TCH

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HAA: In 1937 Kim, Sofie, and Dory were twelve, that wonderful last year of their tweens when their bodies were gathering power for the big changes soon to come. They talked about boys in abstract terms that had little to do with the little barbarians that were actual boys.

HAB: In slumber parties the girls practiced necking with each other so long as it was understood that one of the neckers had to be a boy in theory. Sofie Krause "at great personal sacrifice" played the role of beau nine times out of ten, especially when Doriel was up.

HAC: At the Green Dome private school the tight group of girlfriends passed flowery love letters to each other. Girl-love at age twelve is of such a high order that it knows no jealousy. Share and share alike, everything from lunch to little masterpieces of amorous soliloquy.

HAD: Doriel. No last name. Black eyes, long jet black hair tied in the obligatory Church pony tail but with the cutest bangs ever. The first of the three to start growing knockers, Dory was already, at just age twelve, a full six feet tall. Sha was going to be a giantess.

HAE: Dory loved books like The Hobbit and aimed for straight Bs to please har father, who was very often absent, while not appearing too bookish. Dory heard voices. When sha was younger, it was a fun game, but over time Dory came to dislike being a telephone switchboard.

HAF: Eventually, Dory insisted the Voices keep it limited to important calls. Sha enforced this by threatening to keep the Voices up at night with voices of har own. Over time sha learned sha was a member of the B'nei Elohim and sha learned what that really meant.

HAG: Sofie Krause: A tomboy who kept her ash-blond hair short, with no Church-mandated pony tail. When she grew older she was the only girl on the football team. Like Kim and Dory, Sofie was required to wear woolen skirts to class rather than trousers, which always annoyed her.

HAH: One Halloween morning Dory came dressed as a pirate's wench. Sha had ripped har dress into long strips so har pinup-model legs could poke out when sha walked. When Sofie saw that she felt a sweet electric shock and knew she had graduated to full-service tribade.

HAI: Kim wasn't ready to let down her father. So she gritted her teeth, wore the damned pony-tail, and when she ventured outside of Headwater she tried to ignore the comments at the edge of her hearing like, "Oh hey, there goes another Bunner, look at her hair."

HAJ: For science class the teacher paired everyone off as lab partners. Kim ended up with Sofie, and Dory ended up with har cousin Gabriel Shybear. Everyone assumed those two would gravitate together and do the usual Church of Green Dome thing, but that was never to be.

HAK: Sofie kicked Gabriel out of hez seat with "no offense pally" and sent hem shambling towards Kim, an adjustment in the teacher's choice. Che could tell Sofie and Dory were a unit so che grew close to Kim, even holding her hand skating at Lake 13 when it was frozen over.

HAL: By the springtime in 1939 Sofie and Dory were asking if Kim and Gabriel had pitched woo and what it was like. "We did indeed pitch woo," Kim said. "He feels like a rubber wet suit stretched over a suit of armor. Soft on the surface but with a hard core underneath. I like it."

HAM: In the summer of '39 the same Lake 13 was for skinny-dipping and there was no more keeping one of the oldest Red Wing family secrets. Dory already knew, but now Kim and Sofie knew as well that Gabriel Shybear was both a boy and a girl at the same time. And che wasn't unique.

HAN: The four of them stood naked in a square, ten yards out into Lake 13 up to their thighs in cool water with no body modesty at all because they were good friends and nobody else was there. The boy part of Gabriel was doing what fourteen year old boy parts do around girls.

HAO: Kim asked about the one ball, so Gabriel lifted it and showed hez labia majora behind it. "The other ball is inside me, Kim, it's a real ovary. I could get pregnant." Kim glanced at hez small breasts and nipples, which didn't look like they were just for decoration either.

HAP: "Gabriel is what we call a jen," Dory said. "Now take my momma, che's an ambi. The genitals are the other way around. If you told hem to fuck hemself che could literally do it." Gabriel, who heard that joke before, still cracked up. But Kim and Sofie were stunned to silence.

HAR: When Gabriel saw their unbelief che said, "Recall your scripture. Genesis six four. There were giants in the earth in those days. When the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men they bore children to them. The same became the mighty men of old, men of renown."

HAS: Kim processed this, put it together with Gabriel's height of six feet seven, then said, incredulously, "You're saying you're actually one of the nephilim?"

Dory came to the defense of har cousin. "Che's saying we both have copies of our grandparents' Z sex chromosomes.

HAT: "What about you?" Sophie asked, looking at Dory. "You're Gabriel's cousin so why didn't you end up with a dangler?"

"I'm not a nephil, I'm an angel. That's why I'm even taller than Gabriel and I've got two girly bits. A little bit harder to see, but that's why we're here."

HAU: Sha reached down to spread things open for their view. They were not perfectly identical, only the lower set had a urethra. Then Dory looked askance at both of har friends. "None of this should be new to you, Kim. Sofie? Don't you two believe the Book of Green Dome?"

HAV: "Of course I believe all that stuff in the Green Book and the Bible," Kim answered. "God, heaven, miracles, the empty tomb, everyone believes it happened then. But nobody believes it happens now."

"She's right," Sofie said. "Nobody admits it, but she's absolutely right."

HAW: "If you were just talking about the Bible you'd have a point," Gabriel said. "Half the Green Book is corrections to the stories in the Bible. But the new claims in the Book of Green Dome? Everything in there really happened. It's like no other holy text ever written."

HAX: Kim and Sophie accepted this rebuke and nodded their heads silently, unprepared to call their best friends liars. Besides, the evidence was there for them to see between the legs of their friends. Kim turned to Gabriel and asked, "The archangel Gabriel, you're that Gabriel?"

HAY: Dory and Gabriel locked eyes briefly, and Dory chose to speak. "I hate to say there are things we can't tell you, at least not now. I think later you'll understand why we couldn't talk. But I can teach you the proper pronouns for ambe and jan, yen and yeng, men and women."

HAZ: Gabriel, Kim, Sofie and Dory were all firmly middle-class, evidenced by their attendance at the Church's private school. Their parents were sufficiently well-off to provide instruments when they took band class, except Kim's only instrument was her own voice.

HBA: As the 1940s began Kim Zinter was a member of the Green Dome Temple Girl's Choir. She was an expressive mezzo-soprano with a voice that belied her fifteen years and verged on being too breathy and sensuous for spiritual music. Listeners compared her favorably to Peggy Lee.

HBB: Dory played a double-bass standing on an end-pin sha had lengthened to be more comfortable. Sometimes sha set down har French bow and plucked the strings pizzicato with meandering bass lines, a soundtrack to daydreams sha was a black cat slinking around at night.

HBC: Sofie Krause pounded the skins with all the power that made her a formidable offensive guard, yet sha ran effortlessly in and around Dory's machine-like bass, averting expectations and punctuating her licks with sixteenth-note drum fills as endlessly unique as snowflakes.

HBD: Gabriel Shybear had no innate musical talent but che figured that was the reason che was taking band class, after all. After a semester learning scales on a recorder Gabriel took up the saxophone, Kim started dabbling on piano and the kids had a basic jazz combo on their hands.

HBE: Many who knew the details said that Robyn replacing Kim Zinter on keys and vocals in 1943 didn't really count as a change in the band's line-up. Later some even said that when Rebekah Redstar replaced Gabriel Shybear in 1947 that wasn't really a change as well.

HBF: Sophie Krause and Dory Twofeathers formed the constant pulsing heart of the act and performed until the early 21st Century. After Sophie changed her name to just Hunky in 1942 the band would, in fact, be named Hunky-Dory after the rhythm section, much like Fleetwood Mac.

HBG: Beginning in 1945, for every year ending in a 0 or a 5, which they called a Lustrum, the members of Hunky-Dory would drop whatever they were doing, get together, jam in the winter, record in the spring, and tour in the summer. It was a ritual they never allowed to lapse.

HBH: As the 20th Century rolled on Hunky-Dory dabbled with and even gave birth to an astonishing array of musical styles, but not even the Mick Jagger / Keith Richards / Ronnie Wood / Charlie Watts lineup of The Rolling Stones would come close them in terms of sheer longevity.

HBI: Early on the four most powerful B'nei Elohim came to be called simply the Band. The less powerful B'nei Elohim styled themselves Roadies. And the ones who fell under the sway of Rebekah, or the loyal opposition as Robyn charitably called them, were known as the Groupies.

