The Inheritors Chapter 5 – Thomas Ayers, 211 Cavalos Era

Read The Inheritors Chapter 4 – Yu-Ping Chang, 22,360BC

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The Inheritors Chapter 5 – Thomas Ayers, 211 Cavalos Era

 
He rose through layers of thought like a diver rising through the depths, chasing the foreigner in his mind like a bubble seeking the sky. The foreigner entered his mind, a ghost at the edge of his vision, so many times in the past year he’d lost count.

“Who are you? ” he demanded.

Energies normally bled to suture the face of the universe Tommy now caught and manipulated for his own purpose. Curvatures of space were transformed into topologies of mind as he chased the intruder down.

He stopped. A place, a world he’d never experienced before, lay before him, growing and collapsing with his every breath.

He turned. The world surrounded him.

No way in and no way out? How did I get here?

The only way out was up, up through the layers of consciousness to full wakefulness. He rose, but too fast. The bay couldn’t compensate.

He panicked. His entire mind gave itself over to his unique form of thinking, engulfing himself in his own thought’s quantum signature, floating in the energies of his own mind.

The intruding thought floated away, forgotten.

Chasing the intruder required he master the Penrose problem. Doing so revealed another universe, microcosm and cosmos intertwined in ways he’d not conceived.

He rose to someplace new, a place of time-spaces where hours were distances and yardsticks measured time. The Penrose solution occulted a universe of solutions to other problems, answers he’d never thought to question.

“Ah, well, there you are. I knew there was one here. ” The intruder swept through him and Tommy twitched in his bay. His arm fell free and sliced through the light guides communicating his solutions from the mask and the Labyrinth beyond. The sudden severing of thoughts caused the quantum fluctuators to send their gathered energies back into him and he doubled over, a diver trapped with the Bends.

“No.” The voice moved through him like quicksilver. Puddles of lightning bright liquid weight and heavy light formed where the pains were greatest.

The pains ceased. His eyes saw every color he would ever see, his ears heard every sound they would ever hear, his lips and tongue tasted everything there would ever be to taste, his skin sensed everything there would ever be to touch. His body twiched again. Every synapse of his being fired as his own quantum signature collapsed inside him.

The bay reached out and lifted Tommy’s arm back into solace space, careful not to move it through the light guides a second time.

“Nice to meet you young man. Have a good day. ” The intruder pulled away.

“Wait. I disconnected from the BookShelves and you still communicated with me.”

The intruder laughed as it receded down the network of thoughts linking Tommy to the BookShelves and whatever minds lay beyond.

“Please, don’t go. ” Tommy pushed himself into the channels of thought connecting him to the Labyrinth.

The intruder stopped as if to catch its breath during the chase, turning to see if whoever followed still followed, a dog with a sock in its mouth waiting for its master to finish the game. It turned down a corridor and Tommy followed, riding the thought-energy waves as he’d been taught.

He wasn’t fast enough. The intruder pulled away, traveling faster than the thought waves allowed.

“Think, Tommy , ” he ordered himself, Think!

He slipped beneath the waves, into a Dirac Sea of others’ thought. His own thoughts’ signature engulfed him, propelling him into something deeper still, into a darkness which shouldn’t have existed in the brilliance of the Labyrinth, only to surface in a brilliance he’d never seen before.

“Where am I?”

He slammed into a wall that didn’t exist and fell back stunned. The intruder laughed. “What is inside? What is out? ”

Whatever this intruder was, the walls surrounding its thoughts contained energies beyond Tommy’s experience. Perfectly spherical, perfectly smooth. No place for purchase, nothing to hold. The realization came to Tommy as his mind raced over the energies withstanding him. “Complete, completeness.”

The intruder’s voice pulled away again, taking the sphere with it. “A measure of degree measured by the sane on the insane. To you, complete. To others, not so. Those with greater ability are judged by those with abilities greater still, yes?”

“No, don’t go. Please.”

“How do you hold onto something you cannot touch? ” The voice and sphere leapt away before Tommy could form the thought to follow. From somewhere in the matrix of minds and the labyrinth of thoughts he heard the voice echo, “Mind how you go, Thomas. Be careful what path you follow.”

Tommy came up through the remaining layers of thought slowly, letting his rising consciousness calmed him down. He wanted to be terrified. This thing, this Intruder, learned everything about him and he knew nothing about it.

