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Pole Shift - II: The Ribbon Years
Two days later Claire and I left Little Phoenix, Alf telling me then that Becky was pregnant. I promised we would be back for the birth.
We headed north, intending to turn west when we reached the band of swirling clouds. At camp the first night we saw the blue firefly. I knew then I had made the right choice...
With the horses cared for and the fire ready for cooking, Claire turned to me as she rose. "Did Alf tell you Becky was pregnant?"
I continued to stare at the fire. "Yup. Told 'im we'd be back for the big event." I turned towards her. She was digging out a pan and a can of something. "Did Becky tell you when it's due?"
Claire stood from the pack and headed back. "Well, first of all, she's not sure she's pregnant. She's just late. Real late, but she's been late before. So," she shrugged as she knelt by the fire, "it could be a false alarm."
"Alf didn't mention any of that."
"But, if she is pregnant, she's only a month or two along." She cranked on the P-38 and opened the can. "But, with all that she's been through and what's going on period, she's missed entire periods before." She turned her head and looked at me. "So have I."
"Thanks for the heads up. I just don't know where I'd find cigars."
"Shut up. I'll just simply cut you off and you won't have to worry about it at all." She stuck her tongue out.
"Love you, too, Sweetheart."
"Eww. Gross. I said, shut up."
Then I saw the blue firefly, on the other side of the fire. "Claire look!" I shouted in a whisper. "The firefly." I nodded in its direction.
Claire turned and again witnessed the blue firefly. "Wha'd'ya think it means?"
I stared at what I believed to be Lisa's spirit, her soul in another form, for several moments before responding. "She approves."
"Approves of what? Dinner?"
"No, you. You and me. I told you that last time."
"Really?" she laced with sarcasm. "Well, tell her thanks. Then ask her if she realizes that I could squash her like a bug?"
"I'm sorry. But it kinda...fuck. Never mind."
I nodded at the firefly and it flew off a moment later. It was Lisa. It had to be; the impressions I receive when its around are of her. "Never-the-fuck-mind-kinda-what?" I asked politely.
She poured the can into the pot. "Looks like dog food. Beef cubes." She sniffed the empty can. "And I think liver."
"We still got garlic?"
"It'll take plenty. Now kinda what? It kinda...what?"
"You'll think I'm nuts."
"I already do. Now what?"
"You think I'm crazy?"
"Oh geeze. We all are. Look what we've gone through. Who the fuck wouldn't be. Now kinda what?"
"Calm down, Cowboy." She stirred in the pan a moment. "But you'll think I'm being silly."
Cowboy. Hmph. We both wear full brim hats. I do have to admit, with the bandanna around my neck for dust and stench, and the drover when it's chilly, I can see the cowboy. Especially with the six-gun on my hip.
"You are being silly."
"You're just precious. Now, what?"
"All right. Fuck." She threw the can at me. I had to duck to miss it. "It feels like you're cheating on me when you see her. It. The firefly."
"I can't erase my past. And you've seen for yourself that I'm not making it up. Besides, how could I cheat?"
"I dunno. But why a blue firefly?"
I shrugged. "So she'd be noticed? Maybe it was her favorite color?"
She turned back to the pot and stirred some more. "You don't know her favorite color?"
"Use to. Just don't remember. It's been...years."
"What else has she, it, told you?"
"Now you're going to think I'm crazy."
"Already do, Cowboy. Long time, now."
I looked to the fire. "That killing these men is the right thing to do. Now, before they get too powerful."
"Wow. All that from a lightning bug."
"She's also said that most of the people left are like us. Alf. Clint. You. Becky."
"What about you?"
"I'm a strange, one-off breed. I'm basically good, but will do whatever evil necessary to keep evil at bay."
"Yup. That's you. Anything else."
"Yup. That's there's more of them out there."
"She didn't happen to say how many and where they were?"
Three days later, a couple hours after the Sun passed its meridian, we reached the edge of the band of clouds. The swirling clouds overhead looked ominous this close and straight overhead. Because of the angle of the Sun, the edge of the Shadow was a distant blur.
"Are we going in to the Shadow or just gonna ride under the clouds?" Claire asked as we stared overhead, the swirling nearly hypnotic.
I looked towards the darkness on the horizon. We were two days almost due east of Cedar City. There was a foreboding impression that conjured up sheer terror. I had to look at Claire to stop the stark fear from rising within me. "We'll go check out the Shadow after we find the coast. This is all new terrain to us and I'd rather be able to see it." I was terrified to enter the Shadow here. There was something in the darkness waiting for us or anybody or anything, somewhere close. "Besides, it's a gorgeous day."
The terrain was flat, tall grass that scratched the horses bellies rolled out to the horizon in all directions. The further west we went, the bigger the prairie felt. The foreboding subsided as we rode on.
Two days later, the Sun halfway down the afternoon slope, the prairie still seemingly endless, I wondered aloud if there were mountains left.
"Where are we?" Claire asked.
I calculated in my head, having just gone over the maps the night before. "We should be high in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada's." We were still riding through tall grass on flat land. We hadn't noticed any incline. "This is getting weirder by the mile. Hell, it could just suddenly drop off at a sheer cliff."
"I'd recommend not traveling at night, then."
"Further south you don't even get out of Arizona," I ranted, "and you're at a sandy beach. Alf said the Mojave desert has an oceanfront. And we're further west than the Mojave. We should be looking at mountains on the horizon. Not this." I tilted my head forward at the moving grass that almost seemed to curve as it rolled towards the panoramic horizon.
"No shit. The Rocky Mountains. And they ain't there."
"They should be. I'm pretty sure. I can check tonight with the stars, but we are in southern Nevada."
"Feels like we're on some alien planet."
"Yeah. No shit."