She arrived at a clearing in the forest, where the sun marked a circle that dazzled her eyes. She stamped the ground, listened to the soil for a while. This was a good spot, she thought. Prime real estate at a low deposit now available the Other gabbled. She glanced over at her daughter Trudy to see if the voice had reached her, but her daughter was engrossed in some knick knack they had found back in the last town. Thomas however was startled, wide eyed, and yet again Wednesday had to suppress her disgust that the ability had gone that way. She loved the boy, but wanted him married off to a quiet life, away from the business.
She whistled to the Fore Man, who called on the adjuncts to bellow orders at the troops. A seat was slid under her backside, and a tent raised around her. She wondered if the Other had done it on purpose, made it the boy. Maybe it just took a bit more brainpower than Trudy had inherited from her father, who it must be said was more pleasing to the eye than the ear. Mind you, Tom’s father was no great brains either.
The Map Man begged her attention. They were at this spot in the region owned by Alice Liddell, the traditional name Montana, there were existing castles here and here but in general the area was undeveloped, there were quite a few surface towns here but it would be difficult to link to them. And so on. Wednesday had drifted off once she knew the owner. Liddell. A Globalist sandwiched between the orthodox towns to the south and the wild men up north. She would want the usual tools and gizmos, but sooner than later it would be weapons. Probably small arms, she’d be pushing north to get away from the clock-botherers, a few bangs and the natives would scatter. They all wanted weapons these days, and the castles were getting torn up faster than ever before. It was a pity, it seemed a nice place even upstairs.
A series of thumps shook the ground as the Sniffer Man sent sound waves bouncing through the soil. She already knew the image would be clean, that they would be digging here soon. She could almost see how it would end, a year? Less. But a graceful evacuation. Not too many lost. She could feel the Other pleading the usual promises and excuses but it had been too many times now, it always ended the same way for people, well cattle anyway.
The image was clean. She nodded to the Fore Man and the heavy machinery started through the forest. That would cause much damage, but to people who saw the world from beneath, there was little care. Some of the natives would complain, they would be given tools and weapons, job offers, it would be smoothed over as always.
The Radio announcer cut into her reverie. Wednesday sold weapons to the Globalists, surely a provocation?
No use pointing out that the orthodox were the best customers, and keen on the latest nightmares, but Wednesday knew the right words. Had not Paul himself led her to the beacon? If he was part of the plan surely she was part of the plan as well? Had she not been there when the first radio spoke (actually she’d been down the corridor sewing but never mind). She bet that the chairs on which they were seated weren’t dug out of some ruins and took great satisfaction in the crestfallen face of the announcer, one of those clock-bothering pearl-clutching wowsers that pretended meat came from cans. Anyway…
Back in her memory, she sat in the tent with a little turntable spinning close to her face. VESTAX it was called, an original that had been with her through many triumphs and close calls. From the turntable a little hand mirror bounced light across her face, she hummed a song to herself. She skimmed… a blue light sent out over the inner landscape. A sharp echo nearby… her children, very close, and then a gulf… over to the west, faintly, someone she didn’t recognise… and then Olga a little further south, hello hello Olga was deep in the business she could tell from the distortion… faintly, faintly another mind further away, perhaps another up north but the light was too weak. Shards of light criss crossed the map – the remnants of beacons lit up as she touched them – less now as the surface people tore them down.
She turned her mind to the side, found her daughter again, and through her a grand daughter to be, and it was puzzling as always that the line stopped there. Puzzling too that the mind of the grand daughter seemed close to her own mother, as if there were some kind of loop – an airport, exodus.
The sunlight leaking into the tent pissed her off. Who knows how people put up with all this emptiness around them?
Thank you for speaking with us today. You’ve been listening to Wendy March in conversation, first and foremost of the farming community that are now re-stocking the reborn world. You’re tuned to KCFC Boulder, territory of Phillips, and in a short moment we cross to Fort Collins for the time signal, universal and coordinated.
And to hell with you all, thought Wednesday, still gripped by the memory of that headache.