Slaggyford to Once Brewed
“Mint! You up?” there was knocking at the door. Of course I was up, this was an exciting day. A day we could actually change things, if everything went to plan, which was still doubtful.
I meant, it was great that Jane and Felix had got together. That was a lucky coincidence. Though it had taken some time to work it out.
Gina had phoned to say that a Priest had taken a girl that had been helping the band. And you just couldn’t have that, who knew how they would have used the girl, to do... something, they were always up to... stuff and you just had to fight it as best you ccould.
Anyway, Gina didn’t have a surname for the girl. But we’d tracked the Priest’s car down to Tissington, an agent down there had found it abandoned at the docks. We had thought we were too late, that they’d gone to sea, but the agent had found some blood on the cuffs so at least we had the DNA and that gave us a name: Jane Dray.
So much police DNA information was kept and sold via the good old ‘laptop lost in taxi’ routine, as my dad would say, so many buyers in fact, health insurance companies mainly, obviously, that we had come across the database in quite a few hard drives over the years.
Still that got us the name, but we had thought we had lost her.
Until the Priest had got a new phone and phoned into head office. That got our hopes up and our assessment crews working on all the usual sources: phone, video cameras... and then there they were, outside Buxton getting into a van that was taking them to their death.
Still, Felix was made of some ferocious stuff it turned out and now they were somewhere on the other side of Skipton waters and just about everyone was after them.
I looked out the window. It was really quite a pleasant little bed and breakfast, stuck as it was, at the end of a very long, lonely track across Malham Moor. We had a view south over the heather and down to the sea, which was of course covered in mist, thank you oil burners of the world. And cows, don’t forgot the cows.
The B and B was a bit over the top, unsure if it was a real country cottage or an advertisement for Italian marble. But it was clean, everything worked, which was rare around here, despite our best efforts.
There was another knock.
“Are you ready?”
“Yes, I’ll be down in a sec. Any news?”
“I’ll tell you when you get down.” Prince John would have had him shot. The Priests? Crucifixion or some nonsense. Me? What the hell, does it matter? We get stuff done, we try to do good. And I get to wear some nice dresses along the way. Dad thinks I should ‘tone it down a bit’ stop ‘showing everyone up’. But I will wear what I damn well want and I’m doing good stuff too!
And now I was getting angry. Just because I thought of Dad. Just because he still wears a Megadeth T Shirt under his jumper ‘to remind himself’.
Everyone thinks they’re the good guys don’t they? So when we say: ‘yes we can pretty well spy on everyone and control everything but it’s OK because we are trying to make things better’, it’s not good. Yes we should stop, let everyone decide for themselves, but then Prince John and the corporations would rule everything and there would be no hope at all. So, for the moment, just for the moment, it’s us against them and the people will just have to wait.
Yes I know how crap that sounds.
So, I’m not going to think about it for a bit.
For a bit.
Good outfit though. Looks the part, and it’ll wind up the right people.
It’s eight. Time to go downstairs.
“Morning team,” I say cheerily heading to the hot plate. Yes! They have my porridge ready: grapes, date syrup, almonds and a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon. Good start.
There’s a chorus of mornings. Six people sit round a table covered in bread products, coffee and laptops.
“Any of you get any sleep? Chris? Hack the Shepherd boat yet?”
“Yup,” said Chris, finishing off the last of her croissant. “Piece o’ piss, still XP, unbelieveable.”
“Well Trident are, it’s pretty likely everything else is.”
“But after the Yorktown bricking, surely...?” Asked Sam, knowing the answer.
“That was NT, 1997,” I pointed out, “Only a small jump from version 4 to 5. Can’t expect much.”
I tucked into my porridge. Not made with coconut butter damn it. Ah well. I managed to eat most of it. Better to finish this than be tempted by something else later.
“So, how about Commander Colme’s boat? We in?”
“Yes I’m in,” said David, the only boy on the team.
