John Marshall*, age 42, awoke at dawn. The light of the white sun was just beginning to activate the solar roofs of the concrete apartment boxes on Broadway. Beads of cold dew had collected on his poly-blanket and now dripped down onto Marshall’s face and personal control collar, as slowly he rose to his feet to set out down the long freeway ramp. He trod barefoot down Broadway despite the cold – until he reached the first intersection. There he stopped to put on his boots. To have worn his boots on the road would have activated the underground sensors. But at the intersections the intercept signals could be confused. Marshall had learned to be careful.
Born in 2025, in what was then called the “state of Indiana”, he had gone to non-private school like the other children at the Maywood Foster Home. But Marshall had always been different. He had been unlike them in a fundamental way (as we know). Marshall, an only child, had been “legally detained” from his parents at age nine. His parents, Henry Marshall and Shantee Muboto, had been imprisoned for treason, and they had died or been executed several months after being taken to the privatized treatment facility. Young John was never told what happened to them. Innocently he had waited years for their return. It was only when he was older and had already begun his great struggle that he found the recordings of the executions and finally discovered the painful truth.
He grew to adulthood in a suburb of Indianapolis on 144278 E 12th St. Z 90774. He was educated on the standard programs in accordance with North American BCM (Behaviorally Challenged Minor) gridlines – which was standard procedure for all Indiana foster homes at that time. Initially labeled an SN (service-needy) child, he was treated continuously from age 9 through 15 by a succession of psychologists and social work technicians. As we possess the discs for over 90% of these treatment sessions (the extensive 21st century medical confidentiality legislation notwithstanding!), we know that young Johnnie was diagnosed with a long string of psychiatric disorders. Nearly all the possible childhood disorders listed in the psychiatric catalogues of the time were applied to him – certainly an interesting commentary on the quality and efficacy of the “science” of the last century. Explosive Anger Disorder, or EAD, a common diagnosis at that time, is most frequently cited in the file, and numerous incidents of violence are reported, including a high number of “violent and criminal acts against authority figures”. But despite all the therapy there is no indication in the record of any significant improvement – not to mention cure or rehabilitation – until age fifteen – when suddenly all symptoms and complaints seem to have ceased. His SN file was closed in November of 2041, and no further entries were made. Therapeutic efforts were apparently discontinued at that time; no further therapy is recorded in the file.
Nonetheless, John Marshall remained different from the other children. He was not “connected”. And he was aware of his “unconnectedness” and even of his extra consciousness. His parents, for several months before their capture by the securities in the middle of the night, had worked tirelessly to instruct him and prepare him for his difficult ordeal. He remembered many of the things they had told him. Mostly he remembered the tension, the alertness, the fear: the fear they all shared: the fear of being discovered. And it was all because they were different from the others. Because they could think their own thoughts!
In the Foster Homes, the schools, and even later in the military guard, young John participated and did not stand out. He acted like the rest of them. But inside he knew that he wasn’t connected like the rest of them. And the other children never discovered that fact. His parents had instructed him well. He knew he must remain quiet, aloof. And although he learned to play with the other children, to enjoy their games, share in their pp’s and even to merge with their PPP’s on and off the screen, he remained apart from them. He went to school and was a better-than-average student, completing both academic and technical training as a field medic. In the MG, the Military Guard, he rose to the rank of Captain, volunteering for the prestigious Commando Kings, and even extending his service to six years. Following military service he worked intermittently in security and as a medic. At age 31 he obtained his own apartment box.
Today he was now apart from them completely. Although he remained in wire contact with his foster mom, old Ms. Williams after all these years, and occasionally visited the same lines as several of his old foster siblings, Marshall was a man apart from the rest. He lived alone.
He had met several others like himself along the way – several special friends. At different times in his life two women had become his lovers. They were both dead now. They had been caught. Convicted of treason, imprisoned, dead. He had loved them both intensely, and all his power and vitality had been poured into the relationship, into the love. These had been for him the only moments of happiness and peace that he had known. However, the moments of bliss were rare even then. They had always been on the run in one way or another. And currently there were no moments of bliss whatsoever. Survival was all that could concern him. Survival. And something else. Actually, survival of something else.
John Marshall, the hero of our story, is a man without a face, without a reason or a rhyme. He is, however, ruthless and pure in his desire to be who he is. He is not a P. He is of course officially “connected”, but his mind and heart are still his own. He is able to become unconnected whenever he wants. And that is exactly why they must not find out. Marshall needs to be careful at all times. A single slip would reveal his true “nature” – or rather the fact that he possessed a true nature. It would not be long before he would be pursued and captured. And his freedom, his freedom to be who he was, would end in a rehab facility or privatized sub-structure.