Fiction from the Left

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El Malpaís

 

El Malpaís

(The Badlands)


A Modern Folk Tale from the Left

Episode 5: McCarty's Flow

 (Previously in El Malpaís: In Episode 4 Oskar traveled the length of Bandera to find himself in the middle of the 20th century. There he encountered Henry Ford, the ruthless industrialist, and General Curtis “Bombs Away” LeMay, a pioneer of strategic or “terror” bombing. When the boy returned to El Malpaís he rested overnight with Diego at his side and the next morning entered McCarty’s Flow, the last of Los Tubos de Tiempo, to complete his vision quest.)

El Malpaís

Trekking through McCarty’s Flow, Oskar realized that he was traveling towards a future more distant than Factoryland. The map in his mind was taking final form. Now he knew that all of lava tubes headed in the same northerly direction following the force of gravity that pulled the rivers of fire along and simultaneously tracked the flow of time towards an uncertain future. The boy did not and, of course, could not know what he would discover when he reached his final destination.

El Malpaís

Emerging from McCarty’s Flow, Oskar was puzzled to find himself at the base of Lookout Mountain, the very place he chose not to go for his vision quest. The boy was sure that he had traveled through space—McCarty’s Flow was by far the longest of the lava tubes that he had explored—but he wasn’t certain that he had passed through time like he had in the previous tubos. Since no clues were visible from of the foot of Lookout Mountain, he climbed to the summit to get a better view.

El Malpaís

From the 9,100 foot peak of Lookout Mountain Oskar could see thirty miles in every direction.

Looking to the east, he could make out the ribbon of green foliage that accompanied the mighty Rio Grande along its course south—Tatcho’s river camp was located somewhere over there.

To the south, the boy could see the lava fields of El Malpaís and the barren desert basin beyond. He looked closely but he knew he was too far away to spot the entrance of McCarty’s Flow let alone trusty Diego waiting there for him.

To the west the rolling Zuni Mountains—a maze of peaks and valleys unmarked by any signs of man—dominated the landscape.

It was the astounding sight to the north of Lookout Mountain that captured Oskar’s attention and indicated that he had indeed traveled through time—the mountains had been moved to make way for a wide, man-made supercorridor running straight from the horizon in the east to a vanishing point in the west. Directly in the center of the span, the Continental Divide, once clearly visible from Lookout Mountain, had been leveled to make way for the massive project.

From his mountain vantage point Oskar could make out four divided highways, six railroad tracks, and two rows of gigantic power transmission towers within the quarter mile-wide corridor. The mammoth project had completely obliterated the winding trails that had connected the Indian Nations for centuries.

Upon seeing the ribbons of concrete and lines of steel that altered the topography of the land Oskar knew that he had penetrated further into the future than Bandera had taken him. Stunned by the panoramic view from above, the boy descended the mountain and hiked to the corridor to take a closer look into this future world.

El Malpaís

The Land of OZ

Oskar approached the supercorridor with trepidation. The noise of the traffic desecrated the desert solitude and assaulted his senses. The roar of thousands of rubber tires whooshing on the sizzling pavement and hundreds of steel wheels screeching on steel rails combined to form a wall of sound that stopped the boy in his tracks.

Oskar spotted a sign posted at an entrance ramp to the supercorridor. Having learned a lesson from his arrest and detention at the SAC airbase in Factoryland, he moved in only close enough to read it:

OZCOR 40
(OWNERSHIP ZONE i CORRIDOR 40)
PERMIT REQUIRED TO ENTER
VEHICLES NOT DISPLAYING A CURRENT OZ TAG
WILL BE IMPOUNDED AND
DRIVERS FINED.
PEDESTRIANS STRICTLY PROHIBITED
VIOLATORS WILL BE CHARGED WITH
CRIMINAL TRESSPASS
AND PROSECUTED TO THE FULL EXTENT OF THE LAW.

