A short story. What follows is entirely fictional – or is it?
John stepped outside to grab more wood for the fireplace.
It was sharply cold, the kind of cold that stings your face even as it purifies the air. A light snow had begun to fall from the grey Montana sky. The mountain peaks rising on either side of the remote valley had been covered with snow since early October, but now the valley was beginning to fill up. It wouldn’t be much longer until the only way to get around would be a snowmobile or snowshoes – but gasoline was a precious, expensive and scarce commodity, so it was reserved for emergencies. Snowshoes it would be.
There was no wind to speak of – gravity was the only force acting on the delicate, fragile snowflakes that formed a perfect white veil that served to block the intruding harshness of the outside world. It was that natural force that caused each of the beautifully unique ice crystals to lazily travel their random path from thirty thousand feet above, and land softly on the ground.
It was so quiet, so still; John swore he could hear a soft sigh of relief as each flake communed in reunion with their cloud families, forming a pristine continuous white blanket over the cold Earth.
A slight smile creased John’s face. Today was a day to give thanks – and he was thankful. He was always thankful he and his family were able to get out of the city in 2022, just before the cities were declared perpetual Covid-19 infection zones and closed. He was thankful they avoided the restricted areas, where the military prevented any from leaving permanent quarantine. He was thankful they were healthy enough that the family was last in line for the vaccines. The cities received the vaccines first, which was very unlucky for them – because the vaccines did not work. The genetically modified vaccines simply made more people vulnerable to a virus that once had a 99.6% survival rate. That rate had fallen to 40% by late 2021.
“John, time to eat”, called Dagny, John’s brilliant and beautiful wife.
From the kitchen in the back of the cabin, John could see the former CEO smile over her efforts the way she used to smile after she consummated a business deal.
“Be right there,” John replied. “Just grabbing some wood for the fire.”
“Well, close the door!” Dagny shouted. “That air is cold!”
“Yeah, Dad!” sarcastically yelled Harrison, John and Dagny’s 14-year-old son. “We aren’t heating the outside world, you know!”
“At least we have wood,” thought John to himself, smiling at Harrison’s snark. “Most people have to depend on electricity now, and the government only supplies it when the wind blows or the sun shines, which is only about half the time.”
John looked with worry at the three-cord allotment of wood he had been allowed to cut from the national forest and wondered if it would last the winter.
“We can always hope for an early spring. I guess,” he thought.John thought about the election of 2020 and how it led to a Biden administration that worked for four years to destroy the American energy companies and markets in the name of “saving the planet from climate change”.
“I wish they wanted to save people as much as they want to save the planet from a half a degree of temperature rise over the next century,” John mumbled to himself. “What damn good does it do to save a planet if there are no people?”
John recalled what started the new reality. In 2020, he and Dagny had successful corporate careers, she was at the top of her game in her family’s transportation company, and he with his own engineering and construction company. Their four-year-old son was showing early signs of his brilliance and life was comfortable, healthy, and good.
Everything began to change in November of 2020.
The presidency had been “won” in 2020 election by a 170-pound burlap bag of dementia and mediocrity, a bag wearing the pretentious moniker of Joseph Robinette Biden. “Won” was a charitable term due to the massive amount of unpunished fraud perpetuated by his Party, but that was not the worst of it. The changes made in election rules in that election and the next one in 2022 allowed the most populous states to mail out ballots to every address and count them all without verification, assuring a permanent Democrat majority in Congress and a Democrat in the White House. They printed ballots like the Treasury printed dollar bills.
But Biden was just the first. He resigned due to a severe decline in his mental state just after the mid-terms in 2022 and was replaced by his VP, Kamala Harris. Harris went on to win guaranteed elections in both 2024 and 2028. By 2028, the Democrat supermajority added D.C. and Puerto Rico as states with the 33rd Amendment and with the 34th and 35th Amendments changed the Constitution to remove presidential term limits and then made the presidency an administrative position appointed by Congress.
In 2022, the Defense of the Earth Act was passed, placing a national ban on horizontal drilling and fracking, cutting domestic natural gas production by 80% and raising gas prices to levels that only the richest could afford.
In 2023, the American Alternative Energy Act was passed, ending all production of electricity other than that from wind and solar and authorizing the destruction of all hydroelectric dams on American rivers.
In 2024, the Transportation Equity Act was passed, ending the production of internal combustion engines, nationalizing all rental car agencies as well as both Lyft and Uber and banning private ownership of all types of vehicles. Anyone or any company needing transportation assets must apply to receive one from the national stocks based on a fair distribution of vehicles.