“Go carefully, they mustn’t know. If it looks like they’re getting close, just slow them down a bit.”
“I know, you said last night.”
“OK, but you know, just, they mustn’t find out we can do this.”
“They won’t,” he assured me.
“Any news on Jane and Felix? Sam?”
“Well, we know they went through Calderbrook. Well, you would have thought they would go through Backup.”
“Great name!” laughed Chris.
“But they didn’t,” continued Sam, “so they must have stuck to the lanes to the east and got to Cornholme round that way. If they continued east we would have found them at any number of places along the way to Keighley: Oxenhope, Haworth, Oakworth. We’ve got some pretty good pictures of the van now so it would have triggered something somewhere.”
“So they stayed well out of the way of everything then.”
“Exactly, so they pretty well have to be here: on the west coast, west of the West Road, ie: out that window.”
Sam pointed out to sea where, from this height, we could just about see the four miles to the opposite coast.
“No one’s saying they’ve had a boat stolen, trespassing, nothing?” I asked.
“No,” replied Sam
“And I guess he can swim. Being a Wetlander.” It was unbelievable. We didn’t know much about Wetlanders really. We had a few contacts. But to just go: ‘I’m going to swim that sea today’ was pretty scary. I wondered what Jane was making of it. Poor thing.
But Felix had proved himself pretty able. Not just with those Masons but avoiding the military and getting this far was impressive.
On a normal day we would have just gone and fetched the parawing ourselves but word had got out so fast. The Evangelicals had found out and that psycho Trumps had got wind of it too. We’d almost lost it then and there.
A current multiplier like that in the hands of Armagedonist America was terrifying. Not that Dad believed me. ‘Let’s just fix this place first hey, then worry about the rest of the world’. Always ‘The Aviemore Computer Repairs’ man at heart. Simply the best.
“How close are Commander Colme and Father Jacob?” I asked.
“Er, Father Jacob’s been past twice, so far, and is over Barnoldswick at the moment and will be coming back past here in about an hour. Then he normally goes east as far as Skipton before coming back again,” explained Chris.
“And Commander Colme is over the A56/A59 junction at the moment heading towards the Martons. But she seems to be going very slowly, perhaps to be quiet?” that was David again.
“Right. Is the Land Rover powered up?” It was electric, of course, nice Tesla battery in it but it chewed through the power.
“Yes,” said Tat, from the corner, her feet up on another chair and a book over her face. “All good to go.”
“Right, well,” I said, “let’s wait and see what happens.”
I cleared a spot on the table and my secretary, dear Enid puts up with a lot, brought over today’s paperwork.
It wasn’t all spying, though I had to keep on top of that as there were so many forces at work here in Scotland, there was the normal day-to-day business to deal with as well.
Prince John had kept the oil rigs running, the ones he could anyway, as they gave the nation or rather him, an income, something to export. They floated, so quite a few had survived the rise in sea levels, the earthquakes and ensuing tsunamis, the pirates and the other national interests; though there weren’t many of them, most of Northern Europe was underwater.
We, the Linux Corporation, on the other hand were getting the wind farms going again and working on ways to store electricity (Tesla was gone, bloody Evangelicals) for the non-windy days. My favourites at the moment were: the heavy train at the top of hill - all the wheels are dynamos, the clockwork windmill - it makes electricity and it also winds itself up! There were other plans, mainly involving pumping water to places. Progress was being made and that was good. The oil companies and their allies obviously hated us and worked against us. Nothing new there.
Internet connection moved on. We were having some success using the power lines. Though there was a lot of pressure to fix the phone lines as well.
Then there was the international politics: Evangelist America and the Scientology wars, Europe and the new Catholic Roman Empire, North Africa and the Middle East were doing their muslim thing, Southern and West Africa was pretty stable, India and Pakistan were being surprisingly helpful to each other, South Russia and China were a bubbling post nuclear cauldron of crap, Australia and South America had each lost about half their landmass but were recovering at varying speeds.
