Eternity - ConradPeace / Col. Jaap Schoonraad

“Why you?”

She half-turns from where she's staring out at the sound of the universe. She smiles. “Silly thing, really. A plan gone wrong. They were going to replace me…”

“To get to me?”

“Of course, dad.”

“But they didn't.”

“Not in the end. The things they were using, too… unstable, too unpredictable. And too many people paying attention to what had happened.”

“People like me?”

“People like you.”

Catharina flashes him a bright smile and adjusts his grip. “There. Lean into it now. Sumbitch has recoil like a mule.”

He breathes deeply and narrows his eyes against the bright, burning-bronze sun. Nibiru - visible by day, sometimes, the way the moon used to be in autumn; but bigger, closer, and red as blood - looms in his peripheral vision.

“Exhale. That's it. It's all about your breathing.”

A mule kicks him in the shoulder. Nearly a kilometre away, a puff of dust explodes from the rocks.

“What did it used to be like, Uncle Conrad? When people lived in cities?”

Jaap smiled down at the kid. “Well, lots of people do still live in cities, son. We just prefer not to…”

“Because of the lizards?”

“Well, partly because of them. And the government men, and the soldiers, and the drugs in the water.”

“Tell us a story about the government men and the soldiers, Uncle Conrad!”

“Well, once upon a time…”

“Look, brother, all we're trying to say is–”

“Get off my land, please.”

He's polite, cultured, educated; that faint clipped European accent that is so hard to trace. Greatly at odds with the wild, uncombed beard and the shotgun in his hand.

“Brother, we–”

“I'm not your brother. I have no interest in you people any more.”

She walks through the night on silent feet, and she pads up to the door of his caravan and slips inside like she belongs there.

He doesn't look up from his coffee. “Hello.”

“Hello, dad.”

She's torn and wild-looking, barefoot and dusty from the road. Maybe she walked here, or ran on all fours.

“Did she suffer much?”

It hurts him to ask, but he has to know. It's been so long.

“No. It was quick, easy. She was there, then she was gone.” She is quite beautiful, wearing the skin like she was born in it. She fiddles with a strand of hair just like his daughter used to, and his heart nearly breaks. “I can do the same for you…”

He closes his eyes. Automatic little motions of his hands pat the newspaper clippings together in a neat stack in the file in front of him. He closes the file and turns to face her.

There is a brilliant light.

“I hoped you'd make it.”

She's breathing, and beautiful, and all around him. She's twice as beautiful as the thing that wore her skin, back in the trailer.

“Why you?”

He doesn't even know where he is, what he is, but he has to know. Even now, he has to know.

The foreigner's death is nothing much at first. A crazy old man dying in a trailer is not exactly the world's greatest worry. But then some temp PA to the coroner's assistant secretary happens to glance over one of the files recovered, and she shows her boss. And she shows her boss, and soon…

It blows the entire thing wide open.

eternity/conradpeace.txt · Last modified: 2010/03/09 13:19 by helen
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