In 2034, Americans live in constant fear of the threat of terrorism, and the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense has guarded the public with an ever-expanding list of Civilian Restrictions designed to increase security. There’s no social media. No one is allowed to gather in public places or attend concerts or sporting events. Only a small, select group of adults have driving privileges. It’s a small price to pay for safety.
Despite all that, eighteen-year-old Tommy Bailey had a pretty good life, up until the summer he graduated from high school. Since then, things have been rough: he’s alone and struggling to recover from a serious injury sustained in the auto accident that killed his parents. While his friends prepare to head off to university, he’s learning to walk again.
Just when Tommy feels as though he’s regained some control over his shattered life, he wakes to the wail of a disaster siren. A chemical weapons attack is imminent, but the OCSD is ready with an antidote to the poison, which they’re providing free of charge. Three drops a day is all it takes. But is the antidote designed to protect—or is it part of the problem?
Tommy Bailey has anchored the cast in Counteract, Resist, and now Ignite, the first three books in the Resistance Series. Recently, I got the chance to ask him some questions about how he went from law-‐abiding citizen to freedom fighter:
1) What was it like, growing up under the strict control of the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense? It’s funny you ask what it was like to grow up under the thumb of the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense. The OCSD really took hold in 2019, when I was only three years old, so I’ve never known what it was like to live without the Restrictions-‐-‐until now. I guess my life was pretty close to what you’d think of as normal. I see now just how hard my mom tried to shelter me from what was really going on. My dad was an attorney and activist who opposed the creation of the OCSD and spoke out against their policies, but my parents didn’t talk about it at home-‐-‐at least in front of me. I grew up going to school and playing sports. We lived in an area that still had a few restaurants and shops, and now I understand that it wasn’t like that for everyone. I guess our quadrant had a lot of people who were rich. Our community’s social status-‐-‐and our compliance with the Restrictions-‐ -‐were what allowed us to have those kinds of luxuries.
2) What games did you like to play as a child? I wasn’t big on computer games or anything. Once they shut down access to the internet, nobody spent much time on computers. Football was always the thing for me. When the OCSD announced they were phasing out school sports and banning spectators in college and pro games, my dad was really upset. At the time I thought it was because Dad was hoping I’d play pro someday, but I found out later that the Restriction wasn’t about keeping people safe from terrorist attacks. It sounds crazy, but you gotta understand we were told that gathering at stadiums, movie theaters, and malls made us potential targets, and we were safer viewing and shopping from our homes. Anyway, Lowell Stratford, who was the OCSD director at the time, was trying to get my dad to back off and quit speaking out against the OCSD. Stratford said publicly people should ‘blame Tom Bailey’ for all the attacks and attention we were getting from terrorists. Stratford knew associating my father’s name with the taking away of access to the entertainment and sports people loved would hurt his cause, and make him a less powerful opponent. Luckily, my high school took their time about phasing out sports, and I got to play my senior year. I wasn’t super-‐motivated to play college ball, though. Now I regret my lack of motivation. I like to think I could’ve contributed to a team at that level, but I was just coasting through those last months of high school, ignoring my parents’ prodding. Then, that summer after graduation, everything changed. My family was in an auto accident, and I lost both my parents. My right leg was mangled-‐-‐it took four surgeries, and still the doctors weren’t sure if I’d ever walk normally, let alone run, again. Eventually I stopped feeling sorry for myself and got into the physical therapy, and I was getting better. I was on the verge of feeling like myself again-‐-‐not exactly like I was before, but you know, like I could feel whole again someday. Then the chemical weapons threat came up, and bam. Taking the antidote killed my motivation. I quit working on my recovery.
3) What does the antidote CSD taste like? The antidote is bitter. It tastes like something you wouldn’t take if you didn’t have to. Did they do that on purpose? To make us think it was like some kind of medicine, something we really needed to stay safe? If they’d made it taste like candy, maybe we wouldn’t have taken it seriously.
4) What did it feel like when you took the first dose? When I took my first dose, I was also on some heavy pain meds, and the whole experience was pretty trippy. I thought I was out on the lake, in a boat, where we used to go on holiday when I was a kid. Other times, it rained inside the house. Grass grew out of the TV. But none of that seemed strange. On the antidote, you just kind of roll with whatever happens to you. Well, on Phase One, that is. Phase Two was different. Stronger. I don’t remember much about what happened when they upped our doses. Careen told me some things that make me glad I was totally checked out.
5) What is it like, being part of the Resistance? Life in the Resistance? Let’s just say I had no idea what I was getting into. I can’t believe I was that oblivious to what was going on in the world around me, but like I told you before, I never considered blowing off the Restrictions and refusing to do what the OCSD told us to do. They said it was the only way to survive the chemical weapons attack. The day Careen and I ran out of the antidote was kind of the point of no return for both of us. We realized we weren’t going to die; then we started to wonder if we were the only ones who’d stopped taking the antidote. It became obvious that something was really wrong when we saw what the antidote was doing to other people. Then we made contact with the Resistance and before I had time to think, we were going along on a mission to rescue some people who’d been detained for opposing the OCSD’s policies. Things got a little messy while we were at their headquarters in the capital. Now, we’re fugitives. We can’t go back to being anonymous, even if we wanted to.
6) What do you miss about your old life? My old life seems like a dream. I miss playing football and knowing it’s all just a game, not a matter of life and death. I miss sleeping in and being lazy. I miss not worrying. Now I’m watching my back all the time, ’cause I’ve realized you can’t trust anyone-‐-‐and that includes other members of the Resistance. I feel responsible for Careen and some of the others. But I can handle it. Physically, I’m strong again. My skills are needed.
7) Do you have any long-‐term plans with Careen? Careen showed up on my front porch one morning. I’d seen her around, I think, and she’d been in a couple of my dreams. She seemed to have some connection to me, too, but later we realized she was being manipulated by a member of the quadrant marshals, who was using her to find out if I was carrying on my father’s work against the OCSD-‐-‐which I wasn’t! The day we met was also the day we ran out of antidote. I remember sitting there with her, believing we were going to die from the poison, and wishing more than anything that it was an ordinary day when I could meet a girl and not have to think about dying. Careen’s smart and brave, and she’s been through some rough times; it’s not easy for her to trust anyone. Even though we stuck together while we detoxed and tried to figure out what was going on, she kept me at arm’s length. That was okay; I was willing to be patient until she was ready to trust me. Things got more dangerous, and before long we realized there was no escape for us. The Quadrant Marshals were looking for Careen, and it was only a matter of time before we’d be arrested and forced into the OCSD’s civilian army. There was no reason not to…um, you know…and we did. Maybe things between us moved too fast, but that connection between us is real. I think I love her. I know I want her. We’re still getting to know each other; we don’t always agree, and yeah, we fight sometimes, and it ticks me off that one of the other guys in the Resistance is trying to put the moves on her when he knows she’s my girl. Oh-‐-‐but long-‐term? Sure. It’s just not practical to plan too far into the future.
8) What’s happening in Ignite? Man, it’s hard to do this without spoilers! Right now, umm, Careen and I aren’t together, and by that I mean we’re not in the same location. But I’m gonna fix that. My feelings for her haven’t changed. I’m more determined than ever to stick with the Resistance and overthrow the OCSD, even if I don’t always agree with how other members of the Resistance choose to advance their goals. At the moment, Jaycee, who’s the daughter of one of the Resistance leaders, has stepped up to fill the void left by some of the people we’ve lost. She’s awfully young, but she’s been waiting for the revolution all her life. We’re going to need everyone in the Resistance to work together if we’re going to sabotage the OCSD’s latest plan to control the people.
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