An excerpt from Charles Sheehan-Miles's newest novel, Republic: A Novel of America's Future.
Republic has recently received strongly positive reviews from DailyKos, Niagara Falls Reporter and others, and is available in a free podcast from www.sheehanmiles.com.
The rain rattled against the canvas roof of Karen Greenfield’s HUMMWV like popcorn, loud enough that she couldn’t hear the radio. The air had turned cold from the rain, and the inside of the humvee smelled like sweat and mildew. Her soaked Kevlar vest didn’t help, as moisture seeped through it and her olive-drab raincoat.
Since she’d been with the company, they’d been activated three times. The first two didn’t require weapons, they were to deal with floods. Then, last year, they briefly deployed to Morgantown after a riot. In that case they stood around and did guard duty, much as she expected to do here. In no case was the use of main battle tanks required.
The men inside the tanks would be miserable; unable to cover the tank with a tarp, they’d be sitting inside what amounted to great, leaking tin cans, getting soaked. She’d never understood how they could make a tank that could survive the direct hit of a 125mm sabot round, but couldn’t design one that didn’t leak.
Corporal Stanson, who sat behind the wheel blowing on his hands to warm them, bobbed his head. “Yes, ma’am.” He put the vehicle in gear and drove, faster than she liked; it was still light, but with the rain, visibility was down to less than fifty meters.
In Little Cairo, the twenty-four men were positioned at eight intersections. As she approached the position closest to the federal building, she saw two of the men setting up shelter halves against the wall of a building as the third stood guard duty in the driving rain. The one on guard duty was Private Campbell, from up the road just outside Highview. At seventeen, a senior at Highview High School, the Guard required him to get permission from his parents before he enlisted.
Damn. She couldn’t stay inside, not when the guys were outside in the rain.
She stepped out of the somewhat warm HUMMWV into the icy downpour. It didn’t soak through her plastic wet-weather jacket immediately, but it would soon enough. She walked through the rain to Campbell.
“Ma’am.” He was shivering and his teeth chattered.
“As soon as they’ve got that shelter up, you get under it, okay, Campbell.”
He nodded vigorously, and little droplets of rain flew off his chin. “Yes, ma’am.”