Kate slept poorly that night, waking to dreams of the day her father died. She gave up trying to sleep around 5 am that morning and lay there for a few moments before heading to take a shower. The water washing over her skin felt good and helped her to feel slightly more awake than she had when she got in. Kate’s mother was already downstairs sipping coffee when she made her way into the kitchen. The two of them looked at one another, but neither of them spoke.
It was the first time in her life that her mother and she had ever had a serious disagreement. Kate had always been able to talk to her mother about anything, and this was the first time there were things in her life that she just couldn't tell her mother. She knew her mother didn't understand, and she couldn't explain it.
She ate even though she didn't feel much like eating and headed back upstairs to grab her backpack. She picked her violin out of the hall closet and was about to head out the door to school. Her mother stopped her and insisted on driving her. Kate knew it was just an effort to stop her from seeing Kevin before school, but she didn't argue.
Kate barely had time to say hello to Kevin before the first bell rang, and there was no time to set up a lunch date. She hoped he would meet her behind the band hall anyway, and she wasn’t disappointed when lunch time finally arrived. He was standing there waiting for her, a concerned look on his face.
“Kate, what’s going on?” he asked.
“Kevin, two men from the Department of Homeland Security showed up at my house yesterday while I was at mass with you and your mom. My mom’s totally freaked out and has given me strict instructions not to have anything to do with you. I've been grounded because I won’t agree to that. She doesn’t want me to have anything to do with Father Donovan or anybody else in your group, either,” she said as they walked together. Kate was headed toward the library.
“Oh, Kate, I’m so sorry,” he said.
“Don’t be. Father Donovan warned us this would happen. That’s not the point anyway. I wrote down the name of one of the agents and his contact information. I thought this might be our ticket to finding out just exactly what happened to your father,” Kate replied. “Do you realize those jerks told my mom your dad was wanted for murder and that he was involved in a dangerous cult that was suspected of terrorism??”
“My dad? Murder someone? He’d never do anything like that, Kate, I hope you know that,” Kevin said, shock and disbelief clear in his voice.
“I know, Kevin. I think they were just trying to scare my mom, scare me, into betraying you guys. It’s not going to work, but it does make me aware of something,” Kate said as she opened the library door.
“What’s that?” he asked, following her in.
“I can’t stay at home anymore, Kevin. My involvement with the Church is a danger to them, and she won’t change her mind on this until I bring her proof. I can’t get her that proof while I’m at home because she’s grounded me from the internet,” Kate answered.
“Wow, Kate. Where are you going to go?” Kevin asked, worried.
“I don’t know. I was hoping maybe you could help me find someplace. I was hoping maybe someone from the group would take me in,” Kate said.
“I’ll ask Father Donovan. When are you planning on leaving?” he asked.
“This afternoon, while my mom is at work,” Kate answered.
“Can you wait a couple of days to give me a chance to get something together for you?” he asked.
“I don’t guess it would hurt,” Kate said, taking a seat at one of the computers in the library. She wasn't sure exactly where to look for the information they needed, but she figured the internet was the best place to begin. She decided to simply do a search for Seth Brannigan Department of Homeland Security.
There was a surprising amount of information to sort through on Mr. Brannigan. He was a graduate of Harvard and was recruited originally to the FBI, then moved to the Department of Homeland Security 4 years later. He was then assigned to the Anti-Terrorism division of the DHS. As she began to read through the search results, she kept seeing mentions of FEMA popping up. On a hunch, she decided to search Department of Homeland Security plus FEMA.
What she found there was a link to FEMA and detention centers throughout the United States, detention centers designed to hold 20,000 people or more per center ranged throughout 10 regions of the United States. Kevin was reading over her shoulder, and they looked at one another. It was shocking and disturbing. Kate began printing some of the more compelling evidence she was finding, hoping it would convince her mother that the government didn't have pure intentions.
Before they knew it, the bell rang announcing the ending of lunch. Kate and Kevin scrambled to put their papers together and headed out the door, agreeing to meet at the library again tomorrow. She was hungry, but it was worth sacrificing a meal to find the information that might lead them to getting Kevin’s father back and to convincing her mother that the government was the danger, not her new found faith. She just hoped what she had would be enough to at least get her mom to listen.
