It was a whirlwind tour for Marzan and Rollins. First Chicago, then Houston, Atlanta, back to Chicago, then Detroit, St. Louis and many places in between. They tear gassed rioters and fired on looters one day, then handed out bottled water and freeze-dried chicken nuggets to them the next. At least it said it was chicken on the foil packets with the blue eagle emblems on them.
The market supply chain had disintegrated under the now fivefold increase in fuel prices. Few stores could sell anything profitably. The market sclerosis, induced by the interventions of the meddling bureaucrats, finally forced the federal government to take really drastic action. The Food and Agriculture Price Stabilization Act, FAPSA for short, was drafted by a consortium of Big Ag corporations, passed by Congress in the dead of night, and signed into law by the president eight days after it was written.
“Never let a good emergency go to waste.” as they say.
Partnering with enforcement from the USDA, the FDA and the ATF, FAPSA established compacts and exchanges—which were to be run exclusively by Big Ag, of course—through which all the nation’s foodstuffs were required to pass. The Big Ag executives were going to get filthy, filthy rich. The enabling congressmen got massive donations. The family farmers, who sold their eggs and milk and beef off the newly licensed exchanges, were to be arrested and jailed.
The day after they left St. Louis, Marzan and Rollins bulldozed two farm houses with a camouflaged army bulldozer. Then they gathered all the milk from several dairy farms and poured it down the sewer. The next morning, they euthanized a poultry farm’s chickens with flame throwers. All this because those farmers violated the new FAPSA regulations in one manner or another. That afternoon, Marzan and Jimmy found themselves handing out chicken rations, again. Then they dispersed those very same serfs with tear gas and warning shots when they protested later that night.
“Ungrateful dumbasses,” Rollins remarked.
Marzan was growing ill about everything. Every time he hopped out of his Humvee and into some farm or trailer park or urban ghetto he would get nauseated. He had missed all his targets intentionally, but this also filled him with guilt. He felt he was letting down his band of brothers by his subversive actions, but he simply could not bring himself to shoot at Americans.
Marzan was growing numb to the ceaseless Army jingoism. The sergeant would decry the “evil Docs”—Domestic Combatants—while beating his chest like an ape. “They are NOT Americans,” he would scream. “They are insurgents! They are terrorists! Smoke ’em!” The sergeant was skilled at dehumanizing the enemy. Operational effectiveness required his mercenaries to forget they were in America. They were still in a Shariastan, only Shariastan with Wal Marts.
Jimmy Marzan was walking the edge of a razor, balancing the demands of a soulless mercenary with the conscience of a poet warrior. He recalled taking an oath at his induction to uphold the Constitution. He was no longer sure if that meant anything. It was getting difficult to reconcile the idea that he had to invade and occupy and oppress Americans in order to defend American freedom. The more he thought about that paradox, the less inclined he was to believe that he had ever actually defended any American’s freedom, ever. Smoking all those little brown people didn’t seem to benefit anyone, he thought, Unless you count the money the defense contractors made on the whole bloody enterprise.
The longer Jimmy balanced on that razor the deeper it cut. He prayed every day that things would settle down before he fell over to one side or the other. But it had been two months since that first Chicago riot and the chaos seemed only to be getting worse.
Michael Rollins appeared to enjoy himself. “Adventure! It’s like being on a rock-and-roll tour. See all them out there. Those mobs of Docs are my adoring fans. They’ve come to see, hear and feel the spectacle and power unleashed by my rock-and-roll M4. Lock and load. All kneel before me. Sacrifice yourselves unto me. All hail Michael Rollins, god of thunder and rock-and-roll.”
“Doc” might have been the official Army term for unruly civilians but the grunts devised a slew of unofficial slurs to describe them. The sergeants encouraged the use of epithets with raucous affirmation. The commissioned officers encouraged their use by not protesting. Words had become weapons. Not because they were capable of injuring their victims, bullets do infinitely more damage than words, but rather their power came from their ability to enervate the soldier’s sense of empathy.
Marzan never adopted the new slurs, but he did everything else he could to keep up the soldierly pretense. He often joked with the brotherhood about “smoking those Docs” but it always came out hollow and made him feel even more like a fraud. He didn’t feel connected to his unit much at all, anymore. The razor was cutting him deeply.
Marzan’s unit spent Christmas Eve at a Marriot. They just pulled up to the front door in their Humvees and marched right in, battle gear and all, took over a floor, cleaned out the bar, and proceeded to ransack the place. Who was the manager going to call? The police? What, and risk getting his business labeled as hating the troops? No way. He just smiled and cleaned up the mess.
The next morning, the manager found a note stroked by a sergeant telling him who to call about getting a reimbursement. The Army’s notion was that money could paper over any sin. That’s how they operated back in Shariastan. Bulldoze a house, kill a family goat, mistakenly drop a cluster bomb on a wedding reception. “So sorry about that. Here… here’s a stack of hundreds that’ll make everything right.”
Five days after Christmas, Marzan’s unit drove west from St. Louis on I70. Rumor was they were headed to Denver and that there was going to be some real action. Colorado’s governor had just resigned under pressure from D.C. His replacement was much more in tune with the D.C. program. Having a much more flexible interpretation of Posse Comitatus—the 1878 Act barring the Army from being used as domestic police—the new governor called in the DSF to restore order.
