Author’s Notes: Founders is scheduled to be released in September, 2012. Please wait until the release date (“Book Bomb Day”) to order your copy. That same day, there will be simultaneous releases of the e-book and audio book editions.
The cover art was created by Tony Mauro, Jr., who also created the cover for “Survivors.” The Founders cover depicts Ken and Terry Layton on their cross-country journey.
Spoiler Alert: This chapter includes passages of the novel that you may not want to know about before reading the book from beginning to end. So skip reading this sample chapter if you are the sort that dislikes spoilers.
“There are certain principles that are inherent in man, that belong to man, and that were enunciated in an early day, before the United States government was formed, and they are principles that rightfully belong to all men everywhere. They are described in the Declaration of Independence as inalienable rights, one of which is that men have a right to live; another is that they have a right to pursue happiness; and another is that they have a right to be free and no man has authority to deprive them of those God-given rights, and none but tyrants would do it. “These principles, I say, are inalienable in man; they belong to him; they existed before any constitutions were framed or any laws made. Men have in various ages striven to strip their fellow-men of these rights, and dispossess them of them. And hence the wars, the bloodshed and carnage that have spread over the earth. We, therefore, are not indebted to the United States for these rights; we were free as men born into the world, having the right to do as we please, to act as we please, as long as we do not transgress constitutional law nor violate the rights of others… “Another thing God expects us to do, and that is to maintain the principle of human rights… We owe it to all liberty-loving men, to stand up for human rights and to protect human freedom, and in the name of God we will do it, and let the congregation say Amen.” – John Taylor, 1882, Journal of Discourses, Volume 23, p. 263.
Muddy Pond, Tennessee – July, The Second Year
Life in Overton County was just starting to get back to normal when the first Provisional Government units passed though. Since the town was within the four-hour drive-time local security radius of Fort Knox, Muddy Pond was in one of the first areas to be pacified by the ProvGov. The new administration at first seemed well intentioned and benevolent, but people soon saw its sinister side.
The nationalization programs and the Controls began gradually. At first, the ProvGov seized only key industries and utilities. But later, smaller companies were taken over, some seemingly on a whim. People wondered why would a padlock manufacturing company be nationalized? And why would a silver refinery have to be nationalized?
Likewise, the wage, price, currency, and credit controls started small, but gradually grew to gargantuan proportions. Just a month after the ProvGov troops arrived, there was a dusk-to-dawn curfew, with shoot-on-sight orders for violators. But even daylight hours weren’t safe, as Ben Fielding discovered.
Early one afternoon, all of Ben’s family except Joseph was at home listening to some Messianic music on Rebecca’s iPod dock. They often gathered in the living room to do so, on the days that the power was on. The children liked to hear the music played loudly, and they sang along, and danced. Their fun was interrupted when they heard some long bursts of automatic weapons fire, close by their house. They looked out their living room window and saw a convoy of UNPROFOR coalition vehicles strung out for a quarter mile on the county road. The trucks and APCs had stopped and turned out onto either side of the road in a herringbone pattern. The wild firing continued for thirty seconds. They heard a few shots hit the roof of their house. The firing finally stopped when the convoy commander in the lead Marder APC repeatedly honked his horn.
Ben and his family fearfully watched as men ran back and forth between the vehicles. They expected more trouble, so Ben took the precaution of running all the pages of his address book through his crosscut paper shredder.
Five minutes later, a UNPROFOR patrol approached the front door. A German soldier shouted with a heavy accent, “Man of the house, come out!”
Ben walked out with his hands on top of his head, and said, “The only others here are my wife and children. Please leave them alone.”
The patrol leader unslung a rifle from his shoulder and held it out. Ben recognized it as his son’s .22, now missing its bolt. The soldat asked, “Your gun, is this?”
“Yes, I believe that is my rifle, but I’m not certain. If that is mine, then it is registered in my name, in full accordance with the law. Where did you find it?”
