The Day the Melting Pot Boiled Over

The sun beat down onto the split Main Street of Forest City, North Carolina as it almost always did during the summers here in the southern foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. On this Independence Day, in the year 2017, it was an unusual day, as former Governor Reverend William Morrison had become President of the United States was to come back to his hometown and address the masses that were assembling in front of First Baptist Church of Forest City. The Town of Forest City had built the platform thanks to funds from the state, thanks to pressure from Governor Harold Rossdale. They both were members of the GOP’s far right wing Fundamentalist Alliance, which had taken root from the old Tea Party that disbanded after Barack Obama and the Democrats had won a huge victory in 2012.

Inside the church, the recently installed pastor, Reverend Andrew Dunkleman, sat beaming as the president and the governor got themselves ready for the cameras that would carry their remarks before the thousands assembled in front of the platform. “It is a glorious day that the Lord has given us, isn’t it, my Christian brothers?” said Dunkleman, who was resplendent in his cream white seersucker suit.

“It is indeed, Brother Dunkleman, and after my speech, it will be for all God-fearing Christians in our dear country! It is time that the true Christians take back our land from the heathen liberal atheists who have caused such great hardship on our land!” President Morrison replied.

“It is indeed! So the arrests begin as soon as the speech is over with?” Rossdale said as he brushed aside a stray hair on his balding head. He looked like an older, less robust person compared to his gubernatorial predecessor, who had swept into the governor’s mansion thanks to the Tea Party rallying supporters to beat incumbent Beverly Perdue. He had become a rising star in the Republican Party that had suffered a shocking and humiliating defeat at the hands of the Democrats in the 2012 election.

“God has delivered unto us a day that will live in the hearts of all those who follow Christ, because today we change things for the better! We will do God’s work and all those who oppose us shall fall before us! And those who stand in our way shall fall into the vat of hellfire, but not before they rot in our jails!” Morrison said with a smile that earned him applause from those assembled in the pastor’s office.

Meanwhile, sitting in an armored personnel carrier near Chase High School, a tall soldier sat in the open doorway cleaning his rifle and making sure it was ready for what was to come. Captain James Moss was in charge of this unit, under the command of General Gerald Hamilton, who was inside his tent going over the last bits of strategy for the operation that was to come.

“At ease, Captain!” General Hamilton said as he returned Captain Moss’s salute. “Are we ready for the operation?”

“Yes, sir, everything and everyone is ready to go. But are we sure we want to do this? Because if we do this, there’s no turning back!” Moss said softly as he walked up close to speak to the general privately.

“We need to do this, Captain, much as I know what will happen when we start this fight. You know what will happen if Morrison goes through with his executive orders tomorrow, and if he’s able to get his agenda passed by his rubber stamp Congress? I don’t enjoy this in the least, Captain, but I know that we have to do this!” Hamilton said in a troubled voice.

“Any idea of how many units are on our side and on the other?” Moss asked, changing the subject to more tactical subjects.

“Morrison’s closest associates are north of the Tri-Cities, and look to roll in from the north and west. We outnumber them, I think, because there are some units I’m not sure about. However, we have enough here to deal with what may be loyal to Morrison.” Hamilton replied.

The speech was to commence at noon, with the forces coming in with what was scheduled to be a military parade, but Hamilton and his forces would face off against the Fundamentalist forces loyal to the president. He hated this, but ever since the chairman of the joint chiefs, Admiral William Folkes, discreetly assembled people who opposed the new president’s theocratic agenda, Hamilton had learned that the man who claimed he was the man to lead the “New Christian Warriors” was hiding a hanger full of bones.

He learned that Morrison and his associates made sure that they stole the election, and their allies at Fox News made sure to stamp down on any and all opposition. Roger Ailes had passed away years before because of a heart attack, and his successor, Paula Housley, proved to be even more ruthless than Ailes had ever dared to be. A former CIA operative and Morrison confidant, once she took over she made sure that her reporters showed him in a favorable light and any opposition in a less than favorable one. Any objectivity went out the window as she worked hand in hand with the newly formed Fundamentalist wing of the Republican Party, and together that faction rose to power inside the party, and in the election of 2014, they worked to rig elections to win control of Congress.

