Bewildering Stories

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The Bridge

Part IV, installment 1

by euhal allen

Jonkil et Sharma sat at his desk, thinking back over the years that he had been in this star system. It was a first for a Bridge Coordinator to need to stay so long. But, then, there had been many firsts here:

for the first time a Bridge had failed;
for the first time a second chance was needed;
for the first time a new Plan had to be devised;
for the first time a Bridge took a native partner to help guide a plan;
for the first time a Bridge had not followed a Coordinator’s decision;
for the first time there was a changed plan to save a single life;
for the first time one life was counted as more important than the details of the plan.

Now, watching what was happening, watching Katia and her family work to fulfill their mission, Jonkil et Sharma, for the first time, began to understand what the Bridge, what Cyr, had seen in Katia. Now there seemed to be a glimmer, but just a glimmer, of hope for success.

There was a large room, in a certain place, that was filed with cubicles, the walls of which went from floor to ceiling. None of the cubicles had any doors or windows, at least none that anyone could see.

In each cubicle there was a ceiling light that was always on, a monitor tuned to only one input, a speaker on a wall, with a microphone and camera near, to communicate with other cubicles when necessary. As time went on it became necessary.

And, from time to time, there were people, hidden under robes, in those cubicles. At first there had only been a few scattered, now and then, through the cubicled room. But as time went on, more of the cubicles became operational to be used by the slowly growing organization involved in charting a new future for them.

How they got there was beyond the technology of those people, but let’s just say that, at different times of any day or night, persons, when out of sight of all others, would disappear from a small village on the Oregon coast while they were going about normal things in their lives.

They would then appear, each in their own cubicle, robed in dark, heavy cloth, and ready for needed instruction. They would stand, for the sessions were never long enough for them to be terribly missed from their normal lives, and they would watch the brightly robed Dream Singer, listening with their hearts to her songs.

She would sing to them of the hope of a new world of peace and fairness. She would help them see what could have been, had the Bridge not been forced by hate and fear to de-span itself. She would sing of a world they were beginning to long for, a world she made them believe in.

Then the people and the robes would disappear from the cubicles and their lives would go on again, seemingly unchanged from what they were before. Yet, there was a different song in their hearts, one that made their lives just a little brighter.

* * *

Blanca was working as hard as ever but now it somehow seemed easier. It was the song she was humming, the Dreamer’s song of hope.

She wanted to sing the words but knew she must not. There were too many enemies around who would wonder at the words. But, she sang them in her head as she hummed:

There’s a bridge to the sun,
There’s a way to the light,
There’s a pathway to run,
There’s a way from this night.

Bridge, bridge, bridge to the sun,
Telling my heart
The future’s begun.
Bridge, bridge, bridge to the sun,
Freedom from fear
We finally have won.

There’s a home in that place,
Across that bridge for me,
There’s a home in that place,
A home happy and free.

Bridge, bridge, bridge to the sun,
Telling my heart
The future’s begun.
Bridge, bridge, bridge to the sun,
Freedom from fear
We finally have won.

There’s a bridge...

* * *

Gloria von Seltzen was not happy. She was the queen in the village and, somehow, she felt that her throne had slipped. There was something that had become more important to many of the villagers than pleasing her. It was not that the store clerks did not want to satisfy her wants, they did, but they seemed to have “more important” things on their minds. “What,” she thought, “was causing this change in the village?”

* * *

Tommy Tinker was sitting at his desk, working over the records and gleaning out the information he needed for his report to Dr. von Seltzen in the morning when the knock on the door interrupted his evening.

Opening the door he found himself facing a man he had never seen before. The man, entering without invitation, found himself a chair and said simply, “Close the door, Mr. Tinker, and we will have a nice friendly talk.”

Tommy shut the door and, turning to face the man, said, “Who are you and why should we have a friendly talk?”

“My name is... shall we use Harris? I was Niels’ supervisor and now I am yours.”

“I don’t think so, Mr. Harris. My supervisor is Dr. von Seltzen. He owns this ranch. I work for him. Niels, whatever he may have told you, was just a villager that I saw occasionally.”

Harris smiled, reached into his coat pocket, brought out some papers, and laid them on the table.

“These interesting documents,” he said, “are the copies of foreclosure papers on your farm. It seems that your Uncle Hiram spent a lot of time with the Bridge. Enough time that, under the new ‘Aiding the Enemy’ law, just signed by President Hobart, so that his property is eligible for confiscation. That would make it hard on Cousin Amelia, wouldn’t it?”

“Of course, your cooperation in certain matters could make these documents disappear and Cousin Amelia could have a nice normal life.

“I will leave these with you for a little while... say, a week? You may show them to a lawyer to ascertain their legality. I will expect your answer when I come back.”

Without waiting for an answer from Tommy, Mr. Harris got up and left.