“It was being carried by a young, err, man, now dead.”
Rebecca began wailing.
“Have you any other guns in the house?”
The soldiers spent an hour noisily ransacking the house, while others held Ben and his terrified family at gunpoint, outside. Their youngest daughter, just recently out of diapers, wet herself as they waited. One team searched the house, while another searched the barn and outbuildings. Ben alternated between intense feelings of fear and anger at the situation. They watched helplessly as the soldiers carried off Rebecca’s jewelry box, her iPod and dock, and many other small possessions. This included nearly 200 rounds of .22 hollowpoints that were taken as “evidence.”
Finding nothing actionable, the soldiers left without explanation or apology.
Ben and Rebecca went inside to find the house was a shambles. Several stretches of sheetrock in the hall and master bedroom had been kicked in and the upholstery on their couches and two of the mattresses had been slashed open. Two cabinets had been pried completely off the walls, and were left dumped on the floor, coated in sheetrock dust. There were shattered dishes and plates littering the kitchen and dining room floors. A broken pipe was spraying the front bathroom cabinet with water. Ben soon turned off the well pump and shut the valve for the service line to the house. That stopped the water from further flooding the bathroom and hall.
After a pair of honks, the UNPROFOR convoy left in a cloud of dust and diesel smoke.
Ben and Rebecca walked out to the north end of their property, to look for Joseph. After ten minutes of searching, they found his body 80 yards from the county road, and about 300 yards from the house. He had been shot six times in the back and buttocks. Two gutted quail were still in his game bag. His white t-shirt was entirely stained red with blood, and his blue jeans were stained red down to the knees.
For a half hour, Ben sat cradling the lifeless form of his eldest son, crying and rocking. Tears ran down his face. Nearby, Rebecca and their three surviving children sat hugging each other in a huddle, crying, moaning, and praying aloud. Finally Ben stood up. He looked down at his son’s corpse and said, “You wait here, I’m going to get a shovel, a sheet, some water, towels, and olive oil.”
He was back a few minutes later and almost immediately began to dig. As Ben dug just a few feet from his son’s body, he said forthrightly, “We’ll find no remedy or recourse in the courts, Rebecca. These are tyrants, tyrants. I need to fight them.”
He then continued working quietly, digging into the soil and small rocks with fervor. He didn’t stop until the grave was head-height deep. Blisters were forming on his palms, but he hardly noticed. As Ben dug the grave, Rebecca washed her son’s body, and rubbed olive oil onto his skin.
They gently lowered Joseph’s body into the grave and Ben folded the boy’s arms across his chest. They shrouded the body with a sheet. Rebecca helped Ben back up out of the grave. After saying prayers, each member of the family poured in a shovelful of earth. Rebecca then did most of the shoveling as they re-filled the grave, weeping yet again.
After the grave was re-filled and mounded, each family member selected a stone to mark the site. Ben found one beside Joseph’s favorite fishing hole.
They recited the Kaddish, a mourning ritual in Judaism, found in the Siddur, the Jewish liturgy book read in Jewish temples on the Sabbath and High Holy Days.
Yitgaddal veyitqaddash shmeh rabba. Be’alma di vra khir’uteh veyamlikh malkhuteh veyatzma purqaneh viqarev qetz meshiheh behayekhon uvyomekhon uvhaye dekhol bet yisrael be’agala uvizman qariv ve’imru amen. Yehe shmeh rabba mevarakh le’alam ul’alme ‘almaya Yitbarakh veyishtabbah veyitpaar veyitromam veyitnasse veyithaddar veyit?alleh veyithallal shmeh dequdsha, brikh hu. Le’ella lella mikkol min kol birkhata veshirata tushbehata venehemata daamiran be’alma ve’imru amen.
