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Common Sense For A New Millennium Essay
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Disclaimer: This is a fictional novel. Similarities to real characters may be coincidental. Although this scenario may never be possible, it was written with entertainment in mind and with the desire to promote American patriotism. Any events that depict terrorism are not written with any knowledge of terrorists' plans, both past and future. Real names such as bin Laden or McVeigh from the news were used to create a realism, but every reader must realize they are reading fiction, and even in certain cases, science fiction. Enjoy the novel for what it was created for, wholesome entertainment.
An American Millennium:
“These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”
The American Crisis, 1776
July 4, 2004
The man saw an old friend coming up the walk. He picked up a few things to make his living room neat, and took the teapot off the stove. He scurried to answer the knock at the door. He opened it and smiled a hearty smile. “Ben, it has been so long. You haven’t changed a bit.”
Ben laughed. “Of course I haven't, and neither have you.”
The first man backed away from the door and stepped aside to make room for his very large framed visitor. “Do come in and sit awhile, please. My how I have missed you.” The two old friends sat and talked as if they had eternity to spend.
Ben asked about America. “It’s been decades since I saw her. I’ve been away you know.”
The first man smiled a big smile. “She’s as beautiful as ever. I am so proud of her, but she has had a few near misses. Her people don’t even know how close they came in ‘99. However, she pulled through. And I’m glad to say the better for wear!”
Ben sat up straight. “Tell me all about it. I have nowhere to be. I want to hear what happened.”
The first man poured his old friend some tea, and began to tell a tale so fantastic, so implausible; it would surely go down as one of the best.
The old man started to speak. As was his habit while he talked, he stirred his tea with a spoon. He was not aware he was doing it.
“I almost don’t know where to begin.” He paused and shook his head, remembering the incredible events of just a few years back. He looked off into the distance and went on. “So large an account of where good and evil are clashing in a showdown. It could take awhile to tell it correctly.” He looked at his long time friend and smiled. “You had better sit back and settle in for a bit.”
Ben’s eyes were fixed on his old friend. He knew and could feel, by the growing solemnity in his friend, that the story he was about to hear had touched him deeply. He waited for his friend to continue.
After a moment, the man leaned forward towards Ben and looked intently at him. “The evil one was kicking up in those years, and he was furious. He targeted America just for the great hatred he had for her. The attack, however, was not in the way she might have perceived or expected, so America was quite off-guard. You know how the Master feels about America. He cradles and caresses her like a child, and He delights in her bright destiny. Just the same, He let her go through the grinder that year. You know, the last minute touchdown, so to speak. She was on her own two-yard line, 1st down, with 20 seconds left. If it hadn’t been for that American grit and spirit He put in her, she would not have survived.”
The old man sat back and looked longingly out the window. He asked reflectively, “Ben, what makes heroes? Are they born, or do they aspire to it on their own? My story has some heroes, but they didn't come from West Point, or Harvard, or Congress, or the White House; they were just simple common men and women. I guess it started with a boy that, as I’ve watched him and come to know him, I wouldn’t mind calling a son. He reminded me a little of myself in my younger days. I think I will start with him.”
Friday, August 27, 1999, Seattle, Washington
Justin Brook’s forehead was sweating. This speech was rather sudden. The Political Freedom Society (PFS) had asked him only the week before to speak on the subject he was best known for: The written works of Thomas Paine. Justin had grown interested in Paine during his college days. Paine was a little known patriot in the American Revolution. He wrote a dynamic essay called “Common Sense,” and the country came alive with fight in their eye when they read the essay. Justin had studied just about every angle of Paine’s life and career. Sometimes Justin thought that maybe they were kindred spirits. Paine was confrontational and questioning. Justin had been much more like that when younger; but now, at 43, he was mellowing. Tonight, Justin was speaking about Paine.
There were about 120 present in the room tonight, and this was Justin’s second time to speak to this group. It had been a few years since his last speech. He had no new material. He would rehash his last speech, mix it up a little, and he hoped they would not notice the lack of fresh material. He was feeling nervous. Justin was eager to get the speech done, get to his motel, get to bed, and get home the next morning. The tall, lean college instructor was handsome. He had brown hair, with streaks of gray, and a nice smile. The audiences loved to hear him speak. He was intense and passionate about Thomas Paine and it would rivet his audiences whenever he spoke. Justin could have had a future in politics if he had wanted.
Justin walked from the podium and sat down at his place. People were applauding him. It was not long after that the meeting broke up. As Justin had returned to his seat, he noticed a piece of paper sticking out of his day-planner. He did not recognize the piece of paper as his. As people were making their way out of the room, Justin sat down to read the paper. He removed it and unfolded it. It read at the top: “To Justin Brooks.” Just as he began to read the note, the Chairman of the PFS stopped by to shake his hand. This older graying man had a grin from ear to ear. Justin jumped up, and crumpled the note behind him. Why had he acted scared, or embarrassed? He did not even know what the note said.
Frank Simms, the Chairman, shook his hand heartily. “Great speech my boy. You really got the crowd going. It was better than last time. I saw many taking notes. Will you come back again? You know, we love to hear about Tom Paine. Your insight is always inspiring. It seems you have the goods on him.”
Justin’s mouth was dry. “Sure, I don’t mind. I’ll be back.”
Frank walked out. Justin sat down and was now alone in the large theater style room. He opened the note. This was strange. Who would pass a note so secretly? Should he read it? After all, he was a married man. Curiosity got the better of him. He slowly unfolded the paper. It read:
To Justin Brooks:
Things are not as they seem in America. The winds of war are blowing. The way to order is through anarchy. You will be advised. Friends 1 1 00
Justin stared at the note. What kind of crackpot wrote this? Obviously, a deranged mind. Justin got up, stuffed the note in his pocket, and walked out the door. In the hotel lobby, he went to the elevator and pushed the button. It was about 10:00 PM. Would his wife still be awake? He got off the elevator and walked down the hall to his room. Seattle could be a lonely town if you did not know anyone. He was eager to start back to Wenatchee in the early morning. Wenatchee was a peaceful community, nestled along the Columbia River at the base of the Cascade Mountains. It had everything he and his family needed. It was a great place to live and he and his wife loved it there. It is known as the “Apple Capital of the World.” Every spring he enjoyed looking at the blossom covered hills and the bounty of fresh apples that followed later in the fall. Seattle, by contrast, was much too busy for him.
Once in his room, Justin phoned his wife, Angie. Angie was a little out of breath. She must have run to answer the phone. “Hi love,” she bubbled in her usual way. “I sure miss you. How was the speech?”
Justin was relaxed now and was glad he had his wife on the phone. He felt at home. Justin shared, “My speech went all right. Frank Simms said I did great, but I felt a little dry.” Justin then told her about the note. He was amazed at the blunt, impersonal nature of it.
“Honey,” said Angie, “you be careful. People are edgy right now over the political climate. You are a controversial author and teacher. You’re going to stir things up when you speak about passionate subjects.”
Justin smiled. His encouraging wife was hitting the situation right on the head. “Thanks dear. I’m sure that is all it is. I’m going to get off the phone now and get some sleep. You have a good sleep too. I’ll see you at about noon tomorrow.” Justin got off the phone and went over to the dresser. He opened the note. America has quite a few problems, but war is not one of them. What person is for anarchy? And what is this number? “1 1 00.” Is that eleven? Is this a meeting time? 10, 11, 00. Justin wondered if it was binary code -- simple computer language. 1's and 0's. He carefully put the note in the back of his planner. He would not think another minute about this note.
Justin got in bed and lay there. He was thinking about his speech. He was thinking about the crowd. He remembered some of the faces. Which one might have written the note? Wait; forget that note, thought Justin. It’s ridiculous and I’m not going to give it another thought. With that, he drifted off to sleep.
Saturday, August 28, 1999, The Cascade Mountains
Justin’s drive home the next morning was uneventful. He loved the mountains and had rolled his windows down to breathe in the fresh cleansing air. It was so nice after being in the city. Though it was late August, the temperature was mild that morning and he felt very comfortable in rolled up shirtsleeves and rather euphoric as he drove along the windy mountain highway. His mind was wandering and he was thinking about his future. School was about to start again; for the most part, he was prepared. He always looked forward to the first few days of school when the kids were still fresh and eager. Later they often became less enthusiastic as the weight of all their classes bore down on them. He was in the career he had always dreamed of. Yet, he was itching to move on. Justin liked to write, and authoring a great work was his passion. He had a few projects going, but, as a college instructor, Justin felt in a rut. The students at the junior college he taught at did not seem to have much passion for learning. Maybe it was the subject he taught: Political Science. He had quite a bit of passion for it, but it was a lonely subject -- unless, of course, you were around people like the PFS people. Those people lived and breathed the talk of our government. Justin had not gotten his doctorate, but he had a Masters Degree, and was qualified for instructor status. However, writing the ultimate textbook or political paper was his long time passion. He had written some short papers on the American Revolution and he had done some works on men around that time, but Thomas Paine was his favorite.
Monday, September 13, 1999, Wenatchee, Washington
Justin woke up, as his alarm sounded, but his wife was still asleep next to him. He slipped out of bed and headed for the shower. It was 6:15 AM, and he had to get to school. After his shower, Justin made coffee and brought Angie a cup to wake her. “Good morning beautiful.” Justin kissed her face.
Angie sat up and took the cup of coffee. They sat together for a few minutes. “Hon,” said Angie, “what is your day like?”
“Just 4 classes throughout the day -- a typical Monday. I work late, but I’ll be off early tomorrow. Why don’t we go out to dinner?” Justin wanted to make up for too little time spent with his wife. The first few weeks of school were always incredibly busy for the teachers. It seemed as he had hardly spent any time at home.
Angie’s face perked up. “We can get a sitter or let my mom watch the kids. We can go to ‘our spot.’”
Justin smiled. “You make the plans. It’s a date!” With a kiss, they got up and headed into their day.
On the way out, Justin stopped at his desk in his home office to pick up his planner. As he looked in his planner, he saw the note from Seattle, a few weeks before. He hadn’t thought much about it. Yet, it intrigued him that some were unhappy with the country. Yes, Washington D.C. had been through a mess, and patience was low for leaders, but certainly these issues were dying, and the citizenry was looking ahead to the future. He folded the note and neatly tucked it into a pocket in his planner, and went out the door for school.
Justin sat in his classroom at Wenatchee Hills College waiting for his first class. Students filed in a few at a time. Shortly, he was underway. There were about 22 students sitting in front of Justin. These were mostly college freshmen, just out of high school. Justin’s life was normally quite uneventful and he was still quite perplexed about the note he had just re-read that morning. It was mysterious and dark.
This morning he had a question for his students. Maybe he could get a reading on the country starting with his own classes. “Class,” started Justin, “I would like to discuss unrest in America and some of the possible reasons for it.” One young woman on the front row shot up her hand. Justin looked at her. “Go ahead, Heidi.”
“Well, Mr. Brooks, I think the Presidential scandal was a big reason. Our Congress and the White House seemed locked in a civil war earlier this year, so to speak, and the fallout had an effect on the people. None of our Washington politicians trust each other anymore, and the people trust them even less.” Heidi smiled and looked at her instructor for approval.