Despite the heaping amounts of proof that the 2014 election was bought and paid for, the populace had been convinced that Fox News was right and the rest were wrong. Housley didn’t even pretend to be objective in her news operation, and the majority of the people bought into what her network was putting out.

In 2015, he had been called by the Admiral for the meeting, and once he had been shown proof, his faith in the nation had been shaken. How could this have happened to his beloved country? How could it have been so easily taken over by a corporate oligarchy with a veneer of fundamentalist Christianity to hide the illicit side of their operation? Obama tried to do something about this, but he was thwarted by a Fundamentalist Congress and conservative media heavily influenced by Housley.

In this environment, the Secularist movement was born to counter the rising influence of the Fundamentalist theocrats. Oddly enough, it was started by Jesuits who were worried about the impact that the Fundamentalists would have upon the Catholic Church, but soon members of other faiths, atheists, moderates and liberals began to flock to the movement. Members of the military secretly got involved, even though they were not supposed to get involved with politics. It wasn’t until a few high ranking officers were found to be plotting with Morrison before the election took place that the Secularist movement found footing inside military circles.

But Morrison was blind to all of this as he prepared for his historic speech inside the pastor’s office of First Baptist Church of Forest City, feeling more confident as he looked over it. Inside the office, Paula Housley worked the phones, making sure that Fox News was ready to cover the speech as well as the aftermath. In the Sunday School rooms where the word of God was taught to the faithful, Morrison’s minions made sure that when the speech was over, the right people would be in the right place at the right time to execute the master plan that the Fundamentalist Alliance had conceived.

Morrison thought he would have the power, but Housley knew better. In reality, it would be the heads of the major corporations who would be in charge. They had waited for this moment for so long, and their plan to fully take over the American government under the veneer of religion was almost complete. They waited in their boardrooms and offices for the speech and its aftermath, and they were ready to act upon the new laws that would give them even more power than they had already.

Meanwhile, on top of the tallest building in downtown Forest City, Marine Corps sniper Lieutenant Duane “Ice Cold” Parsons waited in his shaded blind with his sights on the stage. In his ear was a Bluetooth device that was locked into a coded cell signal that would tell him when to fire his high tech rifle. His black skin was grateful it was under the shade on this muggy day, and he was happy that no one had come up to see where he was.

What he didn’t know was that Hamilton had an “in” with the Secret Service, and that certain agents had taken a blind eye to the presence of the sniper. The Secularist movement had gained followers inside the White House, and when plans for this big day had been revealed, they leaked it to the leadership of the Secularist movement. Specifically, General Hamilton, who had been playing double agent to the presidency as the chief liaison officer for the Joint Chiefs, had thought of the military layout for this event.

Parsons saw the Secret Service agent who was pretending to stand guard over the building’s roof. Adam Lawrence knew he was about to die, and didn’t mind it. He had volunteered for this, because he had inoperable brain cancer that had turned terminal, so this was his way to go out as a hero. When the signal came, Parsons would shoot the president, then shoot Lawrence with a silenced pistol in the head. Lawrence was secretly glad he wouldn’t be around for what he suspected was about to come down.

The crowd began to gather early in the morning, with some camping out overnight in the closed off streets to get the best seats to view the new president. By 11am, Main Street and Church Street were jammed with people. The grassy spots that Charles Watkins owned across Main Street from the church were jammed as well with people, and despite the mud that had come up after last night’s rains, they were excited to see their president come to this small town.

There were protestors, but they had been relegated to McNair Field. Morrison smiled because they did not know that they would all be rounded up and arrested as soon as his speech was over with. They were heathens to him, and they needed to be separated from the pure Christians that rightfully deserved the hard fought freedoms that Christian soldiers had won for them. He had learned that the camps were all ready for the dissidents, and soon they would be packed away to the distant Arizona and New Mexico deserts, where they would live for a time until it became convenient for them to no longer live.

“Are you ready, Mr. President?” asked Paula Housley smoothly. Morrison nodded and the Secret Service agents readied for the president to emerge from the church and ascent the temporary platform built behind the church sign that marked the corner of Church and West Main. The East Rutherford High School band got their cue and “Hail to the Chief” blared out, and the crowd cheered as Morrison and the rest of the gathered officials ascended the platform.

