Midweek fiction – It’s only a game

I wrote this is 2007 following a disastrous night playing solitaire

It’s Only A Game
copyright 2007 gch
“What to do you mean you haven’t received my remittance yet? Who is this? Why are you bothering me? If you think I owe you money, send me an invoice.” Clyde slammed the handset onto the cradle before the caller could respond and returned to the Solitaire game on his computer screen.

He’d only had Solitaire on his computer for about ten days and found it a good way to relax. His favourite was the Vegas version, where he could see whether he was ahead of the computer or not. When playing, he preferred a two-handed method – left hand tapping the enter key to turn cards and right hand working the mouse to move the cards. It may not have been more efficient, but he felt it required a bit more concentration. “Let’s see … Red six on black seven, yes, now turn over the top card, good, the black five can go on that red six.”

Two days later, the mail brought an expensive looking envelope bearing the name of a well-known casino. Never having been to a casino, Clyde was curious about why they would be contacting him. His fingers told him the envelope was stuffed with paper. Returning to his study, he reached for the letter opener as he sat down.

Carefully slitting the flap, he slid several sheets of paper from the interior of the envelope. Several appeared to be computer printouts and one, on vellum paper, looked like an invoice. Scanning this, he gasped as he saw the bottom line, which read “Balance outstanding as of May 31, $51,118.00.”

Turning to the other sheets, all the while muttering to himself “There must be some mistake. I’ve never been to any casino, let alone that one. Somebody must have stolen my identity and run up this huge debt” he examined them. They were daily tallies of amounts, usually losses, and each bore his name and an account number at the top.

Returning to the letter, he carefully read it.

Dear Mr. Partridge:

As stated in our telephone conversation of June 4, we have not yet received your payment to cover your losses at our games for the month of May. In response to your request, attached please find copies of our records. Kindly remit by return mail no later than June 15.
It was signed by someone in accounts receivable.

In a panic, Clyde again scanned the letterhead, searching desperately for a telephone number. Finding one, he telephoned the casino and angrily demanded to speak with the Accounts Receivable manager. A few bars of soft music later, he was connected.

“Clyde Partridge here. I just received an invoice from you for some $51,000 dollars. I wish to tell you sir that I have never been in your casino before, so I don’t see how I could have incurred this great debt. You must have me confused with another Clyde Partridge.”

“Are you Mr. Clyde V. Partridge of Flaherty? You are? Well then Mr. Partridge, these amounts are indeed your responsibility.”

“But, I’ve never been in any sort of gambling establishment. I don’t know how to play poker. I’ve never even bought a lottery ticket before.”

“Oh no, Mr. Partridge, there’s no mistake. And by the way sir, these are not poker debts, these are Solitaire losses.”

“Solitaire? The only Solitaire I play is at home on my computer. I certainly wouldn’t go to a crowded room to play a game of Solitaire.”

“I understand that sir, but that Solitaire game on your computer is linked to our computers which keep track of your winnings and losses. If you had won, we’d have sent you a letter telling you that you had a large credit balance.”

“But, how is that possible? I have a computer, but I don’t have any form of internet access. And I’ve only had the Solitaire game about a week.”

“Yes sir. Isn’t wireless technology is marvellous.”

I was playing Vegas Solitaire one night (yes, and losing) when a fiction writer’s favourite words – “what if …” popped into my head. This is the result of that question.

Cat
Enjoy the rest of your week and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat

New fiction Yorkland Part 3 Xaja

Yorkland 3
© 2009 gch
Xaja
Almost two centuries have passed since the events in “Partition.” The dissidents have changed their focus from reuniting with Canada to regaining the personal freedoms lost after the Stoney Creek massacre.

Xaja put down her writing instrument and massaged her hand. “I can’t believe people actually used this method to prepare hard copy. I’ve been at it for thirty minutes and all I have to show for cramped fingers is my name. Look!” She picked up the piece of paper and waved in the direction of her brother. “Adon, turn around and see what I’ve done.”

Adon turned the sound down on his terminal and swivelled his chair around. “Hold it still so I can see it.” He saw a piece of paper from the printer, blank except for the messy word X A J A printed in the centre. “Not bad, but if you wanted a sign, why not print one up? It’d be faster and, if you don’t mind me saying so, a damn sight neater.” Turning back to his computer, he continued, “Why this sudden interest in that – whatever it’s called?”

“You know I don’t like talking to your back. Turn around, please.” He swung around again, then she continued. “According to something I saw on the computer today, this is how things were printed before computers. It’s called . . . let me think . . . “ she paused. “Let’s see. ‘Handwriting!’ That’s it. And people used it to prepare documents.”

Adon laughed. “Right. Next you’ll be telling me Shakespeare did all his plays that way. Xi, think about it. You just spent half an hour on those four characters. At that rate, old Willie would never have finished one play. Just the title ‘King Gord’ would have taken an hour. Trust me on this sis, William Shakespeare used a word processor.” He laughed again. “One more thing to consider: how else could he have made copies for the actors? You can’t honestly believe they were all done by hand? Sorry sis, whatever you read was wrong.”

Xaja sat, still rubbing her hand. There were times she thought her brother purposely tried to belittle every single thing she tried and she was certain this was one of those times. His logic was flawed. It was common knowledge the first computers didn’t arrive from the Orient until the late eighteenth century. That being the case, it was impossible for Shakespeare to have used one. Nothing else made sense, despite Adon’s comments.