“I know this is a factor,” said Justin. “The government in Washington D.C. is still in turmoil. Anyone else?”
Another young man raised his hand. “Mark, go ahead.” Justin nodded at the young man.
The young man said, “I think the public agencies like the IRS, the FBI, and the ATF have overplayed their hands, and they have too much power. People are mad. My dad tells stories of atrocities these agencies have committed. My dad hates them.” Mark had a flash of anger in his eyes. His dad’s anger had no doubt transferred into his son.
Justin tried to keep the comment in perspective. “Those stories would need proof to be validated, Mark. We know there have been abuses, but these agencies have some enormous responsibilities.” The young man half smiled at his cool and collected teacher. A third student raised his hand. “Chris,” Justin motioned to the young man.
“I think people feel a loss of their freedoms and our system is just not working. Look at the crime rate, and the financial issues. Also, the Y2K bug is going to end everything as we now know it, and send the nation into a tailspin.”
Again, Justin stepped in to keep the statement in perspective. After all, he was responsible to not let these young people leave with any way-out or unbalanced thoughts. “I think the ‘freedoms’ issue may have some weight. As our country grows, we need more structure and rules, and it takes wisdom to walk the fine line between total freedom and having good organized structure in government and society. I believe we still are doing a pretty good job at walking this line. But the Y2K computer issue, no one really knows. Many feel the problem is coming under control. The country will go on next year at the new millennium. I have no doubts about that.”
After some more discussion, Justin dismissed the class. That evening, he sat in his school office, and phoned Angie. “You didn’t forget I teach tonight, did you?” Justin reminded his wife.
“No, that’s fine. I have some work I brought home from my office, so I would be no fun anyway.” Angie was so considerate, always making him feel as though he was not upsetting her.
“I love you. I’ll see you about 10:00.” Justin spent time in each of his classes that day asking his students their opinions on the national outlook. He felt tired as he made his way to his car in the parking lot. It was 9:30 pm, and he had just dismissed his last class. He was fumbling for his keys as he approached his car and then it happened. Justin felt a large jolt and a sharp pain to the back of his head, and then everything went dark.
Justin came to in the back of a pick-up truck with his hands handcuffed behind him and some sort of hood over his head. This was insane. Who would kidnap a college instructor? Fear gripped him. Would he see his wife and kids again? His head was throbbing where he had been struck. The truck drove for what seemed like 2 hours. That is, after he woke. He had no idea how far they had really come. The truck slowed down and pulled off the paved road onto a dirt road for about 20 minutes. It stopped and some men got out of the cab of the truck and came to the rear. A man grabbed Justin and yanked him out. He pulled the cover off Justin’s head. One man had on army fatigues. For some reason this relieved Justin. The other man, however, had on hunting clothes. This was a civilian.
The second man pushed Justin into the dark. He then led Justin to an area with several structures. He could barely make them out in the dark. The men took him into a small shack and set him in a chair. Justin looked around the room. It was sparse, and obviously seldom used. The only furniture in the room was 2 chairs; a small, old, square wooden table in the center with a phone on it; a hanging light over the table; and an old metal desk, with a single drawer, up against one of the walls. The room looked like something from an old movie where a man was going to be interrogated. Was that what this was about? Was he to be interrogated for some reason by these men?
The man in the fatigues, who seemed to be the senior of the two, spoke first. “The Colonel wants to talk to you.” Turning to the other he said, “Stay with him.” With that, he left and the second man stiffly sat down nearby.
Justin looked at the man. “Who are you guys?”
“Shut up,” yelled the man.
Justin looked down. He realized how fast his heart was beating. Would he die here?
After a short while, another man came into the room. He also wore soldier fatigues and had on a black beret. He appeared to be about 50 years old. He looked distinguished, with graying hair, and a chiseled jaw. “I am Colonel Sharpe. I command here. You are not a prisoner. We are sorry we had to hit you. You will not be harmed any further.”
“What do you command?” asked Justin still scared and bewildered.
“We are the ‘Leopard Patriots,’ and we are the most powerful militia in America.”
Justin had heard about militias. However, he had never talked to any one in a militia before. “Are you against the Federal Government?”
“We are the government,” Sharpe said arrogantly. “We are the enforcing arm of the people. The government is by the people, and for the people, and of the people, and those idiots in power are none of those things.” His eyes blazed with anger and disdain as he spoke.
“What idiots, Colonel?” Justin now forgot he was a prisoner. He had to know this man’s ideology. His own passion for his country compelled him to know what drove men like this to organize and speak against the government of the greatest nation on Earth.
The Colonel was eager to share his views with his prisoner. “The feds are made up of many factions, with each faction serving a handful of people called the ‘Tribunal.’ This Tribunal is a group of wealthy Jews, and it pulls the strings on who becomes elected, appointed, and even who is audited by the IRS. The Tribunal also controls the interest rates, the stock market, and the oil prices. They have enormous power, and they fear this kind of movement of the people. If we can unite against them, and stand as one people, we will prevail. There are heroes who tried, and they are dead. Ruby Ridge and Waco are only road signs of the fed’s potential evil capabilities. America is not safe with the current people in power. The ATF, the FBI, and the US Treasury Department are using all kinds of illegal means to try and stop us. But, their efforts are futile! We will prevail, because we must have real freedom.” His voice had risen as he spoke. Colonel Sharpe went on. “The Jews and the non-white races in this land would like to take it from white Americans. The Jews control the banking and the money, and the Jewish blacks and browns control the crime and the social programs. America needs a good purging right now, and the whites need to band together.” Justin listened with deep interest and alarm to the ravings of the man before him. He thought of the Native Americans and the way the whites did to them exactly what Colonel Sharpe said the non-whites are now doing to the whites.
Justin was amazed. This man was the epitome of paranoia. Sure, our government was not perfect, but it was better than lawlessness. Justin stared at the man. “Colonel, I have a Masters Degree in Political Science. I have long studied the philosophies you speak of as freedom. I understand your zeal, but you are out of your time. Our nation is not in need of overthrow. Our nation is a free democracy, and it is working. I feel you’re wrong about many things. The races that are in this nation make it what it is. There are no conspiracies against whites. Your bigotry comes the closest to what you are accusing others of.” Justin was bold. Here was an unbalanced, power hungry, GI Joe type, and Justin was spouting off. He felt uneasy.
The Colonel studied him. “They all talk like you at first, but not for long. We were told about you.” With a look of both respect and credulousness, he went on. “Our leader rather reveres you as a hero.”
“What? Why?” Justin shouted with frustration. “What could possibly be his interest in a teacher?”
The Colonel went on proudly. “Our leader is brilliant, and he will reveal all the facts in time. For now, he wants to speak with you by phone.” The Colonel had the handcuffs removed from Justin. He then dialed a number on the phone sitting on the table and immediately got someone on the line. As the Colonel spoke and listened, he appeared to stand more erect. He turned to Justin and handed him the phone. He then motioned the other man to follow him and leave the room.
The voice on the other end was electronically disguised. It sounded guttural, and almost spooky. “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Justin recognized the familiar lines of literature. They were by Thomas Paine. The voice on the line was using a famous quotation, even though out of context. “Mr. Brooks, I have known of you for sometime. It is good to finally talk to you.”
Justin stammered. “Who... Who are you?”
The voice went on. “I am ‘Leopard.’ That is all you need to know. Are my men out of the room?”
“Yes,” said Justin.
“Good, they can’t hear too much too soon.” He went on. “In 1992, I was handed an essay, written by you, about Thomas Paine. I have read it over 100 times since then and I felt it was time to speak with the author.”
Justin was confused. “I have written several essays on Paine. Which one is it?”
Leopard answered. “It is only marked ‘Part 3.’ A friend put it into my hands. Your views were brilliant. You do not know the power you tapped into. Thomas Paine was a supernatural being and his contemporaries were not worthy of his views. You summed up years of dreams and thoughts with this one article. The people of America must be able to see what you have seen in Mr. Paine’s work. America is about to change dramatically. Many in this nation are going to owe you a debt of gratitude. I have made your article a quest. Some of my people believe you are Thomas Paine reincarnated. Whether or not that is true, I need your services.”
Justin felt sick to his stomach. He vaguely remembered the article. To him, it was no big deal. This man was more deluded than Colonel Sharpe. “Mr. Leopard, I believe you have taken the issues and Mr. Paine out of context. You would have known that if you had read Parts 1 and 2. I did not share insurrection for the current government in my essay. The revolution was for that time period, not ours. The government to cast off was England. Do you think Thomas Paine would agree with what you are talking about? You do not understand Thomas Paine at all. He was an American patriot highly in favor of the American Federal system.”
Leopard angrily retorted, “Thomas Paine has not been around for several hundred years to see what America has become.”
Justin quickly responded, “If any effective government is to survive, we must learn how to deal with the bad aspects of it, as well as the good, and keep a mature and tempered view of our co-existence with it.”
Leopard’s voice suddenly turned calm and civil. “Justin, America is weighty and top heavy with other races having a voice, socialistic programs, liberal thinking, and an abuse of power, by Federal Agencies. Every country that is worth its salt needs the cleansing and purging that a good revolution will give it. You said in your essay, Justin, that societies come full circle and overthrow their own leadership over and over again. When the colonies decided to revolt, they brought anarchy, which created the eventual order. That is all the Leopard patriots are trying to do.”
Leopard carefully phrased his next statement. “Your essay is very applicable today. Even more so than when I first read it in 1992. My associates and I were discussing the American problems in 1992, but we needed a battle cry. Your essay came at a time when many in our group were on the fence. They wanted to help change and work with the existing government. Justin, you showed us that we needed to cast it off and start over. Our new government will be greater than ever. Many were swayed by your essay; I was able to use it to the benefit of my movement.”
“You mean you twisted it to meet your ends.” Justin was upset. “I got that strange note a couple of weeks ago in Seattle. It was you who wrote it!”
Leopard paused momentarily, as if wondering whether he should respond. Finally, he said, “One of my people wrote you the note. We wanted to ease you into our world as gradually as possible.”
“I am not going to be in your world at all!” Justin was defiant.
Leopard went on, as if Justin had said nothing. “As I said, we need your services. We feel that you can prepare a document for us that will be a kind of manifesto. It is to be based on Thomas Paine’s works, and we want you to use the same eloquence that you used in your previous writings. You will be supplied a general outline to work from, but we believe your skill and your insights will be necessary to give the passionate flair that people will rally around.”
Justin couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Yet, he needed to know what this was all about. “What people do you need to rally around you? Who is going to join you?”
Leopard was patiently answering all of Justin’s questions. “The essay you will produce will be fed to the media at the appropriate time. The public of America is our target. The country is not ready now. However, it will be soon.”
Justin now wanted out. “Leopard, you may as well take me home, I am not going to do it. You are talking treason. What makes you think that I wouldn’t just turn you in?”
Leopard mockingly laughed at Justin and asked, “Where are you? What state are you in? What is my address and phone number?”
Justin saw the point. He could not identify anyone, but the three men who held him, least of all the man who called himself, ‘Leopard.’ But, where had these men brought him? He suspected Idaho.