Riding in his armored personnel carrier down the ramp from 221 and onto the 74 Bypass, Captain Moss heard on the radio that the president was about to give his speech. He motioned to his driver, Armando “Manny” Morelia, to pick up the pace. Cars sped up to get out of the way of the scores of APVs coming down the highway towards the stoplight at the intersection of the Bypass, Church Street, and Bethany Road. “What’s your 20, Moss?” called a voice on the radio, and Moss knew it was Hamilton’s headquarters.

“We’re 100 meters from the intersection.” Moss said quickly.

“Confirmed. Proceed with Operation Darrow.” said the voice. Named for famed Scopes Trial defense attorney Clarence Darrow, the mission was to stop any of Morrison’s party from escaping down Church Street and fleeing the town. Moss passed the word onto the other APVs and they soon turned onto Church Street, with onlookers at Pizza Hut staring at them in stunned silence.

Parsons sensed that the moment was coming as the pastor finished his prayer and the governor began his introductory speech. He breathed in and out to calm himself so he would be ready when the moment did come. His sight bore on the chest of Morrison, who was hard to miss, as he was barrel chested and broad shouldered, looking like the former college football lineman that he was. The crowd cheered loudly when the president finally made his way to the podium to give his speech. His finger twitched just slightly at the trigger, and he willed himself to calm down. “One shot, one kill” was the motto, and he had to live up to that if he was to get this job done.

Morrison looked over the crowd and smiled, waving at them and basking in their adulation. The teleprompter was hard to read but he could manage, and he had to, because this would be the speech that would make history and change the shape of America for generations to come. He remembered how some of his staff wanted to have this speech take place in a more appropriate and, in their view, safer venue, but small towns like this were the heart of America, and this buckle of the Bible Belt made the best place to unleash his master plan for the salvation of America.

Hamilton sat in his tent, watching the live feed of the speech in real time. Already Fundamentalist forces had gotten wind of what was up, but Secularists had seized control of Air Force bases all over the southeast, so they had a short period of time to pull this off before anyone outside of the ground troops coming in from the west and north for the parade could do anything. He had the microphone button in his hand so that when the time came he could speak directly to Parsons to order him to shoot the president.

He hated it had come to this, but Morrison was to blind to see that he was being used by powers he had no understanding of. He knew other generals readied to raid New York’s Wall Street and seize the buildings of the financial institutions that had grown from simple money changers to power brokers for the government. The markets were closed, and security was not at a heightened state, so when the time came the soldiers could sweep in and seize the buildings.

Housley smiled though inside she rolled her eyes, because Morrison could go on and on, talking for hours if he wasn’t reined in by his speech writers. Finally, he began the good part of the speech, where he would announce his executive orders that would forever change America. She briefly saw a glint from the top of one of the buildings and briefly wondered what it was, then dismissed it as simply some sunlight shining off some metal.

“Today, I am signing an executive order enacting laws that will require Americans to attend Christian worship services. Christianity will be, from this day forth, the only religion that America recognizes, other than Judaism. Together, we shall build America into the strong Christian nation that it needs to be to counter the heathens who seek to yoke us for their own purposes!” Morrison spoke as if he were giving a sermon, and Housley smiled broadly from inside. Within minutes of the speech, websites that had been declared “anti-American” would be shut down and their webmasters would soon be taken into custody. CNN, MSNBC, and the major networks were about to be raided and those deemed to be working against the Fundamentalist agenda would be arrested as well.

Finally, the president reached a pause and the crowd clapped loudly for his proclamations. Hamilton hit the button and said to Parsons, “Identify target and destroy!” Parsons took a moment to breathe out, then locked onto the head of Morrison and pulled the trigger.

Housley thought at first that a bird had dropped something on her, but when she went to wipe it off, she found out that it was blood and some kind of gray mass on her left breast. Then she looked up and was horrified to see that Morrison’s head had been blown off, and for a moment, everyone looked in horrified silence at the headless body of the commander in chief. Finally, Morrison toppled over and collapsed onto the stage, and wails rang out from all around the crowd.