A Librarian touched his arm and he rose from deep thought to ambulance. “Yes? ” His speech was muffled due to the mask.

“Your time is up for today.”

Tommy sat up slowly and swung his legs over the side of his bay. Seated, his body shivering from the coldness of his own thoughts, he waited while the Librarian removed his mask. The Neuroscaphe walls shimmered a verdant [[dull]] green.

“I’ve never noticed this color in here before. This color is reserved for under the palace domes and the parks the Cavalos maintain.’

The color faded.

Tommy asked the Librarian, “How long have you been here?”

“I just arrived.”

“What is your name?”

“SuperString Theory, 1895-2010 Old Calendar.”

“No, no, no. Your name. Do you have a name?”

The Librarian’s eyes flashed a series of colors, violet-orange-red, several times.

“I’m sorry, I could never reproduce that series. Do you have a human name?”

“Someone has called me ‘Bertrand’.”

“Someone brought here by the Travelers?”

“Yes.”

“I’d like to meet him.”

“Her.”

“A girl?”

“A female, yes.”

Tommy’s attention returned to the walls. “What is the color of these walls? ” Librarians detected color by thermal inertia and had a broader visual spectrum than did any other synthetics or humans in this time.

“65 218 62 52 115 9′.

“In Standard, please.”

The Librarian slowly shifted its gaze from the walls to Tommy.

“What is it?”

“You ask a subjective.”

“Sorry. Base color, then, greatest saturation.”

The Librarian’s blisters pulsed through several colors until, like a chameleon hiding from prey, they became the color of the walls they’d just seen.

“That’s the color, yes.”

The outer edges of the blisters wavered in hue briefly and Tommy heard it as a whisper on his skin, “Green. ” The color faded and the Librarian’s blisters quavered in ways Tommy’d never seen before, nor could he make out the sounds.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t understand you.”

“I laughed.”

Tommy stared the Librarian face to face. “Oh, I’m sorry, I missed the joke.”

“We broadcast the colors around us only three times; we are dead, we are hiding, we are stupid. The last is used if we answer what is to us an obvious question.”

Tommy smiled. “I get it, you were saying ‘Duh’. ” He hesitated, balancing on the edge of the bay. “I’m glad the Librarians have a sense of humor, Bertrand.”

“Among ourselves, yes. Even to slaves laughter is free.”

“You are not slaves.”

“Then it would be impossible to laugh.”

Tommy shook his head. Like their language, Librarian thought was complex.

“Is there something else, Tommy?”

“No. Nothing.”


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The Inheritors Chapter 4 – Yu-Ping Chang, 22,360BC

Read The Inheritors Chapter 3 – Reginald Seth Van Gelder, 1635AD

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The Inheritors Chapter 4 – Yu-Ping Chang, 22,360BC

 
The dogs beat her to the kill, so once again she satisfied herself with the tall, dry, yellow-green shoots of the tundra hiding the mouth of her cave. Far below another band of nomads crossed the plain stretching from the base of her mountain to as far as her eyes could see, the nomads moving across the high grasses like seeds blown in the wind. They wore heavy, thick furred coats and boots, meaning they came south before catching the herd trails taking them north and east, the place the old skywalkers called Next Place, the place some called Heaven.

Hidden from view, she sucked what little juices she could from the stalks in her mouth and wiped the core resins on her skin to mask her scent. The nomads were dirty and smelled, but their dogs knew their masters’ scent and would bark if they got wind of hers. Then these nomads would rush up her mountainside with their stone knives and spears, barbarians whose children were of less use to them than their dogs. At least their dogs would get something to eat.

She spit out a shoot that had nothing left to offer and pulled a tick from her hair, crushing it between her fingers then licking the juices back in. The nomads’ dogs weren’t all tame. Some would hunt their masters as well as hunt with them, an uneasy truce Yu-Ping used when she could. This was the third such party she’d seen, another slow procession to pass the day, the first so long ago she could not count it.

But oh, that day.

Others in her band came running, warning of hunters marching through their lands. Her family and others sought refuge in the mountains the skywalkers said gave them birth. There they escaped the sickness of those first wanderers. Those of her band that did not die on the tundra from the wanderers’ breath died by their hand and were eaten. For that she could not blame them. Many of the herds found their way to the Next Place long before any people followed leaving nothing to eat. Often those in her own band waited impatiently for one of the old ones to die, or in some cases, if the old one had no one, hurried them along.