By 2026, the airlines had gone bankrupt and were taken over by the Federal Aviation Authority. People needing to travel must apply to the government and be approved before using any vehicle other than public transit.
As John stacked the wood by the fireplace, he heard Harrison ask, “Is the game on yet, Dad?”
The annual Thanksgiving Day NFL contest between the Detroit Lions and Washington Football Team was scheduled to begin soon.
“Not yet,” said John. “The two-hour racial sensitivity and white privilege re-education broadcast is almost over. In about 10 minutes, we can tell Alexa that we agree to abide by the Black Lives Matter Reparations Act, and they will allow the satellite feed to come through.”
Under the BLMRA, all broadcasts of public events like sports or artistic performances must be preceded by educational broadcasts reminding white Americans of the debt they owe to Black Americans and how they are required to defer to other races by never out-performing them in any way under penalty of law. It also required affirming to Alexa that you understood your duties as a citizen before the government would authorize the signal to be unscrambled.
The National Truth in Information Access Act of 2027 had merged Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and all broadcast and cable radio and television companies into the government’s new office of National Information Management, Re-education, Organization and Dissemination NIMROD). NIMROD was put it in control of all information flow and content to prevent “fake” or socially upsetting news from polluting the public mind. NIMROD created an interactive network allowing citizens to signify their compliance with all federal laws by directly confirming agreement through Alexa, the government’s artificial intelligence surveillance entity. Alexa listened inside homes and businesses for any sign of dissent or non-compliance so that those situations could be addressed immediately by local law enforcement or the FBI.
“Smells great!” John exclaimed as he approached the dining table. “I was lucky to bag that turkey after the satellite had passed yesterday.”
“See, I told you, Dad,” said Harrison. “My hack of the National Orbital Wilderness Observation Program site was worth the risk. We now can see when the satellites are passing over and hunt while they are blind.”
The National Healthy Food Production Act of 2025 had outlawed the commercial production of animal-based proteins in favor of “engineered”, laboratory grown pseudo-meat until people began to get sick after consuming the government supplied “meat”. In 2026, it was discovered that the chemicals used in the processing of that “meat” was causing the rise of a rare, untreatable form of cancer. Now only vegetable proteins were allowed and due to failures in national planning, vegetables were now in short supply.
People who had access to remote areas and knew how to hunt had turned to wild game for sustenance. The National Orbital Wilderness Observation Program was instituted to use micro-satellites launched by NASA’s SED group (formerly Elon Musk’s Space-Ex company) to monitor human thermal signatures in the wilder areas as a way to prevent hunters from poaching collectively owned national wildlife resources.
As the small family settled around the table, Dagny said, “Let us say a prayer for all our family members who cannot be here with us due to the C-19 travel bans that were enacted last year, and give thanks for the life we have made here.”
“Amen”, said John. “At least we have heat to go with our limited allotment of electricity, we can survive on our own and we are far enough off the grid that the President Administrator Ocasio-Cortez’s federales generally leave us alone.”
“Thank God for small blessings”, replied Dagny.
“Better thank Him while you can”, said Harrison. “According to a short-wave radio broadcast a few minutes ago, the government just closed down all the Mormon ward houses and temples in Utah because they were meeting in secret and without federal approval. The closures are moving to the middle of the country from each coast. I hear South Dakota is the last free state left.”
“Things have changed rapidly since 2020 – and not for the better. We really didn’t think at the time that it mattered all that much but now I wonder what could have happened if we had just stood up and acted on what we all knew to be true while there was still time when all the real nonsense began,” said Dagny.
“My friend Josef told me he had been arrested and released but he can’t get anybody in charge to tell him what he did,” said Harrison.
“Maybe we wouldn’t be where we are today if we’d just said, ‘Damn it, enough is enough’ when we had the chance,” replied John.
Even with all the challenges and oppression, we have a lot for which to be thankful, John thought. We have memories of better times when progress was real and hopes we will see those times again. But if he had to admit it, he did feel a twinge of melancholy when he realized Harrison would never know what like was like in the Good Ole Days, long before the perpetual government swore to make life “equitable for all” and the successful people who virtue signaled their support for “equity” realized too late that meant they would be the ones to sacrifice.
John’s sadness deepened with he realized, like so many of his fellow Americans, just how much things could change when they didn’t happen all at once, but when tyranny creeped in so slowly and softly that an indifferent and distracted people could get used to it.
“Maybe so,” said Dagny. “But at least our family can live free out here.”
Then came the knock.
Before John could stop him, Harrison rushed to the front window.
“Dad, there are men in uniforms and badges at the door!” yelled Harrison. “And they have guns!”