Terraplane

Terraplane by Jack Womack

Book: Terraplane by Jack Womack Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jack Womack
Tags: Fiction, Literary
Extamyl.
That'll sedate." His face shone as if flame-glazed. "Shock's forestall
essentialled. Hospitaling's sole certification. "
    "Her other case's frontways?"
    He nodded; eyed me updown. "You'll need stitching, judging
the flow "
    Moving upaisle I touched hand to head, and felt as if I'd drawn
knife through brain; detected, still, that my wounds weren't overlarge, and had ceased to bleed. "What's with your arm?" I asked,
finding her stray case.
    "Shoulder's dislocated," he said; looking at his pale-lit features,
tightdrawn as if embalmed, I saw how more bloodless than usual
his face showed. "Let's exit first. Assist me, popping it back once
outside. What's sought, Luther?"
    "My cam," I said. "It's gone."
    "Gone?"
    "While he was upright," I said, "he must have plucked it. Kept it
on him. After he slammed me the first time I heard him scrabbling." I tossed aside debris and nonrecoverables, hoping for its
reappearance.
    "Then it went with him," Jake said, eyeing the door. "We
weren't too high when I birded him. He swipe the tracker you
held?"
    "No." Feeling it in my jacket pocket, I pulled it, switched it on.
Two dots blinked thereon: hers and his. Underscreen the green
winked bright.
    "Survived?"
    "Looks so. Whether cam and cassette did is another matter-"
    "Will not matter," Oktobriana said, shifting beneath blanket's
wrap, her face frost's color.

    "Why?" I asked.
    "Sanya adjusted cassette I had," she said. "In event of capture
and abuse by unapproved."
    "Adjusted how?"
    "Ours takes us over. Will not bring us back." Jake and I stared at
each other momentslong.
    "Can you readjust?" I asked; if we had it still, I should have
added.
    "Don't know," she said. "Sanya was only one to work out final
principle." She blinked her eyes quickly, as if signaling. "Caused
great rift between us, his paranoia-"
    "Why didn't you tell-"
    "No other option at time of use," she said, barely audible. "Correct? Your option. Mine. We live with unavoidable decisions-"
    The Extamyl took; she nodded, and slept. For the moment there
was much to do and naught that could yet be known. Jake pressed
her hand as if to warm a fallen sparrow, so that it wouldn't be cold
when it died. "Sleep," he said, winding her blanket closer about
her. "Sleep now" After a moment's silence, Jake laughed.
    "What?" I asked, wishing to be home; knowing we wouldn't be
soon.
    "Your friend's trick retricked," he chuckled, his laugh slowing
every few seconds, whenever shoulder pain overwhelmed. "Hoped
to strand us and return to glory, undoubted."
    "We are stranded," I reminded. Jake, excluding logic's sobriety,
ignored. Under circumstance his was surely the wiser reaction.
"We've got to hospital ourselves. He'll stay where he fell, surely.
We'll return for him. You've the Shrogin?" Freehanding, he
flipped it from undercoat. "I'll do the cases. Hoist her. Let's exit."
    Cradling her onehanded beneath her hips, he downaisled
towards the door; I trailed, heaving cases. Feeling greater warmth, I
left my coat behind, estimating to later retrieve. Shallow water
lapped entranceways; sauna's air beaded us with sudden sweat. Jake
peered outside, and deadstopped, his thinned smile gone.
    "Fucking O'Malley-" he said, barely heard. I looked. To the
horizon showed nothing but an ocean of grassy waves, in which
our plane floated like a great stabbed whale. Night breeze rustled the cattails, sending forth modal notes; insects buzzed and chirped
and peeped as in entomologist's dream. Laying foot in ankle-deep
water, we circled our sight. Southwestways deep orange evidenced
Newark's poison sky; eastways, beyond the ridge safeguarding Jersey's ports from inland attack, rose the Empire State Building.
South direct, kilometers distant, I discerned a trestle rising above
the limitless marsh. A train rolled over its length, wailing its
warning; the call split the darkness with long-whistling whine,
echoing through the wet, still night. Northward, a few hundred

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