* * *

The New York Times story, under the headline, Vice President Assassinated, read:

The Tennessee Congressman and Speaker of the House, Brian Fullerton, was breakfasting with Vice President Sanders at Blair House when four terrorists in black bodysuits burst into the room and shot them both down.

Blair House staff who witnessed the carnage stated that their bodysuits had no marks on them with the exception of what looked like a small, gold-colored bridge on each shoulder.

Upon leaving Blair House the assassins made their escape in a blue SUV and were spotted within minutes by military aircraft patrolling the area.

Those aircraft, flying close in to verify the identity of the SUV, after being fired upon by the occupants, returned fire with antitank missiles they were still carrying from recent training exercises.

The SUV was completely destroyed and armed force personnel are even now trying to locate fleshly remains to be sent to the military’s forensic labs for possible identification.

President Hobart declared a 30-day period of mourning for the assassinated officials. He then called Congress out of summer recess and indicated that he would put forth a nomination for Vice President as soon as possible, stating that it was “necessary in these troublesome times to have the office of Vice President filled rapidly to protect the nation from chaos and confusion.”

* * *

Ferd and Elvira Hammet surveyed their work in Gloria von Seltzen’s favorite rose garden. It had been done well and would look beautiful all lit up during the party tonight. “Madam” von Seltzen, as she preferred to be called by the “help,” always encouraged her guests to make a tour of the garden with her. Elvira was always glad she was one of the outside “help” and did not have to be present when the lady of the house gushed over the flowers.

“Ferd,” she said, “I have to admit to your being right this time. This is a pleasant place to live and a pleasant work to do. It is as if we were still retired and now getting paid for it. And all I have to do to keep enjoying it is run whenever I see that woman coming around.”

“Aw, Elvira,” Ferd answered, “she ain't so bad. A bit snooty now and then, but she’s pretty good about not giving a lot of orders to us. We pretty well are able to do our work anyway we’ve a mind to, as long as we take some of her suggestions.

“I think she is like most women her age who don’t want to be old. The difference is that she gets what most of those women don’t, the chance to play princess. I dare say there was a time you wanted to play princess, too.”

“I never had no time to play princess, I was always too busy doing chores for my “Prince Charming.”

* * *

The small boat slowly sailed into the harbor, barely seen in the low light of the sun that had just sunk below the horizon. The captain thought it best to tie up to one of the pillars left over from the great Bridge.

Tomorrow, in the daylight, he could head into the harbor and seek to fulfill his mission. Now he was tired. It had been a long, sad journey and tomorrow would find its end. Then, tomorrow night, when his quest had been completed, they could start the trip home, carrying, he hoped, that for which they had come.

* * *

Dr. von Seltzen saw Tommy coming up the walk and met him at the door to his office. “Well,” he asked, “for what do I have the pleasure of this visit?”

Tommy didn’t say anything, he just laid out the papers given to him by “Mr. Harris” on the doctor’s desk.

A quick glance told Dr. von Seltzen what the papers were about. He motioned Tommy to a chair and sat down in his chair. “So, they’re after you again. What did you tell them?”

“That “Mr. Harris” didn’t give me a chance to give an answer,” he said. “He told me that he would be back in a week to get it then. If I help them some of my crew could get into trouble. If I don’t help them my Cousin Amelia and her kids will loose any chance at a good life that they have.”

Just at that moment, an announcement came over the Television, that they had been ignoring until now, that President Hobart was about to reveal his nomination for the office of Vice President.

Dr. von Seltzen, ignoring the TV once again said, “Tomorrow morning you go back to Stony Gap and pack your Cousin and her kids into the ranch van. The Old Carver house is empty and they can stay there as caretakers. I’ll even ...” He could see that Tommy wasn’t listening to him, but had turned pale and angry.

Dr. von Seltzen turned to the TV to see just what it was that was upsetting him so.

The President was in the middle of his announcement, saying “...and so, because the election is only a few months away, and the nominating conventions and the campaigns will take up so much of our political time, helping our good citizens choose our direction in the future, by deciding who their leaders will be, I am taking an unprecedented path by choosing not a politician to be Vice President for the few months left in his term but this man, John Lockly, the present director of the National Intelligence, who has been with me in all of my decisions, to continue to work with me, in the office of Vice President.

“It is my hope that the Congress, in this special session, will approve this nomination quickly and in favor of Director Lockly so that we can go on to the necessary democratic business of choosing our next slate of leaders.”

Tommy Tinker turned to Dr. von Seltzen and whispered something. Dr. von Seltzen shook his head to show that he had not understood and Tommy, clearing his throat said again, “That’s him. That John Lockly is him!”

Dr. von Seltzen, afraid of what he thought he was hearing, said calmly, “I’m not sure what you mean, Tommy. That’s who?’

Tommy, still shocked and angry, answered, “That John Lockly is the same man who threatened me with those documents.”

To be continued...

Copyright © 2004 by euhal allen

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