Casdin didn't really know what was going on in those times. Only reaching nine years of age during the climax of the Takeover, he could not understand the gravity of the actions being taken. All he knew was that something was terribly wrong.

This feeling started when they heard his Uncle James had been arrested. No one told Casdin why, though. His Uncle Jim was one of the coolest people around, according to the boy; he had a rock band. Casdin overheard talks about "banning" and "rock music", but not knowing what it meant.

Soon after his Uncle James was sent to "rehab" (as he heard his father call it), they took in his Uncle Karl and Aunt Maude, hiding them in their basement. He wasn't allowed to tell anyone they were there, his mother said sternly. Not even the police.

Casdin's sister Tina was just as confused, but being even younger than he, she was completely oblivious to the goings-on. Trying to make her keep any kind of secret was very difficult. Even though Casdin could not understand the bigger picture, he understood that their relatives hiding in the basement could not be discovered. He made a game with Tina. If she promised to never say a word, he would play house with her indefinitely. A tribute to his character, Casdin sat through hours of tea time and baby talk without a single complaint.

Laughter died away as time went on, and by the time he reached that age of nine, he was too serious for his age. His mother had lines around her eyes and mouth that weren't there before, and his father coming home safe from work was something they prayed for fervently.

When Casdin was nine-and-a-half (he was counting, you see, because ten was a big number for a birthday), it all came to a head. It had started as simply as any other day could, with the news about bars closing, opera theatres broken into, and riots in the streets. Casdin was slurping his cereal to make Tina laugh (she was the only one who really did these days), and his father was just doing up his tie. Suddenly, there was a loud banging on the door, constant and ferocious. Tina wiggled off her chair and ran toward the door to open it, but their mother caught her before she went two feet, and covered her mouth. Casdin froze.

"Take your sister to the basement. Stay there."

He was numb, and it seemed that things were happening to him without his consent. He slipped off his chair and gathered his sister into a hug. She was still whining, and the door was still thumping.


He took Tina's hand and led her to the basement door. He closed it behind them, thumping down the stairs, dragging his sister. She was sucking her thumb, mumbling. Casdin knocked on the door to the secret room, just in the way his father did.

From upstairs, there came the sounds of shouting. As the two children were pulled inside, stamping feet clattered all above them. More shouts, more banging. People searching, maybe. His father, outraged, shouted back at whoever was up there. Casdin couldn't make out the words.

In an instant, there was a loud shot. Casdin knew it was a gun because of the sounds on the TV. His father's voice stopped short, and he heard his mother start to weep. Something had gone horribly wrong.

Before he could think, he was being dragged away by Uncle Karl. No no no! Something was wrong; he had to go find out! His aunt and uncle soon had them deep in a tunnel, something that looked recent. A secret room in a secret room, maybe. They couldn't hear anything this deep.

Hours passed, or maybe it was days, he didn't know. Casdin wept with his sister. After they were sure they were gone, Uncle Karl let them crawl out of the dirty tunnel. Casdin sat listlessly, cradling Tina. Karl explored further, listening for sounds or movement. Everyone was gone.

The children were led upstairs, and Maude tried to shove them past the bloodstain on the floor, but Casdin kept looking back. Out the back door and over the fence, Casdin held his uncle's hand and wondered where they were going.

Someplace safe, he was told.

Somehow Casdin doubted it.