Where would I move if I gave up here?
If you wanted old world then Czech, Switzerland and Austria were almost untouched, though currently a bit crazy with religion.
North America was even more bonkers than before, even though they had lost all the east coast and the south from Texas to Illinois. That left a lot of lets end the world bible-bashers to get excited and God-bothery in the middle and east side and the Scientologists to the west, hating each other. Constantly at war.
And history was a bastard. If we had just helped Africa a bit more then, maybe they would feel more like helping us now.
The Scandinavians, they made sense and, like us, were trying to rebuild but the volcanoes had made life difficult. Isostatic rebound was a … nearly a global catastrophic event.
No, we were better off fixing this place. Dad was right about that.
So I planned my moves and made amends and built bridges and generally fought the forces of evil: the Scientologists in Wales being a pain in everyone’s butt, as were the New Roman Empire’s Priests, and those bloody American Evangelicals. They all just wanted the oil of course but they couldn’t say that. It all had to be: God says this and God says that.
Once the Saudi Family got the axe (literally) the whole Middle East cheered up pretty quickly. Probably equally as hopeful as the Scandinavians now actually. Mind you, it had helped that half of Israel was underwater too. Generally made everyone be a bit more neighbourly and helpful. Unbelievably.
Enid and I shuffled papers and made calls and generally got on with stuff.
Lunchtime came and went and there was still no sign of our friends from the south until David, who had given up watching Commander Colme’s boat drift silently around the seas on his computer had taken up position at the window with some of the biggest binoculars I had ever seen, began talking.
“Um. Hey? No,” he muttered, “Oh no, wait. What’re you up to?”
“Who are you talking to Dave?” asked Sam.
“Er, well, the Shepherd boat is doing something odd out there.”
“Like what exactly?” I asked.
“Seems it’s circled round a couple of islands close to this end of the row.”
“Can you see anything? Can you see them?” I meant Felix and Jane.
“Well, I thought I might have but I’m not so sure. The Priest’s just gone off again.”
I shook my head and got back to work.
“It’s them, I can see them. Fuck’s sake they are swimming.”
We all jumped up and ran to the window trying to pull the binoculars off David.
“Ow! Wait a second. Ow! Stop pulling. God fuck my neck.” I got the strap off his neck and Sam took the first look.
“Where do I look?”
“Down there,” David pointed. We couldn’t see anything staring down into the mist.
“What? Where? Oh there. Is that them? Could be ducks? Oh no they’re people. Hello Felix, hello Jane. She’s struggling a bit.”
Sam passed them to me and showed me where to look. I could see them swimming but it didn’t look as if they were moving at all. Then there were shouts around me. I looked over the top of the binoculars and saw the Priest’s boat, it had returned and Chris was beside me!
“Chris!” I gave her a shove. She looked at me unsure why I was suddenly cross. Then it dawned on her.
“Oh crap! Sorry,” she darted back to her laptop, “OK, OK, OK, OK, I’m back in. Tell me what to do.”
“He’s going over them!” Sam shouted. I looked again and couldn’t see Felix or Jane. There was a wide white wash where they should have been.
“Can anybody see them?” I shouted.
“I think they dived just in time.”
“I’m not so sure.”
Then I saw them. They had popped up about ten yards further on, but the boat was already coming down at them again.
“Dive Felix,” I muttered. Around me everyone was shouting encouragement.
The Priest’s boat passed over Felix and Jane a second time. When the boat was at its furthest point I called to Chris.
“Yup, all set.”
“OK hard right now and kill the engines.”
A second later the boat veered sharply to the right almost throwing the Priest over the bows. Then the boat sagged down into the water and slowed to a stop.
“Perfect, good, well done,” I said to Chris. “OK, they’re almost here. Let’s get ready.”
Then another shout went up and I looked to the left, east. There was the Naval patrol boat coming in fast.
“Dave!” I looked around and he was at his laptop.
