John pushed his shovel into the ground and pulled another lump of dirt up. He started to break the soil and sod up to get it ready to start planting in it. John sighed, things were going to get very tight for him and Jessica now that the mines had closed down and the price of everything was getting so blessedly high. At least they had their garden to fall back on for food, but that would go only so far. That’s why he was working on preparing more of their land to expand the garden. With the way things were going, John wouldn’t be surprised if the government came and seized the vegetables they did have.
John was grateful for the rich dark soil that made up his land. It should be a good foundation for a healthy crop come end of season. Plus the bigger the garden the less lawn he would have to mow and care for. John frowned when he realized that he may have less lawn to mow, but he was going to have more garden to weed, and he wasn’t sure that was a good trade off.
John pushed the shovel into the ground and prepared to pull another lump up when he heard a voice from behind him. “Are you Mr. John al’Forge?”
John let go of the shovel and turned to see who had addressed him. A man in a black suit with black horn rimmed glasses stood looking at him anxiously. John shook his head. “I was mostly joking when I said it, but is the government here to claim my food already?”
The man pushed his glasses further up his nose and shook his head. “No, I’m not part of the government. I was sent here with a message for you from Mr. Daley.” The man held an envelope out to John.
John reached out and accepted the envelope and tore it open. He pulled out a small folded piece of paper and read the note scribbled on it. “John, I would like to meet with you and discuss the future of the rebellion. We must move carefully in this time of chaos and careful scrutiny. Please choose one of my mining sites to meet me at, Scott.”
John shook his head. “Come on into the house, it’ll just take me a moment to write out a reply to him.” John headed to the back door and allowed the messenger inside before he followed him in.
The messenger looked around at John’s home appreciatively. “This is a lovely home you have here, Mr. al’Forge.”
John set the letter down on the table and moved toward the refrigerator. “Thank you, my wife did most of the decorating. Could I offer you anything to drink? I think Jessica mixed up some peach tea before she left for her bible study?”
The messenger held up his hands. “No, I’m fine, thank you.”
John nodded his head and poured a glass of tea for himself. The ice cubes clinked against the glass as John carried it over to the table. John picked up a black pen and turned the note over. He wrote down, “I’m not certain that the rebellion has much of a future, but I’ll meet you at your mining site just outside of Hope’s Landing tonight at nine o’clock. John.” John folded up the letter and put it back into the envelope. He took a sip of his tea and handed the envelope back to the messenger.
The messenger accepted the letter. “I’ll make sure that Mr. Daley gets this right away.” The messenger walked out the back door and shut it behind him.
John sighed. He had hoped that there would be more to this visit than that. Looks like he would be back outside digging up more of the lawn to expand his garden. He set down his glass of tea and followed the messenger out.
John made his way around several mounds of dirt and stone situated next to abandoned mining carts. Daley Devices mining methods were so different from those of the governments, they relied on machinery much more than they did manpower, and the equipment scattered throughout the site was proof of that. A voice called out, “I’m over here, John!”
John made his way over to where the voice had called from, and held out his hand to Scott. “It’s been awhile, Scott.”
Scott took John’s hand and shook it. “I apologize for my absence, but I thought that the rebellion was going in a dangerous direction, and I couldn’t afford to risk the company’s involvement being discovered. You understand, of course.”
John grunted. “Oh, I understand. We haven’t been overly active lately anyway, so you haven’t missed much.”
Scott nodded his head. “That was a very wise move. I understand that you have lost your position at the mines lately, so I wanted you to have this.” Scott pulled a bulging envelope out of his jacket pocket and handed it to John.
John pulled it open and looked at the plastic cards that filled the envelope and he whistled. “That’s a lot of quills. Are you being this generous with all the miners that lost their jobs?”
Scott sighed and shook his head. “No, I understand that times have gotten tough for you, and I wanted you to have that as thanks for all the hard work you put into managing the rebellion.”
“If you really wanted to thank me you could offer me a job instead.”
“Sorry, but I’m afraid that you don’t have the proper training to operate the machinery. Otherwise I would love to offer you a position. But that’s not why I asked you to meet with me. “
John shook his head. “I don’t know what there is to discuss. With the way things are now it’s far too risky for the rebellion to make any moves. I think it would be better to just disband or go dormant until this ordeal with the masked man blows over.”
“I disagree. I think that the rebellion needs to change their tactics. It’s time to go on the offensive, to stage more attacks like those of the masked man. The government is clearly hurting, the rise in prices and security is proof of that. We need to strike now while they are positioned to topple.”
John replied, “More attacks like the Masked Man? I don’t have a job anymore because of what that masked nuisance did! You want to put more people out of work? That’s not what the rebellion does.”
“You’re not thinking clearly, John! Look at how the government is reacting. This is our chance to hurt them! Think of how much good this could do for this planet in the long run. I think we should try and bring the Masked Man in to help us.”
“This isn’t like you, Scott. Before this you didn’t want to take any risks, you didn’t even want to try and help us rescue Kyle. Now you want to ask this mad man to help us take risks unlike anything we’ve done in years! This is just too dangerous.”
Scott put an arm around John’s shoulder. “Ah, but perhaps what we need is a little danger. I’ll agree that this man is too dangerous to be allowed to continue to act on his own, but with our guidance, we could harness the power that he wields. I would have already reached out to him, but I have no idea how to get a hold of him. Maybe someone in the rebellion knows who he is.”
John hesitated and then sighed. “The Masked Man approached me before his attack on the mine. He wanted to get the rebellion involved with his plans, and told me how to set up a meeting with him if I was interested.”
Scott patted John on the back. “Excellent! See, it’s almost as if it was meant to be! Go ahead and set up a meeting with him for the two of us two days from now, back here. This is it, John, we’re going to make a difference on this planet like no one has before us.”
John walked through the empty streets of the market. He couldn’t believe he was going through with this, after all the trouble the Masked Man had caused he was going to work with the man. He clutched a red ribbon in his fist and the ends fluttered in in the gentle breeze blowing down the street. Merchants excitedly shouted out for John to come and sample their wares, desperate for any chance of a sale.
These streets should be full of the people of Aquore, buying food and other supplies for their families, but because of the Masked Man’s actions, they were empty instead. More and more merchants were packing up every day. It wasn’t right, it just wasn’t right. How could more of that man’s actions make things better?
John reached the corner of Milton and Malor street and he tied the red ribbon with the time and place of their meeting written on it around the lamp post that sat on the corner. There, it was done. The whole business made him feel dirty inside. He decided to stop at the Miner’s Stop for a couple of drinks to try and forget what he just did for a little bit. Jessica wasn’t going to like it though. She felt that anything with alcohol in it was the devil’s brew and didn’t want him to have any part of it. If he paid for it with the quill that Scott gave him, she wouldn’t ever have to find out though. Now this Masked Man was driving him to lie to his wife. He was going to need an extra drink to help him forget about this.
Thank you for checking out my story, if you liked this and want to see more of it, come back on Wednesday when I will publish part two, and check out the other stories I’m working on writing, here: Tales of the Imagination, check out my facebook page to connect with me and give me some feedback: Facebook, and follow me on Twitter here: @EJBorchardt. Please like, comment, and tell your friends if you like what you’ve read, and don’t forget to check out my new book, The Kids on the Case! You can find it here: The Kids on the Case: Our First Case