What would you feel if America fell and the nation was taken over by a dictatorial power? Would you adapt? Or, would you lay down body and soul to protect your homeland? Read Chapter four of Steven Clark Bradley's newest work in progress, The Consortium - Automated Response and feel what could happen unless we are vigilant and devoted to the United states of America.
Patriot Acts Part III
Falls Church, Virginia
March 7, 2011 10:49 a.m.
“It’s over.” Peter Barlowe told himself. The truth was obvious and the reality of it was flooding his mind with thoughts from his past. Memories of things long forgotten were now somehow engulfing him; like someone had switched something on or had powered something down in his brain. It felt like his conscience knew that his whole life had come crashing down.
Peter Barlowe tried to get his mind around it all and the events that had just taken place. “I’ve somehow always known, but seemed only like a dream.” Peter Barlowe whispered to himself and trying to make his mind absorb it.
He pulled a jacket and pants out of the bag he had assembled in his office just before all hell had broken out and the Falls Church facility was overrun with armed military personnel.
“I’m going down, that’s for sure.” he realized while stretching a lightweight shirt over his torso and fitting the skullcap over his head.
But I can see it all so clearly now; must be what it feels like to come out of a comma. he thought. “I have to tell the president.” he decided and whispered this time quietly, while he pulled the pants up over his clothes and got his feet into the right position.
They’re looking for me, and I might even turn myself in. He debated with himself. For now, Peter Barlowe, the defunct Superintendent of the dead and gone Strategic Perception Unit, pulled the gloves over his hands and set the eyepiece in place.
The chameleon suit would give him time. Peter rushed into a janitor’s room and quietly closed the door. He had to figure out how he preferred to die. “It ain’t a thing to be taken lightly.” He tried to persuade himself.
Peter carefully got down on the floor and sat in the absolute blackness and listened to the sounds of hundreds of feet walking up and down the maze of hallways that made up the Falls Church facility.
“They can’t have any idea what they have just unleashed.” Peter told no one except himself.
He didn’t care at all what had happened to Jaime O’Rourke. “He was better off dead anyway.” Peter paused in reflection and then whispered. “So uncivilized; he took us to ruin, though he was probably just following orders, and didn’t we all?”
Thoughts that he had lost for so many years were now clearly focused in his mind; his past, his school, his friends, his bedroom and then his mom and dad were all flying past his mind’s eyes; all the things he seemed to have forgotten during his time in the SPU.
Seated in the darkness, the sounds of military personnel voices, radio relays and footsteps subsided and he succumbed to the pull of his mental visions, from so many years earlier.
Edgecombe County, North Carolina
September, 1969, 1:52 p.m.
“Just deal with it.” was the last thing Peter Barlowe’s father ever told him, before he died.
Twelve year old Peter Barlowe walked into his home in Edgecombe County, North Carolina just as he had as far back as he could remember. There, to the right, he saw his father, Marshall sitting on the edge of the couch; his face buried in his palms, shaking and weeping a torrent of tears.
“Dad, where’s mom?”
Peter Barlowe looked at the things that were scattered around his father, on the couch and the floor. He saw pictures of his childhood, his mom, Betty and his dad’s great-great grandmother, Winnifred Atkinson Barlowe’s portrait. The floor was littered with old folders everywhere; all of them opened with their contents spilling out.
What’s he looking for? Peter wondered. “Dad, where’s mom? You’re starting to scare me.”
Marshall Barlowe looked up at his son with a face that screamed out disaster and guilt.
“Mother, you want your mother? Well, boy, you haven’t got a mother anymore; you’ve never had one. The Consortium made sure of that. You’re nothing but a hybrid”
Young Peter Barlowe took in his father’s words. The pitch, the expression across his father’s face and the grave sound of his father’s voice, and the most devastatingly terrible things of all were the words themselves. It all told the young twelve-year old boy that his life was about to be drastically altered and to remain permanently in disrepair.
Marshall Barlowe sat on the edge of the couch with his eyes weeping into his palms. He raised his head and gazed at the boy he had always loved, though in the affection department, Marshall Barlowe had rarely attempted to display any, though he possessed a lot of love for young Peter Barlowe.