“OK,” he thought to himself, “I’ve got it.” He backed away from the entrance ramp and began hiking west outside the corridor security fence. When Oskar reached the flattened remains of the Continental Divide he spotted the town of Gallup, New Mexico in the distance. That’s where he made his first human contact in the Land of OZ.

El Malpaís

Oskar spotted a monster truck like the ones he saw zooming down OZCOR 40 backed up to the loading dock behind a big box store advertised as OZMART SUPERCENTER. The truck, an eighty-foot long juggernaut that stood fifteen feet high and nine feet wide, was branded OZEX. Detailed information was posted on the door of the tractor:

OZEX Unit 2255
Owned and Operated by Ownership Zone Express L.L.C.
 NO PASSENGERS ALLOWED

Oskar was surprised when he spotted the person tending the truck—a trim, compact woman with long black hair tied back in a pony tail. She was wearing sturdy work shoes and dressed in jeans and a flowery western shirt.

What this person was doing was curious. She appeared to be beating on the tires of the truck with a full-size .45 caliber automatic pistol.

“Who are you and what are you doing?” Oskar inquired.

The woman turned and looked at him from behind silver-tinted sunglasses. She held the gun pointed at the ground between them as she checked him out.

“Not that it’s any of your business, chico, my name is Rosa de la Frontera,” she announced, “and I’m thumping my tires to check their inflation. If you run a flat tire on the corridor it can catch on fire.”

“With that?” Oskar motioned to the pistol.

“Yeah, with this,” Rosa said hefting the large automatic. “I carry this because some men think they can take liberties with a woman who is on the road alone.”

“So it’s true,” Oskar said with a wry smile, “every rose has its thorns.”

“Every rose has its thorns,” Rosa repeated, tucking the pistol in the waistband of her jeans. She offered the boy her hand. “I like that. Who are you?”

“I’m Oskar. Pleased to meet you, Rosa.”

The boy looked in wonder at the big box store and the monster truck.

“Are you lost, Oskar?”

“Not lost,” he said. “I’m just not sure where I’m going.”

“Well,” said Rosa. “As soon as they finish unloading my truck I’m headed back to OZ 17 ii. You’re free to ride along if you want to.”

“You won’t shoot me, will you?”

“Not if you behave.”

Oskar pointed to the NO PASSENGERS ALLOWED sign on the door of the tractor.

“What about that?”

“When I’m behind the wheel,” Rosa smiled, “I own this truck and make the rules. Besides, a girl can go stir crazy on the road.”

El Malpaís

After Rosa pulled the empty trailer away from the loading dock and secured the doors, she walked around to where Oskar was standing.

“Where’s your stuff?” she asked the boy.

“I’m a time traveler,” he smiled and shrugged. “I travel light.”

Rosa studied his face for a minute but couldn’t figure him out.

“OK, viajero del tiempo,” she said laughingly, “climb up into my máquina del tiempo and I’ll transport you to OZ 17.”

El Malpaís

Oskar held on to the grab bar in the cab of the truck with white knuckles as Rosa steered the truck onto OZCOR 40 and accelerated. She noticed his uneasiness.

Está todo bien,” she laughed. “I’ve got this.”

Oskar sat back and tried to relax.

“Where did you learn to drive a vehicle like this?”

“Vehicle? This is a truck, amigo, a jefe truck. My father-in-law taught me to drive after my husband was murdered. He knew I could make a lot more money driving than working as a maid or waitress. I have a daughter living with her grandmother in Mexico that I support.”

Rosa realized that she was talking about herself too much and stopped.

El Malpaís

In the surprising silence of the cab Oskar was studying the high tech digital instruments.

“75 MPH. What does that mean?”

Rosa looked at the boy in disbelief.

“That means we are traveling seventy-five miles per hour—the legal speed limit on OZ Corridors. Is this your first ride?”

“No. I just never went this fast before,” he said and continued his examination of the instrument panel.

Something entirely out of place caught his eye. Hanging on a cord from the overhead panel an obviously handmade doll was swinging gently from side to side. It was a facsimile of a stout peasant woman with a huge basket slung on her back. The basket, painted as a map of the world, was overflowing with a cascade of delicate, yellow paper flowers.

