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The black banners unfurled down the avenue on every pillar and pole.
Long and sleek, material fluttering in the wind with a gentle flap and shiver.
The gold indicia that was embroidered on it weighted the center somewhat, the sound of it dinging off the poles rang chorus like up and down the thoroughfare.
Shadows were cast, dark and foreboding on the pavement and road, so as to strobe inside cars that came and went from the tall dark towering building that stood sentinel in this bleak street.
The city was far from still, but today was eerily quiet.
The call and bleat of sirens rang out as had become customary since the final days of the riots. Pockets of resistance still existed in the city, but were few and fair between now.
Purges had taken place almost immediately after the election, dozens of people rounded up and placed in internment camps that had been built in small suburban areas on the cities outskirts.
Surrounded by fields and lakes, away from prying eyes.
Overlooking golf courses, which still welcomed the country's mega-rich and privileged, and sometimes saw the leader make unexpected and smug appearances; his permanent smile a smug slither of indifference and arrogance, painted stoic and fixed to his leathery face.
Oh God, that face.
Emblazoned on every wall and billboard in the city and across the whole country, the face stared out with slogans and taglines that were designed to nanny you into subservience, whose only intention was to drive home the lack of freedom and choice you had anymore in this burned out post-election landscape.
Four years had meant millions of people paying a heavy toll. Prices were non-negotiable and terminal. The hungry became the starved, the starved became ghosts. The poor became the dust upon which new skyscrapers and new extensions to the empire were built.
Television became a parody of the satirical shows that ran up to the coming of the first election that started the big turn inside the sprawling divided country.
Red versus blue to the death.
Brothers and families torn asunder by the need for one extreme or another, no middle ground found, violence replacing democracy and debate.
The whole political process now playing out like some shady gladiatorial throwback, dividing lines drawn in sand soon bred into new borders in a country that was no longer a superpower but a waning flash of its former power on reflection.
The country turning out en masse in record numbers to cast a vote for the lesser of two evils or the greater of two lies.
The United States of America marching streets with slipknots ready and prepared upon which to hang itself on one of two bad decisions.
The Madman or the Legacy Candidate.
The Egotist or the Grand Self Publicist.
Either way, the country had buckled and braced the dogs, in readiness for them to drag the country away bloodied and broken and dying.
When the candidate was announced, and the primaries and the votes over, and the president elect announced, the country paused, breathed and stood silent and waiting for his next move.
And the Grand Self Publicist made good on his promise.
To make America great again.
Borders closed. Muslims, Mexicans and immigrants were deported in droves and numbers, staunch regulations at airports and border crossings meant the country became an isolationist, isolated entity.
Diplomacy shriveled up like grapes on the vine, relationships soured and age old friendships became complex and complicated enmities, all due to one mans twisted vision.
America thrived despite the cold.
Agriculture bloomed, homegrown engineers and sciences meant that the farming world was reborn with a fresh vigour and impetus.
People returned to work where they had been struggling for years on low incomes and lack of opportunities, welcomed into construction, commerce and industry. Farms were full of Americans subcontracted to landlords and landowners, living in cheap staff quarters and waking straight to their job — morning, noon and night, entrenched in the building of the new backbone of The Leader's America.
The new techniques and industrialization machinery that was borne from this period sold for massive profits to foreign consortium's, and money flushed straight back into the country.
The economy boomed.
For a while.
Soon, though, cracks appeared. Foreign policy had been all but wiped out. China stood at the gates demanding answers to why diplomats were ejected, and why their businesses were being heavily taxed and fined for irregularities when America companies were being given relief and tax cuts. Canada to the north was soon looked at with as suspicious an eye as Mexico was to the south. Citizens were ejected for silly and beguiling reasons, moved from high and lofty positions to allow for American interests and assets to fill positions and spaces… And soon, a new cold war was being fought at all fronts with Canada, China and Mexico being slowly but surely starved in trade embargoes.
