TC71

THE BAND

 

HAA: In 1937 Kim, Sofie, and Dory were twelve, that wonderful last
year of their tweens when their bodies were gathering power for the
big changes soon to come. They talked about boys in abstract terms
that had little to do with the little barbarians that were actual boys.

HAB: In slumber parties the girls practiced necking with each other
so long as it was understood that one of the neckers had to be a boy
in theory. Sofie Krause “at great personal sacrifice” played the role
of beau nine times out of ten, especially when Doriel was up.

HAC: At the Green Dome private school the tight group of girlfriends
passed flowery love letters to each other. Girl-love at age twelve is
of such a high order that it knows no jealousy. Share and share alike,
everything from lunch to little masterpieces of amorous soliloquy.

HAD: Doriel. No last name. Black eyes, long jet black hair tied in the
obligatory Church pony tail but with the cutest bangs ever. The first
of the three to start growing knockers, Dory was already, at just age
twelve, a full six feet tall. Sha was going to be a giantess.

HAE: Dory loved books like The Hobbit and aimed for straight Bs to
please har father, who was very often absent, while not appearing too
bookish. Dory heard voices. When sha was younger, it was a fun game,
but over time Dory came to dislike being a telephone switchboard.

HAF: Eventually, Dory insisted the Voices keep it limited to important
calls. Sha enforced this by threatening to keep the Voices up at
night with voices of har own. Over time sha learned sha was a member
of the B’nei Elohim and sha learned what that really meant.

HAG: Sofie Krause: A tomboy who kept her ash-blond hair short, with no
Church-mandated pony tail. When she grew older she was the only girl
on the football team. Like Kim and Dory, Sofie was required to wear
woolen skirts to class rather than trousers, which always annoyed her.

HAH: One Halloween morning Dory came dressed as a pirate’s wench. Sha
had ripped har dress into long strips so har pinup-model legs could
poke out when sha walked. When Sofie saw that she felt a sweet
electric shock and knew she had graduated to full-service tribade.

HAI: Kim wasn’t ready to let down her father. So she gritted her teeth,
wore the damned pony-tail, and when she ventured outside of Headwater
she tried to ignore the comments at the edge of her hearing like, “Oh
hey, there goes another Bunner, look at her hair.”

HAJ: For science class the teacher paired everyone off as lab partners.
Kim ended up with Sofie, and Dory ended up with har cousin Gabriel
Shybear. Everyone assumed those two would gravitate together and do
the usual Church of Green Dome thing, but that was never to be.

HAK: Sofie kicked Gabriel out of hez seat with “no offense pally” and
sent hem shambling towards Kim, an adjustment in the teacher’s choice.
Che could tell Sofie and Dory were a unit so che grew close to Kim,
even holding her hand skating at Lake 13 when it was frozen over.

HAL: By the springtime in 1939 Sofie and Dory were asking if Kim and
Gabriel had pitched woo and what it was like. “We did indeed pitch woo,”
Kim said. “He feels like a rubber wet suit stretched over a suit of
armor. Soft on the surface but with a hard core underneath. I like it.”

HAM: In the summer of ’39 the same Lake 13 was for skinny-dipping and
there was no more keeping one of the oldest Red Wing family secrets.
Dory already knew, but now Kim and Sofie knew as well that Gabriel
Shybear was both a boy and a girl at the same time. And che wasn’t unique.

HAN: The four of them stood naked in a square, ten yards out into
Lake 13 up to their thighs in cool water with no body modesty at all
because they were good friends and nobody else was there. The boy part
of Gabriel was doing what fourteen year old boy parts do around girls.

HAO: Kim asked about the one ball, so Gabriel lifted it and showed hez
labia majora behind it. “The other ball is inside me, Kim, it’s a real
ovary. I could get pregnant.” Kim glanced at hez small breasts and
nipples, which didn’t look like they were just for decoration either.

HAP: “Gabriel is what we call a jen,” Dory said. “Now take my momma,
che’s an ambi. The genitals are the other way around. If you told hem
to fuck hemself che could literally do it.” Gabriel, who heard that
joke before, still cracked up. But Kim and Sofie were stunned to silence.

HAR: When Gabriel saw their unbelief che said, “Recall your scripture.
Genesis six four. There were giants in the earth in those days. When
the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men they bore children
to them. The same became the mighty men of old, men of renown.”

HAS: Kim processed this, put it together with Gabriel’s height of six
feet seven, then said, incredulously, “You’re saying you’re actually
one of the nephilim?”

Dory came to the defense of har cousin. “Che’s saying we both have
copies of our grandparents’ Z sex chromosomes.

HAT: “What about you?” Sophie asked, looking at Dory. “You’re Gabriel’s
cousin so why didn’t you end up with a dangler?”

“I’m not a nephil, I’m an angel. That’s why I’m even taller than
Gabriel and I’ve got two girly bits. A little bit harder to see, but
that’s why we’re here.”

HAU: Sha reached down to spread things open for their view. They were
not perfectly identical, only the lower set had a urethra. Then Dory
looked askance at both of har friends. “None of this should be new
to you, Kim. Sofie? Don’t you two believe the Book of Green Dome?”

HAV: “Of course I believe all that stuff in the Green Book and the Bible,”
Kim answered. “God, heaven, miracles, the empty tomb, everyone believes
it happened then. But nobody believes it happens now.”

“She’s right,” Sofie said. “Nobody admits it, but she’s absolutely
right.”

HAW: “If you were just talking about the Bible you’d have a point,”
Gabriel said. “Half the Green Book is corrections to the stories in the
Bible. But the new claims in the Book of Green Dome? Everything in
there really happened. It’s like no other holy text ever written.”

HAX: Kim and Sophie accepted this rebuke and nodded their heads silently,
unprepared to call their best friends liars. Besides, the evidence
was there for them to see between the legs of their friends. Kim turned
to Gabriel and asked, “The archangel Gabriel, you’re that Gabriel?”

HAY: Dory and Gabriel locked eyes briefly, and Dory chose to speak.
“I hate to say there are things we can’t tell you, at least not now.
I think later you’ll understand why we couldn’t talk. But I can teach
you the proper pronouns for ambe and jan, yen and yeng, men and women.”

HAZ: Gabriel, Kim, Sofie and Dory were all firmly middle-class,
evidenced by their attendance at the Church’s private school. Their
parents were sufficiently well-off to provide instruments when they
took band class, except Kim’s only instrument was her own voice.

HBA: As the 1940s began Kim Zinter was a member of the Green Dome Temple
Girl’s Choir. She was an expressive mezzo-soprano with a voice that
belied her fifteen years and verged on being too breathy and sensuous
for spiritual music. Listeners compared her favorably to Peggy Lee.

HBB: Dory played a double-bass standing on an end-pin sha had lengthened
to be more comfortable. Sometimes sha set down har French bow and
plucked the strings pizzicato with meandering bass lines, a
soundtrack to daydreams sha was a black cat slinking around at night.

HBC: Sofie Krause pounded the skins with all the power that made her a
formidable offensive guard, yet sha ran effortlessly in and around
Dory’s machine-like bass, averting expectations and punctuating her
licks with sixteenth-note drum fills as endlessly unique as snowflakes.

HBD: Gabriel Shybear had no innate musical talent but che figured that
was the reason che was taking band class, after all. After a semester
learning scales on a recorder Gabriel took up the saxophone, Kim started
dabbling on piano and the kids had a basic jazz combo on their hands.

HBE: Many who knew the details said that Robyn replacing Kim Zinter on
keys and vocals in 1943 didn’t really count as a change in the band’s
line-up. Later some even said that when Rebekah Redstar replaced
Gabriel Shybear in 1947 that wasn’t really a change as well.

HBF: Sophie Krause and Dory Twofeathers formed the constant pulsing
heart of the act and performed until the early 21st Century. After
Sophie changed her name to just Hunky in 1942 the band would, in fact,
be named Hunky-Dory after the rhythm section, much like Fleetwood Mac.

HBG: Beginning in 1945, for every year ending in a 0 or a 5, which
they called a Lustrum, the members of Hunky-Dory would drop whatever
they were doing, get together, jam in the winter, record in the spring,
and tour in the summer. It was a ritual they never allowed to lapse.

HBH: As the 20th Century rolled on Hunky-Dory dabbled with and even
gave birth to an astonishing array of musical styles, but not even
the Mick Jagger / Keith Richards / Ronnie Wood / Charlie Watts lineup
of The Rolling Stones would come close them in terms of sheer longevity.

HBI: Early on the four most powerful B’nei Elohim came to be called
simply the Band. The less powerful B’nei Elohim styled themselves
Roadies. And the ones who fell under the sway of Rebekah, or the loyal
opposition as Robyn charitably called them, were known as the Groupies.

