Heirs of the Sun
Alex studied data on the small display before him and then checked the final output of the solar farm. Satisfied, he closed the access panel, smiled, and took a step back to admire his work. Years of experimentation had finally paid off, and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment washed over him. The photovoltaic paint that he had worked so long and hard to develop worked better than expected, and soon, it would change the world. The one hundred panels comprising the solar array formed a perfect square and were evenly spaced in ten rows. Just behind the solar array, five rows of tall wind turbines caught the breeze to help maintain the charge on the batteries at night. The wind turbines cases, blades, and even the support poles were all painted with the black photovoltaic paint, and at this moment, they provided electricity from the sun and wind as they whirled in near silence.
Alex was jarred from his thoughts as his thirteen year old daughter, Kira, spoke behind him. “I wish we could use a different color; black feels a little,” Kira paused searching for the right word, “menacing to me.”
Alex shrugged. “Black is the most efficient color.” Alex’s eyebrows drew closer together. “Wait a minute. Shouldn’t you be doing your school work? Surely, I gave you enough to keep you busy.”
Kira rolled her eyes. “What is the purpose of the school work anyway? Is it to keep me busy or teach me?”
“How many times are you going to use that argument to get out of doing your assignments?”
Kira grinned mischievously. “Just give me the test already. You know I will pass it. Besides, I learn more out here working with you, rather than reviewing stuff I already know.”
Alex sighed and a hint of a smile touched his face. “I’m sure you would, but you have to complete a certain number of academic hours every week to satisfy the home school requirements.”
“What’s the big deal? They wouldn’t know how many hours I actually spent with my nose in a book.”
Alex raised an eyebrow and looked his daughter in the eyes. “I would.”
Kira looked toward the solar array and released a long breath. “Okay, I will finish up after dinner tonight. I’d just rather be working with you.” Her enthusiasm grew as she asked, “Have you checked the batteries yet?”
Alex smiled and shook his head. “That’s where I was heading. Come on, it would be a waste of time and breath arguing with you.”
They walked toward what appeared to be a small storage shed; however, the small building just covered a stairwell that led into the underground battery storage bunker. As they got closer to the entrance, the hum of charging batteries grew louder. When Alex unlocked and opened the door, the air vibrated with energy, and Kira thought she could feel electrically charged air flow over her like water.
Alex reached in and flipped a switch. The lights below flickered to life, and a moment later, a light illuminated the stairwell. With the wave of a hand, he motioned for Kira to start walking down the stairs. “Ladies first.”
Kira stepped inside, and when her father followed she asked suspiciously, “Why do you really want me to go first?”
Her father chuckled. “This way, if I fall, I will have something soft to land on.”
Kira jogged the last few steps two at a time and then turned smiling up the stairwell. “Nah. I can run down them faster than you can fall.”
When Alex stepped onto the bunker room floor, he ran his eyes down row after row of green lights. He spotted a single flashing red light on the back wall a moment before Kira pointed and said, “There’s one.”
Kira reached the battery first and read the error code. “It’s just an E02 code, dad. Do you want me to reset it?”
Alex removed a small log book from a pouch on the front of the battery and handed it to Kira. “You log the error; I will reset it.”
Kira’s bottom lip grew a little in size. “But I’ve done it a thousand times before, and now you have extra insulators on all the connections.”
Alex sighed and disconnected the battery. “I’m sorry, baby girl. But that federal inspector made it very clear that no one under eighteen was allowed to perform maintenance routines, and by the way, my design was completely safe without the extra insulators. The government doesn’t like the fact that our entire subdivision is now off the grid. They are nitpicking everything I do, hoping to shut this array down.”
“They did shut us down for a week while you worked your way through the non-compliance list the inspector noted.” Kira’s eyebrows drew closer together as she logged the error. “They want to shut down the array. Is that why Children’s Protective Services showed up after you passed the last inspection?”
Alex reconnected the battery, paused and nodded curtly. “I have no doubt about it. We have to be very careful right now.” He shook his head sadly. “I probably shouldn’t even let you down here. I suspect, the only reason the inspector didn’t insist on us hanging a restricted sign on this room was that he hoped we would slip up.”
Kira handed her father the log book. “Wow. I thought the CPS visit was random; I can’t believe that I missed the connection.”
Alex pressed the clear button on the battery charger, and a moment later, the green light lit up. “People don’t like it when you do something that affects their wallets, and this leap in solar efficiency threatens the financial solvency of some major corporations, as well as many powerful people. They will fight its development every step of the way. We just have to stay a step ahead of them.”
Kira cocked her head to the side in thought for a moment. “What do you think they will try next?”
Her father shrugged. “I really don’t know. We just have to try and stay prepared for anything. The publicity campaign has been going well, and the more people that know of our work, the less likely they are to shut us down over a technicality.”