“What’s that?” asked Oskar.

Un amuleto de la suerte—How do say it?—a good-luck charm. My mother made it and gave it to me when I came north to work. She told me to never forget that women carry half the weight of the world.”

“I’ve never thought about that,” Oskar said thoughtfully, touching the amuleto gently.

“This chico is un poco loco,” thought Rosa,”but very interesting.”

El Malpaís

After a few miles the silence became too loud.

“Did you know,” Rosa asked to jump-start a conversation, “that this corridor follows the route of the trails that connected the Indian Nations?”

“I did,” said Oskar. “I’ve traveled on those trails.”

Rosa, with a raised eyebrow, looked over at her mysterious passenger.

”In your dreams, chico.”

Oskar shrugged and she continued talking:

“Did you know that later it became a network of ranch roads and, in time, the main migration route to the West Coast?”

“I did not know that.”

“Did you know that the historic Route 66 followed that migration route?”

“I didn’t know that either.”

“Did you know that Interstate 40 was built on top of Route 66?”

“No.”

“Or that OZCOR 40 replaced I-40?”

“No, again.”

Rosa shook her head.

¡Usted no sabe nada! Roll up your right sleeve and let me look at your forearm.”

Puzzled, Oskar humored Rosa.

The woman glanced at the boy’s arm and then refocused on the road.

“Just what I thought,” she said,

“What?”

“You’re a No Count.”

“I’ve been called worse than that,” Oskar frowned, rolling his shirt sleeve back down.

¡Whoa, amigo!” Rosa said. “All I meant is that you’re Not Classified—that you’re an NC. People refer to NCs as No Counts. If you’re Not Classified you can’t hold a real job and you’re not allowed into any Ownership Zone.”

“How do you know I’m not classified?”

“Every person who wants to work in an Ownership Zone has to have an RFID chip iii with their classification implanted in their arm.”
With her right hand firmly on the wheel she rolled up the sleeve on her right arm and then, changing hands on the wheel, showed Oskar a small scar on her forearm.

“I’m an AT, an Authorized Transient. I can enter any OZ and travel between them.  As a truck driver, I need the AT classification for my job. If I get fired or quit, I’ll have thirty days to find a new job or be reclassified as a NC and deported to Mexico. If I come back after deportation and they catch me they will classify me as a Criminal Element, or CE.”

Rosa could see that Oskar was interested so she continued:

“At the top of the OZ food chain in the Land of OZ are the PROs or Permanent Resident Owners. They are the one percent of the population that owns everything that produces revenue. They own all of the buildings and businesses in the Ownership Zones. They also own all of the goods and services that flow through OZ to OZMARTS in the colonias. And, of course, they own the OZ Corridors and all of the commercial trucks and trains using them. Including the truck you’re riding in.”

As they barreled down OZCOR 40, Oskar looked out the window at a small dilapidated town just beyond the security fence.

“That’s a DC, a Distal Colonia,” Rosa informed him. “The people who live in DCs and the surrounding farms and ranches manage to scratch out a living but they have to shop at an OZMART and what little wealth they have flows into the pockets of PROs.”

“If PROs are only one percent of the population, how does the rest of the population live?” Oskar asked.

“We either work directly or indirectly for PROs or find a way to survive in the underground economy. PRs are Permanent Residents of Ownership Zones who are near the top of the food chain and live inside the OZ. They are agents of the PROs—important employees or professional people and big contractors who supply services to PROs.

“Next on the food chain are ATs like me. We have open access to any OZ because of our jobs. Most of us live in one of the PCs or Proximal Colonia that are clustered around every OZ. I live in the PC of East LA. Like the people in the DCs we have to shop at an OZMART and most of our money flows back into the OZ and makes PROs richer.