The expression Marshall Barlowe saw stretched across his son’s face made the man hurt inside so badly that he had to use his right hand to force the gun in his left hand down so he wouldn’t raise the barrel up to his own head and pull the trigger earlier than he figured he’d be forced to do.
“Peter, I tried to stop it, but I couldn’t; I swear I did. Everything about that damn place is automated, and it’s only the beginning. Don’t try to run; cause, they’ll kill you. This isn’t what the SPU was for.”
Peter looked over at his father and took in the words that even he, at his young age, realized would be the last ones his father would ever say to him.
“Peter, I love you, I always have. But, you cannot give up what’s ours and what was started by my kin, my blood; to make us competitive, not to kill presidents and senators.”
Peter walked slowly closer to his father and saw the gun in his hand.
“Dad, what’s wrong? I know about the SPU. I know what the Consortium is too. I’m not afraid; tell me what I have to do.” Tears rolled down the boy’s face and young Peter Barlowe felt his knees wobbling under him. He took a deep breath and steadied himself.
Marshall looked at Peter with regret etched all over his face.
“My boy, Michael O’Rourke has taken the line; he’s the Consortium’s hand-picked thief, and he stole it from Eldridge Harrison and killed him.”
Marshall saw the confounded stare in his son’s eyes.
“Peter, I know, you’re young, way too young to endure what has happen here today. I …”
“Yea, that … what has happened, dad? Where is my mom?” Peter demanded.
“Mom, you got no mom, never did. Listen to me, you can’t run. If you run, they’ll kill you, and I can’t stop it now. Once a thing like this gets rolling, there’s no stopping it. This will never be far from you, Peter. Once they take you …”
“Take me, take me where?” Peter looked around desperately to see who was trying to take him away.
“You have to grow up fast and stop the system. The new line will build it, and they’ll use it too, to control everyone.”
“Dad, I don’t understand anything you’re talking about.”
“That’s not important. They’re going to take you, Peter, and when they do, you’ll be chipped. No one knows the things we’ve done; we don’t even know ourselves. No one even comprehends how many masters we’ve served; all the while exacting all the power, funding, technology and information they could take as their booty.
“The SPU and every president has been the puppet of the Consortium since Wilson. When O’Rourke’s crowd gets their claws on the codes we have, from every nation that’s anything, no one will ever be able to stop the Consortium, all provided by the SPU and Michael O’Rourke.
“Peter, you’ll forget these things after they block out this day, and God knows how many other days, nights, even years they will expunge from your memory. But, my only hope is that you will find a way around the control that will be placed upon you. You’ll have to teach your mind to control it and to listen to you.”
“What are you talking about? Whose gonna control me?”
“You will have to force your will over the control. It can be done, but you’ll have to constantly force this day back into your mind. That’s the best I can do.” Marshall Barlowe stared back at Peter and rose from the couch.
“Peter, There are so many things you do not understand. Listen carefully; they’ve built a system that will give the Consortium complete control over everything. It is military, economic and social calamity that no nation on Earth will survive in its present form. They’re going to take the whole thing down. You have to deal with it. Let them have you, teach you and prepare you, but never let them own you. One day, you will bring them all down.
“I have raised you since you were barely ten pounds. I have so much sadness to tell you though that I am not …”
Young Peter Barlowe heard a cracking sound and turned his head toward the shattering sound of breaking glass that followed and hit the ground at the same time. He turned back to his father and saw a blood-spewing hole erupt in the center of his father’s forehead. Blood shot out of his dad’s head and splashed over Peter’s face. Peter saw a set of papers lying on the floor that were marked, Berkowitz Holdings.” He heard the back door fly open and slam loudly against the wall. He quickly took the papers and folded them and shoved them under his shorts and lay silently and exposed on the living room floor and saw four sets of feet enter the room. He saw them walking over to him and then they grabbed him and lifted him up.
“Peter, we got here as soon as we could. You’re dad’s had a nervous breakdown, I’m afraid.”
“Mr. O’Rourke, you just killed my dad. He told me everything. I will not go with you. Did you kill my mom too, you lying bastard?”
“Listen, calm down. I didn’t kill anyone. Your father was about to kill you too. Come on now, you’re delirious, and I’ve got just the thing to help you forget all about this.”
