Hammersmith. Chapter 6. (Thea)

Thea wasn’t dead.

Little girl. Little girl. You need to wake up now

What was going on?

Come on little girl. You can wake up. Take us out of the danger.

Who was that? Who are you?

It doesn’t matter right now. You need to move. Or we will both die.

Thea opened her eyes.

Funny. The damage didn’t look so bad now. The black lights were not a death knell it seemed. The trolls and other monsters of the noisy world has stopped. How am I alive?

Or maybe my hearing has gone?

Thea started to move her arms and legs. Zero G. The gravity had gone. The escape pod was two meters away. It may as well have been a whole kilometer or two.

But she got to the pod. She wasn’t sure exactly how. It just happened. The craft launched and for a brief few seconds she saw the damage. The entire craft looked like it had melted in a oven like a plastic toy. Except it wasn’t a toy. It was real. That was 50 odd to tones of metal and space cement with a lead coating. The lead was black as the ace of spades. The radiation shield. Nothing was left.

How is this EVA pod going to do better? It hasn’t got a snots chance in hell if the shielding on the mother shield is gone?


Call out. They will rescue you.

How? There isn’t a craft anywhere near here.

Don’t argue

Thea found herself using the radio beacon.

“This is Thea of the explorer craft the Gold Lantern. I was hit by a radiation flare. Craft down. I am in a EVA pod. Location is 342, 4563, 56. EVA will last another..”

That can’t be right…

“2 minutes…”

The radiation was clearly massive still. Sol was meant to be in her dormant phase. That’s why I was here.

They are coming. We will survive. Good job Thea.

“Who are you?” She said aloud.

We are who you are

“That makes no…”

There was a ship approaching. It had a huge lead coating. It shined dully. It wasn’t until it was close that she noticed the markings of the Magus Clan. Pirates. Oh gods. Out of the frypan and into the frier.

Hammersmith. Chapter 5.

‘In 2137 December 23 at 13:45 the Incident happened.

The clarity of the history of the events is lost even to historians like me. ‘

Bela drank another cup of sweet chai. The stuff was addictive. They had rebuilt the ancient recipe from the ruins of a library. The incident had taken so much. Now we all tried to work together with each other, as everyone knows what will happen if we don’t. Most only have to drive a few kilometers to find out.

‘I have researched the incident events now for 10 years and am still no closer to an exact cause. It’s almost as if those years all of humanity lost its senses. Nuclear war often trumps itself as thesis of those who are uneducated in the analysis of the ruins of major Asian cities such as Deli, Mumbai, and Islamabad. No radioactive isotopes that would indicate such an event are present. The only traces from the older wars. It also doesn’t explain why major 21st and 22nd Century military bases have mostly been left unscathed, if completely abandoned counts as unscathed. The archaeology is also baffling to those whom have undertaken the time and money to research it. Bodies are buried evenly in traditional manners in some cities yet were left to rot in others. One suggests an organized governmental cleanup, the other a natural or man made disaster. Evidence points both ways, often in the same ruin or city. There are other places only kilometers from a site that are left unscathed. Yet no one seems to have a generational knowledge of the exact events. Some talk of a war. Others of climate change. A few with religious folktales of confusing origins. ‘

Bela signed. Her thesis had continued to get her nowhere. This was her absolutely last attempt. She couldn’t remember the first attempt anymore. The fact it was now year 13, that was what was calling to her to quit. Go spend time at home, or in the jungle regrowth of Mumbai. Where the Tigers stay majestic in the morning sun before hunting the monkeys and the rodents whose lives in the ruined city was to good ever to give it back to the scattered remains of humanity. We didn’t really need the space these days anymore. With birth control a major policy of the world governing councils people could only have children with a license. Not that Bela cared. Children were never on her mind.

‘It’s clear that the Incident as it is now known was a muti-classic event which occurred over a short time period of a few years. It is also clear that it caused the deaths of some 5 billion people in its totality.’

Then again maybe this is futile? I’m lost in a sea of papers from libraries around the world. The research people from all the branches now all know me on sight. Most have attempted to help, some even tried unsuccessfully to get a romantic engagement. Why do I care so much about this?