HBJ: In April 1942 word arrived of the Doolittle Raid after five months of unrelenting bad news following Pearl Harbor. In celebration, the conductor of the Green Dome Temple School band class led a recital of patriotic John Philip Sousa marches, attended by half of Headwater.

HBK: For an encore the class tore into a cover of the classic Duke Ellington standard "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" with Kim soloing on vocals, Rebekah Redstar on trombone, and Gabriel on sax. It was the first real triumph of the future Hunky-Dory.

HBL: For Kim the only downside in all this was how her father didn't make the recital despite his solemn promise to do so. She could see her mother sitting out there in the gym and how she kept a seat saved for him, but even to the end of the encore the seat was never filled.

HBM: Erik Zinter didn't come home all that night and even the next morning. In the middle of the school day Kim was pulled out of class by Deacon Paul Bergin and driven home. Paul said nothing but Kim began to cry. He found his way to 1301 "V" Street but Kim didn't get out.

HBN: "Home sweet home," Paul said. Kimberly stared at him through blurry eyes, wondering if he was being callous. Then she did get out of his car and proceeded to walk a block to 1301 "U" Street. Sloppy temple records. And that was how Bergin found out where she really lived.

HBO: Paul choose not to follow. At home Clara paced silently. Kim started crying again in sympathy, pleading for her Mom to speak. After a time Clara looked directly at her daughter, building up the willpower to blurt it out to her, and finally she did: "Your father is dead!"

HBP: They both cried until there was nothing more to give, and even when Kim's eyes were bone dry she was still wracked with sobs that trailed off at length to silent grief. Finally Kim started repeatedly asking her mother why and when she was ready to speak Clara had answers.

HBQ: According to Prophet Peter Two Feathers, Erik Zinter was killed by an ancient relic called the Golden Gift, something Kim and Clara assumed was merely an allegorical literary device to move the plot of the Green Book along, perhaps like the whale in the book of Jonah.

HBR: In the scripture of the Church of Green Dome heaven was a real place with walled cities ruled by angelic kings. One time Michael sent Prince Melchizedek, the son of Melchiyahu and grandson of Gordiel, down to Earth to set aside a people who would receive the oracles of God.

HBS: Peter Twofeathers revealed that for ten years he had lent Erik Zinter the Golden Gift, the very relic wielded by Melchizedek in the story, to honeycomb Green Dome with tunnels to access isolated pockets of coal. This had allowed Headwater to prosper through the Depression.

HBT: But overnight there was a cave-in that smashed Erik's helmet lantern and plunged him into total darkness. He couldn't dig his way out, even with the Golden Gift, because he got turned around and bored deeper into the mountain rather than back out towards the way he came.

HBU: As Erik created a greater volume of space to walk through the remaining oxygen was stretched too thin and there were also suction losses through the Golden Gift itself. It wasn't until dawn that men with picks and spades broke through the cave-in and reached Erik's body.

HBV: Peter assured Clara that her husband died without any pain. He simply fell asleep and never woke up again. Also he praised the memory of Erik for never violating a sacred trust that some in the Church were saying was more than even the Prophet had the authority to grant.

HBW: But Clara admitted she had a hard time taking all of this in. Peter was asking her to accept at face value that the Golden Gift was real, and the scriptures were literally true. Shared beliefs were for binding a faith community, not to actually...believe.

HBX: "When you attend the Final Rite you will come to see see the wisdom of it," said Peter Twofeathers. "But try to be strong, Clara. In the days to come there will be those who will tell you that God punished your husband with death for misusing his holy gift to the Church."

HCA: In the aftermath of her father's death Kim stopped going to school. Sofie and Dory came over after a couple of days to see if their friend was well. She was not, but their visit elevated Kim from her grief a microscopic bit and her mother Clara noticed that.

HCB: After Sophie's mother came to pick her daughter up Clara asked her to wait until Dory's parents arrived as well, because she had a request to make of all of them. When everyone was together Clara said, "I'd like Sofie and Dory to be with Kim for her father's funeral."

HCC: Susan Krause shook her head. "I don't think so. They're just school girls and a funeral is a very solemn thing."

Dory's father Ithuriel agreed. "Clara, this should be a private family time for you and Kim."

"But we have no family here," Clara said. "My folks are back east."

HCD: Dory's mother Anael pointed out that Clara still had in-laws, but she shook her head. "They're Bunner Incarnate. They always held me at arm's length. Kim is taking the death of Erik very hard but when the girls came over today I saw how they were like a family to her."

HCE: Ithuriel said, "I'm not worried about Dory. I'm worried more about Sofie and Kim. When you are on the other side of the Final Rite, Clara, you will no longer have the childlike faith that our Lord said was more blessed than the faith of who believe because they have seen."

HCF: It was a gentle negotiation. Clara got permission for Kim's friends to be with her for the funeral. Ithuriel persuaded Clara to have Kim sit out the actual Final Rite, and rarely in history have so many future lives been so deeply affected by so trivial a choice.

HCG: It would have been unseemly to run around playing while the body of Kim's father was sent to his long home along with three other Greendomites from around the country, so they sat around in the Temple basement. Volunteers prepared dinner for the families of the dead.

HCH: Gabriel Shybear joined them after breaking away from a group of boys smoking outside. Che seemed to know a lot of secrets about the Temple. Gabriel led the girls into a supply room which wasn't locked. Kim, Sofie, and Dory tagged along because there was nothing else to do.

HCI: There was no electric light in the temple attic, only a window with blinds and it was a gloomy January day outside. There was an old piano which was probably broken. Kim avoided the urge to play it. There was a map of Headwater and many of the usual church odds and ends.

HCJ: The kids found unused hymnals, stacks of old temple bulletins, empty mason jars, and dozens of stacked folding chairs. Sofie found a cane carved from gnarled wood and shifted it from hand to hand to get the feel of it. Gabriel stopped moving and went, "Shhh! What's that?"

HCK: The children froze but the only thing they heard was organ music and the choir bleeding through the ceiling from the main sanctuary upstairs. "Very funny," Sofie said, giving Gabriel a friendly shove. One of the walls was unfinished. Gabriel moved aside a piece of plywood.

HCL: The plywood had concealed another dark space beyond. It was so black inside it drank their vision like a sponge. "I've never been in there," Gabriel admitted. None of the girls wanted to go in there but Gabriel dared them to go. Naturally Sofie was the first one through.

HCM: Gabriel immediately followed Sofie to show che wasn't afraid. Dory and Kim were afraid of the dark hole and unafraid to admit it, but they didn't want to be left alone so they squeezed in also. Gabriel burned through ten matches before Dory brought a candle from the attic.

HCN: The kids found they were in a space that was about four times larger than the attic but there was no wooden floor, just natural stone and dirt rising halfway to the ceiling. Something like a rocky igloo reached nearly to the ceiling from the center of a circle of stones.

HCO: The ceiling creaked as someone walked to and fro overhead. Gabriel did a complete circuit of the space, then said to Dory, "This is part of our family history!"

She said, "This must be the very summit of Green Dome. Wanica built that cairn, and the altar right over it."

HCP: When Gabriel saw the blank faces of Sofie and Kim che was astonished. "Did you forget what they taught us in Sunday school? This is the Island in the Sky where God gave Chief Wanica the Golden Gift." "And God gave Moses the stone tablets," answered Kim. "I read that too."

HCQ: Dory pointed to the ceiling. "What do you think is happening up there right now?"

Kim considered her answer, because she didn't wish to offend her friends. Then: "It's a simple cremation of my father's body and the bodies of three other Greendomites, spiced with ritual."

HCR: Dory said, "Kim, you saw Gabriel when we went swimming once at Lake 13 and you still think the Buron is just a bunch of stories they invented?"

"I went to the library and looked that up," Kim replied. "Gabriel's a hermaphrodite. It's not a big deal. Sometimes it happens."

HCS: Gabriel rolled up hez sleeves and approached Kim, flipping both hands over a few times to show they were empty. Che said, "Hold out your hand." Gabriel clasped her hand, and when che took it away again there was a stack of 1942 silver half-dollars. "Explain that, if you can."

HCT: Kimberly put the coins in her purse because money was money and if Gabriel wanted to give her ten bucks so be it. She said, "Magic tricks, Gabriel, just like what they're showing Momma upstairs right now. Why can't people just be amazed at God for what he really did do?"

