“This country…This country has been ravaged by this insurgency long enough.”
Jasper turned the nob on the television to the right a bit to increase the volume of the broadcast. He wanted to take care not to wake his roommate. She worked nights at the hospital as a nurse and would tear him a new one if he dared wake her from her daytime slumber.
Gretur Orono was making another public address – the second in the same week. Even on the tiny television screen, Jasper could tell the dictator was tired, worn out, and probably malnourished. His frame was thin, his eyes baggy, and his skin pale. Although, the pale could be the contrast on the outdated electronic. He was a man of medium stature, but he was hunched over in most of his television addresses. The skin surrounding his neck was sagging and full of dark patches that Jasper could only speculate to the origin of.
With yellow flags waving behind him, Gretur continued with his speech. “I hesitate to use such language as ‘crush’ or ‘destroy’ in reference to what needs to be done. The insurgency did not start as a means to overthrow the government. Even I know that.” He cleared his thick throat and sighed. “But it has erupted into a nearly uncontrollable fire when it was meant to only be a flame.
“We all need to do our part to stop this. Now. My part is to enforce boundaries and guidelines everyone can work within. Curfew will be in place starting tomorrow. Security will be installed in most public markets. Yellow flares will be activated in the off-limit sectors of the city. All until further notice.”
Jasper huffed. Yellow flares always meant trouble, not just in symbolism but also in smell. The dead-carcass scent the flares gave off always lured more dangerous beasts from the desert plains in the south. The government said it was an unintentional side effect of the flares, that the material used to make the flare just happened to smell like rotting meat. But Jasper knew better. It was meant to dissuade the public from entering these areas.
Gretur shuffled through the stack of papers he had on the podium while the yellow flags waved behind him like a warning. “I don’t like bringing down an iron fist. I don’t. I’m a man of honor, of integrity. I want what’s best not just for the country, but for you people. For us. This insurgency started as a peaceful protest. A protest. This group – Raqueal’s Awakening – claimed to be fighting to overthrow a bill that would prevent experimental medicine to be used on a ten-year-old girl to awaken her from her rift-induced coma. But you, the people, put this bill in place to prevent the medical industry from abusing its power. You believe people are not test subjects. If Raqueal were awake, would she approve of being experimented on? I do not believe as much.
“Raqueal’s Awakening established peace as their message in the beginning, but peace has since vanished like a vapor in the wind. Violence is their new mantra. They mean to overpower all of us. Me. You. The government. They will not be satisfied with turning over a single bill. They crave more. They crave everything.”
Gretur looked up into the television cameras. His pale blue eyes seemed glossed over, but Jasper was sure it was the horrible television reception.
“The government is here to protect you. Run by you, not me. Don’t be deceived into thinking that I pull any strings in this democracy. I am simply an ambassador making a new world on behalf of you and your wishes.The forceful nature of these insurgents is doing more harm to this country than to this government. More harm to you than to our government.”
He sighed and shuffled his papers again. He wiped his bottom lip, scratched the hair under his chin, and looked into the monitors again. “I have to do what’s best for you. I am initiating a plan that was crafted many decades ago. The Sert Directive.”
Jasper groaned. He hadn’t wanted to believe Gretur would go this far. The Sert Directive was put in place to stop an outright overthrow of the government. To squelch terrorism. Not stop activists.
Gretur rubbed the hair on his chin again, almost as if it were a nervous tic. “I’m putting Phase One of the Sert Directive in place immediately. Those who identify with this insurgency, with Raqueal’s Awakening, will be arrested. Tried. Legally, of course. We are not a society of barbarism. I just ask that you not hesitate to reveal your friends, your family – whomever in your circle – associates with this terrifying and ultimately misled group. We will get them the rehabilitation they need.”
Jasper had the television smashed into pieces before he even realized what he was doing.
The noise brought his roommate, Elana, into the living room. Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she looked ready to launch into a tirade against Jasper for waking her.
“Get your things together,” Jasper huffed.
“What? Why?” She suddenly noticed the broken television set and gasped.
“We’re about to be hunted.”
“And we need to get Raquel out of that hospital.”