The National Security Agencies’ internet spies uncovered a fomenting, organized civil disobedience movement. The NSA snoops, snitches, and worms trolling the net gleaned details of a major anti-DC rally that was going to erupt in January. Welfare proles burning cars and smashing windows in the name of hunger was a somewhat acceptable expression of frustration to the feds, but openly challenging Washington’s authority was not to be tolerated—anywhere. In other words, gathering to cry out, “Help Us!” was permissible as it validated D.C. But gathering together to shout, “fuck off!” was considered sedition. Secessionist protests were considered contagious as well. If not utterly crushed by supreme military force, they might trigger a plague of nationwide revolt. There was no way D.C. was going let that happen. No way.
“Aw, that’s bullshit! They canceled the Superbowl,” Rollins whined as he scanned his smart phone. “I guess we’re gonna have to make our own superbowl, then. Yep, the big game’s in Denver, fellas. Domestic Security Force versus The Insurgents. What’s the Vegas line on that one? C’mon Jimmy, who’s favored?”
Marzan didn’t answer.
Rollins answered for him. “You pussy. I’ll take DSF and lay the 56 points. It’s gonna be an ass whuppin’.”
Their convoy rumbled down I70, completely commandeering the left lane. Any civilian vehicle brazen enough or unwitting enough to occupy that lane was run off the road. Marzan thought about the Indians as they drove. It took forces of the United States more than a century to conquer the vast continent, requiring decades of cavalry assaults, cheap liquor, gulags, and barbed wire to finally annihilate the resistance of the stone-aged natives. “Manifest Destiny” was what they called it. The name gave the massacre a divine purpose which erased the guilt.
The Indians just didn’t have the technology or the numbers or the organization to win. But they fought like hell for a century. They fought for their property, their lives, and their unalienable rights. They fought bravely and gallantly in a long war until finally the Nez Perce, frozen, hungry, their elders all dead, surrendered to the U.S. Cavalry. “Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.” The words of Chief Joseph.
America is a big and often inhospitable place. Even the Japanese Admiral Yamamoto, in perhaps the finest endorsement of the Second Amendment ever made, shied away from the prospect of invading a nation with a “rifle behind every blade of grass.” But now the Domestic Security Force was poised to subdue the entire continent in less than a few months. Yamamoto and George Armstrong Custer didn’t have Black Hawk helicopters, infrared, predator drones, fifty-caliber weapons, or an enemy disarmed by the Firearms and Neighborhood Security Act.
The DSF crossed the Kansas and Colorado state line, but their advance was halted in Limon by a blizzard. They sheltered in their vehicles with their Humvee engines idling through the night. The wind whistled down on them from the west. Drifts of snow piled against their wheels.
“What are you doing?” asked Marzan.
“I’m taking a piss. What does it look like?” answered Rollins as he finished up.
“What are you gonna do with that bottle?”
“Here, you want a swig?”
Marzan turned away in disgust. Rollins made his way to the back and opened the door. Ice crystals and frozen air poured in.
“What the fuck, Gollum?!” cursed Wingate. “Close the fucking door!”
Rollins tossed his specimen out the back and pulled the door shut. The temperature inside instantly dropped twenty degrees.
“Man, I didn’t sign up for this blizzard shit,” complained Specialist Wingate.
“It’s just snow. No big deal,” said Sergeant Tjaden.
“That’s because you’re from North Dakota, asshole. I’m from Florida. Look at it out there. You can’t see nothin’. We’re gonna be buried alive.”
“Just relax. It’ll blow over by morning.”
They hunkered down for the night and the storm eventually blew over, as Tjaden had predicted. The column followed snowplows back down the highway. The clouds disappeared by mid-morning revealing an alien world to the soldiers from the Rust Belt, and the South, and the coastal ghettos. It was treeless and desolate, a blazing white earth from horizon to horizon under a cloudless, beaming blue sky. A cold, blinding sun climbed towards its zenith. They might as well have been invading the moon with all its starkness.
Marzan thought about how the Germans must have felt gobbling up thousands of square miles of Russian nothingness in the early days of Operation Barbarosa. How they must have wondered how it could possibly be worth it to conquer so much empty space. That endeavor didn’t end so well for the krauts when the winter came and their diesel fuel turned into jello and their toes turned black and broke off.
DSF arrived at their destination after nightfall, along with the clouds that rolled down from the north and filled up the sky and blotted out the stars and moon. They set up camp at Denver International. By morning, the snow came again and swirled and whipped about on the wind, never seeming to reach the ground. It was bitter cold.
Rumors were swirling around as well. Militias were forming. Police units were dissolving. National Guards were defecting. Government offices were over-run. The words “civil” and “war” were being connected together in a contemporary context for the first time in a hundred and fifty years.
“This is exciting shit!” Rollins declared. “Smokin’ them dumbasses in the ghetto was getting kinda dull.”
Jimmy Marzan spent that morning vomiting. He blamed it on altitude sickness.