Her belly ached when those first wanderers came. She climbed further up the mountain than did others in her band. That’s when she heard the horror and, fascinated, followed it to its source: a bear and a tiger rending each other limb from limb at the mouth of a cave, a cave in time she would call her own.

She never saw anything like it, never heard of anything like it. No elder spoke of such a thing. The bear and tiger fought fiercely but for what? Her mouth opened to call the others but her words were silenced by their roars.

She watched for what seemed like days as these two great beasts circled and mauled each other. Blood poured from them, skanks of fur hung from exposed bones, until finally both fell, exhausted or dead she did not know.

What caused these two great ones to battle each other? Powerful magic, this. Old ones and the skywalkers talked of such things but never anything so dramatic as this. Seeing these two animals fight would shape her life, this she knew. It must. She would make it the mission of her life to find out why these two great spirits fought until both lay dead.

She would.

Yes, as soon as she rejoined her band, she would tell them and she would do this.


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The Inheritors Chapter 3 – Reginald Seth Van Gelder, 1635AD

Read The Inheritors Chapter 2 – Tommy Ayers, 210 Cavalos Era

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The Inheritors Chapter 3 – Reginald Seth Van Gelder, 1635AD

 
He woke up terrified. And pleased. Nothing — Nothing! — Father ever told him mentioned anything like this.

Addie, his nurse since suckling babe, came in at his first stirrings. “Young Master?”

He wanted her to take him to her breast as she had for every fall, every come-uppance, every insult since first he walked.

Instead he pulled his bedsheets tighter around him, feeling naked for the first time before the woman who had washed him since birth.

His young sister Sharon called him from the hall. “It is morning, Seth. Come out and play.”

“Close the door.”

Addie stared at him. “Master Reginald?”

“Close the door , ” he shrieked.

She closed the door behind her and approached his bed.

“Stay.”

Her dark, Welsh-coal hands fell against her white apron and black skirts. “Master Reginald, it is Addie here. ” She raised her arms to embrace him and started towards him again.

“No. ” He struck his foot to the frame beneath the covers of the bed.

She turned and opened the door. “I will get your father. He will see to this. ” She stared at him from the doorway, “full-rigged ” as Father said when talking with his chums.

Seth did not answer. She closed the door and left.

He pulled the scattered bedclothes around him, feeling himself and something else, something new and different recently come from him.

One of his mother’s nurses knocked on his door. “Are you well, Reginald?”

“Yes. quite well.”

The lie sickened him. Something was different today. The childish-fat still clinging to his chest and stomach and arms and face, something Addie rubbed to a fine glow yesterday to make him laugh, not to be touched today.

Not to be touched by Addie.

Father’s heavy steps came down the hall. The door opened and Father stood there, short and solid, balding without his wig but with his mustache perfumed and stiffened until it curled like some vizer’s sword upon his face.

“Get out, ” Seth shrieked.

Father lifted a rod he’d hidden behind him. “That so? Get out yourself, then. Get out of that bed I’ve given you and then get out of this house.”

Mother rushed up behind him and pulled the rod from his hand. “No, James. Please. You know the boy. It’s his fits. It’s not him at all.”

Father bloodied her nose and took the rod from her. “A fit, is it? We’ll see to that. Get out of bed, Reginald. Do you hear me? ” He lifted the rod over his head again. “Get out of that bed.”

Addie came back and stood behind Father. She rested a dark hand on Father’s arm and, upon seeing her, he put the rod down and stared at his wife.

“A fit is it he’s had? See to him, then.”

Addie curtsied to Mother and Father alike. “Yes, Master James. ” She closed the door behind her as they left. “You are well, Master Reginald?”

Seth tensed, hoping to stifle the quivering of his chin, to squeeze shut the watering of his eyes. He promised himself not one summer ago to no longer suffer Father’s rages.

It was no use. His own rage grew at each failed attempt.

Father was correct. He, Reginald Seth Van Gelder, was less than a worthless churl, some high-toby gloak, not fit to be seen by Father’s eyes.

His rage turned inward once again. What had he done? What warranted such rage between Father and son?

