Befitting a Militia
What would you do to rescue your loved one from physical and spiritual danger?
The babies cooed at each other in a playpen. It was large. The structure supported about 30 young children who looked like multi-colored cherubs. Soon came crying. Tears rolled down faces like water oozing from a spring. A single cry turned into many cries. It grew louder and louder. Their bodies fidgeted and fussed. Adults, mostly women with breasts bare and men with no shirts on their backs, rustled towards the infants. It didn’t matter whose baby one picked up. All of the adults owned all of the babies. No one cared. The women fed the babies. Their baby? No way. They just took up a child and let him or her nestle up to their bosom.
The men smoked hashish and passed it to the pregnant women. They all smelled of rosemary and onion grass. Most of the wailing subsided into brief whimpers. Black, yellow, red, brown, and white men, women, and children occupied this space in Smyrna, Delaware. The compound stretched for a thousand acres. Most of the money that had gone into building the ranch found its way from the pockets of ex-businesspeople who cashed in their golden parachutes to live the Zachary Brothers and Sisters Society way of life. They dispensed with labels except for the name “Society” which worked well with their mission. Their mission? To gather all of the people of Delaware, the United States, and the world under a new order where community and society could reign. While the mothers bit off pieces of apples and chewed them and spit them out into the mouths of babes, other women and men cleaned their arsenal of weapons.
Machine guns, pistols, bayonets, explosive devices, and thousands of rounds of ammunition separated them from other societies. They were prepared to do harm against those who believed in something different than the collective.
“Hey, I could,” Abby Barkus said in a whisper still cradling the baby, “help with the cleaning process.” Gunther Delphi grinned. His long, brown beard waved in the wind.
He whispered also. “You take care of the youth. We’ve got this.” Abby smirked and slightly shook the baby to sleep.
The tips of the rounds always shone red as the sun at twilight. Blood of those who had not accepted their code covered the bullets. There had been attempts by the government to raid them twice. Still, every time, they had been able to show that under the Great Transition they could live their lifestyle apart from the other people whom they aimed to convert. But private individuals who could protect their own private property with the firepower that the ZBSS had (or sometimes more), found solace in such weaponry.
At dinner time, the four hundred or so residents all sat down as if feasting on a stately meal. Everything consisted of fruits and vegetables just a few hours away from spoilage. After the feeding time, the men and women prepared for sleeping hours. They allowed themselves six hours of rest and then awoke at 3 AM every morning to plant, to wash dirty diapers, to scrape plates, to compost leftover victuals and again to clean weaponry.
Once the sun had peeked out of the clouds one morning, there seemed to be a pall that suddenly fell upon the Society. On the horizon, about a half dozen large military-style vehicles that obviously weren’t from the military given their track record, but heavily remained armored trucks streaking black against the morning sky. Delphi peered at the convoy.
“Damn,” he said. He then gathered up all the firearms. All of the sharp stuff and anything that could go boom. The three hundred occupants of ZBSS didn’t have training with weapons; this, of course, included the babies. The other one hundred remained well-versed with the scriptures of a rifle. Their well-read nature gave them the impetus to fight. While Delphi stomped through globs of mud to reach the machine guns, the followers all donned riot gear and stood ready for an attack. The gates to the compound remained locked until Delphi spoke over the intercom.
“What business have you here?” He asked.
A vehicle as black as the river at night strolled up to the speaking system. A voice strong, yet wavering a bit spoke. Retired Marine Brigadier General Peterson simply said, “I want my daughter back.”
Delphi took a moment. He then said, “She has chosen to live among us in prosperity. We are living a true life away from the machine of the outside world. She is amongst us and forever will be.”
“Goddamn it. I know that my little girl’s behind those walls,” Peterson said.
“And you’re never going to see her again,” Delphi said wistfully.
Then a shot rang out from behind the compound. It struck one of the armored private vehicles. It bounced off of the heavy plate that surrounded the truck. This prompted Peterson to break through the gates. People ran everywhere. The trained gunmen and women took to their posts like battle stations. The vehicles streamed through the opening of the Society like a large rock passing through a wet paper towel. Flashes from muzzles drove the attention of Peterson. He operated a robot to engage a .50 caliber machine gun at the people behind the meager guns with all of that ammunition.
Scores fell. His team fired back from their armored trucks. The Zachary Brothers and Sisters Society sent shots towards those vehicles. In a desperate attempt, some lobbed bombs and grenades at the heavy trucks. These weapons burst against the trucks but the vehicles sustained little if any damage. They buffaloed through the compound with a force befitting a militia. With shots flying over head, Abby and a few other mothers took into account the little ones. They wrapped them in swaddling and quickly moved them to a locale away from all of the commotion.
Once the babies had been placed out of harm’s way, Abby strode right into a line of fire from a robot’s aim and struck her down, dead. Delphi became incensed. He picked up the nearest machine gun and started blasting away. A retired lance corporal trained his sights with the help of a robot and shot Delphi right between the eyes. He then aimed at the other shooters and mowed down all of them. Streams of people ran out of the Society walls at this point. Peterson looked for his little girl amongst the deluge of human bodies. For a time, he did not see her. Then, he noticed the jet black skin and curly hair of his daughter, Hannis. They reunited.
“I’m so sorry, Daddy, that it has to come to this,” Hannis said, tears streaking her dark face.
“It’s more than alright now. We have won.” The untouched babies amongst all the noise and fuss drove Hannis to find which baby was hers. She knew that she had given birth to a boy. But there were three little ones that matched her complexion. She then remembered that her son had a birthmark on the back of his neck. She noticed it.
“Your name is Branchford.” She smiled. Peterson turned to her and hugged her. Peterson’s team made sure that the babies would be brought to a center for the state to handle. They would then go on to private families desperate for little ones. In his truck, Branchford’s cooing soothed father and daughter on the way back to Newark, Delaware.