Copyright © 2015 by Eric Aune and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.
All Rights Reserved
When Cole opened his eyes the next morning he looked around and it seemed like there was more sunlight coming through the window than normal. He rubbed his eyes and then looked over at his clock. The numbers were dark. He tried to turn on the lamp by his bed, but there was no light. The electricity was off. He got up and checked his phone, no service. He padded over to his dresser and checked his watch. It read seven thirty. Shit, they were going to be late for school. Then he heard it, something tapping against his window. He went to it and saw Evan step out from behind some bushes in his backyard and throw some small pebbles up at his window. He stood in the window and waved. Evan saw him and waved frantically for Cole to come down. Cole turned and quickly threw on his clothes and hurried downstairs. He didn't see anyone else up, so he went out into the backyard and over to where Evan was hiding. Evan pulled him into hiding with him.
"Why didn't you just come to the front door Evan?" Evan shook his head. "It wouldn't be safe. Some bad shit is going down. Here." Evan had a couple of jump drives in his hand and pressed them into Cole's hand. Cole looked at his friend. "What are these?"
"Those are recordings of something that happened early this morning and what I showed you yesterday. Ashwood's gone crazy. He called a press conference early this morning and said that the election is null and void. He blamed Bryce saying he was strong-arming people at the polls to vote for him. So because of that, Ashwood said it was an illegal election and declared it null and void. He is also declaring Martial Law. All the schools and businesses are closed.
"They're telling everyone to stay inside their homes. The electricity and the internet are offline. He's blaming everything on the ‘international terrorist' Jack Bryce. The thing is, right after Ashwood did his little press conference, Bryce came on and offered proof that everything Ashwood is saying is a lie and he also had some of the kids from the attack on the school in Texas, some were wounded and they confirmed that it was the federal agents that started shooting at them and their classmates. Soon after that everything went off again, power, internet, everything. Ashwood probably did that to stop Bryce from putting the truth out there. I snuck over here to try and get this info to you. I think you need to show this to your grandfather. I think the shit is really going to hit the fan soon."
Cole was shaking his head in disbelief. "I can't believe this is happening here. This is third world dictator shit, not USA. I'll try to get this to my grandpa as soon as possible."
"Just so you know, no one is supposed to be on the streets. The police are cruising the streets but they can't be everywhere, so I was able to ride my bike over and hide when I needed to. Be careful. Your bike is probably the best bet to get to your grandpa's."
"Thanks bud. I'll try to figure something out. You be careful and get back safe. Call me…" Evan shook his head. "Cell phones are out too. Everything. He's trying to control everything." Cole nodded. "Okay, maybe they'll ease up after a few hours. I'll try to get with you later if I can." Evan nodded and Cole went with him to where he had his bike hidden. They bumped fists, Evan checked to make sure the coast was clear and then he took off. Cole watched him for a little bit and then went back around the house to the back yard.
Cole went right up to Cooper's room. As he went inside, he heard stirring in his parent's room. He closed the door behind him and sat on Cooper's bed and shook him. Cooper slowly turned over and blinked his eyes as he woke. "Cole?"
"Hey Coop. Something…" They were interrupted by a knock on the door of the room. Cole stood up and the door opened. It was their dad. "Cooper, do you… oh, there you are Coleman." He saw that Cole was dressed. "Don't worry about school. The President has declared a state of emergency. School is closed today. You two need to stay in the house. Don't go anywhere. Is that clear?" Both boys glanced at each other and nodded. "Yes sir." Wayne nodded and started to leave, but stopped and turned back. "Your mother and I will be at a meeting at the church with Doctor Campbell most of the day. You can make your own meals. The cook won't be here today. Just remember, stay inside. You're not authorized to be outside right now, President's orders." Wayne walked off satisfied that his orders would be obeyed without question.
Cooper sat up looking at his brother, completely confused. "What was dad talking about?"
"Get dressed and come in my room Coop. I'll explain what I know." Cooper nodded and threw off the covers. Cole left for his room and took the jump drives out of his pocket. Cole turned around, "Lock the door Coop." Cooper spun around and locked the door before pulling a stool over to sit next to his brother.
Cole opened his laptop and booted it up. He knew that his desktop was useless with no power, but his laptop had a battery. When it came up, he checked and saw that the battery was full, so he plugged one of the jump drives into the USB port and opened it to see what files were on it. When he opened the drive, it asked for a password. Just above the password field, was the word Ordeal. Cole looked at that, and then he smiled as he realized what it was asking. The password was the Admonition of the Order of the Arrow. He entered that and the jump drive opened up. There were several files on it. Three were video files, one was labeled BT, one was AS1, one was BS1. There was one other file that was a document file labeled P1. He opened that one and saw that it was all of the information documents that Evan had shown them yesterday at his grandfather's house. All the evidence of the underhanded things that Ashwood was doing that Evan had shown them yesterday was in there. Cole just skimmed it quickly and then got out of the drive. The other three video files were probably the video footage that Evan had shown them.
He replaced the jump drive with the other one that Evan had handed him and when the password screen came up, he saw that it now said Ordeal Meaning. Cole smiled and typed the short phrase into the field all as one word. It opened up once again. This time there were two video files, one labeled AS2 and BS2. There was a document file labeled P2. He went for the video file this time and opened it up. It was a press conference by Ashwood. In it he officially declared the election null and void, declared martial law, told everyone to stay indoors and on and on. He was acting as a dictator. When it was over, Cole opened the other video file and saw it was President Bryce, who refuted everything that Ashwood had said. In the video with him were some survivors of the attack on the kids at the school in Texas. There was no doubt the shit had hit the fan. They were at war. Ashwood in the East against Bryce and the West.
When it was done, he and Cooper stared at each other in shock. "What's happening Cole?" Cole shook his head. "I don't know, but I need to figure out what we need to do, to get Tyler and his dads out of here." Cooper nodded. "C'mon let's go downstairs and get something to eat." Cole closed down the drive and turned off his laptop. He put both jump drives in a safe that he had in his closet. Once they were secured the boys went downstairs.
When they got there, they saw that their parents were just finishing their coffee. "Remember don't leave the house. We will be busy helping Doctor Campbell, so stay in the house. We'll be back later." The boys nodded and he and their mom left the house. They heard their dad hit the manual release to the garage door and open the door. Once the car was out of the garage, they heard the door close, and then the car drove away.
