Continuation of God's Country [Chapter 1].
Queen slipped into the underground chamber, a grin on her face. “The rumors of my capture have been greatly exaggerated, Travis,” she said with a wink. Travis, smiled, and led her down a darkened cement corridor, into a large pump room filled with people. Men, women and children sat around fire barrels talking, eating, sleeping. Those who saw Queen greeted her with a wave or low hellos. These people were Queen’s family. These were the people who had no government IDs; they couldn’t afford them, or had been rejected as “undesirables,” either because they were not the religion of the Sect, or had denounced the government so in the eyes of the Sect, they didn’t exist, and if they were caught without the ID, they would be shot on sight.
A small group was in the dimly lit corner with a few of the Old Ones. The Old Ones had lived for a just a little while in the America of legends, where everyone could be whatever religion they wanted to be and no one cared, an America of no Sect, who held separation of church and state as holy writ in the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. They were telling how the Sect came to be. Queen sat down on a low bench with the rest of the crowd, listening, as she had listened hundreds of times before.
“In the old days, before I was born, my father told me of the country he lived in that was America. Everyone was free to do as they pleased, to worship how they pleased. There was no Sect in those days. “ This brought a gasp of disbelief from the young crowd. No Sect! “What was the government then?” “The government,” the old man patiently replied with a slow smile, “was a republic, elected by the people, just like you and me. There were three branches of government, designed by the Founding Fathers to keep each other in balance. The Constitution was the law of the land, not the Bible. “ Here the old man paused, and drew a tattered piece of cloth out of his canvas knapsack. Carefully he unfolded the ancient cloth, revealing its red, white and blue stripes, and stars on a field of deep blue. “This was the flag that flew in that country for 235 years. My father was given this for dying in a war called Vietnam. “ Here he paused, finding it difficult to go on. He sighed a little. “The military doesn’t do this anymore, give these flags to the families of the soldiers that are killed on the field.” “What do they give?” someone asked. The old man looked at the ground as if unwilling to go on. “Well. Now they give Bibles and silver crosses, and the Sect flag.” A chorus of whispers greeted this announcement. The Sect flag was white, with a red cross in the corner. The old flag had been discontinued because it had no cross on it, discontinued long ago. Some wit had decided to use the Sect flag as the carpet in the bathroom down in the tunnels.
“It’s 11:00pm,” a woman whispered to the old man. “Off with you!” he exclaimed to the children. They laughed and gathered round him begging for candy. He pulled a bag out of his rucksack and distributed the candy all around. “Off to bed now!” he said gruffly. The children hugged him and ran off, talking loudly about stories to come.
Queen sat down by the old man. “How are you, Peter?” she asked. Peter replied with a slow grin. “Courting death if I’m caught telling stories of the old days.” He quietly reached into his rucksack and pulled out a bundle. “Here you go. As you requested.” Queen quietly took the bundle and looked at it. They were ID cards, ready to give out to some of the people in the tunnels so they could go outside and live. Queen knew better than to ask how he got them. It was better not to know in case she got caught with them on her. Waterboarding and other forms of torture were now openly legal, according to the dictates of
Leviticus 24:14 blasphemy law:
"Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him.
“Blasphemy” of course, was interpreted to mean anyone who spoke out against the government, anyone who declared himself or herself an atheist, or any other form of speaking out against God, Jesus Christ, the cross, the country.