“But the vast majority of the people who work in OZs are Temporary Transients or TTs. They are semi-skilled and unskilled workers who live in the poorer PCs and commute to their jobs in a designated OZ on a daily basis. TTs live on subsistence wages and shop at OZMARTS so all of their income returns to the pockets of the PROs. Nobody cares where TTs come from but, like ATs, if they lose their job and can’t find another one they are declassified and banned from entering any OZ or deported if they are from another country.

“The Criminal Element lives on the very bottom of the food chain. CEs have permanent police records and can’t legally hold a job or enter any OZ. PROs don’t care where they go but if they enter an Ownership Zone they are subject to immediate arrest and Permanent Detention. If a CE resists arrest, he can be lawfully killed by any police officer.

“And then, of course, there’s multitudes of No Counts—like you—hanging around the colonias who don’t officially exist,” Rosa concluded.
Oskar mulled it over for a couple of minutes.

“I don’t see how a system like that can work.”

El Malpaís

“The OZ Police makes it work. Walls and fences enclose every Ownership Zone and the OZPOL maintain checkpoints 24/7 at every entrance. People inside the zones are randomly monitored by RFID scanners and violators are arrested and detained. It’s highly technical and very effective. In addition PROs and PRs are encouraged to carry handguns and can lawfully shoot anyone who assaults or threatens them.”

“Who would want to live in a place like that?”

“Actually, OZ is paradise for PROs and PRs. They enjoy the best of everything and instead of having RFID chips implanted in their arms they carry ID cards that entitle them to everything from discount prices on goods and services to tax exemptions and virtual immunity from search, seizure, and arrest. The rest of us tolerate it because it’s what we have to do to live a half-way decent life.”

Oskar looked over at Rosa and saw a flash of fire in her eyes. He had more questions but thought it best to let her cool off a bit.

El Malpaís

They drove through the spectacle of the Painted Desert in silence and were climbing into the San Francisco Mountains before Oskar asked his next question.

“Are there factories in OZ 17?”

“What?”

“Where do all the goods sold in the OZMARTS come from? On my last trip I saw the biggest factory in the world back east and I was wondering if there are factories like that in OZ 17.”

¡Usted sabe menos que nada! How long ago did you visit back east?”

“A long time ago,” Oskar said with a wry smile. “I told you I’m a time traveler.”

Rosa ignored his claim.

“Most of the factories in OZ 17 and the rest of the country were offshored fifty years ago to the developing countries of Asia and the global south where labor is cheaper. With a few exceptions all that’s left in Ownership Zones are warehouses and processing centers for the flood of imports that come through seaports like OZ 17 and OZ 9 iv.

“Is that why PROs are so wealthy and powerful?”

“Absolutely,” said Rosa. “The Ownership Zones thrive on cheap imports and the cheap labor of immigrants—like me—and the PROs have a lock on it all.”

El Malpaís

They were past the great southern loop of OZCOR 40 between Kingman, Arizona and Needles, California where the supercorridor begins the final leg of the trip to OZ 17. Driving across the Mojave Desert Rosa pointed out an exit sign on the side of the corridor.
Controlled Access!

OFFICIAL OZ
SECURITY AND DETENTION CENTER (SDC)
TRAFFIC ONLY
All Unauthorized Vehicles  
And Persons are Subject to
SEARCH AND SEIZURE

“You do not want to ever end up there,” she warned Oskar.

The boy looked out and saw a road guarded by a checkpoint leading off into the desert.

“Why? What happens there?”

“Nobody knows for sure,” she said. “I’ve known several people who were taken there, but I’ve never met anyone who has come back.”

El Malpaís

“This is it,” said Rosa pulling off the corridor at the OZLAND Truck Stop in San Bernardino. “This is the last stop before OZCOR 4O merges with OZCOR 10 and feeds non-stop into OZ 17. I can get you into OZ 17 because they don’t check empty trucks very closely but it will be difficult for you to get back out.”

“That’s OK,” said Oskar opening the door of the truck as it rolled to a stop. “I want to go in but there are people that I have to say goodbye to before I do.”

Oskar climbed down from the cab and walked around the truck where Rosa had rolled down her window.

“Thanks for the ride, Rosa,” he said.