HCU: Dory threw up har hands in mock despair at har heathen friends. "White Wingers," sha muttered. Gabriel moved toward the cairn. "We'll never have the chance to be in here again," che said. "I want to see if it's really there." "And you'll go straight to hell," warned Sofie.

HCV: "There's no hell in Greendomism," Gabriel snorted, and che picked the boulder most likely to be easily moved. As soon as it did a mouse escaped. Dory and Kim screamed together when they saw it. Without a word Sofie let her cane fly in an arc over her head upon the creature.

HCW: Sofie was just hoping to scare the mouse away but she ended up hitting the critter instead with a lucky shot. "This is a church right? So there's your church mouse." Dory shifted immediately from fear to maternal concern. The animal was in obvious pain. "You crippled it!"

HCX: "I didn't mean to actually hit it!" They all took a closer look at the creature. The head of the mouse was misshapen with a huge white bump on the back that was nearly as large as the mouse's head itself. "Look what you did, Sofie!" Dory complained. "Look at that bump!"

HCY: "That isn't from anything she did," Gabriel said. "He didn't go in the cairn like that. He must have waited for someone to crack a gap in the rocks wider so he could get out, the poor little guy." Sofie finished him off with the end of her cane. "This is better for him."

HCZ: Its head was now a flat furry coin. Nobody knew what the white bump meant. Sophie scratched the dirt with her cane and dug a little grave for the dead mouse "Rest in pieces," she said, then remembered, too late, that they were at the funeral of Kimberly's father. "Sorry."

HDA: Gabriel returned to the cairn and tugged on the stone once more. Sophie gave him a hand, and the boulder slowly swung open like a hinged door, just enough that they could squeeze inside the stone igloo one at a time. Dory brought light. A plain white dome lay inside.

HDB: "So that's God," said Kim. Gabriel shook hez head. "No, but God made this. And don't say God made everything, Sofie, even you know better." The skin of the dome was dotted with thousands of little holes. Some of these sported needles, like a cactus. Kim touched it.

HDC: That was something Kim ought not to have done. With a sound like a tiny squirt of steam her fingertip was instantly skewered. Kim pulled her hand away involuntarily before the pain even registered. After that the white dome sported another extruded spine from its surface.

HDD: Dory was a little more wise. Sha grabbed a pencil out of har purse and leaned over the artifact with the eraser tip prudently standing in for har finger. Sha verified it was ready to defend itself at any time. Gabriel thought about kicking it but che was wearing moccasins.

HDE: Sofie was not afraid. She allowed her own finger to be skewered by the white dome and doesn't even wince. "Here we go, Kim. Whatever trouble you're in for getting stung by this thing, I'm in the same trouble." So she has the final victory over Gabriel in the test of courage.

HDF: After that they began to slide back out of the cairn, but they heard footsteps in the storage room next door. Dory put out the candle as everyone held their breath and tried not to make a sound. Deacon Paul looked into the dark gap and could just make out two silhouettes.

HDG: Bergin screamed at them to get out. Blushing, Gabriel, Kim, Sofie and Dory scrambled out from beneath the altar, then out of the supply room. They sat together in the basement lunchroom. The deacon locked the supply room, and true to Gabriel's words they never returned.

HDH: Dory's only casualty was a pencil with a soggy eraser. Sha said, "Thanks for that little adventure, Gabriel. I always knew the avatar of Chokhmah was real, but actually seeing it is something I'll never forget." Just then the attendees began to filter in from upstairs.

HDI: During the meal after the Final Rite Kim thought her mother seemed very different. The grief was gone. Clara said, "It's all true, Kim. Everything in the Green Book is really true!" She no longer needed a leap of faith to give her assent to the things taught by the Church.

HDJ: Kim knew her mother had been a nurse in the First World War and had seen things in France so terrible she refused to even talk about them, things which would crush the faith of anyone who believed in a good God. It was good to see some semblance of hope restored in her.

HDI: But Kim and Sophie needed more convincing. Over the next few days they grew bumps at the back of their head just like that poor church mouse. Dr. Wahkan said not to worry but Clara disagreed to the point of quitting her job at the little hospital and taking Kim to Lusk.

HDJ: Two days later Sofie's parents brought her to Lusk as well but the doctors there could do little more than watch the girls get worse. The bumps opened up like flowers to reveal stiff black hairs inside. By June 1942 the girls were under federal quarantine in parts unknown. HEA: Kim and Sofie had no idea where they had been taken, but it was a new place. There was no use mincing terms, they were in prison, but it doubled as a clinic. It was an odd combination of almost magical science and shabby construction with nails sticking through the walls.

HEB: There were no windows in the clinic where they were held, but from June to August of 1942 the girls could hear furious construction outside that only ceased at night. During those months their captor, Dr. Ian Trochmann, learned maddeningly few things about their condition.

HEC: The white D-shaped cup emerging from their scalp was made of bone. The cups had exactly fifty-five graphite bristles growing out of a floor. If the bristles were crushed or snapped off they grew back like the lead in a mechanical pencil. Dr. Trochmann had two cables made.

HED: The b'nei elohim would call them Purple Cables, even after many copies were made that weren't actually purple. But for Dr. Trochmann's purposes the cables proved to be useless. He would print squiggles from the girls on a fat roll of paper but didn't know what they meant.

HEE: When Trochmann put a 15 millivolt level on the pins both Kim and Sofie reported strange total-body sandpapery sensations they found very /unpleasant and refused to endure again. Hooking the girls together with the Purple Cable was thought too risky in the early evaluation.

HEF: One time Kim and Sofie were playing Eights, and Kim heard a silent shout in her head that, despite its silence, sounded exactly like Dory. She said, "DISCARD THE QUEEN!"

Kim replied to the voice with a mental shout of her own. "IT'S NOT EVEN THE RIGHT SUIT!" "DO IT!"

HEG: Kim obeyed the voice, dropped the queen, and Sofie's eyes went much wider than it should have done from a bad play. Dory's voice now told Kim, "SOFIE WILL DISCARD A SIX OF HEARTS, WATCH!" And that's exactly what she did. Now they both knew their friend's voice was real.

HEH: Lest watchers suspected something meaningful in their mutual glances (and they were being watched) Sofie covered by saying, "You don't even know how to play this simple game." She retreated to one corner of the clinic, Kim to another, and they both conversed through Dory.

HEI: Dory had to smooth over some hard feelings about keeping this strange talent a secret. She did this by calmly pointing out that both Kim and Sofie would have thought her plain nuts if she said she could hear voices, plant voices, and even ride behind another person's eyes.

HEJ: When Sofie asked about Jerry, and what his talent was, Dory replied, "DO YOU REMEMBER THAT TRICK YESHUA DID WITH THE LOAVES AND FISHES? JERRY COULD PULL THAT OFF!" It didn't sound like something that would help them get out of the windowless clinic that was their prison.

HEK: Kim suggested punching every number on the lock until the door opened. Dory relayed that to Sofie, who shook her head. They were being watched. One time she killed the lights in their space and saw a glow coming from the "mirror" that stopped soon after. It was a window.

HEL: Kim came up with an idea to end the surveillance. They had to embarrass Doc Troch by making him think that two girls, ages seventeen and confined together for months in a small space, had fallen in love with each other. Sofie thought she could swing it. Dory said behave.

HEM: Kim and Sofie went on strike and did not cooperate with their captors at all. They said no words, but just sat in the clinic all day doing nothing. There were two ways of dealing with all the dead time that were newly available to them after the Change.

HEN: Kim let the clock appear, to her, to race and let her heartbeats seem, to her, to become a low hum. Kim sped up, cruised for a while, then slowed back down. Her muscles got sore from staying in one position but four hours were burned up in as many minutes.

HEO: Sofie tried that too, but she thought the time-lapse method was gross because she could feel her bladder fill up and food moving inside. She preferred to take a series of hour-long jumps in time with her consciousness simply turned off. This was the cat nap method.

HEP: After four meals, two showers, and many other stops to use the restroom or drink some water Kim and Sofie had a rather busy day that compressed a full week of real time. Another three weeks and the lunatics won. The asylum-keepers brought in their biggest gun.

HEQ: This was the self-styled Controller of what he styled DECON. It was the only time Clyde Tolson ever met Kim Zinter and Sofie Krause in person. He said, "Ladies, time for a heart-to-heart."

"Fine," said Sofie. "Start by telling us who the hell you are."

