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A Secrets of PEACE short story



In a future America run by the authoritarian PEACE Project, Alma Rosales enjoys a fairly comfortable life as a detective with her city's local police department. That is until her younger brother Javier gets into trouble and finds himself facing a lengthy prison sentence, or worse. Determined to protect him, Alma follows a trail that leads her closer and closer to the radicals she's been tasked with hunting down and reporting to the Project her entire career...and a decision that will change the course of her life forever.

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“Give me a few minutes with him.”

Tasha and Baines filed out of the room, leaving Alma alone with her brother. She turned to look at him, but he refused to meet her gaze.

“What were you thinking?” she finally asked.

No answer, but she hadn’t really expected to get one. Javier’s default response to one of her lectures was silence. Alma’s default response to that was to keep lecturing. She didn’t know what else to do. Maybe she was still holding on to the hope that one of these days, some of her words would permeate his thick skull and actually sink into his brain.

She switched to Spanish—her first language, and the one that required less mental effort in tense, emotional situations like this. “You weren’t thinking. That’s the problem. You never think. You’re always doing crazy stuff like this. Why? Is it the adrenaline rush? Or do you just like to torture me?”

Still no eye contact. Javier’s silence persisted.

Alma shook her head. “I can’t help you if you don’t talk to me. This is serious. You know that, right? You’ll end up in prison.”

One shoulder raised lazily as he continued to stare at the floor. Half a shrug. That was all she got from him.

“What would Mom and Dad think?”

He finally looked up at her, defiant anger burning through his glare. It had been a cheap shot, but at least it coaxed a response from him. “I don’t know, but you’re not Mom. Stop acting like you know what’s best for me.”

“Well you obviously don’t know what’s best for you. Or maybe you just don’t care.” She sighed, shook her head, and lowered her voice. “I’m your sister, Javi. I can’t just stand by and watch while you ruin your life.”

“You don’t get it,” Javier muttered.

“Then tell me. Help me understand.”

“I can’t.” He glanced up at the camera in the corner of the room. He couldn’t tell her anything—not here. Not with the police watching and listening.

Which meant he was guilty. Of what exactly, Alma didn’t know yet, but if she was going to help him, she would have to figure out what he’d been up to on her own.

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