When the New America Party turned down her application for membership, the sophomore marched right back to that dreary office and demanded an explanation. To deny admission to an individual with her attributes was absurd. She was an upstanding citizen and her academic performance at the University of Southern Kansas had earned her a merit citation that semester. What kind of political party screened its supporters anyway? It was outrageous. She launched an attack at the matronly woman in charge, "Do you remember me? I was here last week."Adjusting her glasses, the woman stood. "Yes, I do remember you. I'm Mrs. Brinkman. Is something wrong?" "Can you explain to me why I received this in the mail?" Mrs. Brinkman flattened the wrinkled letter over her desk. "You were not accepted. This is odd." "And I would like to know why." "I'm sorry, I have no idea." "I would like to see someone who can explain this." "Please, sit down and let's see if I can find out what's going on." She calmed herself and asked the older woman, "Could it be a computer error?" "Those application forms are sent to Kansas City. Let me call someone." "I want you to know something, Mrs. Brinkman. I appreciate that none of this is your fault, but I voted for Eric Johnson. I support the New America Party wholeheartedly. I'm sorry I was upset. It's just upsetting-something like this." "I understand, dear." A few minutes later they were waiting for Mr. Sawyer in the regional office to call back. Mrs. Brinkman said, "He's looking up your file. He-he did mention one thing." "What?" Mrs. Brinkman glanced around the room, verifying no one else was there. She sighed. "We do have a nominal selection process. Do you have a criminal record?" "I assure you I do not." "Then I'm sure it's just a slipup." "I want you to know something, Mrs. Brinkman. I'm an honor roll student at the university and my minor happens to be in political science. I think that's why I find this so offensive." "I'm sorry this happened. But I hope you can appreciate that the screening process is meant to keep the New America Party free of objectionable elements. Many of these . . . people . . . aren't allowed to vote in any case." She agreed with the policy. "I do appreciate that. But excluding criminals is not a warrant to violate the civil rights of a normal person." "I want to assure you the New Americans are glad to have someone like you as a member." "Thank you." The phone buzzed. Mrs. Brinkman scooped it up immediately and said, "Jack? I'm sitting here with Susan Foster. You may already know she's an honor student and--" Snapping a glance at the young woman, Mrs. Brinkman dropped her voice. "Oh. No. Seriously? But how-? Oh. Yes, of course. Yes. I will." She replaced the receiver back in its cradle. Her hand was shaking. The sophomore demanded, "What did he say?" "You-ah. Your profile-" "Tell me." The older woman removed her glasses. "I don't know how to put this. I am sorry, Ms. Foster, but we recently introduced a more advanced selection process. I was not aware of this. Medical screening." "Medical-?" "It's genealogy profiling. I'm sorry." She was furious. This was exactly the sort of thing the New Americans opposed. Why, Congressman Johnson had voted against the Victory Act! Her voice was brittle with accusation. "I cannot believe you are doing this." "I had no idea. I am sorry." "And just how did they get my DNA?" "He said-your ID thumbprint on the form you filled out." "Mrs. Brinkman, this is outrageous." She was horrified that the liberal party had adopted the very practices they propounded to have excluded in a modified version of the Victory Act. "I'm sorry." The older woman was very upset and her voice wavered. "Do you know what this is about? I had a grandfather who I never even met named John Kline who had violent tendencies. He killed a man. But that has nothing to do with me. My DNA may be imperfect but I'm a unique individual. Genealogy profiling is wrong and you know it." Profiling was a total invasion of privacy. The despicable practice was being misused by the insurance industry and in employment screening. The New America Party was supposed to be fighting things just like this. "Please." Mrs. Brinkman stared at the desk, her hands shaking. She found this circumstance untenable. Only her loyalty to the party kept her from calling Jack again. But to vilify him and this abominable policy would only result in her removal. It was more important than ever that she remain loyal to the New American Party so that one day she might be in a position to fix problems like this. "This is reprehensible." Frustrated, the older woman simply shook her head. She really wished she could do something. Maybe the young woman would leave now. That would defuse this unfortunate situation. "And please would you tell me-" She rummaged through her fanny pack and showed Mrs. Brinkman the yellow slip of paper. "This was in my box this morning. I'm getting a status review. My grades are excellent and I live off-campus, so I had no idea what it was. I think I now know. Did your organization somehow give that genealogical profile to the university? Did they?" Mrs. Brinkman admitted, "We use computers like everyone else. The government of course has access." The sophomore fought to understand just what all