Chapter 38 of The Empty City

By Andrew Looney

When Jim got home he immediately began asking his housemates if they had ever heard of "The Children of Mars" or "New Xi City." However, only a couple of the Asylum inmates were at home.

Lynda was in the kitchen making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. "Nope, never heard of either," she said, in answer to Jim's inquiries. "But did you ask Bill? Sounds like it might be his bag."

Bill was in the basement. Jim found him hammering pennies into larger, thinner disks of copper.

"What are you building?" asked Jim.

"New invention," grunted Bill between poundings of his hammer.

"What is it?" probed Jim.

"It's a secret," grunted Bill.

"Ever hear of a group called the Children of Mars?"

"No," grunted Bill.

Torrence was in the bomb shelter beneath the basement. He had closed the hatch due to Bill's hammering, but opened it to allow Jim in. Jim asked him about the Children of Mars.

"Sorry, Jim, it doesn't ring a bell. You might try asking The Four, though. They always seem to have their fingers on the pulse of the City."

Jim hurried up the street toward the Geddes Point subway station, hoping to meet The Four at the Saturn Cafe. Jim was really rushing now; it was already past nine, which gave him less than two hours in which to find out where New Xi City was and to travel there.

Copyright © 1991 by Andrew Looney.

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