HBJ: In April 1942 word arrived of the Doolittle Raid after five months
of unrelenting bad news following Pearl Harbor. In celebration, the
conductor of the Green Dome Temple School band class led a recital of
patriotic John Philip Sousa marches, attended by half of Headwater.

HBK: For an encore the class tore into a cover of the classic Duke
Ellington standard “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)”
with Kim soloing on vocals, Rebekah Redstar on trombone, and Gabriel
on sax. It was the first real triumph of the future Hunky-Dory.

HBL: For Kim the only downside in all this was how her father didn’t
make the recital despite his solemn promise to do so. She could see
her mother sitting out there in the gym and how she kept a seat saved
for him, but even to the end of the encore the seat was never filled.

HBM: Erik Zinter didn’t come home all that night and even the next
morning. In the middle of the school day Kim was pulled out of class
by Deacon Paul Bergin and driven home. Paul said nothing but Kim
began to cry. He found his way to 1301 “V” Street but Kim didn’t get
out.

HBN: “Home sweet home,” Paul said. Kimberly stared at him through
blurry eyes, wondering if he was being callous. Then she did get out
of his car and proceeded to walk a block to 1301 “U” Street. Sloppy
temple records. And that was how Bergin found out where she really lived.

HBO: Paul choose not to follow. At home Clara paced silently. Kim started
crying again in sympathy, pleading for her Mom to speak. After a time
Clara looked directly at her daughter, building up the willpower to
blurt it out to her, and finally she did: “Your father is dead!”

HBP: They both cried until there was nothing more to give, and even when
Kim’s eyes were bone dry she was still wracked with sobs that trailed
off at length to silent grief. Finally Kim started repeatedly asking
her mother why and when she was ready to speak Clara had answers.

HBQ: According to Prophet Peter Two Feathers, Erik Zinter was killed
by an ancient relic called the Golden Gift, something Kim and Clara
assumed was merely an allegorical literary device to move the plot of
the Green Book along, perhaps like the whale in the book of Jonah.

HBR: In the scripture of the Church of Green Dome heaven was a real
place with walled cities ruled by angelic kings. One time Michael sent
Prince Melchizedek, the son of Melchiyahu and grandson of Gordiel,
down to Earth to set aside a people who would receive the oracles of God.

HBS: Peter Twofeathers revealed that for ten years he had lent Erik
Zinter the Golden Gift, the very relic wielded by Melchizedek in the
story, to honeycomb Green Dome with tunnels to access isolated pockets
of coal. This had allowed Headwater to prosper through the Depression.

HBT: But overnight there was a cave-in that smashed Erik’s helmet
lantern and plunged him into total darkness. He couldn’t dig his way
out, even with the Golden Gift, because he got turned around and bored
deeper into the mountain rather than back out towards the way he came.

HBU: As Erik created a greater volume of space to walk through the
remaining oxygen was stretched too thin and there were also suction
losses through the Golden Gift itself. It wasn’t until dawn that men
with picks and spades broke through the cave-in and reached Erik’s body.

HBV: Peter assured Clara that her husband died without any pain. He
simply fell asleep and never woke up again. Also he praised the memory
of Erik for never violating a sacred trust that some in the Church were
saying was more than even the Prophet had the authority to grant.

HBW: But Clara admitted she had a hard time taking all of this in.
Peter was asking her to accept at face value that the Golden Gift was
real, and the scriptures were literally true. Shared beliefs were for
binding a faith community, not to actually…believe.

HBX: “When you attend the Final Rite you will come to see see the wisdom
of it,” said Peter Twofeathers. “But try to be strong, Clara. In the
days to come there will be those who will tell you that God punished
your husband with death for misusing his holy gift to the Church.”

ATTIC

HCA: In the aftermath of her father’s death Kim stopped going to school. Sofie and Dory came over after a couple of days to see if their friend was well. She was not, but their visit elevated Kim from her grief a microscopic bit and her mother Clara noticed that.

HCB: After Sophie’s mother came to pick her daughter up Clara asked her to wait until Dory’s parents arrived as well, because she had a request to make of all of them. When everyone was together Clara said, “I’d like Sofie and Dory to be with Kim for her father’s funeral.”

HCC: Susan Krause shook her head. “I don’t think so. They’re just school girls and a funeral is a very solemn thing.”

Dory’s father Ithuriel agreed. “Clara, this should be a private family time for you and Kim.”

“But we have no family here,” Clara said. “My folks are back east.”

HCD: Dory’s mother Anael pointed out that Clara still had in-laws, but she shook her head. “They’re Bunner Incarnate. They always held me at arm’s length. Kim is taking the death of Erik very hard but when the girls came over today I saw how they were like a family to her.”

HCE: Ithuriel said, “I’m not worried about Dory. I’m worried more about Sofie and Kim. When you are on the other side of the Final Rite, Clara, you will no longer have the childlike faith that our Lord said was more blessed than the faith of who believe because they have seen.”

HCF: It was a gentle negotiation. Clara got permission for Kim’s friends to be with her for the funeral. Ithuriel persuaded Clara to have Kim sit out the actual Final Rite, and rarely in history have so many future lives been so deeply affected by so trivial a choice.

HCG: It would have been unseemly to run around playing while the body of Kim’s father was sent to his long home along with three other Greendomites from around the country, so they sat around in the Temple basement. Volunteers prepared dinner for the families of the dead.

HCH: Gabriel Shybear joined them after breaking away from a group of boys smoking outside. Che seemed to know a lot of secrets about the Temple. Gabriel led the girls into a supply room which wasn’t locked. Kim, Sofie, and Dory tagged along because there was nothing else to do.

HCI: There was no electric light in the temple attic, only a window with blinds and it was a gloomy January day outside. There was an old piano which was probably broken. Kim avoided the urge to play it. There was a map of Headwater and many of the usual church odds and ends.

HCJ: The kids found unused hymnals, stacks of old temple bulletins, empty mason jars, and dozens of stacked folding chairs. Sofie found a cane carved from gnarled wood and shifted it from hand to hand to get the feel of it. Gabriel stopped moving and went, “Shhh! What’s that?”

HCK: The children froze but the only thing they heard was organ music and the choir bleeding through the ceiling from the main sanctuary upstairs. “Very funny,” Sofie said, giving Gabriel a friendly shove. One of the walls was unfinished. Gabriel moved aside a piece of plywood.

HCL: The plywood had concealed another dark space beyond. It was so black inside it drank their vision like a sponge. “I’ve never been in there,” Gabriel admitted. None of the girls wanted to go in there but Gabriel dared them to go. Naturally Sofie was the first one through.

HCM: Gabriel immediately followed Sofie to show che wasn’t afraid. Dory and Kim were afraid of the dark hole and unafraid to admit it, but they didn’t want to be left alone so they squeezed in also. Gabriel burned through ten matches before Dory brought a candle from the attic.

HCN: The kids found they were in a space that was about four times larger than the attic but there was no wooden floor, just natural stone and dirt rising halfway to the ceiling. Something like a rocky igloo reached nearly to the ceiling from the center of a circle of stones.

HCO: The ceiling creaked as someone walked to and fro overhead. Gabriel did a complete circuit of the space, then said to Dory, “This is part of our family history!”

She said, “This must be the very summit of Green Dome. Wanica built that cairn, and the altar right over it.”

HCP: When Gabriel saw the blank faces of Sofie and Kim che was astonished. “Did you forget what they taught us in Sunday school? This is the Island in the Sky where God gave Chief Wanica the Golden Gift.” “And God gave Moses the stone tablets,” answered Kim. “I read that too.”

HCQ: Dory pointed to the ceiling. “What do you think is happening up there right now?”

Kim considered her answer, because she didn’t wish to offend her friends. Then: “It’s a simple cremation of my father’s body and the bodies of three other Greendomites, spiced with ritual.”

HCR: Dory said, “Kim, you saw Gabriel when we went swimming once at Lake 13 and you still think the Buron is just a bunch of stories they invented?”

“I went to the library and looked that up,” Kim replied. “Gabriel’s a hermaphrodite. It’s not a big deal. Sometimes it happens.”

HCS: Gabriel rolled up hez sleeves and approached Kim, flipping both hands over a few times to show they were empty. Che said, “Hold out your hand.” Gabriel clasped her hand, and when che took it away again there was a stack of 1942 silver half-dollars. “Explain that, if you can.”

HCT: Kimberly put the coins in her purse because money was money and if Gabriel wanted to give her ten bucks so be it. She said, “Magic tricks, Gabriel, just like what they’re showing Momma upstairs right now. Why can’t people just be amazed at God for what he really did do?”