HER: "My name is Clyde Tolson. You and Kim are under the jurisdiction of a branch of the US Department of Justice called DECON, which is short for Domestic Enemies Containment, Observation, and Neutralization."

HES: Kim was pissed off. "Domestic enemies? You must be joking. My father lost an arm fighting the Hun in W.W. One. My mother was a Red Cross nurse Over There. Every Sunday morning after Temple I lead the whole congregation in a rip-roaring rendition of God Bless America."

HET: "You and Sofie have contracted an unknown contagion in a time before there is a proper federal response for that. Bad luck for you, bad luck for everyone. But there are certain Presidential executive orders which could be read, very loosely, as offering such a response."

HEU: "You don't seem afraid to talk to us face-to-face," Kim pointed out. "Doc Troch and Nurse Ramsey ain't scared either."

"If we thought it was transmitted by sneezing you'd be totally isolated. Telling us how you got sick would do much toward getting you home."

HEV: "Alright Mr. Tolson of DECON," Sofie said, "you've explained why you won't unlock the door, now please tell us where we are."

"You're not very far from Headwater," he said. "Just one state over, in fact, near Cody. This is called the Heart Mountain Relocation Center."

HEW: "Relocation center? I don't understand. Who's being relocated?"

"It's easy to understand, Sofie. Last December after Pearl Harbor FDR authorized the incarceration of Nips living on the West Coast. In January DECON stood up. Last February the first camps were built."

HEX: Kim said, "When you say 'Nips' I presume you really mean American citizens with a Japanese ethnic background."

When Tolson had nothing to say to that Sofie said, "Hey Kimmie, I think I'm in the wrong camp. My great-great-great-great-great-great- granddaddy was a German."

HEY: Tolson wagged a finger. "This camp is the third biggest city in Wyoming but only seven undesirables out of every ten are Nips. The President's executive order was the kind of gift that comes around only once in a generation, but strike while the iron is hot, they say."

HEZ: Sofie said, "So I'm one of your 'undesirables' but I don't even feel sick."

"Sofie, your brain isn't even alive anymore!"

"Then how could we even be having this conversation?"

Tolson turned to Dr. Ian Trochmann. "Please tell the young ladies what we've learned so far."

HFA: "It spreads like a virus," the doctor said, "but I've never seen anything like it before. It literally remodels nerve and brain cells. No more potassium and sodium ions pumped by ATP through a membrane. Your neurons are now little gadgets with sliding levers and the like."

HFB: "What do you mean by gadgets?" asked Kim.

"Both of you girls have been hooked up to an Offner Dynograph and it shows nothing. You're literally brain dead. Special Agent in Charge Tolson thinks you may be the first victims of a nasty Nazi weapon we've never seen before."

HFC: "I don't like you very much," Sofie said, directing her glance at both men in turn, "But I can see you want something. Well, we want something first. We want the windows disguised as mirrors removed from our living space."

Dr. Trochmann tried to play dumb. "What mirrors?"

HFD: "Come now, Doctor," said Sofie, "you must think we're just stupid girls. But we've had a lot of time on our hands locked up in here. Naturally we found your two filthy peeping-Tom mirrors and people looking in on us."

"I see there's no fooling you, Sofie," Tolson said.

HFE: "Sometimes I call Sofie a scrub," Kim said, "and she knows I'm only kidding. But Mr. Tolson, I'll match a scrub at Green Dome against any B student among the publics anywhere."

"It damn well better be that way, Kimmie, the amount of money daddy shells out for tuition."

HFF: "The one-way mirrors are not used for what you think they are."

Kim said, "Look, Clyde, yeah maybe we're infected and you have some order that says you can hold us in this quarantine of yours, but we still have one fundamental right."

"What do you mean? What right?"

HFG: "Like plain old-fashioned privacy!" For the first time Tolson and Trochmann became aware that Kim and Sofie were holding hands. The doctor blushed.

Sofie saw the opening and moved tighter up against Kim. "What did you expect? We're seventeen and cooped up together."

HFH: "I hope you get what we're trying to say here fellas," Sofie said, fluttering her fingers. "I hope we don't have to spell it out."

"I know exactly what you mean," said Tolson, and he truly did. "We've started out on the wrong foot."

"Let's begin once more," offered Kim.

HFI: The mood of the men brightened visibly at this breakthrough. Tolson said, "I need to tighten up security a bit but I'll let you have your privacy. Curtains on your side of the mirrors."

When Tolson left the clinic he never saw the girls again, but not for lack of trying.

HFJ: The girls were attentive to the tighter security arrangements Tolson mentioned, but the only real change seemed to be how their tormentors would look at a scrap of paper from their pocket before punching the buttons that would let them out, which meant a daily code change.

HFK: Sofie almost despaired but Kim explained (via Dory to maintain secrecy) that the change did not make their task any harder at all. They just had to pick a range and try all the combos in it night after night until the daily shifting combo happened to fall into that range.

HFL: Next to the door leaving the clinic was a square keypad with the digits 0 through 9, and the letters A through F, and Kim knew from listening that the combo was only four keystrokes. But as soon as she started trying them a very vivid daydream of time appeared in her mind.

HFM: To Kim her future was like a self-assembling house of cards. She could see the top, ten nights later, when doing the range from 7000 to 7FFF she punched 7BC6 and the door clicked open. But Kim wanted out that very night, so she started trying the range from 1000 to 1FFF.

HFN: The house of cards collapsed and assembled itself again. This time the answer was four days away. Kim began trying higher ranges, and got jackpots ranging from two days to two weeks. Then in her mind she saw the number that was their ticket home that very night: D1FC.

HFO: But it was November and they were wearing nothing but slippers and hospital gowns. That in itself was part of Tolson's security. Kim told Sofie to gather blankets and towels and whatever else she could find to create makeshift extra clothing to shield them from the cold.

HFP: "This is going to frighten Agent Tolson to no end," said Kim as they both bundled up. "This, and especially what we do after this."

She could visualize the events leading to their escape from the camp stacking up in her mind. "Good," said Sofie, "let him shit his pants."

HFQ: Sofie Krause and Kimberly Zinter saw the two Purple Cables hanging in a rack on their way out of the clinic and requisitioned them as belts to make their ad hoc ensemble of blankets almost sort of hang together. Then they stepped out into Wyoming on a cold November night.

HGA: After crossing L street, 11th rises from the flats of Headwater and dead-ends at the home of Dory Twofeathers almost a hundred feet higher. From her backyard the hill rises another sixty feet, bald and scraped raw by the wind, but the summit has a stand of three birches.

HGB: No one owned the top of the nameless hill owing to the difficulty of building a house there, but for generations a ramshackle cluster of tree forts was built between the three birch trees. When Kim and Sofie were taken away Dory and Gabriel spent much of their time up there.

HGC: From this vantage Dory and Gabriel could see all of Headwater spread out to the north and east. To the south the railroad looped around Mt. Motorcycle to form the end of the line. West over an 'S'- shaped bend in the Squaw River was Lake 13 lying at the foot of Green Dome.

HGD: Looking down, Dory and Gabriel saw Special Agent Bill Sullivan toiling up the mossy bald and when he was closer he called from them to come down to have a chat. Dory invited him to come up into her tree fort instead, and after a moment considering this, he decided to try it.

HGE: Agent Sullivan managed to reach the high railed platform where Dory and Gabriel were sitting. He opened his mouth to introduce himself but Dory spoke first. "You are Special Agent William Sullivan of the FBI and you came up here to ask us about Kim Zinter and Sofie Krause."

HGF: "How did you know all that, Dory?" She said, "You've asking people all over Headwater about my friends and some of those people are on my wavelength." He seemed puzzled by that answer. "Where are Kim and Sofie now, Agent Sullivan?" asked Gabriel. "No one seems to know."

HGG: "I'm not at liberty to say where they are right now, Gabriel, but I can say they are very sick, and their doctors still don't know how the girls came down with what they have. That's where the two of you can help. We know the last time they were together was at the funeral."

HGH: "If you've been asking about us," Gabriel said, "then you already know we didn't actually attend the Last Rite for Erik Zinter. We were downstairs the whole time, the four of us." "Yes and Paul Bergin said he found the four of you in the storage room where you oughtn't be."

HGI: "It was unlocked," shrugged Dory. "We were bored, so we had a look." "Did you find anything unusual?" "No sir, unless maybe a piano." "After Paul chewed our ass and booted us out," Gabriel put in, "he locked it back up. Maybe he'll let you look if you flash your badge."

