Preparations Are Made
By: James Bates

This ten part SF series has to do with the impact of global warming on one family.

The story so far:

Episode 1 – At the Biodome

We met Quinn an engineer at a wind farm and his son Matt on a field trip and learn about life in the year 2220.

Episode 2 – The Test

We met Karen and learn about Quinn and Karen's life together.

Episode 3 – Millennium Microbial

We learned about Karen's job as a biochemist working on improving the world's food supply.

Episode 4 – The History Center

Quinn kidnapped Matt on a field trip and went on the run.

Episode 5 – The Hideout

Karen visited Quinn and Matt at their hideout and made a big decision.

Preparations Are Made – Episode #6

"Where the hell is she?" Jerry Finkelstein thundered.

"She just called and said she was on her way," Jen told her boss as she cowered beneath his wrath. "She said she'd forgotten a flash drive at home. She was working on an idea for the project all last night."

Finkelstein seemed somewhat placated. "Well, that's good then. You both need to step it up if we're going to get more funding."

"Yes, sir," Jen said, as Finkelstein stalked away from her cubicle. Then he turned and pointed a threatening finger, "I want a report emailed to me by the beginning of next week. Today's Wednesday, so you'd better hurry up."

"Yes, sir. We will, sir," Jen said, but he didn't hear. Finkelstein was already gone.

Whew, Jen thought to herself, what a jerk. For the next hour she worked on her computer. Her friend and project manager, Karen, was late and Jen had lied to Finkelstein. She had no idea where Karen was and now, she was getting worried. She knew that Karen had a lot on her mind, what with her husband and son, but it was unlike her to not stay in touch at work.

Just a familiar face poked around the corner of her cubicle and whispered, "Hi there."

Jen looked up. It was Karen but her immediate happiness at seeing her friend was replaced by one of immediate concern. Karen's normally calm and controlled demeanor was haggard and sleep deprived. "Oh, my god. Karen what's going on? Where have you been?"

Karen put a finger to her lips and kept her voice low, "Come with me. I'm not sure how much time I've got."

When Jen gave her a questioning look, Karen grabbed her by the arm and said, "Come on. I've got something to tell you."

They hurried out of the cubicle area and down a long hallway to the elevator bank where they went up five floors to the employee break room. They each got a cup of tea from a vending machine and went to a table alongside the wall, well out of the way of the dozen or so other employees scattered about.

When they were settled, Jen gave her friend a questioning look. "What gives? You look awful. Is something the matter with Quinn?"

Karen took a nervous sip, leaned forward and said, "Promise you won't tell anyone?"

"I promise."

Karen took a deep breath. "Well, you're right. It has to do with Quinn but there's a lot more to it." She quickly filled her friend in about how her husband Quinn had grown tired of seeing their son five your old Matt only for a few hours a week during World Order approved visits. "Yesterday he did something crazy. While they were on a field trip to the History Center, he kidnapped Matt. They eventually found a hideout in an abandoned office building near the outskirts of the city.

"It's only a few miles from our apartment building. I went there this morning and brought them supplies."

"My god, that's horrible. What are you going to do?" Jen wanted desperately to give her friend a supportive hug, but the World Order's surveillance cameras were everywhere, some working, most not. If the cameras picked up two people hugging, a day was taken off both of their lifelines. Showing affection in public was frowned upon in the year 2220.

"I'm going to go with them," Karen said. "I made the decision this morning. They're my family and it would kill me not to ever see them again."

"What? Do you realize what that means?" The ramifications flew through Jen's mind. Karen had essentially signed her death warrant. The World Order Security Police, WOSP, would eventually find them and when they did if they didn't kill them right away, they'd use Karen and Quinn to make a point; that point being: Don't Go Against the World Order. Then they'd be executed for being a danger to society and that would be that.

"You know what'll happen if you get caught," Jen said, her voice shaking. "I'm so frightened for you,"

"Look," Karen tried to explain herself, "The World Order only lets us live to be forty years old anyway. They try to keep us in line by threatening to take days off our precious lifeline for any stupid infraction they can think of. I lost a day by running across the street against a red light when there wasn't a vehicle even in sight. Quinn's lost nearly two–hundred days."

In spite of the seriousness of the situation, Jen smiled, "Well, he is a bit of a rebel."

Karen couldn't help but agree. She and her husband had been married for six years and were very happy with each other. They were both twenty–six and loved being parents to five year old Matt, the only child the World Order would let them have. The problem was, children were raised away from their parents in a huge five story concrete dormitory called The Neighborhood. Parents could only see their child once a week for four hours. The rest of the child's time was spent being indoctrinated to the ways of the World Order.

But the longer they were together as a family, the more both Karen and Quinn felt that being parents to Matt was the most important way to spend their time in their short lives. Quinn was an engineer at the regional solar energy facility and Karen worked as a lead Microbiologist at Millennium Microbial. Seeing Matt for only four hours a week wasn't cutting it as far as Karen and Quinn were concerned.

"So, what are you going to do?"

Karen sadly shook her head. "I don't know."

