. Behind the jail itself was a small portable building attached to a fenced area that held five or six more cars, all of which were nicer than the ones in the lot. To the side was a tiny gatehouse with a gate like you might see at a toll booth.
I parked up next to the front.
The jail itself had the look of a building built in the sixties.
“You guys wait here. And keep that gun close.”
“Corbin, I don’t want to shoot somebody a-”
“I’m not asking you to. But something doesn’t seem right about this place.”
“What are we even doing here?”
“I need something that was in the hands of an inmate here. At least he was a day or so ago.”
“Is that really necessary to do now? Considering everything? What’s worth getting out of a jail right now?”
Sure, now she’s curious.
“If I get a hold of it, I promise I’ll tell you the whole story.”
My heart was pounding. I had no idea what I’d find inside. What would I do if there was trouble? I hopped out of the Jeep before I could lose my nerve.
I turned back.
London looked at me wide eyed for a moment. Her lips quivered and she mouthed something. Then she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. When she opened her eyes again, all traces of fear were gone.
The entrance looked old and hard. The big glass door had a couple of papers taped to it. Next to it was one of those cement ash tray things with the pebbles embedded in the sides and a big plastic garbage can.
I must be out of my mind. What am I doing here?
Deep down, I knew there was nowhere I could hide that would be safe forever. The secretary of state hadn’t come out and said the president would be instigating martial law, but she didn’t have to. Calling up the national guard, the reserves, and bringing home troops, it would only be a matter of time.
The government knew something ugly was about to happen, and they were preparing.
I had one long shot chance to get what I came out for, and this was it.
I reached for the door handle.
Keep Reading! Chapter 15 is here.