HGJ: "I did go up to the Temple flashing my badge, Gabriel, but Paul Bergin's boss, Peter Twofeathers, is a little too old-fashioned for my taste. He's of a mind that I need to get a judge to sign a warrant before I can go snooping around in the basement of the holy precincts."

HGK: "He can be like that," Dory said. Gabriel nodded his head in agreement. "I'm very sorry we can't tell you anything more." Agent Sullivan reached into his jacket and pulled out an envelope. "Anyway here's a belated birthday present for you, young Gabriel Skybear."

HGL: What Gabriel thought was a birthday card turned out to be a notice for the draft. Agent Sullivan pointed over the railing. "See down there over Dory's house? I know it's not your school, that's Headwater High. In the gym you'll find Dr. Wahkan and two other fellows."

HGM: "I don't understand, sir." "There's not much to it, Gabriel. You tell me how Kim and Sofie got sick and I make this draft notice go away. You say nothing, and down the hill you go to see who gets you, the Army or the Navy." "Honestly, sir, I've told you everything I know."

HGN: "Dory will you help the young man out? War is hell. You might not ever see cousin Gabriel again after he reports to Boot." Dory shook her head, refusing to even mention the mouse. Sullivan said, "Last chance, Gabriel. No? OK, suit yourself, son. Go kill yourself some Japs."

HGO: After Sullivan left Gabriel suggested a game of Cartel, which was the least likely thing Dory thought could come out of his mouth after what just happened. "And by Cartel I mean strip Cartel of course." That raised the stakes a notch from losing little pink pieces of paper.

HGP: The dice flew and round and round the board they went. Gabriel bought up 42nd Street, Broadway, and Park Avenue. All he needed was Wall Street for a full Cartel. Dory scooped up the Appian Way, the Burma Road, and Easy Street, and all she needed was the Yellow Brick Road.

HGQ: Dory thought it strange Gabriel wanted to play a game when he'd just been handed a draft notice and she didn't have her heart in it. Gabriel got another half-Cartel going with Mulholland Drive and Sunset Boulevard but Dory blocked by getting Bourbon Street and Main Street.

HGR: Gabriel had some lucky rolls and avoided landing on any of Dory's properties, while Dory kept landing on Gabriel's stuff and started to have a serious cash flow problem. She auctioned off her belt and nylons for a little breathing space but then the dice really turned on her.

HGS: Dory started landing on Gabriel's Cartels repeatedly. She was methodically stripped of most of her cash and started showing more and more skin to stay in the game. Soon Gabriel owned Dory's dark yellow dress with white polka dots, and after that her knit rayon undies and bra.

HGT: But Dory rallied a little bit near the end. The properties associated with her knee socks and little black Mary Jane shoes, which Gabriel didn't want, were enough to complete a second Cartel, creating a kind of death row on one side of the board. Soon Gabriel was shirtless.

HGU: Another round. Dory demanded his pants. But Gabriel simply put on Dory's bra and dress, and when che was sufficiently covered, che dropped trou and handed them over. "A man shalt not wear that which pertains to a woman," Dory preached, "for it is an abomination to God!"

HGV: "That verse doesn't apply to me, cuz," said Gabriel. "I'm not a man or a woman." Gabriel landed on the next half of Dory's death row. With insufficient cash to pay Dory she demanded his underwear, which che promptly handed over. The game was over but che was fine with that.

HGW: Under the cover of Dory's yellow dress Gabriel slipped into her panties and together with her bra che had everything che was looking for. Gabriel bid his cousin adieu, left the tree fort, and flounced down the hill to the high school gym to face the local draft board music.

HGX: "You want to tell me about it, son?" the NCO representing the Army drawled after Gabriel showed up. Che looked down at hemself, then caught the sergeant's eye. "I guess I'm a waddyacallitt, homosexual." But the Navy first class petty officer had heard this dodge before.

HGY: "You slackers think that's the easy way out," he growled. "Who's your boyfriend?"

Gabriel blurted out the name of the only male homosexual he actually knew: "Aaron Anton." "We had that Anton fellow in here last month," the Army NCO said. "He's queer as a football bat."

HGZ: Dr. Wahkan knew what Gabriel was trying to do, and he also knew Gabriel wasn't actually going to get drafted. He decided to hurry things along. "Gabriel! About face! Hike up that skirt! Panties at half mast!" Gabriel complied and both military men drew closer to take a look.

HHA: "I was present at Gabriel's birth," said the doctor, "and I've seen hem many times since. Che has a very rare birth defect that gives hem both male and female genitalia. Imagine what they would do to poor Gabriel on a destroyer after three months at sea hunting Japanese subs."

HHB: The Army and Navy representatives looked at Gabriel and realized the doctor wasn't pulling their leg, looked at each other, and nodded agreement. Petty Officer Watson typed up a card classifying Gabriel IV-F: registrant not qualified for military service for physical reasons.

HHC: "Hang on to that card, son," Watson said. "Get it laminated. That's gold. Starting next month you'll have to present proof of your Selective Service status on demand. And Doc, I don't think we'll be back next month. I think we're scraping rock bottom of Headwater now."

HIA:: The girls could see the clinic was one of hundreds of long single-story sixplexes with tarpaper walls, each one surrounded by drainage ditches crossed by gangplanks. Some had their interiors lit. Sofie wanted to knock on a door begging for help but Kim shook her head.

HIB: Instead Kim chose a greenhouse that was empty but locked. She quietly told her friend, "We have special talents now just like Jerry and Dory do. You can break anything you touch. So break that padlock." Sofie didn't believe her, but the lock broke in her hands anyway.

HIC: "How do you like them apples?" Sofie husked. "If I knew I could do that we'd a left that hellhole any time we wanted." Kim shook her head again. "No. It was an electric lock, right? So if you broke it, we'd still be in the clinic." "So how did you get us out of there?"

HID: "I'll explain when we get inside." Sofie was disappointed that the greenhouse was cold. There was a vegetable garden inside, but the glass only kept away the snow and wind. Kim seated herself, plugged one end of the Purple Cable into her head, and offered Sofie the other.

HIE: The D shape of the connector ends ensured they could only go together in the correct way. In the first Sharing by two of the B'nei Elohim, Sofie replayed Kim's memories and learned how the winning door combination appeared in Kim's mind as soon as she started punching out.

HIF: After that, Kim's mind latched onto a much more elaborate scenario for getting out of the internment camp. Sofie could see that also, in all its absurd glory. In just one half hour they would be discovered by the fellow who maintained this greenhouse, one George Kaneko.

HIG: Mr. Kaneko's initial anger at finding Kim and Sofie hiding in his garden would fade to pity when they told him that they had been held prisoner in the clinic since June. Not even the first wartime internees arrived until August. And the girls would learn three new words.

HIH: Mr. Kaneko's parents were issei. They had been born in Japan, but immigrated to America. Mr. Kaneko himself was nisei. The US was the only country he had known, yet George, his parents, his wife and even his three sansei (or third generation) daughters were in the camp.

HII: The extended family of George Kaneko, through hard work, had made a good life on their Washington State strawberry farm. But in the confusing legal tangle after the internment was announced they were tricked into selling their land to whites for pennies on the dollar.

HIJ: Now the Kaneko family was forced to crowd into a single-room in the barracks, lit by a single bulb. They had to shit, shower and shave with other families in community facilities with no partitions for privacy, and eat in a common mess hall that served the whole block.

HIK: This happened out of fear in the wake of Pearl Harbor, and Kim would remind Sofie how Tolson bragged of making it come to be. Sofie would ask Mr. Kaneko if his daughters had any clothing to spare, but he would say they were too young to have anything that would fit her.

HIL: Instead Mr. Kaneko would give them spare garments of his own, even shoes and jackets, and when they were captured, as he was certain they would be, they could claim they stole them from the greenhouse. And Kim would ask why he was so certain they would not escape the camp.

HIM: Mr. Kaneko would bring up the barbed-wire fence that began to go up in October and was nearly complete, much to the bewilderment and dismay of the Japanese-Americans in the camp who thought their perfect acquiescence to the internment would prove their loyalty to America.

HIN: He would say the only gap in the fence was along the west side of the camp away from the train station. It was guarded by two towers with high-power searchlights, and soldiers on horseback to run down any who made it through. Seven lesser-equipped towers guarded the rest.