Leopard went on. “Justin, in the desk drawer near you, you will find a cell phone. Please get it, and call your wife. You will need to use your area code.”
Now trembling and with fear growing inside him, Justin found the cell phone and dialed his home. It rang 3 times. A strange man answered. “Brooks residence.”
Justin, horrified, screamed, “Who is this? Where are my wife and children?”
The voice calmly replied, “Your wife and kids are safe.” Then the phone was hung up. Justin just stood there numb and shaking.
“Justin, do you hear me?” Leopard was trying to get his attention.
Justin put the other phone back to his ear. “You bastards,” yelled Justin, "what are you trying to do?”
Leopard was quite calm. “We did not know if you would cooperate or not. All that we do is carefully calculated. If you want your wife safe, you will comply. We will hold her until we have what we want from you. When that is done, she will be returned.”
Justin was furious. “Will this be the new government you envision? Kidnapping, extortion, and thugs with machine guns? You are criminals, and you are insane. I want my family…”
Leopard calmly and quietly interrupted Justin in the same electronic voice. “I will not take offense at your words because you are in an emotional state. You will be taken home. You will receive your outline in 2 or 3 days. Do not contact the police or the FBI. This must be confidential. Work with us and your wife will be fine.”
“What about my children?” Leopard ignored him, and told Justin to lay the phone down. He didn’t know what had happened to his children. Leopard had cruelly left him with no answers. Where was his wife? Where were his children? They were his life. He couldn’t live if something happened to them. Somehow, he felt responsible. This was happening because he had innocently, yet passionately written a paper about a man who lived 200 years ago. How could this be happening to him? He felt his world caving in. He felt like screaming and crying and hitting someone all at the same time. The door opened and interrupted his thoughts.
The Colonel came back in, took the phone and ended the call. He assured Justin that all would work out. A hood was once again placed over his head. This time, however, they left the handcuffs off. They knew that as long as they had Justin’s family, he would be no problem; they seemed to know that he would cooperate. The same two men who had brought him escorted him to the truck, this time putting him in the cab with them. Justin tried to pay attention to the drive home. He felt the dirt road, and the paved road. He sat solemnly thinking about his family all the way home. After what seemed like hours, they stopped. The men quickly removed the hood, and Justin saw his car and the college parking lot. They let him out and sped off without a word. Justin got in his car and quickly drove towards home. The sun was beginning to rise. The whole night had passed, and Justin wanted to wake from this nightmare.
When he finally pulled into his driveway, he noticed a dark green, late model car in front of his house. Justin entered cautiously. A man, casually dressed, was sitting on his couch. The man jumped up and walked toward Justin. “Your wife is not here. I was to wait for you. Your children are sleeping safely in their beds. I will go now.”
“Wait, ... I don’t...” But the man had slipped out and hurried across the grass and sped away in his car. Justin stood there. He did not know how to reach these people. He couldn't call the police. He wife had been kidnapped. This wasn't happening. In America, this couldn't happen. He raced upstairs to check on his children. With immense relief, he saw that they were nestled safely in their beds, unaware of the night’s events and that their mother was gone. Trying to muster as much normalcy in his demeanor as possible, Justin woke his son and daughter and dressed them. Tamara, the younger of the two, and only 6, asked where her mother was. Justin feigned a logical explanation about an important project at work that needed her immediate and early attention. His eight year-old son, Daniel, had no questions, and in his easy way accepted his father’s explanation. After feeding them a bowl of cereal, he drove them to Angie's mom's house. He asked her to watch them for a few days. He made an excuse about Angie having to go out of town due to her job. Erin Williams, his mother-in-law, seemed to believe him and always loved taking care of her grandkids. He hoped to have Angie back soon anyway. No one should know anything now.
Justin raced back home. Upon arriving, he dashed into his office and began to frantically rummage through his desk. "Where is it?" he muttered to himself. He had to find his essay that had turned his life upside down. Then, he saw a file marked "Essays On Thomas Paine." He sat down to read it. He had to know and try to understand what he had written that so touched a small army of lunatics. It was vague in his memory. He looked at the page heading: "Views On Revolution, With Excerpts From Thomas Paine." Part 3
Tuesday, September 14, 1999, Denver, Colorado,
Jeff Graham was finally home for the evening. He put a frozen dinner in the oven and turned on the Cable TV news. He was stressed and fatigued after another twelve 12-hour day. Jeff used the remote to get some news as he waited for his dinner. His day had left him edgy and tense. He was glad his wife had gone to bed. He would be poor company. He stopped at one channel. There was a commercial. He saw the words: “Just 108 days to go until the Millennium.” Great. All he needed was more pressure. Jeff was the top computer person for the Alpha Corporation. He had been asked to compile a report for his superiors on the final budget to become totally Y2K compliant. The new company he had just joined was fine on most of their programming and equipment, but they were worried about their on-site terminals. They had completed two phases of compliance, but had now entered the final and stressful 3rd phase. They were a conglomerate with divisions encompassing many different industries. For one, the rental car division they owned had old terminals. The main computer needed an upgrade to be compliant with the satellite terminals. In addition, all the newer computers that were compliant were tied into the mainframe unit. The programs for the mainframe system were written in 1990. The company knew they were becoming obsolete over the last few years, but now, no one actually knew what their capabilities would be after 12/31/99. The late date and the procrastination of the huge expenditure had now pushed them into a “condition red” alert. Jeff was about 2 weeks behind schedule. So now, and with each passing day, he felt there was a ticking time bomb following him around. Jeff had already helped three other firms solve their Y2K issues. He was the top in his field, and he felt it would all work out fine.
It was about 11:00 PM. Jeff couldn’t sleep after dinner. He went over to his computer, and opened up AOL. He would surf the net for a while. What he needed when he finished his report was a good vacation. Jeff wanted to take his wife Michele and head for an Island. Warm sun would be the answer. He could relax. Jeff did an Internet search. He typed in the word “travel.” he computer hummed and the screen opened quickly with the results. There are 4,863,452 items on travel. Jeff narrowed the search. “Travel Packages.” The search engine began another search. There are 454 items on travel packages. Jeff clicked on one of them. “Minuteman Travel.” He liked the sound of that one. There were pictures of ships, and beaches, and beautiful ballrooms. Nice graphics, thought Jeff. Jeff clicked on a package for Hawaii. He found the rates. Wow! He would have to borrow money to do this one. Jeff clicked “HOME PAGE!” He was back on the first page with the pictures. Jeff scrolled down to see if there were more pictures. He saw a hit counter at the bottom, hidden off the main screen. It had 19,467 hits. He saw another package. Canadian Trips. He clicked on that one. The page opened and it was blank. There were the simple words, Click Here. Jeff clicked the spot, and he opened yet another page. It was a page on vacations in Mexico. What a crossover. This was sloppy Web page design. Where was the Canadian Trip page? Jeff's eyes caught a small icon at the bottom of the Web page. It was a clock. The hands were at 12:00. Jeff realized it was a link and clicked it. A new page opened. He was not sure he was in a travel site anymore. There were dates, spanning from October 1 through the end of the year. There was also another icon. It was a picture of a goat’s head. This is strange. Jeff clicked it. A page full of typed text opened. It seemed to be a child's story. It was entitled “The Cat And The Mouse.” Jeff read a few sentences. It didn’t make much sense. It was almost for a child’s mind. Jeff hit the back button on his screen, again and again. He saw the pages go by. First, the goat’s head, and the dates, then, the page on Mexico with a clock. Next, he saw the blank page go by quickly, and then the Home Page. But, he never could find the Canadian page.
Jeff disconnected from the net, and got ready for bed. He entered his dark bedroom, as quietly as possible, so as not to disturb his sleeping wife, and slipped between the covers. Michele stirred, and rolled over to meet him.
“Rough day, hon,” she asked groggily?
“How did you know?” Jeff answered cynically.
Michele, fully awake now, kissed his neck, and put her arm around him. “Maybe I can make it end up nice for you.”
Jeff was tired, but he felt his heart beat pick up a little. “That would be nice,” he replied enthusiastically. The two embraced, in a kiss. Jeff pulled away for a minute. “Love, let’s take a trip to Hawaii in a few weeks.”
Michele squealed. “Do you mean it?” She had wanted and talked about the two of them taking a trip like this for so long. Yet, she had been very patient, understanding the demands of his job.
Jeff looked at his wife’s outline in the dark room. “Yes, I really mean it.”
Michele laughed like a schoolgirl. “Come here you gorgeous man.” The two made love. Jeff forgot his problems. The Y2K bug seemed to be in another century.
Tuesday, September 14, 1999, Wenatchee, Washington
Justin looked at his old essay. He hadn't slept for over 36 hours. Justin had missed school and spent the day pacing and thinking. He had read his old essay in the morning, but now, at 11:00 P.M., he sat down to reread it. His eyes tried hard to focus after no sleep since Monday morning.
Views On Revolution, With Excerpts From Thomas Paine. Part 3.
By Justin Brooks
As many Revolutions of the world go, the American Revolution was destined to happen. We must consider that mankind's original state was one of independence. Man was originally free to live under God's care and law, and he did not need a government to rule him. As society developed and came to a greater number of free independent beings, the liberty was marred by human nature and the natural tendency of mankind to enter disputes and strife and intrude on the rights of each other. Sadly then, organized government came into existence with the power given by God to rule and execute justice. It has always been said that the powers that be are God’s instruments to punish evil doers and keep the public welfare, but many others have said that government rarely imitates God in wisdom, judgment and mercy, and often becomes the problem instead of the solution. Mankind has frequently struggled and dreamed of returning to this free state, without corrupt or oppressive government, so that he might rule himself, and stand before God in a free state.
Thomas Paine believed this to be the case with the European monarchies. He believed, and stated, that these kings were unfit to rule; the design, which put them into power by virtue of inheritance, was flawed, because they were often very young and did not possess the experience or wisdom needed to make public policy and rule a nation. The following are the words of Thomas Paine.
“Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without a government, our calamities are heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to chose the least. Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and the greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.”
“Common Sense,” 1776
It is simply stated here that government is the lesser of two evils, the greater evil being the lawlessness that a lack of government would create. Mankind chooses his government to keep society steady and functioning without incident. But often, government becomes the problem, abusing the power it is entrusted with. The English colonies in America found this to be true. Although England was the mother country, a great distance created a natural rift with the mother being unable to understand her infant. As Thomas Paine so aptly pointed out, an island was trying to rule a continent, and it was doing so with the distance too great, and the stakes too high. Americans were, by nature, independent and free thinkers; many of them or their parents having come to America to pioneer a life that they had seen unavailable in the old world. Revolution was in the air, if not yet in the minds of the colonists themselves.
But, what of revolution in general? It seems there is a cycle, in many lands, whereby the faction that revolts, sets up a government, which is acceptable. With time, however, because of human nature clouding the issues, the ruling powers develop the lack of insight to rule. There are many possible reasons for this: hunger for money, political power, or just government growing and reproducing itself with no real further pure purpose except the one it was originally given by the power of the revolution. It is this condition, which forces the hand of revolution and causes men to feel the need to cast off restraints and begin anew.
