TC25


With Washington DC and much of the surrounding area devastated, America
undergoes a profound political shift, far exceeding that of the Civil
War.The United States proper is reduced to everything east of the Hudson
River, basically New York City and New England.Upstate New York, Michigan,
and everything in Minnesota north of and including the Twin Cities become
part of Canada. The western half of the states of Washington, Oregon, and
Northern California, including San Francisco, form a new nation called Pa-
cifica. Everything else is reorganized as the New Confederate States of
America.

The FBI now operates only in the rump states of the northeast. Their com-
petitors, DECON, has a lot of surviving infrastructure and they grow to
fill the role of internal security in the NCSA, now headquartered in Green-
dome.Director Earl Roland survived, and his obsession with the bnei elohim
survived with him.Every day for a half-hour or more he sits in an anteroom
to contemplate a glass case displaying the dessicated white shapes of the
modified brains of Robyn, Jerry, Hunky, Dory, and his own daughter Rebbec-
ca.The amount of science DECON had been able to obtain by studying the
once-living subjects was maddeningly limited, on account of the insuffi-
ciently advanced state of technology in the late 1940s.

The Hanford site where Robyn and Hunky were once held was also nuked in
Black ’73 but it is about the size of a county and large portions are still
in use five years later. The four reactors are completely gone, of course,
and Walla Walla downwind is still more or less a ghost town, but contamina-
tion levels in the southeast corner along the Columbia River approach the
slightly elevated levels of prior to the attack when the facility was used
to make plutonium for bombs like Fat Boy, which was used at Nagasaki. This
corner is still in use.

The New Confederacy is contemplating shutting the place down for good, but
there is still a lot of useful infrastructure, a rail network, a power
grid, empty structures, and private industry steps up to keep the ball
rolling. The isolation and security are attractive when large corporations
meditate doing something that isn’t entirely kosher from a legal stand-
point, even the lax laws of the NCSA. So business at Hanford is good.

Enter Pharmadigm, a DECON front company purporting to be a drug maker.Ro-
land gets the ball rolling by turning over a portion of the Hanford site
and ordering it tricked out with fake company logos.And Pharmadigm hires
one Doctor Amanda Chase as a consultant, with the false narrative that a
new high-profile anesthetic drug is stuck in early human trials due to ad-
verse reactions. She is asked to supervise the administration of the drug
to two remaining human “volunteers”.

One of the “volunteers” is Freddy Aspin, a convicted murderer on death row
who has been promised, in return for participating in the research, the
reduction of his sentence to life in prison without the possibility of pa-
role.The other “volunteer” is Mike Morrich, who faces a slow and painful
death by cancer and has no financial means to manage the pain.For his par-
ticipation he is promised ongoing treatment.

And all this is happening because Ed Roland has come across the first new
case of the “white brain disease” since he asked his own daughter to infil-
trate the Boda more than thirty years in the past. He now has in his cus-
tody one Dr. Lilith Gervasi, a person of dual British-Israeli citizenship,
an officer in the IDF and a former associate professor of linguistics at a
college in New Jersey that has since shut its doors.

Lilith came into the hands of DECON in very much the same way Robyn and
Hunky had done so, through a chain of puzzled diagnosticians who eventually
referred her case to the Center for Disease Control.And with Lilith on the
table Roland learned a very interesting thing. One could extract a dark
fluid from the center of the bone cup with a syringe, inject it into a dog,
and the dog will develop the bone cup as well.

By any stretch of the imagination the things Mike Morrich see in Washing-
ton, D.C. on October 19, 1973 far surpasses anything Lilith had witnessed
or endured in the death camps, but somehow they affect him far less. Per-
haps he is wired differently. At seventeen, Mike is a pretty good kid.
Sure, he drops out of school just before his senior year, to the great con-
sternation of his father, but Mike figures the kind of work he can obtain
after one more year of school wouldnt be all that much different from the
work he can obtain now, so whats the point? Sure hes a skinny young black
man with a wild afro, but nobody living in the Seventies would look back a
few decades later and say they were proud of their hair.