HCU: Dory threw up har hands in mock despair at har heathen friends. “White Wingers,” sha muttered. Gabriel moved toward the cairn. “We’ll never have the chance to be in here again,” che said. “I want to see if it’s really there.” “And you’ll go straight to hell,” warned Sofie.

HCV: “There’s no hell in Greendomism,” Gabriel snorted, and che picked the boulder most likely to be easily moved. As soon as it did a mouse escaped. Dory and Kim screamed together when they saw it. Without a word Sofie let her cane fly in an arc over her head upon the creature.

HCW: Sofie was just hoping to scare the mouse away but she ended up hitting the critter instead with a lucky shot. “This is a church right? So there’s your church mouse.” Dory shifted immediately from fear to maternal concern. The animal was in obvious pain. “You crippled it!”

HCX: “I didn’t mean to actually hit it!” They all took a closer look at the creature. The head of the mouse was misshapen with a huge white bump on the back that was nearly as large as the mouse’s head itself. “Look what you did, Sofie!” Dory complained. “Look at that bump!”

HCY: “That isn’t from anything she did,” Gabriel said. “He didn’t go in the cairn like that. He must have waited for someone to crack a gap in the rocks wider so he could get out, the poor little guy.” Sofie finished him off with the end of her cane. “This is better for him.”

HCZ: Its head was now a flat furry coin. Nobody knew what the white bump meant. Sophie scratched the dirt with her cane and dug a little grave for the dead mouse “Rest in pieces,” she said, then remembered, too late, that they were at the funeral of Kimberly’s father. “Sorry.”

HDA: Gabriel returned to the cairn and tugged on the stone once more. Sophie gave him a hand, and the boulder slowly swung open like a hinged door, just enough that they could squeeze inside the stone igloo one at a time. Dory brought light. A plain white dome lay inside.

HDB: “So that’s God,” said Kim. Gabriel shook hez head. “No, but God made this. And don’t say God made everything, Sofie, even you know better.” The skin of the dome was dotted with thousands of little holes. Some of these sported needles, like a cactus. Kim touched it.

HDC: That was something Kim ought not to have done. With a sound like a tiny squirt of steam her fingertip was instantly skewered. Kim pulled her hand away involuntarily before the pain even registered. After that the white dome sported another extruded spine from its surface.

HDD: Dory was a little more wise. Sha grabbed a pencil out of har purse and leaned over the artifact with the eraser tip prudently standing in for har finger. Sha verified it was ready to defend itself at any time. Gabriel thought about kicking it but che was wearing moccasins.

HDE: Sofie was not afraid. She allowed her own finger to be skewered by the white dome and doesn’t even wince. “Here we go, Kim. Whatever trouble you’re in for getting stung by this thing, I’m in the same trouble.” So she has the final victory over Gabriel in the test of courage.

HDF: After that they began to slide back out of the cairn, but they heard footsteps in the storage room next door. Dory put out the candle as everyone held their breath and tried not to make a sound. Deacon Paul looked into the dark gap and could just make out two silhouettes.

HDG: Bergin screamed at them to get out. Blushing, Gabriel, Kim, Sofie and Dory scrambled out from beneath the altar, then out of the supply room. They sat together in the basement lunchroom. The deacon locked the supply room, and true to Gabriel’s words they never returned.

HDH: Dory’s only casualty was a pencil with a soggy eraser. Sha said, “Thanks for that little adventure, Gabriel. I always knew the avatar of Chokhmah was real, but actually seeing it is something I’ll never forget.” Just then the attendees began to filter in from upstairs.

HDI: During the meal after the Final Rite Kim thought her mother seemed very different. The grief was gone. Clara said, “It’s all true, Kim. Everything in the Green Book is really true!” She no longer needed a leap of faith to give her assent to the things taught by the Church.

HDJ: Kim knew her mother had been a nurse in the First World War and had seen things in France so terrible she refused to even talk about them, things which would crush the faith of anyone who believed in a good God. It was good to see some semblance of hope restored in her.

HDI: But Kim and Sophie needed more convincing. Over the next few days they grew bumps at the back of their head just like that poor church mouse. Dr. Wahkan said not to worry but Clara disagreed to the point of quitting her job at the little hospital and taking Kim to Lusk.

HDJ: Two days later Sofie’s parents brought her to Lusk as well but the doctors there could do little more than watch the girls get worse. The bumps opened up like flowers to reveal stiff black hairs inside. By June 1942 the girls were under federal quarantine in parts unknown.

CLINIC

 

HEA: Kim and Sofie had no idea where they had been taken, but it was a
new place. There was no use mincing terms, they were in prison,
but it doubled as a clinic. It was an odd combination of almost
magical science and shabby construction with nails sticking through
the walls.

HEB: There were no windows in the clinic where they were held, but
from June to August of 1942 the girls could hear furious construction
outside that only ceased at night. During those months their captor,
Dr. Ian Trochmann, learned maddeningly few things about their condition.

HEC: The white D-shaped cup emerging from their scalp was made of
bone. The cups had exactly fifty-five graphite bristles growing
out of a floor. If the bristles were crushed or snapped off they
grew back like the lead in a mechanical pencil. Dr. Trochmann had
two cables made.

HED: The b’nei elohim would call them Purple Cables, even after many copies
were made that weren’t actually purple. But for Dr. Trochmann’s purposes
the cables proved to be useless. He would print squiggles from the
girls on a fat roll of paper but didn’t know what they meant.

HEE: When Trochmann put a 15 millivolt level on the pins both Kim and Sofie
reported strange total-body sandpapery sensations they found very
/unpleasant and refused to endure again. Hooking the girls together
with the Purple Cable was thought too risky in the early evaluation.

HEF: One time Kim and Sofie were playing Eights, and Kim heard a silent
shout in her head that, despite its silence, sounded exactly like
Dory. She said, “DISCARD THE QUEEN!”

Kim replied to the voice with a mental shout of her own. “IT’S NOT
EVEN THE RIGHT SUIT!” “DO IT!”

HEG: Kim obeyed the voice, dropped the queen, and Sofie’s eyes went much
wider than it should have done from a bad play. Dory’s voice now told
Kim, “SOFIE WILL DISCARD A SIX OF HEARTS, WATCH!” And that’s exactly
what she did. Now they both knew their friend’s voice was real.

HEH: Lest watchers suspected something meaningful in their mutual glances
(and they were being watched) Sofie covered by saying, “You don’t
even know how to play this simple game.” She retreated to one corner
of the clinic, Kim to another, and they both conversed through Dory.

HEI: Dory had to smooth over some hard feelings about keeping this
strange talent a secret. She did this by calmly pointing out that
both Kim and Sofie would have thought her plain nuts if she said
she could hear voices, plant voices, and even ride behind another
person’s eyes.

HEJ: When Sofie asked about Jerry, and what his talent was, Dory
replied, “DO YOU REMEMBER THAT TRICK YESHUA DID WITH THE LOAVES
AND FISHES? JERRY COULD PULL THAT OFF!” It didn’t sound like something
that would help them get out of the windowless clinic that was their prison.

HEK: Kim suggested punching every number on the lock until the door
opened. Dory relayed that to Sofie, who shook her head. They were
being watched. One time she killed the lights in their space and
saw a glow coming from the “mirror” that stopped soon after. It
was a window.

HEL: Kim came up with an idea to end the surveillance. They had to
embarrass Doc Troch by making him think that two girls, ages
seventeen and confined together for months in a small space,
had fallen in love with each other. Sofie thought she could swing
it. Dory said behave.

HEM: Kim and Sofie went on strike and did not cooperate with their
captors at all. They said no words, but just sat in the clinic
all day doing nothing. There were two ways of dealing with all the
dead time that were newly available to them after the Change.

HEN: Kim let the clock appear, to her, to race and let her heartbeats
seem, to her, to become a low hum. Kim sped up, cruised for a while,
then slowed back down. Her muscles got sore from staying in one position
but four hours were burned up in as many minutes.

HEO: Sofie tried that too, but she thought the time-lapse method was
gross because she could feel her bladder fill up and food moving inside.
She preferred to take a series of hour-long jumps in time with her
consciousness simply turned off. This was the cat nap method.

HEP: After four meals, two showers, and many other stops to use the
restroom or drink some water Kim and Sofie had a rather busy day that
compressed a full week of real time. Another three weeks and the
lunatics won. The asylum-keepers brought in their biggest gun.

HEQ: This was the self-styled Controller of what he styled
DECON. It was the only time Clyde Tolson ever met Kim Zinter and
Sofie Krause in person. He said, “Ladies, time for a heart-to-heart.”

“Fine,” said Sofie. “Start by telling us who the hell you are.”

HER: “My name is Clyde Tolson. You and Kim are under the jurisdiction of
a branch of the US Department of Justice called DECON, which is short
for Domestic Enemies Containment, Observation, and Neutralization.”