The colonies were somewhat different than the revolutionary process I just stated because the revolution was not in England, but in a distant land. However, many of these statements are universal principles, and will re-occur many times in the course of human history, in many different lands.
Justin paused his reading. He saw no real reason for this group to draw conclusions that America was in need of a revolt from this writing. He was stating normal facts of principle and he made no reference to the current state of modern America. Why then did he feel like such a traitor? How was he going to write an essay that could carry this thought, or rather the thoughts Leopard wanted, further? How would he save his wife? He so tired. The coffee did very little to strengthen him. His fatigue was emotional as well as physical. He had to persevere. The safety of his family depended on it. Justin read on.
The colonies were ripe for independence. Freedom was so close it could be tasted. It was being handed to them by destiny. Yes, they would have to fight for it, but generations of free thinkers, from all over Europe and the world, had envisioned a free society where people ruled themselves. Their vision was shaping thoughts in men and women in these little colonies, and these men and women were stretching their mental arms and legs and moving towards their great destiny. But what vehicle would defeat the greatest army and navy in the world? What group or entity could stand against a mature country and its disciplined forces? The strength of ideals and liberty were giving form to an invisible force, a force that would materialize suddenly from the human spirit, a force of comrades joined instantly in a common cause, but a cause that was in the very fiber of their beings; a cause that would make them shapers of their own destinies. Many were still loyal to England, but knew things could not continue as they had.
Thomas Paine came on the scene and with the essay “Common Sense,” gave strong reasoning and passion to bring the unspoken vision to pass. Colonists and patriots heralded the writing as truthful and brilliant, and then they set out to use force to accomplish the sacred mission.
“America did not, nor does not want force; but she wanted a proper application of that force. Wisdom is not the purchase of a day, and it is no wonder that we should err at the first setting off. From an excess of tenderness, we were unwilling to raise an army, and trusted our cause to the temporary defense of a well meaning militia. A summer's experience has now taught us better; yet with those troops, while they were collected, we were able to set bounds to the progress of the enemy, and, thank God, they are again assembling. I always considered militia as the best troops in the world for a sudden exertion, but they will not do for a long campaign. Thomas Paine
"The American Crisis,” 1776
Justin stopped his reading and shuddered. “MILITIA.” These militia people have focused on these words about the Colonial militias. They hate our nation, they hate our federal government, they believe they can do better, and they want an all out revolt. Since they are militias, they feel they are the ones responsible to carry out a plan against our government. What about the words “sudden exertion?” Is Leopard planning a sudden exertion of might? What does he mean when he says, the new essay will be fed to the media at the proper time? Just then, Justin remembered the note. He found his planner and brought it to his desk. He laid it out on top of the essay on revolution. The words in the note rang through his whole being. Knowing what he now knew, and who was behind it, gave a more terrifying perspective to the note. He couldn’t believe that this was happening. He read the note again:
“THINGS ARE NOT AS THEY SEEM IN AMERICA. THE WINDS OF WAR ARE BLOWING. THE WAY TO ORDER IS THROUGH ANARCHY.”
The words penetrated his very being and he began to speculate again. What kind of anarchy could this small group cause? What war would they start? There had been many dissidents over the last 50 years. None had the power to come against a nation like America. The Leopard Patriots have zeal. The madman called Leopard is intelligent. He is also deceived, but he has some knowledge of what he is attempting. I could report them, he thought, but they have Angie. It suddenly occurred to him that even if he complied with Leopard, and his evil plans, they might still kill Angie and him anyway. He wasn’t sure where he stood. How can they be reported for only a belief system? Until they have acted, and committed a crime, they are just like any other crackpot in America. There must be evidence if they’re to be reported. I need to take action, for my wife. But how, with who? He had no idea where they were and particularly where they had his wife.
Justin’s head was swimming. He was tired. Justin went to his bedroom to get some sleep. He needed a plan. He couldn’t just do nothing. He’d get some sleep, and then formulate a plan. He was no good to anyone in his present condition. He knew he was being watched, so he had to be very careful. He had to get a break, some kind of break. After what seemed like a long while, he dozed off. His sleep was restless and fitful, his dreams nightmares.
Wednesday, September 15, 1999, Seattle, Washington
Ralph D’Amico sat at his desk and sipped coffee. Ralph’s partner was out with an injury. They had chased a hoodlum, and his partner jumped a fence and tore a ligament in his knee when he landed on the other side. That wasn’t Ralph’s style. Ralph came around the corner at top speed with the car, threw open the door, and knocked the fleeing punk down. Ralph jumped out and handcuffed him. It was over. Now, Ralph sat and focused on the investigation, without a partner. Ralph was 57. He would be qualified for retirement in a few years. However, with a recent divorce, and his grown children not speaking to him, Ralph’s personal life had collapsed. A Policeman’s personal, off-duty, life was usually the only stabilizing force in his life. It was what kept most cops and detectives like himself sane. There was something about knowing that at the end of every shift, whether it was daylight or the midnight hours, his family was there waiting for him; knowing what his job was like and rubbing the smooth balm of understanding into the wounds of the day inflicted by the fierce nature of the job. Now, for him, that was all gone. So, Detective Ralph D’Amico buried himself in his work, and the criminals of urban Seattle were no better for it.
Ralph was not without career problems. Ralph had had a dispute with an FBI agent over the handling of a stakeout, and now Ralph was up on charges with his Captain. Ralph knew he had to answer for the rude behavior he’d shown to the FBI, and he was inwardly concerned about it. Ralph was a man with lines in his rugged face, greasy dark hair that was streaked with gray, and a Colombo like trench coat, which he felt was appropriate for the damp Seattle weather. No one wanted to tell Ralph he looked unkempt, and he needed to iron his shirts and slacks. His ties had stains, and they always were loose and sagging around his neck, like they would choke him if he knotted them correctly. Ralph’s appearance shouted who and what he was, the effects of the many years in his line of work taking its toll on his life. Ralph was a homicide detective.
Ralph was sitting deep in thought, as he often did these days, when a fellow officer called to him.
“Ralph, you have a phone call.”
Ralph picked up the line. The voice on the other end said, “Is this Detective D’Amico?” “Yea, that’s me,” barked Ralph.
“We have a man out here in the lobby. He says he has got to talk to a homicide detective. You are the only one in. Can you see him?”
Ralph rolled his eyes. “I’ll be right out.”
Ralph hung up the phone, and started for the lobby. He entered the lobby that the Seattle PD was so proud of. It had clean, shiny marble floors, efficient bright lighting and floor to ceiling (bullet proof) windows, and gave the impression of anything but a thriving, busy, police department. It even boasted large, expensive, and expansive wall murals. Ralph didn’t seem to fit with the decor. He was more of a “behind the scenes” sort of guy who didn’t have much use for pretense. He thought this was pretense. Ralph entered the lobby, and he immediately spotted a man who looked like a nervous wreck. He was casually, but expensively dressed. This man had fair coloring, possibly of German or Swiss descent. He was tall and probably in his mid to late 30’s. He was holding a pack of cigarettes, obviously longing to have a smoke due to his present nervous condition. He was probably a chain smoker. Yet, he also had an air of sophistication. Rather like a man who’s been around the world a few times. It was Ralph’s intuitive eye that made him such a successful and bold detective.
Ralph swiftly approached him. “Can I help you, “ he politely yet briskly asked?
“Yes. My name is Frederickson. I need to speak with a detective.”
Ralph motioned him to follow him into an interrogation room, where they closed the door. “What’s your problem, sir?” Ralph wanted to get to the point.
The man looked around. He was looking to make sure the room was private. “Is there someone behind that window?”
“No sir, we are alone. No one is listening. Now what can I do for you?”
The man began. “I am a man who is about to die. I want to report it and let you know it.”
Ralph almost smiled in the man’s face. This was just what he needed, a paranoid nut. He looked away just in time. “Go on sir.”
“I became involved with a man who was buying goods from me. I sell army supplies and weapons. The man’s name was Phil. After I got to know him pretty well, he asked me if I wanted to become a part of his organization. He told me I could get more contacts to sell more of my supplies, and that it would be a good move for business. He said I had to come to a meeting at an abandoned building, and hear what this group was all about. When I showed up, there were five men and a woman there. A leader identified himself as Lieutenant Brown, and that was what we should call him. I listened to him, and I was interested. Brown shared that the organization was very large. However, no one could know the leadership except for the Lieutenant himself. He said this was temporary, and would change later. Our activities would be to get together once a week and train in military procedures: marching, shooting, physical training, and so on. I signed a release form with them, and I was in. They didn’t tell me what we would be doing as a military unit. I guess I didn’t really think to ask. It seemed like it was all very proper. I drilled with this group for about 2 months. We met on open ground at a place outside of Seattle. There were 150 men and women in this unit. It seemed they had quite a bit of desire to fight and kill. Men are naturally aggressive like this, anyway. After my first exercise or two, I began to hear the hate for other races, and talk of violence towards them. It was then I knew I didn’t belong. One night, Phil called me. He had had some drinks, and he wanted to talk. We had become closer friends by this time. He said he had some powerful secrets about the group. I was curious, so I went to his house, and he told me the most amazing story. I could hardly believe it. Apparently, this organization has been building for 10 years. It is made up of militias around the whole nation who have linked together. They started with 24 groups. In 10 years, however, they have grown to over 20,000 groups. Each group has about 100 to 150 men and women. This whole thing is done in secret. They call themselves the Leopard Patriots. The lieutenants get orders, and put their troops through the paces. No one lower than a lieutenant has any idea of what the plans are. However, with the groups so large in number, it is rumored that action will be taken soon. The soldiers think they are just drilling, in case of foreign invaders. Phil said it is rumored the attack will be against our government. No one knows how to contact the heads, or how they communicate. It is a very secretive and efficient underground. Yesterday, Phil called again, and said he had learned more. I went to his home last night, and he didn't answer the door. I tried the door, thinking maybe he was in the back of the house, and it was open, so I went inside. There was Phil on the ground. He was lying in a pool of blood. He was on his face, and he had a wound in his stomach and in his head. It appears they put the gun at his head, and shot him, execution style. I knew he was dead. It was gruesome. I heard some commotion in the back of his house, so I ran. That was last night. I know they know who I am, and they will kill me too. I went by there today, on my way here, and looked in Phil's house. He was gone. The body is gone, and there is a big hole in the carpet where the pool of blood was.”
Ralph was getting tired. “OK, wait a minute. You have a great story, but it’s not very believable. And, on top of that, now you tell me there is no body.”
Frederickson looked annoyed at Ralph. “I am telling you the truth. He was dead. The group cleaned up after itself. I know my life isn’t worth anything.”
Ralph sighed and decided to be kind. “Look, if they haven’t killed you, I can’t help you. I’m sorry if that sounds cynical. But as for your friend, Phil, give me his address and your address and phone number, and I’ll check this out.”
“Sure officer, I guess that is all I can ask for.” Frederickson stood up and shook Ralph’s hand. He wrote the information down on Ralph’s little note pad and left the station. Ralph walked back to his desk, shaking his head.
