Onward Christian Soldiers

by Jennifer Loraine

The smoke curled up from the cigarette in Brian’s hand and added to the general miasma of the smokeasy before being sucked up by the powerful ventilation system. The air was clear to the sight, but the place reeked of old tobacco smoke. The smokeasy was one of the few places left where it was legal to light up and puff the politically incorrect drug. Smokeasies were bars that had installed special filters and ventilation equipment to remove the noxious burning tobacco fumes from the air of the establishment and had obtained a special tobacco consumption site permit. As a result, all the drinks in the bar were far more expensive than a corresponding drink in a non-smoking bar. The smokers didn’t mind the extra cost, it was a pittance compared to the tax the government levied on a pack of cigarettes. They just wanted to sip their drinks and smoke in peace without being arrested for partaking of one of life’s few pleasures that hadn’t been made illegal.

It wasn’t easy to be one of God’s soldiers and be a smoker. His vicars were everywhere, investigating the moral turpitude of his servants. Tobacco smoking wasn’t exactly illegal yet, but there was a moral pall that hung over the heads of admitted smokers that kept them from advancing in their chosen fields. It was one of those issues where the Religious Right had science on their side. Smoking was bad for you. It destroyed your wind and ate away at your health until your body was possessed by the Demon Cancer. If you didn’t hide it from the people you worked for, it eroded your career as well. Ever since the National Health Act of 2000, companies had been allowed to drop admitted smoker’s from their health plans. In the current world of rampant pollution and plagues, that was a death sentence. Sooner or later, a person would become ill from one of myriad dangers of the over civilized world and succumb to sickness. Without large amounts of cash to cover the horrendous costs of treatment, a person was doomed to be ravaged by the first environmental or viral sickness that came along. It was as enviable as taxes for the poor, it was inescapable, it was God’s Will.

The world hadn’t always been as unforgiving. Ever since the Great Landslide of 1996, when President Dole had thoroughly trounced President Clinton in the election, things had gotten worse for the non-believers. The Religious Right seized power and swept into office armed with their faith and their Bibles. Nothing would stand in the way of making America a God fearing country again. Abortion had been immediately outlawed as murder and it’s practitioners were sentenced to the harshest measure that the law allowed; the death penalty. There had been some quiet rumbling from the Supreme Court that they might consider an abortion case if someone would bring one to them, but the pious mouthings about the "Sacred Constitution" were silenced when a delegation of God’s Own invited several of the members of the nation’s highest judiciary to a prayer breakfast. They carefully explained to the assembled judges that it was the privilege of Congress to call for a Constitutional Convention, just as it was their privilege to hear the cases that they wanted to pass judgment on. They speculated on what changes the Convention would hold for the country; topping the list was the revocation of the right of the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of a law. The Constitution had never been explicit on that right, it had merely been assumed by the nation’s first jurist of note, John Jay. As far as the Religious Right was concerned, it was an illegal usurpation of the legislative right to pass laws. The leaders of God’s party told the judges that it would only take a few small changes in the Constitution to remove that power forever. And while they were doing that, the leaders mused, they would eliminate other obstacles to God’s plan for America. The Bill of Rights was high on the list as one of the first things they would remove. The judges were horrified. They sat and listened in shock as the congressional leaders outlined a smaller, more flexible constitution for the nation. Gone would be the right of religious dissent. No one had the right to reject God. If the Moslem extremists had the right to exclude Christians in their countries, then they would claim the same right in America. The Middle East was rapidly becoming a place where only Allah ruled. Non-believers like Christians were being excluded from positions in government and national affairs. Only true Moslems need apply for jobs in government and industry. A CIA analysis had predicted in 1995 that within twenty years, the Middle East would be completely under the control of the Moslem Fundamentalists. That prediction was becoming a reality faster than anyone had expected.

The Middle East wasn’t the only place in the world with State sponsored churches. European countries had their State churches too. Everyone who lived in a European country had to pick the church that they would belong to. If they didn’t, they would be assigned membership in the state church. Tithes for the churches were collected by the government and distributed to the various churches as a form of religious income tax. It was all neat and simple. If you lived in Europe, you belonged to a church and paid tithes. There was no escape, everyone belonged, everyone paid tithes. The idealist said that churches helped maintain the social fabric. The realists knew that the tithes kept the churches from attempting a religious takeover of the government.

The Religious Right had decided that America would become a Protestant Nation ruled by the President and the Congress. The judiciary would be completely subordinated to the executive branch. The Supreme Court would be stripped of it’s power and be made an ordinary court with members selected by the President to serve at his pleasure. The leaders told the judges that they would keep the President in check by revoking his veto power. It wasn’t right that the will of the people, the Will of God, could be vetoed by one man. The laws would be made by Congress and the executive branch would enforce them. Only members of Protestant churches would be allowed to run for office. God would return to America’s government. School prayers were only a side issue. All students would be required to pray in school every day. Evolution would not be taught. Every school would have a chaplain to oversee the religious instruction of the students. They told the judges that corporal punishment would be used to put the fear of God into wayward children. Like the schools, the leaders also had a plan to reintroduce authority and discipline into the lives of American adults. "Liberty had become license", the leaders ranted. Americans needed a strong dose of God’s Reality to set them on the straight and narrow path. Those adults who refused to see the light would join the burgeoning population of social misfits in the nation’s prisons. Chain gains had been brought back in many states and there was talk in some state legislative circles of allowing wardens the right to whip errant prisoners. Only the Supreme Court stood in the way of penal flogging. The assembled members of the Supreme Court shuddered collectively when they heard the leader’s plans to legalize torture. It was nothing beside the bombast that was to come.

They detailed their plans to the jurists for the reformation of the nation’s penal system. The congressional leaders were bent upon using every means available to maintain order in the nation’s prisons. Semi-starvation, floggings, electro-shock, surgical lobotomies, "hot" boxes, castration, torture, and mass drugging of the prison population would keep the prisoners working on their assigned tasks. The prisoners would be forced to work to survive. Those prisoners who refused to cooperate would find themselves crippled for life or worse. The mind bending and body breaking punishment of Seclusion that had been practiced on Devil’s Island would be considered a pleasant vacation compared to the horrors that the lawmakers intended to inflict on errant prisoners.

The leaders already had tentative contracts from industries interested in a captive workforce who could be compelled to work for wages that were far below minimum. It wouldn’t be necessary to enforce safety requirements in the job site for the prison populations. The Congressional leaders had assured industry that they would be exempt from EPA and OSHA requirements in prison industries. The prisoners would work ten hour days, seven day weeks without let for a dollar a day until their sentences were completed. There would be no paroles. The outdated ideals of prisoner education and reform were out, punishment was in. Any prisoner who refused to work up to standards would be broken both physically and mentally until he was compliant. If a prisoner managed to continue to rebel against God and the State despite the beatings and psychological torture, then the legislators had one card which would trump any resource the prisoner might bring to bear; a prefrontal lobotomy.

The prisoner would be sedated and brought to an operating theater where he would be anesthetized before having his eye temporarily removed and laid to rest on his cheek. Then a neurosurgeon would insert a thin metal probe through the opening at the rear of the eye socket into the brain itself. The probe would be rotated around in small circles to sever the connection between the frontal lobes and the rest of the brain. If performed correctly, the procedure would rob the prisoner of his volition and will. The personality that remained would be flat and emotionless and be utterly incapable of rebellion. The only side effect of the correctly performed procedure, aside from the destruction of the personality, was a tendency of the patient to be incontinent. Unfortunately, the surgeons who work for the State are rarely the best in their field and the procedure would often be done quickly and sloppily. The result of such haphazard neurosurgical butchery was horrendous. The prisoner would be turned into a near vegetable, incapable of thought or reason. The lawmakers were well aware of the risks that the operation posed and supported it’s mass use nonetheless. The drooling, diapered idiot that the State would create would only serve as an example to the other prisoners of what rebellion against God would bring them. The legislative leaders understood that the lobotomized prisoner would only have a short lifetime under harsh prison conditions. The gang rapes on the defenseless prisoner that would invariably ensue would shorten the prisoner’s life considerably. After the lobotomized prisoner’s release from the prison hospital, his life would be measured in weeks. It was all part of God’s plan.

There would be no halfway houses or parole officers in the new penal system. When the prisoners had completed their sentence, they would be given the money that they had earned (minus unpaid fines, victim restitution payments and prison fees) and a bus ticket to the nearest large city to find work. If a prisoner was penniless after many years of hard labor the leaders chuckled, that was just too bad. The fact that the system practically guaranteed that a prisoner would have nothing after years of toil bothered the leaders not a wit. They were in prison to suffer, weren’t they?

The leaders spoke with glowing eyes of the millions of man-hours that prisoners would be forced to endure for the nation. The State and Federal governments would make billions of dollars from the slave labor camps they would create. American industry would finally have a means of completing with the low labor costs of third world countries. Dangerous occupations like mining would be given over wholly to the prisoners. The chemical industry would be able to run their factories without costly worker safety programs. Vast prison farms would be made to feed America cheaply.

The leaders knew that the death rate among the prisoners would skyrocket and had planned for the event. Huge crematoria would be built at each prison site to receive the remains of the fallen prisoners. Their bodies, like their evil deeds, would go up the flue and exit in the world in the form of greasy black smoke to be forgotten by the rest of humanity. When the surviving prisoners were released, they would be unable to break the nation’s laws again. They would be bent and old before their time. Their minds would have been altered by the constant stress and their personalities would have changed into subservient shadows of what the once were. They would be incapable of rebellion against the Word of God. They would hold their hats in their hands and speak respectfully to their betters when questioned. They would be model citizens. They would be Christians.

The judges held their collective tongues and remained silent after the religious tirade had finished. Like a Biblical prophesy, the writing was on the wall, and it’s meaning was abundantly clear. The period of liberty and plenty had passed and now came the time of famine and despotism. Individual freedom would be a dead issue in a few years. They would either remain silent and let the Congress do as it wished or they could resist and be swept away by a Constitutional Convention. There was no middle ground. The assembled leaders of Congress had the power to do exactly what they threatened. One way or the other, America was going to become God’s country.

Brian sipped on his cup of coffee and took a deep drag from the cigarette in his hand. A Constitutional Convention hadn’t been required. The Supreme Court had stood aside and let the Religious Right turn the country into a de facto theocracy. The leaders of Congress discovered that it wasn’t necessary to change the Constitution, all that was required to produce a dictatorship was the acquiescence of the people. Dictatorships are produced by ignoring laws, not by passing them. Ostensibly the Constitution was still in force, but no one, not the police, the courts, or the burgeoning religious bureaucracy paid the slightest attention to it. Freedom was dead and Brian had been one of it’s pallbearers. It had been ailing during the thirties and suffered a major blow to it’s health during the Cold War. The Drug Wars had turned it into an invalid. The Religious Right had merely administered euthanasia to the dying creature.

Brian was a Special Advisor to the President of the United States of America. He had begun his professional life as a professor of political science at Chicago University before insinuating himself into the party. He was the planner, the architect of the nation’s near future. The President had wanted a man who would help him obtain the power he wanted so badly. The Congress was a danger to the nation’s health, the President had explained to him when he hired him. The President needed a plan that would strip them of their power. There were too many chiefs in political America and not enough indians. The national identity required that a strong man, a father figure, take the helm of State and pilot it safely through the murky waters of political turmoil. The President made it clear to Brian that he thought that he, the President, was that man. He asked that Brian conceive a plan to allow him to take over the reins of government without causing a civil war. Brian had looked into the President’s steel gray eyes and told him that he’d find a way. They shook hands and the deal was struck. Brian would find a way to bring down the Constitution without invoking the process necessary for having a politically dangerous Constitutional Convention.

Brian was well aware of how the Congress operated in the past and what recent economic events had done to the nation’s chief legislative body. The major corporations had purchased the Congress; lock, stock and barrel. The nation’s environmental laws had been amended to allow the corporations to do anything they pleased. After all, the congressmen reasoned, James Watt had been right. It wasn’t necessary to protect the environment when Christ would return in a few years and return the land to it’s pristine splendor. The corporations were only doing God’s Will. Look at how much money they gave to the churches. And hadn’t they made membership in a church a requirement for advancement in their companies? True, rising prices and the shaky economy had made things tough on the poor, but hadn’t that always been the case? Besides, people were poor because it was God’s Will. It was a punishment handed down by the Most High to the evil ones of the nation. If they had been favored by God, they would have been rich. That was the essence of Calvinism. Piety and hard work please God and he rewarded his followers by making them rich on Earth as well as in Heaven. Hadn’t Christ said that the poor would always be with them? Unfortunately, there were a lot of poor. Many were called, but few were chosen to be employed. Too many in fact, for the government to shoulder the responsibility of caring for them. Besides, government welfare wasn’t the American way. It wasn’t right to tax money from God’s beloved, so that the government could support the evil poor that God obviously despised. The poor would have to fend for themselves so the rich could maintain their income level. It was God’s Will.

The solar storm that had hit the Earth in autumn of 1999 was a clear indication of God’s plan for the world. A monstrous solar flare had erupted from the Sun’s surface and showered the Earth with charged particles for days. Telecommunications had been wiped out and the America’s power grid had gone down. Billions of dollars of damage had been done to the nation’s electrical distribution equipment. The stock markets were closed for weeks. Industries had closed their doors during the blackout and waited until the power companies could supply them with the energy they needed to open their doors again. Weeks turned into months as the power companies desperately tried to arrange financing for replacement equipment. When the nation’s factories were finally able to open their doors again, the markets had vanished. The world economy had gone into a tailspin. Millions of people were thrown out of work. State governments seized the lion’s share of available power to feed the hungry maw of the prison industries. They contended that the security of the State required that the prisoners be kept behind electrified fences and threatened to use martial law to enforce their edicts. The power companies capitulated and did as they were told. Public outcries were heard over the amount of power that was being wasted on prisoners idly sitting around and watching TV while the rest of the nation was blacked out. There were riots in the nation’s industrial cities and the national guard was called out to restore order. The "prison reforms" were rushed through the legislatures without debate. New powers were granted police to expedite the handling of felons. No one had the time or money to waste on such frivolities as civil rights. Within three months, America had been transformed into a police state with millions of unemployed workers. The remaining industries scrambled to procure labor contracts with the State and Federal governments. It was obvious that the only way they could ensure that their plants would be allocated electrical power was to move them within prison walls. Additionally, the cost of labor made the prison industries competitive with foreign markets and the beleaguered CEOs of industry saw prisons as the one way they could compete in a world that had suddenly become a chaotic arena of corporate battles. They knew a good thing when they saw it and signed up with the prison officials in droves.

The government moved quickly to consolidate it’s gains. It used the food produced by the prisons to feed the hungry populace and keep the people mollified while Congress changed the character of the nation. The people were told that the first workers to allowed to go back to work would be those who had families to support. In practice this meant that women were to be excluded from the work force. A legislative plan was secretly prepared to remove most of the economic and political rights that women had be given since the nineteenth century. Women would become chattel under the rule of the men of the family. The legislators envisioned an America in their near future where women stayed home and took care of the house while the men went out and worked. Unfortunately, their dreams of matrimonial harmony were at odds with the realities of American life. There were too many broken homes, too many divorces caused by the lack of money to run a household without discord. Government meddling with the monetary supply had eroded economic stability until only the very rich could live without worrying about how to support their families. Their plan was doomed to failure from the start, but that didn’t deter the God-filled lawmakers. They intended to make America right no matter what the cost. The Spirit of the Lord was within them and nothing would stand in the path of righteousness.

Slowly, the realization emerged among educated women that the government planned to send them back to purdah. They formed study groups to "enlighten" the Congress as to the economic reality of American life. It was a futile gesture. Congress wasn’t listening. The small dissident movement evolved into a secret group of revolutionaries when it became apparent that the Congress had no intention of changing it’s plans. The group expanded and split into self-limiting cells that were relatively immune from government tracking. In a short time other minority groups joined the movement and the government had a full fledged guerrilla war on it’s hands. Efforts to fight the guerrillas had proved fruitless. Somehow every government agent that was planted in a group was discovered and disposed of before the names of the cell members could be transmitted back to the authorities. Security Services found the situation maddening. They hypothesized that the guerrilla’s were using some sort of truth drug to screen new members before they joined. In the beginning they instituted a McCarthy-style Red baiting and dragnet campaign which only seemed to arrest loyal members of the populace. Once it became generally known that the government was rounding up anyone suspected of dissident views and subjecting them to back room interrogations followed by routine beatings and torture, the public began to see just how viscous the security services had become. The program was terminated when cooler heads in the security forces saw how it only served to empathize how right the guerrillas were in calling the government a tyranny.

Lately, some of the governments highest functionaries had disappeared. Since they hadn’t turned up in foreign countries denouncing the American way of life, it was assumed that the guerrillas had kidnapped them somehow. Security had been tightened around the most visible members of the executive branch, but there weren’t enough officers to provide a twenty four hour guard for everyone. Besides, the guards only served to identify those people whom the government considered important to its welfare. The Security chiefs crossed their fingers and prayed that the friends of the government would not be touched by the guerrilla’s campaign of terrorist kidnappings.

Brian suddenly felt himself enveloped in a cloud of smoke and turned to see who was blowing smoke in his face. He looked over at the woman sitting next to him and was about to say something to her when she said, "I’m sorry! I should have watched what I was doing. I was having a hard time getting this cigarette lit and didn’t think about where the smoke was going. I think I’m going to have to change brands. These cigarettes are so hard to get started with all the little holes in the filter. When I’m at home, I put scotch tape around my cigarette to stop them up before I light it, but I’d feel silly carrying a roll of scotch tape in my purse just to smoke. I haven’t found a brand yet that doesn’t have holes in the paper. Do you know of one?"

Brian smiled at her naiveté and said, "They don’t make them. Not in this country at least. The Federal Food and Drug Administration requires that all manufacturers put holes in the cigarettes to reduce the amount of smoke that a person inhales. It’s something we just have to live with."