Michael O’Rourke walked over to Peter and put his arm around his shoulder. Peter pulled away from him and punched the much larger man in the ribs. O’Rourke felt it, too.
"I don’t know what to believe, but you can never make me believe that.” Peter shouted.
“Of course you don’t, Pete. But I can make you believe or forget anything I want you to. In fact, I fully intend to tell you what to believe, my boy.” O’Rourke looked at his men. “Make the call.”
“Yes sir.” O’Rourke’s man walked over to the house phone and dialed a number.
“Secure Routing, what’s your request?”
“I need a secure line to Copenhagen.”
“One second to find an empty secure trunk line. I’m dialing now. Your call is connected.”
“Sir, we have it all in play.” O’Rourke said
“Did you kill Barlowe Sr.?”
“Yes sir, but have not found his documents yet.”
“Then burn it all down. Those are the only copies that can transfer my holdings to someone else.”
“Burn the house, you mean?”
“What, are you deaf? I said, burn the whole damn thing. I liked Eldridge Harrison, he was a great man, but just too full of remorse to keep him around. Barlowe was of less value, but he had damnation in his hands with those documents. So, burn the whole damn thing and chip the boy. His real dad was no dummy, and I am sure the fruit of his father’s loins is of the same caliber. You got that?”
“As we speak, sir.” The phone went dead. O’Rourke slammed the phone down.
“Get him outta here; one of you, get back in here and burn this place.”
Michael O’Rourke, the new chief of the Strategic Perception Unit could not believe it had come off so flawlessly.
“Finally, the SPU’s all mine.”
Three large men picked up Peter Barlowe and cuffed him and led him outside. As they walked him out the back door that had been kicked off its hinges, Peter saw the lifeless body of his mother sprawled across the blood-splattered table, with a large knife protruding out of her chest.
“You killed my mom. You bastards killed my mom.” Peter screamed and fought to get away from his abductors.
Two of the men carried twelve-year-old Peter Barlow out of the house and to a black car with US Government plates. They jostled him into the car and he looked to his left at another young unconscious body next to him, in the back seat.
“Fish, Fisher is that you?”
“Oh, you know young Fisher Harrison, don’t you? Don’t worry about him; he’s OK. He’s been visiting us for a few days from Indiana. As a matter of fact, why don’t you join him?”
The SPU operative placed a mask over his own face and closed the backseat divider and pressed a button his on his dash board that sprayed half the normal dose of gas that he’d have administered to an adult. The young boy pounded on the divider but soon, he felt his strength give way to a sleepy, foggy haze and everything went dark.
Inside SPU Center
Falls Church, Virginia
March 7, 2011 11:04 a.m.
“I remember.” Peter said quietly, but more loudly than he had intended with his head swimming and his heart pounding in his chest, he felt numb as the darkness of 1969 faded in his mind’s eyes and he peered and gaped into the darkness of 2011. He fine-tuned his ears to the sounds of soldiers, as they walked up and down the huge Falls Church facility corridors.
“It’s an automated response.” Peter recalled from his thoughts of the past that had flooded every chamber of his previously barricaded mind.
Memories started flashing and streaming through his mind and he saw what this horrible system would do. His mind could almost feel the skin around his face pressed back and felt a searing heat blistering his face by the destruction that his mind pictured.
Would this be the ultimate price for working for the devil? Peter wondered. It’s like I’ve been there before, like something’s been put back in place in my mind. He remembered when he and O’Rourke had met them. Berkowitz, yes that’s right. Now, there’s a man devoted only to power; someone who’d only give up his throne if he could take us all with him. Peter Barlowe remembered everything.
“Peter, listen carefully, they’ve build a system that will take down the whole thing down.” his father had said. “Just before they blew him away.” Peter whispered. “…if they take us down, everything goes with us.” He had heard the words so often since he had become part of the SPU. The memory shot through his mind and he gripped the sides of his head.
“We’ve chipped every soldier, Marine, Seaman and Airman since 1988, and neither Reagan, Clinton nor Bush knew a thing about it. Even Tate didn’t get that information.” He groaned in mental agony.