She stated at the page she had laboured over and tried to imagine a world without computers; a world where all documents were prepared by hand. How would such a world function? First, a logical assumption would be than not everyone had mastered the art of handwriting. There obviously would be specialists in the field, just as there were specialists now. More than likely, people would visit this “writer” and dictate their message to a disc recorder. They would then return later for the hard copy. Yes, that made sense. The longer she considered it, the more sense it made. These professionals would do the actual handwriting, while other people carried on in their own areas of expertise. After all, there was a university degree called “Doctor of Letters.” It was mostly honorary now, but at one time it must have been granted to the “writers.” The thought staggered her. These ancients had doctorates to ply their trade and here she had been thinking it would be easy.

“Hey, Xaja. I found something interesting here about your new hobby. Come see this.”

“Read it to me.”

Adon peered at the screen. “This says that handwriting was first invented in the nineteenth century by somebody named ‘Job’. Hey! Seeing how long you took with just four characters, maybe that’s the origin of the saying ‘the patience of Job’!” He paused and glanced at his sister. Seeing no reaction, he continued. “It says the invention (or discovery) caused a panic among printer manufacturers.”

“Dear Adon. Sometimes you are so gullible. What, are you hooked into some fantasy site? Brother mine, think back to your school history. Job invented the telephone in the late 1600’s.” She shook her head. Adon had always been the one to believe everything he saw on the screen, even if it completely contradicted the previous screen. But this was something special in that he was researching her latest interest rather than laughing at it. She picked up the writing instrument. “According to the antique dealer who sold me this, um, ‘pen,’ handwriting predates computers. He said . . .” Xaja paused as both computers chimed. The screens blinked as their data disappeared and was replaced with an image of the Parliament Buildings, which had the words “Special Bulletin” superimposed.

“Now what?” grumbled Adon. “Did the PM pass gas or something?” As he spoke the image changed to show the minister responsible for the Bureau of Investigative Activities. She looked up from her notes.

“Good evening. This will be a brief statement and there will be a few questions afterward.

“Today, we have decoded the disk found taped to the front doors of Chatham City Hall two days ago. At this time we will not release the contents of that disk. From our inquiries, we have determined this was the action of a single individual. Thank you.”

The reporters gathered before her were silent for a moment, then “Madame Minister, could you perhaps tell us if the disk contained one document or several and, do you have a suspect in mind, and if so, would you tell us the name of this person?”

The minister smiled. “When I said a few questions, I didn’t think they’d all come from one person in one breath. There was one document with a total of ninety-five clauses or demands. An eyewitness has identified one Marter Luthin of Tilbury as the person responsible.

“I think that should answer all your queries. We will issue further bulletins as more information becomes available. Now, good night, ladies and gentlemen of the media.”
The screen went blank.

Xaja stated at Adon. “Marter! What has he gone and done now?”

Adon shook his head. “Who knows Xi. With him it could be just about anything, but from the tone of the announcement it sounds as if he’s stirred up major trouble for all of us this time, although I certainly hope it’s just a case of the government over-reacting.”

Adon turned to his computer and set about surfing the newsnets, searching for more information. His search revealed only that all the private nets as well as the public one, were carrying repeats of the Minister’s brief announcement. Of course, they all had their own tame talking heads attempting to decipher “what it all meant.” That none of them had seen the disk or its contents didn’t matter. They were being paid by the net to sound intelligent and knowledgeable, so they were going to earn their keep.

A little icon in the top corner began flashing. This was tied to an e-mail address that very few people knew of and messages could only be left after the sender entered a special code. Adon suspended his surfing and clicked on the icon. “Xaja, you need to read this as well.”

Xaja turned from her monitor and joined her brother. “Who’s it from?”

Adon looked at the coding at the top. “Wes.”

“What’s he have to say for himself?”

Adon quickly scanned the message before answering. “He says it wasn’t Marter, that Marter was nowhere near Chatham that night. They were both in Toronto. He doesn’t know who did it, but says he’s confirmed the so-called “eyewitnesses” are employed by the Bureau of Investigative Activities. He feels this is a set-up and they’re using it as a pretext to go after Marter.”

Xaja sighed. “Poor Marter. If he’d only learn when to shut up, he could accomplish so much more. But, for some reason he seems to think that by being loud and disruptive, he can effect great changes.

“Hasn’t he learned anything from the past? Didn’t the ill-fated revolt Louis Riel Dumont led have anything to say to him? Did he not scan the history of Yorkland at the time of the Dumont Rebellion and see how thoroughly it was crushed? Or look at the first citizens’ revolt, the Albert Johnston uprising, the one put down by Vanessa Anderson?”

Adon shook his head slowly. “I don’t think Marter is even aware Dumont tried to overthrow the government or that there was a previous attempt. Maybe I should send a link to his website.”

“And how do you plan on doing that without getting caught? By carrier pigeon? Come on Adon, you know how dangerous that would be, especially now that they’re looking for Marter.”

“Xi, Xi, I’m not that stupid. I’m just saying it might be an idea if someone could teach Marter a bit of history. Don’t worry little sister, I won’t do anything foolish.” That last was more a dig at her size than the fact he was the older of the two. She was petite while he towered close to two metres tall. Adon resumed his surfing and Xaja returned to her handwriting, each thinking their own thoughts.

Since the abortive Dumont attempt, Yorkland had increasingly become a police state. Vanessa Anderson’s stated goal of a standing army equal to five percent of the population had long ago been surpassed. Adon and his sister were involved with – in fact were the actual leaders of – a group dedicated to restoring the personal freedoms enjoyed prior to the appearance on the scene of one Louis Riel Dumont. Both siblings were aware that Marter Luthin was a loose cannon and was advocating another citizen’s revolt, and both were also aware that, especially in view of the restrictions placed upon the citizenry, such armed revolt would meet the same fate as the first two. Their plans were more subtle and of a longer range than a simple uprising.

