In the ruins of the dead zone, cars and troop transports roared by. Searchlights from helicopters overhead turned night into day as they scoured the landscape. And from the efficient comfort of a mobile command center sat Charles Bloomburton and the bureau’s other committee heads: high-ranking security personnel, psychologists, and policy directors. But for the moment, the collective body was simply on hand to observe Bloomburton in action as he tried to be in all places at once. Coordinating. Authorizing. Charging ahead. A constant stream of phone calls came and went. Charles monitored live video feed from a dozen cameras and at the same time, consulted the bureau’s directives for subjects escaping. But the benign legalese he found on the topic in his binder hid a sinister truth. Repeat escape attempts were not to be tolerated. Charles reread the bullet point again and again almost not wanting to believe it.
“Zero in on sector five. We have a report that they could be in sector five.” He said into his headset.
“Yes, sir.” The voice on the other end replied.
The entire dead zone was abuzz in activity. In specific sectors, Charles had ordered block-by-block sweeps of every object and building, every entrance and crawlspace. Teams of sentries and their angry guard dogs formed a line that moved across the terrain. What hope could the escapees possibly have?
Back in the command center, the mood had shifted. A debate broke out among the committee. Assuredly the subjects would be located soon. Every committee member agreed on that much. But once these malcontents were apprehended, what should be done with them?
“It is a matter of the utmost importance!” One of them shouted to another.
“A single escape attempt requires a redoubling of reform efforts,” The security head explained to the group. “We are not without mercy in this organization, after all. But to repeatedly escape? And to encourage others to do so? What we have here, gentlemen, is the worst kind of rebel. I believe this Eleana should be beyond redemption in the eyes of this bureau! And she can no longer be tolerated.”
“Now, wait just a moment…” Charles interjected before being cut off by the head of psychology.
“Mr. Bloomburton, we’ve all applauded your commitment to caring for and treating this cases over the years, but you must look at the bigger picture. Our colleague here is correct. The ringleader of this group must be eliminated! There is no question about it. The possession of contraband is one thing. Even escape is one thing. But if we do not address this now, we may have a full scale revolt on our hands in a matter of days or weeks. I’m already concerned at the possibly for prison riots breaking out if news of this becomes widely known.”
Charles pleaded and attempted to reason with them.
“It is our duty to reform those who go astray,” Charles said, “I believe that their best interests are at the very heart of that work. We cannot go against those principles.”
The committee gazed at him in unison, “Mr. Bloomburton, there are the best interests of a few individuals and that is a notable pursuit. But above all, there is what’s best for the collective well-being, the bureau, and this committee. We have voted and that vote stands. Eleana and her co-conspirators represent a dangerous plot against the bureau that won’t be sugarcoated any longer.”
Within seconds of the meeting’s conclusion, every sentries’ radio echoed with the voice of the security director. The escapees were to be killed on sight.