The woman made a low sound of displeasure and said, "I don’t know what business it is of theirs anyway. They’ve already made it illegal to smoke outdoors and just about everywhere else. Why can’t they leave us alone?"

"Because if they didn’t pass it, the health insurance companies threatened to institute nicotine testing and withdraw all health benefits for any smokers they discovered," Brian explained.

"They don’t have the right to do that!", the woman exclaimed.

"I’m afraid they do," Brian sighed, "The anti-drug laws gave them that right years ago. Ever since nicotine was declared a drug under the FDA jurisdiction, they’ve had the right. The government has used the restrictions on the amount of nicotine found in tobacco products and the method of delivery to keep the insurance companies from instituting measures against smokers. Frankly we’re lucky the government lets us smoke at all. It IS bad for us, you know!"

"It’s an invasion of privacy!", the woman countered, "It’s nobody’s business whether I smoke or not!"

"Ahh, but it IS their business! You want to keep your health coverage, don’t you? That makes it their business. Don’t worry about it. By the end of next year the point will be moot. There’s a bill before Congress to reclassify tobacco as a narcotic. Once that’s done, the game will be over. No one will be smoking anything unless they want to spend some time in a Reform Camp!"

The remark had the desired effect and made the woman shiver in horror. Brian smiled at the feminine response he had elicited. Perhaps she would be interested in a night on the town with him. Aside from her short hair style and the modest, almost prudish dress she effected, she was a looker.

Her hair was styled in the severe cut that was favored by the female employees of the government and her clothes told him the same story. No woman would dress in something that ugly unless her job necessitated it. "Good," Brian thought to himself, "I won’t have to worry that she’s a rebel spy."

"I don’t believe we’ve been introduced. My name is Brian," he said extending his hand to shake.

She took his hand in hers and shook it warmly, saying, "Mine’s Lori, that’s short for Loreli, not Laura."

"And you’re the singer of the siren song, here to lead me to my doom. Is that it?", Brian replied.

Lori laughed, sounding like the liquid notes of a perfectly made bell. She shook her head and said, "My mother was into German folktales and named me Miriam Loreli. Miriam was my mother’s name, so everyone called me Lori."

"Miriam? That’s a Jewish name, isn’t it?", Brian asked.

"My mother was Jewish," Lori replied dryly.

"And yourself?", Brian asked.

"I’m not very observant, I’m afraid. Being Jewish is hazardous to your health and I’m a survivor. I try to keep a low profile and not take a public stand one way or the other. There’s not much future in being Jewish in this country or anywhere else for that matter. Once Israel fell to the Arabs, the Jews of the world have pretty much had to stay where they were," she replied.

"At least they had the satisfaction of taking out the capitals of the Arab countries before Jerusalem fell to Arab tanks. I’ve read that the land surrounding Mecca will be ‘hot’ for at least five hundred years. The hydrogen bombs that the IDF dropped were specially designed to contaminate the soil. Mecca, Medina, Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus, Tunis, Beirut, and Kabul are just radioactive memories now," Brian said. He shook his head ruefully and stared off into the distance as if he was lecturing to a hall of students and continued, "The IDF broke the back of the Arab countries in a series of retaliatory strikes before the end came. The tens of thousands of Arab tanks that they destroyed with fuel-air munitions and napalm had most of the fundamentalists convinced that Armageddon had arrived. The carnage was unbelievable. When the IDF began precision bombing of the Arab oil fields to wreck their economies, it spelled the end for the modern Arab State. The money was gone, their armies were destroyed and the ecology of the area had been turned into something out of the Sierra Club’s worst nightmare. Satellite photos show that some of the oil well fires are still burning after all these years. The air and water in the Arab countries are so toxic that they can’t support normal life. Even the Bedouin have left their homeland to live in the Mongolian highlands with their sheep. Everyone who had enough money at the end of the war has emigrated to other countries to live. The middle and upper class Arabs have found themselves in boat as the Jews since then. Their countries have been effectively annihilated and they’ve been forced to live among the infidels. The pitiful remnants of Allah’s warriors have what they really wanted. The modern world has left them alone in their tiny medieval city-states to work out their relationship with Allah. No one has the slightest interest in having anything to do with them.

There’s no money or future in the Arab countries now, only privation and a lingering death from the toxins of war. A few of them tried to blame the US for the annihilation, but their hearts weren’t really in it. The Great Satan just wasn’t interested in them when the oil was gone. There was a call in the United Nations for the arrest and trial of former Israel officials for war crimes, but it didn’t go anywhere. There simply weren’t enough of them left for a trial to be worth the trouble. Once the US pulled out of the UN, it became a platform for third world cranks, nothing more. Everyone regretted the Israeli attacks on the Arab oil fields, but there was nothing we could do about it once the deed was done. It saved the US a lot of trouble in the long run though. We haven’t had any trouble with Arab terrorists since,"

"The sons of Abraham are finally at peace with one another after four thousand years," Lori sighed.

"The peace of the graveyard," Brian agreed, "I imagine it must have been difficult for you to get a job with the government with your Jewish heritage. The proctors have been extremely anti-Semitic of late."

"How did you know I worked for the government?", Lori asked with a little irritation, "Are you some kind of investigator?"

Brian smiled and shook his head, then pointed to her dress, saying, "No one but government employees wear styles like that anymore."

Lori blushed and replied, "Oh, you’re right. It’s almost a uniform among the women in government now that the proctors have begun their campaign for a moral appearance. I’ve stopped thinking about the way I dress. It’s just a suit of clothes that I have to put on before I go to work in the mornings. I guess it is a little frumpy. You’re right about the proctors too. They made it very difficult to get a job when they found out I was Jewish, but I explained to them I was an apostate. They just beamed at me happily and said the hoped I would see the light of Jesus soon."

"So you don’t consider yourself Jewish?", Brian asked.

Lori smiled and replied, "It’s not a matter of what I think, it simply is. I couldn’t change my heritage even if I wanted to. Under Jewish law, the child of a Jewish mother is Jewish. But I haven’t been to a synagogue since I was a child. Even if I wanted to go, there seem to be fewer of them every year. Unless I went to live in New York city, I’m not sure where I would find one," she said.

"After the Spanish retook their cities from the Moors in the middle ages, they converted most of the synagogues to churches. It appears that the proctors have the same plan. Outside of the major cities, there can’t be more than fifty synagogues in the U.S.," Brian observed.

"I think the ‘security’ cameras over the entrances have a lot to do with the lack of attendance at synagogues," Lori said.

"The people are aware of them?", Brian asked.

"The proctors have made it painfully obvious. I’ve been told that they force the Rabbis to see that posters are put up in the anterooms of the synagogues telling everyone that the proctors are watching them every minute to ‘protect’ them from Arab terrorists. It’s supposed to have a chilling effect on the faithful," Lori replied.

"And has it?", Brian asked.

"Of course it has!", Lori replied vehemently. She shook herself as if to shed the idea and said to Brian, "And what do you do for a living? You’re too well dressed for a government clerk and you don’t sound like a proctor. Besides, they don’t smoke. Do you work for a corporation?"

"I work for the government as a consultant," Brian replied.

"What kind of consultant? Business?", Lori asked.

"Political science," Brian answered.

"Oh," Lori said, looking nonplused, "I guess that explains why you seem to know so much about history. There aren’t many people these days who know the names of the President’s cabinet members, much less medieval European history. I had wondered about that."

Brian cracked a grin and said, "Just part of my stock in trade. Everything in history repeats itself sooner or later. It’s just a matter of being able to recognize the patterns of historical development."

Lori leaned close to Brian and said in a whisper, "How does the government compare to historical ones? When I think of the Reform Camps, the only historical comparison I can see is either the Communist Re-education camps of China or the Concentration Camps of Nazi Germany."

Brian glanced around quickly and said in a de soto voice, "Hush! This is a public place! It’s not wise to make such comparisons in public. Let’s move to one of the booths where we can talk more discreetly."

They picked up their drinks and moved over to a booth in the corner. After they had gotten comfortable, Brian said in a voice loud enough for the occupants of the next booth to hear, "The best historical comparison for the US today is the Chinese Empire. After building the Great Wall and withdrawing from interaction with their neighbors, they consolidated their government and created a society that remained stable for hundreds of years. During this time, the Chinese invented paper, printing, cast iron, gunpowder and fireworks, clocks, silk and improved techniques for weaving as well as paper money. The rest of the world was casting about in darkness while the Chinese were developing their science to new heights."

"Are we?", Lori asked.

"Are we what?", Brian demanded.

"Are we developing our science? I don’t see any signs of it. Look at the Swatches and pocketcoms we’re carrying. They weren’t made in the US. They’re made in the pacific rim and the patents are held in Japan. Our science is dying." Lori said.

Brian sniffed in a superior fashion and said, "Engineering toys are not science. The government chooses not to make recent developments public at this time. Who knows how the rebels might use the information if they got hold of it? There’s some suspicion that they’ve gotten some help from the advanced research of at least one other government. They seem to have techniques that we’re unfamiliar with. No matter. Just the clue that it exists is often enough to find the solution."

"How do you know that their using information from another government?", Lori asked.

Brian sighed and said, "Scientific research is too complex and expensive for anyone but a government to sponsor it. It’s simply not possible for a group of individuals to come up with anything new without government support. The FBI is investigating rebel links to foreign governments as we speak. The President is expecting some news from them in the near future. They’ve promised to brief the President fully next month."

"Really?", Lori said, "What have they found out so far?"

"I’m sorry, I’m not at liberty to say. Let’s just say that within a month, you can expect to find the US in a much better position that it is now. Plans are being made to round up all the disloyal elements of the population and deal with them permanently. The ungodly will not be able to hide from us this time. We intend to arrest the rebels and their supporters and send them all to Special Reform Camps which the government is building. I’d like to tell you more, but security forbids it. Let’s talk about something else. What about you? You said you’re a government employee. Where do you work?"

"I’m an executive secretary in the agricultural distribution department of Health and Human Services," Lori replied.

"Executive secretary?", Brian said, "That position must have been hard to get. Positions like that are usually reserved for men."

"I know," Lori replied, "The position was created for me. I have a Ph.D. in agriculture and the head of department was familiar with my work in increasing crop yields. The original techniques I was researching are out of favor now, but I’m hoping to explore other avenues of research."

"What sort of techniques were you using originally?", Brian asked.

"Recombinant DNA techniques utilizing cross-species transplantation of genetic material," Lori answered.

"And you managed to keep out of a Reform Camp? Your guardian angel must be working overtime!", Brian exclaimed.

Lori smiled and said, "When they passed the law against genetic research, I shut down my lab immediately. I knew I was on Jeremy Refkin’s list to be ‘cleansed’ and didn’t want to be caught with incriminating information."

"And your research results?", Brian asked.

"I had been sending copies of all my results to the University on a weekly basis, so on the day before the law took effect, I destroyed all the plants and notes and began packing up the equipment. When the proctors came to investigate me, all they found was a laboratory with all the equipment boxed and ready to go back to the University. They thought about arresting me for defrauding the University by not performing contracted research, but the financial records and the reports I had sent in were enough to convince them they hadn’t a case there either. They had to content themselves with blacklisting me from research," Lori said seriously.

"You are one smart lady!", Brian said, "And lucky too! Do you know they considered making the Genetic Research Act an ex post facto law?"

"I was aware of it, but there was nothing I could do about it. If they had, I guess I would have tried to escape to Canada. What else could I have done? If Congress passes laws that make legal acts retroactively illegal, there’s no way a person can protect himself against prosecution," Lori said.

"What amazes me is that you were able to get a job in government. I would have thought that the proctor’s blacklist would have prevented that," Brian said.

"Apparently there is a clause in the blacklist section of the Genetic Research Act which exempts government agencies from using it if they desire. I believe that it was meant to allow the security agencies to employ informers, but in my case at least, it was used to enable my boss to give me a job. You can’t imagine how desperate we are in my agency to find ways of improving the crop yields. My boss is even willing to go against the wishes of the proctors to do it. After the Arab oil dried up, the price of oil skyrocketed and took the price of fertilizers and insecticides with it. They can barely afford the cost of the natural gas to run the crematoria. The prison farms don’t grow organic crops because they want to, they have to! They can’t afford to use chemical fertilizers and insecticides. We were able to solve the fertilizer problem by using sludge from the sewerage treatment plants of nearby cities, but the problem of insect infestation seems to be intractable. Most of the insect population’s natural enemies have been killed from decades of insecticide use and there’s nothing cheap enough to take their place. We’re experimenting with mixed crop use right now to keep the damage down. It’s a little early to see definite results, but we’re hopeful," Lori said.

"Mixed crops?", Brian asked.

"Some species of plants repel certain species of insects," Lori explained, "By planting a species of plant that repels the target insect in close proximity to a plant that we want to protect, we can reduce crop damage by as much as twenty percent. At least that’s the theory. We should know more by end of summer."

"What are we using now to keep down the insects?", Brian asked.

"Prisoners and nets," Lori said with a sigh.

"Nets?", Brian asked, "You mean they’re putting nets over the crops?"

"Oh no," Lori laughed, "I mean prisoners with bug collection nets on a stick. You know! Like butterfly collectors!"

"You mean they go out and collect the bugs by hand?", Brian asked incredulously.

Lori nodded and said, "And that’s the whole problem. It’s labor intensive. We have to plan for the future."

"But don’t we have millions of prisoners to do the work?", Brian asked in confusion.

"Right now we do. But in ten years, it’s going to be another story. Are you aware of the mortality figures in the Camps?", Lori asked.

"No....Well, I know it’s high, but that shouldn’t have anything to do with it," Brian said.

"Morality in the Camps approaches ninety percent in the first five years of a prisoner’s incarceration. During the second five years, it’s one hundred percent," Lori said.

"My God!", Brian exclaimed thoughtlessly. He looked around guiltily to see if anyone had witnessed his blasphemy and said, "But aren’t they always arresting more people and putting them in the Camps?"

"Yes, but not enough to sustain the present prison population," answered Lori, "That’s why we’re so concerned. In ten years there won’t be enough people in the camps to keep the insect population down and weed the fields. Then crop production will plummet. Are you aware that over ninety percent of the food produced in the US comes from prison farms? America will starve!"

Brian was shocked by the information that he had gotten from the chance encounter at the smokeasy. If Lori was right, something had to be done immediately. It would take time to develop and implement a viable plan to reform food production in the Camps. They had to begin immediately to insure that the changes were in place before food production began to drop. There were political considerations as well. The mismanagement of the nation’s food supply was just the sort of excuse that the President needed to get full backing for his secret plan from his supporters. If they played their cards right, the President would be in full charge of the country within a year.

Brian dropped his voice and said in a serious tone, "The President needs to know about this immediately. Could you come home with me where I can call the President? My office at home has been electronically protected by the Secret Service from snooping by bugs. I’ve also been given the use of a high tech scrambler for secure communications with the White House. I can call him up and let you explain the problem to him after I introduce you. If the situation is as bad as you say it is, then the President’s plans will have to be modified significantly. You can brief me in the car on the way over to the house and fill me in on the details while I drive. Would that be okay? If your information proves to be correct, I don’t think there will be any problem getting Presidential approval for your research. It’s vital that the President get this information as quickly as possible."

"Certainly," Lori said, "Let’s pay our bills and we can leave. I’ll need to get my briefcase from the car. There are some documents in it that I’d like you to see that will support my conclusions. There shouldn’t be any problems about leaving the car for a few hours in the parking lot. The security fence and guard should keep anyone from stripping it for parts while I’m gone. This should only take a few hours, right?"

"Right!", Brian answered and signaled for the waiter to ring up their bills on the register and transmit the code to the Swatches they wore on their wrists. The amount of the tabs would be deducted electronically from the credit information encrypted into the circuitry of the Swatch. A memory chip embedded in the cheap watches had prepaid digital currency that would allow them to pay for goods and services until the battery ran down or the credit was used up. All they had to do was press the payment button on the side of the watch to cause the authentication code to be transmitted via FM radio back to the receiver in the cash register. It was the ultimate in anonymity for the American consumer. The digital currency could be purchased at any supermarket or convenience store with a check or credit card and then used later without leaving a paper trail in later transactions. No cash ever changed hands to leave fingerprints for investigators to trace. It was the accepted method of payment in smokeasies.

They pushed the buttons on the Swatches to pay the tab and got up to go to the door. When they opened the door to go outside to the parking area, they were greeted by a blast of moist, toxic-laden air from the streets. The clean, air-conditioned atmosphere of the bar was considerably cleaner than the polluted air of the city. One of the fascinating dissonances of post-disaster American life was that the so-called "polluted" air in tobacco bars was so clean from the mandatory filtration units that many non-smokers went to smokeasies to get away from the pollution outside. It made the identification of smokers extremely difficult for businesses. If someone came in from lunch smelling of tobacco, they explained to their superiors that they had taken refuge against the city air in a smokeasy. There was always some suspicion that they were lying, but the practice was so common that nothing was said. The nation’s lax attitude toward industrial pollution had turned the air of the cities into a virtual cesspool of noxious and toxic fumes. Vending machines that dispensed pure oxygen were as common a sight on street corners in business areas as were the machines that sold disposable filtermasks.

They stepped out into the parking lot and walked to Lori’s car to get her briefcase. Grimy dust from the factory down the street had covered the tops of the cars in the lot in minutes after parking. When they approached her car, Brian noticed that she owned one of the new gas turbine/electric/flywheel cars that were so popular in Canada. It was one of the few exports that was really doing well on the world market. The depression had depressed wages in the US so much that the cars were a very attractive deal for foreign importers and they had snapped them up by the thousand. Of course the assembly lines were located in prison factories and hadn’t eased the unemployment problems the US had had since the crash. At least the poor value of the dollar had helped the nation’s balance of trade, Brian mused as he stood by the car door. He was careful not to let his clothes touch the side of the car to keep the grime from staining his clothes. Lori had wisely chosen a color of dark grey that matched the color of the grime perfectly and he was having a hard time seeing which areas of the car’s exterior that the air pollution had settled on. He knew that it was futile to think that he could go through the day without getting some of the grime on his clothes, but there was no point in making the dry cleaner’s job any more difficult than it was. The dry cleaner never got the clothes completely clean in any case. The pollutants were just too reactive. They bound themselves to the fibers of the fabric in a death’s grip and refused to release themselves. The ever present pollution had proved a boon to the prison textile industry. Everyone in the upper levels of government and industry had to replace their wardrobe at least once a year to keep from appearing like one of the filthy unemployed who haunted the nation’s streets.