They were also aware that the second Riel Rebellion had been brought down through the actions of a mole on the central committee. That mole had been their great-grandfather, Paul Milton. Politics being a family heritage, Adon and Xaja worked within the system, near the edge of legality, but strictly within the system. Several decades ago, the government had relaxed some of the restrictions imposed and allowed “free” elections again, although in most ridings, there were few opposition candidates. The only similarity between their plan and that of Louis Riel Dumont was that theirs too depended upon an election being called. The group headed by the brother and sister team wasn’t concentrated in Toronto, but was spread out across all of Yorkland. It, unlike the Dumont cabal, was overt rather than covert.

The siblings were able to function openly because they had registered as a political party, which they called the New Freedom Party. At the moment, neither was head of that party, but were listed in the documents as members of the executive committee. This is why their final success or failure depended upon an election being called.

Finally, the government did call an election. The polls, rigged of course, showed the government had an approval rating of over sixty percent, so there appeared to be no danger of losing power. This was the moment the group had been waiting for. The day following the dropping of the writ, the head of the NFP resigned and named Xaja leader pro tem and the executive committee very quickly made that permanent.

One reason the government had run without opposition was their use of strong-arm tactics. Opposing candidates were bullied or frightened into withdrawing from the race. On some occasions, particularly stubborn candidates met with unfortunate accidents. As much as they were reluctant to do so, after losing several candidates to fatal incidents, such as brake failure on winding roads, Xaja and Adon agreed they would have to adapt the same tactics if they were to stand any chance at all in the upcoming election.

The campaign was more a verbal donnybrook than reasoned and impassioned rhetoric. The candidates for the governing party, rather than tell the people what they would do, spent most of their time smearing the New Freedom Party candidates. While the NFP candidates for the most part stuck with the party platform, rather than retaliate directly, there were allusions to the past performance and heavy-handedness of their worthy opponent and the party they chose to represent.

For most voters, the campaign couldn’t end soon enough. While they were interested in what the New Freedom Party had to say, they couldn’t take the mudslinging from the ruling party, not could they take the intimidation factor.

Political gatherings, as with churches, had been excluded from the ban on assemblies, but were monitored closely. All-candidate meetings often consisted of the government candidate, the NFP candidate, loyal supporters of the government, the family and close friends of the NFP candidate and a dozen or so soldiers around the assemblage. Cowed by the presence of the military, those few ordinary voters who did venture in usually remained silent.

Among the supporters of the NFP were some members of the military. These came from all ranks and had formed a loose association. When the election was called, they were aware that, should the NFP actually win a majority, they may have to take quick action to prevent the newly defeated government attempting to stage a coup. Consequently they had made plans that those they considered loyal to the NFP, or to Xaja herself, would be not only on base, but armed, on election day.

The day of the election was bright and sunny, belying the tension felt by the citizens of Yorkland. The media, who had been keeping track of the campaign, were saying this could be the most important election in the short history of Yorkland. At the polling stations, the government’s intimidation continued, with armed soldiers being very visible at the entrances. There were few incidents, although several people were hustled off in custody before they had a chance to cast their ballot. A reporter on the scene noted that those who were detained all wore campaign buttons from the NFP candidate in that particular riding, but wisely did not include that fact in his report.

Yorkland, because of it’s size, was all in one time zone, so all the polls closed at the same time, therefore the results began flowing very soon after that hour. Initial results showed the government would retain its hold on power. The major media outlets, never willing to bite the hand that feeds them, or in this case allowed them to exist, were quick to declare the government had won the election. Thirty minutes later the talking heads and pundits were scrambling to explain the sudden surge in votes for the NFP and the fact they appeared to have taken several key ridings. Many variations of “it’s not over until it’s over” were heard through the media over the next hour or so, as the NFP collected riding after riding.

Keeping tabs on the election results, the ranking officer of the NFP cabal in the military mobilized his men, ordering them to keep the commanding officers of their respective bases under close confinement. This resulted in several irate colonels yelling at lower ranks when orders to stand down were refused. It also brought a few surprises when the base commander revealed that he too supported the NFP and would cause no problems for the other supporters.

As had been expected, when the Prime Minister learned that not only was his party being soundly trounced by this upstart New Freedom Party, but that he’d lost his own seat to the NFP candidate, he called the man who had been his Minister of Defence, only to learn that person had also lost his seat.

The PM’s next call was to the Army Chief of Staff, General Walters. This worthy was sitting in his study listening to the election results and working on his computer when the telephone rang. He answered it to hear the Prime Minister’s panicked voice.

“General Walters! Have you been watching the election results? We can’t let this happen! We can’t lose power! Order your troops into the streets. I want the NFP ground into dust by morning. I want Xaja Milton in chains at my door by dawn!”

General Walters saved what he’d typed and turned his full attention to the former Prime Minister. “I’m sorry sir, but you are no longer the head of government according to the will of the people. Therefore you have no right to order me to do anything.” General Walters lived in the riding Xaja had contested and had in fact voted for her with a smile on his face.

General Walters had received his officer’s training at Sandhurst in England and had always disliked the way the government had used and abused what he called “his men” to maintain an iron grip on Yorkland. He couldn’t see staging a coup, which some of his junior officers had proposed on more than one occasion, but now that a truly free and honest election had ousted the regime, he was damned if he’d help it maintain power illegally. “It appears that Xaja Milton is, or will be in a few hours, the new Prime Minister of Yorkland, so I will wait and see what orders, if any, she has for me. Now, good night sir.” He hung up and returned to the monitor screen, quietly reading what he’d written.