“Ready,” he said.
“They’re going to make it,” said Sam.
“Do you think?” I asked. Unsure, it was one thing to disable the Priest’s Shepherd boat, but quite another to hack into a Navy ship. We already had enough enemies.
“Are they going to make it?” I asked again. “Dave can you glitch it, just for a second, make it drop 5% of speed?”
“I can make it start to defrag the harddrive, that should use up a bit of CPU and make reactions a bit slow?”
“Do it,” I said. And watched the Patrol Boat get closer and closer. “It’s not having any effect?”
“Sorry, I’ll just slow it a bit more,” said David. The boat did seem to slow marginally.
I could see that the Priest’s boat were now lowering a dingy into the water.
“Come on, come on,” I whispered.
“Attaboy!” shouted Sam as, at last, Felix and Jane scrambled out of the water.
“We need to get going.” I passed the binoculars to Chris who was back peering though the window. “Let us know where they’re going. Sam, let’s go, Enid, come with me.”
We headed out the door and into the electric Range Rover. I had a short range radio, with Tat on the other end. Her voice crackled:
“They’ve gone into the woods to the left, the Priest’s about to land.”
“Sam,” I said, pointing downhill and east, “they’re down there. Better get to them before they get themselves shot.”
We edged though a narrow gate into a field below the bed and breakfast. But most of these fields had stone walls round and rarely more than two gateways. When we should have been heading downhill we had to keep to the top of the field to get through the next gate. We did no better in the next field either. Sam was swearing quietly.
“Can we get to those farm buildings?” I asked. It looked likely that Felix was heading there and it would have a road at least.
“I think so,” said Sam.
A shot was fired and then more.
“Is this thing bullet proof?” I asked.
“Of course.” Said Enid giving me a look.
“So we did. Forgot.”
“They’re almost at the farmhouse now.” Said Tatiana on the radio.
“I can see them,” said Sam, “they’ve gone inside.”
We skidded through a gate and onto the road to the farm, then across the gravel almost hitting a girl in very little clothing as she ran out the front door.
Before we could say anything she bolted round the side of the house and was gone.
“Sam, go get her will you?” I said, turning to Enid. “We’d better get inside before this turns nasty.”
We went in through the front door of the farm. Enid followed behind with her briefcase filled whatever she thought I was going to need next. She had amazing foresight and had saved the day more times than I could remember with just the right document or fact.
There was a lot of shouting going on in the kitchen.
A shot was fired and I tried not to jump. There was silence for a second and then I heard a voice shout: “Everybody down!”
No one moved. There was bit more shouting followed by a solider asking: “Ma’am. Who do we shoot?”
I walked into the kitchen.
“I don’t think we need to shoot anyone do we?” I said as calmly as I could. Felix was standing close to me, his back against the wall. He was quite... what’s a nice way of putting this? Quite earthy smelling and looked quite scared, which was surprising considering what happened to the Masons.
“Sorry I’m late. I thought you were coming ashore slightly to the west of here. Just goes to show doesn’t it?” I whispered to him. It was supposed to be comforting, but I wasn’t sure he had understood me.
Jane stood, recognisable from the picture we had, petite and dressed mainly in black underclothes holding a small gun. Soldiers filled the rest of the room though none were standing close to the Priest.
The Priest began talking and I cut him off.
“Call me Mint, or if you prefer a longer name Mint Ubu. I like them both, both together as well, they have a nice sound, even if it shows a certain single mindedness by my father.”
“Lady Linux,” Commander Colme looked tired but smart in her uniform, “do you know these two?”
“Yes I do Commander, thanks for asking,” I replied, “this is Felix and over there with Father Jacob’s gun is Jane Dray. Though are Priest’s allowed to carry guns?” I asked. Which I probably shouldn’t have as it set the Priest off. There was talk of God. I turned to Enid and found that she already had the letters I was going to ask for. I gave her a quick smile of thanks.