“Burning the midnight candle at both ends again?”
Bela almost jumped out of her skin.
“Bloody hell Mario. Don’t do that.”
“Hey! Call me M. Sweet cheeks” Mario came in for a hug.
“Don’t. We’ve discussed this. Ok?” Bela shouted at the advancing Mario.
“Awe. I’m sad now.” Mario took up a perch on the desk next to her and combed his hair with his hands. Then in his ill fitting suit said. “I’m just happy to help you with your work, you know? A quick compliment wouldn’t go astray.”
“I haven’t asked you to help this late. So you can go home if your going to take that attitude. ” Bela paused. “You know your the most useful research assistant I’ve had in years, but you are so god dammed annoying.”
“Oh I have found another lead. One that I think you might like.”
Bela sat staring at him, he was very hansom but had utterly the worst personality.  Mario was a horrible womanizer and serial heart breaker. Bela had no interest in anything but the company of other humans. She had never understood the reason to reproduce or form any sort of romantic engagement with anyone. Asexuality had suited her fine for some time now. However she had agreed to dinners as talking with other people was still a need. Enjoying the aesthetics of the human form had been something she found utterly enjoyable. Mario wasn’t a bad example when you dealt with his fashion sense and his horrible personality flaws.
Bela wondered why she was thinking of this whist she looked at Marios new lead.
“This is a pirate book. It just lists the Pirates clans and how they formed before the incident. It’s woefully inaccurate and pretty useless to my research these days. Though the pirates had something to do with the incident….” She trailed off.
“Did you notice the name of the clan that marked this one?” Mario twirled his hair in delight. He loved knowing things someone else doesn’t and then revealing how they missed it. It was raver perverse.
“Well it’s the…”
It said clear as day.

Libro de tribu malleis

Belas head quickly translated. “Book of the … Hammer clan?” She looked at Mario who had the smuggest look on his face she had ever seen. “I’ve never heard of this clan… It’s a dead clan?”
Mario shrugged. “Hammersmith, I think, no, I have no idea.”
Bela thought for a second then said “Where?”
Mario look at her on that way that a tiger might at its prey. “It was sent to me in the mail from a contact. I was researching the Pirates again. I think they are pretty fascinating. The fanatical nature of the Red Clan and the contrast with the Black Clan who are deeply atheist. I was wondering why the discrepancy between them and when that had occurred. What’s caused clans choose to live in so many different places? I mean clearly they all came out of whatever organized crime syndicates existed in the early 22nd Century. They got into space somehow after or before the incident. How? How are they able to use their resources so effectively against the Sol Space Force? What is it that keeps the clans together, and also apart? So many questions seem tied into our research.”
Bela simply nodded. Becoming a expert in the incident meant becoming a expert in the Pirate Clans as well it often seemed.
“You got this on the black market?”
“Oh hell no! This was from a fellow researcher. She was quite a agreeable. Had little totem things on her bedstead.”
Mario loves to boast about his ability to win over a girl. Though it made Bela glad to know it wasn’t from some seedy black market place.
“I really am not sure about this. You stole it?”
“I call it payment for services rendered.”
Bela felt a little bile come up.
“You’re more horrible than I thought. But I suppose I should be somewhat thankful. Just return it to her when you have made me a copy ok?”
“Of course I have already done that. This is our copy.”
Ah so hes not as stupid as I thought, Bela thought. Thank the gods for that.
“Good. Now go home. I’ve clearly got some reading to do.”
Bela looked at the clock. It was only 10 o’clock she could read a book this small in a hour and be home in time for the last bats to come home at ear out of her hand. It would be a good evening for her. She hope Marios latest victim was ok though. He didn’t really realize what a sociopath he was. Not like me. I know how horrible I am.

Hammersmith. Chapter 4.

The sun set on the city. It gathered the last tendrils of golden red light and stole away behind the new taller buildings and the small ancient ones alike.

“Seems like we are always watching sunsets together. ”
“Arline, your always have a way to make me feel better. Even when we were kids.”
“Darren.” I swished my brown hair from my face as Darren, my older brother looked at me on the outdoor couch. “We always watch sunsets, as we are both night owls. I barely ever get up before mid day. After all in my job I mostly work at night.”
“I’ve learned to wake in the mornings. Sleep when I need. I can take a nap or sleep for days. I am really good at it. Used to drive her up the wall though.”
“Yes well she was a nurse!” I laughed.
“She just got her doctorate in Nursing actually. She was planning on doing a big lecture circuit with some of the other big wig medical types when I got my posting. She didn’t have to come. She was right though. We needed all the help we could get.”
Darren’s wife was a awesome nurse. She had helped everyone she could. It was her selflessness that meant she had given up her life so everyone else could survive the pirate attack.
“They came so fast. Hit us so expertly. It’s was like every weakness we had was exploited. I saw… They had weapons I have never seen before. Ones that shoot this paralyzing light. It’s worse than being hit with a Class 3” .