Lori punched in the codes on the small keypad on the side of the driver’s side car door underneath the handle to unlock the car door and pulled it open as soon as she heard the electric bolt being drawn back. She flipped the switch on the door to unlock the other doors and walked around the car to the other side. Brian padded after her and stood off to the side as she took her briefcase from underneath the front seat and laid it down on the seat. She opened the car’s back door and said, "Sit down Brian. There’s something I want to show you now so we can talk about it on the way over to your house."

Brian sat on the edge of the back seat while she opened the case and took a manila folder from the disarray of documents piled inside. As she did, she picked up a small pressurized can of spray mouth freshener and flipped the cap off with her thumbnail. Lori palmed the can in her hand and walked around the open door to give Brian the folder. She glanced around to see if anyone was observing them and handed the documents to Brian. He took it from her and opened it, noting the official seal of the agency on the headings of the documents. She leaned over him and spread the corners of papers until she found the one she wanted, pulling it out and laying it on top of the other papers, saying, "This is the one I want you to look at. This is a report on the annual food production figures for the past five years. Look at the trend. See! Here and here..."

She pointed with her finger at the columns forcing his eyes to follow along as she pointed out the relevant lines. As he looked at the sheet, she raised the can in her other hand and sprayed him directly in the face. Brian’s eyes closed immediately and he grew still. Lori took the folder out of his hand and pushed his shoulder with the hand that still contained the knockout spray. He fell over onto the back seat and she lifted his legs and placed them on the floorboard behind the front seat before closing the door.

She took the pocketcom from his belt and deftly opened the battery compartment and flipped out the battery. Then she took a small screwdriver from her pocket and removed the back of the pocketcom to get at the secondary lithium battery inside the unit. Most people who carried a pocketcom thought that the lithium battery merely provided backup power to maintain the system clock and CMOS settings. Lori knew that the microwave transponder that was part of the telephone circuitry inside was powered by the lithium battery. It would allow the unit’s location to be tracked to within thirty feet by the telephone company. If the government wished, it could ask the phone company to provide it with the location of the telephone. It was one of the security services favorite tricks; they could keep a running log of a person’s location without having to put a tail on him. Only the poor were exempt from this sort of surveillance. The pocketcom had become a feature of modern business life. They were combination mini-satellite phones and palmtop computers with voice synthesis and recognition and limited artificial Intelligence. They kept multiple agents running on the Internet to keep the owner informed about stocks and news of interest and could manage the owner’s affairs on their own without constant input from the owner. They had short range radio FM transceivers to link with nearby computers and had high speed IR ports for printing and areas needing secure data links. They also had the capability to read the new read-only, mini-CDs. (The mini-CDs were two inch diameter double-sided CDs with ten layers per side. Each layer contained one quarter of the amount of information as one of the old four inch, single layer CDs, giving a mini-CD a total storage capacity that was five times as large as a single layer CD. By reducing the CD’s size, the angular momentum of the rotating disk could be minimized to allow higher speeds. An eight speed drive had proved to be the effective limit because the imperfections in the media produced unmanageable wobble at higher had finished, he looked like he was sound asleep in the back of the car.

She smiled at the camouflage she had created; the smell of alcohol on his breath made him appear just like businessman who had been overcome by the effects of a five martini lunch. If someone tried to wake him, they would think that the difficulty they would have was due to the amount of alcohol in his bloodstream rather than the odorless knockout aerosol she had given him. She removed his wallet from the top of his coat and went to the front seat. She tossed the wallet, pocketcom and folder in the briefcase and took another wallet from the pocket of the briefcase before latching it. She closed the car door and slipped the replacement wallet into his coat pocket. For a final touch, she took a small red Maple lapel pin out of her pocket and pinned it to his coat lapel prominently. The pin would ensure that if she was stopped by the police, they would assume that he was a Canadian businessman who had had a snootful during his visit to the US. She wouldn’t have any trouble with the border guards on the Canadian side. The wallet she had put inside his coat had ID cards that identified Brian as a Canadian citizen. She would stop at a safe house she had prepared and replace the stolen US license plates on the car with the original Canadian plates. Then she would destroy the incriminating documents and replace them with sales brochures and orders for a well known Canadian company that did business in the U.S. and put the briefcase in the back seat beside Brian to add to the window dressing she had created. In a few hours she would be in Canada with her prize.

It had taken a month of planning to bring their plan of kidnapping Brian to fruition and she wasn’t about to make any mistakes by forgetting any of the carefully thought out details. The rebels knew that the President was planning something big in the near future. Their agents on the inside of the government had tipped them that he had started to act very cagey with the Religious Right in Congress. Lori had been the one selected to kidnap Brian and bring him into Canada for questioning by the rebels. If they were lucky, he could provide them with the details that could bring down the government of the United States. They had no doubts that they would get everything Brian knew about the current government. Lori’s briefing officer had told her that they had a technique that had proved infallible in getting information from their prisoners. Within few days, Brian would be putty in their hands. After they had finished questioning him, he would be disposed of humanely in the same way that they had gotten rid of other officials that they had kidnapped. His mind would be gone and he would be unable to care for himself, but that was a fortune of war. The technique that they used would help them give him a new identity. He would become another helpless citizen on the Canadian Welfare roles. The officer had said that was only fitting that an official who had kept so many Americans unemployed would go on welfare himself. It would have been more just to have gotten him on American welfare if it had existed, but leaving him in the US after they had finished with him was tantamount to a death sentence.

Lori had agreed with the plans for Brian after they had sucked all the useful information from him. She disliked the idea of killing another human. The rebels were nothing if not humane. They had no intention of killing someone if it wasn’t necessary. There would be killing enough when the fighting started. The Civil War that the government had so assiduously avoided was about to begin.

Lori went around the car and got in the driver’s seat and started the car, going over her escape route from the country in her mind as she drove through the crowded streets. Her timing had been perfect; the entire operation had taken less than five minutes from the time they got to her car to the moment she had driven out into the street. The gate in the security shack hadn’t paid her any notice. She doubted he had even known they were in the parking lot. His eyes were on the street and the dangers it contained. Shabbily dressed men walked in front of the entrance to the parking lot every few seconds and kept his attention riveted to the entrance to the lot.

If the majority of Americans had been gainfully employed, the streets would have been nearly empty. But government policies had created large numbers of homeless and unemployed who had nowhere else to go. They spent their days wandering around the streets looking for work or shelter that didn’t exist. Most of the abandoned buildings had long since been staked out by the fortunate homeless who guarded their tuft vigorously. The rest of the people walked around until it was time to pick up their daily ration of food from the government distribution centers. Every ration card had the citizens dossier encoded into the card with their picture on the front. The time that the citizen could pick up his ration was clearly marked on the front of the card. If someone missed their ration time, then they would go hungry until the next day. The government had no pity on those who were late for their appointments. The streets around the distribution centers were the worst of all. The government had condemned all the property in an area for four blocks around each of the distribution centers to keep the homeless from mixing with the tax paying citizens. It hadn’t been too difficult to arrange the condemnations, most of the businesses who had owned the property were only too glad to get rid of the buildings and land at any price. They were able to use the money to move to other locations that were more conducive to business. Property was cheap since the depression and easily available. The rundown buildings that were left were quickly occupied by the homeless seeking shelter. The police wanted the cities to raze the buildings to create an area that was more controllable, but wiser heads had prevailed and the homeless were left to their devices. At least it kept them away from the more prosperous areas of the city.

As Lori stopped at the light where she would turn to go to the small warehouse she had rented, she noticed an enterprising beggar on the corner of the sidewalk. He had constructed a bicycle with a pedal-driven dc generator that powered a portable TV mounted in front of the handlebars. Apparently he was selling TV to the people on the street. As long as people put money into his hat perched on top of the TV, he kept pedaling and the TV was powered. It was the perfect business for the American street. If the police rousted him, all he needed to do was pull the unit off the home-made kickstand and pedal away to another location. Normally though, Lori was sure that the police left him alone except to collect the bribes that allowed him to operate. He was too useful to the government. The TV kept his audience occupied and allowed them the opportunity to see the official government announcements on TV. Anything that was important would rapidly be passed word of mouth to the crowds in the street.

She made the turn and drove down the street for two blocks before pulling up into the driveway of a padlocked warehouse. Lori got out with her keys and unlocked the padlock, then pulled the metal door up. Then she got back into the car and drove it into the confines of the small warehouse and got out of the car. She pulled down the metal door and locked it in place while she worked on the car. Lori went to the corner of the warehouse and pulled a pile of rags from the equipment she had cached earlier. A gasoline powered air compressor stood on the floor next to a five gallon paint can connected to a low pressure sprayer. She started compressor and picked up the five gallon can and spray gun to carry it over to the car. Then she began to coat the car with a fine mist of catalyst that immediately changed the color of the paint from a dark grey to a vibrant blue. Within minutes the car had been transformed from the dark hue preferred by Americans to one the richer colors loved by Canadians. When she was finished, Lori hauled the can of catalyst back to it’s original place and turned off the compressor. She picked up the electric screwdriver and the Canadian license plates from the floor by the compressor and went to the rear of the car. A few minutes of work and she had switched the license plates on the car. She took the stolen plates and dumped them into a barrel of liquid industrial waste that had been left in the warehouse by a former occupant. No one would search the barrel to see if there was something hidden beneath it’s oily surface. Americans were all too familiar with the hazards from unclassified industrial waste. It would be left until it started to rust and the owners had to pay to have it hauled off to a waste site. While the car was drying she took the contents of the briefcase and built a small fire in the rusted hibachi that she had found lying in the corner of the warehouse when she took possession. She burned the files to ashes and emptied them into the barrel when they had cooled. She opened crumpled carton on the floor and withdrew the business papers that had been prepared as part of her cover and put them in the briefcase.

Lori checked her watch, she was still on schedule. She unzipped the dress she was wearing and left it in plain sight by the door, she hoped that some poor woman would find it and take it for her own. Then she opened the trunk and removed the business woman’s skirt and blouse that were in a bag in the trunk with a matching purse. She dressed quickly and finished off the outfit with a lemon colored scarf from the bag. Lori covered the equipment with the rags and took a black wig from the glove compartment along with a small bottle of washable black hair dye, a mirror and a cotton pad. She propped the mirror on the roof of the car before applying a small amount of dye to the pad and swiping it across her eyebrows to darken them to the same shade as the wig. She wiped the excess with a clean corner of the pad and threw the pad and dye into the barrel along with the handbag she had carried in the smokeasy before resealing the top on the barrel. Then she donned the wig and adjusted it in the mirror before tossing the mirror on the front seat and closing the car door. Lori opened the door and got in the car, throwing the mirror in the glove compartment and donning on the goggly sunglasses that lay on top. She drove out into the street leaving the warehouse door open. If someone wanted to steal the tools she had left, it was fine with her, they had served their purpose. The theft would only serve to muddy the trail behind her.

The French-Canadian woman driving the electric blue car bore no resemblance to the woman who had left with Brian. She crossed the border easily and got on the Canadian Highway to Quebec. A few hours later she was being debriefed by her co-conspirators while Brian slept peacefully in the locked windowless room of the huge log cabin. "Lori," the leader said, "our agents have told us that something big is about to pop. We’d like you to agree to be locked up with Brian to assist us with finding out the President’s plans. We know it’s a lot to ask of you, but he’ll be more pliable if he thinks there’s someone on his side with him. We did a psychological profile on the two of you and we think you’re the perfect person to get him to talk. We’ve infected him with a genetically tailored virus that will eventually break down his will to resist. You don’t have to worry about your safety. The room is thoroughly bugged and we’ll have someone watching and listening every minute. You’ll be allowed to keep the aerosol of knockout gas to use on him in an emergency. Don’t worry about him remembering that you gassed him. He’ll have permanent amnesia about the entire incident when he wakes. He’ll remember talking to you and getting up to go to the car, but after that his memory will be hazy. The actual incident will be gone from his mind. As far as he is concerned, the two of you were kidnapped by rebels for questioning. We’re going to give you an antivirus shot before we put you into the room with him so there will be no chance of you being infected with the virus we’ll give him. After we’ve finished getting all the information that we need from him, we’ll cure the virus. In three days he won’t even remember his real name and we’ll be able to turn him over to Canadian authorities to be taken care of. He won’t suffer, I assure you. You do know what the virus does, don’t you?"

"Yes, Commander. I was briefed on it’s effects before the mission," Lori answered.

"Would you be willing to continue as our ‘inside’ agent? The danger to you would be minimal. Our dossier on him indicates he’s a gentleman so you needn’t worry in that regard," the female Commander said. She giggled and continued, "In two days he won’t be a danger to a woman even if he wanted to be. The effects of the virus are permanent, you know. Our scientists are working on a version of the virus that will allow the body to reverse the physical changes over a period of time, but we haven’t found a genetic sequence that will make reversible changes yet. In time perhaps. Unfortunately, you can’t make a revolution without destroying a few lives just as you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs. At least he’ll survive the experience and be happy. That’s more than you can say of people that the security forces have questioned. Knowing what it will do to him and that you’ll be there to see the destructive changes it makes in his body and mind, are you still willing to help us?"

"Yes, Commander. I realize how important his information is to our cause," Lori replied.

"Good! On the table in front of you there’s a dress that matches the one you were wearing when you met him. Please change into it while the corpsman prepares the antivirus," the Commander ordered.

She dressed quickly and was given the injection of antivirus before she was hustled to the makeshift cell and locked in with the prisoner. Lori laid down in the bed beside Brian and pulled the comforter over herself. It had been a long day and she needed to get some sleep. She’d eat with Brian when he woke up. She was a light sleeper and knew that his movement on the bed would wake her if he got off the bed.

Brian awoke with a start. He looked around the room in confusion and saw that he was in a bedroom with a woman lying beside him in bed. His head ached and he felt groggy as if he had a hangover. From the appearance of the walls he decided he must be in some kind of log cabin. He tried to focus his eyes and met some resistance before he was able to see clearly. The chinking between the logs wasn’t mud, it looked like it was a cement based mortar. That meant that the house was fairly recently constructed. The bed they were laying on was a reproduction of one of the old fashioned beds with a brass headstead and was covered with what appeared like a handmade patchwork quilt. He looked at the sleeping woman’s face and tried to recall if he had seen her before; her face looked very familiar to him, but he couldn’t quite place where he had seen her. What had he been doing last night? Suddenly, it all came back to him. Her name was Lori and he had met her at the smokeasy. He smiled as the details of the conversation he had had with her came back to him. Her middle name was Miriam and she was Jewish. She was an ex-scientist who had been blacklisted and employed by the agriculture department to help with their crop production problems. He recalled walking out of the bar to their cars and then events became hazy. Was this her house? Had he gotten drunk and slept with her? He looked at the clothes she still wore and decided that if he had, they probably hadn’t done anything. They were both still wearing their clothes. He noticed that his belt was missing as well as his pocketcom. He had probably taken both of them off when he took off his shoes. He was still wearing his socks. He looked to see what time it was and noticed that his Swatch wasn’t on his wrist. Brian frowned in puzzlement. He never took off his watch, even in the shower! What could they have been doing that required that he remove his Swatch? He looked at his side of the room to see if he could see a chair or table were he might have put his things and saw only bare walls. Brian decided to get up to see what he could find, his things must be on her side of the bed.

When he got up from the bed, he almost lost his pants. Apparently he must have been losing weight. He decided that he wouldn’t have noticed because of the belt he normally wore. Lori stirred in the bed, but did not wake. She rolled over and continued to snore softly. Brian held up his pants with one hand while he made a circuit of the room looking for his shoes, belt and pocketcom. He remembered that he had been wearing his coat and added that to the list. Lori’s side of the room was bare except for a oversized empty rocking chair in the corner. What was going on here? A bedroom with no dresser? There wasn’t even an armoire in the room. Aside from the bed and rocker, there was not a stick of furniture in the room. He looked under the bed and saw an old fashioned chamber pot covered by a lid sitting under the bed with a small roll of toilet paper laying beside it. Surely she didn’t intend for him to use a chamber pot! The thought of using the pot made him realize that nature was calling. He went over to the door to see if he could find the bathroom. After he came back, he would wake Lori and have her fill him in on last night’s events.

When he tried the door it appeared to be stuck. He pulled on it out of reflex until he saw that the hinges were mounted on the outside of the door, then he tried to push on it. Nothing happened. He looked down at the latch to see if there was some kind of locking mechanism that he had missed. The doorknob was a large brass knob set into the door in the standard way for an interior door. Brian noticed that the framing around the door didn’t seem to have any grain to it. He rapped on the frame softly and heard a dull metallic thud. The frame was metal. Then he rapped on the door and got the same sound. The door was a high security metal door! He looked at the base of the door and saw that there appeared to be a large trapdoor mounted in the bottom of the door. There weren’t any hinges, which meant that it was hinged from the outside. "This room isn’t built like a bedroom, it’s built like a cell!", Brian thought.

