The year is 2064.
The child brought a small vinyl disc into the room.
"Daddy, what is this?"
He was surprised she found it.
"You were looking through the storage trunk?"
She was shy about answering.
"This is what is called a vinyl record." He reached for a ruler. The disc was seven inches in diameter, with a large hole in the middle. He read the title out loud: Rockin' in the Free World. Neil Young. 1989.
The father looked puzzled.
"This thing is, let's figure it out." He turned to his daughter. "This is seventy five years old." She became disinterested and walked away. He gazed out the window of the barracks. Rockin' in the free world, he thought, whatever happened to that - the free world he had heard his father and grandfather talk about.
He called his daughter back.
He said to her, "let me tell you more about this record."
She sat down, but seemed forced to look interested.
"Once there was a free world. It was called the United States of America. That was before the military took over."
A teenager came into the room.
"Dad, we're not allowed to talk about the past."
The man's voice dropped to a whisper.
"One day, thirty or so years after this record was made, the military marched into the White House, with all their weapons, and arrested the president - the President of the United States! Even tore up a copy of the Constitution.
"The military generals took over, quickly."
The mother came into the room.
"These kids don't need to know all that. You know it's been erased from the schools."
"This vinyl record brought it up. I'm just talking about that."
"If you continue I'll have to report you to the military. It's the law."
The man grew silent. Then he asked the children to leave the room. He thought to himself:
"How did it happen so easily? How did the United States of America become the Unified State of America?" He paused and looked out the window of the barracks. There were no single family homes any more, they were all converted to military use. This was a nation of barracks, for all adult residents under the age of 70 were required to join the military. That huge number of soldiers gave the military the might it needed to conquer the rest of the world, the entire Planet Earth.
The military of the past was weak, and the country was being pushed around, bullied by smaller nations, nipped at by terrorists, weakened by lack of interest by the nation's citizens, collapsing through a lack of morale, and finally, decimated by its Commander in Chief.
One day, a sunny summer day in Washington, D.C., that all changed.
The military had enough.
The mother entered the room. "Are you done musing about the past. We go down to the mess for dinner in fifteen minutes. As you know, if we're late, we don't eat." There was a growl to her voice.
The teenager sneaked back into the room. "How did the military do it?" His eyes seemed wide.
"They had all the weapons."
At dinner in the mess hall the family and the others were addressed by a statement coming over the speaker system from the military.
"This is an updated message from the General's Office: Your country, the Unified State of America, is now in control of 87 percent of the population of Planet Earth. Be proud of that. The goal of 100 percent is within reach."
He dared to think to himself: Control, yes; freedom, no.
"Eat your vegetables," the mother said to the two children.
The father tapped his knife on the metal plate.
"Stop the tapping!" She said.
"I feel belligerent."
"Your feelings are going to get this family in trouble again." Her voice was high pitched, shrill, and pleading.
"Dad, look," the teenager said, motioning over the dad's shoulder.
Two military soldiers approached, both female.
"Sir, your disobedience has been recorded."
The man stopped eating.
"Place your utensils on your plate."
He did so.
The soldiers lifted him by his arm pits.
"You will come with us."
The mother: "You kids be quiet. Your father will be back."
Time passed, first in hours, then in days, then in weeks, finally in years.
The children were now adults themselves. They both "enrolled" in the military.
Otherwise, they would be force drafted and serve in the worst destinations possible.
The mother never remarried. It was against the law.
The year was now 2093.
The Unified State of America was the ruling government on Planet Earth.
There were local governments, to be sure. The 50 former states were now consolidated into one large state, reporting directly to the Unified State of America control center in Washington, D.C..
Countries that were once independent were now ruled as colony states.
All reported to the military, the generals, in Washington, D.C..
Around the globe, there were small voices, crying to be heard, but their might was weak and inconsequential. All remnants of revolt and non-allegiance had been tamped into submission.
In the year 2099 the mother passed into another, perhaps freer life. The children, now middle-aged adults, served their government as directed, raised their families as directed, led their lives as directed.
The daughter kept a few mementos of her childhood, hidden, and once in a while she pulled out the 7-inch vinyl record by Neil Young.
Rockin' in the Free World.
She had no way of playing it in a world without music.
She could only remember what her father had said that, the Free World ended, one summer day in Washington, D.C., when soldiers stormed the White House, arrested the President, and tore up the Constitution.
The daughter put the record back in its hiding place, not realizing what she was missing.