Effective immediately, 2200 hours on this date, I order all members of the Armed Forces of Yorkland to stand down. Under no circumstances is any person of any rank to accept an order from a member or former member of the just defeated government.

As the people have chosen to elect a majority of members of the New Freedom Party, the loyalty of the Armed Forces will be to Yorkland, the Armed Forces, and the New Freedom Party.

Failure to obey this directive will be considered grounds for court-martial.

Nodding and smiling to himself, he clicked on “send” and all base commanders, as well as certain members of the cabal who’d been sent blind copies, received their instructions.

The people had also been following the election reportage with more than great interest. Once it became clear that the NFP had defeated the government, they congregated in the streets, ignoring the soldiers on patrol. The soldiers themselves, having been made aware of General Walters’s directive, in turn ignored the gathering masses, and in some cases joined them. The civilian police, reasoning that they would be unable to control these crowds without help from the army, which they could see wasn’t going to happen, contented themselves with watching and directing traffic around the mobs.

Those people who lived in Toronto gathered, not on the streets, but on the south lawn of Queen’s Park. As with those in other cities, they were peaceful, just revelling in the fact they could congregate without the soldiers disrupting or arresting them. The police on duty, after an initial slight panic over the gathering mob, resumed their normal task of guarding the entrance.

In two campaign offices, the reactions to the media coverage of this gathering were completely different. In the office of the now former Prime Minister, he was shouting “Why aren’t the police or army breaking up this demonstration? Why are they gathering at Queen’s Park anyway? That ground has been forbidden to them!” He reached for the telephone and called the Chief of Staff again. General Walters answered, heard the voice screaming at him, and hung up silently. Understanding at last that he had lost the backing of the army, and thereby his means of controlling the people, the Prime Minister accepted defeat and reached for the telephone once more. “Get me Xaja Milton.”

In Xaja’s campaign headquarters she, along with her brother and her workers and supporters were overwhelmed by the show of support and quicky decided to make an appearance. Contacting various people, they made their way in a small motorcade to Queen’s Park.

The arrival of the motorcade didn’t attract much attention from the gathered throngs until Xaja stepped out of one of the vehicles. Immediately the quiet was broken as, with one voice, the crowd shouted out her name. While they had been in transit, Xaja had accepted a call from the former Prime Minister acknowledging his loss – ungraciously, but he acknowledged it – and wishing her well.

Making her way to the steps of the legislature, Xaja waited patiently until the crowd grew quieter. One of the officers on guard duty appeared carrying a microphone for her. She accepted the offered device and thanked the officer with a smile. Turning to the crowd, she was silent for a moment, then:

“Thank you all for your support tonight. While I was on my way here, the former Prime Minister called to wish me well as I embark on my new journey.” She turned to look at the people gathered behind her on the steps. “Let me introduce to you some of these people up here with me, for some of them will play a role in how Yorkland proceeds from here.” As she called each name, the party named stepped forward. Finally, there were only two people left. “Next is my brother Adon, without who’s encouragement I couldn’t have made it this far. And finally, we have the Governor-General, who has graciously agreed to administer the Oath of Office on short notice.”

Xaja handed the microphone to the Queen’s representative and stood back while that lady stepped to the edge of the top step. “Thank you. While it is unusual for a successful party leader to be sworn in on the same night they were elected, it is not unprecedented. I won’t bore you with the historical incidents where this has happened before rather, since I can sense you’re in no mood for rhetoric, I’ll just get on with it.”

With those words, Xaja came forward once more, this time to take the oath of office, then began her inauguration speech:

“Good evening. My name is Xaja Anna Monoghan Milton. My great, great grandmother was Anna Milton, one of the architects of Yorkland. Tonight, almost two centuries after she and Vanessa Anderson started this great country on its path, we are once again at a point where Yorkland needs new direction.

“The New Freedom Party made many promises during this campaign and it gives me great pleasure to act on the first of those promises tonight. As of midnight, the imposition of the National Security and Anti-Terrorism Act, under which we’ve lived for the past one hundred and fifty years, will be repealed.”

Anything else Xaja might have had to say was lost to the roar of the crowd as the import of her words sunk in to the watchers. Thirty minutes later, once the applause and cheers had subsided, she continued “This does not mean a suspension of all laws. It means that those restrictions on assembly; on freedom of expression, and the other limitations imposed by that act will no longer be in effect. If you’re drunk in a public place, you can still expect to sober up in jail.” The crowd roared with laughter at this. “All the civil laws are still in place and will be enforced. So behave yourselves accordingly.” She paused again, surveying the crowd, then

“Since I can tell you’re all in the mood for a party, I’ll stop now. The Speech from the Throne to be delivered next week will contain more details on what the New Freedom Party plans.

“Once again, thank you all for your love and support, and Long Live Yorkland!”

The media covering this event turned off their audio equipment lest it be destroyed by the sheer volume of sound from the crowd.

Later, in their apartment, a very exhausted brother and sister watched the replays. “I can’t believe we actually did it Adon. I can’t believe we got rid of that dictator.”

Adon watched the screen. “Don’t be too sure he’s gone for good Xi. Rats like that have a habit of turning up where and when you least expect them.”
.

New fiction: Yorkland part 2 Repression

The only sound was the door as it shut almost inaudibly. The newcomer spoke. “Well, LR, what do you say? Is this viable? Do we go ahead with our plans?”