Brian started to panic. He pushed on the door with all of his strength and the door refused to budge. It didn’t even flex under the pressure. They were locked in! He looked around to see if he could find some means of escape. The ceiling appeared to be covered in plasterboard and had been taped, floated and painted in the normal way. Perhaps he could get out that way. The lamp mounted in the ceiling was hopeless. It was metal framed and appeared to be screwed together. The fluorescent tubes themselves were covered with wire mesh glass. His only chance appeared to be at the sides of the lamp fixture. If he stood on the bed and reached up, he should be able to get through the plasterboard in no time. His only problem was that he didn’t seem to have any tools. Brian put the thought aside for later consideration and decided to finish searching the room before making any plans. He saw a fabric fronted box mounted over the door that looked like a speaker. There weren’t any controls on the wall to control the volume so he began to wonder what the purpose of the speaker was.

All at once the speaker hissed with static and a female voice began to speak. "Sit down, Brian! Sit down on the bed or you will be punished!"

Brian gaped up at the speaker in shock and the voice repeated itself, "Sit on the bed, Brian! Prisoners must remain in bed at all times when they are not using the chamber pot! Permission to use the chamber pot must be obtained before leaving the bed! You have five seconds to comply with this order, or you will be severely punished! Do you hear me, Brian? Sit down!"

"Prisoners? What the hell was going on here?", Brian thought.

The sound of the voice had woken Lori and she sat up in bed. "Brian," she exclaimed, "Get up on the bed now! Please! You don’t know what the rebels will do to us!"

"Rebels!!", Brian thought in alarm, "That explains it! We’ve been taken hostage by the rebels!"

"Brian, please get on the bed!", Lori pleaded.

Brian hurried over to the side of the bed and got in. The speaker crackled again and the unseen voice said, "Good boy! You are the prisoners of the Revolutionary Army of the United States. You will obey the rules or you will be punished! You may talk between yourselves but you may not attempt to escape. You may not get out of bed without permission. You may use the chamber pot to answer your bodily needs, but you must obtain permission before you do so. The chamber pot will be emptied once a day. Any order given over the speaker must be obeyed instantly. Any infraction of these rules will be dealt with severely. Do you understand?"

"I understand," Brian said in a defiant tone.

"Louder, Brian! I can’t hear your mumbling!", the voice said.

"I understand!", Brian yelled.

"Good! See that you obey the rules and you won’t be hurt. You will be fed three times a day. The meal will be put through the trapdoor at the bottom of the door. You will not leave the bed to get your meal until you are given permission to do so. When you are finished with your meal, you will put the paper plates back on the tray along with the plasticware and place the tray in front of the trapdoor. Then you will return to your bed. Do you understand?"

"I understand, Brian said loudly.

"Until you are taken out for questioning you will be left to your own devices. There will no sleeping during the day except during designated nap times. You will be allowed to nap twice a day in addition to your normal sleeping period. If you elect not to take a nap, you must remain silent on the bed with your eyes closed. There will be no talking permitted during nap time. Is that understood?"

"A prison with nap times? What the hell is going on here?", Brian thought, "They must want us to be quiet so they can relax. If I’m going to try to escape, that would be the time to do it. If I obey all the rules maybe I can lull them into a false sense of security."

"DO YOU UNDERSTAND, BRIAN?", the voice boomed.

Brian’s woolgathering had caused him to delay his answer. He said hastily in a loud voice, "I understand!"

"The light in you room will remain lit at all times. If you wish a cup of water, you will speak your need clearly toward the speaker. The prisoners are not permitted to ask the guards questions other than requests. Do you understand?", the voice asked.

"Yes!", Brian shouted.

"Do YOU understand these rules, Lori?", the voice asked.

"Yes," Lori answered meekly.


"I understand!", Lori shouted.

"That is all!", the voice concluded.

"Wait!," Brian shouted, "I need to use the chamber pot!"

"Prisoners will indicate their bodily needs by raising their left arms and holding one finger up for number one or two fingers up for number two!", the voice said.

Brian felt like he was a little boy in kindergarten again. He hadn’t had to tell people what he was going to do in the bathroom since he was five years old. He sheepishly raised his left arm and held up one finger. The voice from the speaker said, "Brian has permission to make number one in the chamber pot. Stand up beside the bed, Brian."

Brian got out of the bed and stood at it’s side. His pants started to fall down immediately. The voice ordered, "Remove your pants and underwear, Brian!"

Brian glanced at Lori in embarrassment which caused her to turn her head away. Brian dropped his pants on the floor and the voice said, "Pick up your pants and put them on the bed, Brian. Then remove your underwear."

Brian picked up the pants and laid them carefully on the bed, then he removed his underwear and laid them on top of the pants. The voice continued, "Remove your shirt, Brian."

"I don’t need to take off my shirt to go to the bathroom!", Brian yelled defiantly.

"The prisoner will remain silent and remove his shirt or he will be punished!", the voice threatened.

Brian removed his shirt reluctantly and laid it on top of the underwear. He glance around at Lori to see if she was witnessing his humiliation. He noted that she was pointedly looking away from him. "Good!", he thought, "At least she’s got some sense of propriety. They’re just trying to make me feel foolish in front of her." Brian heard the wind whistling outside of the thick wooden walls and was glad that the walls were chinked with mortar. If the walls had had an air leaks at all, he would have felt it on his bare skin. He stood there waiting for the speaker to issue the next command. Apparently they had decided to teach him a lesson. Minutes dragged by and nothing was heard from the speaker. His nakedness made him feel helpless and vulnerable. He started to go to the chamber pot and the voice said, "Freeze! The prisoner has not been given permission to move."

Brian stood in place and waited for the command to go to the chamber pot. After a few minutes the urge to go was overwhelming. He started to rock up and down on his heels in place. He had to go and he had to go immediately! Still the voice was silent. Finally he could take it no more and he said, "Please! May I go to the chamber pot?"

"The prisoner will restrain himself until he is given permission to go. You may hold yourself if you like, Brian," the voice said.

Brian felt a sudden urge to urinate and knew his bladder was about to empty itself whether he willed it or no. He grabbed himself like a little boy and held his penis shut with his hand. "God knows what they’ll do to me if I pee on the floor," he thought.

In a few minutes he found himself dancing in place as if he was five again. He looked around to see if Lori was looking at him and saw to his horror that she was staring at him in amazement at how he was acting. In a few minutes he had been transformed from a grown man wanting to urinate to a little boy holding his wee-wee and dancing around the floor needing to pee. "Please! Please may I pee?", Brian begged.

"Is Brian going to be a good boy?", the voice asked maliciously.

"YES! PLEASE! I’ve got to go NOW!", Brian screamed.

"Brian may go potty," the voice said.

Brian rushed over to Lori’s side of the bed and got down on his knees. He reached under the bed with one hand to pull out the chamber pot while he held his penis with the other. Brian barely got the lid off in time before the pressure exceeded his ability to restrain it. Brian sighed as he released his penis and the pee rushed out of him. When he was finished, he shook himself and covered the pot, then slid it back to it’s place underneath the bed. He got up, went back to his side of the bed and began to pick up his shirt to put it on. "Freeze!", the voice commanded, "The prisoner will take his clothes and put them in front of the trapdoor."

"I will NOT!", Brian said.

The voice from the speaker didn’t reply to Brian instead, after about two minutes, the door started rattling as if someone was unlocking it from the outside. The door swung outwards to reveal two strong women dressed in work shirts and jeans standing in front of the door. Lori was surprised to see that one of the guards was the corpsman who had given her the shot of antivirus. They rushed into the room with their meter long stun batons raised. The first on cracked Brian on the side of the right knee with the baton, causing a vicious blue spark to sizzle between the baton and his unprotected skin as one of the pairs of metal contact rings made contact with him. Brian screamed as his world seemed to explode in pain. The muscles of his stricken leg contracted violently and he fell to the floor on his side. The other guard struck him across the buttocks with her baton and he jerked again, this time with the other leg. The first guard laid a blow across his back and Brian screamed anew as blows began raining down on him from all sides. The tried to roll away from the punishment batons, but his body refused to obey his commands. He lay supine on the floor between the guard’s feet. His entire body was racked by electrically induced spasms as they struck him again and again with their batons. Brian screamed in torment as each blow caused a new set of muscles to begin quivering uncontrollably. After a while, Brian’s screams became hoarse and weak. They slowed the pace of the beating and became more selective with their strikes; picking sites that had not felt the current from their batons. He begged them to stop with every ragged breath he could catch between blows, but they ignored him and grimly continued the punishment. Soon his screams were reduced to helpless whimpers of agony as he lay on the floor twitching. When his whimpers became mindless mewls of pain they stopped to consider their victim. The first guard bent over him and said, "Are you going to be a good boy now or do we have to continue?"

"No!! Please, no more! I’ll be good! Please don’t hit me anymore! I’ll do whatever you say!", Brian whispered.

"You’ve been a very naughty boy. You don’t deserve to wear clothes. Isn’t that right, Brian?", the guard asked.

Brian remained silent and the guard delicately put the tip of her baton between his legs and rested it against his scrotum. She flashed a crooked smile and said, "Isn’t that right, Brian?"

Brian continued his silence, ignorant of the fact that he was just a finger’s squeeze away from the worst pain he would ever feel in his life. The guard smiled and said, "As you wish, Brian. Naughty boys must be punished!" and she clamped down on the actuating button, releasing the baton’s full power.

Brian screamed hideously as the current ran up through the skin of his scrotum and spread over his pubic area. His back arched as the current triggered the nerves of his spine and caused muscular contractions to ripple in it’s wake. His penis became erect as the artificially induced tetany caused the vascular tissue of his penis to bloat with blood. Brian went into seizure as the current hit his cerebellum and he lost control of his body. He orgasmed helplessly as the high voltage signal made the muscles around his prostate clamp down and force his semen out. Lori had an expression of utter horror as she witnessed Brian’s agony. She hadn’t bargained for this! He was only here to be questioned, not to be tormented like a caged animal. This was the kind of torture they did at the Camps!

The guard stepped back and let him bounce on the hard wooden floor until he stopped. When the convulsions died down, the guard stepped next to him and said, "Brian’s going to be a good boy from now on, isn’t he? He’s going to do everything we say or we’re going to have to come back in here and punish him again. Do you understand, Brian?"

Brian nodded his tear streaked face at the guard and whimpered in remembered pain. He realized that he was looking at the face of the voice from the speaker. Her pleasant smile belied the viciousness that lay beneath her good-natured appearance. Brian was willing to do anything she wanted if only she wouldn’t touch him with her baton again. His erection wilted under her gaze and his penis attempted to retract into his body for safety. Within seconds, only an inch of his penis was exposed, making him look like he had never sexually matured. Semen dripped from it’s tip and ran down the sides of his tiny organ. She grinned and said, "I think you’re too immature to be allowed to walk around unassisted. Don’t you agree, Brian? From now on, I want you to get on your hands and knees when you get off the bed. You can crawl to the chamber pot to do your business. When you get finished you can crawl back to your side of the bed until I say it’s okay to get back in the bed. Do you understand, Brian?"

Brian nodded and turned his head over to the side. The guard smiled again and said, "Awww, little Brian is embarrassed to crawl on his hands and knees. Don’t be embarrassed, Brian! Lots of people your age crawl on their hands and knees. Your friends in the Reform Camps make people do it all the time! Only they make them crawl over broken glass. I’m not nearly as nasty as that. I just want you to obey me, I don’t want to hurt you. If you’re good, I won’t have to punish you. I know how much it hurts you when I have to use the baton on you. The guards in the Camps use stun their shock batons to make people suffer. I don’t like seeing you suffer, I only want you to be agreeable. You want to be agreeable, don’t you Brian?"

Brian nodded and she continued, "That’s a good boy! We’re going to get along just fine. I’m going to give the orders and you’re going to do whatever I say, aren’t you Brian? Just think of me as your babysitter, Brian. I don’t want to hurt you, but I’m not going to put up with disobedience. If you’re naughty, I’m going to punish you. Do you understand? Since you seem to like government authority so much, I’m going to let you see how it feels to have everything you do be controlled by someone else. If a week or two, you’ll see how easy it is to have someone to make all your decisions for you. It’ll be just like being a little boy again. You won’t have to make any decisions on your own. I’ll tell when to eat and when to take a nap. I’ll even tell you when you can go potty. You won’t have to worry your little head about anything, I’ll do all the worrying for you. If you’re good, I’ll give you milk and cookies as a reward and if you’re naughty, I’ll.......Well, you know what I’ll have to come in and do, don’t you Brian?"

Brian nodded again and she said, "Get up on your hands and knees, Brian. Come on, I haven’t got all day!"

Brian painfully turned over and slowly got to his hands and knees. He crouched in front of her and she reached down with her hand to tousled his hair playfully. "That’s a good boy, Brian. See? That wasn’t so hard! I’ll get easier and easier, I promise. Now crawl over to the bed and stay there until we leave. I’ll tell you on the speaker when it’s time to get back on the bed. If you’re a good boy, maybe in a day or two I’ll let you play on the floor all you want. Won’t that be nice? Until then, just do as I say and you’ll be fine, okay?", she smiled.

Brian left a trail of semen as he crawled over to his side of the bed. The guard waited until he got to his place, then said, "Brian, turn around and look at the mess you’ve made on the floor. Do you see that? You’ve leaked everywhere! I’m going to wipe up your mess for you this time, but if you make another mess like that on the floor again, I’m going to have to put you in diapers! You won’t be allowed to use the chamber pot then! I’ll give your girlfriend on the bed a stack of diapers and she can clean up your messes for you!"

The guard picked up his clothes and made an impromptu cleaning cloth with them to mop up the mess. She bent over and quickly wiped the semen from the wooden floor while the other guard watched over Brian. Brian hung his head in shame and stared at the floor until the guard finished and left the room. He had never felt as humiliated in his entire life as he did at that moment. He had been completely under the guard’s control. He was sure that if they had shocked him before he had used the chamber pot, he’d have peed everywhere like a toddler. The thought made him shiver with shame at how easily he had physically broken. Brian resolved not to tell the guards anything useful about the President’s plans. They could make him scream, but they couldn’t make him talk!

The speaker over the door crackled and the guard’s voice said, "Okay, Brian! You can go to bed now. Upsydaisy! That’s right! Get into bed like a good boy!"

Brian climbed into bed and lay down beside Lori. He was embarrassed to be naked while she was still fully clothed, but he had no choice. Somehow the fact that she was dressed made him feel even more naked and vulnerable than if she had been naked like him. Brian pulled the corner of the bedspread over his hips and crotch for propriety’s sake and lay his head on the pillow in physical and emotional exhaustion. Lori reached over him and pulled the coverlet completely over his body before hugging him close to her. She wasn’t particularly sympathetic to anyone in the government, but his torture had made her feel protective. She put her arm around him and pulled him close to her as the speaker over the door said, "That’s very good, children! It’s too early for you to be up! Get some more sleep and when you wake up, I’ll bring you your breakfast. You’re having oatmeal today! Won’t that be yummy?"

Brian shuddered at the sound of the guard’s voice, making Lori feel like she was comforting a little boy who had been frightened by thunder. She pulled his head close to her breasts and made quiet murmuring noises to comfort him. A small sob escaped Brian’s lips as she stroked the back of his head with her hand. She decided that as soon as he was asleep, she would give him a small dose of gas to knock him out and then she would go have some words with the Commander! Lori was offended by the guard’s behavior. "Questioning was one thing, but she refused to be a party to torturing another human being! And threatening to diaper him was ridiculous! She might diaper a small child who hadn’t learned to be potty trained, but she had no intention of changing a man’s diapers! What was that fool guard thinking of? She was a intelligence operative, not a nanny!", she thought.

After about ten minutes, Brian’s breathing slowed and became more abdominal. Lori waited until he began to snore and reached into her pocket for the knockout gas. She shot a small puff under his nose and waited thirty seconds before looking up at the speaker and saying in a normal tone of voice, "Alright, you can let me out now. I’ve gassed him."

The door opened and Lori carefully extricated herself from Brian’s unconscious body before getting out of bed. She told the guard in a curt tone, "I need to see the Commander immediately. Take me to her now!"

When she walked into the office, the Commander was seated at her desk. The Commander indicated that she should sit in the chair in front of her desk with a causal wave of her hand and Lori smoothed the back of her dress under her as she sat down. "What’s the problem, Lori? It looked like you had everything under control in there. As far as we can tell, he’s coming along nicely."

"Under control?", Lori said with barely contained rage, "Is that what you call it? That guard you’ve got watching us is sadistic! Do you know the kind of threats she was making? Do you know what she did to Brian?"

The Commander nodded and said, "I was watching on the monitor the entire time. The guard was operating under direct orders. She did nothing in there that hadn’t been specified by her orders."

"Are you saying that you ORDERED her to behave like that?", Lor said accusingly.

"I did. And before you get any ideas about reporting me, I’d like you to take a look at this."

The Commander tossed a thick manila folder over her desk to Lori. Lori leaned forward in her chair and took the folder from the desk. She opened it and saw the title of the papers within. It read, "Interrogation techniques to be used with high ranking government officials in conjunction with experimental agent X-Vir329A". At the bottom of the title page that was a large warning that read, "Top Secret, To Be Distributed On A Need To Know Basis Only!" Underneath the warning was the authoring department, "Department of Psychological Warfare". Lori was mildly surprised, she wasn’t aware that the Revolutionary Army had a Psychological Warfare department.

"Go to the section on ‘Initial Treatment’," the Commander suggested mildly.

Lori turned to the relevant section and read to her horror and exact description of the guard’s behavior. Everything was detailed in the outline, including the guard’s threat to diaper Brian. Lori was shocked. Who had conceived this plan? It read like something a sociopath would invent. The Commander saw her expression and said, "Don’t say it. I know what you’re thinking. I thought the same thing the first time I read it. Do you agree that the guard was acting under orders?"

Lori looked at the document with distaste and said, "Yes, Commander."

The Commandeer nodded and said, "Do you find that the guard exceeded her orders in any way?"

"No, Commander, but...", Lori replied and started to voice her objections to the plan.

The Commander held up her hand to stop Lori’s reply and said, "I don’t like this any more than you do, but we’re soldiers in an army. Whether we like our orders or not is beside the point. We have our orders and our job is to execute them to the best of our abilities. I’d like you to know that the first time I gave the guard these orders, she reacted in much the same way you did. None of us likes to do this, we’re not sadists. But we have a job to do and we’re going to do it! Is that understood?"