Is this the proper fit in every London house?


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Inheritors Chapter 2 – Tommy Ayers, 210 Cavalos Era

Read The Inheritors Chapter 1 – Roland “Ro” Ayers, 27 June 1994

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The Inheritors Chapter 2 – Tommy Ayers, 210 Cavalos Era

 
“Waek uuhp, Tohmee. Waek uuhp.”

What was Uncle Reynard doing here? Wasn’t he back in Europe? Any second now he’d break into some Romani folksong, some proudful tune of the Hungarian Gypsy people as his hands snuck under the covers to tickle Tommy and Ro awake.

Tommy reached for Ro with his foot but Ro wasn’t on his side of the bed. He must already be awake. Probably had to pee. Ro always had to pee first thing in the morning. Tommy snuggled under the covers, searching for Ro’s warm spot, wanting to stretch into it, to draw comfort from it.

“Tohmee. Kuuhm ohn. Waek uuhp.”

Each word, each syllable, had a note, a tone, associated with it, as if each sound were a small piece of music complete in itself.

But that was Uncle Reynard, his voice breathy and mellow and with a touch of laughter even when he talked to himself.

“Ha. I still sing grandma and grandpa’s songs with this strong Gypsy heart,” and Uncle Reynard would thump his chest with his mutilated, three-fingered left hand. Poor Uncle Reynard. He always lost watches because he refused to wear them on his other arm, where a full hand would stop them from sliding off or flying away. He held up that mutilated hand like a badge of honor. “I don’t mind I lost this hand. You remember, Sam?” he would ask Poppa. “I never forget that. The SS man sits up in the back, we didn’t even know he was there, then tells us to jump and pushes us from the car. He tried to kill us, telling us to jump and pushing us like that, then the car goes and explodes right after we jump out.” Uncle Reynard and Papa were the only ones to escape The Camps when Hitler gathered the Families.

But he laughed about his hand and made fun of himself, his accent so strong it cut into Tommy’s consciousness like strong coffee on a cold, winter morn.

“Tohmee. Waek uuhp.”

Something gently shook his shoulder. A gentle, muffled shaking with each word.

Couldn’t be Uncle Reynard. He came in like rolling thunder, always hugging and kissing and jumping and tugging, always wanting Ro and Ceilly and Tommy to play. He would grab each boy by the belt, one in each hand, lift them to his face and brush his whiskers against them. “Which of you is the heavier today? “He’d shake them one at a time as if deciding. “Everything should balance, you two, you just don’t know it.”

Tommy rolled under the covers. Pumpkin pie. He could smell Mama’s pumpkin pie baking in the oven.

That wasn’t right. Mama never made pumpkin pie for breakfast. Not even for Uncle Reynard.

Sleep yielded to consciousness. Uncle Reynard’s accent resolved itself into Standard. “Tommy. Wake up. You are needed in the Neuroscaphe.”

The gentle shaking continued. Tommy opened his eyes. One of the Librarians stood next to his bed, the two blisters where its eyes should have been still pulsing their message as he moved. The gentle shaking came from the thermal pressure of the Librarian’s “speech” on Tommy’s skin, like knowing there is a candle by feeling a spot of warmth in a cold room.

Tommy sat up. The covers tucked themselves under him and onto the bed. The Community sensed his movement and adjusted itself to allow more light into the room. The Librarian’s head followed him a second later like a whale searching for its echo.

“Good morning, Reynard. You are Reynard, aren’t you?”

The blisters, dark and cold as the Librarian fell silent, heated and pulsed red again. “No. I am the one you call ‘Roland’ and ‘Ro’. Your brother’s name, was it not? Reynard, named for your uncle who will have died in five years, is waiting.”


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The Inheritors Chapter 1 – Roland “Ro” Ayers, 27 June 1994

I wrote this chapter as a separate short story (originally entitled “Uncle Tommy”) on the date indicated in the title above. I sent it out once. The editor wrote me a scathing letter about encouraging juvenile suicide. I met them at a con a few months later. “Did you read the story to the end?”

“I didn’t have to. You encouraged juvenile suicide. I stopped there.”

Yeah, well.

Two years later I acquired an agent. She read through my work and singled out “Uncle Tommy” as something to reconsider. “There’s something more here. More story. Take a couple of months and see if you can come up with a novel. She also told me she had a publisher who was interested in “fantasies using a Christian Mythos.”