Louis Riel DuMont sat quietly, staring at the table top. On the face of it, the plan sounded good. But, was that true once he looked into it further? He’d have to give it some more thought. “From what you’ve told me, the basic idea sounds good. But, I’d like to examine it in detail first and see if it couldn’t be refined. This is one of those things that can’t be put into play until the next election, so we don’t have to decide right now. It can wait a couple of days. The Prime Minister isn’t going to call an election anytime soon, so we’ll have time to look at all the angles.”

A few minutes later, most of the men gathered up their belongings and left as quietly as they had arrived. One stopped with his hand on the door and spoke. “Well, Louis, how can you say that idiotic idea sounds good? There’s no possible way to pull it off and I don’t care what Paul says.”

“Gabe, Gabe. Relax my friend. As put forth, Paul’s idea is a workable as repealing the law of gravity. But somewhere in there is the germ of something we can use. Just be patient my friend. Things will work out.”

Gabe shrugged, then opened the door and left. Louis Riel Dumont looked at his second in command, Paul Milton. “You see, Paul? They doubt such a plan is workable and on the surface, it does appear unworkable.” LR held up his hand to forestall any argument from his friend. “I know, I know, we’ve had this discussion before and yes, it would have been much easier when Vanessa Anderson was Prime Minister and your grandmother was her special representative because there was all that dissent among both Parliament and the people. But, those dissenters didn’t have all the advantages we do. They didn’t have someone on the inside feeding us information.

“What was it Winston Churchill is credited with saying? ‘Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it?’ Well, I’ve been studying history, specifically the history of uprisings in the past and I’ve some ideas. But, before I say anything else, I want to refine them and do some more research.”

Paul left quietly, leaving Louis to mull over the proposal. As Gabe had said, on the surface it appeared insane and downright dangerous, but there was something in it that could be used. He could feel it in his bones. He shook his head when the incongruity of Paul came to mind.

His grandmother had been Anna Milton, the second most powerful person, let alone woman, in Yorkland in the first years following its formation. She had been deeply involved not only in the negotiations that brought about the birth of the nation, but in the squelching of the first citizen’s revolt. And now, here was Paul, her grandson, acting as second-in-command of another serious attempt to overthrow the government of Yorkland and return the country to its rightful place in Canada.

Louis’s thoughts turned to Anna Milton and her staunch refusal to use any other name on her son’s birth certificate as a surname other than her own, although there was nothing wrong with Paul’s grandfather’s surname of Monaghan. And now, here was her grandson, bearing the same last name, plotting to overthrow the government she had helped create. The irony was not lost on Louis and, he thought, probably not on Paul either.

The timing of the whole rebellion hinged greatly on the government’s actions, specifically the next election. Granted the opposition parties were making noises about forcing a non-confidence vote, but as Louis had learned, much of what came out of Queen’s Park was either hot air or grandstanding for the representatives’ ridings and therefore not to be taken too seriously. Still, he and the group had to be prepared to move on short notice.

He sighed as he thought over the first uprising and the reasons for its failure. One thing that had helped scuttle it was that they were ill-prepared for the response from the government. Another had been that there was no co-ordination among the groups. Their ideas had been sound, but the execution had left much to be desired. Attempting to overthrow a government, especially when that government is in session had proved to be the fatal error. With all the decision makers in one place, it was relatively easy for Vanessa Anderson to co-ordinate defences.

His plan also called for the overthrow of the government, after all, that was the whole idea behind a citizens’ uprising. If he could convince the others, specifically Paul Milton, to wait until an election had been called and Parliament dissolved, it would be easier. Communication and co-ordination among the various departments, especially the Department of Defence, would be more difficult if the politicians were busy on the hustings. He remembered the disaster the first rebellion had become and believed he had pinpointed the reasons for that debacle.

In his view, the main reason for the failure of the first major revolt was that the organizers had acted on the spur of the moment, using the distraction of Albert Johnston to conceal their actions. That hadn’t succeeded partly because some of the dissenters had been so vocal and rabid in their opposition they had attracted government attention. He, Louis Riel DuMont, would not make that same mistake. He was organized. All factions had either been absorbed into his own, or brushed aside as inconsequential, so when they acted, it would be the same whether it was Ottawa, Windsor, London or Toronto

His mind returned to the proposal Paul had put forth. The plan was unworkable in the presented manner, but he felt in his bones that there was the nucleus of a workable rebellion in it somewhere. If he let his mind tease at it long enough, that seed would be revealed.

No matter what action they finally decided upon, Louis knew the army would be a problem. From the mainly ineffective force of Vanessa Anderson’s time, it had developed into a serious fighting force. Gregory Meaford’s replacement, a man named Walters, had been a soldier in the mould of Rick Hillier, an outspoken and popular Chief of Staff of the Canadian Armed Forces in the early years of the twenty-first century. Under General Walters the force had rapidly evolved from group of traffic cops in army uniforms into something to be feared. Several times over the years, Yorkland had supplied troops to various United Nations forces, so now had many battled tested members who wouldn’t be fazed by rioting in the streets.

In addition to picking at Paul’s idea, Louis also looked at it with an eye to how it may fit in with his own ideas on how to overthrow the government. In some ways, Paul’s plan was an improvement on his own, so perhaps he could merge the two and develop something that stood better than a fifty-fifty chance.

While Louis sat quietly dissecting the plans, events were transpiring elsewhere that would render Louis Riel DuMont and his group ineffective.

