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Short Story: "Judicial Restraint"

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"You've got to hide me!"

Elliot peered again through the peephole at the man whose insistent knocking had awakened him. The distorted fisheye view of his darkened porch was blocked suddenly, first by a bulbous nose, and then by a bloodshot eye.

"I'm your neighbor, for god's sake, Elliot. Let me in!"

"John?" he said, suspiciously.

"Yes, it's me. Haven't you heard the news?" The man in the fisheye stepped back and looked out into the street. "They'll be here, soon. Come on. Let me in!"

Eliot tied his bathrobe and opened the door. "What news? I've been sound asleep."

John, who wore jeans and an old law school t-shirt, pushed past him and headed towards the living room. "I'll show you. But you might want to get yourself a stiff drink."

"A what?" John said as he caught up. "You know I don't drink."

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His neighbor snapped the TV on and clicked over to the news channel. "I can't think of a better reason to start."

"---but the other two members have not yet been located." The reporter stood in front of the White House, it's façade partially obscured by what appeared to be an array of military equipment and soldiers. "For those of you who are just tuning in, the President has formally charged the Supreme Court with treason as a result of its recent decision to permit accused terrorists to challenge their incarceration in the courts."

Elliot fell into a chair and looked up at John, whose fingers were twitching. "But don't you clerk for Ju---."

John grimaced. "Just watch."

"As you can see behind me," the reporter continued, "the military are setting up camp on the White House lawn. They've been called in to defend the president and the White House against the crowds that are expected to start gathering in protest by daybreak. Traffic on the Internet has spiked due to all of the frantic organizing. The president has not yet invoked National Security Directive 51, but is reportedly prepared to do so should the need arise. Invoking the directive would place complete control of the government into the hands of the Chief Executive, and put the entire nation under martial law, effectively shutting down the Internet as well. But for the moment, all we know is that city and state law enforcement agencies across the country have been directed to locate and detain all members of the judicial branch for questioning. We have been asked to remind our viewers that it is a federal crime to harbor a fugitive from justice. So if you know someone who works in the court system, do not, I repeat, do not attempt to hide them. If you do, you will be declared a domestic enemy combatant and taken into custody yourself."

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Elliot grabbed the remote and hit mute. "Thanks, John. So now I'm a criminal for letting you in. What do they want everyone rounded up for, anyway?"

"They're afraid that liberal judges and their aides will attempt something foolish." He started pacing, nervously glancing at the window. "Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of citizens having weapons, it's likely that an armed rebellion will spring up. Lawyers aren't known for being especially good shots, you know. A lot of innocent people could get hurt."

"Oh. I see." Elliot glanced back and forth between his neighbor and the TV, which was now showing archive footage of the two missing justices. "So its all in the name of security, then, of protecting the people from unintentional harm."

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Ever since I learned to speak binary on a DIGIAC 3080 training computer, I've been involved with tech in one way or another, but there was always another part of me off exploring ideas and writing about them. Halfway to a BS in Space Technology at (more...)

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