He heard in his mind what his handlers had engrained in his young mind after he had been chipped. “Your dad killed himself.”
No, you killed him. Peter Barlowe, heard his mind silently cry out.
“Your father killed your mother; stabbed her in the heart.”
“You lie!” He started to scream out loudly, but he clasped his hand over his mouth and looked down at his watch. “Only two minutes.” He told himself. “I have to stop it.” He heard the sound of heavy footsteps voices approaching his location. He stopped breathing and listened carefully.
“This O’Rourke guy is dead.” One soldier said to the other. “Yea, Harrison’s not gonna take any crap.”
“Jaime’s dead? That leaves only me to take all the heat.” Barlowe realized.
He positioned himself with his back to the wall of the cleaning room and switched his flashlight on. Peter looked down at the chameleon suit he had put on. He pulled the mask over his face and pressed a button on the inside of his jacket. The suit came to life and he took on the colors and blended into the room, but the suit’s one flaw was the initialization process that produced a low whining sound that the SPU techs had not managed to rectify.
“Did you hear that?” One soldier asked the other. Barlowe heard the soldiers walking toward the door.
“I have to get to the chamber and reset the failsafe or lookout it’s a brave new world.” His watch told him he had forty-eight seconds.
He heard the footprints coming his way and saw light break through the darkness as the cleaning room door slowly opened. He pulled his legs back prepared himself.
Two US Army soldiers aimed their weapons into the room and looked inside. They saw nothing and walked into the room. When they came close enough to trip over Peter, he drove the force of both his adrenalin-laced legs into the chest of one of the soldiers, crushing his chest instantly. Peter leapt to his feet and rapidly raced down the corridor, firing as he ran as fast as his legs would take him.
The Army advance soldier was one of a team of ten sent to conduct code enforcement and to shoot anyone on sight who threatened US Forces in any way. The soldier ran into the corridor and saw Peter. The one soldier still left breathing ran after him and radioed his commander.
“I got him, Peter Barlowe …”
“One second, I ain’t got one second…”
“Who are you, what company?”
“Taggart, sir, Advanced Infantry Clearance.”
“Give it to me, soldier.”
“I got Barlowe. You know, like the number two … sir.”
“You’ve got a shoot to kill on that dirt bag, Taggart. You Copy?”
"You better believe it … sir. He’s in the left corridor.”
“Secretary Blake wants Barlowe dead. Do you copy that?”
“That’s affirmative and happy to oblige; engaging now.”
Taggart crouched forward and advanced with his weapon held tightly and impatiently ready. When Taggart turned the corner, Barlowe sprayed bullets in every direction. Taggart took cover and returned fire, even though he couldn’t see anything except the holes that Barlowe was inflicting upon the facility walls.
“Sergeant, you still with us? I can’t see you, Taggart.” Taggart’s commanding officer looked around at his personnel busy at backing up their forces at their consuls. “That’s his name, right?”
“Yes sir, it’s Taggart.”
“That’s affirmative, still in pursuit and the bastard’s invisible and shooting. Not in the talking mood, for the moment, sir!”
Barlowe turned to run and a bullet grazed the chameleon suit’s programs controller, which rendered him instantly visible with only twenty-two seconds left to stop the automated response.
“I think I’ve brought a knife to a gunfight.” Peter knew he had no chance to stop it and the failsafe was the only chance Barlowe had to remain a free man, even if no one else would be.
Barlow turned and looked at Taggart. The rest of Taggart’s men ran up behind Barlowe, with their weapons drawn and trained directly on him.
“Get down on the floor, now!” Taggart screamed.
Barlowe got down and looked at his watch. “Hmm, seven seconds.” He told himself as he looked up at the soldiers.
“I said get down flat and face down on the floor!” Another of the armed soldiers shouted.
“Listen to me. You’ve got to stop the clock.” Three, two, one.
“This is your last…” Taggart, who had appeared deadly ready to blow Barlowe away suddenly dropped his weapons to his sides and stood calmly and relaxed.
Throughout the whole facility, every man and woman in uniform simply stopped searching and stood at attention, waiting for their next orders.
International Monetary Fund Headquarters
March 7, 2011 5:05 p.m.