The Albert Johnston sparked revolt had resulted in an increased awareness of the level of dissent present among the general population. One result of this awareness was that there was an ever increasing number of undercover officers infiltrating the dissidents groups. As well, there were dissenters who supplemented their income by selling information to the authorities. Louis had known the men in his advisory group for years prior to the initiation of their plot and they had all agreed that nobody else would ever see the inner circle. He had organized it on a cell structure, each one composed of no more than three people, the only exception being his “planning committee” as he termed it. The head of each cell knew only his three people, plus one person directly above him and below him, while each member knew one person in a cell at their level. The arrangement made for awkward communication on occasion, but also insulated the leader and his cadre from identification.

When he left the meeting, Paul Milton had another stop to make, one that Louis wouldn’t have been pleased to learn about had he known the real reason for the visit. Paul’s next call was to his apparent girlfriend’s place, but she was in actuality an undercover police officer.

Paul’s grandmother had been Anna Milton, the special representative for Prime Minister Vanessa Anderson, and his grandfather was Gerald Monaghan, an army officer whom Anna had met while attempting to defuse the Albert Johnston incident in the early days of the existence of Yorkland. Their son was Paul’s father, who had served in the legislature with distinction.

Louis, on the other hand, came from more rebellious stock, as evidenced by his name.
Louis Riel, the leader of the failed Métis rebellion in western Canada, also has the distinction of being the only elected Member of Parliament ever hanged for treason as a result of that uprising. Louis’s father’s family traced their roots back to Riel’s assistant, Gabriel DuMont, so it could be said Louis came by his opposition to government honestly.

Given the vastly different backgrounds, it was only natural that they had become fast friends. When Louis got in trouble in university, Paul was the one to plead his case. That Paul was always there and always seemed to have his back made him the logical choice to become Louis’s second in command when he decided to overthrow the government.

Paul took the position mainly to humour his friend. He couldn’t possibly envision that Louis was serious about overthrowing the government his grandmother had helped create; the government his grandfather and father worked so hard to defend. When he learned just how serious Louis was about toppling the government, Paul’s loyalties were severely strained.

Did he stay and help his friend, a man who trusted him implicitly, overthrow what he viewed as his family’s legacy, or should he report his friend to the authorities? This was the quandary Paul found himself in during the formative years of Louis’s plot.

In a roundabout way, he made contact with the security services. Through his grandparents and father he was very aware of the National Security and Anti-Terrorism Act and the possible implications for him. He explained his situation and, when they appeared reluctant to accept his story and offer for information, he invoked the names of his grandparents. That seemed to turn the trick. It was at that meeting that he met the undercover officer who would become his new “girlfriend”.

That this young lady didn’t seem to work excited no interest among Paul’s friends, including Louis. After all, Paul came from money, so it was automatically assumed that any girl he took up with would be from the same social stratum. They did all the things young couples would – dinners, movies, theatre – and all seemed quite normal. Below the surface, things were a bit more complicated. Arriving at her apartment, Paul would prepare a brief report on whatever he’d picked up between visits. This would then be taken with them to wherever they were going. At some point during the evening, the young lady would excuse herself from the table, or her theatre seat. Sometime during her brief absence the report would be transferred to another party for carriage back to the security branch.

This evening, the report centred about the fact the idea, which had come from the security forces, had been almost unanimously rejected, with the exception of Louis himself. He had felt there may be something in it they could use. This part of the report caused a great stir in the offices, for they had looked at the plan from several different angles and had determined there was nothing there that could even be remotely useful to the rebels.

Paul did not spy on the insurgents for money, as did others. His reason was more personal. He liked that Yorkland was a separate nation, with a British-style government. He also resented someone – anyone – attempting to destroy what his grandparents, especially his grandmother, had created.

After his date, Paul returned to his own apartment to hear the telephone ringing. Glancing down at the number, he saw it was Louis. Louis never called him on his home phone as he didn’t trust the government not have it tapped, so it must have been important. Picking up the phone, he heard Louis practically screaming “Turn on the television – our chance is coming!”

“Louis, Louis, calm down. I just walked in and I’ve still got my coat on. Now, what’s this all about? What do you mean ‘our chance is coming’?”

“Paul, the opposition is going to call a non-confidence vote tomorrow and according to what I’ve heard, and learned through other sources, the government hasn’t a chance in hell of surviving it. This is it buddy, this is our time to overthrow the tyrants who rule us.!”

“Aren’t you being a little premature? All you have is a news report that this is going to happen. Louis, we don’t even have a decent plan in place, so how can we take advantage of the situation?”

“Don’t worry about that right now. We don’t have to strike the instant the vote happens. We still have to wait for the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament. And, don’t forget we’ve got that plan of yours.”

“I thought you said that plan wasn’t workable.”

“The basic plan, no. But I can change a couple of things to make it useable.! Paul, come over and we can discuss it.”

“Okay, let me change. I just got back from Julie’s.”

“Okay, but hurry!”

Before even taking his coat off, Paul called the young lady just mentioned. “Hi, it’s me. Louis just called. Apparently there will be a non-confidence vote tomorrow that will bring down the government. He’s going to make some changes to the plan ‘the boys’ came up with. I’m going over there now to discuss it with him. May I stop by later? It could be quite late.”

Receiving assurance he could, he hung up the handset and changed into something more “rebellious” as he thought of it.

Despite the “iron-clad” guarantee Louis’s sources had given him, the government did survive the non-confidence motion and things continued on their usual inefficient governmental ways. Secretly Paul breathed a sigh of relief, while in the presence of Louis and the other plotters, he reviled the weakness of the opposition parties for not defeating the government.

Louis spent several hours on the telephone with his contacts, each call only deepening his mood. After the last call, he uttered a short, powerful expletive. “Those assholes! At the last minute, the Prime Minister promised one of the smaller parties a few bones to get their votes. It was just enough to survive the motion.” He lapsed into more colourful cursing in English and a smattering of other languages he’d picked up including the Cree and French from his ancestry.