As Kira and her father stepped outside, they saw two sheriff cars, and a black SUV pull into their driveway in the distance. Alex let out a long sigh. “Well, I guess we will not have to wait very long to find out what they will try next.” Alex rested a hand on Kira’s shoulder. “Run through the neighborhood and let everyone know that they’re back. We need as many witnesses as we can get.”
Alex paced himself as he walked toward the house to give Kira time to alert the subdivision. He smiled to himself as he saw his wife, Sara, step outside. A man in a suit handed her some papers, and she leaned against the house while she read. He knew that she would take the time to read each word of the paperwork before allowing them to continue, and he chuckled to himself when he got close enough to see the annoyance on the face of man who had handed her the papers.
As Alex approached the gathering, he caught sight of several of his neighbors walking towards his house. Sheriff Johnson and his deputy, Officer Jordan, waited patiently behind the annoyed man wearing dark blue suit. Sheriff Johnson nodded as Alex joined the group.
“Back again, Sheriff?”
Sheriff Johnson shrugged and nodded toward the suited man. “I’m just doing my job, Alex.”
Alex’s lips thinned, and he returned the sheriff’s nod. “You always do. I wouldn’t expect anything else.”
The man in the suit turned around and looked Alex over from head to toe. “Are you Mr. Alex Banneson?”
Alex extended a hand toward the man. “That would be me.”
The man in the suit glanced at Alex’s hand and ignored it. Alex let his hand fall as the man displayed his credentials. “I’m Agent Harrison. As you can see, I am a field agent for the IRS.” Sara handed Alex the paperwork as she stepped up beside him. “It has come to our attention that your neighbors have paid you directly for the maintenance and usage of your solar farm.” The IRS agent stood tall and looked down his nose at Alex and Sara. “If this is true, I’m afraid the tax penalties could be quite severe, and I fear that it is likely the IRS will file criminal charges for tax evasion.”
Alex thumbed his way through the paperwork and smiled when he got to the last page. He leaned over and whispered into his wife’s ear. Sara nodded, smiled, and walked quickly into the house. Alex glanced behind him. The entire neighborhood had gathered silently together.
When Sara came back out of the house, she was carrying two large manila envelopes. Alex offered Agent Harrison back the paperwork that he brought, but the agent shook his head rejecting the papers.
“Mr. Banneson, those are your copies of the paperwork notifying you of our intent to prosecute the infractions listed.”
Alex traded the paperwork for the envelopes that Sara carried, and he opened an envelope labeled receipts. “Ah, I have some paperwork for you as well. I noticed that the papers you brought are dated the twenty-first of this month.” Alex handed the agent the contents of the envelope. “These are copies of the receipts I gave my neighbors for the operation of the solar array. If you will, please flip to the last receipt.” The agent’s lips thinned as he looked at the last receipt. “As you can see, the last receipt is from the local IRS office and dated the twentieth. I have paid all the past due taxes.”
Agent Harrison’s eye narrowed and his cheeks reddened as he looked up. “I’m glad to see that you have taken care of the issue.” His words came slower and more pointed. “I will personally request that I get to review your tax statements each quarter to ensure there are no more oversights.”
Alex nodded and opened the second manila envelope. “That’s mighty nice of you Agent Harrison, but…” He pulled out the paperwork and handed it to the agent. “After I paid the taxes, I filed the required paperwork to form a 501(c)3.” Alex motioned at the crowd behind him. “We are the Heirs of the Sun.” Alex pointed toward a large gazebo overlooking the solar array. “We meet once a month on the hill for a morning sunrise service followed by a large breakfast. Sun worship is one of Mankind’s oldest religions, and I believe in the coming months you will see many more of our little communities popping up thanks to my photovoltaic paint.”
Agent Harrison’s neck began to redden, and the veins on his forehead began to stand out. He looked over the crowd and raised his voice. “I will accept your invitation.” Agent Harrison began to walk toward his SUV, and he continued to speak as he walked. “I would hate to discover that any of you had lied about your religious affiliations.”
Just as Agent Harrison was about to close his door, Alex shouted out, “Oh, Agent Harrison!”
One side of Agent Harrison’s mouth drew closer to his ear while he held the door open and waited to see what Alex had to say. After a short pause, he said irritably, “What?”
Alex smiled kindly while he held hands with Kira and put his arm around Sara. “How do you like your eggs?”
Agent Harrison slammed the door shut and backed out of the driveway. Sheriff Johnson and Officer Jordan walked to their cars. Sheriff Johnson opened the door on his patrol car and rested his right arm on the top. “Well Alex, when is the next sunrise service?”
“The first Sunday of the month. How do you like your eggs?”
The sheriff smiled and tipped his hat. “Sunny side up, of course.”
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Eddie D. Moore
Eddie D. Moore travels extensively for work, and he spends much of that time listening to audio books. The rest of the time is spent dreaming of stories to write and he spends the weekends writing them. His stories have been published by Jouth Webzine, The Flash Fiction Press, Every Day Fiction, Theme of Absence, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Adventure Worlds. Find more on his blog: https://eddiedmoore.wordpress.com/.