Mikes father has a civil service job, his parents are still together, and
Mike loves both of them. If he had been born ten or twenty years later, he
would have been the exception rather than the rule.So that Friday hes on
the job site in a cavern which is dug under the city, a space intended to
become an ornate Metro station when the system was slated to open just
three years later, although it never would. Mike doesnt have any construc-
tion skills per se, and lacks the upper body strength in any event, but his
job is simply to keep the area as clean as possible while the other men
work. He does so with a great deal of youthful energy.

The lights go out and there is something like a long earthquake. An eerie
white light reflects down one of the connecting tunnels and hot dust fills
the cavern even as the light fades to red. But the light never disappears
entirely. The city above was on fire. Mike Morrich and his co-workers are
lucky, there are very few survivors so close to the footprint of the Soviet
fusion warhead.

The yield and corresponding destruction is many times greater than the Hi-
roshima bomb. On Pennsylvania Avenue between the places where the White
House and the Capitol building once sat is now a huge crater so hot the
Potomac River continually turns to steam before it can fill the hole. Sur-
rounding this is a ring of total destruction where the Supreme Court, the
Treasury building, and all the famous monuments used to be.

When Mike steps out of the subway tunnel and looks to where his home used
to be he sees the view is largely unobstructed, yet there is no way for him
to locate exactly where it was. All the landmarks are gone. He knows in
that instant that he is an orphan. There is no point in even trying to look
for his parents. They are as gone as anyone can possibly be. So he turns
and begins to walk in what he guessed was the next best direction, which is
away from the pillar of steam that is ground zero.

As he walks, he passes through a ring of human bodies that are almost rec-
ognizable, for they are charred black, and even the beer bottles and car
windows lying at their feet are melted.

He passes through a ring of half-standing blackened buildings with white
“shadows” along their base that had been people blocking the burning radia-
tion of the initial flash. There Mike has to pick his way through the rub-
ble of structures that had already been burned out just to exit to the next
ring.

Mike passes through a ring of people who are still alive, but burned so
badly they have no hope of recovery, and they are in such a state of shock
that they feel nothing, make no sound, and would soon die. They are actual-
ly the lucky ones.

He passes through a ring of people who do make a sound, for each of them
are immersed in a sea of absolutely unendurable agony that never stops.
They have stripped themselves naked because clothes only make the pain
worse, and their arms are held at a forty-five degree angle at their side,
for if their arms touch their bodies the pain of the contact is too great.
Mike is forced to remain in this ring until the fires of the rings farther
away burn themselves out. He hasnt been injured, but even as he walks the
residual radiation of the blast does its invisible dirty work, tearing at
the DNA in his body, so that in the end, five years later, he does in fact
become a victim of the attack with a painful bone cancer.

Earl Roland is faux pissed. Billing himself to Doctor Amanda Chase as the
Deputy to the Assistant to the Deputy Director of the Center for Disease
Control, Roland fumes with steadily mounting fake rage as Dr. Chase un-
spools her presentation, and he murmers all along that this is just a Phar-
madigm screwup that has nothing to do with the CDC. Roland also murmers
that he and his team have flown all the way out from Atlanta for nothing.

“Let me get this straight,” he fully interrupts when Mandy is less than ten
minutes into her slide show. “You’ve got a new anesthetic you’ve made from
the venom of black mombas or some shit. Phase zero trials with microdoses
went okay, so next was phase one, volunteers on full doses with forty-eight
hours of monitoring. Something went wrong and now you want CDC to quaran-
tine the folks. Well, how about you bite the bullet and just pay them out?
Lawsuits are part of doing business. Take it up with your shareholders, not
the government.”

We are not even talking about money, Dr. Roland,” Mandy objects. “The sub-
jects have all signed releases holding Pharmadigm harmless from any side
effects.”

“This should be the Food and Drug Administration sitting here,” Roland
counters. “Who’s idea was it to call in the CDC?”