“Commander, if I may. I have a pass here signed by Prince John specifically for one Wetlander called Felix as a courier for the Linux family to enter Topland and make a delivery to us. As you can see,” I continued, while Enid passed me a second sheet of paper, Sam had appeared behind her, “it is all in order and I have another letter here, of employment by the Linux family, for Jane Dray as an assistant. She is currently working with our art outreach project called The Sisters of Mersey from where she was kidnapped not by Felix here but by Father Jacob who then tried to take her overseas against her will.”
“This is ridiculous,” puffed Father Jacob, “you can’t believe this nonsense. Commander, did you not hear about the four innocent men this mutant murdered on the road just north of Woodhead?”
“They were not innocent, they were going to fucking rape us and kill us!” Shouted Jane. “If it wasn’t for Felix I’d be dead.”
“It is true that Felix here did have to defend himself against four attackers paid for by Father Jacob. But luckily Felix is well trained in defending himself.” I answered.
“He was hiding under the table just now!” Shouted Father Jacob.
“You paid them?” Screamed Jane. I think she was trying to shoot Father Jacob but I saw the gun barrel slide across my chest before going off. And Felix sank to the floor. There was blood on the shoulder of my dress.
I looked down and there was Felix sitting on the ground and as I watched, his body toppled sideways. Jane ran forward and cradled his head in her arms. She was crying. Everyone else was silent.
I turned to Enid.
“Enid, go get the medical kit will you, and a blanket if we can find one. Sam help me carry Felix to the car.” I turned back to Commander Colme. “I have a fast car ready here. I am taking Felix to the nearest medical centre. Jane is coming with me. Do you need to look at the documents again or can we go, now, please.”
Father Jacob started protesting as Colme looked at the letters.
“Everything seems to be in order, you can take them. They will have to be your responsibility for the time being and I imagine that there will be further enquiries about the deaths on the Woodhead road.” She said.
“Of course,” I replied as Sam ran back in and knelt down beside Jane and put a bandage on Felix’s head. I walked over to the pile of cloth that I believed to be Felix’s and picked it up. It was very smelly and felt wet and dirty. I held it away from my dress and thought about the various cleaning materials and towels in the car.
But most of all, it felt wrong, too small, too light, not like a current multiplying parawing.
I turned and left the farmhouse.
“Good luck with your Wetter.” Called Colme after us.
Sam picked up Felix and carried him out to the car. Enid brought Jane, leading her by the elbow as she cried and Father Jacob came out with us.
“I demand to know where you are taking Jane Dray.” He shouted. “This is completely wrong. Jane is mine, you cannot take her from me. You must give her to me now.”
We got in the car and Father Jacob banged on the windows with the flat of his hand shouting as we drove off.
“He seemed a nice man.” Sam said with a smile as we left the farm.
I looked over to the back seat where Felix’s body lay, his head on Jane’s lap and his feet on Enid’s. Jane was stroking his hair and crying quietly.
“He’s still breathing,” whispered Enid to me. I nodded.
“You know Felix is a girl don’t you,” said Jane suddenly.
“OK,” I said, “sorry, we didn’t know. Bill and Ben never said.”
“You know Bill and Ben?” Asked Jane looking up, surprised.
“You know Bill and Ben?” I asked back.
“Felix mentioned them. She seemed to really like them. How do you know about them?”
“Oh, they’re sort of friends, business partners I suppose. They give us information and I send what I can to them. They were supposed to be sending something to me, something Felix was supposed to bring me.”
“She never mentioned that. What was it?”
“Ah, well I am not one hundred percent certain what exactly it was.” Which was a lie, Bill and Ben had been very specific about that and about what it was disguised as, but I needed to find out more about Jane before I was going to let her in on a secret like this.
“She didn’t have much. I think I’ve seen it all. Unless it’s a pointy knife, I’m not sure what else it could be.” She stopped. “It’s not the pointy thing in her hair, it’s not like an ancient relic or something is it? Magical powers or something. Is that why the Priest is so crazy mad?”
