I knew it would come to this.
It wasn't mandatory - at first. Then, when people actually started dying and everyone starting getting paranoid, it was a government mandate. Of course, some folk are saying it started with the government's "takeover" of health care. But the ones saying that are the ones snitching on their neighbors now.
Luckily I have good neighbors. Who knew living in the ghetto with a pot-smoking dad on disability on one side and a drug-dealing mother of four children by different fathers on the other side would be my salvation. The only snitch on our street is the retired gas company employee who's been trying to get the drug-dealing mother in trouble with Jobs and Family Services for years.
Even the evangelical older couple that lives down the street in the only other large house other than mine have proven to be friends of 'dissidents' like me. Living up to the legacy of their home that is on the historical registry, purported to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad, they provide a safe haven for folks like me. I can't live in my own home because, like an idiot, I did my duty as a citizen and filled out that census form and mailed it five years ago. Now, every other day, a truck comes by and soldiers jump out and knock at my door.
My landlord put a padlock on it a couple of months after I stopped paying rent, but they still knock because their records say I live there. I watch them from my pothead neighbor's attic or the basement of the evangelicals who live next to him. I move from one house to the other in case they decide to search houses on the street that may be harboring fugitives from the government sanctioned quarantine of anyone not wearing a wrist band. Since my pothead neighbor was just paranoid enough not to fill out the census, there is no record of him, his wife, or his two kids living at home, so no one comes looking for him. He even got some fake wrist bands so he and his wife can shop and his children can go to school. Because if he was wearing a real wrist band, I'd steer clear of him.
The evangelicals are wearing authentic ones, but they're old and their immune systems may be compromised, so they have to be careful. They know the wrist bands are the mark of the beast, though. They belong to an apocalyptic church that preaches end time theology. Their pastor was one of the first people quarantined for not succumbing to the government mandate. The mother of four who supports her children with a welfare check and the sale of the pot she grows in her basement also sells fake wrist bands, but since she didn't fill out a census form, she doesn't exist to the soldiers that come down our street every other day.
The only citizens on that street as far as the government is concerned are the retired gas employee, the evangelical couple, and the woman across the street who plays cello in the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. The crack dealers next to her and the family on the corner and the two families at the end of my side of the street didn't turn in census forms either. There are some abandoned houses across the street between the crack dealers' house and the house on the corner and I hear other fugitives sometimes stay in them at night. I've seen lights in them once in a while, but I've never seen anyone coming or going.
I have friends all over town who would help me and two members of my family have begged me to leave Ohio and meet them on our land in Texas where my brothers, Joseph and John and their families are bunkered with an artillery that rivals the Pentagons, loaded with gold and silver, rations, generators, and crank radios. My brother James is still in Columbus. My sister, Debbie, filled out the census and they picked her up and quarantined her a couple of months ago. We haven't heard from her since.
So, James is taking care of my mother, using her authentic wrist band to buy them food and get around. Mom just goes out to church, nowhere else. Her pastor, who denounced all of the members like her wearing the mark of the beast, was picked up during Bible study last Wednesday night because one of the deacons turned him in to get the $10,000 reward.
I'm starting to wonder if my pothead neighbor will do the same thing and turn me in because he's a hustler. He's helping the mother of four sell her writstbands in exchange for some pot. Or maybe it'll be the mother struggling to take care of four kids. I know it won't be the evangelicals because they don't need the money. Maybe I should go to Texas. Or I could just get the damn wrist band and be marked by the beast. So many people died during the winter and the deaths haven't slowed down since spring arrived.
If the government had an accurate account of the number of people that live on my little block, they'd be amazed that while only four people have been vaccinated, everyone on this block survived the worst epidemic of flu since 1919. I don't want that poison in my body, but I could probably counteract the H1N1 vaccination somehow. The onions I told all my neighbors to put in their homes to absorb the bacteria and viruses in the air are doing their job. There is so much infection, my neighbor's wife has to buy a bag of onions every week. A few days sitting in a glass bowl and an onion turns black from the infected air.
Onions are getting more and more expensive as the price of everything goes up, but she planted some in the yard, so we'll have a new crop. Everyone on my street who didn't get the vaccination is using the onions per my instructions to absorb the sickness that's in the air. When the soldiers come, they're wearing gas masks. I'd offer them some onions, but...
I can't go back to the evangelicals house. My pothead neighbor saw them talking to the soldiers when they came by yesterday. The wife was crying and the husband pointed to my house and said something and the soldiers came and knocked on his door, demanding to search his house. They started in the basement and went up to the attic. They also searched the mother of four's house and every other house on the block. They searched every house but mine. What they didn't know and what I've never told the evangelicals is there is a tunnel that goes from their house to mine where the slaves where sent when the slave hunters came to search the well-known spot on the Underground Railroad.
I was in the basement of my neighbor's house two nights ago when I had a dream about slaves hiding in the tunnel and dying when it was discovered and the slave hunters used smoke to try to run them out. They ran down the tunnel to get to my house, but the door was blocked and they couldn't get in; so, rather than return to slavery, they stayed in the tunnel and were overcome by the smoke. When I first moved into that house, there was a huge presser blocking the door and I moved it because I thought I might need to escape some day and I didn't want the only safe passage blocked.
After awaking from the nightmare about the slaves trapped in the smoke-filled tunnel, I crawled through the cobwebbed filled tunnel that my evangelical neighbors never discovered and when I got to my house, pushed open the door to my basement stocked with canned goods, bottled water, a small generator, blankets, a crank radio and some gold and silver I was sure my landlord would have found. Well, he never cared much about the house, didn't make needed repairs or spend much money on it at all, and probably thought the old metal cabinet in the basement was empty.