"Yes, mam," Lori answered crisply.

The Commander nodded with a grim smile on her face and said, "Now, if you’ll sit there and be quiet for a minute, I’ll explain what’s going on and what we’re trying to accomplish. I’d like you to know that we’ve done this to three prisoners here and haven’t had any problems so far. You’re not the first inside operative to raise objections."

"How many have objected so far?", Lor asked.

"Every one!", the Commander answered with a smile.

The Commander when on to say, "You were selected for this mission because of your ability to empathize with people. We expect you to be sympathetic to the prisoner’s problems. This plan depends on your ability to show the prisoner that you care about him as a human being. Are you familiar with the Stockholm Syndrome?"

"Yes," Lor answered, "Wasn’t that discovered when some hostages were held on an airliner by some terrorists? I remember something about the hostages seeing the terrorists as their friends. Is that it?"

"Exactly!", the Commander answered, "The terrorists controlled every aspect of the hostage’s lives. They told the hostages when to eat, when to sleep and when to go to the toilet. They became in effect, the hostage’s parents. Do you see what we’re trying to do here?"

Lori looked confused and said, "You’re trying to make Brian dependent on the guard?"

The Commander shook her head and said, "No, Lori. You’re the target we want him to attach himself emotionally to. We are trying to produce a state of childlike dependence in Brian. That episode you just witnessed was designed to make him feel helpless and vulnerable. What we’re trying to do is break down his adult viewpoint and make him dependent on you. We expect you to hold him and be kind to him when the guards are cruel to him. By tomorrow, he’ll run to you for comfort whenever he feels threatened. You’re going to play the part of the nurturing woman. In effect, you’re going to become his mother."

"What’s the point of all this?", Lori demanded, "Why can’t we just give him truth serum or something?"

"Truth serum doesn’t guaranty that the prisoner is actually telling the truth. The prisoner may inject his fantasies under questioning. Also, there may be problems getting the prisoner to explain technical details under the influence of the drug. With this technique, we don’t have that problem. He’ll be glad to tell you everything he knows. He parade his ideas in front of you to please you. Lori, I know it seems cruel to do this to him, but do you realize how many lives depend on the information we get from him? We have to do it! A civil war is brewing in America and we need every piece of information we can get on the government’s plans."

"I understand that, but I’m not sure that this is the best way to go about it," Lori answered.

The Commander nodded her understanding and said, "By the end tonight he’ll be so tractable there’ll be no reason to punish him. The virus will have infected every cell in his body and the DNA replacement will be in full swing. His body will begin changing before your eyes. We want you to be prepared emotionally for that, Lori. We can’t have you gassing him and coming out to complain during that phase of the questioning. We simply won’t have time. We’ll need you to get every iota of information from him before the amnesia kicks in. This is one aspect of the treatment I don’t believe anyone has discussed with you. Have you been told that the subject’s don’t always have amnesia at a stage that we would prefer?"

"No, I was under the impression that every subject experiences amnesia at some point of the treatment," Lor answered.

"They do, but some subjects are more resistant than others. It’s imperative that we withhold the antivirus until the subject is no longer a danger to us. Some of the subjects require that we withhold it until they are utterly incapable of doing the slightest thing for themselves. They lose the ability to speak and walk and become completely incontinent. They have to be fed and diapered like babies. It’s not the kind of end we would prefer for even the worst of our prisoners but the possibility has to be faced.

Even if we win the war, we don’t want any information about this process leaking out. It would affect the way the public perceives our plans to repair the damage the government has done to the ecology and the population. Virally vectored DNA replacement is one of the main techniques we plan to use to undo all the evil that the government has done in the past fifty years. Without it, we’ll be in the same boat as the government is now; inundated in insect pests, ravaged by antibiotic-resistant plagues and overwhelmed by genetically damaged citizens. Our scientists have found cheap, ecologically sound methods of raising genetically engineered plants to produce oil and plastic manufacturing plants that will revolutionize industrial materials. We have stocks of engineered viruses that are bacteriophagic and reproduce at astonishing rates. We can knock out an antibiotic resistant infection by merely having the patient drink water laced with one of our viruses. Within twenty four hours, the virus will hunt down and kill every bacteria of a specific species in the patient’s body. This technique may prove to be the panacea of modern medicine; if the disease is caused by bacteria or damaged genetic structure we can cure it quickly, cheaply and without the side effects of the chemical approach. We can even use it to attack cancerous tumors! In the future, we plan to use it to extend the longevity of people. Imagine being able to live two hundred or three hundred years! The possibilities are endless! America must have this technique if we are going to solve the problems created by a hundred years of industrial abuse. Do you understand? We have no intention of allowing word of our abilities leak out before we’re ready to implement our plans," the Commander said grimly.

"I understand," Lori said, "It all seems to be so needlessly cruel to me. I understand now why the guard acted the way she did but this using this virus seems to be so vicious. Couldn’t they have come up with another way to question them? If they were going to spend the time researching the problem of how to make people more malleable, it seems to me that they would come up with a less round about method of interrogation."

The Commander smiled and said, "You’re right, it is round about. And the reason it’s round about is because this virus was never intended to be used the way we’re using it. This virus is the result of our researches into longevity. This particular strain won’t ever be given to the general public, but one very much like it will be used in the future to extend people’s lives indefinitely. We had no intention of creating anything that would break down a person’s psychological barriers. The discovery of this DNA sequence was entirely serendipitous! It was only when one of the researchers became accidentally infected with the virus he was working on, that we realized it’s potential for interrogation. As the virus changes the subject’s neurological structure he becomes disoriented and begins to babble like a child. All the subject’s cortical restraints are removed and he become amenable to questioning by someone he considers to be on his side. The amnesia is caused by the unraveling of the neural structure of the brain. The cells are rebuilt without the extensive network of dendrites that form associative memory. The result is a general loss of memory in the subject. If the virus infection is allowed to continue unabated, the subject’s brain will simplify until it has the same order of complexity as a newborn’s brain. We stop the process before it goes that far, but the prisoners lock their experiences with us into their brains too tightly to not allow some modification of their brains. Emotion is one of the mediators for the production of long term memory, you know. The worst subjects are the ones with a high IQ and excellent memories. They’re the ones whose minds we have to allow to disintegrate the furthest. The average person isn’t concerned with anything besides himself until he is well into his teenage years and beyond. It only takes a light touch of the virus to remove their memories of us. At worse their minds are reduced to the state they were at the age of nine or ten. Quite often they can be released with only minor damage to their thinking processes. Unfortunately that’s not the case with the prisoners we deal with here. They’re highly intelligent and usually possess phenomenal memories. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have obtained such high rank in the government. They’re the ones who have the information we need, not some poor sod from the streets.

Would you rather we used torture to get the information from Brian? We would if it was necessary, you know. Too many lives depend on the information we get from Brian to be squeamish about how we break him. Not everyone in the Revolutionary Army is as ethical as we are. Someone could be found who would be delighted to do whatever was necessary to destroy Brian’s mind. Think of how many people in the Army you’ve met who’ve lost a husband or wife in one of the Camps. Do you think they would care about Brian’s welfare? I seriously doubt it. Fortunately, we don’t have to subject our people to that kind of moral dilemma when we have a technique like this. We can break him down relatively painlessly and see that what’s left is happy and taken care of properly. That’s our responsibility, Lori. That’s our job and we’re going to do it, aren’t we?"

Lori sighed and said, "Yes, but I still wish we didn’t have to do it."

"So do I," the Commander said, "But that’s part of being an adult. Taking responsibility and doing your job whether you like it or not. Are you ready to go back in there now? Brian will need you when he wakes up. He’ll need to have someone he can trust when the virus starts taking effect. If you’re gone when he wakes, he’ll become suspicious that you’re not all you seem to be. We need him to trust you utterly. Are you up to it?"

"Yes, Commander," Lori sighed.

"Good. Then get going, you don’t have much time left," the Commander said.

Lori was escorted back to their makeshift cell and lay down in the bed where she had been when she called the guard. Brian barely stirred when she got into the bed again. The knockout gas was wearing off. In an hour or so, he would be completely free of it’s effects. He wouldn’t have the amnesia that he had had with the larger dose she had given him when she had kidnapped him. He would wake up without any after effects at all. The gas only caused amnesia in larger doses. Lori intended to use a large dose to remove his memories if he discovered who she really was.

Brian put his arms around her and she started to drowse. All she had to do was close her eyes to drift off to sleep. It had been a long day and they would be serving them breakfast in an hour or two. Lori closed her eyes and was asleep within minutes.

Brian awoke to the sound of the tray being slid through the trapdoor. A minute later, the guards voice roared over the speaker, "Breakfast time! Come on sleepyheads! Rise and shine! Brian I see you’re awake! Get out of bed and get the oatmeal for you and Lori!"

Brian stumbled out of bed and started to walk to the door. He was stopped by the guard’s voice coming from the speaker, saying, "Brian! Freeze! Don’t you remember what I told you? Get down on your hands and knees immediately!"

Brian hastily got down on his hands and knees and crawled over to the bowls in front of the door. It was humiliating to be made to crawl, but it was the only way they were going to get breakfast. When he got there, he found a huge bowl of oatmeal with a spoon and cup of milk for each of them. Brian pulled them towards him, then got behind the bowls and pushed the bowls and cups toward the bed in front of him as far as he could. Then he crawled a step forward and pushed them forward again. Lori sat on the bed and leaned over to get help him with the food. She took the bowls from him as soon as they came in reach and laid them on the foot of the bed. Then she took the cups of milk and held them in her hand while he got into bed again. Brian got settled and she showed him how he could hold the cup in the space between his legs if he sat cross-legged like her. Then they sat down to eat their oatmeal. Brian found the taste of the oatmeal a little sweet for his adult tastes. The guards had put a pat of butter in the middle and laced the thick oatmeal with honey and cream. As Brian ate, he got used to the flavor of the honey and cream and he began to wolf down the contents of the bowl. Lori ate her oatmeal in a more refined way, taking smaller spoonfuls and eating rapidly but efficiently. The food had awaked his hunger and he felt like he was starving. He couldn’t remember oatmeal tasting that good since he was a small child. When he was done, he laid the bowl on the bed and took the handle-less cup between both hands and drank deeply. He put the cup down and looked at Lori with a smile of repletion and suddenly let a huge belch escape. Lori laughed at his embarrassed expression of surprise and patted him on the back saying, "If you’re going to eat like that, you’ve got to expect to swallow some air along with your food. Next time, slow down a little. They’re not going to take it away from us. Look at the size of the bowls they gave us. They have no intention of starving us. I’m sure the guards are in no hurry to get the bowls back. As long as we’re eating, they’ll leave us alone. We don’t have anything better to do anyway. Slow down and enjoy your meal next time."

Lori’s patting brought the results she had intended and Brian belched again helplessly. She smiled and continued to eat until she was finished, then drank her milk. When she had emptied her cup, she piled the bowls in each other and stacked the cups on top and said to the speaker, "May I put the cups and bowls by the door, please?"

The response came quickly and the guard answered, "Yes, Lori. Put them close to the trapdoor so I won’t have to reach in too far."

Lori got up from the bed and laid the stack of bowls and cups in front of the trapdoor, then went back to the bed and sat on the edge. She looked at the speaker and asked, "May I sit on the edge of the bed? It’s painful to have to lay down all the time."

"Certainly, Lori. Go right ahead," came the amused reply.

"How do you manage to get them to let you walk around and sit on the edge of the bed like that?", Brian growled.

"I told you, Brian. I’m a survivor. All you have to do is be polite and they’ll respond in the same way. If you defy them, you get a beating and they’ll take away your privileges. It’s pointless to make them angry. I’m polite because that’s the easiest way to get what I want. Try it sometime, Brian. You catch a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar!", Lori replied.

"My mother used to tell me that when I was a child," Brian said.

"And she was right too!", Lori said with a woman’s knowing smile.

They heard the cups in front of the door rattle and saw a hand pulling the dinnerware through the trapdoor. A minute later, they heard the sound of the latch on the trapdoor being slid into place and Lori said, "I guess that’s it until lunch. What would you like to do, Brian? There’ not much point in going back to sleep. They’re going to make us take a nap anyway after a while. Would you like to talk?"

Brian shook his head and lay down on the bed. He had gotten used to his nakedness and it had stopped bothering him that she was clothed and he wasn’t wearing any clothes. It still made him feel....younger, but somehow that didn’t seem to bother him when he was around Lori. Brian supposed his subconscious saw her as a mother figure. She reminded him of how his mother looked when he was a child.

A few minutes later Brian was sound asleep on the bed. Lori watched him as he snored. The virus was beginning to take effect; although the room was cool, his bare skin was perspiring heavily. The small wrinkles of middle age around his eyes had disappeared and his skin looked healthier. The small pot belly he had had before going to sleep earlier had melted away. Lori supposed that his racing metabolic processes had converted his fat to supply the cells with the energy they needed to effect the changes that were being made in his body. That’s probably why he had fallen asleep so easily too. If that was true, she could look forward to spending the rest of the week watching him sleep. The trapdoor opened and small stack of paperback books topped by a pack of cards was deposited on the floor in front of the door by one of the guards. "Bless you!", Lori thought as she got out of the bed and went to get the books.

She dropped the pack of cards into her pocket and put the stack of books under the bed where she could reach them easily. Then she propped herself up on the pillows against the headstead with one of the books. Lori engrossed herself in the novel she had selected and the hours flew past. At one point Lori stopped reading and discretely availed herself of the chamber pot without waking Brian or asking the guard for permission. Then she returned to the bed and resumed reading her book.

The guard quietly announced the lunch was ready and Brian failed to wake. Lori got up and got the paper plates of sandwiches and cookies and put them on the bed before she went back to get the milk. She saw that the guards hadn’t been exactly fair with Brian. One of the plates had pastrami on rye while the other had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. "The fortunes of war," Lori thought to herself and happily began munching on the pastrami sandwiches. When she finished, she wiped her mouth with one of the paper napkins the guard had put by the plates and put her empty plate and cup by the door. Then she shook Brian awake and said, "Brian! Brian wake up! It’s time for lunch! Come on, sleepyhead! Wake up!"

Brian slowly returned from his deep slumber and sat up on the bed. Lori handed him his plate and said, "You were really out of it. You almost missed lunch. Here are your sandwiches. I’ve already eaten."

Brian looked at the plate piled high with sandwiches and wondered how he was going to eat all the food in front of him. He was ravenous. Brian began to wolf the sandwiches and soon the plate was empty. Brian was surprised how fast it had all gone. He didn’t think his stomach could hold that much food. Lori patted him on the back playfully and he let out a huge belch as Lori passed him his milk. "Her burping me has got to stop! What does she think I am, her baby?", Brian thought as he downed the milk in one long draught.

He sighed in satisfaction and Lori said, "I told you not to eat so fast. I’m going to have to start burping you after every meal if you continue to eat like that!"

Brian flashed her a look of irritation and said, "I guess I’ll put the plate by the door."

He spoke loudly in the general direction of the door, "May I get up and put my dishes away, please?"

"Certainly, Brian," the voice from the speaker cooed, "Don’t forget to crawl! Nanny doesn’t want to have to punish Brian now that he’s being so polite!"

Brian pointedly ignored the guard’s comment and got off of the bed on his hands and knees. Then he crawled to the door pushing his cup and plate in front of him. When he got there, he was suddenly struck by the need to urinate. He looked up at the speaker and said, "May I use the chamber pot, please?"

"Number one or number two?", came the answer from the speaker.

Brian held up one finger and the guard’s voice laughed and said, "Brian may go pee-pee if he needs to. Be careful and don’t wee-wee on the floor instead of in your potty!", the guard laughed.

Brian blushed hotly and crawled over to the chamber pot to pee. He pulled it out from underneath the bed and stood up on his knees to urinate. He lifted the lid from the pot and put it over to the side before he began. He caught Lori watching him with an amused grin on her face and found that he was unable to go. The guard’s voice laughed embarrassingly behind him and said, "What’s the matter, Brian? Is Nanny’s little boy having a hard time? Maybe she should bring you a potty chair for you to use! We could strap you in the chair all snug and tight and you could sit on it until you went. Would Brian like Nanny to do that to him?"

Brian blushed again and said angrily, "She’s looking at me! I can’t go if someone’s looking at me!"

"Of course she’s looking at you, Brian! What else is there to look at? I’m watching you too! All of the guards are watching you! Maybe I should save us all the trouble and break out the diapers. Then you could go whenever you needed to. I could have Lori check your diaper every hour or so to see if you’re wet or dirty so you wouldn’t get a nasty case of dydee rash. Would Nanny’s little boy like that? Wouldn’t it feel good to have Lori’s soft gentle hands cleaning your little tushie?"

Brian discovered to his horror that he was starting to get an erection. The thought of being diapered didn’t appeal to him, but the thought of having Lori’s hands caress him made him horny. The guard laughed uproariously and said, "Brian likes that idea, doesn’t he? What’s it to be, Brian? Are you going to use the potty or shall I get the diapers for you?"

Brian stood on his knees helplessly and tried to urinate. His erection made it impossible for him to pee. The voice behind him demanded, "Brian! Answer Nanny! Do you want to use the potty or not?"

"Potty!", Brian answered in exasperation.

"Would little Brian like some more time?", the guard asked sweetly.

"Yes, please," Brian answered in a slightly calmer voice. He turned to Lori and said, "Would you turn your head away, please?"

Lori nodded and got her book out from under her pillow. She opened it while Brian looked on in astonishment. "Wh...Where did you get that book?", Brian demanded.

"The guards gave it to me because I followed orders and behaved myself," she answered without looking up from the page, "I’m sure they would let you read too if you quit making trouble for them. Why don’t you be a good boy and go potty for them? They gave me a pack of cards too. When you’re finished on the pot we can play a game of cards."