Jen was shocked. Normally Karen never made a move without thinking through all the details and possible consequences.

"You can't stay where you are now, right? The WOSP will find you."

"I know." Karen checked the time on her phone. "It's been about twenty–four hours since Quinn took Matt. The dorm called me last night and reported him missing. I got mad at them and blamed the disappearance on them."

Jen grinned. "Good move."

Karen nodded and agreed, "Yeah, I thought so. I know they called the WOSP because I bumped into one of them this morning out on the street when I was bringing some supplies to Quinn and Matt. He showed me an old photo of both of them."

"That's not good."

"Right. I feel like the noose is tightening."

"On top of that, Finkelstein wants a report from us on Monday."

"Why? I thought he didn't want anything to do with us when he gave the project to our former team member." Karen used finger quotes around 'team member' to show her distain for Randy who'd stabbed Karen and Jen in the back and took credit for their project to help improve food production to help stave off world hunger.

"Who knows. Maybe Finkelstein realized that he made a mistake by listening to Randy and giving the project to him."

Karen laughed derisively, "It's only been a day." Then she thought for a minute and said, "You know, our idea is a good one."

"I know. Looking at that special gene and seeing if we could splice it's DNA with…"

Karen put her finger to her lips, "Shhhh. You never know who's listening."

But she smiled as she said it, though. If someone was listening, they'd be done for anyway. Nevertheless, it felt good to be talking to Jen. She loved her friendship with the woman she'd been working with for the last six years and was going to miss her.

She changed the subject. "Here's my idea for our project," she took out her laptop and started it up and showed the file to Jen. "This is a good start and you can use this as a beginning. You can flesh it out and show it to Finkelstein next Monday. I'll be long gone by then." She paused and didn't have to elaborate because the near future was obvious. Next Monday she would either be dead or free. Then she shook the thought from her mind and continued, "He should like it. Maybe even give you a raise."

Jen took a chance and patted the back of Karen's hand. "Don't worry. I'll be fine." Then she switched gears. "Getting back to your predicament. I've been thinking and I have an idea."

"Really?" Karen leaned forward, intrigued, "Tell me."

And Jen did. When she was finished, Karen grinned and said, "That's a great plan."

"I'm glad you like it," Jen smiled. "And here's the best part. I'm coming with you."

"What?"

"Yeah, I've had it with this place. Plus, I can help you take care of Matt."

"You know how dangerous this is?"

"I know." She took a nervous breath and let it out. "I don't mind."

Karen could see that her friend was serious. "Okay," she said. "If you're sure."

"Yeah, I'm sure."

"Okay, then, let's get busy. I want to cover our tracks here and try to buy some time. First off, lets outline that report."

It was around sunset that evening that Karen returned to the hideout. She had Jen with her. They had stopped at both of their apartments on the way to pick up the necessary supplies they'd need to move on to the next phase to the plan.

"Here you go," Karen said to Quinn after giving Matt a big hug. She set down her backpack and took out a couple of bottles.

"Quinn looked perplexed. "What's all this?"

Karen smiled and pointed at Jen, "Tell him. It's your plan."

"I brought some bottles of dye. We can dye our hair to help change our appearance."

"I brought some different clothes, too," Karen added. "Hopefully we can get ourselves looking different so when we're out on the street no one from the WOSP will recognize us." Quinn grinned at Karen, "Sounds like you've been busy."

"We have. We'll leave tonight. Jen reminded me of that electronics factory on the edge of the city. It's only five miles from here and buses go there all the time. We'll change our appearance and take a bus out there. Once we get off the bus, we can cut across country to get beyond the city limits. No one ever goes out there. Once we're out in the country, we'll be safe."

In Quinn's mind the hazards popped up like a bad dream, the main one getting caught by the WOSP. They'd definitely be looking for them now and if they were caught, they'd certainly be killed. But if they were careful and used their brains, they could make it.

"It's a long way to go for Matt," Quinn said crouching down and hugging his son. He looked the young boy in the eye. "Are you up for it?"

"I am, Dad," Matt said. "It'll be an adventure."

Karen looked at her little family, which now included Jen and said, "Yes, it certainly will be."

A few hours later their hair was dyed black, Quinn's beard was shaved off, and, in Matt's case, he was wearing a wig that Jen had brought from her apartment. "He looks like a girl, now. Just in case they're looking for a small boy, this will throw them off. Hopefully."

"Okay, then, we're ready," Karen said. She looked at Jen. "You still sure about joining us?"

"I am."

Matt had taken a shine to the young woman. "I'm glad she's coming. I like her."

Quinn looked at Karen. "All set?"

In Karen's mind flashed a scenario where Quinn had not kidnapped their son and none of this had happened. Life would have gone on the way it had been going; all the way up to their mandatory death by the World Order before they reached the age of forty. Compared to what they were doing now, to be honest, it was not much of a life. At least now she felt alive. Now their family was all together. Now all they had to do was to evade the WOSP and get out of the city and into the country to safety.

Karen hugged Quinn and gave him a quick kiss. "Time's a wasting. Let's get going."

To Be Continued…

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