Monday, February 15, 2010

the seventeenth letter, part 34

for previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning click here

the bus for jupiter was a couple of minutes early. country girl and leslie, and tomboy and susan, stood aside to let it pass as it entered the 1473 parking lot. then they all headed up to the bus stop. it was still dark.
"the bus is police only," country girl told tom and susan.

"so have your papers ready. the driver will probably take our word for it that you are rookies, but he might not."
"how long do we have to wait?" susan asked. she sat down in the shelter beside leslie.

"half an hour, forty-five minutes," leslie answered. "once in a while they are early."
"it's a little chilly out here," tom said. "why not wait inside?"
"because," country girl told her, "if we hang around inside, they can find another job, and then we have to stay until we finish it. now, it's possible they can come out and get us here, but it has to be pretty extreme for them to do that."

"you have to stay until you finish?" susan asked. "what if you only have a minute to go?"
"it doesn't matter," leslie answered. "you finish what you start. we are hours late right now, because we had to go all the way to the 252nd to arrest you guys. but we still have to show up on time for the next shift. "

"do you get paid overtime when that happens?" tom asked.
country girl and leslie both laughed. "you're a student of history, tom," country girl smiled at her.
"we're lucky to get paid at all," leslie told her.

"did i hear somebody shouting over there?" country girl said.

"you see, that's why we come out here."
"somebody's probably making a break for it," leslie added. "i think i can guess who."
country girl laughed. "the little ones get away."
"studies prove it."

with the departure of tomboy and susan, only five females were left from the wagonload of prisoners country girl and leslie had brought in.

the bus pulled up at the front door and amethyst and grogan, without being asked, got up to round up the five - antonia, bettina, pippi , and two others.

amethyst retrieved pippi from the far corner, took the cuffs off her feet and hands and followed her down to the open front door.

grogan was standing between the other four and the bus

and fred was signing a paper on a clipboard for the bus driver.

pippi took a couple of quick skips forward and looked at grogan from between antonia and bettina.

"why is the rumble on the rabbit?" she asked him.

pippi pushed antonia into grogan. he only lost his balance for a second, but it created a little gap that she jumped through behind antonia and out into the night.

grogan swiped at her but missed her.
fred shouted and raised the driver's clipboard as if to slam it to the ground but restrained himself and handed it back to the driver.

"all right, this is just a nuisance. go on, start looking for her," he told grogan. to amethyst he said, "get these four on the bus and then you start."

fred looked back into the station. the first eyes he met were schweik's.
"we're going on rp in a little while," schweik told fred.
'all right, you two stay here and watch these others. and moe, you stay here too,

" fred told the biggest robot, a corporal. "the rest of you, get out here and find this master criminal."

the rest - elephant girl and three robots - got up from the benches.
"i can't wait around more than a few minutes," the bus driver said. "i will probably have to leave without her."
"i understand that.'"

amethyst made sure antonia, bettina and the two other women got on the bus. then she joined the search for pippi.

two robots, one old model on wheels, and a slightly newer one, took charge of the four women and guided them to seats on the half empty bus. antonia and bettina glanced at each other. the robots were carrying sticks, the first the prisoners had seen since they were arrested.

antonia and bettina were seated beside each other about three quarters of the way back in the bus.

the other two women were seated further back and the two robots took seats in the last row.
antonia looked over at bettina after glancing back at the robots.
"you were in the albigensian-darwinists, weren't you?"
"yes, i was," bettina answered softly without looking at antonia.
"i was in the mahayana osirists."
"at least we weren't hanging out with trash like papists or elvis or bruce lee followers."

bettina didn't know what to say.
antonia laughed, and looked back at the robots again. "i tell you what, why don't we forget about all that, and just help each other out."
"that sounds like a good idea.'

the seventeenth letter, part 35

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