Two months later I handed her The Inheritors. She read it. She gave it to the head of her agency. He read it. She arranged for a concall for the three of us. We talked for about an hour. He repeated “To come up with a novel in two months is amazing. Two come up with this novel in two months is incredible” several times during the conversation.

Well, it turned out the publisher didn’t want a fantasy using a Christian Mythos so much as she wanted a Christian Fantasy complete with Jesus, the Apostles, the church as Holy Mother, …, which I definitely didn’t write.

The agent was incensed. With me. How come I didn’t write a Christian Fantasy? “Because you told me to write a fantasy using a Christian Mythos.” (which I definitely did write)

Rather than shop the novel around, the agent kept asking for rewrites. I kept asking for guidelines, as in “Don’t tell me to make it bluer, tell me what color of blue you want it to be” which got the response, “No, you figure it out. Bluer!”

I finally asked the agent the relationship ending question, “How many manuscripts have you placed?”

That got the response, “I can’t work with someone who won’t give me what I ask for.”

A few months back I got it out, dusted it off, began reading.

Yes, it needs some work. My style has changed a lot since the 1990s.

Let me know what you think.

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Inheritors Chapter 1 – Roland Ayers, 27 June 1994

 

Hello, Little One. Oh, such hugs and kisses in the middle of all these tears. Your momma says it was a bad day for you at school.

What?

You want Uncle Ro to tell you a story? Something to make you laugh?

No?

You want me to tell you about Uncle Tommy? I’ve told you about Uncle Tommy so many times, you know it better than I do!

Okay, okay. Come up here on the rocker with me, up on my lap, and rest your head over my heart so you can hear my love for you.

Here we go.

This happened a long time ago, back before you were born, back before I was even your age, when Uncle Tommy and me and your momma still lived with Grandma and Grandpa.

Yes, and Rusty, I won’t forget Rusty. He was everybody’s dog but he was really your Uncle Tommy’s dog.

You remember Grandma’s house? With all the woods out back?

Well, that house was old even when we lived there. The windows and doors, they always creaked. Some people called it spooky, the way the doors creaked and closed when you walked, but we didn’t think so.

The house smelled so rich and so good with Grandma cooking and baking. Thick rye breads and custard tarts and lemon squares and oh! my mouth waters thinking about it. Every day Grandpa told us stories about the people where he worked fixing cars and he’d act out all the people — Fat Mr. Bonomo who always wanted to help people but couldn’t fit under a car unless it was up on a lift and Thin Miss Lukasie who flirted with every customer who came in and Little Jimmy Foster, poor guy had some kind of birth defect. His head was too big for his body and his eyes always seemed half shut. But a nice guy, a sweet guy — and we’d laugh.

Laugh, laugh, laugh! So much laughter in that house!

Your Uncle Tommy told stories, too, but not funny ones like Grandpa told and Tommy’s stories didn’t have lots of people in them. Tommy talked about places and things — the imagination he had! — none of us knew what the heck he was talking about but boy could he keep us going. It was so real what he’d say. You could touch it and taste it and see it and smell it and feel it. Even Rusty sat quiet, listening to your Uncle Tommy, and then he’d howl when Uncle Tommy finished and we’d all laugh because it was like Rusty understood even though we did not.

Your Uncle Tommy, he knew things he had no way to know. Things you’d have to be in college to know and I’m not even sure you’d know it then. Star Wars stuff, crazy stuff.

One time he picked up one of Grandpa’s steel brushes. The handle was a metal coil. Well, Tommy looks at it and turns in around in his hand so he’s holding the brush and the coil is pointing away and he says, “With the right capacitance bridge network we could set up an induction field with this.”

Your mom and Grandma and Grandpa and I just nodded. We had no idea what he meant but he did. Sometimes he’d say these things in front of other people. One time he and I went with Grandpa to his work on a Saturday and Tommy said something like that and Jimmy Foster said, “I think you’ve been watching too many Buck Rogers movies, Tommy.”

Tommy looks at Jimmy Foster, shakes his head and walks away.

