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When Injustice Continues . . . and a New Group of Students
Comes to the Aid of Freedom.

Chapter 2: The Reinforcements Awaken

Eric stormed into the living room of the boarding house, throwing his books down in a heap on the table. "I can't believe this."

"Whoa. What's eating you, Eric?" Chris asked him, a puzzled look on his face. "Bad day or something?"

Eric glared at him. "Much worse than simply a ‘bad day'. A sudden realization of the worst is more like it." He sighed heavily. "It's terrible."

"WHAT'S terrible?" Caroline insisted. She was getting a little impatient with Eric's vague talk, and longed for a point to the conversation.

"The whole situation. I didn't think things could be any worse than they were before . . . but I see now I was horribly mistaken."

Jay sniffed. "Would you tell us already? I'll die of pneumonia before you come to the point at this rate."

"The point is, this university is full of tyrants," Eric huffed. Immediately Gregor started to laugh.

"Don't you think you're exaggerating just a bit?" he said loudly, his speech a bit slurred. "We've only been in classes a week. Give them time to mellow out, I say."

"Gregor, you shouldn't drink during the day," Eric said, annoyed. "I'm not exaggerating at all. Students are forced into tiny dorm rooms, unreasonable curfew hours, and endless study sessions just so the administration can have a good grade average to report. It's oppression, plain and simple, and we've got to do something about it."

Felicia nearly spewed cola out her nose at that. "Hold it. ‘We have to do something'? You've studied one too many revolutions, Eric my friend. What would you have us do, oh champion of freedom--organize a fruitless protest march?"

Lisa shook her head miserably. "I . . . wouldn't advise that."

"Why not?"

"I've heard a few stories," she explained quietly. "Last year, a few students decided to do just that--and they disappeared. Without a trace, never heard from or seen again."

"Kidnapping?" Joanna guessed uneasily. Lisa nodded.

"That's what they say. Anybody who makes trouble--whether it's protestors, criminals or simply bad students--disappear from campus, and their names are stricken from the records."

"As if they never existed," Caroline whispered, wide-eyed. Even Gregor had suddenly become very serious--this was real. Not just some of Eric's imaginings, this was tyranny in action.

"So what can we do?" Chris asked.

"I don't know yet," Eric said grimly. "But I have to do something."

* * * * * * *

"But, don't you see," Eric said, idly examining a glass beaker, "that something has to be done? It's injustice at its most barbarous, and if nobody dares to rise up against it, we'll become slaves to them, and nothing better."

Gregor sighed, pulling off his lab goggles wearily. "Eric, your ancestors were French . . . right?"

"Yeah, so?"

"So haven't you learned anything from family history?"

"I don't understand . . . you've been drinking again, haven't you? And before noon, too . . ."

"Not this time, man--I'm more sober than you are." He put the goggles back on and made a few adjustments to the distillation, talking all the while. "My family was French, too, and I can tell you, there's a lot more to French history than what they taught us in school."

"Look, how come you think you know all this? I'm the French History major here . . ."

"Eric, you're good at learning about history, knowing the facts and dates . . . but there's more to it than that. You not only have to learn about history, you must learn FROM it as well. Hand me that test tube, will you?" With a medicine dropper he added the solution in the test tube drop-by-drop to the main beaker. "You know about the Revolutions of 1830 and 1848, of course, because they were successful. They were great turning points in history. What they don't teach us in high school is about the attempted revolutions in between, the numerous times that the people took to the barricades in great hope and enthusiasm--and failed."

Gregor looked up at Eric keenly. "You see what I'm saying? Hundreds, even thousands of men died on those innumerable barricades, fought to the death for an ideal, and Paris awoke the very next morning to the same hopeless life it had before. Nothing different. Only a fraction of noble causes succeed, Eric, but all of them result in deaths! What you're talking about is serious business. Even if you try, you may fail."

Eric smiled slightly. "If we don't try at all, Greg," he said quietly, "we're sure to fail." He set the beaker down on the table and left the room without another word.