Cole waited for thirty minutes before he went to the garage and rolled his bike out of the back door of the garage that led into their back yard. He went back up to his room and got his school backpack and put his laptop in it, along with the two jump drives. He put the backpack on and went back downstairs. "Coop. Just in case mom or dad come home, just tell them I wanted to make sure grandma and grandpa were okay. I'll take the heat. They'll probably tear me a new one, but it's important. Just tell them that. Don't try to cover for me. Okay?" Cooper nodded. "Be careful Cole." Cole nodded and left the house.
He cut in between houses to start with. Luckily their house was away from the downtown area, so he was thinking that the patrolling police cars would not be cruising up and down residential streets, at least not very often. He was able to make his way through the streets fairly easily. He tried to stay out of sight as much as possible. There were few cars on the street and he always hid when he heard a car drive by. He saw kids outside who were enjoying a day of no school. So a lot of people were not staying inside their homes, but it appeared that families were staying home as they were ordered to do. They just weren't staying inside their homes. He saw neighbors talking with each other as he rode his bike through the neighborhood. He did have to hide once when he saw a police car driving down one of the residential streets. Once the car was out of sight, he continued on his way.
As he neared I-40, he became more cautious, because there were not too many ways to get to the other side of the interstate. He found the underpass at Davidson Drive and after making sure there were no cars nearby, he quickly rode underneath the interstate and then into some trees on the other side. Near the interstate he had to be careful because he was out of the residential area and there was a higher chance that he might be seen, so he kept to the trees that paralleled the interstate. He came to a dirt service road that ran under electrical transmission lines, and turned away from the interstate, still staying near the edge of the trees. He came to a road that he recognized from driving to his grandparent's house. It was Highway 24, Charlotte Pike. He knew the road that they lived on, Old Charlotte Pike was just down the street, but he didn't want to ride on the highway. There was too big a chance that he would be seen. So, since the dirt road continued on the other side of Charlotte Pike, he quickly crossed the empty highway, and continued following the transmission lines.
The transmission lines turned to the left and right after about a couple of hundred yards. He followed the lines going to the left since they led in the direction of his grandparents' house. A quarter of a mile along the lines, he came to the road he was looking for, Old Charlotte Pike. He turned on that road, but stayed near the tree line on the north side of the road. Up ahead there was a large condo complex and a church. Just in case it was a church that was supportive of all this Ashwood nonsense, he wanted to stay clear of it. He moved away from Old Charlotte Pike, on River Road Pike, until he was out of sight of the church, before turning back to parallel Old Charlotte Pike. He was now around other well separated houses and he could ride along the empty road. As he neared his grandparent's house, he had to switch to the south side of the road, because the north side of the road was devoid of trees. When he reached his grandparent's driveway, he quickly crossed the road, and rode his bike up the driveway to the house. The four mile trip to get there had taken him an hour.
He knocked on the door and his grandfather answered the door and was shocked when he saw his grandson standing in front of him. He looked behind Cole for his truck. "Cole? How the hell did you get here? Come in!" Cole went in, closing the door behind him. "Hi Grandpa. I rode my bike over. There's something I need to show you." Dwayne nodded and guided him to the kitchen where his grandma was drinking a cup of coffee. "Your parents came by and warned us about the lockdown. They said that they had permission to be about the Good Lord's work, and they wanted to make sure we were okay and knew not to be out and about, because we might be arrested." He shook his head in disgust. "Good Lord's work my ass. Now what is so important that you had to risk being arrested?"
Cole took his pack off and pulled his laptop out and set it up on the kitchen table. "Evan came by my house early this morning and gave me some more information about what's going on and I knew you needed to see it." They watched as Cole turned his computer on and then pulled the two jump drives out of his pack. When the computer was up he plugged in one of the jump drives. "Evan gave me two of these this morning. One has all the stuff he showed us yesterday, the other is new stuff from early this morning." Dwayne nodded and watched as Cole brought up the information. They were mostly silent, as they watched the two press conferences and then he showed them the other documents in the file. When they finished Dwayne got up and went to the back window that looked toward the wooded hillside behind the house. When he turned around, his eyes were flashing.
"I can't believe this shit, sorry dear, but there's no other way to describe it other than pure bullshit. That crazy megalomaniac in the White House is going to destroy this country with this shit." He looked at his grandson. "Cole, I hesitate to ask you, but are you willing to do more?" Cole nodded. He reached out and placed his hand on Cole's shoulder. "We need to get Tyler and his parents into hiding as soon as possible. With martial law declared, Ashwood's goons will begin picking people up soon. They need to disappear before that. Go to Tyler's house and have them pack and find a way to get them back here. I can hide them and no one will suspect that they are here. After they're safe, we can figure out what to do next. Can you do that?" Cole nodded. "Okay, then get going, show them what you showed us. Get them here as soon as you can."
They walked him to the door and wished him luck. They watched as Cole quickly rode down the driveway and into the tree line across the street. Cole retraced his route. Once he was back in the residential area near his home, he headed to his house first. As he rode his bike back home, he saw that there were more people driving on the road and he saw a police car ignoring the drivers. He rode openly after that because if the police weren't stopping people, then there was no reason for him to hide either. Cooper was waiting anxiously for his brother and hugged him as soon as he saw him.
"C'mon Coop, we're going over to Tyler's house right away. There are people driving on the roads and I saw a police car not stopping anyone. The stores and stuff seem to be closed but people are moving around some, we're going to drive over to their house, so grab a jacket." Cooper ran upstairs to his room to grab his jacket while Cole waited for him.
They went to the garage and Cooper opened the garage door for Cole and closed it once his truck was outside. He jumped into the truck and Cole backed out and drove to Tyler's house. As they drove, they saw that there weren't a lot of vehicles on the road, but there were some. They confirmed that the high school was closed as they drove by on their way to Tyler's.
He pulled into Tyler's driveway and parked in front of the garage. As they walked up to the front door, it was opened by Damon, who was surprised to see the two boys. He quickly waved them inside the house and closed the door behind them. "What are you boys doing here?" Cole didn't answer he walked over to the dining room table and pulled his laptop out of his backpack. "I had to show you something." By this time Tyler and Grant had joined them to find out what was going on. Damon just held up his hand for them to wait a moment. Cole got everything set up and then started showing the videos.
The only sound was the voices on the two videos. When they were both finished, Cole showed them the documents in the other file on the jump drive. Both men looked worried as they looked at each other. "My Grandpa said that we need to get you guys into hiding right away. He wants you to come out to his house. He said he can hide you there, while we make further plans. No one would suspect you were there, it's the best place for now." Grant nodded and glanced at his partner. They quickly reached an agreement.