But Jimmy Foster, he goes, “I don’t understand Tommy. Help me understand” and that’s all your Uncle Tommy needed and he’s going on and on and Little Jimmy Foster, he’s a head and a half taller than Tommy, and he’s nodding and Uh-huhing and Hmming and saying “What about this part? And what about this part?” like he knows what Uncle Tommy’s talking about.

Uncle Tommy, he’s so happy, he’s helping somebody understand.

But come Monday, your Uncle Tommy, he doesn’t want to go to school, he wants to go with Grandpa to work. He’s got more ideas on how to make things work and he wants to share them with Little Jimmy Foster.

But Jimmy’s not there. He didn’t come in to work that day or the next, he didn’t call, and when Mr. Peters who owns the garage calls the house where Jimmy Foster stays they say, “Jimmy who?” They never heard of him.

Oh, your Uncle Tommy he almost died. The first time someone maybe understands him, pays real attention to him, and they’re gone and there’s no way to find them. Oh, how he cried.

“Someday I’ll find him,” Tommy says.

And we all say, “Good, Tommy. You will. We know someday you will.”

Your Uncle Tommy and I were twins and shared a room. Your momma had the room next to ours in that big old house. When Uncle Tommy wasn’t in our room he was out back in the woods with Rusty or reading books and Rusty’d be right on the bed with him. I spent most of my time in the garage playing with Grandpa’s tools. I’d get so involved in what I was doing I wouldn’t hear Grandma calling me for lunch or dinner. I remember more than once the big spring that opened the garage door would snap and whatever I was working on would go flying, it gave me such a fright! That spring used to snap up quick and I always had to get Uncle Tommy to help me close it down because I wasn’t heavy enough.

Grandpa’s garage was a palace of wonders to me, but not like Uncle Tommy. I could fix things but Uncle Tommy, he made things and didn’t have to use tools to do it.

One time he made me a little paddle boat out of a block of wood, playing cards, paperclips, and a rubber band. Can you beat that? So simple and it would go across a pond if you let it. I lost it long ago, though. One day it just disappeared. No idea what happened to it.

Uncle Tommy and your mom and me, we’d all go to the movies together when we were kids. Movies were different than the movies now. For one thing, in our town you had to go to Wade Smith’s Proud Union Movie House to see them, they didn’t come into your home on your phone or computer. We didn’t have computers in our homes when we were kids. Oh, yes, I know, we’re so old!

So there we were, sitting in the movies on a Saturday afternoon watching what they called a “horrorthon,” playing one movie right after another, kind of like bingeing now but you had to go to a movie theater all day to see it. We watched Zaat, The Island of Doctor Moreau, Trog, and The Mutations.

Your mother hated those movies but Grandma said she was older than us and had to watch out for us. Your mom would sit there going “Eeyeww! Eeyeww!” and covering her eyes and we’d be laughing and making fun of the movies, they were so bad.

Now on this day, there’s this guy sitting behind us. He listened to us talk and he laughed at our jokes and he said things to us about what we said.

But mostly he talked with Tommy. At the end of the horrorthon he gives your momma his card and asks if Grandma and Grandpa can call sometime.

Well, Grandma and Grandpa told us never to talk to strangers and your momma and I got real mad at Tommy because he broke the rule, but that was Tommy, always making his own rules so long as nobody got hurt by them.

Anyway, when we got home, your momma kept that man’s card hid.

Two weeks later who shows up at our door? That same man. We think he showed up earlier because Rusty, he puts up a fuss! He’s barking and yelping like the devil himself set the house on fire, then he stops, snap! Just like that.

Anyway, about an hour later Rusty goes to the door and he’s growling and barking and then comes a ring at our door.

Grandma opens the door and there he is. “Hello, Mrs. Ayers.”

“Hello.”

“I’d like to talk to you about one of your sons.”

“I’d like to know your name.”

Your momma peeks out of the kitchen and this guy smiles at her, smiles like he knew she wouldn’t show Grandma his card all along.

“My name’s Fernberg. Joel Fernberg.”

“Fernberg? That’s a Jewish name?”

He looks shocked for a second, like he didn’t know he had a Jewish name. “I suppose it is.”

“Has one of my boys done something wrong, Mr. Fernberg?”

“No, no. Not at all.” He gives grandma one of his cards. “I’m with the government. One of your sons, Thomas, we think he’s a very special boy. We’d like to test him with some other children.”


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