Thursday, January 4, 2018

1/4/18

The Traveler
By Peter McMillan


Wendall enjoyed life here as a carefree traveller, unburdened and unchained by anything this-worldly. There was just one problem. He had been recalled to complete his two-year compulsory service on the frontier of NGC9860. Because his father was a prominent admiral in the war against the rebels, Wendall couldn't avoid the draft. His departure date was two days away, and there was so much he hadn't seen, having spent all his time in North America.

Brigitte was his new love. He met her late morning at the Gulf station in Pittsburg, when he was thumbing a ride on Highway 3 in northern New Hampshire hoping to disappear in Canada. Just past the park forest, he told her he didn't have any papers. "No problem. You can ride in the trunk. Won't be more than 15 minutes. My uncle is Canada Border Services. He'll wave me through." Wendall looked at the Subaru and tried to convince himself it would be worth it. That wasn't when he fell in love with her. That came later. But he did start thinking she might be a help.

At lunch over rabbit stew and poutine, he told her his problem. Unfazed, Brigitte said, "Well, we'll just have to find someone to go back for you. Now finish up and we'll drive over to Quebec City for the night." He'd never told his story to a human before, and he knew how most humans felt about aliens, so he was pleased and surprised that she took in every bit. That evening over dinner, Brigitte laid out her plan. She'd obviously given it some thought.

They needed a passive host who could be easily managed. "I have chloroform. I use it to euthanize mangled animals caught in vicious traps laid by trappers." That was when he fell in love with her. He was so relieved to have a plan the contradictions escaped him.

The next morning, they crossed the St. Lawrence and drove to L'Anse-au-Griffon at the far end of the Gaspé Peninsula. They waited until dark and spent the evening in a local inn. It was after 2:30 in the morning before they spotted him. The old man was blind drunk.

They followed him outside where he stumbled along the road. Once out of sight from the inn, Brigitte walked up beside him and stuck her leg out to trip him. He went down with a thud and an "Umph." She then chloroformed him. "Get the scalpel in my purse," she said. He knew what to do next. "The chip is set to malfunction mid-transport causing a fatal accident. There will be nothing left of me," Wendall said with a laugh.

Suddenly the drunk awakened and began to fight back. In the struggle, Wendall stabbed him in the eye and blood poured, but the drunk continued to resist. Brigitte stepped in to hold him, but he was too strong. He kicked them both away and lurched and shuffled back to the inn, screaming "Mon Dieu! My eye. I can't see. He stabbed me in my eye." "Let him go," said Brigitte.

"If I'm not back in five Earth hours, a search and rescue team will be dispatched," said Wendall, "but right now we should be worried that the Sûreté will be after us very soon."

"That's not your biggest worry," said Brigitte. "Wendall, I've really enjoyed your company, but I'm not from Earth. I'm with the Resistance, and you have to come with me. The Empire will pay a high price to get the great Admiral's son back. Let's go. Without our decoy, we've got less time."


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The author is an ESL instructor who lives with his wife and one remaining flat-coated retriever, Ollie, on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario.


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