HES: Kim was pissed off. “Domestic enemies? You must be joking. My father
lost an arm fighting the Hun in W.W. One. My mother was a Red Cross
nurse Over There. Every Sunday morning after Temple I lead the
whole congregation in a rip-roaring rendition of God Bless America.”

HET: “You and Sofie have contracted an unknown contagion in a time
before there is a proper federal response for that. Bad luck for
you, bad luck for everyone. But there are certain Presidential
executive orders which could be read, very loosely, as offering
such a response.”

HEU: “You don’t seem afraid to talk to us face-to-face,” Kim pointed
out. “Doc Troch and Nurse Ramsey ain’t scared either.”

“If we thought it was transmitted by sneezing you’d be totally
isolated. Telling us how you got sick would do much toward getting
you home.”

HEV: “Alright Mr. Tolson of DECON,” Sofie said, “you’ve explained why
you won’t unlock the door, now please tell us where we are.”

“You’re not very far from Headwater,” he said. “Just one state over,
in fact, near Cody. This is called the Heart Mountain Relocation
Center.”

HEW: “Relocation center? I don’t understand. Who’s being relocated?”

“It’s easy to understand, Sofie. Last December after Pearl Harbor
FDR authorized the incarceration of Nips living on the West Coast. In
January DECON stood up. Last February the first camps were built.”

HEX: Kim said, “When you say ‘Nips’ I presume you really mean American
citizens with a Japanese ethnic background.”

When Tolson had nothing to say to that Sofie said, “Hey Kimmie, I
think I’m in the wrong camp. My great-great-great-great-great-great-
granddaddy was a German.”

HEY: Tolson wagged a finger. “This camp is the third biggest city in
Wyoming but only seven undesirables out of every ten are Nips. The
President’s executive order was the kind of gift that comes around
only once in a generation, but strike while the iron is hot, they say.”

HEZ: Sofie said, “So I’m one of your ‘undesirables’ but I don’t even
feel sick.”

“Sofie, your brain isn’t even alive anymore!”

“Then how could we even be having this conversation?”

Tolson turned to Dr. Ian Trochmann. “Please tell the young ladies
what we’ve learned so far.”

HFA: “It spreads like a virus,” the doctor said, “but I’ve never seen
anything like it before. It literally remodels nerve and brain
cells. No more potassium and sodium ions pumped by ATP through a
membrane. Your neurons are now little gadgets with sliding levers
and the like.”

HFB: “What do you mean by gadgets?” asked Kim.

“Both of you girls have been hooked up to an Offner Dynograph and it
shows nothing. You’re literally brain dead. Special Agent in Charge
Tolson thinks you may be the first victims of a nasty Nazi weapon
we’ve never seen before.”

HFC: “I don’t like you very much,” Sofie said, directing her glance at
both men in turn, “But I can see you want something. Well, we want
something first. We want the windows disguised as mirrors removed
from our living space.”

Dr. Trochmann tried to play dumb. “What mirrors?”

HFD: “Come now, Doctor,” said Sofie, “you must think we’re just stupid
girls. But we’ve had a lot of time on our hands locked up in
here. Naturally we found your two filthy peeping-Tom mirrors and
people looking in on us.”

“I see there’s no fooling you, Sofie,” Tolson said.

HFE: “Sometimes I call Sofie a scrub,” Kim said, “and she knows I’m only
kidding. But Mr. Tolson, I’ll match a scrub at Green Dome against
any B student among the publics anywhere.”

“It damn well better be that way, Kimmie, the amount of money daddy
shells out for tuition.”

HFF: “The one-way mirrors are not used for what you think they are.”

Kim said, “Look, Clyde, yeah maybe we’re infected and you have
some order that says you can hold us in this quarantine of yours,
but we still have one fundamental right.”

“What do you mean? What right?”

HFG: “Like plain old-fashioned privacy!” For the first time Tolson and
Trochmann became aware that Kim and Sofie were holding hands. The
doctor blushed.

Sofie saw the opening and moved tighter up against Kim. “What did you
expect? We’re seventeen and cooped up together.”

HFH: “I hope you get what we’re trying to say here fellas,” Sofie said,
fluttering her fingers. “I hope we don’t have to spell it out.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Tolson, and he truly did. “We’ve
started out on the wrong foot.”

“Let’s begin once more,” offered Kim.

HFI: The mood of the men brightened visibly at this breakthrough. Tolson
said, “I need to tighten up security a bit but I’ll let you have
your privacy. Curtains on your side of the mirrors.”

When Tolson left the clinic he never saw the girls again, but not for
lack of trying.

HFJ: The girls were attentive to the tighter security arrangements
Tolson mentioned, but the only real change seemed to be how their
tormentors would look at a scrap of paper from their pocket before
punching the buttons that would let them out, which meant a daily
code change.

HFK: Sofie almost despaired but Kim explained (via Dory to maintain
secrecy) that the change did not make their task any harder at all.
They just had to pick a range and try all the combos in it night after
night until the daily shifting combo happened to fall into that range.

HFL: Next to the door leaving the clinic was a square keypad with the
digits 0 through 9, and the letters A through F, and Kim knew from
listening that the combo was only four keystrokes. But as soon as
she started trying them a very vivid daydream of time appeared
in her mind.

HFM: To Kim her future was like a self-assembling house of cards. She
could see the top, ten nights later, when doing the range from 7000 to
7FFF she punched 7BC6 and the door clicked open. But Kim wanted out
that very night, so she started trying the range from 1000 to 1FFF.

HFN: The house of cards collapsed and assembled itself again. This
time the answer was four days away. Kim began trying higher ranges,
and got jackpots ranging from two days to two weeks. Then in her mind
she saw the number that was their ticket home that very night: D1FC.

HFO: But it was November and they were wearing nothing but slippers
and hospital gowns. That in itself was part of Tolson’s security. Kim
told Sofie to gather blankets and towels and whatever else she could
find to create makeshift extra clothing to shield them from the cold.

HFP: “This is going to frighten Agent Tolson to no end,” said Kim as
they both bundled up. “This, and especially what we do after this.”

She could visualize the events leading to their escape from the camp
stacking up in her mind. “Good,” said Sofie, “let him shit his pants.”

HFQ: Sofie Krause and Kimberly Zinter saw the two Purple Cables hanging
in a rack on their way out of the clinic and requisitioned them as
belts to make their ad hoc ensemble of blankets almost sort of hang
together. Then they stepped out into Wyoming on a cold November night.

 

CARTEL

 

HGA: After crossing L street, 11th rises from the flats of Headwater
and dead-ends at the home of Dory Twofeathers almost a hundred feet
higher. From her backyard the hill rises another sixty feet, bald and
scraped raw by the wind, but the summit has a stand of three birches.

HGB: No one owned the top of the nameless hill owing to the difficulty
of building a house there, but for generations a ramshackle cluster
of tree forts was built between the three birch trees. When Kim and
Sofie were taken away Dory and Gabriel spent much of their time up there.

HGC: From this vantage Dory and Gabriel could see all of Headwater
spread out to the north and east. To the south the railroad looped
around Mt. Motorcycle to form the end of the line. West over an ‘S’-
shaped bend in the Squaw River was Lake 13 lying at the foot of Green Dome.

HGD: Looking down, Dory and Gabriel saw Special Agent Bill Sullivan
toiling up the mossy bald and when he was closer he called from them
to come down to have a chat. Dory invited him to come up into her tree
fort instead, and after a moment considering this, he decided to try it.

HGE: Agent Sullivan managed to reach the high railed platform where Dory
and Gabriel were sitting. He opened his mouth to introduce himself but
Dory spoke first. “You are Special Agent William Sullivan of the FBI
and you came up here to ask us about Kim Zinter and Sofie Krause.”

HGF: “How did you know all that, Dory?” She said, “You’ve asking
people all over Headwater about my friends and some of those people are
on my wavelength.” He seemed puzzled by that answer. “Where are Kim
and Sofie now, Agent Sullivan?” asked Gabriel. “No one seems to know.”

HGG: “I’m not at liberty to say where they are right now, Gabriel, but
I can say they are very sick, and their doctors still don’t know how
the girls came down with what they have. That’s where the two of you can
help. We know the last time they were together was at the funeral.”

HGH: “If you’ve been asking about us,” Gabriel said, “then you already
know we didn’t actually attend the Last Rite for Erik Zinter. We were
downstairs the whole time, the four of us.” “Yes and Paul Bergin said
he found the four of you in the storage room where you oughtn’t be.”

HGI: “It was unlocked,” shrugged Dory. “We were bored, so we had a look.”
“Did you find anything unusual?” “No sir, unless maybe a piano.” “After
Paul chewed our ass and booted us out,” Gabriel put in, “he locked it
back up. Maybe he’ll let you look if you flash your badge.”