Kate headed home right after school and worked on her homework. The twins were nowhere to be seen. She supposed they were either sleeping or off at a friend’s house. She came down at 4 to fix dinner so that it would be ready when her mother walked in the door. She couldn't get the images of those FEMA camps out of her head, and she wondered where the land of the free and the home of the brave had gone.
Her mother came home promptly at five. They sat down to eat and the silence was deafening. Kate’s mother didn't say a word the entire time. Kate waited until her mother was finished eating before she spoke.
“Mom, you said you would believe me if I brought you proof. I have some proof. Will you look at it?” she asked.
“Yes, Kate, I will look at it. Just don’t expect me to take your word for it,” she said.
Kate went upstairs and got her papers out of her backpack then brought them downstairs to her mother. She watched as her mother furrowed her brows while looking through the papers.
“Where did you get this information, Kate?” she asked.
“On the internet, Mom. Did you know about this?” she asked.
“No, I didn't know about the camps. However, these appear to be built to house populations in case of emergencies like natural disasters. I don’t see how it’s related,” her mother said.
“Mom, did you look at some of that? Do you realize there are executive orders in place that give the president and his agents permission to arrest and detain people indefinitely? Without a trial or any kind of due process, just because they say someone is an enemy of the state? What if that’s what’s going on here, Mom?” Kate pleaded.
“Kate, I just don’t believe that our government would do something like that,” her mother said stubbornly. “Besides, if this really is the case, I don’t want you getting caught up in it. What if they decided you were a terrorist based on your friendship with the members of this cult and had you arrested?” her mom replied.
“Mom, I can’t just ignore this. This isn't about me. This is bigger than me,” Kate argued. She couldn't understand why her mother didn't see it. “What if our founding fathers had said the same thing? What if they’d said they didn't want to get caught up in the mess and decided not to fight for our country? Our government doesn't have the right to just take people from their homes in the middle of the night without notifying them of their crimes and then giving them a chance to defend themselves. That’s what tyrants do,” she continued.
“Kate, I do think you’re being a bit melodramatic,” her mother said.
“It’s not melodrama, Mom. Kevin’s dad was really and truly dragged out of their home in the middle of the night without any reason given. Nobody knows where he’s being held or what the charges are. In fact, the closest anyone’s come to getting information out of the government is that visit those two guys gave to you when they told you he was being held on suspicion of murder,” Kate replied.
“Kate, look, why don’t we go downstairs and do the research together? I can help you sort out the reliable sources from the kooks. We’ll get to the bottom of this together. I’m sure it’s not what you think,” her mother said, relenting slightly. “However, if I can disprove the stuff you've given me, you agree to do what I say without any further argument and avoid Kevin. Agreed?”
Kate agreed and the two of them headed downstairs together. One of the first things that Kate’s mother did was to do a search for a notice about the arrest of Kevin’s father. There was no notice in the paper. Kate’s mother frowned at this and explained to Kate that there were several reasons for police blotters. The first was to notify family members and loved ones that someone was in police custody, so they wouldn't have to worry about where they were or what had happened to them. The second was to let everyone know what charges had been brought against the person to give everyone a chance to provide witness for or against the detainee. Her mom seemed very troubled by the fact that there was no such public notice given.
Kate showed her mother the searches she used to find the information in the first place, and Kate’s mother gave her a lesson in how to look at and interpret the original source documents that formed the backbone of the information. In the end, Kate’s mother had to agree that there was a Halliburton contract for the construction of FEMA camps capable of holding up to 20,000 individuals per camp. She also agreed that images of the camp showed double rows of barbed wire, unusual for a camp intended to hold people who were supposedly living there voluntarily. They spent time reading over the executive orders giving the President permission to detain citizens of the United States indefinitely without due process provided that he first declared them enemies of the state.
The more they searched, the more they found, and it was even more disturbing than Kate had anticipated. It was clear that the government had a long term plan to get rid of anyone that got in the way of its total control of the citizens, and that the media was doing nothing to stand in the way of the government. In fact, by every evidence it was doing nothing but helping to cover up the actions of the government. She could see that her mother was just as disturbed by their findings as she was.
She wondered, though, whether it would be enough for her mother. Whether her mom would be willing to help her in fighting this or whether her mother would try to protect her by forbidding her from participating. So much depended on her mom’s decision. Kate silently prayed that her mother would see things her way. She didn't want to leave her mother this way, but she didn't see another option that would allow her help fight this injustice. If her mother wouldn't fight it with her, Kate would fight it on her own.