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The bar code rebellion, p.1
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       The Bar Code Rebellion, p.1

           Suzanne Weyn
 
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The Bar Code Rebellion


  Contents

  Title Page

  Epigraph

  Prelude

  Part 1

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Part 2

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Part 3

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Part 4

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Epilogue

  Acknowledgments

  Also by Suzanne Weyn

  Copyright

  Every separate sin and sorrow which wore the hearts of king and people was foreknown by her, proclaimed by her. But though event after event showed her predictions true, her people continued to disregard her warnings, and to treat her as a vain enthusiast.

  Louisa Menzies

  Lives of the Greek Heroines (1880)

  A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

  FROM GLOBAL-1

  October 13, 2025

  Kayla Reed spoke directly into the camera as it closed in on her earnest face.

  “When I turned seventeen, I couldn’t wait to get my bar code tattooed to my wrist. It was my way of showing I wanted to become an active, responsible member of society. It was the first thing I set out to do on the morning of my birthday … but as it turned out, I turned seventeen on the same morning that Gene Drake, the Global-1 agent who was doing the tattooing, went insane and opened fire on the crowd. He might have killed many people if the Global-1 police hadn’t been able to take him down so efficiently.”

  She paused, letting the full horror of the scene fully impress itself on the minds of her viewers. She quivered with emotion but regained her composure. “The event left me extremely upset and confused,” she continued. “It caused me to do things I now regret. Many months later my Global-1–assigned therapeutic counselor has explained how this violence affected me. I was deeply traumatized by the shooting. In my fragile state I was easily brainwashed by members of Decode, the group dedicated to wiping out the bar code tattoo. I even joined the bar code resistance myself.” She cast her eyes downward in a show of deep shame and remorse.

  When she looked up again, it was as though she had been reborn with a blissful inner joy. Her lovely face glowed with the zeal of one who has come into a new and glorious light of realization. “My life is so much better now that I’ve seen the advantage of being tattooed with my own personal bar code. I’ve rejoined society and regained my self-esteem. Those horrible days are behind me. I love my bar code tattoo … and I know now that everything is going to be all right.”

  The screen turned blue. Words appeared on it. Above them were the black, parallel, even lines of a bar code. A warm-voiced announcer intoned, “That was Kayla Marie Reed, former bar code resister, giving a testimony to the good things brought to you by Global-1 and the bar code tattoo. Global-1, making friends around the world! This has been a public service announcement from Global-1.”

  I’m nobody! Who are you?

  Are you nobody, too?

  Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!

  They’d banish us, you know.

  “I’m Nobody! Who Are You?”

  Emily Dickinson

  I woke up in a Soho doorway

  A policeman knew my name

  “Who Are You?”

  The Who

  Kayla stood just inside the side door of the deli by the Garrison train station. She was transfixed by the image on the old plasma TV playing above the counter. What she was seeing there left her speechless, too stunned to alert Mfumbe.

  She stared up in total shock at the image of a face on the screen. It was one she knew better than any other — her own face.

  This girl was Kayla — but not. She was meticulously groomed, from her sleek blond hairstyle down to the silver manicured nails. She wore a full face of tasteful makeup. She twinkled with sincerity.

  Mfumbe was walking from the back of the store, coming toward her fast. His jacket pockets bulged with the things he’d stolen. A warning flash in his dark eyes told her they had to get out quickly.

  “Hey! You there! Stop!” the man behind the counter shouted. “What’s in your pockets?”

  They raced out the side door, sliding and stumbling down a steep bank of rocks and dirt. The man was right behind them.

  They scrambled onto the old railroad tracks, the ones closest to the Hudson River. “I’m calling the cops!” the man shouted from atop the embankment as they raced down the tracks, leaping over broken ties that had come loose and rolled to the center. The new BulleTrain lines were at their side.

  A bag of chips fell from Mfumbe’s pocket. They both stooped to grab it. Who knew when they’d have a chance to get food again?

  “Come on! Come on!” Mfumbe urged her, stuffing the bag in his pocket. He took her hand as they continued to run, and she had to increase her speed to keep up. If they got caught, it was all over.

  When they finally felt reasonably sure that no one was after them, they slowed to a walk. The October day was still pleasant and sunny. The trees around them and on the far shore of the river were ablaze with autumn color. Kayla told Mfumbe about what she’d seen on the TV.

  “It was someone who looked like you?” he asked.

  “No! It was me! I was talking about my old neighbor, Gene Drake. I’ve told you how he learned what information was in the bar code, and how it banged him out so bad he tried to destroy the tattooing laser. The Global-1 security cops shot him before he could. Only now they’ve twisted the story so that it sounds like he was the one shooting people. I was on the TV, telling everyone that I love my bar code tattoo.”

  She stretched out her right arm and gazed down at her wrist. There was no bar code tattoo there.

