Chapter 14

Alex rolled out of bed the next morning, dressed for her run, and took off. The run sucked her in, yet again, as it had every morning since she’d been home. She let the rhythm of her feet take her away.

The run was long, and she felt her phone buzz several times. Mom wondering when she would be home, no doubt. She didn’t pull her phone out, not even to change songs on her headphones. Last push up the driveway, the long hill. Panting, heart thumping. 

As she reached the crest of the hill she saw the red van in her parents driveway, two men standing next to it the black uniforms trimmed with red of the I.J.S. Soldiers. The men wore stern expressions as they walked up to meet her from her run. Mom was standing, biting her nails, worry on her face.

“Alex Harwell?” The taller one queried.

“I am.”

“You are under arrest, under suspicion for the murder Governor Appleby.”

“For… what?” her stomach dropped right to the core of the planet. This had to be a joke, there was no way anyone thought she was responsible for a murder. She’d been asleep all night!

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” She was spun around bodily, wrists bound with a zip-tie.

“Mom!” Alex shouted, trying to to sob hysterically. “What the hell is happening? The governor is dead?”

“Just go with them, sweet heart.” Her mother sobbed. “You’ll be fine. Don’t struggle, you’ll just hurt yourself. I’ll see you later, it’ll be okay. You never left here last night, I know that. You’ll be home soon.”

Alex was shoved into the back of the armored van, shackled to the floor, and left as the van sped away. She never got carsick, but this time she almost puked several times. Partially because of the reckless driving of the soldiers, partially because of her racing heart. How in the world could they think she could kill someone? Especially someone as heavily guarded as the regional governor?

When the United Nations had assumed control of the United States Government after the Recession in 2008, they had established governors of divided regions in the U.S. It had happened far too quickly and smoothly for anyone’s liking. It had been obvious the United Nations’d had this plan in place for years and had jumped on the opportunity to execute it. They’d also obviously had a large sum of money put away just to make sure they could pay the bureaucracy to make it happen and establish a new military; the I.J.S.

Governor Appleby had assumed rule over the Northwestern United States and Alaska, deciding that she would reside in Anchorage of all places and had made her home in downtown. Which had been broken into last night. And the Governor had been killed.

Due to her long sleep, Alex wasn’t fully up to date on what the political climate was with the UN still in control after all this time, but what she had ascertained was the people were starting to get restless. The economy wasn’t bouncing back, despite repeated promises by a worldwide government, despite them taking half of everyone’s wages and making their retirements disappear. So there had been rumors and rumors of rumors that there was an underground resistance beginning to form. She didn’t know what it was about Leo, but after hearing about the resistance and talking with Leo, Alex had a sneaking suspicion that her long time friend was somehow involved with this rebellion.

Alex took a deep breath. She was obviously trying to distract herself with facts so that she wouldn’t freak out about the fact she was sitting in an IJS van, shackled, and accused of murder.

It took twenty long minutes to get to the IJS military base on East-side, and a lot of idling and waiting in line while identifications were checked at gates. 

The doors to her van were swung wide and she saw the two officers flanked by a heard of journalists. They were clamoring, shouting her name, asking a million questions as she was unlashed from the vehicle.

“Why did you kill the governor?”

“How old are you?”

“Who are your accomplices?”

“How long did it take to pull off this murder?”

She was lead into the building, shielded by several IJS officers; they acted as an ice breaker ship so she could get ferried through.

The ice breaker officers broke off when they were in the safety of the doors. She was pulled by her arresting officers through a maze of beige hallways, into an interrogation room, plunked in a chair, chained to the table, and then left to stew.

She spotted the camera in the corner of the room, blinking it’s disappointment in her general direction. 

“What? Not an offer for coffee? Water?” she’d decided to be terse and snide on the ride over. “I did just get done with a run. Some freaking Gatorade might be nice.”

A couple minutes later, an I.J.S. Soldier came in the door, plunked down a bottle of water, a bottle of electrolyte drink, a cup of coffee, and a peanut butter cookie. The door was closed with a pointed scowl.

So. They were watching and listening actively. Good to know, she chomped down on her cookie in triumph, gulping down the bottle of water, checking for syringe holes in the lid. No sodium pentathol for her, thank-you-no-thank-you.

She, of course knew the reason they'd given her so many drinks. It was full bladder torture concealed by a seemingly kind gesture. Alex would probably admit to being a fan of disco music, her most hated genre, if after consuming these, she would be allowed to use the bathroom. 

The cookie and water sloshed in her empty belly, a poor substitute for the left over hamburger patty and eggs she'd been planning on having for breakfast. How much had changed in such a short time.

Zoe FleischerComment