One Mind-Chapter 17

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 17 (v.1) - Mound Refugees

Submitted: June 29, 2016

Reads: 47

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Submitted: June 29, 2016

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Chapter 17

“We lost the signal,” For the first time Lenny could remember, Goliath looked concerned. 

“Huh?”  Lenny wasn't sure he'd heard him correctly at first.  The two had been at it, for three hours now, working on plans for the new innovation centers negotiating how they would be structured, what problems needed to be addressed and a hundred other things which they had not even begun to consider about the two societies in general.

“I said we lost the signal, look.” Goliath gravely pushed the computer over to Lenny. 

“How?” asked Lenny.

“Mound storm I'd usually say.  Except they don't hit very often, not in that area anyway.  There's a village of mound people over there, which means an open area, no wind tunnels for the mound storms to start in or feed off of.  If we're lucky, the villagers took them in, although they're an awfully large group for them to accomodate.”

“And if they didn't, well?”

“Well...hold on a minute.”A yellow light beeped loudly on the computer as Goliath looked back at the screen.  A voice came across the speaker.

“We've got mound people in the receiving area, lots of them.  It appears they've lost their village but no one can quite tell how.  It's bedlam down here!  I tried to turn the lights down as low as possible but still.”

“Call for some reinforcements.  Maybe some of our mound traders are available to try to communicate with them, I'll be down as soon as I can.  I've got an issue up here I have to deal with first.” Lenny watched as Goliath walked back to his computer, noting the worry on his face.

“Anything I can do to help?” asked Lenny. 

“Pray is about all.  Nope we've lost the signal for good, at least for now.  There's something out there blocking it.”

“But the kids...”

“Were going to have to hope they make it through.  Your wife's with them and your son too, that should help.  Right now, we've got a mound person crisis to deal with at the moment.  I'll give the kids a day, if I don't hear from them I'll send out an expeditionary team.”

“A team?”

“Yeah sort of.  They are mound experts.  They usually deal with collecting samples for the engineers and scientists.  I don't think they've ever been out that far but I'm sure they can handle it.”

 The receiving room Lenny and Goliath arrived at was crowded, with mound people filling every corner, talking quickly in their unintelligable speech, while others tried to decipher their needs.“Looks like there's a job for us to do,” said Goliath, running his fingers through his hair.

Goliath opened the door plunging  them both in before Lenny had the chance to let up a protest. “So umm what do I do exactly?”

“Here,” Goliath put a mound child in Lenny's arms, then quickly turned back to several other mound people, trying desperately to understand what they  were telling him. 

The toddler smiled at Lenny.  “Are you hungry?”

“Yup,” at least that's what he thought she said.

Lenny  moved toward the food table and got the little girl a banana.  Despite not having had a child this size for a while, Lenny had to grin at her.  Her face was covered with dirt and ash, and who knew what else, the results of being out in a mound storm he suspected, but her eyes sparkled brightly.  She quickly finished the banana and put the peel on her head.  “Hat?”

“Yup.”

The banana peel slowly slipped from her head onto the floor with Lenny quickly picking it up and throwing it away.  As he did his little charge slipped from his arms and tore off to the corner of the room where the mound children had gathered.  The tables were set up with paints and crayons and a hundred other items to keep them busy while their parents more pressing concerns were dealt with.

There they sat as happy as could be, instantly forgetting whatever it was they had recently been through.  Ash dusted, soot smeared faces made it difficult to tell one of the little urchins from another, still he was sure each parent would be able to pick out his own,  if not by their look then by their special bond alone.

The little girl Lenny had been handed, was spreading the finger paint into swirls and patterns on the paper.  “Yup” said the little girl happily moving her paint covered fingers on the paper.

That wasn't enough for the little girl. She squeezed paint on the paper in front of Lenny, then taking his hand, moved it around in the paint.  At first he resisted, but seeing the intense happiness on her face, he continued, not wanting to disappoint his little charge. 

“Umm having fun?” said Goliath, coming up behind the pair as a smile spread across his face. 

Lenny turned, with his paint stained hand and tried to explain.  “Well you see she ummm umm...”

“Never mind explaining,” said Goliath with a chuckle, “It just a sight I thought I'd never see is all.”

Goliath handed Lenny a rag and he wiped his hands on it as Goliath talked. 

