“Well, Mom?” Kate asked, prompting her mother.
Her mother looked at her for a moment. “Kate, I think I need to meet Kevin’s mother.”
Kate blinked in surprise. “Kevin’s mother?”
“Yes, I think I need to meet her. It’s too late tonight, but I want you to tell Kevin tomorrow morning that I need to meet with her. She can come over for coffee or something after I get off work,” her mother said.
Kate wasn’t sure she understood what was going on but at least this sounded like progress, “Okay, sure, I’ll ask him tomorrow morning.”
“Kate, until I talk to her you are not to say a word about what you and I have done tonight to anyone – not the twins, not your friends. Not anyone, do you understand?”
“Yeah, Mom, I understand” Kate said. She didn’t understand at all, but she did understand that her mom needed her to say the words and do what she was asked.
It was 11 pm by the time Kate made it to bed, an hour later than her normal bedtime. She was tired and emotionally still on edge. She wasn’t sure if things were going very well or were about to get worse. She had trouble sleeping again, waking up to the same troubled dreams of her father calling her name but being unable to find him.
She woke up later than normal the next morning to find her mother already gone to work. She headed out the door in a hurry, hoping to catch Kevin before the first bell rang.
“Well?” he asked when she got there.
“My mom said she needs to meet with your mom as soon as possible. Can you guys come over around 6 tonight?” she asked.
Kevin seemed surprised by the request, “Maybe. I’ll ask my mom and give you a call, if that’s okay”
“It should be, she’s the one who asked for the meeting,” Kate said.
Kevin nodded and gave her a hug, “I’m just glad things seem to be going back to normal, at least as normal as they can.”
“Me too” Kate said. “When is the next meeting?”
“We should be getting notices soon. Let me know if you still haven’t received one by Thursday afternoon,” he said.
“They don’t tell you in advance?” Kate asked, surprised.
“The less I know, the less I can tell someone if I get arrested,” he said seriously.
Kate hugged him tighter. She couldn’t stand the thought of something happening to him, but she recognized it was a possibility. The only consolation was at least she didn’t have to run away for now. It looked like her mom might be coming around.
The bell rang and Kevin walked her to class. She took her seat as he left. They hung out at lunch, doing a little more research, trying to figure out where his father might be held. She figured if they could uncover the location of the nearest FEMA camp, there was every possibility he would be there.
Kevin called at 5:30 that evening. “Mom’s on her way,” he said. “I wanted to come, but she needed me to watch the kids.” Kate felt disappointment at not being able to see him, but she was glad that her mom and his mom were finally going to have a chance to talk.
She hung up the phone and let her mother know the news. They got a pot of coffee brewing and set out some snacks in case his mother was healthy. She caught her mom absent mindedly chewing her finger nails and knew just how nervous her mother must be right about now.
The doorbell rang and Kate ran to answer it. Kevin’s mother was a tall red head with nearly emerald green almond shaped eyes. Kate invited her in and showed her to the kitchen. Her mother approached and the two women greeted one another with a kind of wary politeness that spoke volumes to those who knew what they were hearing.
“Hello, Ms. Devries, I’m Bridgette McConnolly. It’s good to finally meet you. I’ve heard so much about your daughter,” the woman said, smiling as she extended her hand.
“Hello, Bridgette, I’m Claire. Thank you for coming,” Kate’s mother said, shaking Bridgette’s hand. “Would you like some coffee?”
“I’d love some,” Bridgette said as she took a seat. Kate could tell the two women were sizing one another up behind the pleasantries.
“Kate, I believe you have some homework left to do, don’t you?” Kate’s mother asked, looking at her daughter quite pointedly.
Kate got the hint. “Yes, ma’m. I’ll go finish it now,” she said and left the kitchen. She took a seat on stairs nearest the kitchen so she could hear the two women talk.
“Bridgette, I need to know something and I’m going to be blunt because I don’t know any way to put things delicately. Kate tells me the government came and abducted your husband in the middle of the night for no reason. Sunday, while my daughter is out with you and your family, two men from the government come by and want to ask her questions about you and your group. They tell me your husband is a suspected murderer and that you and your family belong to a dangerous cult,” Claire said. “Kate showed me some things, and I’m beginning to doubt, but I need some answers. I need to know the truth about what’s going on,” she finished.
