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Fireside

We’re back in New Detroit for another chat with someone from the year 2025. Please help me welcome Mark Carter. 

Hello Mark!

Hey. young-man-1515402_640

If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do? Pop open a beer, catch some sun, and hang with a honey.

What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? I’m a supreme ass. Must be my sunny disposition.

I must say you’re nothing like your cousin. I thought I smelled the stench of failure. How long ago since that jerk left?

You two don’t get along? Understatement, lady. I owe a lot of my problems to him.

How so? I grew up with parents who were too busy to parent. Know what I mean? So I hung out with my cousin. I sort of envied him. Griffin had his own place, a car, and a job. He did what he wanted. If I cut school, he didn’t call my folks. Let me hang out instead. Shit got intense when he started letting me drink and smoke. He didn’t even discourage drugs.

That’s not good. Well, I know that now. But back then… he did bail my ass out of jail a couple of times.

Your cousin has history with Asher Jones. Want to talk about it? It’s your show. Shoot.

He said Asher had something to do with Gena’s murder. Not directly. We were both on that team. Griffin was being an ass about reporting to duty. woman-984244_640A team was assigned to bring him in. First he barricaded the door. So we broke it down. His very pregnant
wife pulled a gun on us. Gena and I had our own history, we were friends. I told her to lower her weapon so that she didn’t get hurt. I don’t know why she did it. She cocked the gun. One of the other guys heard it and shot her. Griffin came flying out of the room, hot as piss. Long story short, we had to drag his butt into lockup.

Wow. Not the same story he hinted at. One more question concerning Asher. Griffin said they lived together. How’d that happen? Really not my story to tell, but I’ll confirm it. They lived together for two years. Asher needed a place to stay. End of story.

Very well. If you could spend the day with someone you admire, who would you pick? Sarah Miller. We served together. She’s pretty and intelligent and not willing to put up with any of my BS.

Do you think you’ve turned out the way your parents expected? You have jokes! Oh man… my parents probably expected me to be dead by now. I’m sure Griffin didn’t tell you, but our family has money. We’re one of the last Purebred families in the AR. My dad’s a CEO. My mom’s a top geneticist. The New Order makes sure they’re well taken care of for their hard work.

That’s kind of harsh. How do you feel about it? It’s the truth. That’s why Griffin let me do whatever I wanted. He lived with us for a year. They turned a blind eye to everything he did. I think they felt sorry for him because his dad died in a plane crash. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t piss me off. The only time they showed any kind of concern was when they signed me up for Riza Corps.

Riza Corps? Yeah. It’s the New Order’s brand of JROTC. You do a year in the Corps and then you’re automatically enlisted in Riza.

How was that a good thing? Riza saved all three of us. Asher joined with me. He’d been staying with Griffin, acting like a damned servant. Griffin skipped the Corps and enlisted in Riza. If it hadn’t been for Riza, we might have died or ended up in prison.

Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done? What would happen if you did it? Live a normal life. Leave the military behind. Have a regular place to stay, a woman to come home to at the end of the day… a boring existence for a change. I’ve had enough of secrecy and special missions.

What’s the worst thing that’s happened in your life? The day Gena died I saw what it did to Griffin. That hothead punched me and Asher. He struck out at anyone who tried to restrain him. Her death screwed him up. We used to be close. To be honest, the day Gena entered our lives was the worst thing that ever happened. I lost my friend, my brother, the day she showed up.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone? Became friends with Asher Jones. If I hadn’t been his friend, he would have never gotten into trouble with the law. [He pauses and stares at me.] Don’t even ask, lady. That’s his story. If he hasn’t told it yet, you won’t hear it from me.

Okay. What’s the most important thing in your life? Staying alive. I’m looking for a way out of Riza. If I find it, I’ll be fighting for my life.

Why’s that? Riza’s for life. You get out if you die in service, you get injured beyond acceptable standards, or you’re killed as a traitor. Walking away is not an option. Anyone who’s served and they tell you they used to be Riza, is a person with a target on his or her back. It doesn’t happen.

What about North Woods? [He sighs.] Griffin’s been puking his guts. That’s the last option. But trust me, you don’t want that option. If the New Order sends you to North Woods, you don’t come back. If you escape, you’re not whole. [He taps his temple.] Something’s not right up here. You met my cousin. Did he seem sane to you?

Now that you mention it… That’s what I’m talking about. Half the time he’s right on the edge. Say jump and the man won’t even ask how high. The rest of the time he’s so deep into a bottle of Jack, you need to fish his ass out. Not the most stable of guys.

Speaking of stability, can we talk about Gliese for a minute? Now that’s someone to feel bad for. She’s Griffin’s fraternal twin. The girl used to be so much fun before she was injected. Griffin used his limited scientific training with her. Figured out she needed some meds to stabilize her mood swings. Problem is Gliese hates the shit. She says she feels like a blank slate when she takes the pills. So she gets bent—herb, blow, ice. Whatever she can get her hands on. It’s messing with her mind and body. If it were up to me, I’d take her to one of those farms out west.

Farms? Yeah. Rehab ranches. The government doesn’t know where they’re located because they banned them a few years ago. But addicts can go there and dry out. Then they stay on the grounds helping others. They can’t leave.

Why? They’re a danger to themselves and society. Stress makes a lot of them revert to their former selves. So they stay in a nice, sanitized community. No stress, no heavy responsibilities. It’s a perfect place for them. It’s what Gliese deserves.

How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change? Not sure. I told you I want out. I just don’t know how to do it without just walking away. Maybe I should find one of those farms and try to start over.

Anything you care to add? Nope. I’ve said too much as it is.

Well, it’s been enlightening, to say the least. Thanks for the talk.

Join me next time for another Fireside Chat. We’ll be speaking with another character from the future—Leon Sieben.

 

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