"Tyler, can you and Cooper grab all three of our backpacks from the garage and bring them in here. I think those are more practical than suitcases. Once you've done that, go up to your room and pack it with what you might need for a few days. Don't forget to leave a little room, so that we can have some room to put some other items that we may need. You know what to do Ty." Tyler nodded and he and Cooper went to the garage. When they returned a few moments later carrying the three backpacks, they saw that Cole and the two men were talking quietly.
The two boys went upstairs to Tyler's room. Tyler stood his backpack at the side of his bed, near the closet and dresser and then sat down on the end of the bed. He waved Cooper over to sit with him. Once Cooper was sitting next to him, Tyler looked at him. "Cooper can I ask you something?" Cooper nodded. "Yeah, of course."
"How long have you known, you know, that you were gay?" Cooper shrugged. "A little over a year I guess. How about you?"
"Um, since I was about twelve."
"Oh yeah, I heard your dad say something about that yesterday. Was it bad at your home? Wait don't tell me, I shouldn't have asked you. It's not my business."
Tyler shook his head. "Nah it's alright. I don't mind if you know. My friend Dave was over at my house. We were doing homework and we'd kinda fooled around a bit in the past, so well one thing led to another and we ended up on my bed. We didn't hear when my mom came home. She had left early from work so that she could do some errands. She caught us with our pants down, literally. She started screaming at both of us and my friend ran out of the house. When my dad came home, she told him and he went ballistic and threw me out, saying that no son of his was going to be a faggot. I ended up in a shelter and then child services got involved and my parents made up some story about how I was a troublemaker and they couldn't handle me. I told them what really happened, and I know they believed me, but they didn't think it would be safe for me to go back home, so they took over custody of me. Luckily my dads had been approved to foster someone and I fit the bill, so they got custody of me."
Cooper had a confused look on his face. "You fit the bill?" Tyler nodded and smiled. "Yeah, an older boy who identified as gay. They wanted to help someone like that because Damon had the same thing happen to him when he was a kid and it was hard for him for a while, but he luckily was placed with an older couple who took care of him and helped him. When he and Grant got together, they had talked about doing the same thing, once their careers were set. It was always easier for the younger boys to be taken in and even adopted by foster parents, but the older ones hardly ever got picked and a lot of times ended up in group homes that were not always the best place to be. I mean I was lucky in that I got into one of the good group homes. So while I lived there it wasn't too bad. My dads chose me and it's been great. I really love them."
"Do you miss your mom and dad?" Tyler shook his head after a few moments. "Not really. I never liked all that church stuff and Sunday school. They had me going to weekday bible study and then there was church on Sunday and Sunday school. I didn't like the things that the preacher said about other people that didn't believe the same way that they did. It didn't seem like the same thing that I read in the bible. During bible study they normally assigned reading that only went along with what they said, but I read other parts of the bible and those parts didn't match with what they were saying in church. So I decided what they were saying was wrong and what was in the bible was more like how we should treat people, so I quit listening to them."
"Do you guys go to church?" Tyler shook his head. "No. My dads said that if I wanted to go to church, they'd take me, but I didn't care about it much before, and they really didn't go to church themselves, so we never go."
Cooper looked down at the floor. "I wish we didn't. Cuz our pastor really hates people that don't think like him and my parents are just as bad. I don't mind going to church, well if it was like my grandparent's church, they talk more about treating people the right way, no matter what."
"Yeah, I wish they all thought that way, but unfortunately they don't. Anyway enough of all that church talk. I wanted to ask you something." Cooper looked at his friend. "Um, sure." Tyler took a moment to gather his thoughts before speaking. "Well I know we're friends." Cooper smiled and nodded. "Best friends." Tyler smiled and gave him and answering nod. "I have to tell you something. I like you a whole lot. I have for a while now, but I didn't want you to hate me, so that's why I never told you about me. If you want, I'd like us to be boyfriends. Is that okay?"
Cooper was smiling as he nodded. "Yeah, I'd like that. I told Cole the other day that I really liked you too, but I was afraid you would hate me for being gay. He asked me if I thought that you would hate me if I told you that I was gay. I thought about it and I told him that I thought you probably wouldn't hate me. So I was going to tell you, I was just waiting for the right time. Then on yesterday, when you told us that you were gay too, I knew it was more than okay. So, yeah, I'd like to be boyfriends."
Tyler blushed a little. "Can… can I kiss you? To sort of make it official." Cooper giggled and nodded. The two boys looked at each other for a few moments and then leaned forward a little and lightly touched their lips together for a moment and then moved back a little. They both smiled and then their arms went around each other and they kissed again only a bit longer this time. Cooper felt something brush against his lips and he was taken by surprise for a moment until he realized what it was so he opened his mouth a little and Tyler's tongue gently entered his mouth. After a few minutes they both sat back a little and looked in each other's eyes breathing heavily.
"Wow, that was… wow."
"Yeah. Oh man Tyler. That was better than I thought it would be."
"You were thinking about it." Cooper nodded. "Well yeah, I've been thinking about it. Well more like dreaming about it." Tyler cocked an eyebrow. "Was the real thing better than the dream?" Cooper brought his hand up to his chin and looked up to the ceiling as he considered the question. "I'm not sure." Tyler punched him on the arm. Cooper rubbed his arm and gave Tyler a hurt look. "Hey, that's not a nice way to treat your boyfriend. Anyway I need more information before I'm sure."
"Oh, I can supply that if you want." Tyler leaned in and kissed him again. Cooper smiled while kissing him and reciprocated. "Hey guys… oh, sorry."
The two boys sprang apart and Cooper nearly fell off the bed but Tyler grabbed his arm and pulled him back so hard that he knocked into Tyler and only Tyler grabbing onto Cooper kept them both from falling over. They looked up at Damon and both of them were flushed and now embarrassed. Damon was having a very difficult time trying not to laugh. "I'm sorry, I was just going to ask you guys how you were doing with the packing, but…"
Both boys were red faced and shook their heads. Damon, started to pull the door closed as he left the room, but stopped leaving it partially open. "Okay, continue." The two boys began to move closer again and Damon's head peeked around the door. "But… not too far and not for too long, we need to get packed and get on our way."
Damon's head disappeared from view and the boys sat there looking at the door and listening to the sound of the man's footsteps as he moved away. They waited until they were sure he had gone away, before they turned to each other and then lay down on Tyler's bed and turned on their sides to face each other. They then scooted closer and held each other as they did what Damon had said. They continued, but not too far or for very long, since they were pretty happy with the kissing and cuddling part for now.