Brian closed his eyes and pretended that he was all alone. A minute later he started peeing. He finished and the guard’s voice said, "Take some of the toilet paper and dry yourself, Honey! I don’t want you to make the bed wet!"

Brian took the roll of toilet paper and tore off a sheet, then wiped himself dry and put away the chamber pot. He climbed up on the bed and sat at the end with his back facing the door. Lori put down her book and took the pack of cards out of her pocket, saying, "What would you like to play, Brian? Fish, Hearts or Old Maid? I’m afraid that I don’t know any other card games."

Brian had played poker throughout his college years but had never learned to play Hearts or Old Maid. The only choice left open to him was Fish. He hadn’t played that game since he was a little boy. "If only she knew how to play Gin Rummy. Maybe if I play a few games of Fish with her, she’ll let me teach her to play Gin Rummy," he thought.

He sighed and said, "Fish!" and watched as she dealt the hand. Brian started falling asleep during the third game. It was impossible for him to keep his eyes open. Finally he gave up and said, "I’m getting sleepy. It’s so hot in here! Why don’t we finish the game later?"

Lori nodded and put the cards away while he lay down on the bed next to her. She noticed that he was covered in sweat. She wondered why he was feeling so hot. If he had a fever, he should have been cold from the temperature difference. She chalked it up to a side effect of the virus and went back to reading her book. She had only read two pages before she heard Brian start snoring softly beside her.

After about three hours Lori got up and walked around the room for exercise. She noticed that Brian looked about twenty years old. He was still perspiring profusely and there was a dark ring of sweat around where he lay in the bed. She would have to ask the guards for a change of bed linen before she went to sleep that night. The door creaked open and there stood the guard with a huge rocking chair and a change of bed clothes. The guards brought in the rocking chair and set it in the corner of the room. Then they removed the chamber pot and replaced it with a hospital potty chair. The head guard smiled as she handed Lori the linens and said, "I saw what you were looking at on the bed. I thought you might need these."

She reached into her pocket and took out a pack of Player’s cigarettes and gave them to Lori, saying, "You can let Brian smoke some of these if you’d like. You’re not supposed to have them, but there’s little danger of him starting a fire with all of us watching him. Here’s a pack of matches."

Lori looked at the pack of matches and saw that they were from a restaurant in Toronto. It was a violation of security to let the prisoner know where he was, but Lori supposed that it would be okay if he knew that they were in Canada. There weren’t many places in the United States where the Revolutionary Army could have hidden them. She pocketed the cigarettes and matches and thanked the guard for her thoughtfulness. The guard told her she didn’t smoke but understood that smokers grew edgy if they were separated from their addiction too long. They wanted Brian to be relaxed when the time came. She added, "The new potty chair we ordered finally came in. I’m sorry you had to use the chamber pot, the last prisoner we had broke it before the virus took hold. We ordered it a month ago, but the supply truck just arrived. I suppose that the chamber pot served it’s purpose though. Brian is doing much better than the last prisoner we had. It took several sessions with the stun batons before he learned to behave himself. We were getting worried we’d really have to hurt him to make him manageable. I see that the virus has started to take hold of Brian. You’ve done a great job, he’s coming along nicely. You should be able to see the changes in his body already. By tomorrow, he should be in his early teens. We’d like you to start getting the meals for him and taking the plates away. We want to develop a sense of dependence in him as quickly as possible. Hang on to those cigarettes and matches so we won’t have to take them away from him, though. It will help if he has to ask you for a cigarette when he wants to smoke."

Lori agreed and watched as they closed the door and latched it. She took her book and sat down in the rocking chair to read until it was time for dinner.

When dinner arrived, the guards didn’t announce it. They just opened the trapdoor and slid it through. Lori put her book on the floor beside the chair and got up to get their dinner. She put the plates on the bed and pulled the rocking chair close to the bed so she could eat. It was ungainly, but better than trying to hold the plate in her lap. She decided to eat before she woke Brian. Once again, the guards had favored her with an adult meal while giving Brian a dinner that was more appropriate for a small child. Her plate had a nice breast of chicken with orange sauce with sides of green beans almondine and buttered new potatoes while his was a heaping mound of chicken tenders with green peas and mashed potatoes. She was going to have to ask them to give her something other than milk to drink in the future though, she was rapidly tiring of drinking milk with every meal. She thought that a cup of decaf would have been wonderful.

Lori finished eating and put away her plate before waking Brian to eat his meal. He gaped at the rocking chair and said, "How did you manage that? I thought we’re confined to the bed."

"You’re still confined to the bed, Brian, Dear. I was given privileges while you slept," Lori answered, "Eat your meal, Dear. It’s getting cold."

Brian ate his meal in silence wondering if she was growing attached to him. She hadn’t called him Dear before. The thought of making love to her made him horny and he put his plate on his lap to cover the semi-erection that had begun when the image of her laying before him naked appeared in his mind. "What is happening to me?", he thought, "My libido hasn’t been like this since I was in high school. I’ve got to control myself. I’m a prisoner of a group of terrorists. I can’t be thinking of making love to her in here! The guards will kill me!"

Brian finished his meal and Lori put his plates away without asking permission from the guards. "They let you walk around without asking permission too?", he exclaimed.

Lori at down and took out the package of Players and took one out, saying, "They gave me some cigarettes too. Would you like one? They told me it would be alright to give you one if you were good."

Brian reached eagerly for proffered cigarette and held it between his lips while she lit it for him. He took a deep drag in his mouth and exhaled the smoke extravagantly. Lori took another cigarette out and lit it, then relaxed into the back of the rocking chair. "I can’t understand why they’re treating you so nicely when they’re so strict with me," Brian said.

"It could be that you’re a high ranking government official while I’m only a minor agriculture functionary," Lori offered.

"It’s probably because you’re a woman. Rush Limbaugh said on his evening news show last week that the terrorists are almost all femin-nazis. They probably think they can convert you to their views if they’re nice to you," Brian countered.

"Could be. If they’re planning to convert me, they haven’t tried very hard. I wonder when they’re going to start questioning us? All they’ve done so far is to keep us locked up. They have to have some reason for keeping us here. It’s not like the country can’t go on without us. I imagine that they’ll have a replacement for me within a week. The proctors weren’t especially happy about having a woman in my job anyway. They’d jump at the chance to force my boss to replace me," Lori said.

"I don’t know about you, but the President needs me!", Brian said self-importantly, "Maybe that’s their plan."

"Then why are they holding me?", Lori asked.

"I don’t know," Brian answered, "I haven’t worked that part out yet. They’ll probably torture you after they’re through with me. They’re just softening you up so that you’ll be easier to question when they get around to it."

"Could be. In any case, there’s no point in worrying about it," Lori answered.

She held the cigarette between her long delicate fingers and regarded the smoke appreciatively before taking a puff and continuing, "I’m sure we’ll find out what they have in mind for us soon enough. In the meantime, I plan to relax and enjoy the rest. Why don’t you read one on the books they gave me? They didn’t tell me you are allowed to read, but I can’t imagine how they could object."

Lori reached under the bed and took out the stack of books to toss them on the bed. Brian looked through the books and said, "These are all banned! Look at this, "Stranger in a Strange Land"! Do you know what this is? It’s filth! They’re trying to corrupt our minds!"

"I seriously doubt that they idea of corrupting you with Science Fiction occurred to them, Dear. I read the book while I was in college and didn’t think anything of it then. Why don’t you relax? There aren’t any proctors looking over your shoulder watching what you read here, Brian. These books are probably part of the guard’s collection. You should try and be nicer to her, Brian. She might have other books that you’d be interested in."

Brian pawed through the books until he found one by a male author that he thought he might like. It was part of a series by Brian Weber modeled after Forrester’s Horatio Hornblower books. Lori had read most of the series and had enjoyed them immensely. Brian was going to be shocked when he discovered that the protagonist was a woman. It was obvious his ideas about women were juvenile. Lori knew that he’d grouch when he discovered that a man had based a series around the events in the life of a female space naval officer. She settled back and returned to her book. She decided to ignore his comments when he made them. She’d only have to listen to his comments for a day at most. After that, he’d be unable to remember how to read. Brian crawled over to her side of the bed and asked towards the door with one finger upraised, "May I go to the bathroom, please?"

"Certainly, Brian," came the guard’s reply from the speaker, "I’m sorry you don’t like my books. Maybe I could get a copy of the "Cat in the Hat" for you. Would you like that better? I think I saw a copy of "Winnie the Poo" in the library. Would you like me to get that for you?"

Brian winced at the thought of reading the "Cat in the Hat" but said politely, "No, thank you." as he got to his knees on the floor in front of Lori. She smiled at his appearance and said, "I don’t object to your position, Dear. You’re a very attractive man and I’m sure that all your girlfriends have enjoyed seeing you kneeling naked at their feet. But may I ask what you’re doing?"

"I’m looking for the chamber pot," Brian growled as he bent over to look under the bed.

Lori laughed and said, "It’s not there anymore, Dear. The guards took it away while you slept."

"Then what am I supposed to use to go to the bathroom in?" Brian whined.

"You might try using the potty chair in the corner by your side of the bed, Dear," Lori said with amusement.

"Oh!", Brian said, looking nonplused. He hadn’t noticed the potty chair. He had turned his back to that side of the room while his eyes where still unfocused from sleep and had not looked in that direction since he had woken up. He looked over the bed and sure enough, there was a white hospital style potty chair in the corner of the room. Brian noticed that there were permanently installed restraints connected to the hand rails of the chair that could be used to strap in a mentally impaired patient. He started to climb back up on the bed to go over to his side of the bed, but was stopped by the guard’s voice saying, "Get off of the bed, Brian! You can crawl over to the potty on the floor like a good boy."

Brian got back down on his hands and knees and began to crawl over to the other side of the bed. Lori watched his retreating bottom and thought that if she could arrange it, she’d see if the guards could be induced to give them a little privacy for some sex before he became incapable of the act. It had been almost a year since she had had any sex and the sight of him crawling around the room naked was beginning to affect her. She had seen his semi-erection and knew that he’d be ready anytime that she made the offer. Maybe if they made love beneath the sheets it would be enough privacy for Brian. Then all she’d have to arrange would be the guard’s silence while they made love. That shouldn’t be hard to do. She’d wait until Brian was asleep and ask if they would refrain from making comments if the two of them made love tomorrow morning. Surely he would still be physically able to perform in the morning. She had discovered in college that men were at their best in the morning for making love and she wanted to give Brian his best shot. After all, it was going to be his last.

Brian sat on the pot and relieved himself without feeling any shame at what he was doing. A week ago it would have been impossible for him to go in public but his continued nakedness was making him less self-conscious about his body. If they wanted to see him pee and poop, then let them. He didn’t care anymore. He finished and wiped himself before putting down the lid and going back to bed again. Lori looked at him as he got into bed and smirked, "Did everything come out alright, Dear?"

"It came out just fine," he grumbled and picked up his book to begin reading it again. He had only read a few pages when the book fell from his limp hands. He was sound asleep. Lori got up and took the book from beside him on the bed then returned to the rocking chair. She hoped he would be able to stay awake long enough for her to orgasm tomorrow morning. Lori read for a few hours and then signaled to the guards with her hands that she wanted to talk. The door opened and she had a long private discussion with the head guard. She agreed with Lori’s plan and told her that she had expected it. The other prisoners had been afforded the same opportunity by their babysitters too. There was something about having a man crawl naked around a woman’s feet that seemed to make them horny, the guard laughed. She promised to keep quiet and let them have their interlude uninterrupted. The guard told her that she agreed with Lori’s decision to wait until he got a little younger to make love to him. That way she’d be able to control him if things got out of hand. She told Lori not to wait too long or she was likely to be disappointed. Lori agreed and started to get ready for bed as the guard took the bowl from the potty chair to be emptied into the toilet in the hall bathroom. The guard returned and helped her change the sheets without waking Brian. Apparently the guard had been a nurse before she joined the Revolutionary Army and she had no problems changing the bed linens with Brian still in the bed. Lori undressed for the first time since her meeting with the Commander and draped her dress over the back of the rocking chair before she got under the covers. She wanted to surprise Brian in the morning with the sight of her nude body.

The next morning Lori woke before Brian and began to rub his crotch with her hand. He moaned fitfully in his sleep and turned over. Lori took that as an invitation and began rubbing his buttocks gently with her hand. He moaned again and turned back towards her to bury his head in her breasts. Lori took the sheet and threw it over him so they could lie next to each other with nothing between them. Then she began rubbing his bottom again. He moaned and slowly began to return to consciousness. Lori noted with a smile that his mouth was making unconscious movements like a baby searching for it’s teat. She lifted her left breast and playfully teased his lips with the tip of her nipple. Brian opened his boyish eyes to find her teat staring at his face. He started to suck on it, then suddenly remembered where they were. He drew back and said, "Lori! No! The guards will see us!"

Lori smiled and said, "The guards know all about it, Silly. I had a long talk with the guard last night while you were asleep. They don’t mind and they’ve agreed to keep quiet while we make love. The head guard even said it would be okay if we made love under the covers. She may be a member of the Revolutionary Army, but she’s still a woman, Honey. It’ll be alright. Just come to Mommy and let her make you feel better."

Lori reached down to his crotch and cupped his testicles in her hand. Brian was fully erect under the sheets and moaned again as she caressed his manhood. Brian gave in and began to suck her nipple. His need for her was too strong to deny a moment longer. He decided to give her the full treatment and began to bite her neck passionately. Lori moaned in response and grabbed his face between her hands and kissed him passionately. Brian replied by exploring her mouth with his tongue while he caressed her body with both hands. She lay back on her pillow and let him kiss her body from her neck down to her toes and work his way back up her legs again. When he got to her crotch, he spread her legs with his hands and began licking and kissing her most sensitive area. Lori shivered in delight as he inserted his tongue into her and worked the area around her clitoris. She orgasmed quickly and was starting to build up to another orgasm when he inserted his finger into her. Lori moaned in pleasure as he drove his finger deeper into her. "Honey," she said, "I want you in me NOW!"

He withdrew his hand and complied by getting on top of her and putting his hands beside her. Brian looked at her laying in front of him a minute before he committed himself. "She looks taller this morning," Brian thought to himself, "I should be able to reach over her head from this position and I can barely reach her shoulders. There’s something funny going on here!"

"Now, Brian! NOW!", Lori demanded.

Brian cast his worries to the wind with harlequin abandon and entered her. "God!", he thought as waves of pleasure rolled up from his crotch, "God help me! If this gets any better I’m going to pass out."

A wave of dizziness passed through him as he thrust home. Lori orgasmed again and Brian decided to quicken the pace. He began working himself up to the crescendo required for his own orgasm when suddenly he stopped. He shook his head and Lori said, "Are you alright, Darling? You’re not having a heart attack, are you?"

"No," he strangled out, "It’s nothing! It’s just a little dizziness. I’ll be alright in a minute."

Brian tried to start thrusting again but his erection had deflated in the interim. He put his hand to his crotch to try and restore his previous hardness but it was too late. His penis had returned to it’s normal size. Brian felt again and realized that something was drastically wrong. It hadn’t just returned to it’s normal size, it had gotten smaller! Brian felt around his crotch in a panic and discovered his pubic hair was gone! He was as hairless as a preadolescent! Brian rolled off of her and sat up in the bed with the sheet covering him. When he saw what had become of his manhood, he moaned in despair. He cupped his balls in his hand and felt the tiny testicles under the skin of his scrotum. They were less than half the size they had been when they started making love. His penis wasn’t a man’s pride anymore. It was the kind of penis you’d expect on a little boy! Brian put his face in his hands and began to cry. It was too much. First they had kidnapped him and then they had done this to him. Lori opened her eyes and saw the ten year old boy weeping on the bed in front of her. She sat up immediately and took him in her arms protectively. He was wet from sweat. She held him close while he sobbed over the loss of his manhood, stroking his hair with her hand and making soothing noises to comfort him. "What’s happening to me?", he quailed, "How did they do this to me?"

"I don’t know," Lori lied, "Don’t worry, Honey. I’m here and I’ll take care of you. I want you to remember that, Honey. I’ll take care of you no matter what happens."

"I’m getting younger by the minute. When is it going to stop? The President needs me! I can’t be a little boy! I’ve got to be there when the President starts his action against the Congress!", Brian cried.

Lori’s ears perked up when she heard him talking about the President’s plans. This was the reason she had been put in the room with him. She hoped the guards had the microphones turned up high and had all the tape recorders going. Lori said soothingly, "I’m sure the President will do just fine without you, Darling."

"But you don’t understand. The bomb is scheduled to go off tomorrow morning. I’ve got to be there!", Brian screamed, "I can’t be a little boy! I can’t! There has to be someone to advise the President when the members of Congress are killed! You don’t know what kind of chaos it will create when the troops start arresting people!"

"I thought you told me that the changes the President was making wouldn’t happen until next month!", Lor accused.

"I lied! I’m sorry security considerations forced me to do it! We couldn’t have word leaking out. Other than the President, I’m the only one who knows the exact timing of the coup! I have to be there to help the President manage the military!", Brian yelled.

"I’m sure that the Army won’t have any problem arresting the terrorists," Lori said calmly.

"Not the terrorists, Lori! The Religious Right! My plan goes into action tomorrow! The President is going to arrest surviving members of the Religious Right and have them sent to the Camps for execution! Don’t you see? I’ve got to be there!"

"But why would the President order the arrest of the Religious Right? They’re his friends aren’t they?", Lori asked to draw him out.

Brian was becoming irrational. The combination of the virus and the shock of seeing himself as a pre-pubescent boy had unhinged his mind temporarily and she wanted to make the most of the occasion. This was the moment that the Commander had warned her about.