“Good, oh will you look at that?” Warren Berkowitz said in great amazement watching from his IMF office.”
“Ha-Ha, will you look at that?” Berkowitz pressed a button.
“Patch me into the intercom.”
“One second please … The line is yours, Mr. Berkowitz.”
Berkowitz stood up and stared at his screen with Barlowe lying face down on the floor for a moment. The soldiers were all standing at attention in their various areas of the facility; spread out on various screens across Berkowitz’s wall. He did not bat an eye.
“Thank you for your service, Peter Barlowe.” Berkowitz’s voice echoed throughout the facility. Barlowe raised his head and looked in every direction.
“Mr. Barlowe, this is Warren Berkowitz. We have met before, you know.”
“Yes, I know, I remember you, one of several slimy internationalists who have kept me alive since I was brought to you.” Peter said. He looked upward and defiantly screamed. “I remember everything!”
Peter rose to his feet and looked around in amazement. They were almost robotically compliant. Some of the best forces the nation had were down in the underground facility. Now, every one of them had amassed in a ring around Peter Barlow. They all still moved and looked very alive and totally acquiescent. Taggart just stood there and looked at Peter and appeared normal in every way.
March 7, 2011, 11:06 a.m.
“Secretary Blake, we’ve lost contact with Taggart … with everyone.”
“What did you just say?”
“Sir, all communications are shut down. I have no live connections right now.”
“Who the hell’s in charge of this country right now?” the Secretary queried and demanded to know.
Inside SPU Center
Falls Church, Virginia
March 7, 2011, 11:07 a.m.
“You’re an amazing man, Mr. Barlowe. You are the first, if my memory serves me as well as yours evidently does you. Is that right, gentlemen? Is he not the first to get it all back.” Everyone agreed, as they almost always did.
“Actually, I would be the second, Mr. Berkowitz.” Peter said. “The first one is the President of the United States.”
“Ah, yes, you would be right on that one. We have plans for him, just as we have for you. As you can see, or at least hear, we’ve come a bit out of the shadows. Hard to believe you’ve worked for us all your life already and have never been as close to death as you are right now. That puts you at quite a crossroads just now. Now, don’t feel bad. We too, have a crossroad or two ahead of us in the next few days. Sorry, I am addicted to adrenaline.”
“Peter, we have initiated a new program and we want you to direct it, enforce it. It’s really not that different from what you’ve been doing since you joined the SPU as a child. The SPU was our little sect all the time, anyway. This will mean serving under a new protocol now, a new set of rules. Get up and take off that amazing suit we paid to develop for you.”
Peter Barlowe slowly removed the suit.
“You are under the orders of the Consortium now. So, you really have two options. Roll with it and continue your service to the Consortium or call it a day and we’ll see you in hell. Peter Barlowe, it’s actually that simple. If you are with us, return to your base and await my orders.”
Barlowe looked around at the military personnel.
“They’re all chipped, aren’t they?”
“Is that what you call it? So are you, but you somehow beat it. We want your heart, not your mind or your motivations. The secret to keeping power is to never stop amassing it. You know that bit about absolute power corrupting absolutely? Well, it’s absolutely true. Amazing changes will take hold of this nation and the world in the next few days. If you’re in, your orders are in your SUV parked at the back of the base, the black one. I need a house divided against itself in one year from today.” Berkowitz replied. “But, I need an answer now.”
“I think I have already given you one. What’s this about an automated response.”
“Wonderful.” Berkowitz said. “It is great not to have to kill you after all we’ve invested in you.”
Berkowitz pressed a button on his console.
“This is your commander. Take Mr. Barlowe to base and be as you were until you get further orders.”
March 7, 2011, 11:09 a.m.
“Sir, we are connected. Everything seems normal, but that was not normal, right Captain?”
“Not like any normal I’ve ever seen.”
Inside SPU Center
Falls Church, Virginia
March 7, 2011, 11:09 a.m.
“Okay, Peter my boy, let the year begin. You will have everything you need to get the job done and rid the world of this evil country once and for all.” Berkowitz looked at his troops and told them to take Peter to the base. Peter was amazed when he heard the echo of hundreds of voices resonating throughout the facility with the same two words.
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