Hasta que nos encontremos de nuevo,” she promised v.

Oskar started walking away.

“Hey, time traveler!” she called after him.  

He turned back.

“Don’t forget your stuff!”

Rosa tossed an imaginary bundle out of the window of the truck and laughed as she drove away.

Oskar studied the skyline of OZ 17 in the distance for a minute and then turned away and started his return journey to McCarty’s Flow.

El Malpaís

SDC

It was at Needles on his way back to the portal of McCarty’s Flow that Oskar made a big mistake. Up to that point he had avoided the supercorridor by traveling the back roads where he caught rides with friendly locals, but it seemed to him the trip back to Lookout Mountain was taking forever. He figured if he cut across the loop between Needles and Kingman he could save a couple of hours.

Oskar scaled the security fence of the supercorridor easily and was agile enough, with careful timing, to dodge through the seemingly endless streams of high-speed traffic. What he didn’t see coming was the thing that got him. A surveillance drone spotted him when he topped the fence and tracked his harrowing dash across the corridor.

And what he didn’t hear over the roar of the traffic as he climbed the fence on the opposite side was the hum of the drone as it swooped down and shot a hypodermic dart into the back of his neck. The injection took effect immediately and he fell back, unconscious, into the corridor right-of-way.

El Malpaís

“Trespassing,” a clipped, precise voice announced to the boy who was stretched out on an examination table recovering from the tranquilizer.

Oskar tried to shake himself awake and sit up but the guard standing near him held him down with a heavy hand.
“Let him up,” the clipped voice ordered.

Oskar sat up and looked around. He was in a small clinical room with a view of a large divided yard surrounded by a 12 foot security fence topped with multiple strands of barbed wire. Men were milling around on one side of the divide and women, some with children, on the other. All he could see beyond the wire was the parched Mojave Desert.

The man in charge, impeccably dressed in an expensive designer suit, Italian shoes, and a fashion tie, dominated the room. He was sitting in a chair with his coat unbuttoned leaning forward to observe Oskar.

“I’m Director Prince of OZ Security. You’ve been charged with criminal trespass on OZ property and are currently being held in the OZ Detention Center. I’m here to decide your case. What’s your name?”

“What gives you the right to detain me?” Oskar demanded.

“This is not a state institution and therefore you have no rights per se. What I decide here is what happens.”

Oskar simply stared at him.

“What’s your name?” reiterated the Director.

Oskar remained silent.

“OK,” Prince declared, “for the record, you are Detainee X.”

He  studied the boy for a minute.

“Did you see the signs posted on the corridor?”

“I did.”

“Can you read, Detainee X?”

“Of course I can read,” Oskar said.

“Then why did you trespass on OZ property.”

“I was taking a short cut.”

The guard in the room laughed until Director Prince looked sideways at him.

“It doesn’t matter,” said Prince. “We’ve got you on digital video trespassing on OZ property and that’s that. One of our Surveil and Subdue Drones spotted you on the fence and recorded your every move. I understand the guards and techies watching you were betting on whether or not you would end up as road kill. Every once in a while an animal wanders onto a corridor but none of them ever make it across.”

“Yeah,” the guard chuckled. “You’ve got some good moves, kid. I won fifty bucks on your ass!”

Director Prince, usually stiff and dour, cracked a smiled.

“The S & S Drone took you down with this.”

Prince tossed a hypodermic dart on the exam table next to the boy who picked it up, examined it, and tossed it back.

“We’ve checked our data base and verified that you’re a No Count but you’ve perpetrated a felony and can be permanently classified as a CE. What happens now is entirely up to you.”

“What are my choices?” asked Oskar.

“I can classify you as a Temporary Transient and send you to an OZMART as a Probationary Service Worker. If you choose that alternative you will work for a year as a Probie and if your service is satisfactory you will be eligible to apply for any available job that you qualify for.”

“Or?”

“Or I will classify you as a CE and turn you loose.”