Nobody did anything except find something upon which to direct all their attention. Finally, Louis calmed down. “Okay, it didn’t work this time. There will be another one and in the meantime, we can fine-tune our plan of action.”

Paul, who had been up all night, excused himself, claiming he was too mentally exhausted to be any good to the session. On his way home, he called his contact. “The plans are changing slightly. When I left they were looking at the possibility of not waiting for an election to do anything. That might bear watching from your end as well.”

The spanner in the works was thrown, as with the Albert Johnston uprising, from the Loyalist eastern counties. A small group, actually more like a gang of thugs than an organized resistance cell, invaded the home of a minor official in Brockville and during the course of their rampage, this official and his family were killed. Had it not been that one of the more intoxicated members of this gang chose to write slogans on the walls urging the re-unification of Yorkland and Canada, the incident may have been treated as simply a home invasion gone wrong.

But those words on the wall raised the stakes. Queen’s Park had been nervous about the Loyalist Counties since Vanessa Anderson dealt with Albert Johnston and certain parties used this unfortunate incident as proof of their concern. Pressing their point in the House, they implored the government to “do something” about these “accursed rebels.” The Minister in charge assured the Honourable Member that the authorities were doing all possible to catch the persons responsible for this crime and that the case was being treated as terrorism. This was because of the words on the wall.

Perhaps emboldened by the authorities’ apparent lack of progress in the Brockville incident, reports began to surface from other areas of civil disobedience. A mass protest in Collingwood lead to several arrests and injuries on both sides of the dispute. Chatham, where many of those fleeing on the Underground Railway settled, was also the scene of disturbances. These disruptions all had one common theme: Rejoin Canada.

These incidents served only to put Louis in a foul mood. While he agreed with the intention, they could only goad the government into taking action. And his plans called for things to remain as they were. The continuing rise in such incidents of course raised questions in Queen’s Park, questions the government found itself increasingly unable to answer to anyone’s satisfaction.

Louis spent many frantic hours on the telephone and the internet attempting to calm these other groups, or at least those of which he was aware, and not do anything foolish. Most listened to his reason and powers of persuasion. One group in Orillia did not heed him.
The former Ontario Provincial Police Headquarters in Orillia was now used as a base for the military. This group, for reasons known only to them, decided it would be a good idea to bomb this building. But, having been forewarned by an informer, the building was deserted and the attackers were all killed in the counterattack.

This proved to be the last straw for the government. Canada’s War Measure Act had been repealed in 1985, but the Anti-Terrorism Laws brought in following the World Trade Centre carnage had been adapted intact, except for minor changes in wording and title, by Yorkland upon its formation. In a speech that borrowed heavily from that of Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s broadcast of October 16, 1970, the Prime Minister took to the airwaves and internet simultaneously.

“I am speaking to you at a moment of grave crisis, when violent and fanatical men are attempting to destroy the unity and freedom of Yorkland. These matters are of the utmost gravity and I want to tell you what the Government is doing about them.”

Following this opening was a list of the most egregious of the attacks on government buildings and offices. Then

“In order to combat these threats to our internal security and peace, the Government is announcing, effective immediately, the imposition of certain portions of the National Security and Anti-Terrorism Act. This will give us greater powers to combat these home-grown terrorists and makes them all illegal organizations.

“Imposition of this Act was not undertaken lightly as it affects not only those engaged in wrongdoing, but all citizens of Yorkland. It does this by suspending the Bill of Rights, including the right to congregate. Until the Act is lifted, any gathering of more than three people may be considered suspicious and those involved subject to arrest. I assure you the powers given the government under this Act will not be abused and that, as soon as is feasible, the restrictions imposed upon us will be lifted.

I have a list of known rebel groups which I will now read to you. To members of those groups, I say: your days are numbered.” As more information is learned, I will release the names of further groups of interest.

“Thank you and may God help us.”

Louis watched the speech in disbelief. Why hadn’t his contacts told him this was coming? How could they let him find out something this important, this crucial to his plans, from the media rather than from them? While he muttered to himself, his telephone rang. A whispered voice spoke “L R, it’s me – we didn’t know. The son-of-a bitch set this up with his special advisors, not the Cabinet, not the complete caucus. It took us by as much surprise as I imagine it took you. I suggest you watch yourself carefully. They may have your name on a list somewhere.” Louis heard the connection end.

Within hours of the Prime Minister’s speech, the armed forces and police were rounding up known and suspected dissidents. Under the terms of the Act, it was not necessary to lay charges, nor arraign anyone before a magistrate. Just lock ‘em up and forget ‘em. Some of the more minor characters were simply ignored on the basis that without the leaders, they’d be like little lost sheep anyway, more harm to themselves than to the country.

Louis Riel DuMont and his cadre watched the events unfolding with dread. Paul seemed especially on edge.

“Relax Paul. The PM didn’t mention our group in the list he read out. Those are all small disorganized gangs who can’t even spell ‘rebellion’.”

Days passed and the authorities were kept busy rounding up known and suspected dissidents from the original list. Louis didn’t say anything to his group, but he was worried that one of the detainees may point the finger in his direction. He quietly made preparations to destroy what few records existed and to prepare his hiding place if it should prove necessary.

The television was always tuned to the news channel now, waiting for further government announcements. A month after the imposition of the Act, the anticipated words came from the office of the Minister of National Security. “Good afternoon. We have a further list of groups that have been declared terrorists.”

