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Millennium Five On the Line

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posted on May, 19 2013 @ 10:38 PM
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The vibrant, tumbling melody of Dan Coolidge’s guitar chords echoed throughout the auditorium to a thundering cascade of cheers and applause. On cue, a brilliant blue beam lit up the stage like radiant moonlight, highlighting the shimmering pearl jumpsuits of Alyssa Jennings and Janelle Sparks as they sang the opening notes to No More Second Chances. In that wonderful moment, the sound of their vocal chords blended together into perfect notes which hovered in space above the fans, levitating them, before the energizing rhythm of Skylar DeSilva’s electric synthesizer shot through the air, followed by the heart-pounding, inescapable beat of the drums, courtesy Tyrone Clearwater.

Krystal reached out to the stage in adoration, her palms open, as if to beckon her idol closer. To touch Janelle only once would last a lifetime - well worth the harsh words, severe restrictions, and broken bonds of trust that might come from her willful disobedience. Any such worries were dashed from her mind as Janelle and Alyssa made their way to the edge of the stage, their microphones in hand, golden hair spilling over their shoulders, belting out the lyrics of the chorus with voices so powerful Krystal wondered if all of Securia could hear them.

Suddenly, there she was, her arm outstretched to connect with the legion of screaming admirers. Krystal would not miss this chance, this opportunity for which she’d waited a lifetime(or at least it seemed that way), and so she reached up with both hands to grasp Janelle’s arm, to feel the glowing fabric of her sleeve, to touch this embodiment of freedom itself. As she did so her fingers slid effortlessly through flesh and bone, muscle and polyester, the contact a mere illusion of twenty-first century video technology.

“Wait, I can’t find my ticket Krystal, I can’t find my ticket Are you listening?” Her foray into the magical world of the Millennium Five music video was cut short as she felt the plastic holo-visor pulled from her face. In an instant the auditorium vanished, replaced by a pair of dull, aluminum warehouses and the lush, overgrown lawn in front of the concert field. Sarah glared at her in frustration.

“You gave it to Anthony. Today, at school. Don’t you remember?”

“No, I didn’t ” Sarah looked toward the front of the line leading into the concert, and then shot back toward Krystal with an expression of alarm. “Why would I give him my ticket?”

“Here, put these on.” Krystal placed the holo-visor over Sarah’s eyes and handed her the black data glove. “I’ve been recording all day. Just go to main menu and select the ten-to-eleven a.m. block.”

“Uh-hu,” Sarah said, securing the Velcro data glove strap. After making a few quick motions with her wrist, she said “Oh, okay, I see it. Oh my god ”

“See? You wrote your number on the back of the ticket, and handed it to him during break.”

“OH MY GOD ”

“Didn’t he say he would be here?” Krystal asked.
“We’re talking about Anthony

Standing on her toes, Krystal gazed over the heads of hundreds of excited teenagers who stood in line up ahead, filing one by one past the ticket booth and security gate. Her beige blouse clung to her body, damp and sticky. She and Sarah had taken the bus after school only to stand and melt under the blazing Texas sun for the past three hours. More than once a vendor had made his way down the line offering cold sodas and ice slushies, but Krystal’s younger brother’s silence had come at a steep price, and her allowance was now spent except for a couple of Homeland credits – nearly worthless in the present inflation crisis.

She wiped the sweat from her brow, tried to forget the dryness of her throat and aching sensation of thirst that tugged at her. Now the line was moving again, and Sarah had no ticket. What a dingbat, Krystal thought. Boys couldn’t be trusted.

“This thing is sooo cool ” Sarah said while scrolling through the video selections, her wrist flicking this way and that. “I asked for one of these last Christmas, and all I got was a stupid pair of roller blades.” She tore the data glove free and handed it back. “By the way, you had a call. I think it went to video-mail.”