Friday, September 17, 1999, Wenatchee, Washington
Justin was home from school early. He still had not heard from his contacts, and he was agonizing over his wife’s safety. A knock at the front door startled Justin. When Justin opened the door, a man handed him an envelope. No doubt, it was the information for Leopard's essay. As he closed the door, the phone rang. Justin recognized the electronic voice of Leopard. “Justin, you now have your papers. More will be given soon. Tracing this call would be stupid. I use a cell phone. By the way, that blue shirt you are wearing is sharp.” Justin was startled. So. He is watching and listening to everything. He sees me now, or, he saw me come home. Justin had come to a decision. He would have to play along with Leopard. He could work on the essay and try to find his wife at the same time, but he knew he was alone in this. He would befriend this movement, get close to Leopard, and then get to Angie. Only when his family was safe could he expose these people.
Justin chose his words carefully. “Tell me what your plans are.”
“Sure my young friend, but not today. Did I mention I am pleased that you have been good and haven’t called the police?”
“Leopard, all I want is to get done with this thing and get my wife. My mother-in-law is watching our children and she will get suspicious. My wife can’t stay gone forever.”
“Let’s get to work then. You can begin today to work on the essay.” Leopard was not concerned about his kids. He was focused on his paper, and nothing more.
The phone call ended, and Justin opened the envelope. The first page read: “Charges Against the American Government!” This section was three pages long. Another section title read: “Visions of a New America!” It was also lengthy. Justin knew he was supposed to make some sense of these notes, and bring order to them. He also knew one thing. His name would not go on this writing. He chuckled at his obvious humor. Justin skimmed the papers. There were many references to Jews and the feds. Justin needed to speak with a person who in this philosophy deep.
Justin opened his planner. His student address and phone directory was in there. Justin turned it to one of his students, Mark Walker. Justin dialed his number. A young man answered on the first ring. “Mark, this is Mr. Brooks.”
Mark seemed shocked. “Uh, hi, Mr. Brooks. What can I do for you?”
“I’d like to talk to you. Can I come by?”
“I guess so. Sure.” Justin got directions to Mark’s house and hung up leaving the young man more than a little apprehensive.
Justin jumped in his car and pulled up to Mark’s house at about 6:00 PM. He knocked on the door, and Mark answered. This young college kid was a nice kid, but Justin’s call had made him nervous. The teacher doesn’t usually visit. Mark let him in and offered his teacher the couch and something to drink.
Justin accepted the seat, but declined the drink. He got right to his reason for being there. “Mark, we had a discussion in class, and you seemed to be very passionate about the Federal Government.”
Mark was defensive and wanted to protect himself, not knowing where his teacher was going with this. "Look, I don't know much. It's my old man."
Justin could see he was getting excited. “Mark, I am writing a paper on this, and I need a citizen’s point of view.”
Realizing it was Mark’s father his teacher was interested in he calmed down a bit. “Well, my old man is bowling tonight. He won’t be him home until late.”
Justin pressed. “Mark, it is imperative that I meet him. Can you take me to him? Now?”
Mark shrugged. “OK, let’s go.” They both got in Justin’s car and drove straight to the bowling alley. Mark said very little. Once inside, Mark led Justin to a group of men. Mark approached a large man with big forearms. He looked like a plumber or contractor, a blue-collar worker at any rate. “Dad, this is my Poli-Sci teacher. He wants to talk to you.” The father looked in Justin’s direction. He turned around to his son, and glared. “What did you do now?”
Mark looked like a helpless little kid before the large man. “Dad, he isn’t here because I am in trouble. He just wants a word with you.”
The man looked at Justin again. “Let me bowl this last frame, and I’ll be right over.” Justin watched the man gracefully glide down the alley and release the ball with pointed accuracy and skill. This large man made bowling look easy and Justin, who had never bowled much, was impressed. He picked up a spare and then walked over to Justin.
He held out his hand and more than a little firmly, shook Justin’s. “My name is John. John Walker.”
The two walked to a table and sat down. “Sir, I appreciate your time. As Mark said, I am his political science teacher. I noticed one day he was sharing about the government, and I would like to understand his views. He said you shared them with him.
“That kid has a big mouth.” John seemed perturbed.
“He no doubt admires you and wants to be like you.” Justin knew how to handle this guy.
The big man smiled and seemed to soften. “Well, I hang out with some interesting people, and we discuss these things, but most of it is just talk.”
Justin was going to hit hard. “Are you in favor of our government?”
John looked shocked at Justin’s bluntness. “Will what I say be repeated?” John was deflecting the verbal punch.
“No.” Justin assured him as he looked squarely at him.
“Well, I think some changes are needed, and I believe there will be a showdown between the true Americans, and the Jewish Feds.”
Justin was confused. He also caught the innuendo about Jewish feds. Anyone not like Mr. Walker and his friends were Jews. It seemed to be the villainous element in this country in this groups way of thinking. “Aren’t the ‘Feds’ Americans?”
“They think they are. But, if a person isn’t ready to defend his country from invaders and fe..., foreigners, right now, on the spot, in a sudden call to arms, he isn’t a true American.”
Justin could hear a sort of speech under this man’s words. He had been brainwashed. He believes what he is saying, and he almost said Feds instead of foreigners. Justin could hear in his words that John believes the true American is the militia, and the Feds are the invaders. Justin could see these people were identifying with the early colonists. They saw the feds like the British. But, they also believed the non-white races and the Jews to be enemies also.
Justin decided to go all the way. “John, can you introduce me to your true American friends? I'd like to talk to them too.”
Carefully he replied, “If you want to give your number, we can contact you.”
Justin could not give his home number, because he knew Leopard was watching him too closely. He knew everything was bugged, and he had to keep out of Leopard’s reach. He gave John his school phone number, at the secretary’s desk
Just then, a tall and rather stern looking man walked up to John. “John, I have to talk to you. Right now, please.” John excused himself, and Justin said goodbye. He and Mark headed back to Mark’s house. Justin dropped off Mark and drove home. Had he accomplished anything? He was thinking about the hate of these people. They didn’t truly know the Jews or the non-white races they slurred and despised. They were racists and bigots. They also sounded like fascists. They were passing around propaganda and hatred without thinking it through for themselves with their own originality. Justin knew this was the foundation of racism and racial hatred. It stemmed from the lack of desire or willingness to be honest with one’s self. To take on other’s thoughts about a race without their own human conscience filtering the information. That was the path to evil and divisive hatred that led to some of the world’s greatest atrocities.
Monday, September 20, 1999, Denver, Colorado
Jeff Graham was about to take a break. He had worked hard so far that day. His job could be very intense at times, and the nature of it required that he break away and clear his thoughts. If he did not, he often found that he would overlook the obvious, something that time could not afford. He got some coffee, and closed his office door. Most of the people in his company knew not to knock when he closed the door. A closed door meant that the computer genius was hot on the trail of the Y2K Bug. At 28, Jeff was the youngest computer engineer in the company. However, because of his skill, his I. Q., and his ability to work with and inspire others, he already ran the department. Jeff took these things for granted. He only knew that he was “doing” the thing he enjoyed most and getting paid top dollar for it. His passion for computers started when he was 8 years old and a local firm had given his school some used computers. Jeff quickly adapted to the way computers operated, what made them tick, and he set out to learn all he could. It wasn’t long before he was on the cutting edge of this fast changing technology. He became what his friends called, a “computer nerd.” They teased him a lot, but they secretly admired him and Jeff knew it. He was the one they came to in later years to help them with their computer science classes. Computers and the information age were Jeff’s passion. He felt called to it and wanted to make a difference in the industry, he wanted to contribute something. He also had an uncanny knack for problem solving. His teachers, once aware of this, allowed him to work on their class computers when there was a problem. He even designed programs for individual teachers and was paid for his efforts. His computer design understanding and abilities had brought him to where he was at now: an expert on the “Y2K Bug.”
Jeff opened his laptop computer and connected it to the web. Jeff went directly to the travel web site he had found the night before. He still wanted a vacation, but he was actually obsessed with the irregularities here. Jeff was a hacker. He knew all the tricks and for some reason, this site didn't feel right. Jeff opened the home page. He looked for the email address of the firm. There it was at the bottom: Minuteman.xls.net. Jeff clicked on it. He immediately got an email box, but he canceled it out. He'd look around a little more. Jeff clicked the same trail as before. There was the Canadian page that really went to Mexico by way of a blank page, and there was the clock. He clicked that and got the dates. The dates were still the same. He clicked the goat’s head, and now he had the text, but this time, the story was different. Instead of “The Cat and the Mouse,” there was a new story: “All The King's Horses!” Again, Jeff noted it was a silly grouping of words. This time, Jeff read farther. In the second paragraph, Jeff noticed numbers and letters being mixed together. In the third paragraph, Jeff noticed just words again. This is strange. Jeff had known html codes to do strange things at times, but this was more orderly than a random mistake. Jeff went back to the web page. It had 13,751 hits in the hidden hit counter. Jeff seldom encountered something he didn’t understand concerning computers, programs, or the net. This thing was puzzling, and he wanted to solve it. Jeff clicked up the email again and just as quickly changed his mind. No, he thought. I will proceed cautiously. Jeff couldn’t have known that if he had sent the email, that day, he would be dead in a few days. Jeff closed his server, and shut his laptop. He needed to get back to his work. Later, he would explore this new challenge further!
Wednesday, September 29, 1999, Seattle, Washington
Ralph D’Amico nudged open Phil’s front door. With his hand on his gun, Ralph cautiously stepped inside. No one was around. The house was eerily quiet. He went into the living room and there, in the center of the room, was a large hole cut in the carpet. It had been several days since he had listened to the report from the strange man. This was partly because he didn’t believe it, and partly because he had been called out on another case. He was only just now getting around to checking this out. There was no sign of struggle, or of blood. The room was neat and simple. It had no frills or feminine touch. Phil must have been a bachelor. Ralph went into the bedroom. He always found the least obvious clues in bedrooms. Throughout his career, it had become his habit to make that room a priority. The bed was unmade - in his opinion also a bachelor trait. But, unlike his “bachelor pad” all the clothes were hung up. He noticed a small desk near a narrow window across the room. He made his way around the bed to the window. He looked out to see what was adjacent to Phil’s bedroom. There was another house, but the fence was high and the distance was about 30 feet; probably too far for anyone to hear anything. He would check on that later. Ralph now turned his attention to the desk. The desk did not look like it was used much as a desk, but rather just a place to take phone calls. All it had on it was an older princess style phone, a small coffee mug with pens and pencils, and a small notepad next to the phone. The notepad was blank, but he noticed an indent on the pad, so Ralph tore it off and put it in his pocket. Ralph was now wishing he had come sooner. The man’s story about the murder seemed more believable because of the hole in the carpet. He had also noticed as he walked through the house, that the man had not taken any personal belongings such as a razor, toothbrush, or pocket comb; they still lay where Phil had left them. Phil was either murdered like he’d been told, or Phil had disappeared on his own without even taking his essentials. Ralph was beginning to believe the former. However, he still did not believe the militia business. It seemed a little farfetched and sensationalistic. Probably the result of a paranoid mind. Yet, there was a hole in the carpet…. Ralph’s pager went off. He went to the phone, and, using a handkerchief so as not to mess up any possible prints, lifted the phone and called his precinct. He had a cell phone, but he didn’t like to use it if he didn’t have to. It made him feel a little too yuppiish. His captain had an immediate assignment for him. Such was always the case. It was always “immediate.” But he loved that. He was always on the go. There was always something new going on. This time, he was to go over to the east side of town. A woman’s body was found in the park on 53rd Ave. Ralph left the home and drove over to the east side. He purposed to come back and check the house out a little closer - when he had time.