Mandy’s eyes drift to Doctor Ian Trochmann, who has been with the project
longer than she has, and was focused on the changes to Lilith’s
brain.Trochmann was in on Roland’s scam, of course. He said, “The board
called you in, Doctor Roland. This isn’t just Pharmadigm’s problem any-
more.”

“There are genetic changes,” Mandy put in, “including changes to sperm and
ova. Our drug created two little monsters, and if they get out into the
general population they’ll be everyone’s problem, as I will shortly make
clear. So please, Dr. Roland, allow me to resume the presentation.”

“Do make haste, Dr. Chase.”

“Thank you, Doctor. As I was saying, the first volunteer was a fifty-year
old woman by the name of Lilith Gervasi. She holds dual citizenship in the
UK and Israel, but was working here as an academic.She’s a Holocaust survi-
vor and a reserve officer in the Israeli Defense Force. The company did a
complete physical before the clinical trial in Denver. She is remarkably
fit for her age, but bears marks of torture from the death camps. The rea-
son Lilith volunteered was to avoid deportation.

“As you already know, gentlemen, anesthesiology is more of an art than a
science. We’re trying to bring the person on the operating table as close
as possible to dying without actually crossing the line so they miss out on
all the gory, agonizing parts. Our new drug targets only the gray matter of
the brain. It completely shuts down the higher functions of consciousness,
but leaves the involuntary functions like breathing completely alone. You
don’t even need to have an anesthesiologist attend the surgery. During the
drug trial she reported a long and rather vivid dream.”

“But that’s impossible!”

“Yes, Doctor Roland, it is. Naturally the company was disappointed when
Lilith reported having a dream. But the benefits of this drug as a general
anesthetic were judged to outweigh that side effect. After observing the
woman for two days the company did a complete physical on her again with no
changes noted, and I mention that because those two physicals will be im-
portant later in my brief.”

“Maybe the woman lied about the dream,” Roland suggested.

“I was not yet working for Pharmadigm when this testing was taking place,
but the company prepared a second volunteer and brought me on board to ad-
vise. But as it turned out, it doesn’t matter if Lilith was lying about the
subjective side effects of the drug, because there are objective side ef-
fects. As promised, Pharmadigm obtained for Lilith the required paperwork
blocking her deportation and sent her home.”

“Then why is she here at Hanford?’

“A month after the drug trial she sought us out because she was scared. But
I’m getting ahead of myself, Doctor. Let’s back up to the day Lilith was
discharged. The following day I was hired. After being briefed, and re-
viewing the results with Lilith, I wanted to try a male for the follow-on
test because there could be a gender differential in the response to the
drug. I chose Fred Aspin, who is to be executed for the crime of killing
Oboe Man for his spare change. Next slide.”

An image of Freddy Aspin slides into view, waving the stump of his bad arm,
which is missing a hand, at the camera.

Roland is mock-astonished. “You wanted to flush out Lilith’s lies by using
a convicted criminal?”

“I chose Freddy Aspin, Dr. Roland, because I realized we might have to
abort the trial after two or three tests and he was the most anxious to
continue. Jerry has every incentive to be truthful. He is on death row for
killing Oboe Man. The company found an appellate court that was willing to
give him a lighter sentence if he participated in our drug trial.”

“So what happened?”

Mandy gives a hand signal and the audio tape rolls.

Freddy can be heard saying, “I knew I was dreaming even while I dreamed,
and I thought, what a complete bummer! I thought I was moving through a
dark tunnel and getting closer to a bright white light. The light wiggled.
It was just a flashlight being held by a New Confederate soldier who was
waking me up in a tent. He said, ‘Aspin, get your dumb ass up on the wire,
you’re late!’

“So it was just a dream about al-Berta.It was, in fact, the day I got
fucked up, in rewind. I grabbed my rifle and my gear and stumbled my way
toward the business end of the observation post. There was no volition in
any of my movements. Somehow I was just riding behind my own eyes.

“The whole prairie was lit up by a flare, but it was fading. Corporal
Street said, ‘We got ourselves a visitor.’ He nudged the bayonet-tipped
muzzle of his rifle toward a certain spot just as a fresh flare cast enough
light for me to see what he was pointing at. There was the headless body of
a Canuckistani fighter lying there, and an up-ended pot of pink and yellow
stew where his head and helmet should be.