HGJ: “I did go up to the Temple flashing my badge, Gabriel, but Paul
Bergin’s boss, Peter Twofeathers, is a little too old-fashioned for my
taste. He’s of a mind that I need to get a judge to sign a warrant
before I can go snooping around in the basement of the holy precincts.”

HGK: “He can be like that,” Dory said. Gabriel nodded his head in
agreement. “I’m very sorry we can’t tell you anything more.” Agent
Sullivan reached into his jacket and pulled out an envelope. “Anyway
here’s a belated birthday present for you, young Gabriel Skybear.”

HGL: What Gabriel thought was a birthday card turned out to be a
notice for the draft. Agent Sullivan pointed over the railing. “See
down there over Dory’s house? I know it’s not your school, that’s
Headwater High. In the gym you’ll find Dr. Wahkan and two other fellows.”

HGM: “I don’t understand, sir.” “There’s not much to it, Gabriel. You
tell me how Kim and Sofie got sick and I make this draft notice go
away. You say nothing, and down the hill you go to see who gets you,
the Army or the Navy.” “Honestly, sir, I’ve told you everything I know.”

HGN: “Dory will you help the young man out? War is hell. You might not
ever see cousin Gabriel again after he reports to Boot.” Dory shook
her head, refusing to even mention the mouse. Sullivan said, “Last
chance, Gabriel. No? OK, suit yourself, son. Go kill yourself some Japs.”

HGO: After Sullivan left Gabriel suggested a game of Cartel, which was
the least likely thing Dory thought could come out of his mouth after
what just happened. “And by Cartel I mean strip Cartel of course.”
That raised the stakes a notch from losing little pink pieces of paper.

HGP: The dice flew and round and round the board they went. Gabriel
bought up 42nd Street, Broadway, and Park Avenue. All he needed
was Wall Street for a full Cartel. Dory scooped up the Appian Way,
the Burma Road, and Easy Street, and all she needed was the Yellow
Brick Road.

HGQ: Dory thought it strange Gabriel wanted to play a game when he’d
just been handed a draft notice and she didn’t have her heart in it.
Gabriel got another half-Cartel going with Mulholland Drive and Sunset
Boulevard but Dory blocked by getting Bourbon Street and Main Street.

HGR: Gabriel had some lucky rolls and avoided landing on any of Dory’s
properties, while Dory kept landing on Gabriel’s stuff and started to
have a serious cash flow problem. She auctioned off her belt and nylons
for a little breathing space but then the dice really turned on her.

HGS: Dory started landing on Gabriel’s Cartels repeatedly. She was
methodically stripped of most of her cash and started showing more and
more skin to stay in the game. Soon Gabriel owned Dory’s dark yellow
dress with white polka dots, and after that her knit rayon undies and bra.

HGT: But Dory rallied a little bit near the end. The properties associated
with her knee socks and little black Mary Jane shoes, which Gabriel
didn’t want, were enough to complete a second Cartel, creating a kind
of death row on one side of the board. Soon Gabriel was shirtless.

HGU: Another round. Dory demanded his pants. But Gabriel simply put on
Dory’s bra and dress, and when che was sufficiently covered, che
dropped trou and handed them over. “A man shalt not wear that which
pertains to a woman,” Dory preached, “for it is an abomination to God!”

HGV: “That verse doesn’t apply to me, cuz,” said Gabriel. “I’m not a
man or a woman.” Gabriel landed on the next half of Dory’s death row.
With insufficient cash to pay Dory she demanded his underwear, which
che promptly handed over. The game was over but che was fine with that.

HGW: Under the cover of Dory’s yellow dress Gabriel slipped into her
panties and together with her bra che had everything che was looking
for. Gabriel bid his cousin adieu, left the tree fort, and flounced
down the hill to the high school gym to face the local draft board music.

HGX: “You want to tell me about it, son?” the NCO representing the Army
drawled after Gabriel showed up. Che looked down at hemself, then
caught the sergeant’s eye. “I guess I’m a waddyacallitt, homosexual.”
But the Navy first class petty officer had heard this dodge before.

HGY: “You slackers think that’s the easy way out,” he growled. “Who’s
your boyfriend?”

Gabriel blurted out the name of the only male homosexual he actually
knew: “Aaron Anton.” “We had that Anton fellow in here last month,”
the Army NCO said. “He’s queer as a football bat.”

HGZ: Dr. Wahkan knew what Gabriel was trying to do, and he also knew
Gabriel wasn’t actually going to get drafted. He decided to hurry
things along. “Gabriel! About face! Hike up that skirt! Panties at
half mast!” Gabriel complied and both military men drew closer to take a look.

HHA: “I was present at Gabriel’s birth,” said the doctor, “and I’ve seen
hem many times since. Che has a very rare birth defect that gives hem
both male and female genitalia. Imagine what they would do to poor
Gabriel on a destroyer after three months at sea hunting Japanese subs.”

HHB: The Army and Navy representatives looked at Gabriel and realized the
doctor wasn’t pulling their leg, looked at each other, and nodded
agreement. Petty Officer Watson typed up a card classifying Gabriel
IV-F: registrant not qualified for military service for physical
reasons.

HHC: “Hang on to that card, son,” Watson said. “Get it laminated. That’s
gold. Starting next month you’ll have to present proof of your
Selective Service status on demand. And Doc, I don’t think we’ll be
back next month. I think we’re scraping rock bottom of Headwater now.”

 

KANEKO

 

HIA:: The girls could see the clinic was one of hundreds of long
single-story sixplexes with tarpaper walls, each one surrounded by
drainage ditches crossed by gangplanks. Some had their interiors lit.
Sofie wanted to knock on a door begging for help but Kim shook her head.

HIB: Instead Kim chose a greenhouse that was empty but locked. She
quietly told her friend, “We have special talents now just like Jerry
and Dory do. You can break anything you touch. So break that padlock.”
Sofie didn’t believe her, but the lock broke in her hands anyway.

HIC: “How do you like them apples?” Sofie husked. “If I knew I could do
that we’d a left that hellhole any time we wanted.” Kim shook her head
again. “No. It was an electric lock, right? So if you broke it, we’d
still be in the clinic.” “So how did you get us out of there?”

HID: “I’ll explain when we get inside.” Sofie was disappointed that
the greenhouse was cold. There was a vegetable garden inside, but the
glass only kept away the snow and wind. Kim seated herself, plugged
one end of the Purple Cable into her head, and offered Sofie the other.

HIE: The D shape of the connector ends ensured they could only go together
in the correct way. In the first Sharing by two of the B’nei Elohim,
Sofie replayed Kim’s memories and learned how the winning door
combination appeared in Kim’s mind as soon as she started punching out.

HIF: After that, Kim’s mind latched onto a much more elaborate scenario
for getting out of the internment camp. Sofie could see that also, in
all its absurd glory. In just one half hour they would be discovered
by the fellow who maintained this greenhouse, one George Kaneko.

HIG: Mr. Kaneko’s initial anger at finding Kim and Sofie hiding in his
garden would fade to pity when they told him that they had been held
prisoner in the clinic since June. Not even the first wartime
internees arrived until August. And the girls would learn three new words.

HIH: Mr. Kaneko’s parents were issei. They had been born in Japan, but
immigrated to America. Mr. Kaneko himself was nisei. The US was the
only country he had known, yet George, his parents, his wife and even
his three sansei (or third generation) daughters were in the camp.

HII: The extended family of George Kaneko, through hard work, had made
a good life on their Washington State strawberry farm. But in the
confusing legal tangle after the internment was announced they were
tricked into selling their land to whites for pennies on the dollar.

HIJ: Now the Kaneko family was forced to crowd into a single-room in
the barracks, lit by a single bulb. They had to shit, shower and shave
with other families in community facilities with no partitions for
privacy, and eat in a common mess hall that served the whole block.

HIK: This happened out of fear in the wake of Pearl Harbor, and Kim would
remind Sofie how Tolson bragged of making it come to be. Sofie would
ask Mr. Kaneko if his daughters had any clothing to spare, but he
would say they were too young to have anything that would fit her.

HIL: Instead Mr. Kaneko would give them spare garments of his own,
even shoes and jackets, and when they were captured, as he was certain
they would be, they could claim they stole them from the greenhouse.
And Kim would ask why he was so certain they would not escape the camp.

HIM: Mr. Kaneko would bring up the barbed-wire fence that began to go
up in October and was nearly complete, much to the bewilderment and
dismay of the Japanese-Americans in the camp who thought their perfect
acquiescence to the internment would prove their loyalty to America.

