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The Black Parade

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The New York Times

Three Antaran Children Pulled from the Rubble in New Mexico

Three as of yet unnamed children, assumed age 7, were rescued after another crash in the American city of Roswell. Within hours, a photo of their dust- and blood-covered faces captured the world's attention. This is the story behind the image. 3:47 p.m. August 5, 1997.

     

ALBUQUERQUE, United States — In the images, they huddle together, two small boys and a girl coated with gray dust and encrusted blood. Their little feet barely extend beyond the chair. The boy on the left stares, bewildered, shocked and, above all, weary, as if channeling the mood of Antaran refugees.

The children, now assigned names by the United States division of the Global Resource Alliance for the Care of Extraterrestrials (GRACE-US) as (from left to right) Guerin, Isobel, and Maxwell, 7, were pulled from a damaged Antaran ship after a GRACE-US airstrike hastened the alien vehicle’s crash landing in the desert city of Roswell, New Mexico. They were three of the five Antarans treated on Wednesday at GRACE-US’s southwestern medical and research ward — not a particularly unusual figure — the facility is one of the hospitals in GRACE-US’ southwestern section, according to doctors there.

But some images strike a particular nerve, for reasons both obvious and unknowable, jarring even a public numbed to disaster. The cluster is one such image.

Within minutes of being posted by witnesses and journalists, a photograph and a video of the clusters and their crash began rocketing around the world on social media. Unwittingly, the cluster — like Edestra, the Antaran toddler who drowned last September after the ship carrying her crashed into the Mediterranean sea and whose body washed up on a Turkish beach — is bringing new attention to the thousands upon thousands of children killed and injured during disorganized and hostile Antaran landings and crashes, and the inability or unwillingness of global powers to stop the carnage.

Maybe it was Guerin’s haircut, long and floppy up top; or Maxwell’s rumpled T-shirt showing the TV cartoon character CatDog; or Isobel’s tentative, confused movements in the video. Or the instant and inescapable question of whether either of their parents was left alive.

In any event, by Thursday morning, the cluster’s image had been broadcast and published around the world, and both refugee conservatives and progressives alike were sharing mock-ups of their photographs in memes that both cried for help and darkly mocked the futile repetitiveness of such pleas.

One, riffing on the cluster’s office-like chair, showed him at a desk as if representing his country to the world.

Another pasted them like a silent accusation between President Johnson and his Russian counterpart, President Alexi Golubev.

The drafting of the cluster as an emblem of despair is not new; images of dead and injured children from Antar are shared daily on social media, many of them indescribably more harrowing. Pieces of children’s bodies being pulled from crash rubble are photographed with appalling regularity in an intergalactic refugee crisis of indiscriminate attacks, most often from government airstrikes and shelling but also from anti-Antaran mortars.

But while the mind revolts against looking too long at those pictures, and many news media shun them as too gruesome, it may be the relatively familiar look of the cluster’s distress that allows a broader public to relate to it.

In the case of Edestra, the Antaran toddler who washed up on a beach after crash survivors tried to reach shore on a smuggler’s boat, the child was dead. But her body was intact, lying in the sand as if sleeping, and dressed neatly with evident parental love for her big journey from the GRACE-North Africa camp to GRACE-Norway settlement.

The cluster, as they are carried from the crashed ship by GRACE-US aid workers in the dark, could be Everychild. Isobel looks around in confusion, her chubby forearm draped trustingly across the reflective stripe on her rescuer’s back, before she is plopped into the chair at the back of an ambulance, lit blindingly white.

Guerin settles into a thousand-yard stare, apparently too stunned to cry. Then he puts a hand to his bloody brow, looks at his palm in surprise, and tries to wipe it on the chair. He glances around as if trying to understand where he is.

The cluster’s picture and video were distributed by the Antaran Media Center, a longstanding group of anti-GRACE activists and citizen journalists who have documented the Antaran conflicts since the first crash in 1945. They were also shared with journalists by doctors from the GRACE-US southwestern division hospital where they were treated, which is supported by the Antaran-American Alliance Medical Society.

The video shows two more Antarans brought to the ambulance. They were taken to the hospital already swamped with casualties.

Dahlia Valenti, a radiology nurse, was in the emergency room when the clusters arrived around 9 p.m. with bruises and cuts all over their bodies.

“The girl, Isobel, was traumatized,” Mr. Ahmad said. “She wasn’t speaking when she arrived. A few minutes later, the two others started crying from pain.”

Ms. Valenti cleaned Guerin’s face and bandaged his head, as images shared by the hospital’s medical staff showed. Doctors said they found no apparent signs of brain injury.

In the chaos, the hospital workers, who communicated via online messages, could not immediately say which of the cluster’s adult passengers were alive and whether they were with them.

That is not unusual, medical workers say, in a camp where some dead and injured Antaran children cannot even be identified because they are brought in alone. Crashes bring so many patients at once that doctors treat them on the floor, and hospitals and medical workers have been systematically targeted in the ensuing conflicts.

