William knew it was the end. He saw it for a very long time. If only they had listened years before, none of this would have happened. As the last of the children entered the truck, a tear fell down his face. Ever since the great purge and the advent of full personalized learning, he knew this would be the result.
Back then, during the days of his grandfather, the teachers knew they would be gone in a matter of time. They were no longer teachers. They were following the script. The teacher was the monitor, giving the same lesson to all of them. At first, the children were glued to the screens. They couldn’t ask questions because there was no one there to answer them. Some tried, but they were given a demerit if they interrupted the Digital Lead. This was the teacher’s job now, to oversee the flow of the construct. Children who caused too many problems were simply removed from the program. There was no more special education and no compassion. Homeschooling was negated years prior by legislative decree and with the economic downfall, all parents had to work in order to survive unless they belonged to one of the twelve companies. They were hard times for all, but no one could do a damn thing about it. The unions were broken up in the last days of the rebellion, and the companies finally reached their coveted goal: complete control of education.
The children who didn’t make the cut were sent to the centers. Cruel people ran them. They had no soul or compassion for these troubled kids. The children were forced to watch behavior modification videos all day long. If they acted out, they were sent to the dark rooms, for hours on end. There would be days where a child disappeared and wouldn’t be seen for weeks. When they reemerged into the Community Room, something was lost inside of them. They could no longer feel, or speak, or show any emotion at all. This would last for months until slowly the heart of who they are would start to come out again. This happened to every single child that went to the centers. In the past, they would have received an Individualized Education Plan or in conjunction with that they would go to a special school to handle the most severe of disabilities. But the personalized learning could not accommodate their needs at all, so hard choices were made.
Everyone felt the Specials, as they were now labeled, would never become productive members of society. It was very rare that any of these students broke through the Common Core and the standardized testing, so they did what they felt was best. Parents fought the new laws for a long time, but the companies prevailed. Once the Medicaid system broke in Delaware, and these children were not given the medical freedom, their disabilities spiraled out of control. Parents couldn’t afford all the doctor appointments and medicine. With no special education, the children could not sustain the classroom environment. As more and more children filled the day centers, they needed to build larger and larger centers. The day centers soon became just the centers.
The cost for the centers was extremely cheap. The children were given the most basic food, and the labor was minimum wage. The doctors that worked at the centers had no background checks and no references were checked. Nobody wanted to work there except those who had to survive. Every once in a while a doctor from one of the centers would protest about the inhumane treatment, but this was an exercise in futility. The doctors were told to shut up or quit. If they did neither, they were simply terminated with no due process involved.
After some time, the behavior modification videos simply stopped working. The desired effect was gone as the specials became immune to it. Nobody knew why. So with no medicine and no videos, and no true adult supervision, the centers became a madhouse. Dark and gruesome tales spun out of the centers as the special slowly took them over. It was chaos unleashed. Nobody truly knew what happened inside of them, but every once in a while a doctor or orderly would escape and speak about the specials. The parents of the Specials begged to see their children, but visiting days were over. The companies knew they had to take drastic measures.
William saw this happening, and he knew his son would be lost to him forever if he went to the Mountain. He tried to get a job at one of the centers, but once it was revealed his son attended, he was blacklisted from working at any of them. The companies elite forces would surround a center and dig tunnels underneath them. They would unleash the knock-out gas through the drain system rendering all of the special unconscious. The forces would swoop in and load of all the children into the trucks and take them to the airport hangar where they were loaded onto the cargo planes. Once inside the planes, they were chained to their seats. Many Specials died mid-flight as they would awaken and try to tear their bodies through the chains. Some awoke and were so frightened they fell into a permanent trance never to communicate with anyone ever again. They were trapped within their own mind, more so than ever before.
Once they arrived at the Mountain, the Specials were sent to the indoctrination auditorium. They were told the rules by the voice on the screen. The rules were simple: comply or die. Millions died. As the years went by, the numbers stretched to over a billion.
