Divided We Fall(83)
Author:Trent Reedy

    “The world has changed,” I said. “Everything has changed.”

    A high-pitched tone went off. It was loud, irritating.

    “What the hell?” Sweeney said.

    The image on the living room screen had switched from the skateboarding show he’d been watching with the sound muted to the seal of the president of the United States over a blue background.

    “Can you stop that sound?” Cal asked.

    Sweeney picked up his comm to change the living room screen volume. “It won’t turn down. It won’t turn off. It’s on the comm too.”

    “Same here.” JoBell held up her comm. She tried the power button. “It’s stuck.”

    We all checked our comms. They were all the same way.

    “Hang on.” Sweeney ran to another room and came back with an old, emergency hand crank–powered radio. He cranked it a little and then switched on the radio, adjusting the volume and spinning the station dials. No matter what station he tuned to, he could only pick up the same high-pitched whine that was coming from everything else.

    “It must be playing on everything, everywhere,” Becca said.

    JoBell moved closer to me and took my hand.

    “If someone doesn’t turn that sound off, I’m going to start smashing screens and comms,” Cal said with his hands over his ears.

    The noise stopped. The seal of the president was replaced by an image of the new president herself, sitting behind her desk in the Oval Office.

    “Good evening.” President Griffith folded her hands on top of her desk. “This is the second time I have spoken to the nation, and on both occasions, I have done so with a heavy heart under the weight of tremendous responsibility. I did not seek or request this office, and I am keenly aware that you, the American people, have not elected me to this position. Nevertheless, I will not avoid or neglect my duty as required of me by our Constitution.

    “It is regarding that same document, that foundation of American democracy, that I address you tonight. For the past several months, our Constitution and our nation has faced a crisis the likes of which we have not experienced for over one hundred and fifty years. The governor of the state of Idaho, along with the Idaho state legislature, have taken it upon themselves to disregard Article Six, Clause Two of our Constitution.

    “This clause, known as the Supremacy Clause, dictates that if federal law conflicts with a law passed by a state, the federal law will be supreme. The state law must be amended or set aside. This basic operating principle is what has allowed our states to remain united for nearly two and a half centuries. Without it, states could determine for themselves which national laws they choose to obey and which they want to disregard. Chaos and disunity would be the inevitable result.

    “It is the position of the government of the state of Idaho that certain laws recently passed by the United States Congress are not consistent with the spirit or the letter of the Constitution. That opinion is their right, and our democracy allows them the opportunity and a legal process whereby their congressional representatives and senators can work to pass amendments or even to repeal the laws to which they object.

    “However, they most certainly do not have the right to, by force of arms, refuse to allow Constitutional authority to take precedence in their state. This is what they have attempted to do, and entertaining arguments toward the legality or legitimacy of this practice only serves to prolong it, escalating the problem.

    “I have, therefore, reluctantly been forced to declare the state of Idaho to be in a condition of rebellion, and by the authority vested in me as the commander in chief of the United States military, I have ordered our armed forces to end this rebellion.

    “All Idaho military, law enforcement, and militia personnel are ordered to immediately and unconditionally surrender. All Idaho residents are ordered to disarm, remain in their homes, and obey all instructions from federal authorities. These demands are not open to negotiation or debate.

    “This is a dark and dangerous time for our nation, but the United States of America has overcome difficult times before. Our people will persevere through this current crisis. We will be united once more.

    “Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.”

    The screen and our comms switched to the presidential seal for a moment. Then they cut out, displaying the “no signal” message. I fiddled with the setting on my comm, trying to see if I could connect to anything, but it was cut off. No cellular feed was available.

    Then the power went out, plunging us into darkness.

    I squeezed JoBell’s hand.

    “My God.” I reached for my gun. “They’re coming.”

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