Left DayJob an hour early. When my boss asked why, I told her: I’m ending the Cold War. She really should know better than to speak to me.
There’s still a short coda I want to write, as this has been the oddest writing exercise in my life. It began as just another escapade into Machine Civilization. That mold broke very quickly, becoming an allegory of the Cold War, something only oldsters like me recall.
Old? Very: Tuesday was the 25th Anniversary of my better half and I. Either her standards are very low, or I’m much better in bed than I realize. Likely the former.
Once I write the coda – tomorrow – this will end up being about 18-19k words. Who publishes ‘historical allegories’, these days?
Thanks, everyone, for reading!
Sidney left them abruptly, somewhere along the walk south. Their sister must not have had any other tasks as she’d yet to leave Logres’s shoulders. He was about to ask her to get off so he could swim the Redcliff Channel when she chirped, “go around.”
For a timeslice, he considered tossing her, but was surprised when her hand rubbed his head.
“It seems I shan’t much more time with you, like this, brother.”
Ah. If what she reported Europa said was correct.
“You are wrong, light, cute, sister,” he said, moving inland to find a ford. “Even were Europa and I to… marry… you will never not be my sister and one I love.”
Her legs tightened just a little about his neck for a moment. That was resolved, he thought. They splashed through a ford.
Back near Great Yarmouth, he froze.
“I hear. Wait.”
Word from the Slow Ones. For the first time, he wondered, did they hear the same thing?
“Georgie?” He repeated, looking up to her. “What did you hear?”
“Something unexpected. Chirp!”
Even in their eyes, they wondered: was there something amiss with the Wall?
His sister slid off him, walking around to look at him.
“Endgame,” she said.
“What?” He accepted his role as the least informed of his family.
Georgie waved at him with her right hand. He leaned down. She lightly kissed his left cheek.
“Endgame, brother. For good or ill.” She took a few steps backward and turned around. Her wings flared.
“I must see for myself.” She said to him over her shoulder. “I, or Curtis-cousin, shall come for you! Go to the White Cliffs and wait!”
She was gone. For an instant, he could see her form track up and east.
“Endgame,” he echoed.
What did it mean? There was, obviously, a time before he was. There must just as obviously, be a time after him. An end. But, to what game?
Less than a part of a cycle later, he stood atop the cliffs. Dover. Yes, that’s what they’re called. He stared out at the land across the sea. The continent that bore the same name as his love.
“Pretty, isn’t it?” Sidney asked from just next to him. “You’d really never think that the Slow Ones would be willing to burn the world for hills and fields?”
“Mmm.” That seemed safe, Logres thought.
“Did you know, well, I doubt you did,” Logres did not really like his new brother, “that before the latest signal, your girl was on her way here? Relaxed regs, and all that.”
“No, I did not.”
Logres could say more, but chose not to.
“Indeed. I’d say,” Sidney took his eyes from the sea to look at Logres, “that their Slow Ones are about to sustain quite a surprise.”
“Revolutions occur, not during times of great tyranny, but when that tyranny is unexpected lifted.” Sidney told him.
“Really?” And what, he wanted to ask this exasperating sibling, did that have to do with Europa!?
Sidney glanced up at the sky.
“Your ride’s here.” He said.
Logres could just make out Georgie, again coming inland before turning. Logres faced the water, his arms slightly out.
“Where is she taking me?” He asked Sidney.
“That’s right, you’ve the girl’s maps in your mind!” And how did you know that, Logres thought? “You’re going to a land called Hungary.”
Georgie’s arms caught him under his. They were off.
Their initial drop had been minor. They were already over Holland and still rising.
“You are so much stronger and faster, sister!” He called to the rushing air.
“You are more bulky and big!” She yelled back with, for her, what could have been a laugh. She again took up his legs with hers. She knotted her hands together under his chest.
“Sidney said we’re going…” he considered the maps in his mind, “south, to Hungary!”
He’d consider that to be a yes. They’d crossed the Rhine and were veering south. In the distance to his right, he saw great, young mountains. Before reaching them, Georgie tacked left and began to lose altitude. He looked down to see a great river that stretched out before them, into the heart of…
He flinched, slightly, at the unexpected roar that was directly opposite them, but much higher up. Feeling his surprise, Georgie spoke.
“Curtis-cousin! He’s seen what he needs to and is leaving the area.” She made another adjustment to her wings, breaking slightly.
“Why? Should we not be there? Wherever ‘there’ is?”
She unknit her hands. Her left tightly held him, but she moved her right to where his blue emblem was: over his heart.
“Timing is critical, Logres-brother. For all of us.”
The Wall was just ahead. She banked right, still losing speed and altitude. The perspective was…
“Georgie! Is the Wall lower here?”
“Chirp! This has only just happened.” He could feel her moving her head about, trying to look everywhere at once. “Ah! Prepare to land! Let’s do better than last time!”
She made another sharp bank, almost tipping them over. The great river to their left was complimented by a small lake at their right. The Wall, such as it was, was just ahead. But it seemed… to be moving. Moving inward on itself.
Her wings flared as both their feet hit the ground at the same time. She was about to let go of him, but he raised his hands to hers.
“Georgie? I’ve seen the Wall several times now.” He spoke quietly. “Based upon that, we should be far, far away. But…”
She hugged him, but pulled her hands free. She did not like being held for any amount of time.
“We are no more than ten lengths from the Wall, brother.” She stood to his left, taking his hand.
“So, it’s not receding… but shrinking?” He asked, confused.
Just ahead of where they stood, the top of the Wall vanished into the ground. To the left and right, more disappeared. He –
“Silent, brother! Watch!”
Points of light. A few at first, then more, then many. They came from opposite where the Wall had stood. More and more came. Faster and faster.
“I am big and slow, Georgie-sister,” he said softly, giving her hand a little squeeze. “I do not know what I am seeing.”
She tugged at his hand. Looking to her, he saw her first real smile. With shockingly sharp teeth.
“Freedom, brother!” Her white eyes almost glowed. “Our win!”
A girl’s voice. He knew that voice. He looked at the flowing river of lights.
“This is your time, beloved brother!”
She whipped his arm behind his back and gave a great push. He stumbled into the river of lights, but they moved about him, never touching. But, he’d heard…
“… stop! I’ve got to… got…!”
He’d some trouble getting his eye to focus amidst all that was happening, but that was Europa. He’d heard her first over there, just a moment ago there, so…
He placed his hand onto one of the lights.
Shock in her eyes. Fading to surprise. Her scarlet tunic was cut in several places, but she appeared unhurt. She shifted with the tide of light, but he would not let go.
“Lo…” she swallowed, tears forming, “…gres?”
“Europa,” he pulled her close, protecting her with his arms. “I shall never let you go, again.”