“That’s all?”y“That’s not a smart choice, Detainee X. If I classify you as a CE you will be denied legal employment and prohibited from entering any OZ or OZ property including every OZMART in the country. If you violate that prohibition you will be arrested and returned here to SDC and become and Permanent Detainee.”

Director Prince motioned towards the men and women in the yard outside.

“Those people you can see there are all PDs. “Some of them have been here since before you were born.”

Oskar didn’t hesitate for a second.

“Turn me loose.”
Director Prince stood up and looked out into the yard.

“I’ve wasted enough time on Detainee X,” he announced to the guard. “Take him to Processing and have them compile a full biometric profile on him and implant a CE tag. When they’re finished drive him over to the colonia at Kingman and dump him. The sheriff there knows how to deal with CEs.”

The Director buttoned his coat, turned sharply on his heels, and walked out of the room.

“Trespassing,” a clipped, precise voice announced to the boy who was stretched out on an examination table recovering from the tranquilizer.

Oskar tried to shake himself awake and sit up but the guard standing near him held him down with a heavy hand.
“Let him up,” the clipped voice ordered.

Oskar sat up and looked around. He was in a small clinical room with a view of a large divided yard surrounded by a 12 foot security fence topped with multiple strands of barbed wire. Men were milling around on one side of the divide and women, some with children, on the other. All he could see beyond the wire was the parched Mojave Desert.

The man in charge, impeccably dressed in an expensive designer suit, Italian shoes, and a fashion tie, dominated the room. He was sitting in a chair with his coat unbuttoned leaning forward to observe Oskar.

“I’m Director Prince of OZ Security. You’ve been charged with criminal trespass on OZ property and are currently being held in the OZ Detention Center. I’m here to decide your case. What’s your name?”

“What gives you the right to detain me?” Oskar demanded.

“This is not a state institution and therefore you have no rights per se. What I decide here is what happens.”

Oskar simply stared at him.

“What’s your name?” reiterated the Director.

Oskar remained silent.

“OK,” Prince declared, “for the record, you are Detainee X.”

He  studied the boy for a minute.

“Did you see the signs posted on the corridor?”

“I did.”

“Can you read, Detainee X?”

“Of course I can read,” Oskar said.

“Then why did you trespass on OZ property.”

“I was taking a short cut.”

The guard in the room laughed until Director Prince looked sideways at him.

“It doesn’t matter,” said Prince. “We’ve got you on digital video trespassing on OZ property and that’s that. One of our Surveil and Subdue Drones spotted you on the fence and recorded your every move. I understand the guards and techies watching you were betting on whether or not you would end up as road kill. Every once in a while an animal wanders onto a corridor but none of them ever make it across.”

“Yeah,” the guard chuckled. “You’ve got some good moves, kid. I won fifty bucks on your ass!”

Director Prince, usually stiff and dour, cracked a smiled.

“The S & S Drone took you down with this.”

Prince tossed a hypodermic dart on the exam table next to the boy who picked it up, examined it, and tossed it back.

“We’ve checked our data base and verified that you’re a No Count but you’ve perpetrated a felony and can be permanently classified as a CE. What happens now is entirely up to you.”

“What are my choices?” asked Oskar.

“I can classify you as a Temporary Transient and send you to an OZMART as a Probationary Service Worker. If you choose that alternative you will work for a year as a Probie and if your service is satisfactory you will be eligible to apply for any available job that you qualify for.”

“Or?”

“Or I will classify you as a CE and turn you loose.”

“That’s all?”y“That’s not a smart choice, Detainee X. If I classify you as a CE you will be denied legal employment and prohibited from entering any OZ or OZ property including every OZMART in the country. If you violate that prohibition you will be arrested and returned here to SDC and become and Permanent Detainee.”

Director Prince motioned towards the men and women in the yard outside.

“Those people you can see there are all PDs. “Some of them have been here since before you were born.”

Oskar didn’t hesitate for a second.

“Turn me loose.”

Director Prince stood up and looked out into the yard.

