Twenty-First Century Slavery – Part 01

By convict 975468

Ted was summoned to appear before the local Citizens Council, with a warning to report or be arrested.  He wasn’t particularly concerned, but figured he might be confronted about some of his postings online. The worst he expected was perhaps to be harassed and instructed not to continue to post.  He decided to show up dressed casually.  He wore a nice pair of jeans, a polo shirt, and a light jacket.

As he approached the council office in the courthouse, he was stopped by a man in an intimidating black uniform with silver buttons and a silver insignia on his collar.  The officer ordered Ted to stop and demanded his driver’s license.  He examined the license and consulted a list attached to a clipboard. He then clipped Ted’s license to the board and told Ted to stand facing the wall with his toes touching it and his hands clasped behind his head.  When Ted objected, three other officers dressed in the same uniform appeared – each wielding a nightstick.  Ted was told to be silent and face the wall as ordered.  Realizing he didn’t have much choice, he did what he was told.  Ted didn’t realize that this was but the first of many humiliations he would suffer.

Ted, 35, at 6 feet and 185 pounds, black hair, brown eyes, was still buffed and in great shape.  He had had to struggle most of his adult life. Even though many jobs were being shipped overseas, Ted was lucky and at 18 got a good job at a cabinet factory.  He married his high school sweetheart, April.  They were able to buy a nice house, and in time had two kids.  Things were going great till the cabinet plant shut down.

The next years were pretty hard.  Ted usually had two jobs, and sometimes three.  He worked two fast food restaurants during the day and had a job loading trucks three nights a week.  He squeezed in some sleep at the odd times he wasn’t working or caring for the kids while April worked as a waitress.

After the election, things started to change for the better.   A new plant opened and Ted was hired for the day shift.  Over the next four years, Ted and his family were able to return to normal.  There were still debts to be repaid, but their standard of living greatly improved.

The following election was hotly contested.   Once in office, President Oldham started issuing executive orders, and Congress began enacting his program. One of the president’s first orders was to establish local Citizens Councils to deal with those he called undesirable elements spreading what he called misinformation and disruption.  In support of these councils he created the Division of Public Order.  He proposed legislation, setting his orders firmly in law with appropriate funding, and establishing the Department of Public Order.

Before Congress acted, funds for the program were limited.  The division gave the highest priority to the establishment of the community Citizens Councils and a supporting paramilitary corps, with intimidating black uniforms.  In the meantime, the military was instructed to provide supplies and assistance.

Standing facing the wall, Ted felt the butterflies in his stomach.  He said to himself, “I should have taken this more seriously, maybe I should have talked to a lawyer.”

A little later, another man approached and was accorded the same treatment, being placed against the wall to Ted’s right.  Ted turned to look and heard the order, “Keep your eyes on the wall.”  During the next half hour two more men arrived and were also lined against the wall. Finally Ted’s name was called.  He turned and two of the officers formed on either side of him and one of them took his elbow leading him to the door of the office.  One of the officers tapped him on his kidney with his nightstick and said, “Stand before the table with your hands behind your head.”  Once through the door they stopped him at the center of a long table, but about four feet away.  The council members were seated behind the table facing him.   In the center was a stern looking young man whom he recognized from the news as an outspoken member of a so-called civic reform group.  On the far right he recognized the spokesman of a local radical group. Several of the others seemed familiar as well.

The man at the center of the table began, “We have summoned you here to answer allegations that you are a threat to public order.  I will begin asking questions that you are required to answer.  When I am finished the other council members will be given a chance to examine you.  You will answer their questions also.”

“I have before me a copy of remarks you made on a website.  I quote, ‘It would not be practical for everyone to vote.’  Why are you saying that some people should not be allowed to vote?”

Ted objected, “I never said that!”

“I have it here in writing.”

Ted asked, “May I look at that, or have a copy?”

“No.  Simply answer our questions.”

“Then all I can say is that I’m not sure where you got that.”

“Are you denying you said it?”

“Yes, but since I can only guess what you have there – I must have been discussing the difference between a pure democracy and a representative democracy.  In a large country it is not realistic for everyone to vote on every issue.  We elect representatives to decide the issues.”

“So you said it?”

“No not in that twisted way you’ve taken it out of context.”

And so it began!  He grilled him for about five minutes – reading statements he had made, mostly out of context – demanding that he explain them.  Other council members did the same.  One quoted something he had heard on the 11 o’clock news.

Twice Ted moved his hands from behind his head to use a hand gesture to make his point.  Each time he was hit in the kidney with a nightstick and told, “Keep your hands where they belong!”

The main point was to get Ted to justify his “opposition to the good order of society.”  He was questioned about his membership in a gun club and a local libertarian group.  He was confronted about postings on social media that had “violated” the site’s policy.  At first Ted was shocked at the council’s behavior and found it difficult to maintain his composure, but he eventually recovered and after an exhausting 45 minutes, he felt that he gave as much as he took and spelled out his faith in traditional American values.

