Terry Henry Walton Short Story
Joseph & Petricia
Terry and Char stood on a Treasure Island shore, looking out on the bay. Ships were in various stages of coming and going. The engine droning did not detract from the peace of the scene.
“Civilization,” Terry said.
“Humanity has found its purpose again,” Char added.
“Yes. Beyond survival. That Maslow guy was pretty smart. Once the basic needs are taken care of, people can focus on other things. But there’s still a lot of scratching in the dirt to survive out there.”
The beachhead of civilization would expand outward, giving people more and more purpose. Like history had taught them, people would flock to the cities for a taste of the good life, until that good life was shared in the country, then people would emigrate from the congestion and the turmoil of the big city.
The farms were king, but they were close to the cities. They would be pushed out, farther away, as they had been before. Not yet, but someday.
Terry and Char held hands, accepting the silence of the moment, drinking in the earthly air. They weren’t sure when, but they’d soon board a ship, take it to the Annex Gate, and fly to another galaxy. They hoped to meet Bethany Anne, the Empress of the Federation. She would be busy, as Empresses tended to be, but TH could always hope. Char was more reserved. She wasn’t sure about meeting the Queen Bitch herself. Char had been the alpha bitch for over a century.
She was afraid of getting on BA’s wrong side with an errant thought. If Akio was there, he could vouch for her. She remembered her first exchange with the Queen’s Bitch.
That could have gone better. Terry had done everything except grovel at Akio’s feet.
She chuckled to herself. Terry looked at her, then returned to watching the small waves slap gently at the shore.
They both heard the sound of approaching footsteps. They were measured, but light. Terry didn’t need to turn around and look. He’d heard them before. Char sensed the etheric energy within them.
“Joseph. Petricia. Thanks for joining us,” Terry said. The Forsaken nodded, holding hands, and watching the bay.
“Have you guys gone crabbing recently?” Terry asked, finally turning to face his friends.
Petricia rolled her eyes.
“Not yet,” Joseph replied. She cocked her head and looked at him. “We may not.”
Char coughed to hide her laugh.
“I never took you for one to …” Terry fought valiantly to find the right word. Three pairs of eyes watched him intently. Char and Petricia’s looks became glares. Joseph started shaking his head. “Dammit! You never really liked crabbing, did you?”
“I have to admit that I did at first, then I didn’t, then I did again. It was nice being successful at something like that. And it wasn’t just me. Andrew was a natural. His joy at doing it was infectious. You’re right. It wouldn’t be the same going out now.”
Terry bit his lip, upset with himself for bringing it up. To Joseph, it had been only a few weeks since he last saw Andrew. To TH, it had been sixteen years since the Forsaken had died.
“We mourned a long time,” Terry started. “For Andrew, for Destiny Chase, for all those we lost. We’re finally in a position to move on. I will tell you this again, but I could not be happier that we finally found you. Alive.”
“Us, too. I’m all about being alive,” Joseph said, trying to keep it light, but his face darkened with his mood as he thought about his friend Andrew.
“Enough of this. It’s time to celebrate the next step in our journey. When Bethany Anne returns with her fleet, we’re going to board one of the ships, the FDG, both the tac teams and some of the regular warriors. I would you like you two to come with us to the stars, my friend.”
Joseph and Petricia looked at each other. She wasn’t sure. Too much had happened in too short a time. Joseph took a deep breath, closed his eyes and appreciated the moment.
When he opened his eyes again, he looked calm.
“The world descends into an age of madness,” he began in a voice free of doubt. “And an age of expansion. Like the wild west of the 1800s, people race into the great unknown of the new cities, the Wasteland to find their fortune. Alas, Earth holds no allure for one such as I, trapped between the good and the evil that is mankind.”
Joseph pulled Petricia close and hugged her tightly. His wide-brimmed hat blocked his face. Terry and Char watched as his tears splashed on the black leather covering Petricia’s shoulder. She sobbed in his arms, briefly, before stepping back, wiping her eyes with a delicate finger, and smiling at her husband.
“Sometimes, one must grieve in their own way. I wish I had a beer to share with you, so we could toast appropriately.”
“As do I. It’s never too early for beer, is it, Joseph?”
Char shook her head.
“We want you to come with us. Help us with whatever lies ahead,” Char added.
“Sounds good,” Petricia said.
“You heard the woman. Reserve us a window seat on the express train to the stars.”
Joseph offered his hand. Terry grabbed it and yanked Joseph into a one-armed man hug.
“I am ready to go, my man. Right now!” Terry exclaimed.
“Hang on…” Char started to say before slapping Terry’s shoulder. He laughed, picked her up, and danced on the bay shore.
“Where you go, we will follow,” Joseph whispered.
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