Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Chapter Thirty-six

They worked their way through the forest. It turned out to be a thin band, no more than a mile wide. When they crossed it, they found themselves at another open field, but this time, on the horizon there were buildings. Low, one story structures that looked as if they were made of adobe and hadn't been repaired in a long time.

With the image enhancer Price could pick up addtional detail. Doors were missing from hinges and the roofs of some had collapsed. The wall of one had fallen in and there were hints of weeds overrunning parts of the built up area. There was no sign of life.

"What do you see?" asked Coollege.

Price ignored the question and asked Monier, "Are you picking up something? Anything?"

Monier shook her head.

"Shit," said Coollege. "This isn't doing us any good at all."

Price couldn't help himself. He said, "You were concerned about her reading minds and now you don't believe her. You think that she is something of a fraud."

"I just don't want my life in the hands of someone who believes in ESP."

He stared at her for a long moment and then shook his head. "I don't want to cross that open field until dark," said Price changing the subject.

"I'll get the radio set for the next check," said Coollege.

Monier said, "What can I do?"

"Keep watch on the city. If you see anything move, let me know. Try to find out where the enemy is located. We know there are living beings on this planet. I'd like to know where they're hiding."


Coollege dropped her pack and pulled the radio out. She turned it on and checked the tiny red light. Satisfied the set was working, she put the small piece of tape over it so that the light would be invisible at night.

"We need to stand by for a message," she said. "It'll be broadcast in about fifteen minutes."

"That scheduled?"

"Nope. They're putting out a message to repeat every few minutes. I'm not going to acknowledge," said Coollege.

Price looked at his watch and then up into the sky. The sun was now closer to the horizon but he didn't think it would be dark for several hours. The day seemed to last longer than that on Earth. That was something he should have learned before he'd been dropped on the planet. There were a hundred, thousand little things that should have been discovered. They were moving too fast. They were outracing their knowledge an that was the quickest way to get into trouble.

Coollege saw the thin metal tape begin to unwind itself from the interior of the radio. She read it and when the message ended it, ripped it from the machine. She handed it over to Price.

"Things are beginning to move."

Price read it. "They're launching an invasion tonight? What the hell are they thinking?"

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