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363 don’t shoot me Memorial Day night, Chad and Sharis were awake until 2 a.m., sitting outside in their chairs watching the media on the giant screen over the soccer field. A funny thing: all mornings were the same. As Chad unlocked and opened the door, the boys were moving in their bunks. “I’ll check on Abba,” Sharis said, reaching for her perc. A crowd outside. It was warmer today, and humid, the sort of morning that made Chad’s mother announce that it was going to be a scorcher. Everyone seemed to be up and wandering. Chad headed for the soccer field monitor, and to his surprise found himself in step again with Derk. “Morning, Professor Gribble,” Derk said cheerfully. Today he was carrying a can of paint and several brushes. “We seem to have the same schedule,” Chad said. “When did you get here?” Derk, grinning maniacally, seemed oblivious to Chad’s question. “You hear the news?” he said. Before Chad could shake his head, Derk burst out with what he knew. “We got back Dayton! We bombed the Alliance out of downtown and now we got troops heading north into the Grid and they’re 364 s ha r p a n d d a n g e r ou s v i r t u e s just rolling down the highway. Manganero on MediaOne thinks the Alliance and the Grid are gonna surrender in the next twenty-four hours. They’ll have to.” He winked. “We’re burning their fields.” Chad thought he was dreaming. “I went to bed at 2 a.m.,” he said. “They kept showing all those Grid women in that boat floating around Dayton.” “Yeah,” Derk chortled. “On the Duck. Listen, those women are dead ducks now! You didn’t hear the bombing? Lot of people didn’t. They finished about eight. They had the fans on full blast all night, if you noticed.” He nodded toward the monitor. “President Baxter’s supposed to make a speech any minute.” He lifted his paint can. “The ’urge wants me to do up some graffiti. She’s got a special place for me to put it. I thought “God Bless America,” what do you think?” Before Chad could answer, the PA system crackled, and President Baxter’s voice boomed through the camp. Derk set down his equipment and stood with his hand on his heart. My student, Chad thought. He hoped his other students had more intelligence that Derk did. Some people kept their percs on twenty-four hours a day and had themselves beeped for significant news. Chad wondered if he should have done that. On the other hand, he and his family were rested. “ . . . a stunning success . . . We have met our objectives . . . while the loss of property is heavy, we are blessed with no loss of civilian American lives . . .” Chad was suddenly aware of noises that sounded like gunshots. “What’s that?” he said. Derk burst into an even bigger grin, gold tooth flashing. “Guys at the reserve camp. Celebrating. You know. Cleaning out their firearms. The ’urge cleared it.” The reserve camp was south of the SafePlace Camp, on the opposite side from the arriving trucks. My God, Chad thought. It’s almost over. We’ll get back home. It seemed almost too easy. President Baxter was talking 365 don’t shoot me about strategic objectives and the healing of the country. The Gridians were valued members of the American family, President Baxter said; treatment of the insurrectionist Gridian leaders would be harsh, but the Gridian people would see justice tempered by mercy. Fourth of July, Chad was thinking . Independence Day, we’ll be back home. My family should hear this, he thought, turning back toward his dwelling. One of the boys was cringing, huddled beneath his cot, but the other was whizzing around the room like a bottle rocket, screaming. It took an instant for Chad to grasp that the hysterical boy was Leon. “Leon,” Chad said, “they’re shooting into the air.” “Don’t shoot me!” Leon was shouting, the fear in his voice so raw it infected Chad. “Leon,” Sharis said, “it’s nothing. They’re celebrating. Getting back Dayton is a big victory. You don’t want to go back to our house and be ruled by the crazy Grid people, do you?” Her perc was on, and Chad realized she’d been listening to the president, too. Odd that Chad didn’t...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780804040518
Related ISBN
9780804011419
MARC Record
OCLC
815481971
Pages
400
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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