“I’d seen this sort of thing countless times before. ‘Adios motherfucker!’
was all I had to say to the Canadian. To Corporal Street I said, ‘How’d he
get through the perimeter?’

“‘Probably started crawling at sundown,’ the Corporal said. Now we know why
they started irrigating this particular bean field this morning. The water
covered the sound of him crawling. After this asshole came calling we’ve
been watching with night scopes, but we haven’t seen anyone else moving out
there.’

“Famous last words. A dozen Islamists had been crawling toward the observa-
tion post inside the irrigation canal, invisible to the sniperscope under
the cool water even as other jihadis drew the attention of my unit by land.
When the flares started this only slowed them down, forced them to move
only between bursts. There were eight NC troops in the position, and two of
them were sleeping. When the enemy came over the sandbag wall they outnum-
bered us two to one. I’m the only one who survived the initial assault.
They wired one of my arms to some nails in a stump, tight! Another Islamist
brandished an axe. ‘God commands this, you understand,’ he said. And the
axe fell. I screamed in pain. I was the victim of a certain militia in al-
Berta devoted to spreading a very nit-picky version Sharia law throughout
Canada. In their interpretation of the Qu’ran, New Confederates occupying
any portion of the rapidly expanding Dar al-Islam were stealing the land,
and faithful Muslims knew what to do with thieves. Off with their
hands!Dreams aren’t supposed to hurt! It felt like the real thing, this
dream. So you know what you can do with your so-called anesthetic!”

“I didn’t die there in Canada, but in my dream I guess I did. I went to
heaven, which was a forest with a pool surrounded by a wooden deck. The
Savior was shorter than I always imagined He would be, and not nearly as
good looking as the Hollywood versions. He had brown skin, black eyes, and
no beard, but His leather sandals were right out of the gospels. He looked
like a kid, really. He was seated at a wooden desk near the Sacred Pool,
drinking wine and reviewing paperwork.

The Lord pointed his hand, and I settled in to a wide wicker chair in front
of Him. Two armed female guards in green garb complete with bird feathers
stood behind Him, to his left and right, flashing thigh, but they made a
point of ignoring me with intense military bearing. I’ve been in prison a
long time and I couldn’t help saying, “Both of you girls got pretty nice
sticks.”

Jesus said, “I’m reading about the slow-motion train wreck that was the
life of one Frederick Aspin. Oboe Man had, what, seventeen dollars in quar-
ters?”

“I’ve paid my debt to society, Lord.”

“I’m a busy man, as you can imagine. Normally you get your outbrief from a
close relative who preceded you. I only get the hardest of the hard cases.
But they said to Me, ‘here’s another one like Lilith Gervasi.’

“And Jesus, reading the last page of my file, shuffled all the papers to-
gether and closed it up. He looked at me with infinite sadness and shook
His head. He said, ‘It would do a great disservice to you were I to take a
life like yours and extend it indefinitely.’

“I just chuckled, and said, ‘Normally a final decision like that would set
me to worrying a little bit, but this is all just a bad trip. I’m halluci-
nating all of this! I just have to wait until the drug wears off and
goodbye to You. In fact, I can feel it wearing off already.’

“Jesus said, ‘Ahhh…it’s a drug. That explains what’s going on. Clever!
Chokhmah told me you people in the Twentieth would probably stumble on to
something like this. We must craft an appropriate response.’

“‘Craft away,’ I said, “neither you nor your followers can stop me from
doing this.’ And I shed my white terry cloth robe, dove into his Sacred
Pool and swam headfirst into darker waters, far away from the light. What
a crazy dream. That’s some powerful stuff you whipped up, Dr. Chase! But
never again!”

The audio ended of Freddy’s interview.

Dr. Amanda Chase said, “The most interesting thing in that interview, Dr.
Roland, was that somehow Freddy knew the name ‘Lilith Gervasi’ To the best
my knowledge he had never met the woman.'”

