Peter emailed a video to Michelle a week after their videoconference with Pat and Valerie. The video was dated three days before, and titled Assassination of Underground Bolshivarian Leader in China.
“Oh, please God, no,” she whispered before ever-so-reluctantly clicking PLAY on her phone.
Karol Sargent was seen in a small room chatting with several people, mostly Chinese. George was not there, but Michelle saw, in a far corner, a familiar face.
She had no interest in what Karol had to say (it was mostly idle chatter, anyway); she was focused on whatever Pat was going to do. Though George was the one who did most of the public speaking, it was known by all the carriers and non-carrying sympathizers–including Peter and her–that it was Karol who wielded great influence behind the scenes in terms of policy decisions; so Pat’s presence in that room had great interest for her.
Pat’s face showed no hate or anger as he looked at Karol; he’d obviously learned how to bury his feelings deep down, so when he got up and walked towards Karol, he had a pleasant smile on his face, laughing at one of Karol’s jokes.
Then he pulled a pistol out of his jacket pocket.
He buried a bullet in Karol’s chest with a loud bang and a splash of blood.
The Bolshivarian dots of light flew out from the dying man as they did out of all of his carrier listeners, swarming around Pat as he fumbled a can of bug spray with his other hand. They entered him before he could aim it at them. The familiar cracks of red showed on his face.
“Oh, my God!” she said, then thought, Why would he do that, knowing it wouldn’t help our cause at all? Surely he knew they’d just kill him and use more repression on the rest of us. Then again…why would Karen and Tory have made their assassination attempts? Surely they knew it would have done them no good, either. Of course, they went mad with grief over the loss of their son, so they couldn’t think rationally. I guess Pat and Valerie were going crazy, too. We’ve all been losing it over the past few years, anyway.
The video abruptly ended amid the confusion and Pat’s body beginning to tear up. She saw a split second of exposed brain before it ended.
Her phone began to ring. It was Peter.
“Hello?” she said.
“Did you watch the video?”
“Yes,” she said. “Horrible.”
“You know what George is going to do, now, right?” he asked.
“I don’t even wanna think about it.”
“Well, we’ll have to. We’re going to have to lie low for at least a while, and keep away from the carriers as best we can. Imitate them if we meet any of them. Practice doing those stupid smiles before the mirror.”
“What about Valerie?”
“Probably controlled by the Bolshivarians by now.”
“I wanna contact her to be sure,” Michelle said. “Who knows? Maybe she got away from them in time.”
“Possible, but not probable. Contacting her will be risky.”
“I know, but I still wanna be sure. We need all the friends we can get.”
“I agree, but we’ll have to be super careful. These are dangerous times we’re living in.”