“I’ve wasted enough time on Detainee X,” he announced to the guard. “Take him to Processing and have them compile a full biometric profile on him and implant a CE tag. When they’re finished drive him over to the colonia at Kingman and dump him. The sheriff there knows how to deal with CEs.”

The Director buttoned his coat, turned sharply on his heels, and walked out of the room.

El Malpaís

“Name,” asked the receptionist at SDC Processing.

“He won’t say,” the guard escorting Oskar said. ”Director Prince called him Detainee X.”

“That’ll work,” said the clerk, typing an entry into a computer. “He’s about to become CE X. Take him on in.”

In the lab, technicians took a digital photo of Oscar for use in facial recognition systems, digital fingerprints, retina, ear, and nose scans, and DNA and body odor samples. The nurse who implanted the CE chip in the boy’s arm warned him that to remove it was a felony punishable by Permanent Detention.

When the processing technicians were finished, the guard loaded Oskar into a patrol car and headed down the access road toward OZCOR 40.

The man stopped at the gate and turned to Oskar.

“CE X, which way were you headed when you were picked up? I couldn’t tell from the video.”

“East to Gallup.”

“I can’t take you that far but I’ll take to you Winslow and drop you off.  Believe me you do not want to meet the Sheriff at Kingman.”

They drove in silence through Kingman and Flagstaff and on to Winslow. When the guard pulled over to the side of the road to let Oskar out, he offered his advice:

“You’re a marked man CE X—you’d best disappear forever. There is no future for you in the Land of OZ.”

“Thanks for the ride,” the boy said.

The patrol car pulled off leaving Oskar standing alone in the middle of the Painted Desert.

El Malpaís

Hours later when Oskar stopped at the threshold of McCarty’s Flow for a final look at the Land of OZ, a glint of light from a sliver of obsidian in the dirt caught his eye.      

Oskar picked it up, blew off the dust, and then rolled up the sleeve of his shirt.  Without a moment’s hesitation, he made a deep incision at the site of the implantation in his forearm.  He sucked on the wound until he felt the RFID chip in his mouth and then spit it on the ground and smashed it with a rock.

With blood trickling down his forearm, the boy disappeared into the lava tube.

El Malpaís

Back in El Malpaís Diego was startled by the sudden reappearance of his young compañero. Oskar appeared extremely agitated and blood had stained the sleeve of his shirt.

“Quick, Diego!” the boy shouted, “Get some paper out my backpack and a stick of charcoal from the fire!”

While el lobo mexicano went to fetch what Oskar called for, the boy gathered up pebbles of raw earth pigments from the ground around the campsite, ground them into powder on a rock, and mixed them with water from their canteen.

After the wolf came back, Oskar sat on the ground and began drawing a map. Diego watched the image take form but he couldn’t figure out what he was looking at.

When the boy was finished, he laid the map aside to dry and placed a rock on it so the wind wouldn’t blow it away.

“In the morning,” Oskar said, “we’ll take it with us when we report to Tatcho.”

Exhausted, the boy slumped to the ground and slept fitfully until the sun came up.

 End

Episode 6: Report to Tatcho

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Copyright © 2016 by Richard D. Vogel
at http://combatingglobalization.com

Permission to copy granted

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iOwnership Zones evolved out of Free Trade Zones that were originally business parks subsidized by governments and granted exemptions from tax, labor, and environmental laws in order to promote economic development. It didn’t take the owners of wealth long to see the advantages of these zones. By expanding and consolidating the FTZs they concentrated their wealth and power and at the time of Oskar’s visit to the Land of OZ the Ownership Zones controlled most of the world’s wealth.

iiOZ 17 used to be the city of Los Angeles. In the mid-21st century it was the 17th largest Ownership Zone in the world.

iiiRFID stands for radio frequency identification, an electronic system by which an object or a person can be identified from a distance.

ivOZ 9, formally New York City. In the mid-21st century it was the 9th largest OZ in the world.

vHasta que nos encontremos de nuevo” translates as “Until we meet again”. Whether Rosa knew  she and Oskar would meet again or if it is just an empty phrase is unclear.

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