"I worry about you, Eric," Gregor said softly as he picked up the clean (or reasonably clean) beaker and filled it with liquid from the main beaker. "I worry about us all. I think that's why I drink so much." He took a sip from the beaker and immediately spit it out. "Damn!" he cried, slamming his fist down on the table and rattling the glassware in the process. "It's soured."

* * * * * * *

"I worry about him," he repeated the next day over a plate of the cafeteria's worst chopped steak. "He's getting very excited about his sister, and if he goes ahead with her suggestion he may have to drop out of the college."

"Eric's okay on his own, Greg," Patricia said, placing a hand on his. "I'm sure he's perfectly capable of discerning whether or not the suggestion is necessary." She took a sip of her water. "I think it's a good idea, though." Since it would have been beyond stupid to discuss Eric's plans for insurrection in public, Gregor had worked out a code with Patricia to hide it. The two had met in first-level Calculus, thrown together on the first day as homework partners, and immediately found an inexplicable bond. The fast friends seemingly had nothing in common, and yet Patricia was the one Gregor invariably went to for advice, and Patricia did likewise--always making sure that Gregor was at least halfway sober first.

"Sister" was the name they had given to the administration, "suggestion" stood for Eric's noble ideas, and "dropping out of college"--it was all too plain.

One could call the consequences of what Eric was planning "dropping out of college," because in a sense it was true. Voluntarily or not, he would never be seen in the college again. Or anywhere else.

"I do, too," Gregor admitted. "And so do the rest of his friends. There's no question that if he goes through with it, we're supporting his choice. But . . . it scares me. I can't help wondering . . . what if it doesn't work?"

"It may not work," Patricia said slowly. "But if I were Eric, I'd rather try it and fail than not try at all. Wouldn't you?"

Gregor thought for a long time about that.

"Yeah, I would," he finally said, the truth apparent in his voice. They ate in silence.

"By the way, Greg," Patricia asked after some time, almost as if in passing, "how many friends does Eric have?"

"Seven or eight, perhaps," he said, forking about on his plate. "Why?"

"Oh, nothing . . . but I may know someone who could help him with that suggestion." She stood up and picked up her tray to leave. "See ya, Greg."

Gregor sat silently, staring at the inedible meat.

"I'd rather try," he murmured again, as if he'd only just realized it.

* * * * * * *

New group on campus. Considering actions against administration. Seven or eight, under leadership of one Eric Onry. Contact established through one of their group, a Gregor Metelin. High potential for new recruits, or at least a joint effort.


Abigail smiled at the familiar pseudonym. Patricia had earned the nickname last year, with her duties as their unofficial spy--but hadn't yet used it this year. Abigail supposed it was a kind of nostalgia that made her smile so.

But . . . a new group? She'd never considered including new people before . . . they got on fine on their own, without anyone else's help . . . and what if these people were in Hopson's pay? Stop it! she commanded herself. Don't be so paranoid. She set herself to analyzing the note.

Seven or eight, under leadership of one Eric Onry. Eric Onry--Abigail had a class with him . . . a French history major in her Sociology class. He was always getting in arguments with the other students over the plight of the working class in history. She had listened many a time to debates over the causes of the French Revolution behind her while waiting for the professor to deign to begin. Hotheaded, but enthusiastic and in earnest, definitely.

Contact established through one of their group, a Gregor Metelin. HIM? Surely Patricia must be mistaken . . . Gregor Metelin, the most notorious drunk on campus? The man who majored in Chemistry only so he could learn to make his own liquor? Surely not . . . yet Patricia had never been wrong before . . . Abigail shrugged. Maybe it was possible. The rare times she had seen him sober, he always had such a serious look on his face . . .

Considering actions against administration. What kind of actions were they planning? If they were caught . . . in that moment Abigail decided what had to be done.

High potential . . . There was potential here, indeed--potential danger. She dropped the note into the combination paper shredder/burner that David had come up with over the summer--an invaluable device--and took pen in left hand to write her own response.

Tell Onry that I will talk to him, as myself, tomorrow night at eight in my room. He doesn't need to know about us yet--I want to see if he is serious about his convictions, and if indeed the others will follow him.

She couldn't help the grin on her face when she drew the little flower at the bottom of the paper. It felt so good do draw that again.

On to Chapter 3
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