HIO: Nevertheless, Kim and Sofie would thank Mr. Kaneko for the clothing, depart his greenhouse, and make for the fence line along the train tracks, choosing a section equidistant between two guard towers. They would be spotted but none of the guards would shoot right away.

HIP: Sofie, by simply touching a lamp post, would take out the light overhead by remotely pulling the wires. After that, she would merely touch a fence post to snap it off at the base. The fence would dangle suspended by the two nearest posts permitting the girls to roll under.

HIQ: The guards would begin firing, but none would score hits in the darkness as the girls ran for the tracks. There they would find the manual turnout switch used to move trains onto the siding to unload new internees for the camp. Sofie would break the metal left/right sign.

HIR: With the reflective sign no longer indicating the position of the switch Sofie would throw a lever to divert traffic to the siding just before the next train arrived in a ridiculously opportune coincidence that would say much more about Kim's new sense of timing than luck.

HIS: The train would veer onto the side track as expected, and the engineer would apply the brakes with a will, causing an empty gondola car to stop right in front of the girls just long enough for them to climb inside and get out of sight. Then the train would go into reverse.

HIT: When the train was entirely on the main line again the engineer would manually move the shunt from left to right. The guards couldn't leave their posts and would report the fence breach by telephone. The train would resume its voyage east before anyone knew one had stopped.

HIU: That, in any event, was the escape scenario Kim had foreseen, but the half-hour was up. Mr. Kaneko turned the lights on within his greenhouse, and it was time for the girls to carry out everything Kim had daydreamed to the last detail without a single deviation.

HJA: The freight train between Cody and Billings was not scheduled to make a stop in Powell but on this occasion the engineer stopped to phone in the broken light at the Heart Mountain internment camp. That gave the friends of Kim and Sofie a very brief window to save them.

HJB: The train was a half mile long and nobody knew exactly which car the girls had chosen to stow away on. The last image Dory recieved was the kind of rolling stock with an open top, about half the height of a box car. The girls themselves were unconscious from exposure.

HJC: Peter drove beside the motionless train for a quarter mile before reaching the first run of gondola cars. Everyone got out of the station wagon and began calling Sofie and Kim by name but no heads poked over the sides of the cars. Gabriel used handrails to climb one of them.

HJD: Gabriel didn't see the girls, he saw a railcar filled with inch-thick sheets of steel stacked to within a foot and a half of the top. Same with the next car back. But the car after that had two piles of rags huddled against the front wall that could have been Kim and Sofie.

HJE: Gabriel climbed back down and pointed at the correct gondola car. "They're in that one!" he told Dory, sprinting toward it. He hoped he was right. There was only the light of a waxing gibbous moon for him to see. Then disaster struck: the train began to move once again.

HJF: Instantly Gabriel had the relic that Michael called the Macro in his hand. He squeezed it until the hissing shaft, pitch black on near black in the night, reached its maximum extension of about ten feet. If he squeezed harder it would begin to retract as a shield or dome.

HJG: When the railcar containing the girls approached, Gabriel swiped the active Macro effect through the coupling. This caused an inch-wide swath of steel to disappear. The half of the train with a locomotive continued to accelerate, while the rear half began to slow to a halt.

HJH: Peter moved his vehicle in reverse to follow the part of the train that was left behind, while Gabriel and Dory followed on foot. Dory felt a great sense of relief. No matter what happened now, Kim and Sofie were not on a one-way trip into eternity by way of the Rockies.

HJI: When the rear half of the train rolled to a complete stop Gabriel told Dory to get up there and make sure it really was the girls he saw. Dory climbed to the top, saw it was indeed Kim and Sofie, and burst into tears from the raw emotion of seeing them again after so long.

HJJ: "I'm going to cut them a slide," Gabriel said, and he let the Macro bite into the lip of the open gondola car.

"You're too close," Dory warned. "You'll slice their feet." The front half of the train was slowing to a stop. The engineer had realized something was wrong.

HJK: Gabriel put another nick about two feet aft of the first one and Dory told him that was better. So he made a cut about three feet wide and danced out of the way as the wall of the gondola car and tons of steel spilled to the ground. The chute was as smooth as a mirror.

HJL: Peter Twofeathers joined Gabriel, ready to catch the girls when they came down the slide. Dory dragged Kim to the cut first and let her go. Kim was wrapped in blankets and a man's clothing. Not so much as a single atom of iron was sticking its head up to impede her drop.

HJM: Dory waited for Peter and Gabriel to pile Kim into the station wagon before dragging Sofie to the slide. She could see two flashlights dancing a thou- sand feet away. The crewmen from the caboose were walking toward them to investigate why the train had been snapped in two.

HJN: When Peter and Gabriel were ready Dory pushed Sofie off the railcar into their waiting arms. Dory thought better than to just slide down after her. After everyone was safe in the car Peter drove perpendicular to the tracks so the men with flashlights wouldn't see the plates.

HJO: Gabriel saw that Kim was wearing some short fellow's clothes and flannel coat under a blanket and she looked for all the world like a homeless bum, but everything smelled clean. The car stank worse than Kimberly did. Che dug to reach skin and found she was dangerously cold.

HJP: "No wonder they nearly froze to death," Dory said. "There was just over a foot of steel between them and sixty miles an hour of cold November wind, at two in the morning, in Wyoming. Poor Kim. Poor Sofie."

"Poor Hunky," Sofie corrected, stirring awake under Dory's hands.

HJQ: "Hunky? What?"

"They'll never stop looking for us," Hunky said. "We decided to change our names. Kim is Robyn now."

Gabriel still had a comatose Kim, or Robyn, on his hands.

"What did you do, Dory?" "Skin to skin, Gabriel, that's the secret to it. I know you want to."

HJR: "Naming yourself Hunky Krause won't hide you from the FBI," Peter said.

"Just Hunky," she said. "One name."

"Hunky-Dory," said Dory. "Cute."

"And I want a secret code name just like in the Galaxy's Fall trilogy," she went on. "Call me Sabotage. I can break things."

HJS: The way home doubled back southwest. As Peter was driving past the Heart Mountain "relocation center" Robyn stirred to life, as if sensitive to the mere proximity of her former prison. Luxuriating in the attention Gabriel lavished on her she purred, "I like this afterlife."

HJT: South and east of Cody lies the Big Horn Hot Springs, which are said to be the largest in the world. They form the heart of Wyoming's oldest state park, which is a sort of little brother to Yellowstone. There's even a herd of bison who stick around for the free eatins.

HJU: After Pearl Harbor driving just for the sake of taking a road trip was il- legal, and worst than that it was considered unpatriotic. The purported health benefits of the mineral hot springs in Thermopolis were a viable loophole but gas rationing still took a bite on tourism.

HJV: So when a clergyman of the Church of Green Dome arrived in town with four young adults, an X ration sticker on his windshield, and more than nine hundred dollars in cash, it took very little time to find four rooms clustered around a small private pool at a toasty 104F.

HJW: Hunky and Dory sat close together playing footsie under the translucent water. Robyn and Gabriel sat across from the girls and Peter between them. "Are we safe, stopping here?" Gabriel wondered.

Robyn nodded. "Tolson probably knew we were gone right away but it was dark.

HJX: By the time we were in Cody, Tolson was searching around the camp for two dead girls in hospital gowns and stolen blankets. I reckon about right now he's trying to make heads and tails of that damaged rail car. That we might be here hasn't entered his wildest thoughts."

HJY: An air bubble the width of the pool surfaced, broke, and suddenly everyone was soaking in fizzy water. The head of a sixth person surfaced and everyone instinctively knew it was Michael, even Hunky and Robyn, who had never met hym before. They all stood up in the water.

HJZ: "As you were, everyone," said Michael. "Except Dory and Sofie. You two should remain untangled until this is over."

"Lord, we've agreed to use 'Hunky' for Sofie's new name," said Dory as she sank back into the water. "And Kim is 'Robyn' now. They're both wanted women."

HKA: "Yes you are," agreed Michael. "Robyn, did you tell your friends how long Tolson will be looking for you?"

"Not yet, Lord, but now is as good a time as any to tell them. Thirty years." That brought a wail of despair from Hunky, and Michael turned hyz attention to her.

HKB: "Hello Hunky. Robyn already knows me because she can remember the future, and I met Gabriel, Dory, and Peter while you were still captive, but we've not met. Please tell us what you already know about me."

"I know you are named Michael in the Green Book," she began.