As Ralph drove up, he saw the coroner’s wagon. Three squad cars were there also as well as a news team. There were 20 or so onlookers trying to get a glimpse of the victim. These morbid types were always at a murder crime scene; he never quite understood why they were so intent on seeing the ghastliness and horror of someone’s death. He’s seen enough for a lifetime, yet he was still doing it. Maybe they were not so different. He nonchalantly scanned the crowd for anyone who might seem different; whose interest might be a little more intense than anyone else’s. There were a couple of officers trying to keep the people back and marking off the crime scene with tape. Ralph walked up to the officers who pointed to the ground where a body lay discreetly covered by a sheet.
One officer stepped up to fill Ralph in. “This woman was dumped here sometime last night. Her throat’s been cut. She bled to death. There was no sign of other injuries, and probably no rape. This appears to be just a cold-blooded murder.”
Ralph went over to the sheet, and pulled it back. Her purse was there; ID, credit cards, everything, it was all there. Ralph saw the wounds. The woman’s throat had been viciously and severely cut; possibly the worst he’d ever seen. This was a professional looking job, neat and probably quick. Ralph saw a piece of paper sticking out of the woman's blouse. No one had noticed it yet. While no one was looking, Ralph discreetly took the paper, and folded it up in his hand. He put the sheet over the woman and went to speak with the officers again.
Ralph got in his car and unfolded the paper. It had boldly written instructions on it: CALL JUSTIN BROOKS, WENATCHEE HILLS COLLEGE, 212-456-2345. Ralph was perplexed. Did the woman write this note, or did the killer write it? Ralph went to the nearest payphone. “Operator, get me the Wenatchee Hills College.” Ralph needed to use his credit card for the long distance call.
A female voice answered. “Wenatchee Hills College. May I help you?”
“Yes. This is Detective D’amico of the Seattle Police Department. Can I please speak with Justin Brooks?”
“One moment sir, I’ll put you through to his office.” Ralph waited for quite awhile.
“This is Justin Brooks.”
“Sir, this is Ralph D’Amico of the Seattle Police Department. I’m sorry to trouble you.” Ralph always approached those who might be a significant source of information in a homicide with great consideration and deference. It always paid off in the end. There was a time that he would just push his way in, so to speak, and the results were that he would never get the cooperation he needed, nor the trust. It had been a hard lesson to learn because it was against his nature to proceed somewhat cautiously at first. Nevertheless, until he had an idea of all the players, he had found that it was the best way.
He carefully went on with Justin. “I am with the homicide division. We have discovered the body of a recently murdered woman here. There was a note on it to call you.”
Justin froze. He felt like vomiting. “Angie!” gasped Justin. He wanted to scream. He put his head on his desk.
Ralph could feel the pain through the phone line. “Mr. Brooks, are you OK?”
Justin couldn’t breathe. These were words he couldn’t bear to hear.
“Sir.” Ralph tried to get the attention of the man on the other end of the line. This man’s reaction was very strange; he seemed devastated and he didn’t even know the facts. And who was “Angie?”
“Sir,” Ralph said again, “her name isn’t Angie.”
Justin heard the caller’s words and sat up. He was confused. “What?” he asked.
“We have her driver’s license. Her name is Heidi. Heidi Stein.”
Justin felt a weight leave his chest. He took a deep breath. “Thank you God, Oh, thank you...” He was so relieved. Then the murder victim’s name sunk in. Heidi. He said, “I know her. She is my…” Justin paused and went on softly. “She is my student.”
Justin was relieved, and he felt guilty, because he was glad it wasn’t Angie. It was, however, Heidi, a young and eager college student. He suddenly realized this was Leopard. This was his work. He wanted me to think it was Angie to terrify me. It had worked. Now a bright, young, and innocent girl had been murdered. He felt somehow responsible. This Leopard had to be stopped. He was insane. He killed so easily. What if he’d already killed Angie? No, he wouldn’t think that way, he had to have hope.
“Detective, h…how did she die?” Justin had to know.
“Mr. Brooks, are you sure you want details right now?” Ralph was trying to spare Justin. Normally Ralph wouldn’t even consider sharing those details, but he knew it would be in the papers, so it wasn’t a matter of security.
“Yes, I have to know.”
“Someone cut her throat. She bled to death.”
Justin was sickened. He could imagine how horrible this was for Heidi.
“Is there something you are not telling me, Mr. Brooks?” Ralph was sensing something more here that just a teacher’s grief over the horrible and untimely death of his student.
Justin got tense. “What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. I just wondered. Do you have any information that may be helpful to our investigation? Did you know her or any of her friends, for instance?” Ralph was now skillfully probing, looking not just for the answers, but the way the answers were delivered. He was looking for the slightest irregularity in his response. There was something here, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. Maybe he’d have to take a drive to Wenatchee.
Justin’s response was painful and deliberate. He obviously was grieved over the news, but had nothing to offer.
“I have a report to go make. We will be sending someone to notify her family.” Ralph gave Justin his phone number, and after telling Justin that he might be contacted again, ended the call.
Justin sat at his desk for a long while and thought about the news he had just received and what it meant to him personally. He thought of Heidi’s parents. He didn’t know them, but he knew how terrible it would be for them. He also couldn’t help but think the killing was racially motivated. Heidi was possibly Jewish. Her last name may have singled her out. This was pure terrorism. Justin was being terrorized by people who knew he’d think Heidi was his missing wife. He was so sorry and so angry and he felt so helpless. He knew he was an emotional wreck. Justin slowly began to pack his briefcase to head for his home, where only a few days ago, his wife would have greeted him at the door with a kiss and a warm hug. How he longed for his old life. So much had changed in a few days; he also knew they could never be totally the same again. But, he would never stop trying to get his life back. Never.
That night, Justin’s phone rang. He was at his desk looking over the outline of the essay he was to write and trying to eat a “cup-of-soup.” He could hardly eat and was having trouble concentrating on his horrible task. So much depended on doing what was required of him. It had begun to occur to him that so much might depend on him not doing what was being required of him. But his family was first, their safety, their future, and their lives. He would do whatever it took to insure Angie’s safe return. The phone’s ring made him jump.
He answered and the familiar electronic voice got directly to the point. “Justin, how is my essay coming?”
“You are evil. You killed that girl,” Justin shouted.
“Justin, every time you break my rules, you will pay. Discipline is why I have power. I know you spoke with Walker. I know you are snooping into us. That is not the activity you should be concentrating on. I must have this essay. A government must be built on precious documents, written in blood.”
Justin thought the expression was presently too close to reality. Leopard went on. “How is the essay coming along? We are on a timetable.”
“I have an outline. I have a few paragraphs written.” Justin was bluffing. He had very little done.
“Good. I want you to call in sick next Tuesday. I will send two men to pick you up, and they will bring you to me. I want to meet you.” Leopard sounded very absolute. It was no use arguing. This might be a good step. Maybe he would see Angie.
“Justin, bring the outline and the writing.” Justin’s heart sank. He was called on his bluff. The call was over. Did Leopard know Justin was bluffing? Justin wondered. He turned to his desktop and began to set up the essay. He worked way into the night. He was writing garbage. He had no passion for it. As brilliant as Leopard might be, he lacked the simple understanding that you can’t make another convey your passion. It has to be personal. Justin was in pain, and felt like screaming. When would this nightmare end? He wanted to see his wife. Maybe soon.
There was a time when fortune, like a yielding mistress, courted me with smiles - She never waited to be told my wishes, but studied to discover them, and seemed not happy to herself, but when she had some favor to bestow. Ah! Little did I think the fair enchantress would desert me thus; and after lavishing her smiles on me, turn my reproacher, and publish me in folio to the world.
Thomas Paine, Reflections On The Life And Death Of Lord Clive, 1775
Friday, October 1, 1999, Omaha, Nebraska
The Omaha office of the FBI was winding down for the day. It was 5:30 PM and many of the “civilians” had just left for home. Thirteen people were still in the office. The blast caused rumblings that could be felt in homes as far as 2 miles away. Thirteen people were blown to bits, and rescue workers couldn't find much of them. More offices than just the FBI headquarters were involved in the blast. Half of a private company in the adjacent office space was also destroyed. Fortunately, they had all gone home. An anonymous caller to a local television station proclaimed that this bombing was done by freedom fighters who wished to set America free. The news was buzzing all over the nation. Within 1 hour, various teams, within the FBI, were being flown in from all over the country to create an onsite task force on this latest domestic terrorism. Omaha, because of this vicious attack, became the new headquarters for this task force. The names of the dead were withheld until the next business day, pending notification of family members. The city of Omaha was in shock; the nation was afraid.
Friday, October 1, 1999, Portland, Oregon
One hour later, the offices of the ATF in Portland, Oregon, blew up. Three people were killed. The nation was already reeling from the first blast. These terrorist attacks were quick and strategic, leaving the country fearful, on edge, and wondering where or who could be next. Within 1 hour, the two blasts were on every news station, and by morning, it was on the cover of every paper. Not since Oklahoma City, had the nation seen this level of violence directed against the Federal Government.
Saturday, October 2, 1999, Washington D.C.
The President called together his cabinet, and the heads of both the FBI and the CIA for a special meeting. There were a few other experts there also, but it was a very secret meeting. All morning, they discussed the very real terrorism threat now facing them. Until now, the eyes of the nation had been elsewhere. There was preoccupation with the approaching millennial celebration, and the continued rivalry in Washington since the impeachment hearings and scandal. The difficulties in the mid-east were also drawing national attention. No one could see a slow but steadily mounting wave of local unrest, and violence.
The President ordered the two agencies on a special alert. He spoke solemn words to his cabinet and the others that were present. “We must not let the disorder of the day lead to all-out chaos. The people of America can only take so much.” While our President wanted to avoid chaos, another man was contemplating it.
Monday, October 4, 1999, New York City, New York
Sheila Halpren tirelessly typed on her article. Her reporter status at the American Tribune was a hard earned one. She had worked long hours, above and beyond the norm, to get on with a national newspaper. Her inexhaustible efforts had paid off. With a readership of several million, she believed she could make a difference and desperately wanted to. As a fairly new reporter of 37 years old, Sheila was as idealistic as they get. The truth was her god. The very reason she had pursued journalism was because she had seen what she believed to be manipulation of facts by the media to sell stories and thus often lead the unsuspecting American public down a road of white lies, stretched truths, unverified “facts”, and manipulative stories. Sheila believed in the “freedom of the press,” but felt a tremendous responsibility in that freedom to only share truth. She would sniff out that truth until it hurt, and she would let nothing stand in her way. In her short career, her perseverance and instincts had established her as a journalist with a bright and promising future.