“Can you state with absolute certainty that no one on your staff spoke of
her to Freddy?”

She started to blurt out an answer in the negative, but thought better of
it, and shook her head.Then she said,

“After the second test, the clinical trial of this drug as an anesthetic
was officially called off. The memory of Freddy’s pain was so vivid he
refused to take the drug again. And no one is going to sign up for a gua-
ranteed Near Death Experience or even a lucid dream when all they want to
do is sleep straight through an operation.”

“Dr. Chase, I’m sorry your research failed and your company wasted money.
But what does any of that have to do with the CDC?”

“Lilith came back in to Pharmadigm. At the back of her head is a little
white oval cup with stiff black hairs inside, or bristles, and it looked
curiously artificial.”

The next few slides were photographs of the cup taken from various angles.

“Doctor Roland has already been thoroughly briefed on this structure,” Dr.
Trochmann tells her.

“Does he know that Lilith’s story of what happened to her doesn’t match
what happened in reality at all?”

“What do you mean?” Roland asked.

“She said, she still says, there was no drug trial with her at all. She
doesn’t know what Pharmadigm is. She says she went to a hospital with the
bone cup, and they referred her to the federal government.”

“Obviously a delusion that is part of the brain changes,” Dr. Trochmann
weighed in.

“But that isn’t all.Lilith Gervasi now possesses two sets of female genita-
lia.”

The slides Mandy showed next were decidedly gynecological in nature.
“Movie make-up,” Roland says, knowing full well he had once seen the same
thing with Kimberly Zinter’s body. “You folks are just having a big laugh
at the government’s expense.”

“But that doesn’t explain the genetic studies. Here is an image of one of
Lilith’s X chromosomes from a white blood cell in a sample taken before the
trial. You see that it is perfectly normal, a long capsule and a short cap-
sule joined at a constriction called a centromere. This next slide shows
one of Lilith’s X chromosomes after the trial. You can see that it is now
three identically short capsules joined by two centromeres.”

“Neocentromeres in humans are associated with chromosome breakage during
cell division,” Roland points out, spouting something from his prior re-
search. “It’s a deadly mutation.”

“We have seen no evidence of genetic damage in Lilith, other than this
structural change, outside of the radical modifications to her brain, which
Dr. Trochman says he is still puzzling out. We are attempting to sequence
the chromosome to verify that the change is purely structural, but the re-
sults will take some time, and it will take even longer to identify any new
genes. Meanwhile, we are calling this changed chromosome a Z chromosome
because the two constrictions are like the joints of a three-section set of
numchucks. The chromosome can literally drift into the shape of the letter
Z, or N.”

“What about the other subject?

“Jerry, being male, only carried a single X chromosome with two thousand
genes, paired with a shorter Y with only eighty genes. His Y chromosomes
are unaltered, but they are now paired with Z’s. Now that we know what is
happening, we need to draw samples from another subject on a set schedule,
stain the slides, and watch the changes to the chromosomes in more or less
real time. For that we need to do a final drug trial with the third volun-
teer”

Roland expresses a parody of exasperation. “Your drug causes genetic dam-
age and you want to give it to yet another subject?”

“Michael Morrich is black,” she says, and Roland’s objection melts away.
But he tells Dr. Chase he still thinks Pharmadigm is pulling his leg.

“Then we will administer the drug with yourself attending, and you can de-
fine the parameters of the experiment any way you like.”

“And assuming that convinces me, Dr. Chase, Dr. Trochmann, what is it, ex-
actly, that you’re asking the CDC to do?”

“It should be obvious,” Mandy replies. “Every X chromosome in their body is
changed. Even their gametes. They can pass these changes along to their
children. So we’re really talking about a new species here. I’m asking for
sterilization, right after you see what it does to Mike.”