  “I know it sounds crazy,” she said. “But I saw it.”

  The Global-1 BulleTrain appeared — streaking along the magnetic track at breathtaking speed, its engine a high-pitched whisper — and was gone again in an instant. Mfumbe wiped his face of dirt and smiled, amused at the look of dismay on Kayla’s face as she spit out the grime the train had sprayed.

  She smiled back into his eyes, seeing herself as she must look to him — a disheveled, thinly muscular seventeen-year-old with straight light-brown chin-length hair, a wide mouth pulled into a frown, and railroad filth all over her face.

  Looking back at him, she was aware of how much he’d changed over their last few months together. The black hair that he’d always kept so neatly short was now long and wild with curls. His brown skin had slowly deepened in color from all the time they’d spent outdoors in the mountains.

  He reached into the pocket of his torn jeans and pulled out half a stick of peppermint gum and handed it to her. Peppermint gum was his special cure for all the trouble in the world. He’d given her some the first day they’d met, a little over a year ago. When he handed her the wrapped sweetness, it was more than gum — it was his way of reminding her of his love. It always worked its intended magic, every time.

  Where did you get this? she asked, speaking from her mind directly to his mind as she turned the treasured gum in her hand.

  It’s my emergency half stick, he revealed, smiling with satisfaction at hav
ing surprised and pleased her. When we get to the old warehouse at Indian Point I’m going to see if I can hook us up with a ride. I hear the clubs on the strip are still hot-wired to the underground. It sounds like you can score anything if you know who to ask. The bar code hasn’t changed that.

  The warehouse was a safe haven where they’d once held their anti–bar code meetings. There had been six of them then. Now they were completely scattered.

  I can’t wait to get there, she told him. But it’s still miles away.

  We’ll get there, he assured her, gently lifting her chin as he kissed her lips. She wrapped her arms around him and kissed him back.

  As she pressed her forehead into the hollow of his shoulder, she took a moment to slow her racing, unsettled thoughts. The image she’d seen on the screen had messed with her mind in a big way.

  If it was a vision of what was to come, it wouldn’t be the first time a flash of future sight had come upon her, swooping in without any summoning. It had started when she was about thirteen. Now that she’d learned to cultivate the talent, the visions came to her more clearly and more frequently.

  In fact, right now she was headed toward something she’d already seen herself doing in a vision months earlier. She’d envisioned Mfumbe joining her at a march on Washington long before she had even dreamed of joining the bar code resistance — before she’d even met Mfumbe.

  If the broadcast image of herself was another vision, did it mean she would eventually get a bar code tattoo? Would she go on TV and encourage others to get it? What was going to happen that could ever compel her to make such a complete turnaround, disavowing everything she passionately believed?

  The bar code was wrong. It was degrading and put government control right on your skin. It reduced you to a code. And more than that, it said that you were to be judged solely on the basis of your genetic code.

  What many people hadn’t known — and still weren’t aware of — was that every person with the tattoo had his or her genetic history encoded in the lines of the bar code. The new world that was being created by the bar code tattoo was one where the genetically healthy were given everything, and those with genetic liabilities — inherited diseases, personality flaws, psychological disorders, or any physical weakness — could waste away.

  Even the new micro-chip technologies had not had the impact on society that the bar code had. People feared having the chips embedded in their skin, but they were comfortable with tattoos and bar codes, making them more ready to accept the bar code tattoo.

  Only a small group realized the implications, saw the danger. Only a few, like Kayla, had learned how the information stored there was being used.

  Why would she ever go on TV and tell people to get a bar code tattoo when she knew only too well that it had the hidden power to destroy their lives?

  You’re thinking about what you saw on the TV again, aren’t you? Mfumbe cut into her thoughts.

  Yeah, she admitted.

  It had taken him months to catch up to her telepathic skill. It still taxed his strength, but he had the ability. The population of resisters living in the Adirondack mountain range had all cultivated some version of telepathy.

  Mfumbe believed everyone could learn to become telepathic, or at least carried the potential in their genetic suitcase of untapped abilities. He figured this telepathy was a latent power that had recently been activated by circumstances. It was what people needed to thwart the repressive measures of the corporate giant, Global-1, the only tool that gave them any chance at all. So what had been a mostly dormant ability was coming forward, like a weak, underutilized muscle that was suddenly strengthened by constant use.

  Kayla wasn’t sure about the theory; all she knew was that she’d grown so close to Mfumbe that communicating with him like this felt as natural as talking — even more so because it sprang from her mind, unfiltered. It wasn’t something she would attempt with just anyone.

  After more walking, they sat on the track ties to eat the food he’d stolen. Kayla didn’t like that they were forced to steal. Before they’d left the mountains, they’d packed as much food as they could carry, but it was gone now. Cash money had been eliminated five years ago. Stores no longer accepted e-cards. The bar code tattoo was the only acceptable form of payment left. Without it, they couldn’t buy anything, and they couldn’t get jobs.