this meant. They did snoop on everyone, she knew that. In order to ensure a victory against terrorists the politicians had passed legislation which gave the federal government the right to review any computer and cell phone records they chose. Why, there was a crazy rumor about some way they could read your mind and how even that was legal. The government did whatever it pleased. And apparently, they had had leaked information to the university about her. The implications stunned her. What was going to happen now? Would she get expelled over that stupid genealogical history? "I'm sure it will be all right, Ms. Foster. After all, you said you're a good student. A genealogy profile only identifies DNA patterns, it doesn't actually predict behavior. Surely the university will give you a chance to show that you are not an undesirable." "Like you did?" "Please." Was there nothing she could say which would appease the poor woman? "Mrs. Brinkman, one day this whole country is going to go back to what it was. Our nation will be free again." She stood and glared down at this pathetic old hypocrite. "The government, the conservative media, everything's going to change. I want you to know that people like you will not be welcome in the new order of things." She turned on her heel and left. There was nothing more to say. Rather than relief, Mrs. Brinkman felt a strange sense of trepidation. The volatile young woman might do anything. She might try to start a scandal over this. Mrs. Brinkman stared at the phone. She needed to call Jack. After several minutes of explanation, she sagged in her chair. Jack told her they already had a protocol in place for this. "We'll make certain this doesn't become a major problem," he said. "How?" "Look, you've done your job. Just let me handle this. She will be dealt with." "But, Jack. What's going to happen to her?" "You don't want to know." Mrs. Brinkman's hand trembled as she hung up the phone. He was right. She didn't want to know. The following afternoon Susan Foster was in her apartment trying to get intoxicated to forget her troubles, but she couldn't even finish two glasses of wine. She had been expelled from school and she wanted to sue the university and the New America Party. But everyone she spoke with agreed that what had been done to her was legal under the Victory Act. The most she might be able to do would be to cause them some embarrassment. Camped out on the sofa, swathed inside the afghan, she hugged herself and thought about the criminal who was responsible for all this. Had John Kline really taken a knife and stabbed a man to death? How could someone do that? How could her own grandfather do that? Did her genes contain the formula for murder? She looked at the knife she'd used to cut the smoked cheddar. Could someone like her ever pick up a knife and push it into a person's body over and over again until they were dead? On the roof of the building across the street, a harsh voice whispered, "We have murderous intent." Captain Stan Parks of the Urban Terrorist Prevention Unit was not at all comfortable with the new equipment and he asked, "You're sure that thing works?" "I'm reading her mind right now and she's thinking about killing someone." Captain Parks looked past the officer hunched over the strange-looking mind reading machine and addressed the man using the spy scope. "What's she doing?" The officer with the long scope muttered, "Just sitting there." He adjusted a knob and the vestigial traces of the wall across the street vanished completely from his screen. "Hasn't moved off the couch." Captain Parks used his collar mic to order squad B into the building. The officer next to him questioned this. "Aren't we being a little premature? "I have an incident report-she caused a problem in the New America Party office. She's a potential subversive with a genealogy history of violence. And now you say she has murderous intent. I think we're good." "That's enough to go in there?" "I also have a writ of assistance." "What's that? Like a warrant?" "Even better." The man with the spy scope said, "I see an object that may be a knife on a table." The captain informed his squad that the suspect might be armed and dangerous. He instructed them to approach with caution. She thought she heard something in the hallway outside the apartment and she listened but the noise was gone. Her mind must be playing tricks on her. The past few days had certainly taken their toll. And now she was obsessing over John Kline, her murderous grandfather. She would never know what could lead someone to kill another human being. She could never do something like that, no matter what her DNA said. She wasn't capable of such a heinous act. Sighing, she tossed off the afghan. She took the cheese tray and left the couch. Remembering the knife, she placed it on the tray. "She has the weapon!" "Squad B, go! Go!"
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From Mr. Grondo comes another shortee that's may just garner lively comment. It expresses concerns that some might have for the direction our society seems to be going. In this month named after the Roman god of conflict, I thought it appropriate to post. Let's see if it starts reasoned debate, screaming antagonism, or simple ennui. Our BBS forum is open. - GM