HKC: "How I know that I can't explain. I suppose it's part of this change I signed up for when I let my finger be skewered up on the hill after Robyn went first. I know you're the best fit for what we think of when we think of God, and I know it's not a very good fit at all.

HKD: I know your real body is the sun, and you share that body with Binah. And I know those things because now I realize the book is true after all." Michael shook hyz head with rue. "I wanted to see what it be like if my holy book was about things that really did happen."

HKE: Peter Twofeathers came to Hunky's defense here. "I think when people read the stories in the Bible of talking snakes and talking donkeys, then another story in another ancient book with talking animals rings true. I'm speaking of Aesop's story of the boy who cried wolf."

HKF: Michael laughed because what Peter said was true and hy had never thought of it that way. Of course Hunky and Robyn would think the Green Book was filled with poetry and parables and allegory after being told many passages of the Bible were written in a similar mode.

HKG: "Lord," ventured Gabriel, "may you not think it impertinent to ask, but when you appeared in the pool just now it made me think of when you took me and Dory to the top of Green Dome in a moment. Why could you not have gone to the camp yourself and brought our friends home?"

HKH: "You're Begotten, Gabriel. Your family helped you discover you are the Magician. But the Made are on their own. Without a crisis to overcome Hunky wouldn't be Sabotage, she would just think she was unlucky. Robyn wouldn't be the Seer, she would just think she was crazy.

HKI: And now here you are, safely at point B after escaping from point A, bathing in milky water that smells like brimstone, but not to get clean I imagine."

"Some say this water has health benefits, Lord," said Peter. "We just didn't want to spend another night in the car."

HKJ: "What awaits at point Z, Lord?" asked Dory. "Will you say why the b'nei elohim exist, and why we can do the things we do?"

"You already know the ancient controversy, Dory. I am blocked from communicating with any eloah on the other side of my parents, and so is Binah.

HKK: But we can listen, and last year about when Pearl Harbor was attacked there was even bigger news. Have you ever listened to Ma Perkins?"

"Land o' Goshen, Lord, there ain't a hull lot of folks never heard Ma."

"I see you have. And now so has the eloah named Gevurah."

HKL: "Oh, that is wonderful news, Lord. That means you've won!"

"No, Dory, what it means is that for the eleventh time in history, the community of elohim has received signals from planet-dwellers. But Gevurah only has a direction to Earth, not the distance. That comes later.

HKM: Soon other elohim will pick up broadcasts from Earth and realize you are not out of reach. Ein Sof will have found the Students at last! And they will wonder how I can be a stable yellow sun in their midst yet remain unquickened, and things will grow sticky for Keter.

HKN: Meanwhile all the elohim listen with rapt attention to the first soap opera, sponsored by Oxydol, the whiter, whiter soap, and they fail to understand a single word. But I have pinned the broadcasts down to 1933, so I know who Gevurah must be. Humans know him as Sirius."

HKO: Gabriel said, "I wonder if the elohim will be coming to visit us, now that they know we're here." "They will send avatars, Gabriel, like remote-controlled rockets, but only as flybys. After it gets a certain distance from an eloah the link is too thin to pass any propellant.

HKP: So to finally answer Dory's question, starting from right here at point B, you're going to help me catch one of those incoming avatars at point Z and bring it inside myself. And that will not be easy at all, because they will be moving at seven-tenths of light-speed.

HKQ: And none of this can be forced upon you because all of this, all of human history, in fact, is nothing more than the greatest love story never told: overcoming every artificial barrier Keter and Daat and Chesed can throw up to block the wedding of elohim and humanity."

HKR: When che heard these words Gabriel swam out around Peter to face Robyn, stood up tall to brace his courage, looked her in the eyes, and said, "From the day we became lab partners in school I loved you. Every day you were gone and only Dory could reach you it tore me apart.

HKS: Then Michael said we had one narrow chance to save your life and I couldn't sleep for a minute until I saw you again, and when I did you were frozen half to death on that stack of steel. It was a life changing moment, Robyn. I want to spend the rest of my life with you."

HKT: Robyn waded out to face Gabriel and took each of hez hands in her own. "And I love you too, Gabriel. It's true. I loved you even after that time at Lake 13 and your lesson on nephilim biology. But we're Church of Green Dome and you know there's rules. Cousin Dory is for you."

HKU: "Whoa," said Hunky, clearing her throat and wading out a little bit too. "I know the scripture says never put God to the test but here's a much smaller love story than human history, Lord, with much smaller artificial barriers. If you can't fix this I won't take your job."

HKV: All eyes turned to Dory, who nodded her head. "I'm with Hunky on this, Lord. Robyn becomes Mrs. Gabriel Shybear. That's point C."

Michael said, "Why not? I never set down mandatory cousin-marriage. That was Lange."

"It will split your church in two, Lord," warned Peter.

HKW: "I know it will, Peter, and the external reality will finally conform with the internal reality."

Peter tried to shine a good light on it. "Once the nomadic people of the plains had to choose between removing to the reservations or starving. The Church was a third way."

HKX: "We can still save something of the Church," said Michael. "We'll move the remnant to another place. But for now, Peter, take these young people back to Headwater and announce the betrothal: Gabriel to Kimberly. That's the important thing. Do not use her new name Robyn."

HKY: Peter bowed his head and said, "Yes, Lord."

And the decision having been made, Robyn slipped into a daydream of the consequences. She croaked, "Oh, poor Gabriel. Poor me!"

"Seeing all that, Robyn, will you still marry hem?"

She nodded in the affirmative.

HKZ: "But how will it happen, Lord? I'll be dead."

Michael did a little hand wave. "Dead? Tut tut. A temporary inconvenience. Remember how Yeshua was wiped off the face of the Earth and now he's good as new? Come this December and you will be wed to Gabriel. Yeshua will preside.


HLA: The ceremony will take place in Nyduly Wood. It will literally be a match made in Heaven."


HMA: Hell's Half Acre is a roadside patch of badlands almost exactly in the center of Wyoming. It's much bigger than the name suggests, more like Hell's Half Square Mile, and the nearest sandstone and shale scarp that looks similar to it lies a whole state away in South Dakota.

HMB: A brown-skinned man emerged from the entrance of a cave in the eroded landscape dressed in dark blue-gray trousers and a knee-length jacket. He had a matching shirt and a silver leaf brooch in place of a tie and looked like a Shoshone with a good seamstress for a wife.

HMC:But the fellow was too short, his hair wasn't straight enough, and his facial features suggested the Mediterranean shores were his true home. He had never walked in that place before, but the strange eroded landscape reminded him of the desolate area around the Salt Sea.

HMD: It was one hundred fifty feet from the floor of the ravine to the gravel parking lot above and the man ascended with no sign of exertion. He once roamed on foot the whole land of his birth from Lake Kinneret as far as Mount Hermon and south to the hill country of Judaea.

HME: He noted, without any surprise, the presence of a maroon 1941 Chrysler Town & Country woodie parked at the restaurant overlooking the geological oddity and knew he would find Robyn and her friends eating lunch inside, just as Robyn knew he was coming and gave fair warning.

HMF: Robyn, Gabriel, Peter, Hunky and Dory were already standing at their table when he walked indoors, which the other guests might have thought was odd. None of them had ever seen him before but as B'nei Elohim they knew a seraph on sight and stopped everything, ready to serve.

HMG: "Please be seated," he said, grabbing a chair from another table and carrying it over to theirs. "I'll have what you're having, Peter." The Prophet raised a hand to flag down the waitress but the newcomer said, "No, not allegory. I'll literally have what you're having."

HMH He took up a knife, cut Peter's cheeseburger in two, and helped himself to one piece. Hunky said, "I'm pretty sure that burger is not kosher, Jesus. Aren't you Jewish?"

"Not Jesus, Hunky. Call me Yeshua. The Greeks thought Yeshua was a girly name and called me Iesous.

HMI: The Romans spelled it I-E-S-U-S. Then later the English thought names beginning with vowels were too girly and called me Jesus. As for the food, my mother made just one arbitrary law about cutting a little flap of skin. Mixing meat and dairy was never on her mind."

HMJ: Dory and Gabriel stared at Yeshua in wonder, trying to reconcile his actual appearance with the popular depictions of him and there was just no way to do it. Robyn seemed preoccupied and looked off to the side. "What is wrong, Robyn?" Yeshua asked her. "What do you see?"

