Premise: The leader of a national militia group has been caught and put in a government prison where he has been subject to brainwashing and programming. His escape from the prison brings him to a little country suburb of New Liberty that is a nexus for the resistance forces against the government. Why is he there? Similar to the Manchurian Candidate, he is there for a purpose that slowly reveals itself to him, a purpose he has little control over. He slowly regains his memory and power while in the town. There is a big event happening in the town. The candidate for the National Militia, the person taking his place since he went to prison, is announcing his candidacy against the government. Can the thirteen-year term of the dictator that runs the nation be terminated?
“Keep screenplay structure at forefront. Truby and Snyder and the elements like reveals and montage and voice and number of steps and symbols and main characters. No one ever writes about the right number of characters a story should have. Of course it should have a hero or heroine battling a villain. But it should also have what Truby calls “allies” or a more myth oriented definition, helpers or mentors. There is a sub-plot character most likely as there most likely is a Story Line B involved. “
There’s a lot of ways to start a story but perhaps something like the below is an important idea to keep in mind. Not a straight outline, although I’ve started to create one. Not straight text, although I’ve started to write and post it on my website Midnight Oil Studios. Below is the latest manifestation of this story I put under the title New Liberty. I think it explains what I’m trying to get at better than the text of the outline at the present time. But who knows? This might change. Right now, though, it seems the best decision is to continue this piece of writing. Until it might collapse into some other piece of writing.
What was the definition of a hero for boys in the 1900s? Robert Louis Stevenson addressed this problem in books like Treasure Island. Or H. Ryder Haggard. But what is the definition of a hero for today’s generation? Or, the upcoming generation of young children? Is it possible to still be a hero today?
One class of heroes today are so-called “whistleblowers” who expose something based on their close contacts with various inner parts of a current political administration. This story explores this in light of the hero of the story has escaped from a secret federal prisoners who have become major dissenters against a growing Totalitarian government. He has been in the prison for a few months and the feds have time to play with his mind. Wipe out memories of that secret information he had about the government that made them capture him and lock him up. They have also implanted new thoughts into his mind (a modern Manchurian Candidate) who is tasked with creating some major act. However, when the militia forces break him out of the prison, he cannot remember the secret information he was sent to prison for. And, there is something stirring in his mind he can’t understand. Something moving him to a place. A time. What was it?
His rescuers from prison take him to a militia camp in the hills of a midwestern state. While he is in the camp we hear about the current situation of the nation. A few years into the future but close enough to make things in the story logical for the near future. We hear talk of the thousands militia camps around the nation since the government became totalitarian, abolishing the two-party system.
They have put together a growing network using encrypted communications created by some of the great hackers in the world amongst their ranks. Many former vets have joined the militia groups as well as police officers and even ranking members in the administration. There are many former Seals in the group and former members of the CIA and FBI. There is a growing network against the government. The militia has a candidate of their own that they want to lead an upcoming revolution against the government. A controversial candidate who unites some factions of the militia nation and splits others.
The escapee has played an important part in all of the build-up of the militia forces today. In fact he was sent to prison for exposing the connections between the government and the social media and Internet companies. He showed the nation that the Internet was little more than a propaganda branch of the government. The great search engine for the Internet is proven to be vastly biased in favor of steering people towards government run operations. It was a time where the great founding symbols of American – freedom and equality – came into their greatest clash. Or, perhaps it was another expression of them, as the Civil War and so many other wars had been.
They work to create a disguise for the escapee. His face is too well known to everyone these days as the feds have been using it like they used to put those faces n milk containers. Or posted up Wanted Posters back in the Old West. They trimmed his long blond hair, died it black and trimmed off his beard. He actually looked like he might be able to run for some Federal Position if he wanted to. Not another of your ragged army of militia in the nation. But that was the way it was.
We need to talk for the escapee at this particular point in time because his two months in the government prison has had the effect of making him into some form of walking zombie. A blabbering idiot who strangely – for the first time in his life – wasn’t in control over his daily thoughts. Some other force had taken over and seemed to pull him along each day. His old strength and will power had been spent during this time in the federal institution. It was important that they kept him alive as an example of the craziness of someone who violated the law and now look where it got him. He had great value as a government poster boy for someone you didn’t want to become.
The escaped prisoner has been a central leader of the militia yet he has no memory of his work or his life. He has little willpower to do anything on his own. There is a strange new desire to hide through life rather than hold oneself out staking out one’s own territory. Like that other person twenty years ago, Edward Snowdon, the escaped prisoner has been a hero to the young militia crowd. This group was said to be a figure at around a hundred million in the nation, this young militia crowd. He was a great hero for them but since he was locked in prison, another leader of the militia has risen in the nation.
One evening, after he had been in camp a few days, the hills around the militia camp flashed with lights and the feds moved in on the camp. He escaped with the help of two Seals who set him on his way into the woods as they fought off government forces.
He ran and ran that night. After perhaps a few hours, there was a two-lane highway and maybe a quarter of a mile down the road to the gas station. He walked down to the station, being careful to stay in the woods by the side of the road. A gas station and restaurant. In the office of the gas station, an old guy listening to a baseball game on the radio and in the restaurant a cheerful, heavyset woman behind the red Formica counter top of the restaurant.
