Mar’s frustration grew. Her inward self felt as though it were a ceiling under a flooding floor, and small apertures opened up and began dripping waste water – by the sheer force of gravity – down into the lit compartment of her conscious awareness. The walls of her interior self became wet, dank and dirty. Her inner floor, always a constant guide throughout her long, often troubled and troubling, life, became damp and, by degrees, by centimeters, slowly filled with the flotsam from above. An above she could not control. A superior power in the hierarchy of egos that maintained governance in place she once tolerated, at times loved, and now hated. A meeting had been called. Shattered’s exile had been announced, not by Tallie – who had surreptitiously kept himself at the administrator’s second residence, a modest but beautifully crafted cabin overlooking the Pacific just north of Arcata, in a peaceful place, Patrick’s Point. The meeting had excluded the public, and only the seventy-members of parliament could attend. No votes would be taken, in the name of administrative privilege. Shocked members of parliament, from all alliances, coalitions, were instructed to not speak during the solemn short announcement. Only after a period of seven-days could the parliament reconvene, again in the name of administrative privilege. The Prime Amendments had allowed for these types of measures, but only in the gravest of circumstances, and many felt compelled to leave their protestations behind, for if Tallie had invoked such extraordinary powers, there must be a reason, they surmised.
While Tallie drank his tea, sat on the deck of his cabin in front of its floor-to-ceiling windows and watched the seagulls glide, twist and crane through the air, Shattered was shackled in the basement of the Goldwood home. Five-and-two days in this upside down world of insanity had led him to try to burn his gilded prison down. He did not know that his exile was only announced the night before. He thought of Mar. He thought of death. He thought of suicide. A thick, heavy and rusty chain, some two meters long, held him to the ground of the Goldwood’s large, dusty basement. Every night he was allowed a meal of porridge. The Goldwood family deliberated on what to do with him. His sperm was worthy, but what would people think if Farthing became pregnant without a husband? This led her to have sort of breakdown; the idea of people “not fully respecting me,” as she put it to her father, had convinced her old man to allow time for Shattered to “come to his senses.”
Mar saw no one the day after the announcement. She did not smoke cannabis. She did not drink coffee. She did not sleep. She sat in her chair and stared the stare of thousand winds coming together. She would not hold back this time. She would not hold back. The night came and she had a cigarette. Kenya called on her. They sat in the small cabin, windows ajar, and Mar asked a favor. She actually demanded it.
“Kenya, you good friends with Brook?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Listen, he’s strong. He’s young. You are the two I want to do it.” Mar looked vacantly out the window into the dark night. The sound of crickets sat between them for a minute. She exhaled from her cigarette, and looked over at Kenya. Her eyes had been fixed on Mar. Kenya did not lose her composure; she didn’t even really move. A moment later she crossed her left leg over her right. Her black trousers, newly traded from Marin, were cool in the warm summer night. Her hands pulled back her dark locks. Mar thought she had the most beautiful hands, and she almost found herself retracting her oblique command. Then she thought of Shattered.
“You must go to Marin. I will give a piece of paper, with something that won’t make any sense to ya’all, but it will make sense to Morph Zed. He owes me. Big.”
“The Premier of Marin, owes you? I am sorry. I did not mean to diminish… I just didn’t know…”
“Of course you would not know. It’s a bit of secret. My time in Marin included, just take this…” Mar handed Kenya a piece of paper with the following note:
OMEGA_NEXUS_DIRECTIVE: Encoded Marianne Smithson
PROTOCOL19-17-CentralNexus, Priority OO1-505 to Morph Zed
Retrieve Timothy Soulsby, AKA Shattered from Central Valley
INSTRUCT_IMMEDIATELY: Alcubierre metric (payment)
“As soon as you cross into Marin, you will be intercepted. Give this note immediately to whoever or whatever you see.”
Kenya, hesitant, said, “If I do this, will I be able to come back? Isn’t this treason? Leaving without a permit? And my brother’s position? He will be compromised. It will leave a lasting mark on the family. He is…”
“No, he won’t be compromised. What I’ve written goes back to the Marin-Park Mutual Cooperation Treaty, and is in accord with the inter-regional process of negotiations. It will confer, on you and Brook, Marin-Park duality: a citizen and a denizen. You will be protected. The same will be offered to Shattered. Then, at the very least, Tallie can not play these games by twisting the Prime Amendments for his own paranoid purposes.”