In the end, it didn’t matter.  Ted’s uniformed escorts led him from the room while the council took a vote.  Soon he was informed that a majority had formally declared him “a disruptive individual and a threat to good order.”  The council had therefore ordered that he be assigned to a “Civics Training Unit” controlled by the new Division of Public Order.  He was immediately ordered to remove his wallet, phone, watch, and all other personal items and place them on a security table, where they were put in an envelope and passed to the officer with the clipboard.  He was frisked, his hands were cuffed behind his back, and he was told to stand against the opposite wall.

After standing there for about a half hour, Ted was taken into custody by two sheriff’s deputies.  They transported him to the local jail, where he was stripped and given a red jumpsuit – no underwear, socks, or shoes.  When he asked why he just got a jumpsuit, he was told he wasn’t a county prisoner and “the division” had not provided anything.  He was placed in a cell by himself.  Later in the day four other men were placed in the cell with him.  One of them told Ted that he was the third guy standing to Ted’s right while he was waiting to be called.  Another guy said he had arrived in the afternoon.  Two of them speculated that there may have been six or eight other guys who were not taken into custody.

The next morning two officers returned and prepared them for transfer.  They were allowed to put on their own clothes; then they were handcuffed with their hands in front.  A chain was threaded through each man’s belt loops, and his handcuffs were locked to the chain, so that his hands were attached over the place where his belt buckle would normally have been.  Leg irons were locked on their ankles with an 18-inch chain between them.

They were placed in the back of a sheriff’s van and driven about three hours to a military base.  Custody was transferred to the Military Police and they were admitted to the base stockade.  Their clothes were taken and they were searched and issued skivvies and tee shirts.  They were taken through a solid steel door into a cell block. Ted heard a whistle blown softly. They passed several cells, one of which held a man kneeling at the back, facing the wall, his hands clasped behind his head.  He was dressed in an olive green uniform with a large black “P” printed on the shoulders and a smaller one printed on one butt.  Ted’s companions were placed in an empty cell.   Ted was led to the next cell, and the barred door was opened.  As his chains were removed, he saw that the cell had two sets of bunk beds bolted to the floor, and a sink – toilet – drinking fountain combination.  At the back of the cell, facing the wall, was a man also in skivvies kneeling with his hands behind his head.

Ted was ordered into the cell.  “To the back!  On your knees!  Face the wall!  With your hands behind your head!  You will assume that position whenever a guard enters the cellblock.  And you will remain there until you are told otherwise or until you hear the whistle.  Silence will be maintained at all times.  Failure to follow any regulation will result in punishment.”

Ted knelt for what seemed like ten minutes.  Then he heard a whistle blow.  He and his cellmate got to their feet and looked at each other.  The other guy was taller and bigger.  He looked to be about Ted’s age, but it was clear he had been an athlete.  He put his finger over his lips as if to remind Ted of the rule.  Ted guessed the guy had already been punished and didn’t want any more.

Ted mouthed hello, and the guy nodded his head.  Ted offered his hand and they shook.  A half smile appeared on the guy’s face, and he pointed to an unoccupied lower bunk.  On the bunk was a green plastic mattress, like the one Ted had slept on last night.  Folded at the bottom was an olive green blanket and at the top was a small pillow covered in the same green plastic as the mattress.  Ted sat on the edge of the bed, pointed to his chest and mouthed “Ted.”  His mate nodded and pointing to his own chest mouthed “Blake.”  Later they would learn that neither of them understood the words, but for now it made them feel better.

Blake, 36, 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, dark brown hair, blue eyes, had clearly taken care of himself.  He still looked like the well-toned athlete that he had been when he was an All American Quarterback for State.  Blake’s family was one of the most respected in the Commonwealth of Stuart.  His great-grandfather had been governor and his late father was a nationally respected professor of American history.  Blake turned down the offer of an NFL contract to work as a reporter for the premiere newspaper in the commonwealth.   Eventually he was assigned as a columnist and established a blog that had national visibility.  He became a staunch critic of the new regime and found himself summoned to appear before the local citizen’s council.  As with Ted, it didn’t matter about his defense — it was pre-determined that he would be interned.  Ted would learn this story later.  Right now, he was just happy to be with another recognizably human being.

Both Ted’s and Blake’s eyes drifted toward the floor.  They thought to themselves for a while.  Then their eyes rose, looking at each other again.  Ted pointed to his cellmate and mouthed, “Civics Training?”  The guy looked quizzically and Ted mouthed it again.  The guy just shrugged his shoulders.  Then he lay back on the bunk.  Ted decided to do the same.

