The Liberty Box
by C. A. Gray
INTRODUCTION—THE LIBERTY BOX
Kate Brandeis has it all: a famous reporter at the age of twenty-four, she’s the face of the Republic of the Americas. She has a loving fiancé and all the success she could wish for. But when she learns of the death of a long-forgotten friend, her investigations unravel her perfect memories, forcing her to face the fact that she’s been living a lie.
Jackson MacNamera, trained from a young age in the art of mind control, returns to the Republic for his mother’s funeral. Within a few hours of his arrival, authorities collect Jackson and take him by force to a room ironically called The Liberty Box, where he must choose between surrendering his thoughts to the new Republic, or fleeing for his freedom.
Kate, bereaved and confused, finds her way to a cave community of refugees, where Jackson seems to offer her an escape from her grief. The two forge an uneasy bond, and in the process Jackson learns that Kate has some insight which may help the hunters in their attempt to free other citizens from the tyranny of the Potentate. Against the expressed wishes of the Council, the hunters plot a series of daring raids, attempting to prove that not only is freedom possible, but that the citizens are not too far gone to desire it. But with the odds so stacked against them, can the refugees succeed in their rescue missions right under the Potentate’s nose?
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THE LIBERTY BOX — EXCERPT
Prologue: Twenty-Four Years Ago
Smoke billowed up into the sky as far as the eye could see. Calmly, Benjamin Voltolini weaved his way through the crowd, his dark hair swept back, revealing an enormous forehead. He held his head erect, and kept his expression vacant, but with a hint of amusement that he could not quite erase. He took a step back as a looter dashed in front of him with a torch, lobbing it at the vacant bank not ten feet away. Within minutes, the bank went up in flames. The other looters cheered, throwing rocks to shatter the windows, or lobbing more torches for good measure as Voltolini moved through the crowd and away from the flames.
The banks had gotten the worst of it from the start.
Voltolini had intentionally ripped his clothes and caked them in mud to blend in, so that he could steal a large container of gasoline from one of the few remaining gas stations. He paused every so often to change his grip or wipe the sweat from his brow with the back of his hand, keeping as far away from the flames as he could.
He’d left his Maserati well outside the city limits. He had a long way to go.
By the time Voltolini drove up to the fortress built into the side of the mountain, the sun dipped low behind it. Two armed guards stood by a high chain link gate, and they leveled their machine guns at him as he slowed to approach.
“Whatever happened to a simple greeting?” Voltolini muttered to himself, but raised his hands in the air behind the windshield.
One of the guards pulled some sort of device to his mouth and spoke rapidly as he jogged to Voltolini’s window.
“Identify yourself and state your business!”
“Benjamin Voltolini, Venture Capitalist.” Voltolini’s teeth gleamed in perfect rows. “Here to present to the former Congress of the United States of America the answer to all of their problems.”
“Do you know any members of the Tribunal personally? Have they summoned you?”
“I guarantee they all know me by reputation.”
“Get lost,” the guard ordered.
“Oh, I don’t think you want to do that, Sergeant”—Voltolini read the young man’s lapel—“Filbert, and I’ll tell you why. Pretty soon I will be the dictator of this country. And I never forget a favor.” After a slight hesitation, he added with a hint of a smile, “Nor a slight.”
“I tell you what, you arrogant bastard,” Sergeant Branson snarled, moving the safety off of his weapon. “I’ll give you to the count of ten, and by the end of it if your tires aren’t screaming on this pavement,” he pointed out into the wasteland, raising his gun, “I’ll give you exactly what you deserve.”
Voltolini looked Sergeant Branson up and down, as if committing him to memory. “Go on, then.”
The sergeant’s mouth fell open for a moment, unsure how to respond to this. “one!” he shouted. “Two!”
Voltolini watched him as the sergeant’s face turned various shades of red and finally puce by the time he reached number nine. Then, just as he leveled the weapon with Voltolini’s face and was about to pronounce the number ten, Voltolini punched the accelerator as hard as he could—not in reverse, toward the wasteland behind him, but toward the locked chain link gate up ahead. The other armed guard scarcely had time to leap out of the way before Voltolini plowed through. The gate itself snapped open and huge sections of the fence clattered to the ground in its wake.
He saw the commotion behind him from the rearview mirror, but didn’t slow down until he reached the courtyard, skidding to a stop just before he crushed a fountain in the shape of an eagle. The burnt rubber smell assaulted him even before he opened his car door.
He stepped out, opened his arms wide and held up his hands in a gesture of both surrender and welcome as most of what remained of the Congress filed out of the meeting hall in disbelief.
“So this is the secret lair of the last vestiges of Congress!” he declared.
C.A. Gray is the author of the YA Fantasy PIERCING THE VEIL trilogy, as well as the NA Dystopian series, THE LIBERTY BOX. By day, she is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD), with a primary care practice in Tucson, AZ. Additionally, she writes medical books under her real name. To learn more about her medical practice, please visit drlaurendeville.com.
She has always been captivated by the power of a good story, fictional or otherwise.
Her favorite authors include J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins, and she also reads an exceptional amount of non-fiction. She is particularly drawn to epic battles of good versus evil, with a strong tendency towards parable. An idealist herself, she has always been convinced that these stories have something deeply true to tell us about the human condition, and that is why we love them so much… or at least that’s why she does.
She still wants to be everything when she grows up. She’s a small business owner (her medical practice), has a podcast, used to moonlight as a college chemistry teacher (she has a degree in biochemistry, with minors in Spanish and Creative Writing), sings in her church worship band, was once a personal trainer, and would still do theater if she ever found the time. She is blessed with exceptionally supportive family and friends, and thanks God for them every single day!
To learn more about C.A. Gray, visit her online at her web site.