The pirates in the belt were the Solar forces biggest bugbear. Too well resourced to take out as a group and too easily scattered. They attacked automatic mining and construction stations stealing all the resources and reprogramming the bots to send the shots of metals to pick up points they chose. By the time you got to one station and undid the work, they could hit five more. They had hit some poor manned miner freighters lately. One managed to kill them and take the freighter back but his co-pilot had died in the attack.
Darren had been sent to try and take their base of operations in the belt with a Warbird class fighter carrier. One of the clans of pirate had herd the military was on its way. Taken up a defensive position and knocked out the military ships. Killed Darren’s wife when she had set the self destruct and shut the bridge doors. Darren and a scant few others survived. It was still being investigated by the military police. Someone leaked info. God help them if they are found. Penalties ranged from painful death to even more painful death.

So I was now re-tasked with military intelligence on the Pirates. It had been my job to look into internal affairs but I asked for a transfer when I heard of the disaster. However when Darren had got back to Earth I had to look after him. Taken my long service leave. My CO told me if I hadn’t asked for it he would have ordered me too. “I can’t really afford to loose two Captains, get him better Arline.” My CO was fleet commander for the Sols Space Force, what was left of it with all the pirates.

Darren had a unkempt face and tracksuit pants on. A large band shirt which said “Mountain Killers” in colorful flowers and skulls. He looked a mess. Military families like ours really don’t know what to do with time off. My dad had always been training for the next mission. God only knew who Darren’s dad did. His birth certificate didn’t even has his name in it. Just had “not disclosed to Canadian Register”. Mum was a Canadian resident who emigrated from Russia, so his birth was her new nations responsibility, not his fathers. Now in my house Darren’s recovery was my duty. We needed good men like him. Especially after the incident. That mess was still at hart after 50 years. You can expect that with so many people dying,

“The counselor is coming at 1500. A MP from the 2nd division an hour after that. You going to be in those clothes when they come?”
I was certain this tactic wouldn’t work, but anything was worth a shot.
“I almost feel overdressed. I’m mourning my wife. She’s dead. I left her. It’s my fault.”
“Captain Darren. You are a officer in the military. Death is your job. You can’t blame it on yourself. She died because the Pirates had a exact knowledge of the ships and time you were going to be their. It was her quick thinking that saved those who did survive.”
“She’s still dead. If it’s not my fault whose is it? I was in charge of the ship. As ranking CO I should have been the one to do what she did. I didn’t. I just ordered the evacuation and got as many off the shop as it was about to blow. Trying to hope that the Pirates didn’t take out the EVA modules as they thrusted out.”
“That was your job. Her job was to look after the crews health and safety. She was the head of the medical section on the ship. She shut herself on the bride while you were getting the crewmen onto the EVAs. You didn’t even know till you was off the ship.”
“I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN!”
His anger filled the space in the room like liquid fire in space. It was full of self hate, rage, feelings of uselessness and lastly doubt. He wept quietly. We sat in this wet silence for about 30 minutes before I finally felt he could hear me again.
“We do what we need to.”
It was the militaries unofficial moto.
“we do.”
He agreed.
At that point the doorbell chimed.

Hammersmith. Chapter 3. (Martin)

Red dust. Scattered bits of glass. Rocks that formed a grotesque tincture with the remaining bits of asphalt. Black marks. Weeds starting to take over here and there. Little bits of war.
That was how rebellion looked.

Revolutionaries. People fighting for things. Be it freedom from oppression or economic reasons or two or more sets of people who don’t get on.

On Mars it had been credits. The incident, which caused both Earths and Mars and the other colonies economies to take a huge blow had finally and definitively collapsed. The rich had been overthrown by the poor, not without some pain. Then a new system enforced. Money, economics and capitalism became a older system. A dead system.