Krystal slipped the data glove onto her fingers, took the holo-visor from Sarah and, after brushing aside her dark, straight hair, placed it over her eyes. In see-thru mode it was like a pair ordinary sunglasses, and through the lens she watched a crimson body-armor clad State Policeman stroll past, his face hidden behind his darkened helmet visor, truncheon gripped firmly in hand. Amazing, Krystal thought. Only a year ago such a concert would have been unthinkable; the Council of Ethics would have dismissed the idea entirely, followed by the usual diatribe about protecting young minds from corruptive, indecent influences and such. What a crock.

Farther up the line, the policeman stopped to ask a young couple for identification as the words MESSAGE SAVED flashed before Krystal’s eyes in bold red font. She folded the visor and stuffed it into the pocket of her jeans, an uneasy sensation stirring in her stomach. They knew.

“Did you check the message?” Sarah asked while looking across the lawn to the parking lot in search of Anthony.

“No way. You know what that’s about.”

Sarah rolled her eyes. “What’s the deal with your parents anyway? It’s The Millennium Five, for crying out loud. They’re about as tame as it gets. Not like some of the other bands from over The Line. You know - the cool ones?”

Krystal didn’t answer. The Millennium Five were the coolest band as far as she was concerned. The first band from across The Line to perform a concert in her lifetime, and Sarah had lost her ticket. Biting her lip, her fists balled in anger, she turned toward Sarah, but the sight of a familiar long-haired teenager in a black Houston Tornados t-shirt caught her attention. “Look who’s here.” Krystal said.

“Anthony ” Sarah exclaimed. “You’ve got my ticket, right?” He handed her the slip of paper that displayed a barcode, above which read: Allegiance Entertainment presents: Millennium Five On the Line – ADMIT 1. “Yes ” she squealed, jumping up and down like a hyperactive ten-year old. “Yes, yes, yes ”

A second, taller boy with sandy-blonde hair and a slushie in his hand stood next to Anthony, elbowing him in the ribs. “Oh yeah, I almost forgot,” Anthony said. “This is my friend Benjamin. Benjamin, this is Krystal.”

“Hey,” Anthony’s friend said, holding out his hand with a grin. Krystal shook it, smiling in return. “Pleased to meet you.” Benjamin held out his slushie, and she gratefully accepted the cold, refreshing, grape flavored drink. After taking a couple of long, slow draws through the straw, she tried to hand it back to him.

“That’s ok. Keep it. Looks like you need it more than I do. Besides, I heard they’ve got concession stands inside.”

“Thanks. So, um, how did you guys get here? Do you have your own car?”

Benjamin smiled and shook his head, amused by the question. “I wish I did I rode with Anthony, but only after arguing with my folks for a couple of hours. They didn’t want me to go, but when I told them I was going with Anthony and his parents...well, our folks have known each other for years.”

Krystal cast her eyes about the lawn. “Where are th...” Her question was interrupted by a wail; someone near the head of the line – a teenage girl, cried out as a State Policeman cuffed her wrists.

“Drugs, probably,” Benjamin whispered. “The news said to expect random searches.”

Krystal shuddered, wondering if the girl was over fourteen. If so, she’d be tried within the hour. The system worked fast.

“Where are they?” Krystal asked, continuing their conversation.

“Who?”

“Anthony’s parents. You said you rode with Anthony and his parents, remember?”

“They just dropped us off,” Benjamin said. “They hate Millennium Five.”

Krystal eyes focused on Benjamin. “Your Mom and Dad probably thought they were attending the show.”

He grinned. “What they don’t know won’t hurt ‘em.”

Krystal smiled. He was kind of cute. And clever. Maybe Sarah’s idea of inviting Anthony hadn’t been so dumb after all. “Good thinking,” she remarked.

“Yeah, but if they’d really put their foot down, I wouldn’t have come. I can always watch Millennium Five on the Safenet.”

“No way At least, not for me. They’re my favorite group.”