They had to stop, because Tyler's dad was right, they had to get going. The boys got up from the bed and they started pulling clothes and some small items out of the dresser and closet and piled them on the bed to be packed. Tyler had mainly pulled the kind of clothes that he would pack for a backpack or camping trip. They worked together to get everything packed properly. One of the non-clothes things he added was his laptop, packed carefully under his clothes. He put the Vans, that he had been wearing, into the pack and pulled his hiking boots out of the closet to put those on. The last thing he pulled out was his down jacket. Once he was satisfied that he had what he could carry with a little room to spare, he pulled Cooper to him and hugged him and the two boys headed back downstairs. They met Grant coming out of his dads' bedroom carrying his own backpack.
He smiled at his son and clapped him on the shoulder as they made their way downstairs. Damon was already there with his pack ready. He was also carrying a messenger bag with his laptop in it. He motioned for Tyler to follow him to the dining room table. There were some items on the table along with a couple of Nalgene bottles. The extra items were packed into Tyler's pack and they were ready to go.
The family took one last look inside the house before they closed the door to the garage, and locked the door behind them. They opened the outer garage door and carried their packs out to be put in the back of Cole's pickup. The three of them were quiet and seemed to be feeling a bit down. The three boys got into the truck, while the two men got into one of their cars. Cole backed away and the two vehicles made their way down the driveway and drove off, heading to what, they weren't sure yet.
It didn't take long to get to Dwayne's house. They unloaded the packs and then Grant followed Cole and his grandpa up on a road that led deeper into the property. Up in the hills behind the house, surrounded by trees, was a storage building and workshop. They put the car inside. Dwayne had them help pull an old dirty tarp, that was in the building, over the car and then they pulled other items from around the building and laid them on top of and around the car, to make it look like it had been there for a long time. Once they were done they headed back to the main house and joined the others who were having a little something to eat.
"Okay, here's how I see it. No one will suspect that we know you and that you are out here. So you should be safe for now. What we do next, I don't know, but we'll figure something out." Grant and Damon nodded, but they still looked worried. Damon expressed their worries. "I know we need to get out of here, and from what we've heard so far, it seems that heading west is the best chance of that." Dwayne nodded. "I think so too, but it might be best to wait a day or two before you head out."
"Maybe, but Dwayne, what I'm a bit worried about are our friends who don't know much about what's going on. In fact if it wasn't for you folks, we wouldn't know either."
"I've got an idea." They looked at Cole. "I think we can use some of the guys in the troop to get the word out. Cooper and I were talking about this the other day. We think that there are a few of the guys that we both trust, that could be relied on to get the word out to your friends, well at least around here. I don't know how far away we could do that, but we might be able to let some people know who are near that area, so that they could be prepared to get out, maybe we could even help them some."
Dwayne looked at his grandson and nodded after a few moments of thinking about it. "How many do you think you can really count on? That you really trust?" Cole thought about it before answering. "I think about five, plus our Scoutmaster and one of the Assistant Scoutmasters."
"Are you sure you can count on your Scoutmaster and this Assistant?" Cole glanced at Cooper and nodded. "I think so. Well, I more than think so. I believe that they are trustworthy."
Damon and Grant glanced at each other and nodded in silent acceptance. Damon looked at Cole. "Okay, if you're sure, I'll give you a list of those that live around here and if your friends can do it, I really want to get the word out to our friends. Do you think you guys can do that?" Cole nodded. "Yeah, we can."
Dwayne stood up. "Well, you two boys should head back home, so your parents don't know you've been gone or there'll be hell to pay." Cole nodded and got up. Everyone else did as well and they said their goodbyes. Cooper looked at Tyler and they hugged before he followed Cole out to the truck. Dwayne told their guests that it would probably be a good idea that they stay inside and out of sight. He went outside with his grandsons. He leaned in the truck door. "You boys don't take any chances. You told us that people aren't paying much attention to the order to stay inside, but I'll bet that's going to change. If you think your Scoutmaster would be an adult you can trust, talk to him as soon as you can, so that you can get word to the others that they said need to get out."
"Okay Grandpa, we'll be careful." Dwayne nodded and clapped Cole on the arm. "See that you do. Now get home as quick as you can and don't make your folks suspicious. Because you know anything they think they know, that idiot Reverend Doctor Campbell will know." Cole smiled at his grandpa and said goodbye before he turned the truck around to head home.
He drove home as fast as he safely could and pulled into the garage. They checked the truck to make sure there was nothing that belonged to Tyler and his family in the truck bed, before they went inside the house. Inside they grabbed a coke from the fridge, and went to their game room to relax, and pretend as if they had been home all day.
A couple of hours later they heard their parent's car as they pulled up to the garage and the garage door being opened. Moments later they heard their parents downstairs as they came into the house. Cole looked at his brother and motioned with his head. They left the room and headed downstairs. They found their parents in the kitchen, heating water for some instant coffee. His dad looked up from some papers that he was looking through. "Coleman. Cooper. I trust you obeyed my instructions?"
Cole spoke for both of them. "Yes sir. With school out, and because of your instructions, we, of course, obeyed sir. We made sure all of our homework was finished as well." Wayne looked at the two boys, before nodding and dismissing them with a wave. They stood there a few moments more before turning around and heading back upstairs.
The rest of the evening was uneventful. Their mother did not fix anything for them. She was too busy discussing their important work with her husband. The brothers fended for themselves and made sandwiches that they took back upstairs to their game room. As it got dark, they got their electric camping lanterns out of the garage to light up their rooms. When their parents checked on them, using flashlights to get around in the darkened house, they saw the lanterns and appropriated one of the lanterns for their own use.
The next morning was Friday. When they woke up, they saw that the power was still out and they assumed that school was still closed down. They made their way downstairs and it was confirmed by their parents that there would be no school that day. Their parents left to attend to ‘God's Work' once again. Before they left, they told the boys that they were allowed to leave the house now, but martial law was in effect and there was a curfew of dusk. They told the boys it would be best if they stayed inside the house and not go wandering around the town. They nodded their understanding.
Once their parents were gone, they opened the freezer where their parents had put the milk to keep it cool longer and had some cereal for breakfast. While they ate, Cole outlined to his brother what plans he had for the day.