On Earth and most of the other colonies they switched to the Credititation system. Created by the Nobel Economics prize winning Rebecca East. She was actually a physicist, who had studied complex thermodynamic systems. She observed a pattern in the systems she was studying. Mostly to do with heat changes in larger skyscrapers. They all had one thing in common, energy exchange. The economy she theorized was the same.
All money had been a capitalists way of showing that exchange had taken place or was seen to have taken place. You paid $30 for a bushel of apples you acknowledge that the farmer had placed about $28 of work plus the work-money to get the apples to you and the money to make sure next years crop was looked after. Problem was mostly this future money, the making sure next years crop happened was not enough, or seen mistakenly by the farmer (or corporation) as profit. Say this farmer had a good crop and put money in the bank. It would then be used again by the bank to “create capital” for loans etc. The issue is clear as day to and physicist, you can’t create energy out of nothing. Although the energy had been paid for by the buyer to the farmer, the farmer was storing that energy in the bank. If the bank re/used that energy it would be spent and when the farmer wanted his energy back the bank would actually have to create energy. Not real energy, pretend energy that looked to the farmer like the original. Newtons laws strictly rule creating energy. Of course a atom can hold a lot if energy, but most of what’s in a atom is space and often it’s a lot more useful as a atom then as a bunch of plasma in a fusion reactor.
Communism didn’t even have money, at least in theory. The issue in communism was seen as being about who controls the workers. The workers often not being skilled in how to make a business work and human corruption being what it is, communism rarely worked beyond a theorists pen and paper. Energy did flow in this system like it would in capitalism, but only because work had to happen and the state became the default business.
Rebecca created Creditiation. Each bit of energy in this system didn’t have to be accounted for, but the more energy a system loss the more potential it had for de-crediting. So a farmer would get credit for planting a crop of apples. Then when the apples produces a crop he gets de-credited for the apples on the market. Though credits sound like money that had a important difference. They always ran out. You could exchange them. You could make them by doing work. However when you kept them they would expire. There were different sorts of credits, of corse, but they only ever lasted as long as their energy could be expected to last. An apple would be worth a 3 month credit. A apple tree a 30 year credit. All credits would have a metadata signature that made it so you could always see it’s worth and age. A 30 year credit that had lasted 29 years was worth as much as a 1 year credit. Intellectual pursuits were initially a problem, till it was assumed all work in the theoretical or philosophical or the law or the arts could be counted as a 100 year credit for each measure of energy expended. You could buy long term credits with short term credits. Convert them as well by doing additional work. In this system everyone had to do work to create credit. There was also no interest. You could create longer term credits by putting them into a bank. You still had wealth, and wealth-fare, but all credits expired. Energy doesn’t like to be stored. It was also reliant on a electronic system. If the system went down all physical representations of credits were always worth the same and lasted at least until the system was back.
Initially critics gave the trail sites a couple of months or a few years. Some even said people would be back to battering in short order. A few cartoonists made rude and somewhat sexist jokes at Rebecca’s expense.
However the trail sites prospered. A significant amount of classism happened for a while but soon even the rich have to eat and spend their longer term credits on a meal. The credits then were spent again and again. In short order other areas converted and then all but Mars was in on it.

That’s what had caused the rebellion. Martians wanted to be in on the new economy. Native to their terraform world and now in the fourth generation Martians had their own everything. The rebellion happened because the communist state that had formed and controlled things from the beginning of the colony had outlived its welcome with the populous.

Martin the Martian the papers called me. Heh it’s fitting. I wonder how much they really know about me? I’m not as Martian as they think. It’s time for the speech.
“It’s time for a new day. I see a new day arise in me and I know you and I may follow. The world is a Martian world and we are ready for a democratic way to live. A freedom to be ourselves and be a part the Solar government. But also to decide what we need. I promise to you my Martian brethren that I will never betray your trust in these tough times. I will be your humble leader and at the forge of democracy I will stay and help us all create a world where we are going to be able to be ourselves and show all the Sol who we are.”
People clapping. It’s like a tree in the wind. I love it. Always have. I suppose that’s why I am here as a candidate to be the next elected Martian president.

My security adviser, Lou whispered in my earphones.

“Time to wrap it up sir. A few communist loyalists are trying to break the embargo lines.”
I stepped down from the podium and got in the armored car. “Ok let’s get to the capital. It’s time we got to work. Show the loyalist we can rule this planet without telling people what they need to be or do.”

Hammersmith. Chapter two.