After Dr. Earl Roland of the CDC pretends to examine Lilith, Freddy, and
Mike for himself he takes Dr. Chase up on the offer and conducts the final
drug trial on Michael Morrich under conditions totally of his own design.
Roland chooses the operating room and brings in his own cameras and record-
ing equipment. Of the Pharmadigm team, only Amanda Chase is permitted to
attend, and that only in the role of an observer who is not permitted to
touch any of the apparatus. Of the CDC, only Roland is present.

When Roland satisfies himself that Mike Morrich is fully human he makes
sure Amanda watches him transmit two copies of the chart to his office in
Washington by two different routes, fax and hand courier, using someone he
knows and trusts. Then he administers the drug to Mike himself.

The transformation of Mike Morrich into a b’nei eloah takes a week and for
the first time Earl Roland witnesses it happening before his eyes. He sees
how a bump on the back of Mike’s head grows and cracks open to reveal the
white bone cup.Photos of Mike’s crotch taken every few hours documents the
change from human male to nephilim jen as female genitalia forms under hez
penis. One of hez testicles crawls inside and becomes an ovary.

Blood and skin samples are taken from Mike by Amanda Chase and she witness-
es how the pairs of XX chromosomes in every cell changes into XZ pairs.
The X is replicated, then bonded to the Y with a second centromere. She
finds the entire thing enthralling.

Lilith and Mike stay in a clinic very much like the one where Robyn and
Hunky were held during the War, but they are not confined. Or at least,
they are not made to feel as though they were confined. Roland imagines
Lilith and Mike will be more communicative if they do not feel like cap-
tives, and indeed they are. Lilith, in particular, is quite free with har
information, but much of it they find to be unbelievable.Meanwhile Freddy
Aspin, who is merely on loan from the Colorado state pen, is indeed con-
fined elsewhere on Hanford nearly twenty miles to the northwest across
mostly empty land.

When Mike’s change is complete, Lilith asks, “Did you finally see what you
wanted to see, Dr. Roland?”

“Indeed I did, Dr. Gervasi,” he replies, acknowledging har Ph.D in Levan-
tine linguistics. “For three decades I had no subjects like yourself to
study.Now I know I can make my own new subjects simply by injecting them
with the fluid from existing subjects.”

“But what of your promise to Michael?”

“Ah yes, we promised to make his painkillers available to him as he dies of
his cancer.Yes, we will continue to do so, for as long as he lives.But they
will only be available for him here. I’m afraid he didn’t read the fine
print.”

“And Freddy?”

“We have already obtained his reprieve. He will not be executed, but he
must spend his entire life in confinement, and whether he does that here at
Hanford or back in Colorado should make no difference to him.As for you,
Lilith, are you not grateful you will not be deported to Israel? Certainly
with the radiation and the famine that is a death sentence just as real as
Freddy’s. You can stay here and help us to understand this thing too.”

Lilith walks over and gathers Mike Morrich into har arms in an embrace, and
begins a gentle dance with hem.When they have turned so that Lilith is fac-
ing Roland once more, sha says, “I think I can do better for Mike than just
make him comfortable as he dies.With Haziel dead, and Yeshua on Barbelo,
the b’nei elohim can use a second healer. I think it should be Mike, and
che can begin by healing hemself.And Freddy goes with us too. Hy can be our
muscle.”

Before the eyes of Earl Roland, Amanda Chase, and Ian Trochmann, Lilith and
Mike simply disappear from the clinic.

Their first stop is the cell where Freddy is being held. Lilith says to
hym, “You’re not going back to the state pen, Freddy. Roland wants you to
stay here so he can keep testing his damn drug on you. He wants to keep
all of us here until we die. You should go, Freddy. You’ll find you have
the power to do that now. I’ll meet up with you later.”

Then sha embraces Mike again, and they pop out of existence.

Freddy touches hyz hand to the bars of his cell, and discovers they are
rapidly turning red hot.

When the Soviet Union nuked Reactor Row at Hanford in black ’73 they tar-
geted the two active ones on the northeast end, but there were two other
reactor complexes miles upriver. The one on the far west end escaped nearly
unscathed. This was acceptable to the Russians from a strategic basis be-
cause that reactor was the oldest one, the B reactor used for the Nagasaki
bomb, and it had already been taken out of service.

