Introduction 18th July 2018 Rose Harris stood staring across the hillside in front of her. Behind her she could hear the distant sound of cars as the towns of Holmbridge and further north, Chesterfield slowly came to life. Wind blew from the south, flaunting the rules of international borders. “There’ll always be an England,” A voice sang out over the morning air. A man’s voice, soft and tuneful. Her eyes tracked the high fence that cut across the hillside. Barbed wire curled across it. In the distance she could see the remains of a concrete watchtower this side of the fence and a similarly empty pillbox behind the fence. Relics of tenser times. Cows stood grazing either side of the fence, ignorant of the importance of the “And England shall be free,” the voice continued, a man with a clear voice. The singing cut across the quiet hillside Rose’s gaze came to a stop in the fence either side of the road. Two small, one story buildings and a pair steel barriers across the entire road with a gap of about five meters between them. “If England means as much to you,” Ahead of her, by the side of the south bound lane was a steel sign reading “Welcome to the Worker’s Republic of Britain” and “Please drive carefully,” “As England Means to me!” “Shut up, Bill!” she snapped, turning away from the barrier that rested across the road to see Bill nursing a paper cup of coffee. He was wearing the same green shirt, black trousers and stab vest that Rose wore and both bore the Red White and Blue shield of US Shield Security “It’s okay, that’s the end of the song anyway. Good Morning Rosie,” Bill smiled with a teasing grin. “Has Tracie gone then?” Rose asked sleepily “Yep, I thought I was early for the shift but you’re already here, you do know they don’t pay you for arriving early,” “Meh, I woke up early, I figured I’d come in anyway,” she shrugged. “Everything okay with,” Bill began “Can we not,” Rose added. They watched the two figures further down the road walk out, nursing their own drinks. Both wore the green uniforms of the Worker’s Republican Army and their vests looked capable of stopping a lot more than a stab. Their uniforms and berets glistened in the sun as the morning rays caught gold of the wheat sheaths . “Cerys and,” Bill began “Dan,” Rose finished his sentence. “Spoken to him a few times, seems nice,” “For a Southerner,” Bill shrugged “What’s wrong with southerners?” “other than the communism?” Bill replied quickly “Socialism really, this isn’t the 70s anymore,” Rose commented, Bill shrugged. “They’re watching us,” Dan commented, looking north up the road. “They do that, and we do that back at them,” Cerys replied. “Because this is the dullest crossing on the entire border,” she yawned. There was a pause and Dan yawned too. “Dammit” he laughed. If he thought on it Dan was quite glad he worked here when he did. He remembered seeing pictures of these guard posts growing up, news footage of armed soldiers on both sides in stories on the Soviet Wars the risk of war. A tiny, tiny part of him wished for that, at least it was something to do. One of the Northerners walked out into the road “Morning,” she said politely. Her accent was softly Scottish. She leant on their barrio across the road. Dan was a little pleased to see she looked as tired as he did. “Rosemary, good morning,” he called across the road, freezing up a bit on formality. “Daniel,” she said, mocking him. “How are you? “Not bad! And how are you? Or is it too early to tell,” “That obvious is it?” Rose smirked “I remember you saying you live about an hour away, so you must’ve had to get up quite early, I guess I’m lucky to have the barracks,” he said, walking out into the road a bit and leaning on his side of the North bound barrier. “Yeah, but I get my own bedroom,” she smirked. Both sides seemed to have an amiable rivalry. Dan generally didn’t give a shit about politics until he was speaking to the guards from the north“And I bet the rent is astonishing!” he smirked back. “Not in Huddersfield it's not,” he added back. “Try living in Glasgow, your eyes would be out on stalks,”“It’d be nice to visit,” he remarked. Go to George Square, pay my respects to Maxton and all the old guard, I don’t suppose there’s a statue or anything?” he enquired “I think there’s a blue plaque,” Rose said, trying to remember, “Like, a little blue plaque, George Square has a statue of,” he paused again, “I want to say President Eden,” she trailed off “Right, makes sense, it's not like we have statues of heroes of the north,” An awkward pause. “No offense but you look knackered!” Dan commented “I was out drinking last night, today was supposed to be my day off. Someone called in sick,” Rose said with a weary smile “Ah, that makes sense,” “What,” she paused, it was kind of obvious she was searching for conversation at this point but anything to distract herself from her hangover, “What do you guys drink in the south?” Dan laughed at this “What do you think? Beer, cider, lots of little local breweries,” “Not like, one brand of people’s beer?” “Not any more, my dad used to drink this mass produced stuff back in the eighties, I say mass produced, each brewery made it slightly differently, so a pint of Worker’s Rest in Gloucester was different from Worker’s rest in Swansea, people used to travel miles for something they could technically get basically next door,” “Dan, incoming!” Cerys called out. Rose and Dan both stood up straight. Dan could hear a car approaching behind him. “Another day in paradise,” Dan smiled. “You know it, Comrade,” Rose chuckled and they headed back to their checkpoints. 6th November 1912 Ted Harris studied the front cover of the newspaper being read by the man opposite him. The headline read “Roosevelt elected President” and below it “Narrow victory for first Progressive President”. He struggled to read any further as the train rocked too much and he struggled to read the small text of the actual article. He studied the photo of a man in a smart suit, pince-nez and a big bold moustache smiling proudly. Ted briefly wondered what he’d look like with a moustache like that but threw that thought away. Even at 18 he still barely had any facial hair. The man opposite him looked over his newspaper at Ted. Ted looked down bashfully. The train slowed and Ted stood. He and several others got off. He made his way out of the station. He inhaled, the air was thick with smoke and none too pleasant through the smoke the late afternoon sun shone a fiery orange, painting the south faces of the buildings around him. Above him the sky was clear and ranged from a vibrant orange in front of him to the earliest signs of night behind him. He smiled. Life was good.