April 1, 2084

I looked in all directions before stealthily making my way up the darkened street, patting the package under my coat to make sure it was still there. A reassuring plastic crackle greeted my touch. But even that small noise made me jerk my head around again to check my surroundings. After all, they were everywhere. Everywhere.

I pushed my way through a copse of trees into a clearing. On the far side stood a small circle of men, stamping their feet against the unseasonable cold. Of course with fossil fuels banned, even on the streets the snow made travel difficult; here it sat in deep drifts. Good. All the safer.

I joined the group. From under a shadowy hood, one of the company grunted at me: “You got the stuff?” I nodded. “You?” I couldn’t see his eyes, but I could see him smile. “I do. Twenty count. Full fructose corn syrup, baby.”

At that, there was an excited, though whispered, outburst from around the circle as the congregants revealed their contributions. “I’ve got Doritos.” “A 30-pack.” “Taco Bell.” “Chicken wings. Two dozen. With the real fake sauce…”

I went last. “Peeps. I’ve got Peeps. Bunnies and chicks.”

There was a satisfied silence, but tinged with nerves. After all, everything we had just listed was banned by the Source Statutes of 2018. Those had been announced as a surprise coda to that year’s Source Awards ceremony by Big Source-ster Peggy Grodinsky and fiercely enforced by a rather surprising ally: Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who saw in the opportunity a chance to overturn the pesky term limits constraining his dreams. Since his turn towards fitness in his second term, the governor had nurtured a love of organic kale in concert with an ongoing desire to close the state’s borders – in this case to all non-locally sourced products. The Sourcers had made compromises, true, notably accepting the summary execution of anyone associated with land trusts. But the governor and Grodinsky’s governing council – selected using ranked choice voting by an electorate made up only of Press Herald print subscribers – worked surprisingly well together. Violations of the new Statutes were rectified with the help of a new paramilitary unit known as the Green Plates, after their unique headwear. Most terrifying were the elite covert action corps within that unit: the Green Plate Specials.

Variations on Peeps Skillet S’mores were all over the internet in the weeks leading up to Easter 2018, which fell just three days before the Source Statutes became law in Maine.

A confession here. My wife heads the GPS. And she is not merciful. The penalty for possessing Peeps was clear: death by organic overwork, most cruelly through the forced hand-cranking of deep-sea wind turbines on still days, all while treading water. So why was I here, in a snowbound clearing, clutching contraband?

Two words: Final Four. In the rest of the U.S. (now known as the Unsustainable States), the NCAA men’s basketball tournament was reaching another thrilling conclusion. According to state media, we had always been at war with the Unsustainable States, and broadcast signals from across the border were scrambled from Augusta. But there were still believers, meeting secretly in speakeasies and the ruins of strip malls to discuss brackets and watch pirated satellite feeds. And in those small groups, communion was only achieved with the traditional foods of our heritage – all of them now targeted as Enemies of the Source. Non-craft beer – light and Lite. The near extinct “nacho.” Chicken wings. And above all, Peeps.

Someone broke the quiet. “Where we going to do this?”

“The Tavern, no?”

“Oh, man, they raided the Tavern. They got Coach.”

An impromptu moment of silence ensued as we briefly mourned the passing of a hero. But there was work to be done if the ceremony of Game Time was going to be preserved. We would have to head for the basement of an old restaurant, still led by a man known only as “99.” It was across the river, a dangerous trek across open ground. We would have to split up, taking our chances against the Green Plates and their informants.

But at the end: there would be unsustainable fellowship. There would be Peeps Skillet S’mores. Some things are worth dying for.

[The manuscript breaks off here, and the fate of its author is unknown. However, a man married to Christine Burns Rudalevige, longtime Green Plate Specials commandant, was convicted in 2084 of ingesting Tartrazine (also known as Yellow No. 5) and potassium sorbate. He was sentenced to a life term in the re-education camp that replaced the Bowdoin College campus in 2019.]

EDITOR’S NOTE: April Fools!

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