Some small talk with the woman. He tells her he is hiking through the state. He makes a certain gesture with his hand and she makes the gesture back and he knows that she is militia and not a fed. His memory of these secret codes somehow remains when most all the rest of his memory has disappeared. He is safe for the time being.
“Off to a camp?” she asks him putting the Bud he ordered in front of him. “See a lot of militia passing by.”
“Just travelling,” he says.
“Big raid on a nearby camp a few hours ago,” the woman said. “Lots of casualties.”
He shook his head.
“It’s an uphill battle,” he says to her.
“Yes, uphill,” she said. “Freedom is always an uphill battle. Our boy joined a camp out west.”
“Good for him,” he said.
There is the sound of a big semi truck pulling into the gas station. The woman looks out the window and waves at the big man getting out of the cab. He comes into the restaurant and she puts a cup of coffee and two donuts in front of the big guy.
“Militia,” she says to the big man.
The big man reaches his hand out to the escapee.
“Harvey Henderson,” he says.
The escapee shakes the big man’s hand.
“Zack Jeffries,” he lies.
“What camp you associated with?” the big man asks.
“One out west,” he lies again.
“I’m heading west,” the truck driver says. “You’re welcome to ride along. I can use some company.”
“That is a nice offer,” he says. “I’ll take you up on it.”
In ten minutes he is sitting next to the trucker as they zoom down the two-lane highway. He tries to remember the two months he was in the federal prison but his memory comes and goes like patchy clouds on a windy day. There is a country and western song on the radio and the trucker sings along with it as he tries to bring his memory back but it is no use right now.
His mind is like a great white motion picture screen. Sitting there without anything on it. Just blank and white. Before the era when they started showing previews and commercials on them. Just blank. Like looking back into his past was right now. The memory of some things but not others. Some vague force pulling him somewhere. Like a gravity from very far away. Felt not much more than a sudden breeze in summer, a chill in winter.
The big truck driver played tackle on the football team that went to the playoffs in Michigan. He almost got a scholarship to the University of Michigan. Went into the house trades in Travers City. Loved the summers up there. The trips out on the Peninsula.
“I bought a little cabin up there a few years ago and go up there every summer with my son,” he said as the countryside slide by under the silver moonlight of early summer. “
“A little time to teach him how to be a member of the militia,” the truck driver said.
He looked at the escapee.
“Like you are.”
“Yes, like I am,” but he wasn’t sure really what this meant. It was just something that he needed to say.
The truck driver tapped a photograph taped above the front window.
He studied it. The guy with long blond hair in the photo. It seemed familiar. He looked at it as the truck driver pointed up to it.
Then he realized that it was himself.
“Tell my son that we need more heroes like Josh Logan,” the truck driver says. “Heroes even though they’re in prison. Even more of a hero that he’s in prison. Of course the government prisons have nothing to do with right or wrong anymore.”
“No, nothing,” he says as thoughts come back to him suddenly and swirl around his head, “Nothing at all.”
They talk through the night as with the conspiracy radio program from Texas in the background. The trucker was an independent operator. It figured that an independent trucker would be a member of the national militia. Maybe the escapee narrator remembered this. But in case he didn’t, we’ll toss it into the story as that third party observer/author. The final allowed to the writer. Author.
The trucker talks about the new candidate of the militia now that the great leader of the group went to prison. The trucker pulls off in a truck stop and sleeps in his bed behind the cab for a few hours. The escapee sleeps in his seat. They travel through midwestern farmland the next day. Around seven o’clock in the evening, there is a feeling that he needs to say goodbye to the trucker. There is a feeling he has arrived at some vague destination. He gets out at another gas station.
He thanks the truck driver and watches the big truck with its Christmas Tree lights all over it disappear. The truck driver pushes his cell phone.
“Just let him off exactly where he was supposed to get off,” the truck driver says. “He’s walking into town now.”
The escapee walks down the road towards the little town whose lights make a glow in the night sky of the midwestern countryside.
Like he did before, he stays a distance from the road. Gradually, the countryside blossoms into an incredible little community in the middle of the country. He had never seen anything like it. It is almost like going back in time. The buildings of the town look like homes built around the time of the American Revolution. As he gets closer to the town he sees a the sign that says “New Liberty.”
It seems like he is walking into some type of amusement park that has been become a community. Long lawns were now on both sides of the road he walked down in New Liberty. Far back in the evening twilight, the vast homes that owned the lawns. The downtown area of the town was almost like Main Street at Disneyland. The little shops more than perfect. The necessary Starbucks. And this little bar he was about to go in called The New Liberty Bell. It was a crumbling brick building that was made to have a crumbling brick look to it. Next to the saloon type of door to the place, there was this small brass plate and I studied what it said.
“Established in 1878.”
It was old enough for me.
I went in and sat at this long, dark wood bar.
The flag of the national militia was over the bar.
But there was also the flag of the government.
It seemed they are covering all bases. Like a lot of people try to do these days. Spread your chips on the table. On both the red and black spots of the roulette wheel. Spread your investments. No one should be all in with the high tech stocks. No future was certain these days. You needed to cover all angles, all bets.