Louis listened intently. The names mentioned concerned him for they were drawing closer to his level. These words were bad enough, then came the blockbuster when the Minister named the opposition parties. “These groups are hereby declared terrorist organizations and any person associated with them is subject to immediate arrest.”

“Merde!” Louis rarely swore in French. In the silence in the room the outburst sounded even louder than it actually was. Paul and the others turned, shock keeping them mute. Before Louis could utter a word, the television drew their attention. They directed their attention toward the screen and heard an announcer “Ladies and gentlemen, the Prime Minister has advised he will speak to the nation in a few minutes. It is believed the reason for the speech is the contents of the list just released by the Minister of National Security.”

The picture changed to a shot of the press room and Queen’s Park, where most press conferences and announcements were made. Viewers were treated to various people scurrying around, changing the background from that used by National Security to that of the Prime Minister; and reporters from various media outlets exchanging rumours. Five minutes later, the televised view changed to a closeup of the flag of Yorkland, then the announcer spoke “Ladies and gentlemen of the press and citizens of Yorkland, the Prime Minister.”

The Right Honourable Prime Minister strode to the podium, a scowl on his face. “I’ve a short announcement, and will not entertain questions afterward. Once you’ve heard what I have to say, I doubt you’ll have questions anyway.

“A few minutes ago, the Minister of National Security named Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and the other parties in the House as terrorist organizations. This was not an error on the part of the Government. Investigation has revealed that some members of those parties are or were associated with terrorist organizations. Our investigation also revealed the parties themselves had accepted funding from organizations used as fronts by these terrorist organizations, and therefore we consider their motives in the House to be suspect.

“Consequently, to preserve the integrity of Government, it was necessary to remove these parties from the policy- and law-making process.”

Louis muted the sound. “We don’t need to hear anymore. We’ve just heard the death knell for freedom in Yorkland. This son-of-a-bitch has just declared himself king of the country. Mark my words, in the next few days, you’ll hear that the majority of members in his own party will also be arrested as terrorists. The only ones left will be those that formed his inner circle – the ones that came up with this whole fucking idea.”

Paul and Gabe looked at each other. They weren’t quite sure what they found more shocking, what Louis said, or his use of the “f-word”.

Louis’s group was different from most of the other “rebels”, as the government termed them, in that most of the members were businessmen who’d seen profits drop as Canada began buying elsewhere. Yorkland had enjoyed great economic success and the Simcoe was trading above par with the US dollar, which made their goods and services too expensive for Canada. Consequently, whereas some of the other groups appeared to be stereotypical “wild-eyed bomb-throwing radicals”, this group appeared to be just what they were – a group of executives having a business meeting.

The import of, and reaction to, the Prime Minister’s announcement wasn’t long in being felt by the populace. Curfews were established. The army became more visible in the streets. Assemblies of more than three people were banned. Churches were exempted from this ban, but services were monitored to ensure they didn’t stray into forbidden territory. One minster chose to ignore the new rules and the watcher in the back of the nave and used his pulpit to rail against the new restrictions the government had imposed. The congregation was then treated to their pastor being led from the pulpit in handcuffs, still protesting the new rules.

What became known as the second Battle of Stoney Creek was less a battle than a massacre. A group over which Louis had no influence decided that the time had come for them to act. The group gathered at Battlefield Park, the scene of the British night attack on the Americans in 1813. Their plan was simple. They’d simply drive down Barton Street and take over the federal building in downtown Hamilton. They hadn’t counted on some citizens being willing to spy for the government. One such person, seeing the large assemblage of vehicles and people, some carrying weapons, in Battlefield Park, phoned the authorities.

By the time the last of the dissidents straggled in, the army was ready for them. All entrances to the park were quietly blocked and the army moved in. Nobody knows to this date who fired the first shot, but one of the dissidents took exception to being told by a captain he was under arrest and discharged his rifle in the general direction of the troops in front of him. One soldier was wounded by this shell, but the report of the gunshot released the tension in the soldiers and they returned fire. Of the fifty people gathered in the park, three survived.

Once again, the group was meeting in Louis’s boardroom, ostensibly to discuss trade with Canada and the United States. Louis turned away from the window. “Paul called and said he’d been delayed at another meeting. He’ll join us as soon as he can get away.” He paused, then,

“I can’t see but we have any choice other than to try now. The longer we wait, the greater the danger we’ll be discovered. Those idiots in Stoney Creek have forced the hand of every group still functioning. I already have some indications we may be suspected. I know we’ve all lost government contracts for no apparent reason since the Act was imposed. I suggest we advise the others to be prepared to take action within the week, otherwise, we’ll have no chance at all. There are no more elections and the army is interpreting these laws in an extremely draconian fashion and detaining ordinary citizens on the slightest pretext. So, it’s either this week, or not at all. Any comments?”

Gabe looked down at the table, silently contemplating what had just happened. In his quiet way, Louis had just issued the call to arms. He looked up. “L R, is a week going to give everyone enough time?”

“They’re going to have to find the time, Gabe. If we wait, we’ll have wasted all these years; all these hopes.”

Before Gabe could respond, the boardroom door swung open. Louis looked up to see the opening filled with uniforms.

“Louis Riel DuMont, come with us please. You are being detained under the provisions of the National Security and Anti-Terrorism Act.”

Glancing around the table, the officer continued “You gentlemen are also under arrest. Keep your hands on the table in plain sight.”

Louis sat there, head down, whispering to himself. “All these years wasted. All hopes of rejoining Canada gone – poof! Up in smoke.”

He looked up at the officer. “Very well Captain, we’ll offer no resistance.”

The captain glared at him. “No Mr DuMont, you won’t. Not this time. But you were. planning to, weren’t you?”