HMK: She said, "Peter announces the wedding but the White Wing of the Church will not accept it. Gabriel is attacked, but torture doesn't work on B'nei Elohim and Gabriel's friends retaliate, so Paul Bergin and Klaus Hansen kill me instead. They end up killing the Church."

HML: "How would you reply, Robyn, if I asked in truth that you do not avoid or resist those men, even to your death?"

After a long pause she said, "I would decline such a request, Lord. I'm not in any particular hurry for my life come to an end just when I'm getting started."

HMM: "And what did my cross teach you?"

HMN: "That death is not a blank wall, it's a door, and you went through it and came back to show us that even if we die we don't stay dead. But now I see how time really works and I know it was all a magic trick like Gabriel with his coins."

HMN: Yeshua was genuinely fascinated by Robyn's unexpected reply. He asked, "When you look at my life with your talent, what do you see?"

She said, "I see a movie of a burning fuse, but the movie is running backwards. The fuse assembles itself from smoke and sparks.

HMO: It grows. One time that fuse looped back, crossed itself, and then there were two burning Yeshuas experiencing an advancing present, but one of them was wiped off the face of the Earth by the Romans. He hit that blank wall we call death. The one who lived, the lucky one, is you."

HMP: "You're wrong about the blank wall, Robyn. The part of me that is Binah carried over the dying memories of the man who was put to death and merged them with my own."

"Again, Lord, lucky you. But that didn't help the Yeshua who experienced death. You're a different one."

HMQ: "Robyn, nobody in the whole history of both worlds has ever 'experienced' death. Yes, we experience dying, each one of us, from the moment we are born, and there comes a moment in our lives that is not followed by another one, but that last moment never becomes a memory."

HMR: "Lord, will you please say why I must not resist my own murder?"

"When you and Hunky escaped your prison last night what did you do to make the correct combination appear in your memory?"

"I had to begin punching them in."

"Even so, your own end will spark a beginning.

HMS: But Robyn, I will not order you to do what you are unwilling to do, so let us speak of something else. Your friends will not arrive in Headwater until late tonight. Will you come alone with me? I can bring you to a reunion with your mother in almost no time at all."

HMT: Dory remembered the jaunt she had made with Michael and said, "You should take him up on that offer, girl, it's the only way to travel." Gabriel heartily nodded in accord. So Robyn, who felt a little guilty telling Yeshua no on the first thing, told him yes on the other.

HMU: After hugging her farewells Robyn hiked with Yeshua down to the bottom of the ravine and followed him into the dark cave, where it grew light again, a little warmer, and they were kicking through fallen leaves piled up to their knees. But there was still plenty of green.

HMV: "Christmas trees!" exclaimed Robyn when she saw a stand of Douglas Fir. Many more of them covered the mountains she could see through bare branches of maple and alder. They were standing on a mountain as well, near the top.

Yeshua said, "This is just a short side trip."

HMW: "Where are we, Lord?"

"We are still in your country. Of the forty-eight states, this one is furthest to the north and to the west."

"Washington."

"I want you and your friends to put together a migration and move the Red Wing of the Church here."

HMX: Robyn looked through the trees to the bottom land at the foot of the mountain laid down by repeated mud flows from a large nearby volcano and she remembered the Japanese-American fellow at Heart Mountain who helped her and Hunky escape by giving them clothing and advice.

HMY: She said, "There's a Mr. Kaneko who lost his strawberry farm when they sent him to the camp. I want to buy a new one for him, Lord, right there. Do you see?"

"After the war is over," Yeshua said, and he produced a large envelope somehow, perhaps by using the Gabriel trick.

HMZ: "Yes. Mr. Kaneko will have his land when the relocation camp is no more. That is a very kind thought, Robyn. But this money is for your mother, to return to the home of her own parents in the east."

Robyn accepted the envelope gratefully. Yeshua displayed a small object.

HNA: "Robyn, if you choose to do what I asked, this will give you a temporary link similar to the one I have with with Binah. All your memories will be saved."

Robyn took a quick glance at time. She saw another her eating lunch back there at Hell's Half Acre.

HNB: Yeshua said, "I have put us back into the first stream, the one where you ate your lunch in peace and I never appeared. Do you feel like a mere copy, Robyn? Did you notice any bump?"

"No, Lord."

"So will it be when there is one Robyn again with the memories of both.

HNC: Robyn, have a little faith that I am nothing like Keter or Daat. What kind of teacher would deceive a student in a matter such as this?"

"Forgive me, Lord," Robyn said, and she accepted the device. She saw it would resemble a large mole when it was installed.

HND: "Be of good cheer," Yeshua told her. "You alone among all the humans of Earth have the real freedom to choose, because you alone can look ahead. And there is so much more than mere duty. You will soon find that one benefit even rivals eternal life."

HNE: Kim opened the door of her home just before Robyn knocked on it, but that went with the territory of being the Seer. Kim let herself come in, and why not? It was her house too. Robyn was still wearing Mr. Kaneko's clothing and was still stinky from the road trip.

"Let me see the gadget he gave you." Kim dug it out. It was like half a ball of pink rubber.

HNG: There was a 55-pin female connector on one side to match the male connector protruding from both girls' heads. Kim said, "When Paul and Klaus show up I need to be wearing this."

"It's supposed to save your last memories."

"It works exactly as Yeshua promised.

HNH: I've seen on the other side of that 'blank wall' you seem to be so worried about. That's why I'm willing to be the one who gets killed."

"But you have memories of meeting Mom before she left and I want those." Robyn unfastened her belt, which was really one of the Purple Cables.

HNI: When they attached the ends to themselves they experienced a dual awareness, but it did not persist as when Robyn and Hunky were linked together. The differences between each girl poured through the line but there was a definite rhythm to it, very much like a heartbeat.

HNJ: It took a brief time for each memory to be packed for transfer on the cable and then unpacked. Soon Kim had Robyn's conversation with Yeshua in Washington State. Since the Change Kimberly's memories are stored with perfect clarity, not merely as triggers to be re-enacted.

HNK: The full emotional impact of meeting her mother again after six months, followed by their parting, brought Robyn to tears, then Kim, once again, a heartbeat after. The Purple Cable had set up a kind of feedback whine, but there was an 800 millisecond delay.

HNL: Robyn received back from Kim the new experience of Robyn receiving the memory of Kim greeting her mother. This went around at least a dozen more times, growing weaker on each pass. As the loops cycled Robyn obtained Kim's experience of the rest of her trip home.

HNM: All of the different experiences kicked off different loops as they were brought forward. After a time only two real differences stubbornly persisted: One girl was lying on the couch, and the other was lying on top of her. That situation got Robyn thinking.

HNN: She was to become the wife of Gabriel, and Gabriel was something of a sexual cafeteria line, one of these, and one of these. She wasn't sure she would like everything Gabriele had to offer, let alone know what to do. So without further ado Mr. Kaneko's trousers slid down.

HNO: Kim's undies were slid up around Kim's knees and Robyn became the first non-contortionist in heaven or earth to have oral sex with herself. What Robyn was doing with her tongue, in combination with the Purple Cable loop back, reminded her of something the band once did.

HNP: One time when Hunky set up her drumkit in the Squaw River canyon and did a drum duet with her own echoes. The pleasure built so steadily Kim thought it was like cheating. Actually it was cheating. Through the Purple Cable Robyn could feel exactly what she was doing to Kim.

HNO: It was almost as though she was Kim. She wondered if this was the thing Yeshua said would rival eternal life. That was the last rational thought either had for the next ten minutes. Robyn felt the first contraction of Kim's orgasm 0.8 seconds after Kim did.

HNP: At 1.6 seconds Kim felt Robyn's experience of her first contraction precisely at the same time she felt her third one. And so the stack continued to build. Neither Kim nor Robyn even knew what was happening. They didn't even breathe until Kim had a dozen contractions.

HNQ: When they did resume breathing, they could only make incoherent sounds. Purple Cable sex was never going to be a discreet thing. The orgasm looped around and around. After three minutes the stack of orgasmic contractions and their echoes were no longer distinct pulses.

HNR: The climax settled into a timeless high intensity electric sheen. After another seven minutes Robyn found it possible to unplug the cable from her head. After that they lay still for another ten minutes trying to take in what just happened to them. Robyn's face was soaked.

HNS: Kim began to stir to get out from under Robyn. "Go get yourself cleaned up. At least we have something to keep us happy until Bergin and Hansen come here to kill me."

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Strangers In Paradise