“Then it’s a good thing your folks were okay with it. Going to the concert, I mean.”

“Yeah,” Krystal replied, lowering her eyes a bit.

Anthony, who’d spent the last few minutes whispering something into Sarah’s ear and causing her to giggle uncontrollably, turned and said, “Everyone got their tickets?” Krystal pulled hers from her back pocket. They had finally arrived at the ticket booth.

“Now step over to the retina scan,” said the blue-suited attendant after taking their tickets and handing back the stubs. “When it flashes green, you can go through the turnstile. One at a time, please.” Krystal approached the black plastic eyepiece that jutted from the wall of the booth, and hesitated. Once scanned, her presence at the concert would be a matter of public record, undeniable, and available to anyone: the government, her school, her parents.

She glanced past the turnstile at the concert field – an enormous, makeshift standing-room-only arena enclosed on all sides by a chain link fence. What she saw and heard made her pulse quicken: upon the eight-foot high stage at the far end, roadies had finished setting up drums, microphones, smoke generators, and were beginning sound checks. She pulled back her hair and leaned forward into the eyepiece. Within seconds, the flashing red light inside changed to a green glow. No going back now.

(Continued below)
edit on 20-5-2013 by Flatwoods because: (no reason given)




posted on May, 19 2013 @ 10:41 PM
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The four of them chose a mid-field spot with a decent view to sit down. The freshly cut lawn was moist, but not wet – a good thing since none of them had thought to bring a chair, or a blanket. Others had. The aroma of hot dogs and warm pretzels wafted across the field as it gradually filled with teenagers and the occasional grown-up here and there. A gaunt, middle-aged concert vendor strolled among them carrying a box full of fluorescent tri-color glow necklaces, available for eighty credits apiece.

“Seats would’ve been nice,” Sarah remarked.

“The Astrodome would’ve been nicer,” Anthony added.

“Out of the question.” Krystal pointed to the stage. “Look.” Seven guards with automatic rifles stood at the rear, below a giant three-story high projection screen. They were soldiers, dressed not in the burgundy uniforms of the State Police, but in the distinctive blue-and-silver colors which matched the flag of the New Republic. “See? One of the conditions of the agreement was that Millennium Five would have their own private security force. For that to happen, the concert had to be right on top of The Line. Technically, the stage and everything behind it is the New Republic, or at least their jurisdiction.”

“This is un-real,” Benjamin remarked in amazement. He surveyed at the ten-foot chain link fence which surrounded the field, topped with barbed-wire. Above the fence, at several places along the perimeter, loomed wooden guard towers, each with a Securia State Policeman inside, high-powered rifle at the ready. As the sun began to set in the west, their silhouettes cast imposing shadows over the field, over the audience.

Krystal took little notice of them; her attention was fixed on the stage. She gazed upon it, fascinated. Never in her life had she been this close to The Line, that oft-spoken of boundary between Securia and the rest of the world: a world of new music, of new ideas, and of freedoms she couldn’t imagine having. Or, if you listened to the Council, a world of danger, violence, filth, and corruption: a world so decadent that the mere suggestion of going there should be considered a crime against the state. Still, she couldn’t help but wonder how difficult – or how easy - it would be to make her way up to the front of the stage, close enough to touch them, and maybe, just maybe…

No She wouldn’t think of doing that, would she? Dreaming of crossing The Line wasn’t a state crime, but actually doing it was, and not just for those who committed the unthinkable act. So it was, and had always been, at least for Krystal, and she loved her family. She was not a lawbreaker.

“Well, you can’t do this at the Astrodome,” Sarah said while lighting a cigarette. As the thick aroma of the illegal product made its way into the air, Krystal gasped.

“Put that away ” She whispered.

“Who’s gonna know? Nobody here cares.”

“Everyone’s going to know ” Krystal protested, pointing to the network news crew who were setting up their equipment across the field, not far away. Sarah snuffed the cigarette out on the grass, grumbling in annoyance. “How much longer you think we’ll have to wait?”