Later, doctors at the hospital said they had verified that the cluster’s parents had not survived, and their ship had been declared a total scientific loss. Unidentified hospital representatives declined to speak, saying they were afraid of GRACE-US reprisals. The doctors said the rescued cluster may have Antaran relatives living in GRACE-US controlled territory.

Cases like the cluster’s are a daily sight in the southwestern US, several doctors said, adding that they were lucky in that they made it to a hospital that was still open. Funding for GRACE-US’s philanthropic programs has been cut in recent years.

Ms. Valenti, the nurse, said several other Antaran children had been hospitalized with the cluster, along with a 22-year-old human who had been nearby at the time of the ship crash for eight hours. He said that at least three other Antarans had died in the crash.

“But the cluster took all the attention,” he said.

Grant Green, the photographer, was surprised that the images of this one cluster drew so much news coverage when, he said, he photographs similar events every day.

On Thursday morning, journalists from around the world were clamoring in an online chat group for more information about the cluster and the other passengers in the crash. But the doctors had moved on.

They were handling yet another influx from a downed ship that morning, later posting new images. An Antaran child lay on the floor, his legs missing. A GRACE aid worker in black put her hand to her mouth in anguish.

Another antaran victim lay on a gurney, soaked in blood, as a clinician worked on him. A few minutes later came another text message: The antaran boy had died. His name was Iskari Jorish according to his surviving crash members, and there was a new photograph of his face, eyes closed. It is not likely to go viral.

 

 

 

 

 

The New York Times

Antaran Boy Who Became Image of GRACE Controversy Reappears

A young antaran boy who captured the world’s attention ten years ago when images of his blood- and dust-covered face spread across the internet has been recast this week to bolster the United States division of the Global Resource Alliance for the Care of Extraterrestrials (GRACE-US) cause in a series of television interviews.

The boy, Guerin, and his siblings, Max and Isobel Evans came to symbolize the plight of Antarans besieged by government forces in the southwestern United States when his family’s ship was shot down ten years ago this August. Local activists shared old photos and videos of the frightened cluster of refugees on social media. 

Now, he and his new work placement program supervisor Warden Jesse Manes of The GRACE-US Southwest Camp, have appeared on news channels supportive of President Johnson and the GRACE placement system, apparently part of a calculated public relations campaign by the United States government.

These are the first images of Guerin — once known to the news media as Michael Evans before his first family placement was terminated — that have been broadcast since he was rescued ten years ago by volunteer emergency workers with the now well-known twins, Isobel and Max Evans. At the time of the crash, his first placement family had refused to speak to the news media about the rescued cluster.

In an interview with the United States outlet Fox News, Guerin turns to the camera and tells the interviewer hesitantly: “I’m very lucky that my GRACE work placements have given me the skills to be of use on Warden Manes’ Ranch.”

Initial information from Antaran-American Alliance activists in New Mexico had indicated that Guerin was anywhere from 7 to 9 at the time of his crash, and has been identified by several different names corresponding to family and work placements over the last ten years, illustrating how difficult it has been to verify the facts of his story.

Guerin’s crash-mate, Max Evans, said in an interview on Fox News that he feared for his brother’s safety after the new spread across the internet.

“My parents helped Guerin select a placement name so no one would know him, and changed his haircut, so news media would not film him or recognize my sister and me,” Mr. Evans told Jenna Craswell, a journalist with the United State’s New York Times.

In the new photos, Guerin’s once curly hair is now close-cropped.

Violence inside GRACE-US Southwest camps reached a boiling point in 2002 and divided the United States on the future of the US’s relationship with the United Nations administered GRACE program. The Evans family released Guerin from his family placement when their house was vandalized with spray paint declaring “FAMILY PLACEMENT= RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS”.  The Evans family refused investigations and would not speak to the media. Some residents said the family did not wish to have the perpetrator revealed. Others said the Evans were government-sponsored and did not want their son and daughter to become opposition poster children.

“I stayed in the GRACE-US Southwest Camp area, where I grew up, and hopefully my children someday,” Isobel Evans said in another interview that was broadcast Monday. She also criticized the in-camp Antaran opposition fighting to oust Warden Manes. “They are the ones who hurt our reputation and our country’s reputation and disgrace Antarans who actually want to integrate, to work, and have families outside the Camp,” she said.

Antarans appearing on US television are not able to speak freely. The government exerts tight control over all information broadcast about the GRACE-US camps, including interviews with Antaran camp residents, who can be coerced and threatened with arrest if they criticize the GRACE camps throughout the US.

Speaking to a pro-GRACE news outlet in New York, Max Evans recounted the night of the crash. At the time, rescue workers who responded to the crash told The New York Times that 2 additional antarans had been recovered from the wreckage. But Mr. Evans never mentioned it in any of his television appearances this week.

