Later that day, Peter shared the video of the China conference with Pat and Valerie. They replied by saying it would be best to share their feelings on Zoom, so they could express themselves more intuitively.
They arranged a meeting that evening, all four of them, including Michelle.
“So, how are things over there in Milwaukee with you?” Peter asked. “Where in Milwaukee is ‘over there’? Are you in an airport?”
“Yeah,” Pat said. “We’ve been through customs, and we’re waiting at our gate. So we have a little time now, though we’ll have to keep this short.”
“Where are you going?” Michelle asked. “I mean, this is so sudden. I thought you’d be so tired after the ride from the Kansas Districts to the Wisconsin ones, that you wouldn’t want to go anywhere after that. You both certainly look tired, without much energy. And how did you manage to arrange a flight so fast?”
“Oh, we know people who can set us up fast,” Valerie said. “Lots of money helps, too.”
“Also, they’re under Bolshivarian influence,” Pat said. “So their trust of us as sympathizers will help us get to where we’re going faster.”
“And where are you going?” Peter asked.
“Guess,” Valerie said.
“I have no idea,” Michelle said.
“China,” Pat said with a grin.
“You know where George and Karol are hiding?” Peter asked.
“Not yet, but we’ll find them soon enough,” Pat said. “Valerie and I want to try to dissuade them from going on with this terrible idea of controlling everyone’s minds.”
“OK, but I can’t imagine you changing their minds,” Peter said. “All those Bolshivarian deaths have made them pretty firm in their decision, to put it mildly.”
“We know,” Valerie said. “But we have to try. We don’t want a world with no free will.”
“As important as saving the world from people like Price is, it mustn’t come at the expense of making us all slaves,” Pat said.
“I couldn’t agree more, Pat,” Michelle said. “But what if you can’t change George’s or Karol’s minds?”
“Well…let’s just say we may have to resort to more…radical, sweeping measures,” Valerie said, shaping the fingers of her hand into a gun and pretending to shoot Pat in the head.
“Wait a minute,” Peter said. “I’m as unhappy about all of this as you are, but don’t do anything stu–“
“Sorry, guys,” Pat said hurriedly. “Time to board our plane. Bye.”
Pat and Valerie ended the session on their laptop, leaving Peter’s with a blank screen.
He and Michelle looked at each other with frowns.
“If they do what I think they’re going to do,” he said, “they’ll provoke even worse repressions on everybody.”
“Worse than that,” she said. “Pat and Valerie could fuck up our entire effort to save the world.”