“No, no,” I stopped her, “it’s nothing like that. It was some old tech they found underwater. It could really help... the world actually.”
“Fuck,” said Jane, “no, she never mentioned anything like that. How is she still breathing?”
“Ah, yes,” I said, “hang on, time for some music I think.”
I found the CD, Dart Attack and put it on and clicked to track 14.
“What is this shit?” Asked Jane as it started. “Are you trying to kill her?”
“Shh,” I said, “just listen.”
“What the fuck is this? Why?” Jane was getting angry and upset again. “What the fuck is going on?”
“Honestly,” I said, “please just listen. It has really quite a nice sax solo, maybe not as good Shh-Boom, but it’s pretty tight.”
Jane scrunched up her eyes and bent down to kiss Felix’s head.
The song played on. Sam tapped the wheel and I looked out the window and watched the endless wave of stone-topped walls pass us by in a blur.
“We were never sure of the word happysad. Someone once said the proper word to use would be bittersweet, or maybe rueful. But this song is the first one that ever made us feel happysad.”
I turned round. Felix’s eyes were open and Jane was looking up at me then down at Felix and back up at me again.
“Hello,” I said.
“Hello, are you Mint Ubu Linux?” asked Felix.
“I am. And you are?”
“Yes, well Ben would call us Raid.” Sam snorted a loud Hah!
“Yes he did mention that. Do you want to be called Raid?” I asked.
“Not really, we mean we understand why, but we are Felix.”
“You could change it a bit if you wanted, to Felice maybe, it’s bit softer?” I offered.
“Do we need to be softer?” Felix/Raid/Felice asked back.
“No. I just thought maybe as a girl you might prefer a more feminine name.” Sam snorted again. I tried to give her a look which she studiously ignored, eyes on the road.
“Excuse me, what the fuck is going on? Who the fuck is Raid and how the fuck is Felix suddenly better?” Demanded Jane.
“I think,” said Enid quietly, leaning across, “maybe that there are two persons inside Felix, Felice.”
“She’s schizo? She’s not schizo.”
“No. I am not Jane, its not like that. I have two brains inside of me. I am just the other one.”
“Oh fuck, you’re fucking kidding me. Two brains? Bollocks. Small brains make you stupid. You’re not stupid and you can’t fit two brains in that skull.”
“Yes, well,” I began, “Ben was never sure where the other brain was, he suspected in the chest cavity.”
“Oh for fuck’s sake that’s crap. Brains aren’t all used, so there’s a bit of a hole in this bit,” said Jane waving vaguely around the holed area of Felix’s head, “and she’s just managed to route round it a bit.”
“No, Jane,” said Felix, “we really do have two brains. Well, we think we do anyway. We leave it, or we have left it, up to Felix most of the time. And Felix’s memories, Felix’s life is our life, we remember it all, we have it all stored here, but she doesn’t know about us.”
“Nice one Raid,” laughed Sam from the front seat. She put her hand through to the back for a high or maybe low five, but didn’t get one. “Guys you left me hanging.”
Sam pulled her hand back.
“Is Felix dead?” Asked Jane.
“We don’t know, or rather we don’t think so. Felix’s brain is active, we can hear the sort of sub-routines working, maybe patching things up.” Said Felix.
“But she needs a doctor?” Asked Jane.
“Yes please,” said Felix, “we do still have a bullet in our head. Don’t think it went in far though.”
“Looks like a two two calibre hole, probably hasn’t gone in far at all.” I said wanting to join in, wanting to turn the conversation a bit. “Um, Raid?”
“Do you know where the sheeting is? You were carrying some special material, but I don’t see it?”
“The parawing?” asked Felix, I nodded, “the parawing, Ben talked to us about it. Ben thought you were the best person to have it. To share it.”
“That was the idea.”
“To stop one group having it and using it or not using it even.”
“It was a very quick conversation, but that was the gist yes.”