He looked at her disdainfully and said, "You’re a girl! You don’t understand! That’s why girls shouldn’t be allowed to vote. Girls don’t know nothin’ about fightin’. O’ course the President has got to arrest those hymn singers. They don’t got any sense. They’re making a mess of everything. You’re smart, Lori! Don’t you understand? We got to beat them at there own game before they start arrestin’ us! They talk about bein’ good all the time, but they’s bad! Don’t you understand? The President picked me, picked ME, to be the one to make the plans for him. I’m necessary! I got to be there! He needs me!"

Lori held him close and began rocking him back and forth. He whimpered and continued, "You don’t understand! Nobody ever understands me. I went to school all those years and nobody understands me. All they ever did was laugh at me when I went to school! I’ll show them! I’m the President’s Advisor! I’m smart! I came up with a plan that nobody will be able to figure out until it’s too late. Nobody understands the plan but me! Even the President doesn’t understand! That’s why I got to be there when they let the balloon go."

"Balloon?", Lori asked.

Brian shook his head in irritation and said, "Don’t be dumb, Lori. I thought you were smart. You know what I mean, Whatchamacallit?...When the balloon goes up? You know, when it all starts happenin’. I planned it out all careful like. It’s going to be like the Reich.....Reich...Aww, I can’t remember the word."

"Reichstag?", Lori said helpfully.

"That’s it. You’re not so dumb after all," he beamed back at Lori, "Yeah, it’s goin’ to be like the Reichstag all over again. Only this time there’ll be people in the building when the bomb goes off. We don’t need Congress anymore, Lori. Can’t you see that? They just get in the way of the President. Just like that dumb old Constitution. He’s goin’ to get rid of that too! We’ll blame it all on the Holy Rollers! That’s what the President calls them! We’re going to take all the niggers and wops and put them in the Camps too! There won’t be any criminals in the streets when the President gets finished. You’ll see. That’s what’s wrong with America. There are too many chinks and wops running the country. He’s gonna take all the money away from the filthy kike bankers too! The President will take care of them, you’ll see! In a week they’ll just be black smoke floatin’ over the countryside not hurtin’ nobody. He gonna make women stay home and take care of their men too! We ain’t gonna let women vote no more. That’s what’s wrong with this country. Girls got no business tellin’ boys what to do! ‘Les it’s a mommy tellin’ her baby boy what to do, a woman got no business tellin’ ANY male what to do! It ain’t right! Women should stay home and take care of their homes and husbands like they oughta. The President told me I gonna help him keep his promise to make a "Clean and Godly America" and I gotta be there to help him. Don’t you see? Only now I’m a little boy again and I’m locked up! You gotta help me, Lori! You’re smarter than any old President! If I ‘splain it to you, can you go and tell him?"

Lori looked at the little boy in her arms and saw that he had physically regressed even further while he had talked. His antisocial belligerence had surprised her at first but then she understood that his attitudes were being affected by the virus. She was listening to how he had sounded when he was a child. His father must have been a fierce racist for him to have spouted that sort of garbage at such an early age. His speech patterns were those of a typical eight year old and his thinking was becoming fuzzy. "How am I supposed to tell the President if we’re locked in here?", she wondered to herself as she said, "Tell me everything, Honey, and I’ll do what I can for the country. I don’t know how we’re going to get out of here though, we’re still locked in."

Brian waved his hand airily and said, "Awww, I’ll think of somethin’. I told you I’m smart. I don’t expect a girl would be able to figure her way out of here anyhow! I just need you to drive the car when I figure out a way to get one. My legs are too short to reach the pedals. You jus’ tell the President you’re my girlfrien’ and then he’ll listen to you. You listen to me and I’ll tell you the plan. If you don’t understan’, just ask and I’ll ‘splain."

Lori said, "Go ahead, Brian. I’m listening."

Brian detailed every aspect of his plan to Lori, proudly pointing out how clever he was at each juncture of the scheme to turn the United States into a true dictatorship. Lori listened carefully and turned the session into a full and willing confession of the President’s conspiracy. As he talked, Brian continued to regress until he looked like he was about five years old. He began to ramble as if he was a little boy explaining his grand plan to make the world a better place. He gesticulated wildly and punctuated his monologue with noises like "bang" and "pow" and "rat-a-tat-tat" to demonstrate how the guns would sound when they executed the bad guys. After a while, Brian started running down. His frantic energy seemed to have expended itself and left him empty and hopeless. He glanced around the room nervously as if he expected the guards to rush into the room at any minute. His young face became lined with worry and fear. He looked up into Lori’s serene eyes hoping to find the inner peace that had escaped him. Lori saw the anxious look on his face and said, "Don’t worry yourself, Honey. It’ll all work itself out. You’ll see!"

He hugged Lori as hard as he could and said, "I’m scared, Lori."

Lori patted his back comfortingly and said, "I know, Darling. Don’t worry, Sweetiepie. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be right here to take care of you."

"Promise?", he said in a plaintive voice.

"I promise," Lori replied kindly. She thought of the little boy she had helped create and thought of how lonely and frightened he’d be if she abandoned him to the Canadian authorities. With the information she had gotten from him, the Civil War would be over in a few days. Her part in it was over. She looked at Brian in a new light. She had always wanted to have a child of her own. Maybe if she talked to the Commander, they would let her keep him. He had been such a frightening adult but as a little boy he was adorable. It wouldn’t be long until the neurons in his brain with unravel to such an extent that he’d forget his adult life and regress into a little boy completely. Lori picked him up in her arms and wrapped the blanket from the bed around his tiny nude body, then carried him to the rocking chair. She nestled his head against her breast and rocked him for a few minutes while she considered what being the mother of a five year old would be like. Lori made her decision and kissed him on the forehead saying, "Would you like me to be your Mommy, Brian?"

"You can’t be my mommy, Lori," came the muffled reply, "My mommy died. Daddy said she’s never coming back."

"How old were you when you’re mommy died, Brian?", Lori asked.

"I was this many," Brian replied, holding out eight fingers.

"Didn’t your father get another mommy for you?", Lori asked.

"No! He said she was the only good woman he had ever knowed. He said he was never gonna marry again! She got herself mugged and she died. Daddy said that some nigger killed her!"

"You shouldn’t call black people ‘niggers’, Dear. It’s not nice," Lori chided gently.

"Mommy used to tell me that too. But after she died, they were all Daddy talked about," Brian told her.

"How did you feel about you’re mommy leaving, Brian? Were you angry with her? Did you want her to come back?", Lori asked.

"I was mad at her. Then I got scared. Daddy told me I had to be a man and not cry, so I didn’t. I missed my mommy," Brian responded with a voice that was filled with tears.

"I’d like to be your mommy, Brian. Would that be okay with you? I promise I won’t leave you like your mother did," Lori said sincerely.

"You’re not my mommy," Brian said with a child’s simple logic.

"But I can be if you’ll let me. All you have to do to have a mommy again is say, ‘Yes’ and I’ll take care of the rest. You need someone to take care of you now, Bri-Bri. You’re too little to take care of yourself. Let me be your mommy," Lori asked.

Brian snuggled closer to her and said, "Alright, mommy. Are you going to tell the President what I told you?"

"No, Bri-Bri. He wants to hurt people. Do you want to hurt anybody?", Lori asked.

"I did when I didn’t have a mommy. I was angry with everybody ‘cause she left. I was angry for a long, long time," Brian replied.

"How long were you angry, Brian?", Lori asked.

"Since she died. I don’t feel like that now," Brian replied.

"That’s good. Mommy has some friends that are going to stop the President from hurting anyone again. So you don’t have to worry about what he’s going to do," Lori said.

"You’re not going to tell them are you? I don’t want them to be mad at me! I was only playing at being important. I didn’t really mean it!", Brian exclaimed.

"Hush Bri-Bri! Mommy knows you didn’t. Mommy won’t have to tell her friends anything. I think they know about it already," Lori said.

"Good!" Roger said, "I want to stay here with you, Mommy! I didn’t like playing with the President anyhow. He’s mean!"

Brian looked up into his new mother’s eyes and said sincerely, "I love you Mommy!"

Lori looked down at her new son with tears of joy in her eyes and said, "I love you too, Bri-Bri!" He hugged him tightly and he laid his head against her bosom.

"I’m hungry, Mommy!", Brian whined.

"I know, Bri-Bri. I think the guards are busy right now. Let’s lie down and take a little nap until they bring us our lunch, Sweetie. You can lay next to Mommy and she’ll hold you and keep you warm."

"But I can’t sleep, Mommy! I’m hungry!", Brian complained.

"Hush, baby. Mommy has something that will help you sleep," Lori replied.

She got up from the rocking chair with Brian in her arms and reached into the pocket of her dress with one hand, then carried him over to the bed. Lori laid him down carefully and got into bed beside him, pulling the sheet over both of them. Once he was tucked in comfortably, Lori said, "Close your eyes, Baby. It’s time to go to sleep."

Brian closed his eyes and Lori gave him a tiny puff of knockout gas from the aerosol can concealed in her hand. Brian went out like a light. Lori closed her eyes and fell asleep immediately. She woke to the sound of the door to their cell being unlatched several hours later. She sat up, rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and waited for the news of what the information she had obtained had done.

The door opened and the Commander walked in, saying, "We got the word out to our supporters in Congress in time before the bomb blew. Apparently Brian’s abduction threw the President into a tizzy and he jumped the gun. Fortunately, without Brian’s help he was unable to get any cooperation from the military. We weren’t able to get Congress to recess so the building could be searched. Most of the leaders of the Religious Right were killed in the explosion. We put the information on the Internet for everyone to see. There’s been a general uprising in the country. Brian’s words were transcribed as he spoke them and made available for the general public. Most of the police have either gone over to our side or are holed up in fortified compounds. We’ll get them out eventually but for now they’re bottled up where they can’t do any harm to anyone but themselves. The President was arrested while he was trying to convince the Air Force to initiate nuclear strikes on American cities. I’ve been told that the Air Force officer he was talking to was Black. The officer decided that the President wanted to commit nuclear genocide with the Black population. The President blew his cork and started screaming that he didn’t want any niggers under his command."

The Commander grinned and rolled her eyes up to the ceiling while shaking her head and said, "It must have been quite a sight! I wish I could have been there!"

The Commander continued, saying, "The underground videos we made of the Camps are showing on every television channel. It looks like the month I spent traipsing around in the bush video taping one of the Camps with telescopic lenses and shotgun mikes wasn’t wasted. The reaction of the pubic is uniform abhorrence of the proctor’s Camps. Lynch mobs formed spontaneously in several cities to track down and execute escaped members of the security forces and their adherents. In Detroit, the Black population rose en masse and took to the streets. This time they didn’t riot and burn their neighborhoods. They marched on the local Security Headquarters and demanded all the prisoners be released to them. The police stayed out of the fray and let the mob do as it pleased. I think they must have been afraid that if they interfered, they would be next. The Security forces called out the National Guard to assist them. Unfortunately for the proctors, most of the Guard was composed of minority troops. They took one look at what was happening and went home. Most of them at least. The rest of them joined the mob and added their firepower to the mob. The proctors didn’t have a chance against LAW missiles and rocket propelled flamethrowers. They gave up their prisoners as a gesture of goodwill to try to appease the mob. It didn’t work. The mob burned the place to the ground without letting a single proctor escape! It was another Waco! I’ve received reports that this is happening all over the country! The proctors are finished!

It will take a few months to mop up, but the religious dictatorship is defunct. We intend to put the President on trial for mass murder but frankly, I don’t think he’ll last that long. I’m told he’s become a raving lunatic. He’s tried to commit suicide once already and they have under ‘heel and toe’ watch, i.e., twenty four hour surveillance, until the trial. The speed of this thing is incredible! Who would have thought that America could have been turned upside-down in the space of a few hours?

By the way, I heard about your offer to Bri-Bri and I agree with you. I don’t want to abandon him to the Canadian Authorities. If you want to be his mother, the Revolutionary Army has no objection. As on this moment, you’re on detached duty to see to the care of your prisoner. You’ll remain in the pay of the Army so there’ll be no need to worry about money. We’ll get the two of you set up in a safe house here in Canada."

Lori smiled at the Commander and said, "You expected me to be his mother from the very beginning, didn’t you?"

"Absolutely! I told you we did a psychological profile on you, didn’t I? I didn’t expect that you would react any differently than any of the other inside operatives we used before," the Commander said.

"You mean they became the mothers of the men they interrogated?", Lori asked in surprise.

"Every last one!", the Commander said with a smile, "And now the mothers are living very happily ever after with their new sons. As an added bonus, we’ve given the mothers the modified virus to retard aging. I sorry I wasn’t able to tell you about that before. We didn’t want the women to volunteer to be the boy’s mothers just for the opportunity to be treated with the antiagathic virus. We wanted to be sure that the offers were sincere."

The Commander looked at her watch and said, "It’s past time for lunch. The guards are bringing Brian some clothes to wear. Why don’t you get him dressed and join us for lunch? I’ve got some paperwork to finish. I just held a handfasting for two of the guards and I need to clear up the paperwork."

"Two guards? Two WOMEN guards? With each other? And isn’t ‘handfasting’ a Pagan term for marriage?", Lori asked.

"Right on both counts! And don’t look so surprised! It’s not my job as Commander to say what my people’s religion should be or their sexual orientation for that matter. They wanted to get married, so I married them. As the Commander of an independent command in wartime it’s both my privilege and my duty. They asked for a Pagan ceremony, so that’s what they got. I married them right after we got the news that the President had been arrested and Washington had fallen to our troops. That’s what we’ve been fighting for, right? The right to choose?"

"But you don’t seem like a witch!", Lori exclaimed.

"As a matter of fact, I’m a Methodist. But that has nothing to do with my duty to my people. If two women want to get hitched, the Revolutionary Army doesn’t care. If it makes them happy, we’re pleased to oblige. The Religious Right was correct on that point, there are lesbians in the Revolutionary Army. Also Gays, Witches, Hispanics and just about any other minority you can think of. The sad thing was that the Religious Right never realized that in the aggregate, the minorities are actually the majority in America. It’s only when you divide people up into small groups that they look like minorities. Those same minorities managed to overthrow the government of the United States in a single day! Well, I’ve got to be going, there’s no rest for the wicked!", the Commander smirked.

The head guard arrived with Brian’s clothes and laid them on the bed, saying, "We’ll get the potty chair out of the room after lunch. The two of you have the run of the house now. The bathroom is just down the hall. I’ll be waiting for you to finish dressing him so I can escort you to the dining room."

Lori objected to having an escort saying, "We’re not prisoners! Why do we need an escort?"

"It’s an escort of honor for the two people who brought freedom back to America, Lori. Surely you wouldn’t deny me the honor? I haven’t done a lot in the Army that I can honestly say I’m proud of. This is something I’d like to tell my grandchildren about someday!", the guard answered, "Oh, by the way, my name is Elsie. I’d be honored if you would call me that from now on."

Lori grinned back at Elsie and said, "I’d be happy to call you Elsie. Let me get Bri-Bri dressed and I’ll be right out."

She uncovered Brian and shook out the denim overalls that Elsie had given her. She held them up to Brian to check the size and found they were just large enough for him to wear. If they had been any smaller she couldn’t have gotten them on him. Lori raised the feet of the sleeping child and started with his white cotton socks. In a few moments, she had them on his feet. She continued to hold his feet in the air and worked the cotton boys briefs over them and slid the briefs down his legs before pulling them over his bottom. Brian woke up and began to fidget while she was dressing him, but raised no objections. Then she had him hold up his arms so she could put the small aqua-colored T-shirt over his head and pull his arms through the sleeves. Lori made him lie down again so she could put his legs into the overalls and pull them up to his bottom. Brian closed his eyes again, threatening to fall asleep. Lori said, "Wake up, Bri-Bri. It’s time to go!"

"We go?", he asked hopefully.

"Yes, Baby. Just as soon as Mommy gets you dressed," Lori answered.

Then she picked him up under his armpits and stood him on the bed so she could fasten his bib in front. It was a tight fit, but she made it. Lori put her arm around his bottom and drew him next to her. Brian laid his head against her chest and closed his eyes again. She shook him gently, saying, "Come on, Bri-Bri. Mommy will carry you down to lunch."

Brian opened his eyes and said sleepily, "Lunch?"

Lori smiled at the hopeful sound in his voice and said, "Yes, Darling. It’s time for lunch."

Brian laid his head against her again and said, "I’m hungry, Mommy."

"I know, Sweetiepie. It’ll only be a few minutes. We’re leaving right now," Lori said reassuringly.

She swung him over one hip and held him to her side as she walked out into the hall to met Elsie. They went down to the dinning room where the seats of honor awaited them. Lori was seated at the head of the table opposite the Commander and Brian was seated next to her on a booster seat. Lori shook out his napkin for him and laid it across his lap before preparing her napkin. The Commander struck her glass of wine with her knife and said, "Ladies, I’d like to offer a toast to the woman who gave us victory."

The Commander stood, picked up her glass of wine and said, "To Major Loreli Miriam Weisman, and her good health! Because of her, we’re free at last!"

The women at the table raised their glasses in salute and intoned, "Free at last!"

Lori sputtered at the honor and said, "But.....But I’m only a lieutenant!"

"Not anymore, your orders came through a few minutes ago," said the Commander as she reached into her tunic and produced a printout. She tossed the printout on the table for everyone to see and said, "By order of the Commander in Chief of the Revolutionary Army, Lieutenant Weisman is elevated to the rank of Major, effective immediately! You have been placed on detached duty under my command to care for the prisoner for an indefinite period. During this time, you will continue to receive the pay and allowances entitled to your rank in the Army. Further, by special authorization of the Commander in Chief and in recognition of her services to her country, she is authorized to be treated with the antiagathic virus to extend her lifetime to the limits of God’s will."

The two married witches grinned at each other and raised their glasses, saying, "In the Name of Our Lady, So Mote It Be!"

The Commander grinned and joined in with the other women at the table, saying, "So Mote It Be!"

Lori blushed and said, "Commander, this is really too much! I didn’t do anything that anyone else here wouldn’t have done."