“Not long, I think,” Benjamin said, glancing at the dark purple sky. Several stars were visible overhead, twinkling. “What time is it, anyway?”

“Hold on, just a minute...” Krystal brought forth the holo-visor and placed it over her eyes in order to read the clock function. “Ten after seven,” She said.

“You should let Benjamin try that,” Sarah said. “It’s just about the coolest thing ever.”

“Yeah, I’ve been hoping to get one myself,” Benjamin added.

Again, the display flashed MESSAGE SAVED. Krystal folded the visor and placed it back in her pocket. “How about later, after the show?”

Benjamin nodded. A moment later, everyone on the field rose to their feet, their attention drawn to the spectacle unfolding onstage. A set of powerful red and white spotlights had come alive, as well as the gigantic projection screen, on which the name MILLENNIUM FIVE scrolled by in brilliant, orange, three-story tall font. Then it began - the pulsing, rhythmic rock-and-roll beat of Skylar’s electric synthesizer, accompanied by a billowing white cloud of theatrical smoke. The members of Millenium Five jogged out onto the stage one by one, dressed in blue and gray form-fitting bodysuits, waving to the screaming fans.

“Hey, check that out.” Anthony said, pointing in the other direction. Krystal turned around and beheld a large paper banner hoisted by a group of ecstatic, screaming youths. Red painted letters proclaimed DOWN WITH THE STATE. Behind it another banner read RESIST. Krystal stared at them, shocked by their blatant lack of regard for authority, their utter lack of caution.

“Krystal, why aren’t you recording?” Sarah asked.

“I almost forgot ” Janelle and Alyssa were already singing the opening lines of Thunderstrike as Krystal donned the holo-visor, set it to RECORD, and inserted the earpiece. A wave of enthusiasm took hold of the field; fans were cheering, some even dancing to the rhythm, to the stimulating, fast-paced tempo. On top of that, the sparkling voices of the background singers radiated in vibrant harmony, all of it drawing Krystal forward like gravity itself, her mind lost in wonder.

What lay beyond the stage? Beyond the giant video screen and spotlights and smoke generators? A door? A tunnel, perhaps? A corridor to a place she’d always heard rumors of, exciting stories of a land where secrets weren’t forbidden, where music and movies and netcasts didn’t have to be approved, or censored, or...

A heavy-set man in a blue baseball cap and tan t-shirt backed into her accidentally, jarring her data-glove and activating the video mail function. In an instant the crowd disappeared; before her lay her own living room, her mother seated on the couch before her, eyes wide and voice quivering:
“Listen, Honey. We’re not angry. We just want you to come home right now. Your father’s on his way there, you can meet him in the van outside. Please, Krystal, get away from there as fa...”

Again, someone backed into her, knocking the visor from her eyes. She managed to catch it in her hands, saving it from destruction at the feet of the roaring crowd. But Krystal didn’t feel like cheering. Instead, she made her way back to her companions. Benjamin shouted something into her ear, but the meaning was lost among the deafening sound of the music.

“What?” Krystal shouted.

“I said, ‘are you okay?’ You look pale ”

“I’m fine.” In truth, she felt sick to her stomach.

“Go Go Go ” Anthony yelled toward the stage. The field erupted with laughs and cheers. Krystal craned her neck to see what was going on; a group of rowdy fans had pushed their way past the police and onto the stage. “This is insane ” Anthony laughed, waving his arms and jumping in excitement, a look of fascination lighting his face. Soon the audience erupted again, this time not with cheers, but shouts of protest. About twenty policemen carrying truncheons and riot shields were marching downfield, drawing boos and slurs as they went.

Krystal replayed the message a few times, watched her mother’s pleas. It hurt to do so. Maybe she should call home, let Mom know she was okay. Then again, what would she say to explain her lie, her rotten behavior? She hadn’t figured that out yet. Her father was probably waiting in the parking lot. She needed time to think.

