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My ear cuff beeped. I tapped it.

“Go.”

“Georgia, it’s Buffy.”

“Results?”

“Senator Ryman took the primary with a seventy percent clean majority. His position jumped eleven points as soon as your report went live.”

I closed my eyes and smiled. One of the talking heads had just revealed the same information, or something similar; whoops and cheers were filling the room. “Say the words, Buffy.”

“We’re going to the Republican National Convention.”

Sometimes, the truth can set you free.

The importance of the Raskin-Watts trial and the failure of all subsequent attempts to overturn the ruling have been often overlooked in the wake of more recent, more sensational incidents. After all, what bearing can two long-dead religious nutcases from upstate Indiana have on the state of modern politics?

Quite a lot. For one thing, the current tendency to dismiss Geoff Raskin and Reed Watts as “religious nutcases” is an oversimplification so extreme as to border on the criminal. Geoff Raskin held a degree in psychology from UC Santa Cruz, with a specialization in crowd control. Reed Watts was an ordained priest who worked with troubled youth and was instrumental in bringing several communities “back to God.” They were, in short, intelligent men who recognized the potential for turning the waves of social change engendered by the side effects of Kellis-Amberlee to their own benefit, and to the benefit of their faith.

Did Geoff Raskin and Reed Watts work for the common good? Read the reports on what they did to Warsaw, Indiana, and see if you think so. Seven hundred and ninety-three people died in the primary infection wave alone, and the cleanup from the secondary infections took six years to complete, during which time Raskin and Watts were held in maximum security, awaiting trial. According to their own testimony, they were intending to use the living dead as a threat to bring the people of Warsaw, and eventually of the United States, around to their point of view: that Kellis-Amberlee was the judgment of the Lord, and that all ungodly ways would soon be wiped from the Earth.

It was the finding of the courts that the use of weaponized live-state Kellis-Amberlee, as represented by the captive zombies, was considered an act of terrorism, and that all individuals responsible for such acts would be tried under the International Terrorism Acts of 2012. Geoff Raskin and Reed Watts were killed by lethal injection, and their bodies were remanded to the government to assist in the study of the virus they had helped to spread.

The moral of our story, beyond the obvious “don’t play with dead things”: Some lines were never meant to be crossed, however good your cause may seem.

—From Images May Disturb You,

the blog of Georgia Mason, March 11, 2040

Eleven

Georgia! Shaun! It’s so lovely to see you!” Emily Ryman was all smiles as she approached, arms spread wide in an invitation to an embrace. I glanced at Shaun and he stepped forward, letting her hug him while he blocked her from reaching me. I don’t like physical contact from semistrangers, and Shaun knows it.

If Emily noticed the deliberate way we positioned ourselves, she didn’t comment. “I never quite believe you’re alive after those reports you do, you foolish, foolish boy.”

“It’s good to see you, too, Emily,” Shaun said, and hugged her back. He’s much easier with that sort of thing than I am. I blame this on the fact that he’s the kind of person who believes in shoving his hand into the dark, creepy hole, rather than sensibly avoiding it. “How have you been?”

“Busy, as usual. Foaling season kept us hopping, but that’s mostly over, thank God. I lost two good mares this year, and neither managed to reanimate on the grounds, thanks to the help being on the ball.” Emily detangled herself from Shaun, still smiling, and turned to offer her hand. Not a hug, just her hand. I gave her a nod of approval as I took it. Her smile widened. “Georgia. I can’t thank you enough for your coverage of my husband’s campaign.”

“It hasn’t just been me.” I reclaimed my hand. “There are a lot of reporters keeping a close eye on the senator. Word on the street is he’s receiving the party nomination tonight.” The other political journalists were starting to smell “White House” in the water and were gathering like sharks, hoping for something worth seizing on. Buffy spent half her time disabling cameras and microphones set up by rival blog sites. She spent the other half writing steamy  p**n  about the senator’s aides and hanging out with Chuck Wong, who’d been spending a disconcerting amount of time in our van recently, but that was her business.

“Yes, but you’re the only one I’ve met who’s reporting on him, rather than the interesting things his campaign drives out from beneath the rocks, or the fictional affairs of his office aides,” Emily said, wryly. “I know I can trust what you say. That’s meant a lot to me and the girls while Peter was on the road, and it’s going to mean a lot more from here on out.”

“It’s been an honor.”

“What do you mean, ‘it’s going to mean a lot more’?” asked Shaun. “Hey, George, are you finally going to learn to write? Because that would be awesome. I can’t carry you forever, you know.”

“Sadly, Shaun, this doesn’t have anything to do with how well your sister can write.” Emily shook her head. “It’s all about the campaign.”

“I understand,” I said. Glancing to Shaun, I continued, “Once he accepts the nomination—assuming he gets nominated—this gets real. Up until now, it’s been a weird sort of summer vacation.” After the nominations, it would be campaigning in earnest. It would be debates and deals and long nights, and she’d be lucky to see him before the inauguration. Assuming all that work didn’t turn out to be for nothing; assuming he could win.


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