The ISU maintained a tight lock on all information relating to the surface, but things clenched up even tighter when it started looking like paradise up there. The last thing the government wanted was for the people in the shelters to go nuts and start throwing open all of the locks.
When the red worms made their presence known they provided a new angle. Scraps of information began to leak out about them. Then the first blurry pictures from a drone flyover made it onto the net. ISU was behind the leaks.
The few publications with the clout to commandeer printing equipment and paper started running cover stories about the red worms. Big Red they called them and included lurid descriptions of how they could grow to the length of a football field, burrow into the ground, and swallow an elephant whole. They never mentioned that on a hot summer day in Des Moines you could see an elephant walking down Main Street right past a red worm and neither paid the other any mind.
It wasn't long before the President and his staff started talking about the worms. They used loaded words to refer to the red worms, words like "invader" and "menace". After a few weeks of that the government had everyone in the shelters convinced the worms were space aliens, without ever actually saying that, and equally convinced something had to be done. Just as the clamoring for payback seemed to reach a crescendo, the President announced the RECLAIM project. It was July 4th.
"My fellow Americans, for years we have been confined to vacuum-sealed prisons, built by our own hands, living our lives afraid of what has become of our once-great nation. I ask you, is that who we are? Is that the American way? Do we shrink from danger and live each day only hoping to see the next?
I refuse to believe that. My friends, I ask you join me as we embark on this long road back. Back to the America that lives on in our hearts and minds. We will take back the earth. We will see our flag fly again over cities and towns. Our journey will be long and fraught with peril, but I believe that our greatest trait is not to simply persevere, but it is to see the next day as a new beginning. We recognize the potential of a brighter future for us, our families, and the generations to come.
I hear it from the hydroponics engineer working through the night at CHESAPEAKE and I hear it from the mother raising three young children in depths of CONRAD V. Though their lives may each be different, the dream is the same.
It is time for us to go home.
That time is...9:08 PM Eastern Standard, the date is July the fourth. Today will be remembered as the day mankind cried out for liberty and seized the promise of a new beginning. Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America."
The speech was simulcast live to all of the shelters. Soldiers, pilots, civilians, and everyone else gathered around loudspeakers listening to the President's voice. When he finished speaking some cheered, others wept with joy, and others, unconvinced, simply slunk quietly back to their jobs. It was choreographed and rehearsed expertly. When the net carried the specifics of the RECLAIM project the following day it was the talk of our subterranean nation. We were going back.
After the years in confinement the RECLAIM plan, though dry, served as an inspiration and motivator to millions. What neither the President nor ISU revealed was the simple fact that mankind had not developed a cure for the spores. Until that happened a war would mean the indiscriminate slaughter of every living thing on the surface of the earth.
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
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