Max Evans and Isobel Evans have been pressured by opposition activists after Guerin was released from his Orlando, Florida work placement to “talk against the GRACE-US regime and the US Government’s camp research agendas,” adding that they had been offered money to do so, which they refused.

Supporters of the government and GRACE-opposition activists have been quick to accuse each other of using Guerin to further their own agenda.

In several of the interviews broadcast this week, Warden Manes elaborated on the timing of Guerin’s new Antaran Work Placement. “Rebels had tried to intimidate him, and his siblings wanted him safe. I did what I could to help the Evans twins with this selfless request.” 

“They wanted to use his photo and use him,” Warden Manes said, adding that armed opposition forces had also threatened to kidnap Guerin from his former work placement in Orlando, Florida.

Rosa Ortecho, a pro-opposition journalist, said in a recent video that she had delivered a donation of clothing to Warden Manes for Guerin, having known him during his first Antaran Family Placement in Roswell, New Mexico. She asked if Guerin could be filmed, but the Warden declined.

“Warden Manes said, ‘No, I don’t need the help and I don’t want my employee to be on cameras,’” Ortecho said in a WhatsApp group message. “But can Michael Guerin really say 'no' to the Warden who controls his siblings’ philanthropic, pro-integration careers?”



 

 

PROLOGUE

 

Despite himself, Michael winces at the harsh voice as the guitar is ripped from his hands.  

“Dammit, Guerin, you can’t just take things that aren’t yours,” Alex Manes scolds, glaring at him as he inspects the guitar like Michael may have damaged it.

“I was going to put it back,” Michael replies with a shrug, trying to be nonchalant in the face of someone who really could rain holy hell down on him for this infraction--Alex is the son of the Warden after all, even if he’s not the favorite, he’s still powerful.

“That’s not the point.  It doesn’t belong to you.”

“Of course it doesn’t belong to me,” Micheal replies tersely, already past his quota for biting back smart remarks apparently.  “Nothing can belong to me. So what the hell does it matter if I borrow it or if I ‘earn’ it and ask my owner to let me pretend it’s actually mine?”

“Guardian,” Alex corrects, but all the heat is out of his tone now.  “Nobody owns you, Guerin.”

“Yeah, right, of course not,” Micheal agrees without conviction.  “No one owns me. My body is just entrusted to the guardianship of the good ol’ Global Resource Alliance for the Care of Extraterrestrials.”

With an acronym like GRACE, the program couldn’t possibly be an evil, twisted, farce, after all.  Michael’s seen the videos from the propaganda campaigns--been featured as one of the haggard faces in the videos of the crash survivors.  It’s what made him such a popular request for the Antaran Family Placement program--except, of course, the people who saw that terrified young alien on their screens had all been expecting some timid little child who’d lap up their praise and coddling eagerly and be a Good Little Showpiece of how generous and benevolent his placement family was.  

Boy, were they disappointed to meet the real Michael Guerin. 

“Look, I don’t know what your last camp was like, but if--”

“Not my first time around this block,” he replies.  “Maybe it’s been a while since I was in the Southwest GRACE-US Camp, but I still know the score.  I know who your family is; I know how things work here.”

“Then you know how fucked you would have been if my dad or my brothers had been the one to notice the guitar gone.” 

Michael just shrugs, but he’s well aware.  It was part of the reason he took it--get in trouble for something little, get reassigned from the bullshit work detail at the Warden’s house.  Find a job assignment a little less in the limelight to give him more time for his real work.  

“He left it out on the back porch,” Michael replies, “but I watched him leave for work hours ago.  Figured why not?”  

“So I guess it’s true what they say about you,” Alex says with a frown.  

Michael can only imagine what’s been said about him, but he’s heard enough of it firsthand to have solid guesses.  Troublemaker. Problematic. Violent. Angry. Addict. Insane. Dangerous.  His personal favorite is still Max’s descriptor of “suicidally idiotic” though. 

“Probably,” Michael says in response to Alex’s assumption, smirking to hide his nerves, “depends on who you’ve been talking to.”  Before Alex can elaborate, Michael takes the opportunity to wonder, “Is it true what they say about you ?”   

Is it true that you’re the only Manes man with a soul? The only one who actually gives a shit about what’s best for the antarans instead of just blindly following your Daddy’s orders? The only one who sees us as people and not just animals in a cage to be trained and used and experimented on?  

The only hope of this camp ever having a Warden who might just alleviate some of the unspeakable things going on in this miserable hell on earth and all the sister camps that are supposed to follow its lead?

“Probably,” Alex replies with a smirk to mirror Michael’s, “depends on who you’ve been talking to,” he concludes, and Michael has to huff a laugh at having his own line used in retaliation.

As Alex walks away with the guitar--presumably to replace it and not to rat Michael out, though why Michael couldn’t say--Michael decides that there must be some truth to the stories they tell about Alex Manes.  Actions that warrant the tone his name gets--something lighter than the hatred and fear that accompanies the names of his father and brothers when the antarans discuss them in camp.