William had to save his son, if he was even still alive. He spent a significant amount of money he saved up to have his fingerprints altered. It was the only way the companies wouldn’t match him to his real identity. One of the forgers matched the fingerprints to another person who had mysteriously disappeared and created documents to match their credentials. William interviewed for the worst job in the world: a Military Elite Force (MEF). The job of the MEF was to deal with the Specials who could no longer comply with the rules of the mountain.
During the trans-Atlantic flight to the Mountain, William remembered the stories his grandfather wrote about. The days when parents still fought for their kids. They would rally at Legislative Hall so they could get laws passed to honor their rights. Teachers still spoke out back then, and this was years before the union purge. His grandfather would tell him how this was all set up by some guy named Jack. He was the leader of Delaware, and with a smile on his face he told families he was going to fix education. The people believed him at first, but they soon realized the awful truths: that Jack was lying to them the whole time and it was all about power and politics and money. It wasn’t about the kids at all. Openly rebelling against the Government was not illegal yet, and William’s grandfather seemed to do it everyday. He told tales of how close they came, him and some legislators, parents and teachers came to bringing it all down. But they were betrayed by one of their own and all was lost.
Back in those days, the Specials were not as big as they were now. They were growing though, and everyone knew it. No one could tell if it was evolution, God’s plan, or just a tragic result of man’s tampering with dangerous chemicals that changed what the human body processed. Back then, it was rare for a child to be ripped from its family. There would actually be a tribunal or committee of some sort where the decision was made. As the numbers swelled, so did the centers. William’s father was a Special, and so was his son. His beautiful boy, possibly lost to him forever. He longed for the days of freedom when a parent’s voice meant something. Instead, it was replaced with greed and avarice and compliance. The only freedom that existed in the world now belonged to the very few who had the power and the resources necessary to live outside of the cities.
William sat by the window, looking at the stars. It was so peaceful up here. But then he remembered the horror his own son must have felt on the cargo plane. His grandfather told him about the great atrocities committed against the Jews in World War II. How one sick man and his agenda killed six million of them. But that was 130 years ago. It was happening again to those who were deemed different. Those who could not fit in to the narrow society the companies created. It all started with the data. William’s grandfather warned them about the data. He wrote about it but nobody listened. Some laughed at him. The only ones who took him seriously in Delaware were those who were afraid of what he would reveal. Once everything came out in the open, it was too late. The companies knew everything about every citizen in the country. It wasn’t just about the education data. A much bigger plan was hatched by the think tanks and consortiums in the governments and the companies.
When William was in school, he took the bus. He left at 5:30 in the morning for the 6am start. When he got back home at 7:30 at night, he would spend time with his mom and dad for an hour or so and back to bed. Seven days a week. All his needs were taken care of at the school. All his meals, his doctor visits, and the play time with friends from 2-3pm. The school took care of everything. When he was sick, he would stay in the school infirmary so his hard-working parents wouldn’t get sick and have to miss a day of work. By the time his father was getting ready to graduate high school, schools had been transformed. They were no longer just learning centers, they were full-scale wellness centers. This was allowed through the ESEA Reauthorization of 2016. Many parents objected, but the lobbyists won Congress over. Children would get their immunization shots, and as part of the requirements for this, a blood sample was taken. On the surface, it was to determine if any of the flu shots would cause an allergic reaction, but the result was more nefarious. DNA was catalogued and tracked. Genetic markers were determined. The companies wanted to isolate the Specials from the rest of the population. When William’s father was in school, the Special population was anywhere from 15-20% of the population. When William’s son was born, it had mushroomed to 55%.
When William arrived at the Mountain, he was given three guns, a knife, and his uniform. The inside of the mountain could only be described as an underground mall. There were stores, restaurants, and offices. The specials roamed around freely. To an outside observer it would seem like an ordinary place. But it was not. It was a place of death and submission. William’s father received his assignment…disposal…
To be continued…