Sheila’s present journalistic pursuit was a piece about domestic national violence, hate- crimes, and terrorism. The bombs in Omaha and Portland were shocking, but they also opened some doors of opportunity for her. Though she was the youngest member of the staff, her editor, Harold Barnes, gave her an assignment to do a series of articles on these current terrorist events. Giving her the assignment caused some flack to fly from the more senior journalists. However, she had already been doing extensive research on this very subject, so the story was hers - she was prepared.
That morning Sheila made some preliminary calls to federal officials, and then did some Internet research. She then returned to her computer and began to type. She’d make her deadline. This would be the first article in a series of five or six articles. Sheila was excited. She knew something was brewing, she could feel it. It was something more that what had already been reported to the public. She was confident that her research and efforts would take her where she wanted to go: to the truth!
Tuesday, October 5, 1999, Seattle, Washington
Ralph D’Amico sat in a small cafe and sipped coffee. He came here often when he wanted to think and the server always greeted him with a “hello, Ralph, how’s business,” and a perfect cup of coffee. He sat in his regular booth and thought about the events of the last few days. What if that story that Frederickson told was true? Shouldn’t he speak with someone at the Federal level? His relationship with the FBI was not good. He was not a "by the book" kind of guy. Some of them wanted his badge. Ralph looked at the front page of the newspaper he’d picked up on his way in. In bold type, he read the headlines: Federal Agencies Bombed In Two Cities! Ralph wondered if this was related to the militia story he had heard. He turned the page, and there was a story about domestic terrorism. The byline was Sheila Halpren. Ralph read the article with a new interest in the subject. Sheila was giving the history of the militias and of terrorist's acts on the country. Ralph saved the article after he’d finished reading it. He may need some of her information if he could dig up anything on the possible murder of the man named “Phil.” At that moment, Ralph had no idea that the murder of the young woman, that he was also investigating, was significantly related. So far, he had hit a dead end on that case.
Tuesday, October 5, 1999, Denver, Colorado
Jeff Graham was having breakfast with his wife. The day was sunny, but unusually cold for early October. Some of the leaves on the big maple tree outside the kitchen window were just starting to turn yellow signaling the advent of fall. That tree was why Michele had wanted this house. Sometimes on Saturday mornings, he would wake up to find her sitting with a cup of coffee staring quietly out the window at their backyard, which was silhouetted against the looming Rocky Mountains. She said that that tree would be her signal of the changing seasons. She enjoyed every season, cold or warm, and everything in between. Like him, she worked in an office, but she loved the outdoors and anything that had to do with nature. He loved that about her. The way she was had often brought him out of his too technical world and back down to earth and the things that really mattered.
He looked at his watch. He and Michele had to hurry. They would both be off to work within the hour. Jeff’s thoughts turned to the strange website he had happened upon.
“Honey, I looked again at the website I told you about, and I think it has encrypted information. What might be the purpose of that? Who would want to relay secretive information through the web? There are other ways for small groups to communicate that are better than the web. There would have to be a huge number of people, in massive proportions, using that information to warrant that method of communication.”
Michele tried to help. “I don’t know,” she said. She paused speculatively then went on, “If it is secretive, maybe it’s a group of terrorists. I read in the paper this morning that they think those two bombings, last Friday, were possibly caused by domestic terrorists. The Internet does have some advantages. People that want to stay underground and anonymous, and still have a public voice could be using it.”
Jeff thought about what his wife said. “The hit counter indicated at first that the site had had about 19,000 hits. The next time it was down to 13,000. How is the number going backwards?”
Michele laughed. “You’re the computer whiz kid. You figure it out.”
Jeff stared at the pattern in the wallpaper of their sunny kitchen for a moment. On the wall were small flowers, thousands of them. “I have it. They post that story that doesn’t mean anything, and I bet the counter goes to zero with each story change. I can prove it by logging on every day until they change stories again.”
Michele smiled. “Just don’t forget the Y2K Bug. That is what you get paid for. By the way, here is your newspaper.”
Jeff finished his breakfast, gathered his things, threw the newspaper in his briefcase, kissed his wife, and headed for work.
Tuesday, October 5, 1999, Wenatchee, Washington
Justin sat in his little home office, at his desk, with the morning paper and a cup of coffee. He was waiting for the two men. He read about the bombings, and he read the article by Sheila Halpren on domestic terrorism. Boy, he thought, she has no idea how hot of a trail she is on. Justin rechecked the file of the essay. He stayed up half the night and wrote the paragraphs, and he wrote a rough outline. He would show Leopard what he had accomplished.
He heard a knock at the front door. Leopard’s men had arrived. He picked up the file and went to the door. The men who had been assigned to pick him up were, by all appearances, average men. They were not like one might have expected considering the kind of man they worked for. They were courteous to him, but explained he must be blindfolded. They escorted him to the back seat of an unpretentious late model ford. They waited until they got down the street before covering him with a hood.
It was a relaxing drive, not like the first one. Justin was getting used to traveling in the darkness of a hood or blindfold. Where were they going? He could tell by the consistent, smooth, high speed that it was freeway, but which freeway and to where? They must have driven at lease 4 hours. The car soon left the smoothness of the freeway and began to take many turns, with quick stops and starts. He assumed they went through a town, by the sometimes-long stops for what must have been stoplights. Shortly thereafter, one of the men rolled down his window. The fresh air that swept in penetrated his dark and stuffy hood; they must be in the countryside. Justin wondered about Leopard. Why would he risk revealing himself to Justin? Who was he? How large was his organization? Was he a real threat to America? Or, was he just a small time fanatic? Justin had many questions.
When the car finally came to a stop, the men got Justin out. They carefully led him up some steps. A door was opened and he was escorted inside. The room he was in was either quite large or very empty; he could hear his and the other men’s footsteps echoing as they made their way. They went into a room and sat Justin in a chair. Justin got chills. He had never felt anything like this before; the place felt evil. Was this real or was it only from what he knew? Just then, someone else entered the room. This person sat down in front of Justin. He could feel his close presence. A pleasant sounding male voice said, “Take off the blindfold.”
As the blindfold was removed, Justin saw that the room was dark. As his eyes adjusted, he looked ahead, and saw a small man with piercing dark eyes. The eyes were intelligent, but they looked malevolent. The man before him looked like he was about 45 years old. He was wearing casual slacks with expensive looking loafers and a light blue sweater. His well-groomed brown hair was combed almost straight back and short on the sides with just the beginnings of graying at the temples. This man would blend in anywhere in America; he looked that “average.” The man’s gaze was a half smile. He was clean-shaven, and his eyes would not leave Justin. “Justin, welcome. How was your drive?”
Justin didn’t respond. Though his voice was no longer disguised, he knew this man to be Leopard. How like him to begin a conversation by asking the mundane. Justin had something else in mind. “Where is my wife?”
“We will discuss your wife later,” he momentarily flared.
His response made it clear that that was a subject that would be discussed when he was ready, and not before. Justin changed his direction with another question. The last thing he wanted to do was jeopardize his wife’s safety.
Justin asked, “What is the significance of ‘Leopard’?”
“Good question.” Leopard looked pleased. “Justin, what do you know about a real leopard in the wild?”
Justin decided to play along. He responded, “they’re sleek, they hunt, they’re strong, and they have camouflage.”
“Precisely,” said Leopard. He continued, “A real Leopard can’t be seen in his natural habitat, and when he strikes, he takes his prey by surprise. This is the character of me and of my movement. These abilities are how we will win.”
Justin decided not to argue with him.
Leopard went on, “Justin, tell me about Thomas Paine. I want to hear some of your views of his politics.”
Justin did not know how to proceed. Justin realized that Thomas Paine politics could be dangerous to the demented mind. Should he give wrong information or philosophy? No. Leopard had probably read more on Paine than he had by now. Paine was godlike to Leopard. What Justin knew though, was that Leopard had no character. Paine did. No emulation or duplication of a dead hero like Paine was possible unless there was the character also. Leopard was a thug. He craved what Paine had, which was a wholesome and righteous purpose to stir a revolt. It seemed that Leopard was fearful to ask good people to follow an evil man like him unless he first manipulated and exploited a good name like Thomas Paine.
Justin began. “Not all that can be said about Paine is positive. He was highly disliked and could be abrasive. He felt his opinions were the only correct ones, but he was at least courageous enough to have some. Anyone that speaks out on social or political issues enough will have plenty of enemies. Paine was strongly in favor of breaking away from England. He had to use all his wits to write the truth, and to embellish the cause of the revolution so that the common man would become interested. All of the other outspoken patriots were grateful that Paine published ‘Common Sense.’ Many fence sitters, after reading it, decided to throw in with the patriots. Paine released that work at a very strategic time. It was powerful. Later, Paine went to France and encouraged the revolution there. Paine was always for a revolt, but not for the sake of revolt. Rather, it was for the sake of liberty. He believed it to be the God given right of mankind to rule themselves.”
Just then, a man came in and Leopard excused himself and quickly went out of the room. Justin thought about what he was saying to Leopard. Everything he just said could be construed by this madman to proceed with a revolution. Justin felt like he was putting his foot in his mouth, but he only was speaking the truth. This man was going to twist and pervert that truth for his own ends. It was those things he was sharing about Paine that had drawn him to Paine. He liked and admired a man that dared to get involved and who molded destiny. He liked the questioning mind that Paine had, a mind that wouldn’t just settle for the status quo.
While Leopard was out of the room, Justin looked at the books in his bookcase. He saw titles such as Black Magic; The Necromancer; The Teachings of Allister Crowley; 1984; Animal Farm; The Essays of Thomas Paine; The Satanic Bible; and a copy of The Stand, by Stephen King. Justin noticed a goat's head emblem on one of the books. It was obvious that Leopard was into the occult. It occurred to Justin that Hitler was also into the occult and wondered about Leopard’s and Hitler’s similarities. He also wondered if any of Leopard’s militia forces knew of his involvement with the occult, and if they didn’t, and found out, what their response would be. He wondered if Colonel Sharpe knew. Maybe he was steeped in it as much as his leader was. Justin knew Leopard was evil. However, it wasn’t merely that he was evil he also loved evil.
Leopard came back into the room. “Justin, I appreciate your comments. That is why I chose you to write my essay.” Leopard made it seem like it was a great honor. It made Justin sick
With an outstretched hand, Leopard asked, “Can I see it?” Justin handed him the folder. “Justin, I need this totally finished by October 31. You need to have it completed by that day. Will it be?”
It was a ridiculous question because Leopard would accept no other answer but the one he wanted to hear. Justin answered, “Yes. Yes, I will be done.”
Leopard looked pleased. He unexpectedly changed the subject. “Justin, have you spoken with your mother-in-law?”
Justin looked at Leopard, perplexed and with a tightening in his stomach said, “Not in a few days,” he said.
Leopard knew what Justin’s answer would be and seemed to relish Justin’s confusion at his question. Leopard continued, “I want you to know, Justin, that I have them. I have your mother-in-law, and your two children.”
Justin gasped. He went white as a sheet.
“Don’t be alarmed.” said Leopard. “They are fine. Ever since you first mentioned them I decided to get your kids and mother-in-law. You know, I cannot have them bothering you. Besides, I was being kind. Your wife was an unhappy camper. I asked her if having her children would make it easier. She said ‘no’, but I did it anyway.” He chuckled at himself for his apparent cleverness.