Upon returning to see-thru-mode, Krystal found herself surrounded by strangers. Neither Benjamin nor her friends were next to her; in their place stood a couple of girls in low-cut jeans and tank tops, arguing about something. Had she been abandoned? None of the faces around her were familiar. More likely that the crowd itself had drifted, but she had not. She stood on her toes, scanning the audience. Where was Sarah? Where were her friends? Maybe she should go look for them. Krystal tried to push forward through the crowd, but found it impossible - the field had become much too dense.
Only then did she notice that the music was no longer playing. In its place was the familiar sound of Dan Coolidge’s voice, but Krystal couldn’t make out what being said; his words were drowned out by cheers and chants of those around her. She pressed her finger against the earpiece, and increased the volume:

“to make a single file line in front of the stage. Please remain calm. We don’t want anyone to get injured, so please form a line...”

What was going on? Why would they be directing people toward the stage, unless... Her heart began to race with excitement...and apprehension. Not only was it impossible to move, but it was getting hard to see as well. The sun had set; now the only light came from the glaring spotlights above the guard towers, and the stage itself. In the darkness, Krystal found herself enclosed, surrounded by angry chants of “New Republic ” and “Down with Securia ”

Then, like a retreating tide, the crowd began surge backwards, away from the stage. A line formation of State Police were pushing them toward the exit, issuing orders via bullhorn to clear the field, and wielding their riot shields and truncheons against those who resisted.

(Continued below)

*****************

edit on 20-5-2013 by Flatwoods because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 19 2013 @ 10:41 PM
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Back they went, and Krystal went with them, afraid of being knocked over and trampled beneath the angry, desperate mob. Blankets, water coolers, and other personal items littered the grass, threatening to trip anyone who didn’t watch their step. The scene soon degenerated into chaos; fans pushed and shoved, cursed and pleaded, everyone trying to get out at the same time. Krystal looked to the exit, and what she saw horrified her. The meandering beams of the guard tower spotlights revealed the state of the exit turnstile; the mechanism had become locked, jammed by fans trying to flee the arena. Yet the crowd continued back, becoming more and more dense. A woman shreiked. Soon other voices cried out in agony, pleading for help, for release from the terrible pressure.

Why were the police doing this? Didn’t they realize that the fans had nowhere to go? The mass of hot, sweaty bodies closed around Krystal, suffocating her like an enormous, deadly python. Constricted, she clawed at those around her, wriggling in vain amid the darkness until her arms became pinned against her midsection, and every breath became a struggle. As the vise wound tighter and tighter, Krystal tried to scream but couldn’t – every ounce of air had been squeezed from her lungs. I’m going to die here, she thought, her mind overcome by panic. Vivid images of home and her family flashed before her eyes, and then something happened; something changed.

The momentum shifted in the other direction.

Thousands of enraged fans, pushed into the bottleneck at the back of the arena, went on the offensive against the Securia State Police, forcing them back in a frenzy of violence more savage than anything ever shown in the heavily censored movie theaters. Bottles, rocks, lawn chairs: all became deadly projectiles as the fans stormed the police, knocking them to the ground, ripping away their riot shields and pummeling them without mercy. Released from the grip of the mob, Krystal stumbled on amid the riot in search of shelter and safety. A sharp, acrid, unfamiliar smell entered her nostrils...tear gas. She cried out, her eyes searing in pain, before her lungs convulsed in a series of brutal coughs. The world had gone to hell, and Krystal was in the middle of it.

She staggered to an empty, wooden concession booth along the fence and ducked inside. Its occupants had fled, abandoning their merchandise; hundreds of Millennium Five T-shirts in all sizes lay scattered about. Krystal fell onto the pile of loose clothing, gasping for breath. Again, she activated the holo-visor and, with a few, quick motions of her wrist, dialed home. Her mother appeared before her eyes, sitting on the couch in the living room next to her brother.