"Then we honor ourselves by honoring you! Grin and bear it, Soldier. You’re lucky the C-in-C agreed with me that we need to maintain your anonymity. Otherwise you’d be awash in well-wishers. For now though, you’re still under my command and subject to my orders."

The Commander struck her glass with her knife again. The bell-like sound rang through the room and caused the members of the small command to fall silent. The Commander put on her "professional" face and said, "The members of this command will be silent and attend to orders. The use of rank at this table is forbidden for the rest of the evening. All members of this company will address each other by their first names or whatever names they call each other off duty. We’re all friends here, Ladies. Let’s behave like it and get something to eat. I’m starved!"

The company broke out in laughter and dinner was served. The Commander shouted over the others, "Lori, call me Dominique!"

Lori smiled her agreement and prepared a dinner plate for Brian. She didn’t load it down the way the guards had with his earlier meals. She knew that the changes required less energy as time went on. There was simply less of Brian to change. She put the plate in front of him and watched as he began to eat, then filled her own plate modestly with food. Brian forked up some of the applesauce from his plate and almost missed his face with the fork. Applesauce rolled down his chin and dripped onto the bib of his overalls. Lori glanced over at him to check on his eating and saw the mess he was making. "Bri-Bri!", she said taking her napkin and wiping his chin, "You need to be more careful with your fork. You’re getting applesauce everywhere!"

Elsie chuckled and said, "I think he needs a bib! Just a minute. I’ll be right back."

She left and returned a minute later with a toddler’s feeding bib in her hand, "Here!", she said, "Take this and snap it around his neck. It’ll keep him from getting any more applesauce on his overalls."

Lori took the bib Elsie offered and snapped the terrycloth bib securely around Brian’s neck. Elsie said, "I think you should cut up his food for him and let him eat his lunch with a spoon, Lori. He’s not terribly competent with a fork now."

Lori agreed and took his knife and fork from beside his plate to cut up his food for him. When she was finished, she put them on the table next to her plate and handed him his spoon. He looked at her quizzically for a moment, then began to eat with the spoon. A computer monitor had been set up next to Dominique’s chair and she commented from time to time on the news that was being flashed world wide over the Internet. "It looks like they’ve accounted for all the members of Congress, Ladies," Dominique said.

Brian looked at Lori in confusion and said, "Mommy, what’s a Congress?"

Lori was about to answer when Dominique said to Elsie, "Elsie, I believe that’s your cue! Would you stop stuffing your face for a moment and take care of him, please?"

"On it!", Elsie said, producing a hypodermic set and sealed alcohol swab from the top pocket of her work shirt.

"Just waiting for the word, Boss!", Elsie said as she got up from her place and stood beside Brian.

Brian watched her swab his arm with the paper pad and saw her remove the safety guard from the needle. His eyes grew wide as he realized that he was about to receive a shot in the arm and started crying. Lori bent over him and said, "Hush Bri-Bri! Elsie is only going to give you a shot to make you stop getting younger. You don’t want to vanish into nothing, do you?"

Brian shook his head and said, "But it’s going to hurt Mommy! Please don’t let her hurt me!"

Lori held his head to her bosom and said, "It’ll only hurt a little bit and then it will stop. Mommy promises. Okay?"

"Okay, Mommy," came the barely audible reply from the depths of her breasts.

Elsie gave him the shot quickly and let his arm fall to his side. She took her seat again while everyone at the table watched Brian’s reaction. Brian asked Lori, "When is she going to give me the shot, Mommy?"

Lori pulled his head back from her bosom and kissed him on his forehead, saying, "She already did, Bri-Bri."

Everyone laughed in feminine appreciation of the child’s question and his mother’s answer. Lori handed Brian his fork and said, "Finish your dinner, Honey."

"Okay, Mommy," Brian said and scooped up a spoonful of peas.

Dominique smiled at the scene and said, "He’s such an adorable little boy. He makes me wish I had one of my own. I’m unable to have children since the filming mission in one of the Camps. Radiation poisoning. My gene plasm was damaged. I had my tubes tied to keep from having any children. I’ve been thinking about adopting a child after I get out of the Army."

"You could always take some of the virus and make one," one of the guards suggested playfully, "There are plenty of proctors in the US that I’m sure no one would miss. They always seemed a little childish to me."

Chuckles passed around the circle of seated women as Dominique gave the guard a withering glare. Brian inadvertently turned the handle of the spoon in his chubby fingers and spilled the peas all over his lap and the carpet, causing Lori to say, "Bri-Bri! Look at what you’ve done! You made a mess all over yourself! There are peas everywhere!"

Brian said, "I’m sorry, Mommy! I didn’t mean it!"

"I know you didn’t, Honey. But Mommy still has to get you cleaned up," Lori replied.

She was about to turn around and ask someone to get her some napkins when she felt a stack of them being pressed into her hand. Her unknown rescuer said, "Just part of being a mommy, Lori."

"Thanks, Elsie," Lori answered without turning around. Lori carefully folded the spilled peas into the napkin on his lap and lifted it away to put on the table. When she saw the condition of his overalls underneath the napkin she exclaimed, "Bri-Bri! What have you done to yourself?"

Brian looked down at the dark stain between his legs and said, "I wet, Mommy!"

"You most certainly are!", Lori said, "And that’s not from peas either. Is it, Honey?"

Elsie put her hand on Lori’s arm and said, "He’s about four years old now. Don’t get angry with him. Little boys his age have ‘accidents’ like that all the time. I ought to know, I used to work on a pediatric ward."

"I’m not angry with him. It’s just that I wanted to finish dinner. Now I have to go and change him," Lori answered.

"Mommy not angry?", Brian said in a puzzled tone.

"No, Honey. Mommy’s not angry with you. She just wanted to finish eating before she has to change your clothes. Now Mommy’s food will get cold," Lori told him.

Elsie spoke up and said, "Who says you have to leave the table? He’s not uncomfortable and the booster seat is plastic, it won’t stain. Sit there and finish your dinner, Lori! His wet little bottom will keep. Babies sit in wet diapers a lot longer than you’re going to be at dinner. Relax and enjoy yourself. He’ll be fine!"

"Well,...I guess he’ll be alright for a little while....", Lori started to say.

"He’ll be fine. When dinner is over, I’ll go and get some training pants for him. Unless you’d rather put him in diapers. He’s a little old for diapers I think, but that’s your decision to make. You’re his Mommy now," Elsie told her.

Brian looked horrified and said, "No dydees, Mommy! I’ll be good! I won’t make any more messes!"

"Well Bri-Bri, Mommy doesn’t really want to put you in dydees. But if you’ve made a poopy in your pants she won’t have any choice. Let’s see how you do at the table before we make any decisions. Okay?", Lori said reasonably.

"Okay, Mommy," Brian agreed cheerfully.

Dominique shook her head and said to the group, "If I hadn’t seen the transformation myself, I’d never believe that yesterday he was a University Professor and Advisor to the President of the United States. A man like that, wetting his pants and calling a woman his own age mommy. He even has to have his food cut up for him and wear a bib to keep from dribbling food on himself. The next thing you know, Elsie’s going to drag out that high chair she’s been keeping in storage. I’d bet that if Lori put a pacifier in his mouth, he’d start sucking it. The power of that virus is amazing! Even though we’ve seen it’s effects on three different prisoners, it’s always difficult to believe that such a tiny thing has that kind of power. I think that viral manipulations are going to be the nuclear weapons of the post-industrial age. It’s too bad it has to be used like this. There are better uses for it than turning a man into a child and breaking his potty training!"

"Better him messing himself than letting him get away with messing on the whole country," one of the women at the table of his free hand. When she was finished, Brian was only dressed in his bib-protected T-shirt, diaper and socks. The odor of soiled underwear dissipated quickly and was replaced by the sweet aroma of baby powder that emanated from his diaper.

She picked him up and put him on her lap, holding him with one arm around him while she talked with the former guards. Brian cooed and said, "Pretty, Mommy!" and pointed up to the lights on the ceiling. He kicked his legs delightedly, causing the plastic on the diaper to rustle. Brian looked down and saw for the first time that Lori had put him in diapers against his wishes. He started to scream, "No dydee! No!" and began to beat on Lori with his tiny fists.

Lori grabbed his fists in one hand and said, "That’s enough, Bri-Bri! If you hit Mommy again you’ll get a spanking! Do you understand me?"

She let go of his hands and he looked her straight in the eye and said, "Naughty Mommy!" and slapped her across the face.

Lori sat still for a moment, stunned by his attack. Then she pulled her chair out from the table and said, "If that’s the way you want it, Bri-Bri!" and put him over her knee.

Terror filled his face as he realized what was about to happen to him. He tried desperately to squirm free of her grasp, but she was too strong for him. She leaned over Brian and said, "You been needing a good spanking for a long time, Bri-Bri! You think you can go around hurting people and not have anything happen to you! It’s time you learned your lesson, Bri-Bri! Mommy is going to spank you until you can’t sit down for a week! You are never, never going to raise your hand to anyone again! Do you hear me? Never!"

Lori began spanking his bottom with all the strength she could muster. She knew that the diaper would pad most of her blows so she gave him full measure. After the first blow landed his expression turned from outraged anger to one of surprised shock. Then the second blow landed and his face clouded with tears as he began to cry. By the time the forth blow struck him, he was screaming in pain and humiliation. Lori rained blows on his behind until he gasped for breath. His screams died down to anguished whimpers as she continued to spank. She stopped spanking him and picked him up to sit facing her on her knees. "Are you going to be a good little boy or does Mommy have to spank you some more?", she demanded.

Brian sniveled and said in a small voice that was choked with tears, "Good boy, Mommy. No spank! Please no spank!"

She looked down at his diaper and said, "So you think you shouldn’t wear diapers, Bri-Bri? Mommy is going to show you why you have to wear diapers!"

Lori turned to the ex-guards and asked, "Do any of the bathrooms have full mirrors?"

"The one in the hall does," one of Brian’s former guards answered.

Lori turned Brian around so he was facing away from her as she wrapped her forearm under his arms and across his chest. She stood up suddenly, holding Brian in place with her arm. Then she walked to the bathroom while the amused guards followed her to see what she was going to say to Brian. When she got to the bathroom she turned on the light and stood him on the counter to look at himself. Brian saw the reflection of an older toddler wearing a food stained bib over a long aqua T-shirt frowning back at him. Brian turned slightly and noticed that his bottom bulged from the thick disposable diaper his mommy had put on him. The white cotton socks looked vaguely like a baby’s booties and gave him an air of infancy. It was obvious that the pouting little boy who stood in front of him was not ready to tackle the challenge of toilet training. He wasn’t Lori’s little boy, he was her baby! Brian was suddenly seized with a feeling of helpless dependence on Lori. She was so huge and he had gotten so small! An expression of fear and despair passed over his face like a dark cloud. He wanted to hide his head in her bosom and beg his mommy to turn out the light and carry him away from there.

Lori raised the bottom of his T-shirt to expose the protective white plastic of the diaper and said, "Look at the front of your dydee, Bri-Bri! What do you see? It’s got a yellow stain on the front, doesn’t it? Do you know how that yellow stain got there, Bri-Bri? You did it! You lay on Mommy’s lap and peed in your dydee!"

Brian felt himself drawn to the stain on the front of the diaper and watched in fascinated horror as the stain grew before his eyes. He couldn’t even feel himself peeing. Tears clouded his eyes and began to roll down his cheeks. His chest heaved as if he would break out any minute in wails of humiliation. He pulled his eyes away from the mirror and sobbed in a low voice, "No..no..no..."

Lori saw the yellow spot getting bigger and said, "Your peeing in your dydee right now, aren’t you?"

She turned him toward her and said, "How dare you raise your hand to your Mommy! Look at you! You’re only a sniveling little baby in wet dydees! Did you know you pooped in your undies too? I wouldn’t think of letting you wear training pants right now! You’re going to wear dydees until you prove to me that you’re potty trained, and not a moment before! Do you understand me?"

Brian’s face filled with remorse. He fell against her chest, murmuring, "I luv you, Mommy. I sorry. I naughty baby! I wet my dydee!"

Lori’s heart melted at the contrite sound in his voice, she patted his bottom and said, "Mommy loves you too, baby. Are you going to argue with me about wearing diapers?"

"No, Mommy," Brian replied.

She put her arm around his bottom and held him to her to carry him back to the dining room. Brian’s hand snuck up to his face and he sucked his thumb as she carried her baby boy back to the dinning room. Elsie was waiting for them with a baby bottle full of formula. Elsie whispered into the ears of the pair of former guards sitting there and they left in a hurry. Then she handed the bottle to Lori and said, "I know he’s big for a bottle, but it will help him sleep. I think he’s cranky because it’s time for his nap."

"No nap," Brian disagreed sleepily from the safety of his mother’s arms.

"Yes nap, Baby," Lori said and turned him over to rest in the crook of her arm while she fed him his bottle. Brian sucked tentatively at first, then settled down and worked on the bottle industriously as he became accustomed to the feeling of the nipple against the top of his mouth. Brian relaxed and snuggled against her chest, luxuriating in the feeling of being loved and protected. Brian closed his eyes and let the years slip away from his mind. The memories of his parents became vaguer and more indistinct with each passing moment. The image of Lori as his Mommy replaced the memories of his mother and became his only reality. Memory was truth and the only Mommy he could remember was Lori. His place in the world was clear; he was Bri-Bri and he was his Mommy’s baby boy. It had always been true and it would always be true.

Lori discovered that Elsie was a sparkling conversationalist. They talked for a long time about what the new America would be like. The Revolutionary Army would put their people in place as an interim government until free elections could be held. Brian listened uncomprehendingly and placidly sucked on his bottle as the fate of the nation was discussed and debated. He finished about half the bottle and Lori held him against her to burp him. He made a loud belch and Lori said, "Good baby! Hims make a good burp for Mommy."

She laid him back in the crook of her arm while she lit a cigarette and smoked. Brian watched the smoke curl up from her cigarette intently. There was something about the look of it in his mommy’s hand that fascinated him and made him feel all tingly between his legs. It made her look powerful from his child’s perspective. There was something magical about having a mommy who could blow smoke like a dragon.

She finished her cigarette and took him back to their room. When she arrived, she discovered that Elsie had asked the guards to put a crib in the room while she was in the dinning room. Next to the crib was a changing table with a full stack of clean diapers. Sitting on top of the changing table were copies of "The Cat in the Hat" and "Winnie the Poo" from the house library. Over in the corner was a open toy box that was full of toys and a TV and VCR had been brought in to keep him occupied if he grew tired of playing with his toys. Lori noted with approval that there was a stack of children’s video tapes on top on the VCR. Elsie had kept her promise to Brian, she would let him play on the floor all he liked. Lori intended to ask Elsie to look after Bri-Bri when she took her baths. Elsie was a fantastic nanny for a four year old!

Lori laid him in the crib and changed his diaper with one from the changing table. She tossed the sopping diaper in the plastic pail that Elsie had provided and tucked him in with a kiss while Elsie looked on with a smile.

Elsie shook her head and said, "You know, he never had a chance against you. He was doomed to be your baby from the moment he met you. None of them had a chance against us. Even if we hadn’t given him the rejuvenation virus, he would have regressed mentally if he had been around you long enough."

"Why do you say that, Elsie?", Lori asked as she turned out the light from the outside of the door.

"Well....", Elsie said, "Dominique didn’t tell you that the other women that we selected to be our inside agents were Jewish. No one else we found had the ability to forgive the men their misdeeds and give them the love and nurturing they needed. When they adopted their new sons that made them Jewish mothers. Fighting an army of witches is bad enough, but an army of Jewish mothers? The proctors never had a chance. We kept our promise to you. He’s happy now. He’s found a mommy to take care of him. And you, you’ll be living every Jewish mother’s dream!"

"What? That doesn’t make sense, Elsie!", Lori said, "What do you mean I’ll be living every Jewish mother’s dream?"

"He’ll never grow up! He’ll be your baby forever!", Elsie replied.

Lori stood stock still for a moment while the truth of Elsie’s statement sunk in. Then she laughed long and loud and said, "Let’s go make some coffee, Elsie! I feel the need for a coffee klatch coming on! We can have a long talk while my baby takes his nap. I’d like to have a long talk with you about how to potty train Bri-Bri!"

Bri-Bri rolled over on his stomach clutching the teddy bear that lay beside him in the crib and slept peacefully with his thumb in his mouth. The soft padding of the diaper between his legs made him feel secure and comfortable. His dreams were joyous and untroubled by the deeds of his former life. While he slept, his sins evaporated and were replaced by the innocence of childhood. Bri-Bri had come home.

Bri-Bri had finally found perfect love in a woman. His secret need to be pampered and coddled by an adoring woman had been satisfied. Her timeless affection would protect him from the vicissitudes of the world. The world’s woes would no longer be his concern. Bri-Bri would never have to make an adult decision again. His Mommy would see that he was fed, clothed, bathed and most of all, loved. He had been released from the pain of growth and change. Bri-Bri would never again have to listen to a man’s voice lecture him about the need for discipline and self control. He could pee and poop whenever he felt the urge and suck his thumb to his heart’s content. He would never have to face the barbarism of kindergartners or be humiliated by being the last to be chosen to play baseball in grade school. He would never be ridiculed in high school for being bookish or be devastated by the rejection of a girl he wanted to date in college. Bri-Bri would stay at home under his Mommy’s care and remain as he was. Life would become an endless dream filled with the things he loved most.

The balance of his days would be warmed by the unending light of his mother’s uncritical love. He would sit on in floor in his diapers and play happily with his new toys, giggling and laughing at the bright new things surrounding him. The world was his oyster and he would spend the rest of his life savoring the taste. The life that had fractured when he was eight had come together again under the gentle hands of the army of women he had fought so hard against. Women had taken over his country and his life. Bri-Bri loosed the serene sigh of childhood contentment as he slept on. He was free at last!


Copyright 1997 by the author - Do not repost without permission.