“Pick up your feet, Steve!" the man bellowed at his son as the guards in the ‘Fritz’ Kevlar helmets threatened with black plastic rifles. “Help your brother!”
The eldest struggled to keep up with his father, who crushed the toddler daughter to his chest, dragging the youngest boy along by his hand.
"Move! Move!" the young men in uniforms screamed, menacing the chaotic crowd, stabbing with rifle butts as they herded the hundred plus people off the road. The uniforms howled and engines revved. The mob struggled to satisfy their tormentors.
A man in a business suit and helmet appeared on the edge of the crowd to the father’s right. He was speaking into a bullhorn, incomprehensible in all the noise.
“Where’s mommy?” the girl moaned.
“Sweetheart please!” father countered and tugged hard on the bawling boy at his side. They lurched over rough, newly turned soil.
“THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT,” father made out the man with the bullhorn say in a slow monotonous voice. What was that accent?
“Here! Here!” the guards pointed to a spot ahead.
“THIS IS YOUR OWN DOING.”
A Boston accent. How could he use that, the father thought wildly as he came to a stop where the guards pointed. Think, think!
It was an open field, freshly plowed. The father looked in all directions, trying to see around the milling terrified crowd.
There were vehicles to the east and north, something mounted to the roofs of the Hummers.
“I’m cold,” his oldest wept. Father looked to the west and south. The plowed field stretched flat for an acre in either direction, and in the dim light of dawn, he could just see barbed wire fence at the edges of the field. He could make a break, drop the girl, run like Hell.
“YOU HAVE NO ONE TO BLAME BUT YOURSELF,” the bullhorn delivered in a slow drumbeat cadence. "THIS IS ALL YOUR OWN FAULT."
The father searched wildly around, looking for something, anything, any hope at all. He looked down at his two son's dirty faces, hesitated, then dropped to one knee and pulled his boys closer.
“Stand up!” a guard bellowed, but the men with the guns had all backed away toward the Hummers with the manned machine guns on the roof.
“I love you more than I have words!” The father bellowed at his two sons, hoping they heard over the cacophony. He put a hand over his daughter's eyes. “I wanted so much more for you!”
The machine guns began their prattle.