“It looks like it wasn't the mound storms alone that chased these people out of their homes,” said Goliath.

“It wasn't?”

“I knew there had to be something else, something more. We've had mound storms before, in fact most of these mound people are quite used to dealing with them.  Even really bad ones, have only brought us 10 or 15 refugees tops.  Not the hundreds we've got here now  It seems your society has decided these mound people are squatters who have no right to exist in your refuse area.  They were told to move on in the professional legislative sort of way that your society is so fond of.  Here's a copy of the decree, which is how I untangled this story.  Of course when the mound people didn't comply, mostly because they didn't understand your legalize, the government decided to forcibly remove them by destroying their village.”

“Wait, they would need a leader's approval for that.  And their leader is currently on an ummm... fact finding mission of sorts you might say.”

“Yes you could say that,” said Goliath. “It seems though, your former leader, Jarrod, has decided to step in again during your absence.” he said as he looked at the bottom of the decree.

“Wait, I've got a message!” Lenny's heart jumped at Goliath's words as his pager beeped.

“Where are they?”

“Don't know, hold on a minute.  They're past the village,” Goliath said.  “And it looks like they're on the move again.”

“So why aren't they here yet?”

“I'm sure they're doing their best to get here.  It's just all going to take some time.” Goliath discreetly turned to help several mound people as Lenny heard a voice behind him.

“Hey,” said a voice, quietly.  Lenny whirled at the sound.He didn't recognize the artist behind the voice at first.  With her hair down and ribbons through it, she was unconventional from her hair to her toes.  Then he looked at her face, her eyes in particular and he knew it was his own eyes looking back at him.  There was no doubt in his mind, it was El.

“Hi El,” he returned.  El gave him a strange look before she moved down the table, helping the mound children with their painting.

Uncomfortably he turned away too. Funny, he thought, he'd found what he'd lost but somehow felt he'd lost what he had all along.  He shook his head at the thought and quickly spotted Goliath whose head was noticeably bobbing above the mound people he was currently speaking with.

“She's different,” said Lenny catching up to his friend.

“Ain't we all?” said Goliath, distracted.

“No I mean...”  said Lenny, looking distractedly at El.

“Oh,” said Goliath.

“Yeah, I think I lost her friend.”

“You didn't lose her, you'll never lose her, she's your kid.  You've got to reconnect is all.  She's grown up.  She's more than your kid now.  She’s an adult, married with a kid of her own on the way, you've got to respect her as such.”

“No I lost her.”

“You say so.  Look, it seems we are short of translators. Why don't you see if you can help us out here?”

“Me?  I don't know anything about mound speak.  Help me here, give me a book or something.”

“There is no book.  You don't need one anyway.”

“I don't?”

“Nope, they're human like us.  You'll figure it out.” said Goliath as he started directing the swarming groups of mound people who were still arriving.

Lenny looked for someone, anyone who could help them communicate.  When he realized his search would be fruitless, Lenny figured he’d do what he could, knowing at least if he was busy, he couldn't worry about what had been lost and what had been found.

As the day went on Lenny started writing down sounded out words that the Mound People uttered next to what they meant, creating almost a translator for the translator of sorts.  He folded up his paper and was about to put it away that afternoon, when Goliath spotted it.  “Making notes are you my friend?”

“More of a cheat sheet actually.  After a day of translating I started to recognize some of the words in their language, the ones they used over and over.”

“No one's done that you know, made an official translation of their language.”

“I don't know that one page counts as official.  Especially with no post-secondary education in the field.”

“You don't need any.”

 “What? But...”

“You're thinking your world again, where you need a whole lot of letters after your name before you can attempt something.  Here we don't have that luxury.  Here people pick projects and start right in on them.”

“Then how do they learn theories? Don't they make a lot of errors?”

“Errors, discoveries, I guess it all depends on how you look at it.  Some of our greatest errors have led to our most amazing breakthroughs.  Theories after all are just one person's beliefs.  Anyway if I were you, I'd keep adding to that list, it's something our traders could use and it would be a project for you as well.” 

Several days had passed since the wave of mound people had arrived and yet it seemed like they had been there forever.  The cave they all inhabited was with the full extent of it having yet to be totally explored, so the mound people had taken over an unused, explored section for themselves.

