Kohor Empire Satellite
Benjamin Benamoz and his father moved against the crowd as they headed for the city center. The main square seethed with people, jostling against each other, pushing for the best view. Past a bakery the man and boy walked, past a pharmacy, past a postal station. The buildings were dismal, gray with neglect, interspersed with vacant, rundown structures.
Tanks and other military equipment packed the streets as they jockeyed into formation. Young men and women dressed in smart gray uniforms and pale blue caps marched in neat squadrons, their legs rigid, with booted feet thudding in rhythm on the broken pavement.
“What are they doing, Papa?”
“It’s for the parade. Today the government is celebrating the Peace Union holiday.”
Ben watched the waves of signs flowing down the street—hundreds of signs—all bearing Premiere Khrushchev's face, with “Peace Union” emblazoned in orange letters upon a black hammer and sickle. Why does “Peace Union” not seem peaceful?
Nearing the school, scores of uniformed youth Ben’s age streamed out the front doors.
Their leader, a husky man who frowned with his whole body, paused a moment to size up Benjamin. “Mister! Why is this boy not dressed for the march?”
“We choose not to do that.”
“What? Not join the Youth Learning Corps?” The man’s voice was cold, unfeeling. “The children belong to us. Under the world regime, they will know nothing but the new order.” The man looked upon Ben.
Ben froze. There was Ruben among them! Their eyes met, but Ben turned his head, feeling a collective stare from hundreds of eyes as the boys and girls pressed around their leader.
Papa smiled down at the man. “You have your world; I have mine.” Then he stepped aside, walked on, and did not look back.
“Long live Kruschev! Long live the Order of Kohor!” The man shouted after them.
“Kohor!” the children echoed.
“Fall in line!” the official bellowed. “March!”
Clomp, clomp. Their boots pounded the street. “Ko-hor!” they chanted. “Ko-hor! Ko-hor!”
“Young people are joining the group in droves.” Papa growled. “They follow that tyrant like lemmings. It’s like a cult. And I don’t know if your brother can resist the pressure.”
“Why would Ruben do that, Papa?”
“He likes to belong.”
“Even if they do bad things?”
“Poor Ruben. He doesn’t understand. He doesn’t realize it is too much like the pogroms of the dark kingdom.”
They passed the newspaper office. Benjamin saw a big man and immediately noticed the western style of his apparel, including cowboy boots. Papa gave a very slight nod of his head, and the man began walking briskly beside them. As they walked, Papa slipped a packet to the stranger, and in turn received a small brown book, which he dropped into his pocket. When Ben looked up, the man had disappeared into the crowd.
Darkness caught up with Ben and his father when they boarded a bus. The bus slowed to a crawl in a street thronged with people. At length it stopped; the driver stood and announced, “I can go no farther until the crowds disperse. If you do not care to wait, you will have to walk.”
“Let’s go, Ben. Stay close to me so I don’t lose you in the crowd.”
Ben needed no coaxing. Everywhere stern soldiers shoved against agitated people. It was scary. Mustn’t let Papa know I’m afraid. He has enough to worry about. Must get home and close the door against this . . . smoke. And this endless chanting. Fire. A bonfire. Newspapers, books, tossed into the fire. Bibles, too? “Papa, why are they burning Bibles?”
“Because they are afraid of truth.”
“Why are they afraid of truth, Papa?”
“Because truth frees us from their tyranny. Two blocks and we are home. Come!”
 "Peace Union" is fictional
 The Order of Kohor is fictional