A Vigil for Justice, is a serial thriller fiction novel. Updates of 1,000-1,500 words will be posted every Friday.
RECAP: Sixteen-year-old Melanie Craig just found out that the Justice Law was passed. The Justice Law allows all US citizens to take the life of three other people without consequence. Melanie is disgusted by the law and can’t understand how something like this could have been signed into law. She dropped her sister off at school and then headed to school herself. She met her friends in the parking lot and headed to class.
Melanie’s second class was history, and her teacher had the television tuned into the president’s news conference on the Justice Law. After the assassination of President Faust last year, Vice President Ammon Vick assumed the office. President Vick was a military man with a clean-shaven sharp angled face and long nose. He had piercing blue eyes and short obsidian hair. President was a title Vick had held at the NRA as well, but that was during the war. He held himself straight and bold, shoulders back and his expression even the American flag rippling in the wind at his back. His hands rested lightly on the podium
“—the NCPS will be synced with the SAFE system allowing the tracking of justice deaths. The security codes emitted from the RFID’s in designated safe zones will disable all firearms reducing the possibility of justice deaths in the vicinity of schools and churches. Metal detectors will be installed at the entrance of all schools and churches, which do not already have them. The safety of our citizens while at an educational facility is paramount. If we are to overcome this crisis the education of our children is essential.”
Melanie’s dad had helped develop the SAFE system. It was never meant to be connected with the National Cybersecurity Protection System. The NCPS had the ability to monitor any cyber activity of U.S. citizens. Homeland Security has always said that they only monitor for terroristic threats and acts of violence, but Melanie knew it was more. Ever since the Homeland Security Act was passed in 2002, the government has inched its way into private homes. It had become such a ubiquitous presence that when the SAFE system was proposed, it was accepted by the people with minor opposition.
Her father had been so proud of SAFE.
“It will change everything Melbelle,” he said. The flecks of green in his hazel eyes caught the rays of the sun as he danced her around in a circle holding her small hands in his larger ones.
“Five years, that’s my prediction. It will take five years to really get going, but then it will fix everything.”
It has been four years, and she still believed in her father’s dream. Just a little more time and things would get better, she thought. SAFE revolutionized the social services system of the United States. The economy was going down before World War 3 broke out in 2016, but the war finished the job. In 2017, SAFE, Social Alliance Freedom Emission, was implemented. Her father had appeared on television with the flag waiving behind him to announce SAFE to the public.
“The Social Alliance Freedom Emission system will create thousands of jobs through manufacturing, installation, debugging, and monitoring. Every American is entitled to food, shelter, and medical care despite their income, race, religion, or sexual preferences. SAFE will replace the current social security and public welfare systems that are bleeding our depleted economy dry. Meeting the basic needs of the starving will eliminate much of the crime.” Her father’s words had convinced sixty-three percent of the American population to vote for SAFE.
“The SAFE system was supposed to fix many of the problems you are now saying will be solved by the Justice Law,” commented an off screen female reporter.
“The SAFE system has failed to do what Robert Craig promised it would,” said President Vick.
Melanie clenched her jaw. Several of the other students who were listening turned their eyes toward her at the mention of her father’s name, but just as quickly refocused on the television.
“We have seen some decline in the street violence, but it is just taking too long. Our cities are war zones and something more has to be done. The Justice Law—“
The bell rang, and the teacher clicked the television off.
“This is history in the making Mr. Johnson, why’d you turn it off?” asked a boy named Harrison.
“It will be your children’s history Harrison, not yours.” Mr. Johnson pushed his black wide framed glasses up on his nose. His brown plaid button down shirt was tucked into a pair of light blue jeans. People in Blue River held onto the past. That’s one of the reasons Melanie’s family had moved there. Her father had been a technological genius of Steve Jobs proportions, but he also held onto relics of the bygone age of the hippies. He was a contradiction in many ways.
In Blue River, you could forget that the war and resulting economic crash had happened, at least on most days. The only reminders that the US economy had fallen into the abyss were the newscasts of the violence in other cities and of course SAFE. And although these were a constant backdrop to daily life, people had a way of not noticing them.
As Melanie walked out to the parking lot to meet up with Mitchel, Holly, and Seth for lunch, she sent a tweet to a couple of her dad’s geek friends she has remained in contact with after her dad’s death. People in Blue River may be happy going with the flow of a simplistic life, but she needed information.
Seth was leaning against Mitchel’s truck clicking through messages or something on his phone.
“Hey Melbelle,” he said, glancing up at her for a flash. She hated it when he called her that. Only her father called her by that name.
“I’ve asked you not to call me that Seth.” She frowned at him.
“Sorry. Did you catch any of the president’s press conference?” He shoved his phone in his pocket.
“Bits and pieces, Mr. Johnson turned it off. You?”
“Not much. June first is the big day.”
“What do you mean?”
“That’s when the Justice Law takes effect. Guess they wanted to give everyone time to prepare, so they announced it early,” Seth said.
Twenty-eight days, Melanie thought.
Mitchel and Holly strode up. Mitchel fist bumped Seth, and kissed Melanie. His eyes were soft as they met hers. They piled into Melanie’s car.
“Where to for lunch?” Holly asked, leaning forward between the two front seats.
“TacoTime,” Mitchel suggested.
Seth groaned, and Melanie started the car. None of them wanted to talk about the Justice Law, but everyone’s thoughts were consumed by it. Melanie knew they would eventually have to talk about it. Something like this couldn’t be ignored by friends. The ride to TacoTime was quiet other than the pine filled air blowing through the windows of the car at freeway speeds. TacoTime was a few miles away in Frisco. Melanie slowed down as they reach the town. Still no one spoke.
They stood staring at the menu inside the brightly colored dining room. Melanie looked at each of them. She would trust anyone of them with her life. They were her best friends. She had trusted them with her life many times already camping, hiking, rock climbing, and swimming.
None of the others were ready, so Melanie stepped forward and ordered.
She waived her left wrist over the SAFE scanner. It beeped indicating it had received the signal. Her credit union information appeared on the screen below her order and the total. She tapped her finger on the touch screen to pay and then stepped out of the way to wait.
Melanie checked her phone, pushed her earbud into her ear, and listened to the video @geekedout had sent her. The others ordered and paid just as she had. They slid into a yellow and orange booth in the corner of the dining area.
“Do you think it is really possible Mel?” Holly asked. Melanie’s mouth was full. Holly had never had much interest in technology. She relied on Melanie for all of her information on the latest innovations whether it was a device or a program. Unlike Melanie, Holly never wanted to leave Blue River. Holly had no reason to leave. Everything she could ever want was right here.
All of them waited for her to finish chewing even though both Mitchel and Seth had an idea of what Melanie was going to say. Especially Seth, sometimes he had information that not even Melanie, with all her dad’s connections, had heard about yet. She thought he was a hacker, but Mitchel didn’t think his twin was that smart.
Melanie swallowed and took a pull off her soda. She assumed Holly was asking about tracking what the president had called justice deaths. She disagreed with the terminology, but answered Holly question.
“Yes, it’s possible to track justice deaths. Most of the early technology has been in place since 2012. It just wasn’t rolled out to the public. In 2012, a guy named Ron Conway started the Smart Tech Challenge Foundation, which offered millions of dollars to innovators to come up with new idea to stop the school shootings. They developed the Radio Frequency Identification Device or RFID to track firearms and to disable them. I’m sure they have continued and with the combination of the NCPS and SAFE, anything is possible.”
She loved twitter, without it, she wouldn’t be able to answer her friends or her own questions.