"Cooper, I think the first thing that we need to do is get that list of people that Tyler's parents want us to warn of what's happening and the danger they are in. So we'll go to Grandpa's house first. After that, I want to go to Mister Woods' house. Remember when we were talking about the guys in the troop that we would trust?" Cooper nodded. "Well I want to see if he can get those guys we trust to be the ones who will warn the people on the list. They should be able to ride their bikes around to the people to let them know. I also want to talk to him about an idea that I have. It's a long shot, but like the Scout Oath says ‘To help other people at all times', there are some people out there that we can help. So hurry up and finish and we'll get going."
The two boys finished their breakfast and were soon in the truck and on their way. As they drove through town, they noticed that more people were on the road today. They also noticed that businesses were still closed. Without power, it made sense for them to not be open. Driving through the neighborhood wasn't much different than normal. It was when they got to the business areas that it became a bit harder to drive. With no power the stoplights weren't working, so there were a lot of false starts at stoplights. Luckily, they didn't have to deal with too many of them, before long they pulled in front of their grandparent's home.
As they walked up to the door, it opened. "Morning boys. What brings you out here this morning?" The two boys gave their grandpa a hug as he ushered them inside. "That idiot hasn't put out more orders has he?" Cole smiled and shook his head. "No Grandpa. At least not yet that we know of. We came for another thing. That list of people that Tyler's dads mentioned. I'm going to go to Mister Woods house and talk to him."
"Your Scoutmaster?" Cole nodded. "Do you trust him?" Cole nodded again. "Yeah, I do. I don't think he likes Ashwood or what he is doing."
"Okay, but be careful. What are you going to do over there?"
"Cooper and I have been talking about the guys in the troop that we trust. I want to see if Mister Woods can help us get those guys together and have them warn the people on the list." Dwayne nodded. "Okay, that does sound like a good idea, if you trust him." Cole nodded. "They're in the kitchen."
The boys followed Dwayne into the kitchen and the three guests looked up from their breakfast and waved a greeting. Their grandma came over to them with a big smile on her face as she hugged them. "I could get used to all these visits from my grandkids." They hugged her. "Would you like something?" Cole shook his head. "No Grandma. We have some things that we have to do. Mister Lindsey, we just came to get that list of people that you wanted to warn about what's going on."
Grant stood up. "I'll go and get the it. Damon and I put it together last night." He left the room and returned moments later with a paper in his hand that he held out to Cole. "These are the people that we could think of. They are probably in that category of undesirables. As you can see, there aren't a lot of them. Most of the people we know are in Nashville, and I put a few on the list that are from there. I don't know if there will be any that you and your Scouts can get to. You probably need someone who can drive."
Cole looked at the names and addresses. He was pretty sure he knew where the local people were, but those that were near to or in Nashville, he wasn't so sure. He looked up from the list. "I'll talk to Mister Woods. He may have an idea about getting the word out to your friends in Nashville. All the ones around here, I think we can get word to them without many problems. Grant clapped him on the shoulder. "Thanks guys. But please be careful doing this."
"Don't worry, sir, we will be. I'm sure Mister Woods will know the best way to do this. That's our next stop."
"Well boys, I don't want to keep you. It sounds like you have a lot to arrange." Tyler joined Dwayne in showing them to the door. Dwayne cautioned Tyler about showing himself when they got to the door, so Tyler gave Cooper a hug goodbye and the boys got in the truck and drove off to their next stop.
They pulled into the driveway for Mister Woods' house and went to the front door to knock. It was answered by his son Danny. "Hi Cole. Cooper. Come on in." As they entered the house, Missus Woods came from the direction of the kitchen. She smiled when she saw who it was. "Cole, Cooper, nice to see you boys. Did you come to talk to Rich?" Cole nodded. "Yes, Ma'am." She waved for them to follow her. "He's in his workshop in the basement. Go on down."
The three boys went through the basement door and downstairs. The basement had been fixed up. It wasn't just a dusty storage area. The area that they entered had been made into sort of a play room when Danny was younger. As he got older, the type of play had changed and now it was a place where he could have friends over to watch TV, play video games, sleepovers and other things like that. This way his parents didn't have to hear him and his friends making much noise. There was also a half bath just off the room. A small refrigerator and a microwave on a counter with drawers below it and cabinets above, that were usually stocked with snacks and drinks. The first thing that they noticed was that the room had lights on. There was power. They hadn't noticed it when they entered the house, but they realized that there had been a few lights on upstairs as well.
There was a door on the right at the bottom of the stairs that was open. Danny led them through that door. Inside was the storage area and also where the washer and dryer was located. This was dimly lit. Danny led them through that room and through another open door on the far side of the storage room. When the entered they saw Mister Woods sitting at a workbench working with some electronic parts. He had a bright work lamp on as he sat there. He looked up and smiled as the boys entered.
"Hey guys. To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?"
"Did the power come back on?" Rich shook his head. "No, I have a backup generator in a shed out back of the house."
"Oh. Um, we need to talk to you about something real important Mister Woods." The smile left Rich's face as he heard the serious tone that Cole was using. He nodded and gestured for them to grab a couple of stools. He turned so that his back was against the bench and looked at the two boys. "Okay boys, you have my attention."
Cole bit his lip as he thought about how to begin. He decided the beginning would be a good place, so he started telling him about everything starting with what Cooper overheard on election night. He left out everything about Cooper and Tyler. He would never betray their trust in regards to their orientation. Rich listened, asking questions to clarify something that Cole had said. Toward the end of the recitation, Rich was shaking his head.
"It's hard to believe that something like this is happening in this country, but I don't doubt what you're saying. You don't happen to have those videos with you?" Cole shook his head. "I didn't think about them." Rich waved him off. "It's probably better that I don't look at them right now, I'd be even more seriously pissed off right now if I did, and would be hard pressed not to do something that would be stupid. So what do you need my help with?"
"Well like I said, Tyler and his dads are in hiding for now, but he gave me a list of friends of theirs who may be at risk, because of who and what they are. I was thinking that we could ask a few of the Scouts, the ones that I really trust, to get the word out to the people on the list that live here in town. We could use our bikes to get around and warn the people on the list. He also included the names of some people in Nashville, but I don't think we can get the word out to them on our bikes and I don't want to do a lot of driving around."
"Which Scouts do you think we can trust to do this?" Cole named them as he tapped each finger. "Evan Gale, Noah Myers, William Whitman, Harlan Marshall, Michael Pickens and of course Danny." Danny grinned proudly when he said that. "Michael's only twelve." Cole nodded. "Yeah, but he is almost thirteen. His birthday is coming up soon I think."