Bridgette’s voice was soft and it was Kate had to strain to hear it. “Until two years ago, Claire, I was working for the Elko Daily as a journalist. I got fired for reporting the truth about things that were going on in the government. The newspaper didn’t appreciate it, and neither did the government, but I couldn’t stay silent about what I was finding out. So, I began working from home, spreading the news and information I was finding through my blogs and newsletters. I received several threatening letters from the government, warning me to quit, but I couldn’t. The truth needed to be told and I was the only one who seemed willing to do it,” Bridgetted stopped talking and Kate wondered if that was all to the story.
“Weren’t you afraid for your family?” Claire asked.
“Of course I was, Claire, but what kind of life would I be leaving to my children if I allowed them to be enslaved because I was too afraid to confront the lies? There was no other choice but to press ahead, uncovering the truth and speaking it as loudly and as often as I could,” Bridgette said.
“So, how did your husband come to be arrested? Why not you?” Claire asked, pressing Bridgette for information.
Bridgette snorted. “They took Tom from me because they were hoping I would be silent, that I would be too afraid to continue speaking out. They wanted to intimidate me, just like they are trying to intimidate you into forbidding your daughter from pursuing the truth. Tom is my best friend, the man I love with all my heart, and every day I pray that God will return him to me safely, but I also know that even if God doesn’t return Him in this life, we’ll meet again in the next,” she finished.
“Don’t you worry they’ll go after your children next? What about Kevin and your other kids?” Claire asked.
“Eventually, Claire, they will come after my children, they will come after me. It’s part of the reality we live in right now. I have told my children as much, but I have also told them that if they truly care about their fellow human beings they have both a duty and an obligation to do everything they can to spread the truth to as many people as possible. When you know the truth, when you understand it, the lies can’t hurt you anymore,” Bridgette said in reply.
“Well, I respect and admire your conviction, but I don’t think I could do it. I could not put her life in danger, her freedom in danger, no matter how just or righteous the cause,” Claire said.
“I didn’t say it’s easy, Claire, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to deal with this right now if I didn’t have a community of people willing to help me out when I need it most. But do you really think Kate is safer as a slave than she is when she’s free to pursue the truth?” Bridgette asked.
“At least she’ll be alive,” Claire responded.
“What kind of life is that? I want to help her find a freedom that others can’t take from her,” Bridgette said.
“There is no such freedom,” Kate heard her mother say.
“Oh, yes, there is. When you realize that you always have a choice – even if your choice is just whether you will cooperate with evil or to die defending what’s right – you are always free. In fact, you’re even freer than the person who holds you captive,” Bridgette said.
The two women were silent for a few minutes. She heard her mother speak back up, “Speaking of freedom, tell me everything you know about the FEMA camps.”
Bridgette confirmed the details of what Claire and Kate had uncovered on the computer last night. She told Claire that she had personally traveled to one of those, seen it in operation with its double rows of barbed wire with tips that were pointed inward toward the people who lived there, as if to keep them in rather than someone who might harm them out. She spoke of having seen rail cars with shackles riveted into them, having spoken with the steel workers who did the job to create them.
The two women talked for quite a while before Bridgette left. Kate heard the chairs scraping across the floor and headed upstairs to take her shower before going to bed. She spent a little time praying the rosary, the feel of the beads in her hands quite soothing.
Her mother came in when she was finishing and waited patiently for Kate to finish. “This is a lot to think over, Kate. I’m not sure what to make of everything, but I will give my okay for you to continue seeing Kevin. Bridgette’s right about that much. If I allow those men to dictate my behavior through fear then they have already taken my freedom, our freedom, from us. I refuse to be intimidated into silence.”
“What about my meetings with the group Kevin belongs to?” Kate asked, hope welling inside her.
“Fine, those, too. Your grandmother was Catholic, and I spent some time attending masses with her as a child and young teenager. I’ve never seen anything to support the idea of them being either dangerous or a cult. Just be sure you are very careful,” Claire said.
Kate felt happier than she had in days. In spite of everything, she felt hope for a better future and better days ahead. She gave her mother a huge hug and thanked her for listening. She was so glad her mother was at least willing to let her participate, even if she wasn’t willing to go herself.
She dreamed that night, a dream that there were all these friends and family members outside. There was a tornado spotted on the horizon, and she knew she had to get everyone inside and to safety before it hit. Some people were quick to listen, quick to seek the shelter she provided but so many others wouldn’t listen, even when the tornado was right on top of them. Kate dove into a shelter just as the tornado reached the house she was in. She felt herself picked up and tossed around by the tornado, but just as suddenly as it had picked her up it set her down as gently as a feather. She was scratched, bruised, and shaken up, but she was otherwise fine.
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