HIN: He would say the only gap in the fence was along the west side
of the camp away from the train station. It was guarded by two towers
with high-power searchlights, and soldiers on horseback to run down
any who made it through. Seven lesser-equipped towers guarded the rest.

HIO: Nevertheless, Kim and Sofie would thank Mr. Kaneko for the clothing,
depart his greenhouse, and make for the fence line along the train
tracks, choosing a section equidistant between two guard towers. They
would be spotted but none of the guards would shoot right away.

HIP: Sofie, by simply touching a lamp post, would take out the light
overhead by remotely pulling the wires. After that, she would merely
touch a fence post to snap it off at the base. The fence would dangle
suspended by the two nearest posts permitting the girls to roll under.

HIQ: The guards would begin firing, but none would score hits in the
darkness as the girls ran for the tracks. There they would find the
manual turnout switch used to move trains onto the siding to unload
new internees for the camp. Sofie would break the metal left/right sign.

HIR: With the reflective sign no longer indicating the position of the
switch Sofie would throw a lever to divert traffic to the siding just
before the next train arrived in a ridiculously opportune coincidence
that would say much more about Kim’s new sense of timing than luck.

HIS: The train would veer onto the side track as expected, and the
engineer would apply the brakes with a will, causing an empty gondola
car to stop right in front of the girls just long enough for them to
climb inside and get out of sight. Then the train would go into reverse.

HIT: When the train was entirely on the main line again the engineer
would manually move the shunt from left to right. The guards couldn’t
leave their posts and would report the fence breach by telephone. The
train would resume its voyage east before anyone knew one had stopped.

HIU: That, in any event, was the escape scenario Kim had foreseen,
but the half-hour was up. Mr. Kaneko turned the lights on within his
greenhouse, and it was time for the girls to carry out everything Kim
had daydreamed to the last detail without a single deviation.

TRAIN

 

HJA: The freight train between Cody and Billings was not scheduled to make a stop in Powell but on this occasion the engineer stopped to phone in the broken light at the Heart Mountain internment camp. That gave the friends of Kim and Sofie a very brief window to save them.

HJB: The train was a half mile long and nobody knew exactly which car the girls had chosen to stow away on. The last image Dory recieved was the kind of rolling stock with an open top, about half the height of a box car. The girls themselves were unconscious from exposure.

HJC: Peter drove beside the motionless train for a quarter mile before reaching the first run of gondola cars. Everyone got out of the station wagon and began calling Sofie and Kim by name but no heads poked over the sides of the cars. Gabriel used handrails to climb one of them.

HJD: Gabriel didn’t see the girls, he saw a railcar filled with inch-thick sheets of steel stacked to within a foot and a half of the top. Same with the next car back. But the car after that had two piles of rags huddled against the front wall that could have been Kim and Sofie.

HJE: Gabriel climbed back down and pointed at the correct gondola car. “They’re in that one!” he told Dory, sprinting toward it. He hoped he was right. There was only the light of a waxing gibbous moon for him to see. Then disaster struck: the train began to move once again.

HJF: Instantly Gabriel had the relic that Michael called the Macro in his hand. He squeezed it until the hissing shaft, pitch black on near black in the night, reached its maximum extension of about ten feet. If he squeezed harder it would begin to retract as a shield or dome.

HJG: When the railcar containing the girls approached, Gabriel swiped the active Macro effect through the coupling. This caused an inch-wide swath of steel to disappear. The half of the train with a locomotive continued to accelerate, while the rear half began to slow to a halt.

HJH: Peter moved his vehicle in reverse to follow the part of the train that was left behind, while Gabriel and Dory followed on foot. Dory felt a great sense of relief. No matter what happened now, Kim and Sofie were not on a one-way trip into eternity by way of the Rockies.

HJI: When the rear half of the train rolled to a complete stop Gabriel told Dory to get up there and make sure it really was the girls he saw. Dory climbed to the top, saw it was indeed Kim and Sofie, and burst into tears from the raw emotion of seeing them again after so long.

HJJ: “I’m going to cut them a slide,” Gabriel said, and he let the Macro bite into the lip of the open gondola car.

“You’re too close,” Dory warned. “You’ll slice their feet.” The front half of the train was slowing to a stop. The engineer had realized something was wrong.

HJK: Gabriel put another nick about two feet aft of the first one and Dory told him that was better. So he made a cut about three feet wide and danced out of the way as the wall of the gondola car and tons of steel spilled to the ground. The chute was as smooth as a mirror.

HJL: Peter Twofeathers joined Gabriel, ready to catch the girls when they came down the slide. Dory dragged Kim to the cut first and let her go. Kim was wrapped in blankets and a man’s clothing. Not so much as a single atom of iron was sticking its head up to impede her drop.

HJM: Dory waited for Peter and Gabriel to pile Kim into the station wagon before dragging Sofie to the slide. She could see two flashlights dancing a thou- sand feet away. The crewmen from the caboose were walking toward them to investigate why the train had been snapped in two.

HJN: When Peter and Gabriel were ready Dory pushed Sofie off the railcar into their waiting arms. Dory thought better than to just slide down after her. After everyone was safe in the car Peter drove perpendicular to the tracks so the men with flashlights wouldn’t see the plates.

HJO: Gabriel saw that Kim was wearing some short fellow’s clothes and flannel coat under a blanket and she looked for all the world like a homeless bum, but everything smelled clean. The car stank worse than Kimberly did. Che dug to reach skin and found she was dangerously cold.

HJP: “No wonder they nearly froze to death,” Dory said. “There was just over a foot of steel between them and sixty miles an hour of cold November wind, at two in the morning, in Wyoming. Poor Kim. Poor Sofie.”

“Poor Hunky,” Sofie corrected, stirring awake under Dory’s hands.

HJQ: “Hunky? What?”

“They’ll never stop looking for us,” Hunky said. “We decided to change our names. Kim is Robyn now.”

Gabriel still had a comatose Kim, or Robyn, on his hands.

“What did you do, Dory?” “Skin to skin, Gabriel, that’s the secret to it. I know you want to.”

HJR: “Naming yourself Hunky Krause won’t hide you from the FBI,” Peter said.

“Just Hunky,” she said. “One name.”

“Hunky-Dory,” said Dory. “Cute.”

“And I want a secret code name just like in the Galaxy’s Fall trilogy,” she went on. “Call me Sabotage. I can break things.”

HJS: The way home doubled back southwest. As Peter was driving past the Heart Mountain “relocation center” Robyn stirred to life, as if sensitive to the mere proximity of her former prison. Luxuriating in the attention Gabriel lavished on her she purred, “I like this afterlife.”

HJT: South and east of Cody lies the Big Horn Hot Springs, which are said to be the largest in the world. They form the heart of Wyoming’s oldest state park, which is a sort of little brother to Yellowstone. There’s even a herd of bison who stick around for the free eatins.

HJU: After Pearl Harbor driving just for the sake of taking a road trip was il- legal, and worst than that it was considered unpatriotic. The purported health benefits of the mineral hot springs in Thermopolis were a viable loophole but gas rationing still took a bite on tourism.

HJV: So when a clergyman of the Church of Green Dome arrived in town with four young adults, an X ration sticker on his windshield, and more than nine hundred dollars in cash, it took very little time to find four rooms clustered around a small private pool at a toasty 104F.

HJW: Hunky and Dory sat close together playing footsie under the translucent water. Robyn and Gabriel sat across from the girls and Peter between them. “Are we safe, stopping here?” Gabriel wondered.

Robyn nodded. “Tolson probably knew we were gone right away but it was dark.

HJX: By the time we were in Cody, Tolson was searching around the camp for two dead girls in hospital gowns and stolen blankets. I reckon about right now he’s trying to make heads and tails of that damaged rail car. That we might be here hasn’t entered his wildest thoughts.”

HJY: An air bubble the width of the pool surfaced, broke, and suddenly everyone was soaking in fizzy water. The head of a sixth person surfaced and everyone instinctively knew it was Michael, even Hunky and Robyn, who had never met hym before. They all stood up in the water.

HJZ: “As you were, everyone,” said Michael. “Except Dory and Sofie. You two should remain untangled until this is over.”

“Lord, we’ve agreed to use ‘Hunky’ for Sofie’s new name,” said Dory as she sank back into the water. “And Kim is ‘Robyn’ now. They’re both wanted women.”

HKA: “Yes you are,” agreed Michael. “Robyn, did you tell your friends how long Tolson will be looking for you?”

“Not yet, Lord, but now is as good a time as any to tell them. Thirty years.” That brought a wail of despair from Hunky, and Michael turned hyz attention to her.

HKB: “Hello Hunky. Robyn already knows me because she can remember the future, and I met Gabriel, Dory, and Peter while you were still captive, but we’ve not met. Please tell us what you already know about me.”

“I know you are named Michael in the Green Book,” she began.

