The flight to the Los Angeles, California, in the Island Of California only takes a few hours. I find myself replaying the events of the last few days. Why did I agree to this assignment? My bosses at the CBC had a revolutionary idea. They wanted a objective report on the state of the new nations that had sprung up in the corpse of the United States. I was the perfect candidate for them. I was just popular enough that the viewers would have a slight idea who I was, just barely more than obscure. I also was born in the United States, lived in Chicago when it was a part of the Alliance and was now a Canadian citizen working for the government. My bosses were able to arrange access to a variety of sources in several of the new governments. My first stop is the Island of California.
I still sigh when I hear that name at how inaccurate the name of their country state is. California has not suddenly become and island, and is no longer just California. What used to be Nevada, Washington, and Oregon are now part of the Island of California. The name is steep in the past, after all the first known maps of North America show California as an island, as well as looking to the future. The Californians thought of themselves after the fall as one of the last bastions of progressive thought, one of the few places that valued everyone. With its own sovereignty it flourished in the first few years after the fall. Already a liberal stronghold, it kept attracting more and more like minded residences while those who blamed a lack of religion and moral center for our fall were drawn to The Alliance of the Midwest. Those who blamed race and border security for our fall were drawn to the Confederacy of Southern States. New England attracted a more left of center moderate type and The Republic of Texas drew people who were attracted to the strong industry and right of center thought that prevailed.
These alignments of beliefs and personalities had already been coming to fruition before the attacks. Many people called it the Fox News Effect (Or whichever biased media source you wish to assert, Fox was not the only news source with a heavy slant, just the most successful ). I am able to look back and subjectively admit that even I was part of the problem, writing innocuous click bait articles as a freelancer for several online sites. It pains my heart to think of how articles like "21 Ways to Tell if your Lover is Cheating , #5 will break your heart", and the ilk lead to the over saturation of information out in the world. The information that was out there in the world was almost always written with a serious bias, or it was just mind numbing.
I know that with no one in their circle to challenge their point of view or their perceptions people went to extremes. I remember the internet being pitched to me when I was a kid as this great place, a place where you can find a world of people with the same beliefs as you, but with social media, you tended to ignore your neighbor who might have slightly different viewpoints. It was a world full of confirmation bias.
I'll be 100 percent honest. I had absolutely no idea what to expect as I got off the plane. The airport was so different than Midway, the Hub of the Great Lakes Province. LAX, like most of the buildings here had been rebuilt several times. While there still was an emphasis on security like any modern airport, the building itself seemed as vibrant as the travelers inside. The walls were lined with gigantic screens showing a variety of things, from advertisements to flight times, and the ceilings had large windows which let the natural light into the buildings, there were prominent reminders everywhere of California's to biggest exports, entertainment and green or bio tech. Looking at many of the residents another huge market had to be the plastic surgery industry, it looked like the current trend in medical alterations was an elfin look. I see my name on a card and see one of my colleagues from La's CBC Bureau
"Quinn," I yell to him.
"Jake, welcome to sunny LA," he says to me as he pulls me in for a friendly hug.
"It's been far too long, when was the last time we were together, was it that meeting in Toronto? "
"Must have been," he replies. "Was that the night that I took you to Church and Wellesley, and we partied till dawn?"
"That was probably the most fun I had in years," I exclaim, vividly remembering how liberating it was to be a part of that crowd, losing myself in the rhythm of the music.
"Listen we are heading to the office now," he says as he motions he me to follow him. "California has set up a liaison for your journey, they are extremely interested in the story that you have been sent to cover, and they want eyes and ears on this trip."
"So like a spy for California? And CBC is ok with this? "
"They agreed once the Californians agreed to split financing costs for the trip and unobstructed access to their archives. You will be able to request interviews from any heads of state you deem necessary."
While waiting for our cab to take us to our office, we catch up about the year since our last face to face meeting. We have of course been on screen together as various talking heads, but never have seemed to have the chance to catch up personally. Quinn is a few years younger than me but I have always felt that he is much more wise than I could ever hope to be. I always figured if I was ever ready to move try to open myself up again it would be with someone like Quinn, but I honestly think of that part of my life is over, I just can't bring myself to move on yet. In my heart I know that Jordan would have wanted me to, it's been over 10 years; but I have always been stubborn and move at my own pace.
As we stop to get out to go into the office, I start to worry about the liaison they will have paired me with. The Californians are famous for going through psyche profile to find the best fit in their massive catalogue of unemployed or underemployed agents, usually failed or aspiring actors or actresses. "Jobe is going to be your liaison for this assignment," Quinn says to me. I mentally chuckle at the thought of some escaped Alliance boy, blind leading the blind in California.
My heart sinks a little as I walk into the room. Jobe walks over with his hand firmly out ready to introduce himself. He looks to be in his late 20's early 30's with rusty red hair, and twinkling green eyes.