In the last issue, Wort met Joshua and spoke to Elizabeth, who said she no longer wished to continue to fight the regime.
Wort descended into the cellar, where his uncle and fellow Gueuzers awaited. “What was Garvey doing at Joshua’s compound?” he asked, handing his uncle the folder he’d been given there.
“No hug?” Uncle Theo asked.
Wort hugged his uncle, wanting to crush him instead.
“He’s using the library,” his uncle said.
“The library?” Wort queried, distracted.
“The regime may burn Angelou, Chomsky and Kozol, but their library has the most complete selection of books in the world,” his uncle replied.
“What does that say?” Wort asked, pointing to the folder.
“This is just some innocuous sounding data that means nothing to anyone capturing it. Did the memory transfer go okay?”
“Yes,” Wort replied, surprised that his uncle could bring it up so casually. He continued to mask his feelings with others in the room.
“What can you tell us about the regime’s plans?”
“They are preparing for war,” Wort replied. The room fell silent. “They will begin within two months, after a terrorist incident.”
“With whom?” Uncle Theo asked.
“The Glossamer,” Wort said. “They have already begun the PR campaign.”
“Of course!” his uncle said, throwing the folder onto the table in front of him. “What is this?” Jude asked. “Why a war with the Glossamer?”
“Immodesty!” Uncle Theo said. “How could we have missed the signs!”
“I don’t understand,” Jude said.
“Here, it’s right here, in front of our faces,” his uncle said. “He took a document out of the folder Wort had given him. “This is from research done on the Glossamer. Here, the reproductive system: ‘Research indicates that due to environmental factors in the evolution of the Glossamer, copulation occurs on contact. There is no foreplay; a friendly meeting between a Glossamer male and female must involve an exchange of reproductive fluids. Unlike homo sapiens, which practice mimicry, Glossamer reproductive organs are located on their faces.’ The regime has been beating the war drums before our very faces! How could we have missed it! Weapons factories are humming, the economy is heating up while they have been villifying the Glossamer!”
“The Regime’s news reports have been claiming that the Glossamer are using human slaves in their mines,” said one of the Gueuzers.
“But we are allies with them!” said Jude. “They are Job’s biggest trading partner!”
“You sell cerveza loca to them,” Wort said. “While the Regime uses cerveza loca to sustain our reproductive capacity, they have been been selling and bartering it to the Glossamer because it has the opposite effect.”
“Impossible,” Jude said halfheartedly.
“The Regime’s leaders plan to leave before declaring war,” Wort added, bringing the room of Gueuzers to another awed silence. “They have calculated that Urquell Mother will be destroyed, and given toxic levels and the inability to support healty plant and animal life, they have written us off.”
“Where will they go?” asked Jude, who had been silent until then.
“We don’t know,” Wort replied. “But according to Garvey, the Exiles are most concerned with preventing Urquell Mother from being destroyed. They have already begun negotiations with the Glossamer. At this point they are still only exchanging basic philosophies and goals beyond survival.”
“What about Canute?” his uncle asked.
“Apparently, they’re almost finished transferring its data, but since they believe Urquell Mother will be destroyed, they’re leaving most of the citizen files behind.”
“Any thing else?” his uncle asked.
“I need to speak to you alone,” Wort said, then added, “about something personal.” Jude and the Gueuzers quietly filed from the cellar.
“I saw Elizabeth,” Wort said quietly, once they had left.
“Why did you betray me? Do you not think I can handle my own affairs?”
“No, we did not,” Uncle Theo said. “Not and face her imprisoner.”
“Wrong!” Wort snapped. “You kept me ignorant and doped up with cerveza loca! You betrayed my trust!”
“It was done to help you,” Uncle Theo replied. “They felt that you couldn’t handle the pain, therefore we transferred your memories.”
“Why wasn’t I asked? That’s standard procedure!”
“You had lost consciousness. You were irrational.”
“That’s not good enough!” Wort snapped.
His uncle shrugged his shoulders. You are here and safe. Is that not good enough?” Wort said nothing, again fighting to control his anger. “Did I ever tell you why your father was fired from the last school he worked in--before the Fall?”
“Yes, and I don’t want to hear the story again,” Wort said. “You’re changing the subject.”
“You’ve always wanted to hear stories of your father,” Uncle Theo said, then without waiting for a response, continued. “He was creating beer yeast cultures in his science lab. He had his students growing them, learning about them and developing a business. When the administration found out, they fired him. That was the beginning of the end for my brother...”
“I don’t want to hear it again,” Wort said.
His uncle shrugged, then pointed to the folder. “Then I must study this report now. Let me know when you’re ready to move forward.”
Wort controlled the desire to strike his uncle and left the cellar without replying. He stalked past the Gueuzers upstairs. Reaching the street, he realized he’d forgotten his weapon.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The light circled brightly in his rear view mirror and Wort sat straight, not wanting to give the agent any reason to flame him. He waited quietly until the man had stepped out of the car, then pulled into the free lane. He was close enough to Joshua’s compound to reach it before the agent could call for help, and would have to take his chances breaking through the barrier.
As he approached the front gate, he swerved back and forth, hoping to dodge the flame he knew would issue from he guard house. Surprisingly, no one shot at him. As he closed in on the house, he noticed that the gate was open and unguarded. Seizing the opportunity, he roared through the gate and up the long driveway.
Quickly, he jumped out of the car and ran toward the house. Again, no one attempted to stop him.
Puzzled, he stepped through the open front door and into the foyer.
He recognized Garvey by the shreds of cloth that lay attached to his burned body. Wort thought he heard a noise and he moved quickly, to avoid being flamed.
Nothing happened and he raced toward the back of the house, to the nursery where he hoped to find Elizabeth. He burst into the area and dropped to the floor to avoid getting flamed. The nursery was empty.
By Bill Metzger
Copyright 1994, Southwest Brewing News