UNTITLED

By TL Gates

Pete slowed to a near crawl, flicked the blinker on, made a right-hand turn down Cherry Blossom Lane. The residential neighborhood was lined with cherry trees, in full bloom, whose branches reached across the road to hug one another, forming a tunnel of flowered arches. The drive was gorgeous this time of year—one reason he and Tami had purchased the house. If they were going to spend their entire married existence in one place, they needed it to bring them as much joy as possible. Cherry blossoms brought them joy.

 

A glance in the rearview brought to his attention the same white van that had pulled out of the parking lot of the grocer when he had. No back windows, tinted front. Damn, PETF!

 

Peter threw the throttle into overdrive and pressed the gas pedal of the Mazda MX-5 to the floor. Fast cars — a perk of owning a used car business. He prayed, silently, that none of the neighborhood children were playing in their front yards, or worse, the street, as he flew down the road.

 

A hard and fast left on Main felt like he’d skirted around the corner on two wheels. A rush of adrenaline filled his mouth and pumped through his racing heart.  Pete checked to see if the van was still behind him. It was. Fuck a duck! He swerved across the on-coming lane, holding his breath and praying for the best. Horns honked, and three cars tapped bumpers, but traffic was light and slow. He’d managed to cross, turning abruptly into a narrow alley between a strip mall and a row of fast food joints. It would lead to a gas station parking lot next to a homeless camp site. He shook his head, unable to piece together a plan of escape from that point. Not exactly helpful for hiding a candy apple red sports car. However, if he’d shaken them, perhaps he could get to the dealership, park the Miata in the auto shop, grab something less eye-catching.

 

A quick glance in the rearview rendered him a clear field of vision. He took a deep breath, held it to the count of six and blew it out. To the mattresses! Ten minutes later he was pulling into the dealership.

 

“Don,” he called. “Get this into the garage and on a lift, immediately. No questions. Just get it out of sight.”

 

Pete headed to his office in search of a key for a new vehicle. Maybe that grey Accord that came in yesterday. He stopped abruptly, in the middle of the showroom floor. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled. Son of a—

 

“Mr. Citizen?” A voice boomed. “Pete Citizen.”

 

Pete stared at the group of terrorists.

 

“PETF, Mr. Citizen. We’re here t—”

 

“I know why you’re here,” Pete responded. He’d seen pictures and read stories on social media. Certain groups had warned of the coming apostasy.

 

“Your cooperation is imperative,” the captain said.

 

“And if I refuse?”

 

“We have our orders, Mr. Citizen. It’s your civic duty.”

 

Pete made a run for the back exit. Two men in hazmat suits and helmets hurled themselves toward him. For men dressed in full protective armor, they were surprisingly spry. They flanked him on either side, and held him by the arms.

 

“Nooooo,” Pete cried out, attempting to wrestle free. “I do not consent!”

 

The captain stepped close to Pete. “Under non-compliance executive order 937, we don’t need your consent.” He nodded to the remaining team member who knelt on the floor. “It doesn’t hurt. Well, not more than any other inoculation.”

 

The team member on the floor opened the small container he’d been carrying. He removed a vial that looked like it held black dust, opened it, and poured it into another vial containing a yellowish liquid. He capped the vial and rolled it between his hands. The captain punched Pete in the gut. Everything went black as he slumped to the floor.

“Nooooo, nooooo consent!” Pete called out. He rolled around on the bed, fighting with the comforter.

 

Tami shook him gently. “Honey, Honey. Wake up.”

 

Pete opened his eyes. His breathing was labored and he was damp with sweat. He looked around the room, disoriented, before looking back to his wife.

 

“Another nightmare.” She stroked his brow.

 

“You could say that, yeah.”

 

“Mandatory vaccination? Covid?”

 

Pete noded. “They hid tiny digital tracking devices in the serum.”

 

She hugged him. “It’s not going to come to that. Not this time around. That’s more apocalypse type stuff.” Tami pulled away and looked into his eyes. “This is just a test run. For something bigger, later on.”

 

Pete shrugged. “I’m not so sure anymore. I think this is the something bigger. We’re here. We’ve arrived at “later on.”

 

“Baby, you’ll feel better once you get some pancakes in you.”  She kissed his forehead.

 

The girls burst into the bedroom, holding sippy cups. Plastic crazy straws stuck out the top. They bounced up onto the bed. “Mommy, we drank all the milk,” they giggled.

The sign in the store window read ESSENTIALS ONLY. Pete shrugged. Pancakes are essential, right?

Pete slowed to a near crawl, flicked the blinker on, made a right-hand turn down Cherry Blossom Lane. The residential neighborhood was lined with cherry trees, in full bloom, whose branches reached across the road to hug one another, forming a tunnel of flowered arches. The drive was gorgeous this time of year—one reason he and Tami had purchased the house. If they were going to spend their entire married existence in one place, they needed it to bring them as much joy as possible. Cherry blossoms brought them joy.

 

The white van pulled into the driveway of 72 Cherry Blossom Lane, right behind Pete Citizen. They waited to hear his family greet him.

 

“Daddy!” His twin girls sang out.

 

“Thanks, sweetheart.” Tami kissed his cheek and Pete put the groceries on the kitchen island.

 

The Pandemic Enforcement Task Force burst through the front door.

© 2020 by Travelin' Tim
 

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