Relationships with Russia were stronger than they had been in years, until the second Cuban crisis, when the Cuban's economy started to boom due to the thawing of diplomatic quarantine — they started to become a new force in industry and medicine, and when they started to accept foreign entities into their country to set up business and design new infrastructure on the old worn remains of the small Latino country, America viewed any and all moves by its neighbours as moves against its sovereignty in the area, accusations of spying and the notorious “Keys” incident, where a government cruiser was sunk with the loss of over 48 men, woman and children — in a case of mistaken intention and identity — lead to Cuba officially declare America an enemy of the state again, and Russia was pulled into the mess, alongside Canada — who also had dignitaries on board from a trade exchange.
America stood on the brink of a North America war for the first time in almost 200 years.
In the Middle East, affairs were messier. Isis and Daesh had swelled with The Leader's appointment. Seen as an opulent figurehead of all that was obscene about the Western Capitalist states, the people throwing themselves into the war of ideologies became critical.
Soon, the whole region was destabilized by The Leader's horrendous grasp of foreign policy. But his own cabinet could not say no to his demands, and a new ground assault pushed America into the region is swollen and drastic numbers — and a new Vietnam-esque tragedy ensued.
When a tactical mobile dirty bomb was unleashed at the border of Egypt and Jordan, killing 20 off duty American soldiers, and a concentrated assault by suicide bombers, one of which was carrying a dirty bomb, was unleashed on a barracks in the Southern Iraq safe-zone of Basra, killing over 300 soldiers and civilians and injuring scores of others, The Leader decided enough was enough and a tactical bombing campaign was launched on the northern stronghold of Raqqa. Tactical nukes were deployed to the region in Turkish bases, and an accidental bombing of a southern Turkish town by a lost patrol suddenly meant America was welcoming new enemies to the Table.
An uprising in Turkey lead to the bases being overrun, the soldiers being slaughtered en masse and American nuclear weapons being seized.
Suddenly, the whole world was on the brink of a disaster.
His followers ate every word he fed them, his support was huge — driven by rhetoric and hatred and mutual stupidity.
His army was bolstered by his support of militias guarding his cities and towns, and the constitution became a loose set of rules he frequently ignored.
Soon, democracy was a loose term. And America began to fall into his hands pieces by piece by pieces.
States who did not fall into line were denied tax breaks or much needed federal and government support, and any dissent was met with penalties in senate and in prison. The two party system became a thing of the past, and all there was left was The Leader. Whose word was god.
The country had fallen into a fascist mindset with little to no resistance…
And what there had been was soon removed from post and position, or had operated from the safety of Mexico or Canada.
Hidden outside of the borders of the great former United States.
Harmony no longer existed, all there was left was his word.
Four years had seen the country shift into darker and darker shadows, and soon after the second election, which was muted and barely contested, delegates and candidates being besmirched and destroyed in press with smear campaigns and lies. They were ejected from power and position, and they were arrested.
The Democrats were driven into shadow and exile, and the country unfurled and stood lame and disunited — first under a red banner, then, under a black one.
A republic into a dictatorship in six short years.
Turkey still had the bombs.
So when the American assault happened, three teams of Special Forces striking from air, land and sea to relinquish or disable the weapons, on that cold, dark Thursday evening in 2022, on July 21st, no one knew the danger that was about to be unleashed.
There were three bombs lost to the Turkish uprising. Three functional and legitimate warheads. Two remained in country, and were soon relinquished by the special forces, meeting strict and definite resistant forces. They took losses, but not before distilling the righteous justice that The Leader demanded.
The third warhead had been dismantled and moved with no intel or knowledge.
And now sat on a boat that had left port in Caracas, having been shifted from European caucus to the Caribbean to the South American northern border in silent shuttling expeditions. Five boats and two planes, thousands of miles, where no one knew.
When the intel leaked from the mouth of tortured enemy fighters, it was already too late. Suspicions fell on Cuba, of course. Though they had nothing to do with it.
China now housed two garrisons of soldiers on the island, and the remaining channels of diplomatic power worked in busy, quick fire to calm down anger and distrusts, opening borders to avoid all out war.
The bomb had already made port in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
A former Republican stronghold, now home to enemies in its midst.
Democratic Freedom Party members, like myself, hidden in plain view.
Fighting dirty in shadows to reclaim the country from the black and gold clutches of the Leadership and his twisted and mad grasp.