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We got close, so here's the episode a little early! I'm afraid you all will have to hang onto your seats over the next few weeks -- I don't want to post beyond my writing buffer, since I'll be going to WisCon at the end of the month and will need that buffer. However, I'll post 2 episodes next week because Friday, May 9, is the Wonder City Stories 5th anniversary! By then, the Wonder City TOC will have 220 episodes, 8 short stories, and 1 novella, plus a 21-part first episode for our spinoff series, Compass Rose. :)

They're Watching

One of the Hoovers screeched to a halt in my office, the second being of the day to take me by surprise. "Renata Scott," it snapped, "you must tell the ones below something."

I spun out of my chair and onto my feet again. "What the hell?" I said, for lack of anything better to say.

"You must tell them that the world is in danger," the alien said, and I squinted closer. I thought the bag had the markings that indicated Joshua on it, but it wasn't talking like Joshua, or even like one of the ones accustomed to talking to Mark West. The words were coming out in a rapid staccato, harsh and unlovely, but not devoid of inflection. Related to Joshua, maybe?

"We knew that," I said after a moment.

"No," it said. "The head family has lost patience and will shortly leave the world to determine its own fate."

"Good," I said.

"You do not understand," the alien said with the most impatience I'd yet heard from one of them. "I have come to tell you that the lead family is powering up the Inversion Layer Generator."

"What does that mean?" I said.

"The one you call Joshua asked me to tell you that it will reflect and enhance any psychic emanations present on the planet, redoubling any effects they have," it said. "It is a device designed to prove that those who inhabit a planet are either benign or malignant."

The information rattled around my brain for such a long moment that the alien started to roll away. I called, "That will destroy everyone, won't it? With the… the general temperment?"

"That is the point," the alien said, continuing to roll away.

"Where is Joshua?" I said.

It didn't stop. "The one you call Joshua is… no longer. The lead family felt it was too involved with its research."

I staggered back into my chair, soaking in all the implications. Then I leapt up and started to run for my apartment, for Floribunda, and meanwhile, shouted at the top of my brain, Sophia Jean Thomas! You had better be available!


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