There are a handful of smaller buildings that are left intact in that area
as well. They are too asbestos-ridden to economically tear down, and it
was there, separate from Lilith and Mike and under tighter guard, that
Freddy Aspin had been held by Pharmadigm under the terms laid down by Colo-
rado corrections.

Moving north, Freddy encounters a chain-link fence still standing along the
shore of the Columbia River, installed to keep boaters (casual or not) from
entering the installation. Hy makes short work of the fence with hyz new
“talent”, the same one that facilitated hyz escape from the building where
they were holding hym. Apparently hy is a pyrokinetic now, though hy isn’t
sure if it came from the drug or the screwy afterworld where hy saw Jesus.
Hy’d much rather have Lilith’s talent, and just pop in and out of places.

Freddy had used hyz power to snuff out hyz guards back there too. Killing
men no longer gave hym much pause. Hy already crossed that particular Rubi-
con in the war, and even more so when hy killed Oboe Man in Denver, al-
though it was Freddy’s story, and hy was sticking to it, that hy just gave
the street musician a short sharp shock, just like hy heard on that song on
the radio, and it was Oboe Man’s face hitting the sidewalk that actually
killed him. By all rights it should have been Involuntary Manslaughter, but
no: it was a robbery, so they gave hym Murder Two.Then the New Confederacy
came in and elevated even Murder Two to the death penalty, ex post fucto.

But killing the DoE’s two guards? No regrets. If Lilith wasn’t bullshitting
hym, and hy had no reason to believe that sha was, then Pharmadigm and the
Confeds didn’t intend to let hym or har or Mike go free for the rest of
their lives. At least in prison Freddy figured hy wouldn’t be subject to
experiencing dreams that physically hurt.

Later, Lilith would explain to Freddy (using concepts hy didn’t understand
at first, like “Maxwell’s Demon”) that the energy hy conjured forth didn’t
just pop into being from nothing but actually came from the ambient temper-
ature of the fence itself, focused somehow by Freddy into a white-hot cir-
cle. This renders the galvanized steel wire soft enough that a gentle push
on the now-frozen fence at the center of the circle gave Freddy a neat hole
to walk through. Then hy is staring at Coyote Rapids at Hanford Reach, the
last undammed section of the mighty Columbia.

Freddy isn’t a swimmer, and hy knows hy cannot set foot in the water here
or hy’d be swept away and drown. There is the Vernita Bridge two or three
miles upriver, but already Freddy can see the lights of Department of Ener-
gy police cars are crawling all over that whole area, guessing hyz move. Hy
can see them clearly enough in the deepening twilight over miles of abso-
lutely flat scrublands.Other flashing lights on power transmission towers
scattered across the Hanford site pierce the darkness.

Any other convicted felon would move away from the colored flashing lights
of the police vehicles, but Freddy has a new confidence that comes with hyz
new talent, and every time he uses hyz talent hy learns more about it.

Freddy creeps upriver on the shoreline until hy can clearly see the bridge.
Most of the squad cars are gathered together south of the river, but there
is one car in the middle of the bridge where the cantilevered section spans
the deepest water. So Freddy sees hyz problem. Hy knows hy can give them a
taste of fire, even from a small distance, but how to get that one car to-
gether with the others?

Undetected, hy crosses under the bridge and looks at the scene from the
west. Hy sees there are four cop cars parked in what passed for civiliza-
tion around there, a small roadside parking lot with a few trees and a
restroom. From a safe distance Freddy sets their gas tanks alight much the
way a boy would burn ants with a magnifying glass in the sunlight. Scratch
those four cars.

The cops in the fifth car mid-span see the flames and drive off the bridge
to render aid. Two cops emerge with pistols drawn, leaving their car run-
ning with the keys in the ignition, the fools. In the dark it is easy for
Freddy to scramble up to the rest area and make off with that last car.
North over the bridge, then west, heading upriver on the far bank. And
there is no way for the other cops to call it in. It is too hot to reach
any of their radios, even if they are still working.