I always liked to sleep late, and Maddy didn’t seem to mind. Today, he seemed extra eager to stay in bed; I think he was tired too, but something else bothered me. I remembered Maddy always being playful and nonchalant, especially around me. After we slept until after ten and then had coffee and toast in his apartment, he was eager to start a more serious discussion about my staying with him in Mount Adams. His facial expression was serious, and he wanted me to be serious too. I was the guest and he was clearly in charge, so I listened to his every word.
“We can’t go anyplace this morning until my bike is delivered. So let’s go over some things.” He paused a few seconds before continuing, carefully inspecting my serious side. “You know your father will find out that you’re inside the zone, and it won’t take long. Do you think he’ll send someone up here to get you?”
“It doesn’t matter. I won’t leave,” I replied and then asked the obvious. “But how would he know? I wore the armband like you said.”
“That armband got you inside without a problem, but their surveillance still got you on camera…exiting Kentucky.”
“But you said they wouldn’t find me.”
“I said they wouldn’t stop you from entering the zone. That’s different from knowing you’re inside. Anyway…I thought you were shorter. The tracking software picks up changes in height. You’re a few inches taller than the owner of the armband.”
“This is another girl’s armband?” I asked while pulling it off my arm.
I played the jealous card, but I was more upset that he’d forgotten my height. I remembered every inch of you. You, however, can’t even remember how tall I am. You didn’t bend down to kiss me, did you? We kissed and my height wasn’t a problem then, was it? Why now? The verbal attack was brewing in my head, but I stayed quiet and let him answer.
“There are a lot of girls here, but just friends. I had to find you an armband, so I guessed and picked a girl I thought would match your height. I didn’t know how tall you’ve gotten,” Maddy said while scanning my tall and lean body. I could tell he still loved me, but he was a typical boy, still far from showing that love yet.
“And because my height is taller than the girl registered for this armband, my profile kicked into the Red State security?” I’d heard all the dirty details of the new tracking technology coming out of North Carolina’s National Research Triangle Park…always working its way into the nonchalant chitchat at local barbeques, keg parties, and Buckhead socials. I never paid attention to the specifics. Now these small insignificant details were slapping me back.
“Correct,” Maddy answered. “Kicking into their security raised a red flag, and then they would have recovered a facial profile. It probably only took a few minutes for them to figure out who you are. It’s only a matter of time before your daddy knows where you are.”
“That’s all there is? They track people up here…by height?” I said, thinking technology still moved at a snail’s pace, even in Raleigh’s Triangle Research Park.
“That’s right, thanks to the small remnants of our Constitution still intact and the National Research Triangle Park’s newest spy technology,” Maddy answered. “You’d be surprised at how far they had to go to protect our right to privacy, and how much money they’ve put into the Homeland Surveillance and Tracking Agency. They call it progress, moving forward, but it still tracks people like animals.”
“And it’s going to get worse,” I added, and then reluctantly asked whether he’d heard the latest talk. I knew Maddy’s world was far away from the centers of power established after the Black Crash—all those creative yet unconstitutional efforts to eliminate Washington’s chokehold on the economy. Of all the national hub cities, North Atlanta was designated as the economic recovery operations and planning headquarters, and my father was in charge of…pretty much everything. In all truth, he did more than recovery operations and planning; my daddy ran much of North Atlanta and the rest of the hubs scattered across the South. And since national politics was my reality, and because I was now with Maddy, it was his reality too.
“Can you believe they want to put chips in all of us?” I asked. “They say it won’t happen for a few more years, but you know how they think; it will be at the top of their agenda, just like the other side. They say they want to unite the nation again, and that’s the purpose of all this new technology. But I don’t know; I think the Red State Government wants the separation…it needs this separation.”
I wondered what Maddy’s response would be. The majority of those up north saw the newest spy technology as just wishful thinking by those who held power in the South. To people in the North, it was absolute nonsense—those little remnants of the Constitution were still strong enough to kill any chance of making everyday Americans wear tracking chips. But when the concept of a State Powers Act was hatched, almost everyone gave it little to no chance to pass. The Recovery Stabilization Act passed too, and it was given even less chance of becoming a law. Now the love of my life was forced to live in a political…reeducation…reform zone. Who would expect that in the United States of America? But it had happened, and Maddy hated all of it. I could see it on his face every time the word “zone” was spoken. But he always seemed to put on a happy face, and as expected, he replied with a joke. “Chips…we’ll all become space monkeys. The economy should do really well with all us space monkeys running around. Your daddy will be real proud.”
“Yep, but we’re all going to be space monkeys and all because of my daddy,” I said, also trying to show my soft side, but clearly defending my father. He didn’t cause all this, and he didn’t start it. All he did was come in and try to correct some of the bad decisions made by people who were not prepared or equipped to lead this nation. What happened with the reform zones wasn’t fair. A lot of things aren’t fair, but at least some of us recovered.
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