“Why do you say paranoid?”
“I know why he doesn’t want Shattered here. But I can’t say. Let me assure you it is not because Shattered is a spy. After the First Peoples convene, they will let the information out; they are the keyholders to any and all information that might be blocked by the administrator or anyone else in a position of authority. All this damn hierarchy. I feel flooded. Just flooded. In any event, you get Brook and leave tonight.”
“Will you do the book with me, and tell me everything? I mean everything.” Kenya smiled as she looked over at Mar.
“Darlin’ I will tell you whatever you want, now go get my boy!”
Brook and Kenya rode horses throughout the night, stopping and trading in their tired mares about thirty-miles into the journey. Another twenty-miles and they would be in Willow Creek, near the Marin-Park border. At the trading post, they got two well-rested horses, ate quickly in the common area, said little to the few others their, and left. Most people, in the late evening, would not keep going, but with an illicit flashlight, one they had to hide as they approached any area with people, they could move quickly through the darkness. Arriving at Willow Creek just as the sun rose, they left the horses in the center of the village with the local hostler, an old man with a pulchritudinous, sensitive, almost pitch black, dark, deeply lined face. He remarked on how beautiful the horses were, and offered the Brook and Kenya some food. They declined. Time. Time clicked on. Shattered. Shattered could be dead. The flashlight, given to them by Mar, something she had hidden deep beneath the floorboards of her cabin, they buried five-hundred meters from the border. No Park civilian defense forces were around. They knew the border was near only because the dusty trail they were on had a large, long rectangular wooden sign, newly painted and nailed onto an oak tree, that read: Park Denizens: In 500m: You Are Approaching Marin, Please Turn Back And Take A Permitted Route, This is Not A Permitted Route. Violators Will Be Punished.
They knew it wasn’t permitted. It wasn’t even on any of the official maps; but Mar had it given to her from the First Peoples, through Joyful, who slipped it into her pocket after that terrible night of the announcement of Shattered’s exile. Exile – what’s in a calamity? Mar mused as the two entered Marin. She felt a subtle shudder. She smoked a joint.
Nothing happened. Brook and Kenya walked and walked for about an hour. Then as the sun rose and rose, a small drone, the size of a large animal’s eyeball, spherical, silently zoomed down from the sky. Glossy, black – like a giant dilated pupil – it approached Brook, made no sound, then Kenya. Within seconds two other drones, larger black spheres approached. Kenya held out the note. Her hands trembled. She had never in her life seen electronic-based technology beyond the flashlight Mar had given her the night before. The smaller sphere turned azure blue at the sight of the note. The other two spheres turned an even paler, light blue. They came within centimeters of Brook and Kenya. Both of them stood shaking. A transparent gel, emanating from the spheres, engulfed their bodies. The gel encased them. They could see out, they could breath, but they breathed in a type of liquid. Within less than a second they were thrust into the air some two-hundred meters, each encased safely, securely within a gel-pack. They remained calm. This is what I knew to expect, something incredible. Unexpected – Kenya mused. Brook felt exhilarated and scared. Both shared these emotions, and both of these emotions increased as the pods, hanging in air, launched off for Marin Central at some three-hundred kilometers per hour. An ocular interface, now fully operational, showed speed, inside and outside temperature, expected time of arrival and more information in codes they didn’t understand. Their clothing dissolved. And the messages, somehow transmitted directly to their brains, and inserted as text over their eyes, advised them to defecate or urinate as needed. Clothing will be provided for you immediately upon entry into Marin Central. This is a hermetically sealed high-speed, individual transport unit. Your nutritional, medical, genetic and other needs will be taken care of. Approaching the sound barrier, apx 1300 kmh, you will feel a slight vibration, but there will be no other interruptions after that. We will slow and descend into Marin Central Nexus in approximately twenty-five minutes.
Twenty-five minutes. Brook couldn’t believe it. It took that long for him to get from his house to the river. Kenya, exhausted, napped for the rest of the journey.