In that moment, Lawrence turned to Parsons and gave him the best possible target the Marine could have. Before he could blink again, Parsons put a bullet from his pistol right between the eyes of the cancer stricken man, and Lawrence fell down in a heap quickly. Moments later, Marines hiding out on the floor below streamed onto the roof and took positions with their rifles onto the crowd. The people in the crowd looked at them mystified, wondering what was going on.

“Confirmed, one shot, one kill.” Parsons said, and the images from the television feed confirmed the news: Morrison was dead. Hamilton ordered half of Moss’s forces to go down Hardin Road to cut off the Fundamentalist advance, which had sped up when news of the president’s death came over the radio. Moss would soon be in position with another column coming up South Broadway, and yet another coming up Cherry Mountain and up 74 Business. The crowd would soon be surrounded and forced to surrender, and they sensed the circle tightening around them.

Someone shouted, “Traitors! Shoot the Marines!” and suddenly people with pistols, shotguns and rifles pulled them out and aimed them at the tops of the buildings at the Marines looking down at them. One Marine beside Parsons took a bullet right to the temple, and the Hispanic male fell backwards and crumpled to the ground, without a sound coming from the poor soldier. Parsons pulled out his combat rifle and started firing at the crowd, and his brothers did likewise, and soon the downtown area became a kill zone.

“Dammit, I order you to stop shooting!” Hamilton said in vain to Parsons, who apparently couldn’t hear him. He called to Moss and told him to prepare for combat when the news reached him that a column of Fundamentalist APVs and combat vehicles had turned from Vance Street and began heading east towards the downtown area.

Moss soon had a battle on his hands as people were shooting at him with their rifles, but those couldn’t get through his APV’s armor. What he was facing coming towards him, though, could do some damage, and he had his gunner target the leading Fundamentalist carrier and open fire. Soon, grenades and bullets began flying in earnest across the intersection and the churchyard, and people were being struck down left and right by bullets and shrapnel from grenades.

That night, Moss and his troops were pursuing Fundamentalist forces when his APV’s engine suddenly broke down in front of the old National Textiles plant, where the Hanes water tower loomed over them. It was a holdover from the days when Hanes ran the manufacturing facility and was an important part of the water system in this part of town. He hopped down and looked around, seeing smoke coming from the east. People streamed by him on their way out of the city and gave him dirty looks.

“What the hell did we do today, sir?” asked Manny in his thick south Texas twang, hinting that some Spanglish lurked in his lexicon.

“I don’t know, chief. We may just have started the Second Civil War.” Moss replied soberly as he noticed someone lurking suspiciously near the water tower. He was just about to order some soldiers over there when the man lurking there raised his arm and cried out, “For Christ!” Then he blew up and a huge hole was blown into the side of the tower, and water rushed out towards him rapidly, knocking over people like bowling pins. His head hit the side of the APV and he was knocked out.

When he finally came to, he looked up to bright lights and a pale white ceiling. “Where am I?” he softly asked.

“You’re awake?” said a voice with an accent he couldn’t identify. Moss nodded and his head felt like it had been hit by a crowbar. “Good. I’m Doctor Esteban Dominguez. You’re at Cleveland Regional Medical Center.”

Cleveland ?” he thought. That meant he was in Shelby, twenty-five miles away. “Why am I here and not in Rutherford County?”

The voice coughed and said, “We don’t know. The people who brought you in here were escaping the chaos going on over there.” The doctor looked down at Moss and the soldier could see he was a Hispanic male with a neatly trimmed goatee and white, polished teeth.

“You mean is hasn’t stopped?” he asked.

“Mr. Moss, it’s not just over there. It’s all around. We’ve had to barricade ourselves in the hospital because we’re not sure if it’ll spill over here.” The doctor was about to say more, but a nurse came by and said that he was needed elsewhere. Moss looked up at the TV screen and saw a video from CNN that showed the Capitol in Washington on fire. The graphic said, “Washington DC under attack as military units battle”.

In time, Captain Moss would get better physically, but he would find out that the world was at war. The incident at First Baptist Church in Forest City was the spark that lit the flame of conflict all over the world, one that would not burn out until the last battle came to an end just a few hundred yards away at McNair Field exactly two years after the war began with the death of a president upon the churchyard lawn in downtown Forest City.

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