Justin was dazed. Leopard now had every part of him. Leopard owned his very reasons for living. Of course, he would have to sell out his nation. Leopard knew that too.
“Don’t worry Justin,” Leopard said consolingly. “I have them at a resort. They are confined, but comfortable.” He laughed again. “When this is over, you can, with my pleasure, have that mother-in-law. She has a way with words.” Leopard seemed amused with himself.
This control freak was one step ahead at all times, thought Justin.
Leopard looked over the file, and handed it back to Justin. He almost acted as though Justin was in league with him and his way of thinking. “Justin, if we explain our moves to the people, with Thomas Paine’s help and with his philosophies, we will have an influence. Our militias already know all about Paine’s theories and philosophies; your article is now required reading. They are awaiting further illumination on him. They just don’t know it yet. When they receive it, my followers will recruit their friends and families, and Thomas Paine will be the catalyst. Your teachings on Paine will be read worldwide.”
Justin had a question. “Let’s get this straight. You want me to write about what is wrong with America, and how a new America can arise, with Paine as an endorser and catalyst?”
“That is it, precisely!” Leopard was delighted. He went on, “We are playing to a heated crowd. Things are not right in the country, and we magnify every negative issue that all can agree on. We undermine every reason to have faith in the current system and its thugs like the IRS and the FBI. Who likes the IRS? Anyone? We also fan the flames of racial hatred, because we all know that all the races only slightly tolerate each other in this nation anyway. It takes very little to stir hatred for each other. That can create the chaos that we need, to force change.”
Justin closed his eyes. This man was is insane. He knew this was dangerous to the nation. This man may have found a way to tear open the delicate fabric of national unity. His consolation was that probably Leopard’s resources were probably very limited. If, however, he did have enough resources, he just might pull off this huge nightmare.
The Dark World Of Leopard
July 4, 2004
The old man stopped for a moment, and sipped his tea. He looked at Ben to make sure he was awake. After clearing his throat, he went on. “Ben, what do you suppose makes a man so evil and powerful, that he believes he can actually come against the greatest nation on earth?”
Ben pondered the question a moment then answered, “In my limited experience, it could be any number of things. However, I would like to know your thoughts in this particular situation.”
The old man’s face lit up and was delighted that his guest was so intrigued by his story. He said, “There is very little way to convey the terrifying events of 1999. Very few times in American history was a threat so real, and yet so unseen and unfelt by the nation. As we now take a post- millennial look back on 1999, and the days that led to the millennium, we see the first 9 months as strained, but the last 3 months as hell. Things broke loose that year in October. It was the month that put the nation on a decline, and in the path of a madman. This madman was not alone; he represented many who could not be heard or seen. Justin, and Ralph, and Jeff and Sheila, could not have known how big a plan they had all quite innocently stumbled onto. They were all quite isolated from one another. These four, either separately or together, had information and potential keys that could help the nation. But if any one of them failed, or did not do the right thing, who knows what flag Americans could be pledging allegiance to today?”
Ben waited for his host to pause. He was on the edge of his seat with a question that he had been pondering since his friend had begun the story. He finally asked it. “May I ask you a question at this point? I do not mean to interrupt. Who is this Leopard? Where did he come from?”
His friend was pleased with the question. He nodded his head and smiled at Ben. “Leopard’s real name was Michael Ingstrom. He was from Canada. Now that is a paradox, and the biggest facade ever. Because millions of Americans almost followed him into the revolt, thinking they were behind a great patriot of America, who, in fact, wasn’t even a citizen. Michael was abused as a small boy, and taken from his parents and placed in foster homes. It is probable he was abused further there. He was on the streets as a teenager, but was married and settled down for a while in his twenties. When his wife left him because he was abusive, he became very bitter.
Michael was not a great man, at first. He was only nominal in business. However, when he started in sales, he discovered that he had a great gift of persuasion and began to see some success manifest in his life. Later, in Vancouver, the city where he was born, he began to get involved and show interest in the occult. He was dating a witch and she was the one who introduced him to the black arts. The deeper Michael moved into the darkness of Satanism, the more active his mind was until his criminal intellect was unmatched. Many skeptics say that Satan worshippers don’t worship a real evil presence, but Michael’s story would make a believer out of the worst of skeptics. Michael would emerge from long periods of meditation with plans that would amaze and mystify his followers.
It was not long after this that Michael became power hungry. He hated anyone in authority who stood for what was right. He began using cocaine and marijuana frequently. He then moved to Montana in 1986. While living there in 1987, Michael noticed the interest of the local residents in militias. Their anti-government philosophy appealed to him. It wasn’t long before he joined a militia and began drilling, weapon practice, and playing soldier on weekends. During that time, he turned to crime to exist and to pay for a lavish appetite for drugs. Michael had his introduction to the white supremacist movement also. Some of the militias had adopted this philosophy. Michael listened, with interest, and attended some meetings of the “Christian Purity” movement in Montana. The message was one of racial segregation, for many reasons, including patriotic ones, but Michael knew the message lacked depth. There were far too many conflicts between Michael’s Satanism and this doctrine, but Michael was intrigued with the hate, and was amazed at how far into the nation’s fiber this message reached.
Michael developed a following of criminals, men and women, who would do anything for him. He was the “Manson” of the north. However, he was smarter than Manson. If he put his mind to something, there was no stopping him. He had always been interested in politics, and, in 1988, after meditating for 7 hours, he declared that he needed to talk to President Bush. Of course, the Bush people snubbed his call, and Michael was incensed. When that happened, Michael declared to his dozen or so followers that he would occupy the White House by the year 2000 and he would rule this nation correctly. He knew he could never achieve it by legal means, or through “good” character. Therefore, in 1988, he set out to overthrow America. Everywhere they went, his followers watched for disgruntled Americans whom they could recruit. Michael swore off drugs, and began to wear suits; he decided to train physically and mentally for his objective, and he gave up all vices. That is, except black magic. He knew he needed that because it would keep him close to his real master; the Evil one had a new pawn with which to do his strategic bidding. Michael became a very spiritual man.
In a short time, Michael developed his own following of people and created his own militia. He put a military man in charge of them. It grew to 600 members in just a year. At first, they were loud, and public. Later, Michael decided it was more expedient to take his group underground. He had to keep his group a secret, for they had grown too big. Michael could spot a potential or an existing militia person on the street without talking to them. This amazed his followers. After talking to Michael or one of his followers, it would quickly become apparent that the recruit was ripe for being in Michael’s militia and ripe for dissenting discussions on the current federal system. But, how did Michael know it? He seemed to have growing powers of mental understanding and discernment. Because of this, Michael, and a few assistants, went on the road in 1989 and traveled around America looking for new members and infiltrating other groups. He would sell them a larger package of hate and discontent than they had before. Now instead of recruiting just individuals, he was recruiting whole discontented militia organizations. Each group was vocal and public until they met Michael. After joining Michael’s movement, they would go underground and become silent, seeming to disappear.
The federal people did not even notice the militias dropping from sight, one by one, all around the country. They naively thought the groups had merely disbanded. They were there, and they were getting organized. This is how Michael developed 24,000 militia groups by September of 1999, under the code name “Leopard.” Michael was a master in his leadership abilities. He ruled by fear. His rule was, “once in, never out.” Michael used every doctrine at his disposal to recruit people, including the racial segregation and anti-Semitic doctrines. He believed in very little inwardly, but knew many were passionate about it, so he used these philosophies frequently for power and control.
Michael set up different echelons of leadership. The average militia person never met Michael. His Lieutenants, however, were Michael’s, and all Michael’s. The way to advance to Lieutenant was this: a candidate must subscribe to Michael’s political doctrines, to his Satanism, and they must commit a crime of Michael’s choosing for which they could be blackmailed for the rest of their lives. Many, whom Michael saw as threats or obstacles, were killed by these potential Lieutenants. They committed robberies as well, to fund the movement. However, money became no issue in 1992. That year, a billionaire, by the name of Max Porter, who owned a massive corporation by the name of Onyx Inc., became the official secret backer of the movement.
Porter was also a practitioner of the black arts, and he and Michael were kindred spirits from their first meeting. Four other wealthy people joined in later years. Several major corporations were involved by 1997. Michael’s plans were well backed. It was rumored within the higher ranks of his organization, that oil money from Iraq, or a nation near to it, was funneled to the Leopard movement. That is not all. Michael recruited many leaders from other nations. America had many enemies; they did not need much coercion to throw in with someone like Michael. This all makes Michael sound very superhuman. The truth is, in those days, any number of men could have stepped in to take opportunity in the misfortunes of America. The only requirement was that they had to be evil enough, traitorous enough, and ruthless enough to lead the movement. Michael was. He assumed the name “Leopard” as a symbol of his attributes, and as a symbol of strength, and cunning. An example of this was to cater to non-white international terrorists, and seduce them to help, while keeping it from his white supremacist followers who would be outraged. This kind of hypocrisy was typical of Michael.
Michael was not interested in being a cult leader like David Koresh, or Jim Jones. No, his desire was to not get crazy, or fanatical, or preach at people, but rather to appeal to them in the things they held dear. So he modeled himself as a great patriot, and that was the year he was introduced to Thomas Paine. When he learned about the strong language and substance used by Paine to rally colonists, and later Frenchmen, he decided to make Paine an icon to his people – to his following. The liberty philosophy shared by Paine somewhat matched the militia philosophy like a distant cousin, and the cover was set. Michael in no way cared about mankind like Paine did. Nevertheless, Michael’s interest was peaked when he learned about a young Paine enthusiast by the name of Justin Brooks who was a teacher in the state of Washington. Unlike Michael, Brooks did care about people; he revealed that in his speeches and writings. Michael needed that quality to fill in his own weak link.
Michael’s Lieutenants knew his dark side, but the majority of his militia people were loyal Americans and just misguided. They rallied around political propaganda like Paine’s, and the front Michael created. They were actually programmed to violence if called for by the Lieutenants. The masses of soldiers were shown the incident at Waco, on video, repeatedly until they hated the feds. It was out of context, but they could not see that. It is said that in the early days, McVeigh stopped through Montana and visited with Michael, but that rumor was never proved or verified. Michael would not have condoned Oklahoma City, not because he was not evil enough, but because it was premature for his own plan. A low profile was Michael's plan.
In the Leopard movement, there were an estimated 3,000,000 militia personnel amassed over the whole nation by August of 1999. Many states had more than others, but any conservative state, that had a high rural population, had high numbers. California had virtually none. Neither did Florida. There were no high numbers around the nation’s capital either. However, states such Texas, Arizona, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Arkansas, Kentucky, the Great Lakes states, and of course, Montana, had the highest number of militia soldiers. Leopard had control of their every action. This network had cost much, and had taken much time to create. It had grown like a tree. It was reaching Oak sized proportions. With the size of it, it was strange, to be sure, that none of its troops ever got out of hand or went on sprees of violence. The Lieutenants feared Leopard, and the recruits respected their Lieutenants. Discipline was a huge key. The consequences were extreme for any soldier who did not maintain self-control.