Red lights. Little diodes making little light glowing on my face and telling me little tales. Urgent beeping as well. Shrill noise tinctured against low calls, like howler monkeys in mating season. All wanting attention. None really managing the feat.

‘Come on get up’
My brain said.

My body refused it’s commands. Long shrill banshee lights. Low trolls beating a bridge.

‘Your going to die if you can’t move. You need to move’

Nothing. Banshees and trolls were joined by a voice from the computer.

Oxygen level low. Power level low. Emergancy action needed. Voice command offline.

It had told me this many times now. I couldn’t believe the voice command had died. ‘The system has what? 6? 7? Backups? That means it’s got to the computer memory. It’s starting to erode mine. I need to move. ‘

I start to move slowly. The pain is immense. Oxygen. The drug of several millennia my teacher had said. One breath and your hooked for life. So dependent. What was his name? Dr Bova. My Memory is going too. Just like the computers. Did I just think that? Probably.

The shrill noise and trolls relentlessly continued as I made my way slowly to the cockpit.

“Come on Thea. You can do it. Your a fighter.”
I reached the offending display.
Finally.

The computer shouted out my commands.

Computer offline. Force restart.

Oh bloody hell.

A new voice called out.

Radiation levels high

Oh shut up. I know!

The computer took microseconds to restart. They felt like decades. My life flashed before my eyes.

The red lights came back. I went through them one by one. Getting each system in the orange.
The computer kept up with it but was clearly slowing as I gave it more to do.
“Alright. Radiation shield is up. Oxcygen stabilized. Distress call now.”

Communication systems offline. Force restart.

Oh damm. I had given it to much.

I clicked the Emergancy beacon on.

“Ok happy?”

Carbon monoxide detected in cabin, level 3. Fire systems offline.

Oh sh….

Pure Oxygen and fire. The rosette of flame. Seconds left, maybe.

Hull breach level 3. Fire on level 3.

I watched as my systems went from a angry red to a solum black. Each one by one. No way was I going to get out of this.

****************

The sun rose indifferently to the desolated plain. White and grey and a little red started to show on the buildings.

“Beautiful desolation”. James said to no one in particular.

Morning moonwalks were the best. The fact you only got to do them one day out of a month was the only issue. The robots James was monitoring buzzed for his attention.

“Oh. Sorry Hal. We need a new wall on the ridge. Thanks heaps.”
Hal beeped a register and started to print out new wall from the lunar regolith.

James liked working with Ro. They had a way with being easy to deal with. They didn’t get emotional very often, which also helped. They did get upset if they encountered a issue with tasks that were impossible though. They would beep at you and the one who could talk expressed concern or even annoyance. A few even got upset when you were upset. But on the whole, easier than humans. Especially other men. James had real issues dealing with them. Despite being gay, he couldn’t find a way of dealing with long term relationships. One night stands made him feel cheep, but they didn’t have any strings. Strings were hard to deal with. Men would want things he wouldn’t know how to deal with. Marriage. Children. An apartment. It was so hard to know how to deal with these things with someone else their. All the time. James liked being alone. Even though many Ro had the same rights as Humans, Ro never generally cared about what apartment they had. They wanted a nice cupboard with a charging station. And their pay. God knows what they spent credits on. Video games maybe?

Lost in thought he realized the wall was half finished. Hal worked fast. Regolith printers always did. It would be a few more minutes, but this ridge would be ready soon. It was time to get the electronics done.

“Durundal, get over here. Door print needs doing.” James got ready to help get the door and roof done. It would be another shelter done then. There were only two more after this one. Then back to base.

James realized what going back to base meant. It meant he had to deal with his last lover. A Space Force guy with a taste for geeks like him. It would be a few fantastic moments of sex, then a mention of possible strings.
“I hope Andre understands”.
James said to no one in particular.

Then one of the border Ro’s beeped.
“Radiation warning? Must be a flare. Ok everyone time to call it quits, get on the buggy now.”
Hmm that warning came from a moon based satellite.
That means the radiation is coming in straight at us. We have minutes. Shit. “Everyone take what shelter you can. Those who can get to the buggy, do. Otherwise hope your hardness lets you survive.

Running in a suit wasn’t easy, but James started to go as fast as possible. The truck had shielding. Not enough though. His best move would be the Cavern Base which was maybe 45 Km from here. Not far. The truck can do it at top speed in thirty minutes or so. Half my robots will die out here. Not much choice, they are expensive but expendable.