"Okay, if you're sure about them." He looked at Cole and got a nod in response. "Here's what we'll do. Can you go to each of their houses and ask them to ride their bikes over to my house. Michael lives a couple of streets over, so I'll send Danny to get him. Don't tell any of them why they need to come over, just that it is real important. Then you two go home." Cole started to protest but Mister Woods held up his hand. "Wait. I want you to go home and get your bikes and ride ‘em back here. Driving around in that pickup of yours is a bit more conspicuous than I'm comfortable with. If you're on your bikes, you won't bring any extra attention to yourself. On bikes you would look like you were just riding your bike over to visit people, in case someone sees you." Cole nodded. "Don't worry Cole. You're the SPL and in this you need to continue the leadership you have shown in the troop. Go get the word out and get back here as soon as you can. With the curfew, we want to get as much done as possible."
Cole nodded and was about to leave when Rich called him back. Rich had opened a draw in the workbench and pulled out a walkie talkie that he held out to Cole. "Carry this with you. Make sure it's tuned to 5 - 15, the normal frequency that we use. It says it's good up to twelve miles. I know it should work well for at least half that." He held up another one. "I'll be monitoring on this end. You run into any trouble, call me right away." Cole nodded and they shook hands. "Good luck Cole. Get back here as quick as you can."
Danny led them out and said goodbye at the door before he went to the garage to get his bike and go get Michael. In his truck Cole pulled his contact list up on his phone to find the Scouts he wanted to talk to. He checked all of them, and in his mind, put together the best route to each house, so that it didn't take too long to accomplish the task.
It took them about an hour to visit and convince each of the Scouts to go to Mister Woods' house. At Evan's house, he suggested that he bring his laptop and the other information that he'd shown Cole. The boys needed little convincing to go, because it was boring at home, no power meant no TV or internet. Each of the boys were on their way to Mister Woods' house right after Cole and Cooper's visit. Things changed a little when they got to Noah's house. Noah ushered them in and had them follow him to his room. He closed his door when they entered.
"Come over here. I want to show you something that seems kinda weird." They followed him to one of his windows. He moved the curtain a little and looked out at the street. "Look over there, the dark blue car." Cole looked at where he was pointing and saw the car. "Do you mean the one behind the white SUV?" Noah nodded. "Yep. That's the one. It's been sitting there for the last couple of hours. Shortly before that, it pulled up in front of Tyler's house and two men in suits got out. They knocked on the door and when they didn't get an answer, they got back into their car and drove away. A few minutes later I was out front and saw them drive up and park behind that SUV. I didn't look right at them, but I recognized the car. Neither of the men got out this time. As far as I know, no one's left the car. I haven't been exactly watching them, but it seems like they are still sitting there."
Cole nodded and moved out of the way so that Cooper could see the car that they were talking about. "Noah, we came here to ask if you could ride over to Mister Woods' house. Cooper and I are going home to get our bikes and head over there to meet with him and a few of the guys from the troop."
"What's the meeting about?"
"He'll tell you when we all get there. Will you go?"
"Sure, not much to do around here right now." Cole nodded and then glanced out the window again. "Wait a little bit and go out the back way from your house when you leave. I'll explain more when we meet with the others." Noah agreed, and walked the boys to his front door. They said goodbye to Noah's parents and left. They drove home, and parked the truck. They grabbed something to drink and Cole picked up his school backpack, making sure it had what he wanted inside, before zipping it and putting it on his back. He met Cooper in the garage. They got their bikes out and were soon on their way to the meeting.
Since it was only about a mile south of their house, it didn't take them long to get there. As they rode up, they didn't see any bikes in the front yard. Danny came out to greet them and told them to park their bikes in back. When they went around to the back of the house, they saw several other bikes either on kickstands, leaning against the house or laying on the ground. Danny met them again at the back door and waited while they got off their bikes. Once inside, they followed him downstairs and in the playroom were all the guys that they had contacted. Michael and William were sitting next to each other on some beanbags, talking quietly. Noah was talking to Evan and Harlan was leaning against a wall with his arms crossed watching everyone. They were greeted as they came into the room. Everyone turned to face them and waited for Cole to explain what was going on.
Cole heard someone behind him and glanced over his shoulder. Mister Woods entered the room from the storage area and clapped Cole on the back as he walked past him. He looked at the assembled boys. "Why don't y'all get comfortable so we can explain what this is about?" The boys moved around until they were sitting in the chairs and couches around the room, except Harlan who continued to lean against the wall. Mister Woods looked at Cole. "Okay Cole, you have the floor."
Cole stepped forward and took a moment to decide how he wanted to proceed. "You guys are the ones in the troop that I trust the most about what I'm going to tell you." Noah interrupted him. "What about Tyler?" Cole nodded. "Yeah I trust him too, but, he's not at home right now. There is a reason for that which I will explain. On election night there was a party at my house for some of the local bigwigs. During the party, my dad met with a few of them in his study. Cooper overheard what they were talking about and came up and told me about it." Cole began to lay out what was discussed.
When he finished, he looked around the room. "Do any of you have a problem with gay people?" He and Mister Woods both looked around the room and they saw the boys shaking their heads. Harlan was the last to shake his head no when Cole and Mister Woods looked at him.
"Okay, then I'll tell you that Tyler and his dads have gone into hiding based on what Cooper overheard Dad and those men talking about. What we will be doing today concerns something that one of his dads gave me; a list of people who live around here. They need to be warned about what is going on." Cole looked at the boys. "What we want you guys to do, is go over to the houses on this list and tell them about what is going on. If they question you about it, just tell them that the warning is from Damon Grayson and Grant Lindsey."
"I have something for each of you. I have written a short note for each of you. It gives a brief explanation about what this is about." He pulled a folded sheaf of papers from his back pocket and gave them to each boy.
"Do you think those men are looking for Tyler and his dads?" Cole looked at Noah and nodded. "What men?" Cole looked at Mister Woods. "When we got to Noah's house, he told us about a car that looked like it was watching Tyler's house. Noah, why don't you tell them what you saw." Noah nodded and told everyone what he had seen.
Mister Woods let them think about that before he said anything. "On the back of those papers, you will see the name and address of the people that you are being asked to deliver to. This is up to you boys. I don't believe there is any danger in doing this, but these people need to know what's happening. Especially considering what Noah just told us."
"I have something to show you guys. Cole asked me to bring my laptop, and now I know why." Evan brought his laptop over to the end of the room and hooked it up to the TV that was located there. When he was ready he looked to make sure he had everyone's attention. "I recorded this stuff off the net, over the last few days." He proceeded to show them the Breckenridge attack and the four press conferences. When he was done, there was stunned silence.
