Bewildering Stories

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The Bridge

part VI, installment 2

by euhal allen

“The Bridge” began in issue 99.
Part VI, installment 1 appeared in issue 111.

Ernest and Sheila relaxed back into their chairs and finished their drinks. Then they got up and, leisurely folded the chairs and stored them in the undercarriage box on their motor home. Then they went inside to fix dinner. They knew that they could not take a chance and hurry too much. After about an hour they opened a little door in their kitchen cabinets and reached into the cupboard and threw a little switch.

In the back of the motor home, the part closest to the surrounding trees, a small door opened and a number of shadows, fifteen or twenty of them, slipped out of the woods and into the motor home.

* * *

“Alexis, I must talk to you. You must come to your study.”

Alexis called out to Katia, who was in the kitchen working on their dinner, “I will be in my study for awhile, Katia. Got something I have to take care of.” Then he made his way through the room to the study and entered the one place he could call his sanctuary.

“What is it, Cyr?” he asked.

“It’s your mother, Alexis. She is dying. Katia said that I should tell you.”

Alexis sat down and thought of the last time he had seen his mother. It was so long ago. It was the same night he had been shot trying to gain the safety of the Bridge. She had begged him not to go back. She had been afraid that he would be harmed. He had gone anyway.

Since he had been revived he had never gone to see her, never let her know that he was still alive; it would have been too dangerous for her.

“Can our medical facilities help her, Cyr?”

“No. We have the techniques to save her life. But, we could not do it unless she was brought here.

“She would have to disappear from her bed in the hospital and there is no way to do that without causing an upset. The governments are even now trying to trace any death that is not accompanied by a body as proof of that death. To bring her here would jeopardize the plan we are working on. We can not put one life ahead of the plan.”

“The plan, Cyr? The governments know we are here. The Navy tried to use a pillar for target practice and found that out.”

“No, Alexis. They are still not sure. They are kicking around the idea that the pillars may have a residual defense mechanism that was not destroyed when I shattered my structure. And that is the truth. There is such a defense mechanism. It was activated when the Grand Council approved a second chance for me.

“However, it would not take much for them to step over the line from caution to full scale attacks if given any unquestionable evidence of our existence. There are still over thirteen percent of our people out there on their way to the safety areas. Doing something from our hearts could cost them their lives.”

* * *

President Lockly was angry. To defeat the Bridge in its comeback he needed the rest of earth’s governments to work with him. The proof sent to them from the naval attack on that pillar should have brought them on board.

But, it seemed that such things had happened in different spots for years. A miner in some out of the way spot tries to blow part of a Bridge unit out of his way and nothing happens except a shimmering effect. Some other thing hits one of those units and that shimmer appears and the unit is unscathed.

He even had, when he was still in intelligence, known of some of those events. At first they had been a bit of a worry, but since nothing else ever happened, they had been dismissed as harmless. He had laughed at them, then. He had thought that they were just some residual effect of the Bridge’s superior technology.

Now he knew better and he could not convince other national leaders of the seriousness of the situation. It had been a mistake, he now realized, to do Hobart in. Hobart had understood the magnitude of the problem better and he might have been able to make others listen. Now, as President, Lockly was to pay for that misjudgment.

* * *

Elvira Hammet sat in her office at the local control center and monitored those still away from the safety zones. She was in contact with the leaders of the groups in her area, constantly telling them who and what was ahead of them.

All but about six percent were in the safe areas, and that was not too bad. But, that still left something in the area of sixty thousand Dreamers still coming in.

Government patrols were everywhere. Dreamers had to backtrack and seek other paths again and again. A number had been arrested. Thirty-seven had been killed, and, bad as that was, the situation looked like it was worsening.

“Cyr,” she called out, “tell the Dream Singer that we must, somehow, find a way to hurry these folks up. There are too many patrols out there for all of our people to make it in.”

“She knows that, Elvira,” Cyr said softly, “she knows. She is doing all she can.”

* * *

Jonkil et Sharma stood in the great chambers of the Galactic Council. It had been a grueling session. He wanted to sit down and rest his legs but no one except Council members were allowed to sit in the Council chambers.

Over and over again he had answered their repetitious questions. Over and over again he had given them the answers supplied by Cyr and Katia. And yet the questions still came.

What was that earth woman, Katia, up to? Why was he, a member of an older race, taking “suggestions“ from this woman? Why was the currently greatest and most sentient computer ever created by the Council following this woman?

Jonkil et Sharma tried to help them to understand the race under his care. He tried to help them understand the “charisma” concept and how it gave leaders the ability to direct their people. How throughout human history it had often been that way.

Finally, he reminded them of the music of this people, of the singular beauty that often throughout their history came from individuals of genius. How in so many fields of endeavor individuals stood out above the crowd.

Then the questions stopped. Then he had to stand there and wait for their decisions. That, too, was taking a unusual amount of time., At last, the decisions were rendered. Then at last he knew the boundaries he would have to work in. Then, at last, he had answers for Katia.

* * *

Blanca and Piotr no longer worked in the village. They, too, had positions in the main control area. They, too, because they had come under suspicion of the government agents, had to flee into the mountains that lined the Oregon coast. They had almost been caught several times, but Cyr had repeatedly warned them just in time to give them a change in direction away from the government men. Then, when Cyr had told them that they were safe from immediate capture, that they had lost the government agents, they were allowed to use the portal implants to transfer to Central Control without being seen.

They, too, now sat at desks and monitored those still coming in. They too, watched the topographical screens and communicated with their people and told them where the agents were and how to evade them. But, there were so many, and the time was so short.

More than once their efforts had failed. Some had been captured. Some had been killed. And, because there were so many, they had no time for the tears that ran down their cheeks.

* * *

President Lockly was in as good a frame of mind as he could be as he read the reports coming in from the field agents. They had captured some five hundred of the traitors. Some, with a little bit of “gentle” persuasion, had talked. It was coming together now; the songs, the leaders, the whole conspiracy to destroy the historic cultures of Man.

Now he had the evidence to place before other national leaders. Now he would be able to convince them that they must strike as soon as possible. Now they would see the truth and destroy these radicals where they stood.

* * *

The motor home was going too fast for the curvy, precipitous Oregon coast roads. Sheila sat in the passenger seat, face pale with fright. “It is getting too dangerous,” she thought, “and this must be the last trip to rescue Dreamers trying to win their way to safety.”

The thirteen Hispanic Dreamers in the back of the vehicle were praying and comforting one another.

Ernest, weaving back and forth across the lanes to keep the government cars from passing him, kept thinking, “If we can only make it to the village we will be safe. We can hide there and Cyr will be able to protect us.” Aloud, he said to the vehicle, “Only a mile or so more guy. You can make it!”

The last curve was ahead of them, the last one before the village. Then as he rounded the curve he saw that the road was blocked by some huge machine that he knew he could not push aside, and there was no room to go around. His foot hit the brake pedal and the motor home’s tires squealed loudly.

Then, as the motor home broke through the roadside barriers, they became silent as the vehicle plunged down the cliff’s side and crashed into the rocky water below.

Katia has seen it all on the screen in her office. Now she did the only thing she could. She wept.

Proceed to the conclusion...

Copyright © 2004 by euhal allen

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