Regolith churned out the end of the truck tires as James hit the accelerator. Good thing about the Cavern Base is no Andre. And the radiation will stop all surface travel. Cavern Base isn’t connected to the Luna Tram yet. Hence the need for shelters nearby. If your truck broke down Cavern base was a good 3 day hike from anywhere else on foot. If your air lasts.
The white grey cliff near Cavern Base rose suddenly to meet him.

“Forgot how fast this thing is at full pelt.” James parked the tuck and got into the Cavern Base and was met with chaos.

Hammersmith. Chapter one.

The sky was as blue as a litmus test in an alkaline bath. Little wispy clouds glimmered across like rakes in a bonsai garden freshly prepared. I watched as a glimmer of light started to scar it.
Lying on the grass in the park it come be a wondrous feeling to see the ships coming in. Flying down in big circles like birds and landing at the spaceport. They were relaxing to me. Waxing and waining in the litmus sky as it slowly turned a slight red and the clouds turned a golden orange.
These are moments we want to capture. Preserve forever in the pinky archive of our mind.

“Tell me what’s on your mind.”
My older brother gave me a bit of a start. I relaxed again as soon as I realized it was his voice. Comforting like warm milk and as fresh as the twilight forming above me.
“It’s like watching geese back home. They come into land so like them on a frosty spring morning, or like just after the great migration. Tired but finally home and able to again think of things that do not have anything to do with being in the air or travel or currents or storms.”
My brother watched a class 7 slowly decent like a airborn goose laden with far from the summer land and coming to a springy frost filled land.
“Yes. I see what you mean. It’s good. Though I wasn’t born their like you it does comfort me.”
“Hey do you think of this land as your home? Or is space your home? I’m never sure.”
“Arline.” My bother rarely used my full name unless he was telling me something that needed paying attention to. “Our mother was born in the icy clutches of Canada. So I think of it as home. Even though I have lived here and in space more that I ever lived in that place.”
“It’s nice to think of home.”
I started to stretch and get ready to get up.
“I do it all the time. I admit. Even in darkest space. I suppose home is really were the heart is.”
I got up and started to do some lunges and yoga moves.
“Hey. Your starting to kid me.”
“No really. That’s what I think my dear sister.”

My older brother had been born a few years before me, in space. It was something mum had been not so happy to talk about. Even though we were only utarinal siblings we were close. Mum had been sure to make sure we had a good solid idea of being their for each other and sharing our memories and moments. It was something I cherished. She had been so wise and had always been a fantastic inspiration to me.
After a long pause my brother started to talk again. “It’s been such a long time since I thought of her.”
I knew who he was talking about.
“So like our mother. Sacrificing herself like that. ”
“Mmmm”. I did a final peacock stretch and then turned to face him.

My brother wore a thick brown leather jacket that almost stretched to his ankles. His hair black but short and almost ready for the military hairdresser to take their razor to it. The marks of his rank on the sleeve and his shoes where standard issue brown leather, shiny as a does eyes. I looked at his face. His nose still slightly crooked. I remembered that little incident. His cheeks our mothers rose tinted and full but his lips and forehead were like his fathers stern and long. He was hansom but oddly boyish really.

He stood a clear foot taller than me and up the hill I had been lying on. I walked up to him and sternly looked at him.
“I don’t really know. I suppose that’s what you saw in her. Mothers wisdom. Mothers ideals. She was also so beautiful. Such a lovely person to me. I respected her, and miss her. I cannot really fathom her passing. You seem like a empty vase, a solid and hansom structure but without the flowers and greenery. They have been removed. Before they even begun to show their fullness. Your loss is so utterly complete.”
My brother looked beyond me, towards the lake and mountain beyond. Long purposeful moments past like the bells of a church saying farewell to the new recruits off to a loosing war. Chilled but trying, trying so painfully to let go.
“I’m going to be in the city a while. I would appreciate if I could stay with you.”
His face blank but I knew it was full of sorrow for his wife. I simply nodded.
“Of course. As long as you need. ”

I watched him walk to his car. It took a long time and it was getting cold. I got on my motorbike and started to leed him home. I felt like a tugboat bringing in the only ship left in the fleet after a hard navel battle. It was damaged and sad looking but so full of pride at having survived the long battle.