"So you can see, there is something bad going on right now and we are in the wrong area. That is why we need to warn these people. All of you know Tyler's parents. They have gone on some outings with us. They are just good people and right now, the administration in charge is refusing to allow the democratic process to do what it was designed to do, because he doesn't like the result. This is third world dictator crap. This is not the American way." He looked at the boys in the room. "Now that you have seen everything, I want to give you a chance to back out. If you don't want to do this, I respect that. Just remember all you have to do is deliver the message. That's it, but if any of you don't want to do it, that's okay."
He looked around the room at the faces of the boys. He noticed a bit of a worried look on William's face. He had been surprised when Cole had given him William's name as one that he trusted. He had seen William be afraid of trying new things at times. Part of that could be that it was because he was kind of a small and scrawny kid. He had seen a few instances of how his mother babied him. His dad had thought that Scouting would help him gain self-confidence. His mother had not been so sure, but he and William's dad had talked her into allowing him to join. William met his eyes and nodded his head. Rich smiled at the boy.
"Okay then. You guys have your assignments. I have troop radios for each of you to carry with you, so that you can keep in contact here at the base station. One last thing. You know that everyone is supposed to be in their homes by sundown. So, if you can't make it back here, with enough time to get home from here, then just go home, so you don't get in any trouble." Each boy told him that they understood. Rich looked around as the boys got up and looked at the addresses on the papers. A couple asked for a little guidance just to make sure they went in the right direction. They trooped upstairs and outside. Rich had them give him a radio check before they left on their missions. Cole turned to Rich once most of them had left. "Do you have a paper for me?" Rich shook his head. "No, I want you to stay back here and help keep track of everyone. Plus, I have something else to talk with you about." Cole nodded and followed Rich back downstairs.
Back in the workroom, Rich gestured for Cole to sit on one of the stools. "Cole, while you were gone getting everyone to come over. I made contact with a friend and Scout Leader, I know and trust in Nashville."
"Did you drive over?" Rich shook his head and gave him a little smile. He pointed at another workbench nearby. Cole looked over and saw a radio that he hadn't noticed before. He was surprised that he hadn't noticed it when they were in there earlier. Rich jabbed his thumb at it. "That's my ham radio. You remember when we did JOTA, you know Jamboree on the Air, last month? Well I was using my smaller unit for that, because we were camping out. That is a lot more portable than the base station. I contacted a friend on it and I was able to give him a quick rundown on what was going on and I gave him the names and addresses of the people in Nashville. He's going to see what he can do about warning them."
"Aren't you afraid that someone will hear you guys?" Rich shrugged. "We didn't make it real easy for anyone to listen in. You see, my dad was a ham operator and he taught me everything about it. There is one thing that they don't require for a ham license any more. However, it was a skill that was required to get your license thirty years ago when I got my first license as a kid and that was the ability to send and receive Morse Code. You needed to know the code real well to get a license and my dad had served in the Navy as a Radioman during World War II, and they used Morse Code for most of their communications. My friend in Nashville has had his license for about that same amount of time. So I sent him the information by Morse Code. He's going to try to get some of his Scouts to do the same thing that we're doing to warn the people on the list."
Cole stood up and started to pace back and forth as he thought about it. Rich watched him silently. He couldn't tell why Cole suddenly stood up, but he could tell something was on his mind. Cole glanced up. "I'll be back in a moment Mister Woods." Rich watched him leave the room. He returned moments later carrying his backpack that he had left in the other room. He put it on the stool and opened it. He pulled out a thick book and opened it to where Rich could see a paper was sticking out of it.
Cole laid the open book on the workbench. "Do you think we could use your radio and the Scouts to do something like that?" He asked Rich. Rich looked at the book and saw that it was a school history book and it was opened to a two page spread titled "The Underground Railroad". "I want to help people that are in danger from these new rules that President Ashwood has instituted. Part of the Scout Oath says ‘To help other people at all times'."
Rich only glanced at the text, he knew what it was all about and he didn't think that Cole realized how dangerous this could be. He looked over at Cole, who had by now taken a seat in the stool and was looking at him expectantly. "I don't know Cole. You do know that people died doing this and it was against the law." Cole nodded. "Yeah I know, but there is a real important reason why I think we need to do this." Rich noticed that Cole looked a bit nervous. He was wondering why and then it came to him. "You're gay."
"Wha… um no. I'm not, but uh… please don't tell anyone, because I'm breaking sort of a promise. Cooper is gay and he and Tyler are boyfriends. I want to do this, because Cooper, Tyler, his dads and me are going to be the first passengers, as they used to say, on the railroad. There is no way that I'm going allow anyone to hurt my brother." Rich started to say something but Cole stopped him. "After everything we told you about what my dad said at that meeting, you know he won't be safe if my dad and mom find out about him. I have to get him out of here to safety in the West." Rich closed his mouth and looked down at the book while he thought about it.
"I happened to be studying that for school the other day when I found out what was going on and the idea came to me to start an underground railroad like they did before the Civil War, to help people that need to get to safety. It worked for the slaves. Maybe we can make it work for the so called ‘undesirables'." Rich looked up from the book at his SPL. He could see that Cole was determined to do this, with or without his help. It could be dangerous and people could get hurt.
He knew that Morse Code was last used around 1999 officially by the US government and perhaps using it would allow their communications to sneak under the government radar, at least for a time. It might work. He didn't want to see Cole or Cooper, or any of the boys hurt, but he knew that what Cole had said about his parents was correct. Cooper would be sent to one of those reeducation camps that the good Reverend Doctor Campbell had talked about. They would probably use the completely debunked conversion therapy methods to try and force the boy to be straight. Those methods never worked and only caused great harm to the victim of the therapy.
He looked up from the book and nodded. "I understand about your parents Cole. I'm sort of glad, in retrospect, that they weren't active with troop activities or they would have found out about Tyler's parents. I'm sure they would have pulled you boys out or lobbied for his parents to be barred from being active with us. You do understand how dangerous this could be?" Cole nodded. "But he's my brother and I love him. I can't see him hurt."
"Okay. Your idea has merit and you're right, we should help other people at all times, so now we have to build the railroad." He looked down at the book and skimmed over the article. "It says here that they had conductors, those were the people the guided the passengers. The conductors would guide them to a safe house called a station or depot. The person who hid them at these stations was the station master. It says that they traveled ten to twenty miles at a time, traveling at night between stations. Our biggest problem right now is that we don't have any stations set up."
"Well we have the first one, my grandpa's house." Rich nodded. "But will he help for as long as we need him to? Maybe he's only doing this because of Cooper and Tyler."