“Hello? Krystal?”

“Mom, I’m really scared.” Tears streamed down her face, her voice trembling between coughs. “I don’t know what to do. I can’t find Sarah, and everything’s gone crazy.” The steady beat of a military helicopter thundered overheard, so she increased the volume again.

“Is your father there?”

“No I can’t get out. Mom, I need help ”



Her mother started to say something, and then stopped, her eyes narrowing, focusing on something, a decision. “Listen, Honey,” she said. “I’ve been watching the news; we all have. I want you to go now. I want you to get across...” The doorbell rang. Her brother looked frightened.

“What? I want to go home I want Dad Mom…”

“I know, but you’ve got to do this. Forget about Dad, forget about us, and get across The Line. Do it now ” Her mother flinched, and then looked toward the door as it rattled from a loud series of bangs and knocks. She turned to look at her daughter once more.

“Mom, who is that? Who’s at the door? Oh God, Mom ”

“Go Honey. Go now. I love y…”

“MOM ” Krystal screamed as the transmission was cut and the image disappeared from existence. She made several attempts to call home again, all in vain. The menu bar at the top of the holo-visor’s screen read NO SERVICE. Krystal rose to her feet and walked out onto the field in a daze, her mind clouded by shock, oblivious to the screams that filled the air around her in a hellish composition of violence and fear. Scores of fresh police had stormed onto the field; some were beating fans, others taking up positions against the New Republic soldiers, should gunfire break out. At the far end, bright yellow theatrical lights still illuminated the stage. Krystal looked on as dozens of people scrambled onto it, disappearing into a passage somewhere beyond, the members of Millennium Five directing them forward.

How could they do this? How could they have been so stupid, so damned irresponsible? Didn’t they know what would happen; what was happening already? Fury welled up within her, and she screamed. She cursed them and wished them dead, before a heavy, wooden truncheon struck the back of her head, knocking her to the ground.

Lying on her stomach, dazed and weakened from the assault, her consciousness nearly faded. Only the sting of the tear gas kept her awake. Krystal touched the back of her head, felt the warmth and stickiness of her own blood. Alone in the darkness, she reached for the holo-visor, her only connection to home, to the life she knew. As she did so a policeman ran by, crushing the device under his boot as he went.

Krystal clutched the grass, weeping in horror as the battle raged around her. Several of the wooden concession stands and guard towers were ablaze - now hateful, orange tongues of flame licked at the darkness, along with ugly clouds of black smoke that roiled forth onto the concert field, fostered by a slight wind. The sharp crack of a gunshot sounded. Then another. Krystal gazed down-field, at the Armageddon unfolding before her. Then she remembered her mother’s words, brushed aside the blood-soaked hair that was getting in the way of her eyes, and crawled toward The Line on her hands and knees. She soon lost her way amid the thickening smoke. Still, she crept onward without direction, groping through the darkness, unnoticed, until her path became blocked by a barrier, a wall of some type, and she could go no further. Exhausted, Krystal lay there coughing and gasping for breath, her limbs aching, surrounded by the noises of helicopters and machine guns and death.

A hand seized her wrist. She struggled against her attacker, only to find herself lifted by a pair of strong arms, and then pulled onto the stage. Stumbling to her feet, she peered through the haze to recognize the faces of her rescuers, Janelle Sparks and Dan Coolidge, who carefully guided her through the door behind the stage and down a series of white concrete steps. Summing up the last of her remaining strength, Krystal ran with them through the brightly lit tunnel, and into whatever awaited her beyond.



posted on Jun, 14 2013 @ 12:40 AM
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A little explanation: this is a story I wrote back in 2006. It's one I submitted for publication but was rejected. Anyway, I wrote this as a science fiction story, but the invention of Google Glass seems to have negated the sci-fi element. Back to the drawing board, I suppose.





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