Goliath thought it would be easier for the mound people to stay together.  To separate them, he feared, especially after what they'd been through, would be like stirring up a mound storm, after it had settled again. 

They were happy in their own little cluster village, ecstatic in fact.  They were out of the weather and away from the threat of any mound storms.  They quickly became integrated into the larger community as well with mound people teaching scavenging and recycling skills to those in the outpost who thought they already knew them.

At first Lenny had dismissed Goliath's idea about the translating, but it came back to Lenny again and again, at odd times and at all hours.  When he mentioned this to Goliath he only smiled and said, “Yup, good ideas, they’ll do that to you every time. Welcome to our world buddy!” Lenny looked at Goliath quizzically, not quite understanding.

“When you're not down here trying to figure out the Mound language, when you're doing something else totally different like eating or folding your clothes, what are you thinking about?  I mean besides your family of course.”

“I don't know.  I guess new mound words I need to add or the correct way to pronounce a word or how to put a mound sentence together.”

“Exactly! Even when you're not working you're working, without anyone telling you to! That type of work, my friend, leads to innovation and new ideas.”

Lenny eventually picked up a notebook and gave into the task.  Tentatively at first, then wholeheartedly throwing himself into the project.Not because he had to do it or because he was expected to do it because it was his job.  He did it because he wanted to do it, the project soon obsessing his every spare moment.

Lenny loved the feeling of being free and productive at the same time.He loved the feeling of creating something new and useful.  He was in the midst of his work one day when Goliath appeared with a serious look on his face.  “We've lost them again.”

“What?” 

  “Looks like a sudden mound storm, a bad one at that.  It's been going for almost an hour now.”

“How long do these storms usually last?”

“It's hard to say.  I've seen these things last minutes, hours, weeks.  All we can do is wait.”

Lenny stopped instantly questioning Goliath, “Weeks?”

“Hey don't look at me like that.  We're dealing with the consequences of your 'solution' remember?”

  “What about sending your mound experts out to get them?”

  “In that kind of weather it wouldn't be safe.  I wouldn't even know where to send them.  A mound storm can throw someone miles off course.  Unless,” said Goliath bending down to pick up a giggling mound child, “you're one of these.  These people have a built in sonar.  They can walk through anything and stay on course.Anyway I just thought I'd give you an update,” he continued as he placed the happy mound child back on the ground and watched him skitter away.

  I'm going to take a lunch break, care to join me?”

“Sure,” said Lenny, “I was just thinking it was about time to eat.”

  The pair discussed their concerns as they walked to the cafeteria.  “What are we going to do about the lack of a signal?  That is our big predicament at the moment,” said Goliath as they took their trays and headed through the cafeteria lines. 

“I thought you said there was nothing we can do?” said Lenny.

“No, I said the ideas we've thought of might not work.  It doesn't mean there aren't dozens of other ideas out there which might work.  We need to find the right idea is all.”

The two sat down at a wooden table together and began eating, with Goliath stopping long enough to pull out a notebook and pencil from his pocket.  He flipped open an empty page.  “Okay so what do we know.”

“We're going to list what we already know?”

“It clears the rain.  Opens up new options a person hasn't thought of sometimes.”

“Well, we know we've got a bunch of kids with my wife at the helm.”

“Tribe, they call themselves a tribe. Okay, that's a start.” said Goliath continuing.  “and we know there's a good chance we've got a nasty mound storm blowing around.”

  “And a possible broken transponder.” said Lenny.

“Good one hadn't thought of that.” said Goliath quickly writing it down.

“And wait, unaccounted for mound people?”

“Huh?”

“When I was talking to the mound people today, they said some others escaped too.  I’m not sure of everything they said but I did pick up the words hill and big explosion.  The missing mound people apparently ran when they heard it.  A lot of what they said didn't make sense.  Either that or I didn't quite understand it.  It sounded like a number of families are still searching for some of their members anyway.”

“You learned all this from the mound people?”

“You know, just part of my work,” smiled Lenny, “Anyway, I'm thinking what if the tribe and the missing mound people hooked up somehow?”

“It' a long shot but I suppose it could have happened.”

“And if it did?”

“I'd be a lot less worried than I am now.” said Goliath.

The beeper on Goliath's belt went off and he looked down at it.

“A signal, this one loud and clear.”


© Copyright 2017 Carla Charter. All rights reserved.

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