Things were coming back to him. In flashes and pieces. They came at him without warning. Somewhat like involuntary ticks and twitches. The inside of the bar looked like an ancient English pub. Dim light and a lively dart game in progress on one of the bar’s walls. Old looking documents are hung on the walls around the bar.
The woman bartender is standing behind the bar waiting to hear what he wants to drink. She is dressed in some funny costume from a long time ago. Probably the American Revolution. The spirit of patriotism inside the bar is magnetic. Wearing some costume seems natural in an environment like this.
She tells him there is a special tonight on their own Liberty Bell 1776 Beer and I order one. I sit at this old dark wooden bar nursing my beer, amazed at how authentically old the bar looks. The dim lights in the place. Almost like candlelight. It’s one of the best beers I’ve ever had. I order another.
“So what’s with the design of this place,” I say to the bartender.
“No design,” she says. “Just restored to the way it always was. If you wanna know though, the Green Dragon Tavern was an inspiration. Things around the American Revolution. Like it is for a lot of things in New Liberty.”
The Green Dragon Tavern, I thought to myself. The name triggered a memory but it was impossible to put my finger on the specific memory associated with the name.
What was it? Then the memory came to me in a quick flash out of nowhere. I remembered that he was at a meeting at the Green Dragon in Boston a number of years ago, when I was thinking of running for some position in my first militia camp seven years ago. In those years I was making connections with people around the country.
I saw an image of all this when I thought about the Green Dragon. There was an association between the two. I remembered how I’d chosen to go to the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston. It was like a short dream quickly playing itself out in front of me right now. I went there because it was the key tavern associated with the American Revolution. Many famous founders met at the Green Dragon over ale before the revolution. It was why our group decided to meet at the Green Dragon that October day seven years ago. The meeting. I remembered the meeting so clearly. Parts of my memory were coming back.
So here I was – somehow – in the middle of the Midwestern countryside in a town called New Liberty. At a bar called The Liberty Bell that modeled itself after the famous Green Dragon in Boston.
The name of the town New Liberty brought some memory with it and I tried to catch it but it was gone, with the swiftness of an insect leaving a flower. Gone before I could catch it in some type of net.
This special little place in the middle of the countryside. I sensed he had been to this place before. What did it all mean? My arrival back in this particular town? I had no idea. What was that strange pull to get off the truck outside of this little town? It was something I couldn’t define. It was almost as if I was brought here, helped by others to get here. All this in my head like a vague headache that wouldn’t go away.
“You in town for the big fundraiser?” the bartender asked.
“Fundraiser?” I asked.
The bartender laughed and placed another Liberty Bell 1776 in front of me.
“You’re about the only one in this part of the country that doesn’t know what’s happening in New Liberty in a few days,” she said.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“The National Militia,” the bartender said. “The National Militia of course.”
“Of course,” he said.
“The fact that New Liberty is the unofficial capitol of the National Militia,” she says.
“Of course,” I say.
So I was here for some reason. Not a reason that would be presented to me in a nice package. But a reason that would have to be discovered from the mixed up haze of my memory. Parts of it come back to me and pieces start to move together and I watch it from a distance like a giant jigsaw puzzle is being worked on a hundred yards away. Like watching the set for a television quiz show like Wheel of Fortune.
But again, I felt that force deep inside pulling me towards something. Not something that could be identified but rather something that could only be hypothesized, somewhat like the place of some astronomical object, calculated it to be in a certain place. At a certain time.
Perhaps it was a force like this that drew me to the town of New Liberty after my escape from prison? A quick thought came into my mind and left as fast as it came. But there was the lingering question it posed, like fading skywriting.
The fading skywriting in the darkening evening night read, “Who Am I?”
I was a “target rich” subject.
The memories were coming back quickly now.
I remember the times the government works on me inside the prison to destroy my old memories. The drugs they gave me. Experimental drugs not even offered to the public yet.
But there was something else that happened when they had me in prison.
I attempt to find out what this was but I’m always deflected away with the force of some hidden magnetism. What was this that happened to me? What did the government do to me when I was in their prison? Who was I when I came to the prison? Who was I when I left? These questions were beginning to rise over my jumbled mix of memories from the last week since escaping from the federal institution.
Strange I had arrived in New Liberty after escaping from the federal prison. Memories are coming back but I still have no idea of who I was. What I was doing here. In this little town at this particular point in time. At this particular point in time in life in general. What the hell was I doing in all of this?
The old faithful memory that always told you why and gave you a reason for being here was now gone and there was nothing now and the question of why I was here was a question that wouldn’t go away these past few days. Why had I made it to New Liberty after my escape from prison?
You could look at it from two major perspectives it seemed to me. You were here on your own volition, working its secret, invisible ways inside your psyche. Or, you were here because someone else wanted you here.
The dichotomy between the two was a dichotomy that had followed me all my life. It was always a lingering question in my own life that had never been answered for good. Sometimes I felt I had the control over my actions. Other times, my actions seemed controlled by others.
Isn’t this one of the basic questions in these VR times when there are new types of actions in our new type of world,