(by Lance Erlick)
Q: Annabelle, now that you’ve survived this ordeal, where would you most like to go for a vacation getaway, anywhere in the world?
A: Is that on or off the record?
Q: Okay, off the record. No strings attached.
A: If you could grant me any wish of a place to go with no consequences, I would choose a prison.
Q: After what you’ve been through, why in the world would you choose that?
A: That’s where they sent my birth mother when I was three. I can’t give you a specific prison or city, because they won’t tell me where they sent her.
Q: I’m afraid I can’t grant that.
A: I didn’t think so. Well, then I’ve never been to the Great Smoky Mountains even though they’re only 25 miles away. They’re in the forbidden Outlands. I know it carries a lot of personal risk, but I would really like to experience the untamed beauty of the lands.
Q: So you would put yourself in harm’s way to experience what is essentially a national park?
A: It’s much more than that. It represents all that’s forbidden in my society: boys, the ability to go places without being watched, and to experience things that are forbidden.
Q: They’re forbidden for your own good.
A: Shouldn’t I be able to decide for myself.
Q: So, with the opportunity to go anywhere in the world, you would only venture some 25 miles east into the woods.
A: Right now, I can’t think of any place I’d rather be than home in Knoxville with my family surrounded by beautiful hills and the river.
Footnote: Few may know that Knoxville was caught in middle of the first American Civil War. The city supported the South, while the surrounding areas supported the North. It makes the perfect backdrop for a Second Civil War.