Hectic Chopper

It was still gaining speed, however. She continued to run.

Photo by Cristian Grecu on Unsplash

“He’s been to see his mother’s lawyer for years, and it turns out he’s not a legal representative at all. He tells you his mother ran down and sold the house, the lawyer says he should have stayed, and the family decides he may well be a ward of the mental health people. The family starts calling.”

“Hearing her sob at the mention of the word mental health, you can imagine,” McKean said.

“I never should have gone to the trouble to run into her. I was not thinking she would be a target of callers. But I never really heard about her.”

“At first you may have been unaware she was a ward of the mental health people, but you’ve been expecting that so many times from you. You know how much it would have meant to her. This is one of the things I was going to tell you about her, but she’d be more concerned with you than I am, and she can’t help her son. If they do have a reason for wanting him …"

“There he is!” McKean said. The helicopter kept rising; she could hear it now and she wondered how long it would take to arrive. It was almost half an hour.

“We’re almost there,” she said. “Coming into the valley with the water. Can you hear it, McBee?” She heard him mutter, “God damn it… ."

“Coming up the bank,” the driver muttered, “down there’s something in that old saw about a thing that’ll eat you; something that can’t get away. ‘Bye! This way to the right.”

“Jesus,” she said. She was going too fast to find tracks in all this running and he was driving too fast to notice; now the helicopter had entered the valley and she glimpsed its headlights coming to a halt just ahead of them. It was still gaining speed, however. She continued to run.

All at once he turned the wheel, and the helicopter lurched to a halt. The engine cut off, then roared. He slapped the gurneks, and the wheel spun hard, so that the car bucked like a crippled old dragon.

“Damn,” the man said. He glanced back over his shoulder and saw the helicopter. Its wheels were red and white with heat as it moved off the road.

She watched it go. “He sure made a big point about his family. My wife’s mother” He was shouting. “You’re a Goddamned scum! I’ll get a medical ambulance! My family’s going to die!” He fought for breath.

“Just a minute,” the driver said, and when he turned around he saw the crowd. “Did the driver take the other car?”

“Yes. Right there.” She ran down the aisle of seats and reached the passenger window of the car ahead. There was nothing she could do except lean against the man and press her chest against his. “Do you know how to drive here?” she asked.

He grunted. “Sure. I drive this all the time. Good old Henry.”

“What was the name, Fred?”

“Harry. Like the car. Old, like Henry. What’s it like on Harry? We can’t go to the hospital till he’s had the surgery. Are you going to be all right?”

“I’m all right, Bob,” she said from the opposite side, fighting a headache. “I’ll just lie there.”

“Okay,” he said grimly. “Come on. I’ll take the car and then we can do some talking.” He reached in, and she yanked him into the seat. Harry sat back and leaned forward, saying nothing. He couldn’t help but laugh; he had never liked that way to hear him laugh.

They drove along the wide, wet streets. There were hundreds of cars, a horde of them, but no uniformed driver signaled. No uniformed officer stepped up and made directions. The passengers were silent, all staring out into the drizzle, each looking for someplace to lean on.

“Sure,” Fred called. “I’ll drive. We’ve got to try to get some information before we leave.”

“You just go on with my order book,” his father said. “I tried to tell you we’re doing no harm to any Alians but the danger is serious here. As you know.” He waved at the cars ahead to give scope for an order to the people in them in the car.

Bill said, “I know what you say. But think of it this way— if we can get to an inland ferry in a few minutes, with the rest of the troops we’ll get there before this is finished, we can be in good enough shape to leave here, and get to the ferry.


Editor’s Notes


Only deleted the first unrelated sentence for flow.

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