"I'm pretty sure. He's mad about what is going on. He couldn't believe that my dad was supporting all this, so yeah, I think he will. I'll ask him to be sure, but I think he'll say yes."
"Okay, then we need to make some plans…" Rich stopped when they heard a beep and then a young voice coming over the troop radio that was on the bench and the one that was clipped to Cole's belt.
"Dad, this is Danny. Can you hear me." Rich picked up the radio and pressed the transmit button. "Danny, what's going on?" The beep came again and Danny came answered. "Dad, I'm on my way back. There was a problem."
"What's the problem Danny? Are you okay?"
"Yeah Dad, I'll tell you when I get there in a few minutes."
"Okay Danny, be careful. See you when you get back."
The teenager and the man looked at each other. Rich was a little concerned when he heard a beeping sound coming from his ham radio.
"dah-dit-dah, dit-dah-dah, dit-dit-dit-dit-dah, dah, dit, dah-dit."
The beeping stopped and then moments later, started again. Rich got up and sat in front of the radio listening to the sound. "That's my call sign, KW4TEN." He waited until a pause after the call sign was transmitted and he began sending a signal back. Cole sat on the stool that Rich had vacated and watched Rich. After he sent the short signal, he paused and then a new signal came in. He reached for a pencil and began to write the message down on a large pad of paper. There were pauses in the signal where Rich sent his own signal back and waited a few moments. When the return signal came back, he would write its meaning on the paper. Finally after several minutes, he sent a final signal and leaned back in his chair for a few moments. He picked up the paper and looked at what he had written.
"Well that was some disturbing news."
"That was my Scouter friend in Nashville. The one I sent that list of yours to. Well there's some trouble in Nashville. He's reporting that there is some rioting going on in Nashville and there are some soldiers working with law enforcement, putting the rioting down. He also told me that a couple of his Scouts saw some of the people on the list being taken out of their homes in handcuffs by some sort of Law Enforcement officers. He also said that they had heard gunfire. He's called his Scouts back in. He doesn't want any of them hurt. He's waiting for all of them to report back to him, so he doesn't know if any of the people on that list were warned or not."
Cole's jaw dropped. "Could that be who those men were that Noah showed us?" Rich nodded. "I can almost guarantee it. You told us that his dads are at the top of the list that Campbell put together?" He saw Cole nod. "Then, it's a good thing you got them into hiding when you did." He looked down at the message again before tearing it off the pad and crumbling it up. He ripped it up and left the room. Cole got up to follow him as he walked to the bathroom just off the playroom. Cole watched him tear the paper into smaller pieces, drop them in the toilet bowl and flush them down.
"We're going to have to be careful and I think we're out of time in getting this Underground Railroad running. We're going to have to get it started on the fly. Once everyone checks back in, I'm going to send everyone home. Then I will contact my friend and give him a rundown of what we are trying to set up. I'm going to ask him to see if he can contact any hams in the other parts of the East and see if we can build this railroad. I'm going to do some thinking, but I believe that you, Cooper and Tyler's family may have to leave the area real soon."
He could see that there was a lot of worry on Cole's face. It was now starting to get real and the teen was smart enough to be scared about it. He went over to him and hugged him. Cole returned the hug. "I know buddy, it scares me too. This is something that should not be happening in this country. Like our oath says ‘to do my best, to do my duty, to God and my country and to help other people at all times'. I guess it's time to take those words to heart."
They stood like that for a few more moments until he felt Cole loosen his hold. He let go and let him step back. He could see that Cole's eyes were a little red and watery. Upstairs they heard Danny greet his mom. He waved to the bathroom. "Go wash your face and then come back out here. We'll wait for everyone to return and then break up for the day." Cole nodded and gave Rich a little smile. He turned and went to the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. Rich heard noise on the stairs and looked up to see Danny coming downstairs. He wasn't smiling. Rich went over to him. "What's wrong son."
"I think I was too late."
"What do you mean?"
"When I got to the door of the house on my paper, there was no one there. But what was real weird was as I walked up to the door, I noticed it was cracked open, but there wasn't any sound of anyone being in the house. The house felt, you know, empty somehow. Like no one was home. I went and rang the doorbell anyway. When no one answered I left, but as I walked away, I glanced in the window and it looked like there was a table and chair knocked over in the living room. I didn't look anymore, I just took off as fast as I could."
"Good. You did the right thing. I'm glad you weren't more curious and tried to go in. We'll wait until everyone's back." Danny looked around the room. "I saw Cole's bike out back, is he still…" About that time the door to the bathroom opened and he saw Cole come out of the room. He smiled at the older teen that he had looked up to. "Hey Cole. Did you deliver your message okay?"
"I didn't have one. Your dad and I had to talk over some plans and stuff."
About that time, they started hearing more of the boys returning. Within fifteen minutes they had all returned and were gathered in the playroom. Rich got everyone's attention.
"Okay. Thanks for doing this. I'm sure the people appreciated the warning. Was everyone able to leave a message?" There was a mixture of yes' and no's. "If you were unable to deliver your message, give it to me and I'll take care of it. For now go home, it's getting late in the day and I don't want any of you to be caught out after curfew. Can all of you be here early tomorrow morning?" He saw everyone's head nod yes, one or two were a little tentative, but they said yes. "Good, then come here by nine am, if possible. We have some plans to put together and I'll explain more when you get here."
The boys said goodbye to each other and left. Rich held Cole and Cooper back until the others were gone. He placed his hand on the shoulder of each boy. "I think you two should pack your backpacks. You know what to bring." Cooper looked at his brother with some alarm. Cole put his arm on his brother's shoulders. "I'll talk to you when we get home. But Mister Woods is right." Cooper swallowed and nodded before turning to Mister Woods. "Thanks Mister Woods." Rich squeezed his shoulder. "Don't mention it. You guys are part of my family, just like all my boys. Take care and I'll see you guys tomorrow." Cole gave him a quick hug. Cooper hesitated and then did the same thing. Rich followed them upstairs to say his final goodbyes to the boys as they rode away.
Once all of the boys had left, he headed back downstairs and sat at the workbench where Cole's history book was still sitting opened to the page on "The Underground Railroad". He closed the book and set it to the side, and sighed. The implications of what they were about to do scared him and he was worried for the boys. No matter, someone had to do something to fight against this injustice. In the past, sometimes it was the young people who were pulled into the fight. Sometimes it was their choice, sometimes it wasn't. This was a little of both. He turned off the lights and headed back upstairs to talk to his family.