“We don’t have it,”said Felix.
“Yes, I thought that might be the case.” Inside I winced. A lot of effort, a lot of enemies made and I might well have shown too much capability with this case, for what? For nothing.
“Leicester has it,” explained Felix.
“And Leicester is? A city underwater?”
“Leicester is one of our best friends and came on this journey to the wall with us.”
“And Leicester has it because?” I asked.
“Leicester really wanted to fly.” Said Felix as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“Of course he did,” I answered. Could this conversation get any weirder?
“Did he?” asked Sam, who seemed to find the whole thing hilarious.
“Well, it was a difficult trip, but,” started Felix, “Oh dear, I think we’ve got to...”
“Felix?” said Jane, “Felix!”
“Don’t shake her, dear,” said Enid, putting a gentle hand on Jane’s. “I think she needs a rest.”
“Did someone just hold down the power-off button?” Asked Sam.
“Shh.” I said, trying not to make it sound like an order. I think Jane was crying again but I didn’t want to stare. This day had been a whole lot crazier than I had imagined. I had imagined and, I thought, catered for quite a few crazies at that. If Dad got wind of what I had been up to... Well, actually I suppose there wasn’t much he could do nowadays, but there would be a severe frowning at the very least, if not some sort of telling off.
Where was the parawing? Leicester must be a Wetter. Had he, or she of course, things seemed pretty lose in that direction, come through Hulland gate with Felix? Had someone else already got their hand on the tech? Neither Jacob nor Colme had mentioned it. Did that mean something? Or not? Had Trumps or the Scats or bloody WorldEnders got it?
“Jane?” I began, turning slightly to look at her but not so much as to seem interrogating. “Jane, did Felix mention Leicester at all.”
She looked up but shrugged her shoulders.
“I’m not sure, maybe. Like a friend or something. I don’t remember.”
“Did she talk about meeting up with the other... colleagues who had got over the wall?” I noticed that Jane got a bit wary at that point, as if something had occurred to her, something that Felix had said that Jane maybe thought she should not pass on? A secret? About what? About after the wall? What they were doing here? They were coming to me. No they weren’t, only Felix was. I thought maybe the others were cover but maybe that would be a waste. Maybe the others had other missions? What missions could they have had?
I realised I had been staring at Jane.
“Sorry. I shouldn’t pry,” I said, “look, I think we should all get some rest. Sam is going to drive as fast as possible and get Felix to a hospital. We’ll have to get a couple of ferries and probably change cars at some point.”
Sam nodded, tapping the power meter.
“But we will get Felix the best care. I am sure she’ll be OK.” I tried to sound reassuring. “In the meantime, it’s been a long day and I think we could all do with a nap. I know I could.”
I didn’t, of course. Long after the snoring began in the back I was worrying about the parawing, worrying about what the fallout would be from defying the Priests, even if I did have some semi-legal paperwork.
I say semi-legal, it was legal, Prince John had signed it. It’s just that he was prone to not reading things he signed so we would keep a few signed letters ready in the just-in-case folder for, well, moments like these.
It was not like I was going to abandon Jane and Felix. No, I wasn’t like that. But I was starting to collect a menagarie of friends? Associates? Employees and unemployable-ees if truth be known. I tried my best for them but, well things moved on.
Nevertheless, here we were, driving back to Aviemore, where the nearest thing we had to a hospital existed. If Felix survived that long.
I fell asleep on the second ferry that crossed over the old A68, from Slaggyford to Once Brewed. Then we were haring across the Borders and the Lowlands, even getting on a motorway for a bit, the M74, then up the A702, until we got to a Linux-owned speed boat that Enid had phoned ahead for, that took us from Penicuik all the way to the foot of the A9 at Calvine.
There, a second car was waiting for us. We carried Jane and Felix onto it and set off up the A9 just as dawn rose.
At last I fell asleep and dreamt I was in a flying bed. Nice dream.