Ted lay there and his stomach began to growl – he hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast at the jail.  He hoped to be fed soon, but he would have to suck it up.  He fell asleep and woke with his cellmate pulling on his arm.  Then he saw his mate rushing to the back of the cell and falling to his knees.  Ted wasn’t quick enough.  A guard appeared as he was just getting off the bed. The guard yelled, “You’re not fast enough asshole.  C’mere, Tom!”

Another guard appeared, and Ted was taken from the cell and escorted to the far end of the cellblock, where a paddle hung on the wall.

“Strip, boy!”

Ted slowly removed his tee and skivvies.

“Grab your ankles, boy!”

Now he could see the guards’ feet and one of them moving to his left.

Soon there was a blow to his ass so strong that he almost fell over.  The pain came next.  His ass was exploding.  He yelled!

“One, boy!” the first guard said.

Then another blow, as hard and painful as the first.  Harder.  Ted yelled again.

“One again, boy!  Remain silent or the count will stay at one.”

Yet another blow. Ted almost bit his tongue, but he kept quiet.

“Two, boy!  You’re learning.”

There were only three more. Ted had learned to keep silent, despite the tears streaming down his cheeks.

“Get dressed, you!”

Ted gingerly pulled up his skivvies, and a guard struck him with a crop across his bare back.

“Quick, boy!”

Ted grabbed his tee and pulled it on as fast as he could.

As he was led back to his cell, he saw through the corner of his eye that most of the other cells were unoccupied. Soon he was in the cell, on his knees beside Blake.  His ass was on fire.  He had never been beaten before, and he was astonished at the pain.  Now Ted understood that discipline was harsh in a military prison, and he wondered what kind of discipline he would face where he was going.

Soon the two prisoners heard the whistle and got up.  Ted’s mate tapped him on the arm and pantomimed blowing a whistle, then walked his fingers across his other hand.  Ted understood that the whistle meant the guards were either going or coming.

Two hours later he heard a faint blowing of the whistle, and he jumped up to get to the rear of the cell.  He was kneeling there even before Blake.  Ted noted that they blew the whistle more softly when the guards were coming and more loudly when they left.  In the interim, he heard the shuffling of boots and the opening and closing of cells. After the whistle blew he noticed that some of the other cells had prisoners in them.

When the next whistle blew, their dinner trays slid onto the floor of the cell.  The food was tasteless but nourishing.  Water went with it.  On the next guard’s tour the trays were removed and the routine continued.  Every two hours, the whistle blew softly.  Ted’s mate tapped his arm, pointed to his non-existent watch, held up two fingers, and made the walking sign with them.  Then he pointed to Ted and made the sign for sleep, holding his palms together and laying his head on his hands – then held up two fingers, pointed to himself, and made as if he were pulling his eyelids open.  Ted understood that each of them would take turns staying awake for two hours and sleeping for two hours – to hear the whistle and alert his cellmate to get on his knees.  Ted nodded his agreement and lay down to sleep on the first watch.

Ted had his two hours sleep, and with his mate’s help was on his knees for the first guard’s tour.  Then came Ted’s two hours of duty.  In the quiet, he began to review the last two days.  It was hard to believe that this had happened to him.  He had read about the establishment of the councils.  He understood they were to be local agencies tasked with promoting political correctness.  He had never imagined that they could wield such power.  He had heard nothing about locking people up.  But here he was.  And his family had no idea where.  He had no way of contacting them.  This was beyond belief!  He struggled with his thoughts for a long time and eventually tried to think of something else.  Then the whistle blew.

After Ted’s second sleep, the guards decided to have some fun and exercise the prisoners: ten minutes on their knees, then pushups, sit ups, jumping jacks, squat thrusts, and running in place.  All together it took more than an hour.  So his cellmate only got an hour of sleep.  It went on all night – sometimes ten minutes on their knees – sometimes an hour of harassment.   But everything ends, as did the night.  Breakfast came early, and afterwards the military prisoners were marched out to work.  But Ted and his cellmate had to continue their system of two hours on, two hours off.

About midday, more civilian prisoners like them were brought into the cell block.  The first two arrivals were placed in the cell with Ted and Blake.  By the time the military prisoners returned from work, more civilian prisoners had been placed in the opposite cell.  The new prisoners were slow learners.  Three of them were paddled, including one in Ted’s cell.  The poor fellow had a lot of trouble controlling himself and ended up with twelve swats rather than five.

Using sign language, Ted and Blake made an agreement with their new mates: three of them would sleep and the fourth would remain on watch.  Unfortunately, one of the new arrivals failed to keep watch, so the four of them were taken out and paddled in the middle of the night.  After that, no one was sleeping on his ass.

To be continued …

Metal would like to thank the author, convict 975468, for this story — and also thanks to Joshua Ryan for inspiring it!

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