  They opened the chips, pretzels, pack of cheese, and rolls Mfumbe had managed to pilfer. The bottle of water they split was refreshing and brought Kayla new energy.

  When they were done, she took out the art supplies she had made for herself in the Adirondacks. To make a sketchbook, she’d stitched together the blank sides of political flyers that circulated through the mountains, calling for an end to the bar code tattoo. Her charcoals were left over from their campfires.

  “Stand up. I want to sketch you,” she said.

  As Mfumbe got to his feet, he took a dog-eared paperback volume of poetry from his pack. “It’s too boring to just stand here. I’ll read you a poem while you work,” he suggested, thumbing through the pages for a selection she might like. “Here’s one just for you,” he said, opening the book. “It’s from the sixteenth century. ‘Come live with me and be my love….’”

  He read on as she sketched him there, with the Hudson River and the low-lying mountains of the distant shore behind him. A flock of birds lifted from the shore and swooped in unison, flying an elaborate spiral dance before settling again.

  Kayla stopped sketching a moment in order to watch them. Birds fascinated her. How did they do that, seeming to fly with one mind, each of them able to anticipate what the others would do?

  As she worked, she thought of the crowds of people descending on the nation’s capital at that very moment. Were they like the flocks of birds, moving with one mind, using the telepathy so many of them had developed to fight Global-1 and the bar code tattoo?

  She wanted desperately to believe that this would work, that their telepathy gave them the power to fight Global-1.

  Still — the forces against them were powerful.

  THE HILLS ARE ALIVE — WITH THE DISSIDENT SOUNDS OF RESISTANCE

  By Nedra Harris

  Lake Placid, NY. October 13, 2025 — Ever since May 19, 2025, when the Senate approved President Loudon Waters’s bill requiring all citizens to be tattooed with their personal bar code on their seventeenth birthday, some people have resisted. What were once random pockets of the disenfranchised and malcontent, oddballs obsessed with a host of wild conspiracy theories, soon mushroomed to a population explosion of bar code tattoo resisters in the Adirondack Mountains.

  These groups of resisters are highly distinct from one another. Indeed, a dislike of the bar code is all that links some of them. One resistance group sits in a field for days at a time, chanting, hoping to attract help from outer space. Others of these lunatic fringe groups, like the one headed by the Cherokee shaman Eutonah Clearwater, spend their days cultivating so-called psychic abilities in the misbegotten belief that only in this way can they “transcend” the “degrading and dehumanizing effects of the bar code.”

  Other groups take a less peaceful approach. A resistance group calling its members Drakians (after Gene Drake, the disgruntled bar code tattoo agent who opened fire on a line of citizens waiting to be tattooed in a Global-1 Postal Office on April 16, 2025) advocates violent resistance to the bar code and is considered dangerous. They are suspected of having taken refuge in the mountains, although lately their members have not been seen in the area, causing authorities to suspect they have moved their headquarters to another location.

  Those in the resistance who remain untattooed are all in violation of the May 2025 tattoo law. Beyond that, many have a history of trouble with the law. A raid of the mountains in August 2025 yielded a number of wanted criminals, among them Kayla Marie Reed, 17, a fugitive criminal and member of Ms. Clearwater’s group. She was identified during a raid on Whiteface Mountain but initially evaded capture. Ms. Reed was w
anted by police on charges of arson, second-degree murder, evading arrest, fleeing the scene of an accident, and aggravated assault of a government agent.

  It is believed that Ms. Reed set fire to her own Yorktown, NY, home after a dispute with her mother, Ashley Reed, 43, on May 22, 2025. The fire resulted in the death of Mrs. Reed. Ms. Reed then fled police. She later was involved in a high-speed police chase and subsequent crash resulting in the deaths of Mava and Toz Alan, her companions. Ms. Reed fled authorities until a month later, when an anonymous tip revealed she was hiding in the woods of northern upstate New York with former classmate Mfumbe Taylor. Mr. Taylor, student president of the National Honor Society at Oprah Winfrey High School, achieved some fame in 2024 as the champion of the first ever Virtual Global Teen Jeopardy!

  Ms. Reed, in the company of Mr. Taylor, was not spotted again until the August raid. Mr. Taylor and Ms. Reed both escaped capture by assaulting an agent of Tattoo Generation, the youth group advocating Tattoo Pride that is underwritten by Global-1. Agent Zekeal Morrelle was found unconscious and described how Mr. Taylor and Ms. Reed had brutally attacked him. Though the agent is recovering, a violent blow to his head caused a blood clot that has permanently blinded him in one eye. It was only later that Ms. Reed turned herself in and began her rehabilitation.

 
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