HKC: “How I know that I can’t explain. I suppose it’s part of this change I signed up for when I let my finger be skewered up on the hill after Robyn went first. I know you’re the best fit for what we think of when we think of God, and I know it’s not a very good fit at all.

HKD: I know your real body is the sun, and you share that body with Binah. And I know those things because now I realize the book is true after all.” Michael shook hyz head with rue. “I wanted to see what it be like if my holy book was about things that really did happen.”

HKE: Peter Twofeathers came to Hunky’s defense here. “I think when people read the stories in the Bible of talking snakes and talking donkeys, then another story in another ancient book with talking animals rings true. I’m speaking of Aesop’s story of the boy who cried wolf.”

HKF: Michael laughed because what Peter said was true and hy had never thought of it that way. Of course Hunky and Robyn would think the Green Book was filled with poetry and parables and allegory after being told many passages of the Bible were written in a similar mode.

HKG: “Lord,” ventured Gabriel, “may you not think it impertinent to ask, but when you appeared in the pool just now it made me think of when you took me and Dory to the top of Green Dome in a moment. Why could you not have gone to the camp yourself and brought our friends home?”

HKH: “You’re Begotten, Gabriel. Your family helped you discover you are the Magician. But the Made are on their own. Without a crisis to overcome Hunky wouldn’t be Sabotage, she would just think she was unlucky. Robyn wouldn’t be the Seer, she would just think she was crazy.

HKI: And now here you are, safely at point B after escaping from point A, bathing in milky water that smells like brimstone, but not to get clean I imagine.”

“Some say this water has health benefits, Lord,” said Peter. “We just didn’t want to spend another night in the car.”

HKJ: “What awaits at point Z, Lord?” asked Dory. “Will you say why the b’nei elohim exist, and why we can do the things we do?”

“You already know the ancient controversy, Dory. I am blocked from communicating with any eloah on the other side of my parents, and so is Binah.

HKK: But we can listen, and last year about when Pearl Harbor was attacked there was even bigger news. Have you ever listened to Ma Perkins?”

“Land o’ Goshen, Lord, there ain’t a hull lot of folks never heard Ma.”

“I see you have. And now so has the eloah named Gevurah.”

HKL: “Oh, that is wonderful news, Lord. That means you’ve won!”

“No, Dory, what it means is that for the eleventh time in history, the community of elohim has received signals from planet-dwellers. But Gevurah only has a direction to Earth, not the distance. That comes later.

HKM: Soon other elohim will pick up broadcasts from Earth and realize you are not out of reach. Ein Sof will have found the Students at last! And they will wonder how I can be a stable yellow sun in their midst yet remain unquickened, and things will grow sticky for Keter.

HKN: Meanwhile all the elohim listen with rapt attention to the first soap opera, sponsored by Oxydol, the whiter, whiter soap, and they fail to understand a single word. But I have pinned the broadcasts down to 1933, so I know who Gevurah must be. Humans know him as Sirius.”

HKO: Gabriel said, “I wonder if the elohim will be coming to visit us, now that they know we’re here.” “They will send avatars, Gabriel, like remote-controlled rockets, but only as flybys. After it gets a certain distance from an eloah the link is too thin to pass any propellant.

HKP: So to finally answer Dory’s question, starting from right here at point B, you’re going to help me catch one of those incoming avatars at point Z and bring it inside myself. And that will not be easy at all, because they will be moving at seven-tenths of light-speed.

HKQ: And none of this can be forced upon you because all of this, all of human history, in fact, is nothing more than the greatest love story never told: overcoming every artificial barrier Keter and Daat and Chesed can throw up to block the wedding of elohim and humanity.”

HKR: When che heard these words Gabriel swam out around Peter to face Robyn, stood up tall to brace his courage, looked her in the eyes, and said, “From the day we became lab partners in school I loved you. Every day you were gone and only Dory could reach you it tore me apart.

HKS: Then Michael said we had one narrow chance to save your life and I couldn’t sleep for a minute until I saw you again, and when I did you were frozen half to death on that stack of steel. It was a life changing moment, Robyn. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

HKT: Robyn waded out to face Gabriel and took each of hez hands in her own. “And I love you too, Gabriel. It’s true. I loved you even after that time at Lake 13 and your lesson on nephilim biology. But we’re Church of Green Dome and you know there’s rules. Cousin Dory is for you.”

HKU: “Whoa,” said Hunky, clearing her throat and wading out a little bit too. “I know the scripture says never put God to the test but here’s a much smaller love story than human history, Lord, with much smaller artificial barriers. If you can’t fix this I won’t take your job.”

HKV: All eyes turned to Dory, who nodded her head. “I’m with Hunky on this, Lord. Robyn becomes Mrs. Gabriel Shybear. That’s point C.”

Michael said, “Why not? I never set down mandatory cousin-marriage. That was Lange.”

“It will split your church in two, Lord,” warned Peter.

HKW: “I know it will, Peter, and the external reality will finally conform with the internal reality.”

Peter tried to shine a good light on it. “Once the nomadic people of the plains had to choose between removing to the reservations or starving. The Church was a third way.”

HKX: “We can still save something of the Church,” said Michael. “We’ll move the remnant to another place. But for now, Peter, take these young people back to Headwater and announce the betrothal: Gabriel to Kimberly. That’s the important thing. Do not use her new name Robyn.”

HKY: Peter bowed his head and said, “Yes, Lord.”

And the decision having been made, Robyn slipped into a daydream of the consequences. She croaked, “Oh, poor Gabriel. Poor me!”

“Seeing all that, Robyn, will you still marry hem?”

She nodded in the affirmative.

HKZ: “But how will it happen, Lord? I’ll be dead.”

Michael did a little hand wave. “Dead? Tut tut. A temporary inconvenience. Remember how Yeshua was wiped off the face of the Earth and now he’s good as new? Come this December and you will be wed to Gabriel. Yeshua will preside.

HLA: The ceremony will take place in Nyduly Wood. It will literally be a match made in Heaven.”

CABLE

 

HMA: Hell’s Half Acre is a roadside patch of badlands almost exactly in
the center of Wyoming. It’s much bigger than the name suggests, more
like Hell’s Half Square Mile, and the nearest sandstone and shale
scarp that looks similar to it lies a whole state away in South Dakota.

HMB: A brown-skinned man emerged from the entrance of a cave in the
eroded landscape dressed in dark blue-gray trousers and a knee-length
jacket. He had a matching shirt and a silver leaf brooch in place of
a tie and looked like a Shoshone with a good seamstress for a wife.

HMC:But the fellow was too short, his hair wasn’t straight enough,
and his facial features suggested the Mediterranean shores were
his true home. He had never walked in that place before, but the
strange eroded landscape reminded him of the desolate area around
the Salt Sea.

HMD: It was one hundred fifty feet from the floor of the ravine to
the gravel parking lot above and the man ascended with no sign of
exertion. He once roamed on foot the whole land of his birth from
Lake Kinneret as far as Mount Hermon and south to the hill country
of Judaea.

HME: He noted, without any surprise, the presence of a maroon 1941
Chrysler Town & Country woodie parked at the restaurant overlooking
the geological oddity and knew he would find Robyn and her friends
eating lunch inside, just as Robyn knew he was coming and gave
fair warning.

HMF: Robyn, Gabriel, Peter, Hunky and Dory were already standing at their
table when he walked indoors, which the other guests might have
thought was odd. None of them had ever seen him before but as
B’nei Elohim they knew a seraph on sight and stopped everything,
ready to serve.

HMG: “Please be seated,” he said, grabbing a chair from another table and
carrying it over to theirs. “I’ll have what you’re having, Peter.” The
Prophet raised a hand to flag down the waitress but the newcomer
said, “No, not allegory. I’ll literally have what you’re having.”

HMH He took up a knife, cut Peter’s cheeseburger in two, and helped
himself to one piece. Hunky said, “I’m pretty sure that burger is not
kosher, Jesus. Aren’t you Jewish?”

“Not Jesus, Hunky. Call me Yeshua. The Greeks thought Yeshua was a
girly name and called me Iesous.

HMI: The Romans spelled it I-E-S-U-S. Then later the English thought
names beginning with vowels were too girly and called me Jesus. As for
the food, my mother made just one arbitrary law about cutting a little
flap of skin. Mixing meat and dairy was never on her mind.”

HMJ: Dory and Gabriel stared at Yeshua in wonder, trying to reconcile his
actual appearance with the popular depictions of him and there was
just no way to do it. Robyn seemed preoccupied and looked off to the
side. “What is wrong, Robyn?” Yeshua asked her. “What do you see?”

