These installments are a little shorter. As I said yesterday, it’s not as if I enjoy hanging around these people. Off to do a little research into the energy output of a 1m x 6m tungsten alloy rod touching down at 10 miles/sec.
Their three-car caravan turned off of Texas route 71 onto I-10, headed almost due East toward Houston. Clive Barrett paused in dictating some more personnel changes to his secretary to glance at the ‘Welcome to Columbus!’ sign.
Columbus. Ohio. By the time I was there, skirting it to the north, it was almost completely depopulated. That handful of armed priests and seminarians that was left in the rubble of the Josephinum were kind enough to let me stay two nights. And to share from their small store of meds: I recall that scratch on my left leg was blue and smelled funny.
Two and a half days later I walked through the hole chopped through our garage door and the door into the house, knocked off of its hinges. They’d not been stupid: all canned goods were gone. Anything that looked remotely valuable taken. Seeing the shattered remains of my family’s china cabinet had been unpleasant: objects, pictures, bibles from the early 19th Century scattered about the dining room floor.
All the liquor in the bar had been consumed. The gun safe was tipped over: blunt-force impact and drill marks all over it, but apparently intact. It was only late morning by the sun, so I’d time to see to that later.
The upstairs bedrooms were similarly ransacked: all warm, tough clothes taken. I wonder if they wondered, in the little shrine on the wall, about the ginger ale bottle from a quarter century ago? That was as important to my wife as the photo albums. They were in the basement. It hurt to see Callie’s paintings slashed and torn… the little portable generator was no longer next to the pellet stove. Where did they think they’d get gasoline?
Hauling the photo albums up to the ground floor, I realized that – against common sense – I’d have to spend the night…
“Director?” His secretary asked. “You stopped right in the middle about the discontinuation of the policy of crucifixion…?”
Barrett glanced at Trulissa. Bright, loyal. It was rumored he prayed on his knees every night, much to the taunts of his mates in the increasingly secular Extraordinary Commission.
“You… were perhaps thinking about your vacation?” The secretary ventured.
“No. My past.”
“Oh.” He dropped his head and was quiet.
“Disappointed you’re not going?”
“A little. Sir.”
“Would you believe me if I told you you’re not going for a reason?”
Trulissa’s head came back up.
“You are the best secretary I’ve had here. Your talents are wasted in the politics of the Capitol. The paperwork’s already approved: beginning Monday you’re Chief of Security for the Space Port, just outside Midland-Odessa.”
Barrett watched the pen fall from his left hand.
“S…sir? Thank you, but isn’t that facility mothballed?”
“It was,” Barrett let his gaze slide back outside for a moment, “but someone I know and his… family… need it re-opened.”
“Thank you, so much, sir! For the position and for your confidence in me!”
Barrett returned his eyes to his underling.
“This is legit law-and-order job, Trulissa!” He pointed his left index finger at his subordinate. “No ExComm bullshit! No more terror; no more murder!”
Not after tomorrow night.