A Glibertarians Exclusive: Breaking Out, Part V
Thunberg-121 – Outside
Almost as one, the crowd turned on the two Security troops and the Disinformation Control bureaucrat, who had followed them outside.
Denver found a handy rock sticking a meter or two out of the ground, climbed up on it. “Well?” he shouted. “We were all told that the environment outside was destroyed. We were all told that previous generations burning fossil fuels made the Earth unlivable. We were all told that the population crashed, and the only survivors were in the Modern Cities. Does this,” he waved a hand at the peaceful evening meadows outside the walls, “does this look unlivable to you?”
“It may not be safe,” the Disinformation Control bureaucrat began, but he was rapidly shouted down:
“There isn’t anything wrong with the environment out here!”
“You lied! You all lied!”
“You kept us all sealed in that dome for generations, and you all lied!”
One of the Security troops put a hand on the Disinformation Control bureaucrat’s shoulder and spoke quietly for several seconds. Then: “We’ll be closing the doors,” the Security man called out. “If you remain out here, you won’t be allowed back in.”
“Oh, no,” Denver called back. “You’re leaving the doors open. No more lies. No more keeping people locked up in here. If any more people want to come out, they can come out.” The crowd, by now a couple hundred strong, roared. “You’d better get back in there. I can’t guarantee your safety if you stay.”
The City officials looked around, and then pulled a fast fade back inside.
“All right,” Denver called out once the crowd’s attention turned back to him. “I’m proposing we all move away from here. The four of us in the Freedom Caucus have been living in the woods, but we’ll need to find a better place for all of us. And we’ll need some supplies. Does anyone here know where the refectory’s food is stored?”
Several shouted in the affirmative.
“How about clothing? Shoes?”
More raised hands.
“OK. Here’s what we’re going to do. Anyone who knows where to get food, water, medicines, clothing, tools, raise your hands. We’ll go back in groups of at least ten. Arm yourselves with whatever you can find in the warehouse there – wood, metal, whatever. We will meet back out here in one hour. They we’ll move off to the south.”
“Why the south?” someone called.
“We know there is a nuclear power plant and some houses to the west. To the north, it may be colder. I don’t really know, but I’ve always heard that it’s colder when you go north. To go east we’d have to go all the way around the City, and I’m not sure what they may try. So, we go south as soon as we have supplies. Ready?”
A roar of approval.
One year later
Two hundred and twenty-one people had left Thunberg-121.
Two days walk to the south, they had been fortunate enough to come across an abandoned town from the old times, which gave them tools, shelter, some medicines, and even some viable seeds for crops. The Freedom Caucus disbanded, as Denver told the group, “you don’t need to be led by the noses. Everyone here can see what we need to do. It won’t be easy. We have a lot of work to do. The one promise we’ll make you all is this: The fruits of your labor, everything you make, will belong to you. No more ‘collective’ crap. We’ll produce our own goods, and we’ll trade freely with one another.”
The year that followed was lean and spare, but now the colony was beginning to prosper. Team Deere had formed first and was specializing in developing and growing grain and truck crops. Team Wayne found wild cattle roaming the hills and captured some for breeding, so the colony would soon have meat.
Team Watts formed with three members who had worked on maintaining wiring in the City, and they were exploring ways to restore electrical power; a river nearby was a promising candidate for a small-scale hydroelectric setup. Best of all, Helena’s Team Guttenberg had found the abandoned library and had scoured the town for any books that might prove useful, so the colony’s knowledge base was growing.
They named their community Freehold.
Best of all, Brietta Franklin had recently delivered the colony’s first new citizen. “His name,” a grinning Roberto Franklin had announced, “is Benjamin. Don’t ask his pronouns. He is our son, and we will raise him to be a man.”
The pale, poorly nourished group that had left Thunberg-121 had transformed into lean, strong, capable adults.
There was just one disappointment, as Denver voiced to Helena one evening as they sat on the small concrete patio at the rear of the house they were restoring for themselves. “I’m surprised we didn’t have more people come with us. There were probably a quarter of a million people in Thunberg-121. And most of them seemed content to just stay there.”
“That’s the thing about cages,” Helena offered. She laid a hand on her stomach. Her own baby was due soon. The five members of Team Hippocrates were about to get their second chance to oversee a birth. “They’re safe. Lots of people don’t like to leave their comfort zones.”
“They’re slaves,” Denver objected.
“No. They chose to stay. We can’t feel bad for them. They had a choice between a difficult freedom and a comfortable captivity. They chose captivity.”
“It’s sad. It’s disappointing.”
Helena leaned over and kissed Denver. “We’re here. Our child will grow up here. Let them choose captivity. We chose freedom.”
The next day at midday, Freehold was handed a surprise, when forty people showed up at the outskirts and asked to talk to whoever was in charge. “Nobody is really in charge,” they were told, but for lack of a better idea, they were taken to see Denver. “After all,” they were told, “this was all his idea.”
“Wow,” Denver said when he walked to the edge of town to meet the group. “Hi, everyone. I’m Denver Paine. Where are you all from?”
A small, thin woman stepped forward. “I’m Georgetta G-333. We’re from Thunberg-108. We broke out two weeks ago, and four days ago we came across a nomad who said there was a town here. Is what he said true? You’re all free people? You all work only for yourselves?”
“It’s true. It’s all true.”
“Can we stay here too?”
“That,” Denver smiled, “is up to you. You’re free now.”
The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’