(May His great name be exalted and sanctified is God’s great name in the world, which He created according to His will! May He establish His kingdom and may His salvation blossom and His anointed be near. During your lifetime and during your days and during the lifetimes of all the House of Israel, speedily and very soon! And say, Amen. May His great name be blessed forever, and to all eternity! Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, above and beyond all the blessings, hymns, praises and consolations that are uttered in the world! And say, Amen.)
As they walked away from the grave and back toward the house, Rebecca carried the shovel. With both sadness and anger, she spat, “Yes, go. Fight them! You have my blessing. Don’t worry about us. We will be safe and waiting here. The Lord will protect all of us, and provide for all of us.”
That evening, with aching hands, Ben dug up the length of 8” diameter PVC pipe buried beneath their pair of grated trash-burning barrels. The PVC cache tube contained Ben’s heavily-greased guns: a Galil .308 rifle, a Browning A-5 semi-auto 12 gauge shotgun, and a HK USP .45 Compact pistol. All three guns were considered contraband, so they hadn’t been registered under the recent edicts. Packed along with guns there were seven Galil magazines, three 200-round battle packs of Portuguese 7.62mm ball ammunition, and seven boxes of shotgun shells, each wrapped in separate Ziploc bags. After he had cleaned and loaded the guns, Ben organized his backpacking gear. He put the Galil and magazines in a guitar case, padded by extra clothes.
As Ben organized and packed his gear, Rebecca served the children some leftovers. They had to eat sitting on the couch, because the kitchen was still littered with broken glass. After they had eaten, Ben gave each of his children lengthy hugs. He told them to be brave and reverent, and to obey their mother. He tucked them in bed and said prayers with each of them.
Back in the living room, Ben spoke with Rebecca, who was busy sweeping up glass. “The chances that they’ll return our .22 rifle are about .001 percent, so I’ll leave you silver that you can use to buy another .22 rifle, for small game. And I’ll be leaving you the 12 gauge, for anything bigger, man or beast. I think under the old chest freezer would be a good hiding place for it. Did you notice that the soldiers didn’t touch that? You can ask some of the neighbor men to help you patch up the house.”
She set down the dustpan and came into the living room with Ben. As he continued packing, he said, “I need to be on my way, tonight. It is easier to fight from outside of barbed wire, than from inside it. We’re lucky that I didn’t get arrested today. I don’t want to give them another chance. Now listen carefully: I want you to tell people that I was arrested and taken away tonight. Otherwise, they’ll ask questions when they see that I’ve gone. In addition to the Army, there are at least three agencies of the ProvGov and four security contracting companies that are independently arresting people and hauling them off to camps, or I suppose for immediate liquidation. The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. So by blaming them for my disappearance, you’ll put yourself in the clear.”
“And also make the Hutchings government look even worse,” Rebecca added.
Ben nodded and said, “That’s right. It’s a ‘win-win.’ They use psychological warfare on us, so it’s only fair that we return the favor.”
He let out a breath and went on, “Now I’ll be going to Nashville, to see some old friends. Its safer for both of us if I don’t tell you exactly who.”
Ben finished strapping his sleeping bag onto his pack. “I’m leaving you most of our silver. I can’t be sure, but I’ll do my best to send you money from time to time. Whenever I enclose a letter, you have to promise me that you’ll burn it, right after you read it.”
Then he shouldered his pack and gave his wife a two-minute hug, and a kiss. Ben touched the Mezuzah on his way out the door. On the porch he snapped closed his backpack’s bellyband clasp, and picked up his guitar case. He turned to face his wife again in the doorway. “Trust in Adonai and May His Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) comfort you during the days you sit Shivah for Joseph. I will remember Joseph with you and will pray the Kaddish for him every day. I will pray every day for peace, safety and that you would be comforted by the Lord, despite my absence from your side. Remember that Joseph is ‘asleep’. He loved the Lord Yeshua and is with Him, at this very moment. Ani meohev otach yoter Midai!”
“I love you without measure, as well,’ she said, as he turned, and walked out into the darkness.