HMK: She said, “Peter announces the wedding but the White Wing of the
Church will not accept it. Gabriel is attacked, but torture doesn’t
work on B’nei Elohim and Gabriel’s friends retaliate, so Paul Bergin
and Klaus Hansen kill me instead. They end up killing the Church.”

HML: “How would you reply, Robyn, if I asked in truth that you do not
avoid or resist those men, even to your death?”

After a long pause she said, “I would decline such a request, Lord.
I’m not in any particular hurry for my life come to an end just when
I’m getting started.”

HMM: “And what did my cross teach you?”

HMN: “That death is not a blank wall, it’s a door, and you went through
it and came back to show us that even if we die we don’t stay dead.
But now I see how time really works and I know it was all a magic
trick like Gabriel with his coins.”

HMN: Yeshua was genuinely fascinated by Robyn’s unexpected reply. He
asked, “When you look at my life with your talent, what do you see?”

She said, “I see a movie of a burning fuse, but the movie is running
backwards. The fuse assembles itself from smoke and sparks.

HMO: It grows. One time that fuse looped back, crossed itself, and then
there were two burning Yeshuas experiencing an advancing present,
but one of them was wiped off the face of the Earth by the Romans. He
hit that blank wall we call death. The one who lived, the lucky one,
is you.”

HMP: “You’re wrong about the blank wall, Robyn. The part of me that is
Binah carried over the dying memories of the man who was put to
death and merged them with my own.”

“Again, Lord, lucky you. But that didn’t help the Yeshua who
experienced death. You’re a different one.”

HMQ: “Robyn, nobody in the whole history of both worlds has ever
‘experienced’ death. Yes, we experience dying, each one of us, from
the moment we are born, and there comes a moment in our lives that
is not followed by another one, but that last moment never becomes
a memory.”

HMR: “Lord, will you please say why I must not resist my own murder?”

“When you and Hunky escaped your prison last night what did you do
to make the correct combination appear in your memory?”

“I had to begin punching them in.”

“Even so, your own end will spark a beginning.

HMS: But Robyn, I will not order you to do what you are unwilling to
do, so let us speak of something else. Your friends will not arrive
in Headwater until late tonight. Will you come alone with me? I can
bring you to a reunion with your mother in almost no time at all.”

HMT: Dory remembered the jaunt she had made with Michael and said,
“You should take him up on that offer, girl, it’s the only way
to travel.” Gabriel heartily nodded in accord. So Robyn, who felt a
little guilty telling Yeshua no on the first thing, told him yes
on the other.

HMU: After hugging her farewells Robyn hiked with Yeshua down to the
bottom of the ravine and followed him into the dark cave, where it
grew light again, a little warmer, and they were kicking through
fallen leaves piled up to their knees. But there was still plenty
of green.

HMV: “Christmas trees!” exclaimed Robyn when she saw a stand of Douglas
Fir. Many more of them covered the mountains she could see through
bare branches of maple and alder. They were standing on a mountain
as well, near the top.

Yeshua said, “This is just a short side trip.”

HMW: “Where are we, Lord?”

“We are still in your country. Of the forty-eight states, this one is
furthest to the north and to the west.”

“Washington.”

“I want you and your friends to put together a migration and move the
Red Wing of the Church here.”

HMX: Robyn looked through the trees to the bottom land at the foot of
the mountain laid down by repeated mud flows from a large nearby volcano
and she remembered the Japanese-American fellow at Heart Mountain
who helped her and Hunky escape by giving them clothing and advice.

HMY: She said, “There’s a Mr. Kaneko who lost his strawberry farm when
they sent him to the camp. I want to buy a new one for him, Lord,
right there. Do you see?”

“After the war is over,” Yeshua said, and he produced a large envelope
somehow, perhaps by using the Gabriel trick.

HMZ: “Yes. Mr. Kaneko will have his land when the relocation camp is
no more. That is a very kind thought, Robyn. But this money is for
your mother, to return to the home of her own parents in the east.”

Robyn accepted the envelope gratefully. Yeshua displayed a small
object.

HNA: “Robyn, if you choose to do what I asked, this will give you a
temporary link similar to the one I have with with Binah. All your
memories will be saved.”

Robyn took a quick glance at time. She saw another her eating lunch
back there at Hell’s Half Acre.

HNB: Yeshua said, “I have put us back into the first stream, the one
where you ate your lunch in peace and I never appeared. Do you feel
like a mere copy, Robyn? Did you notice any bump?”

“No, Lord.”

“So will it be when there is one Robyn again with the memories of both.

HNC: Robyn, have a little faith that I am nothing like Keter or
Daat. What kind of teacher would deceive a student in a matter such
as this?”

“Forgive me, Lord,” Robyn said, and she accepted the device. She saw
it would resemble a large mole when it was installed.

HND: “Be of good cheer,” Yeshua told her. “You alone among all the
humans of Earth have the real freedom to choose, because you alone
can look ahead. And there is so much more than mere duty. You will
soon find that one benefit even rivals eternal life.”

HNE: Kim opened the door of her home just before Robyn knocked on it,
but that went with the territory of being the Seer. Kim let herself
come in, and why not? It was her house too. Robyn was still wearing Mr.
Kaneko’s clothing and was still stinky from the road trip.

“Let me see the gadget he gave you.” Kim dug it out. It was like
half a ball of pink rubber.

HNG: There was a 55-pin female connector on one side to match the
male connector protruding from both girls’ heads. Kim said, “When Paul
and Klaus show up I need to be wearing this.”

“It’s supposed to save your last memories.”

“It works exactly as Yeshua promised.

HNH: I’ve seen on the other side of that ‘blank wall’ you seem to be
so worried about. That’s why I’m willing to be the one who gets killed.”

“But you have memories of meeting Mom before she left and I want those.”
Robyn unfastened her belt, which was really one of the Purple Cables.

HNI: When they attached the ends to themselves they experienced a dual
awareness, but it did not persist as when Robyn and Hunky were linked
together. The differences between each girl poured through the line
but there was a definite rhythm to it, very much like a heartbeat.

HNJ: It took a brief time for each memory to be packed for transfer
on the cable and then unpacked. Soon Kim had Robyn’s conversation with
Yeshua in Washington State. Since the Change Kimberly’s memories are
stored with perfect clarity, not merely as triggers to be re-enacted.

HNK: The full emotional impact of meeting her mother again after six
months, followed by their parting, brought Robyn to tears, then Kim,
once again, a heartbeat after. The Purple Cable had set up a kind of
feedback whine, but there was an 800 millisecond delay.

HNL: Robyn received back from Kim the new experience of Robyn receiving
the memory of Kim greeting her mother. This went around at least a
dozen more times, growing weaker on each pass. As the loops cycled
Robyn obtained Kim’s experience of the rest of her trip home.

HNM: All of the different experiences kicked off different loops as
they were brought forward. After a time only two real differences
stubbornly persisted: One girl was lying on the couch, and the other
was lying on top of her. That situation got Robyn thinking.

HNN: She was to become the wife of Gabriel, and Gabriel was something of a
sexual cafeteria line, one of these, and one of these. She wasn’t sure
she would like everything Gabriele had to offer, let alone know what
to do. So without further ado Mr. Kaneko’s trousers slid down.

HNO: Kim’s undies were slid up around Kim’s knees and Robyn became the
first non-contortionist in heaven or earth to have oral sex with
herself. What Robyn was doing with her tongue, in combination with the
Purple Cable loop back, reminded her of something the band once did.

HNP: One time when Hunky set up her drumkit in the Squaw River canyon
and did a drum duet with her own echoes. The pleasure built so steadily
Kim thought it was like cheating. Actually it was cheating. Through the
Purple Cable Robyn could feel exactly what she was doing to Kim.

HNO: It was almost as though she was Kim. She wondered if this was
the thing Yeshua said would rival eternal life. That was the last
rational thought either had for the next ten minutes. Robyn felt the
first contraction of Kim’s orgasm 0.8 seconds after Kim did.

HNP: At 1.6 seconds Kim felt Robyn’s experience of her first
contraction precisely at the same time she felt her third one. And so
the stack continued to build. Neither Kim nor Robyn even knew what
was happening. They didn’t even breathe until Kim had a dozen contractions.

HNQ: When they did resume breathing, they could only make incoherent
sounds. Purple Cable sex was never going to be a discreet thing.
The orgasm looped around and around. After three minutes the stack of
orgasmic contractions and their echoes were no longer distinct pulses.

HNR: The climax settled into a timeless high intensity electric sheen.
After another seven minutes Robyn found it possible to unplug the
cable from her head. After that they lay still for another ten minutes
trying to take in what just happened to them. Robyn’s face was soaked.

HNS: Kim began to stir to get out from under Robyn. “Go get yourself
cleaned up. At least we have something to keep us happy until Bergin
and Hansen come here to kill me.”