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Old 03-01-2021, 10:18 AM   #1
Terquem
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Idaho Falls
Default River World - a new story

River World -

Identifying the gate was easy, but I never thought she would want to find out what was on the other side. "You know," I said to her trying to sound calm, "these kinds of places are not always easy to return from. We can't be certain that the gate goes both ways. Even if we think we take as much preparation as possible, it could be the last thing we ever do."
"We?" she asked me.
"Well, yes," I answered. "I am not going to let my sister go alone."
"You let our parents go, when I was too young to stop them myself."
"I had to choose. I had to make a choice and I think it was the right one."
"It maybe was, but all you really ever did was give me a reason to think that when I knew I was ready, I was going to go after them. You can come or you can stay, and even if I cannot come home again, it won't matter because I will know why they thought it was right to go."
"Stupidity is inherited I suppose," I said as I raised the pack to my shoulder.

Last edited by Terquem; 03-01-2021 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 03-01-2021, 10:35 AM   #2
amenditman
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Florida Peninsula, Earth, Sol Sytem
Default Re: River World - a new story

Excellent, I love the episodic stories you post.

Can't wait to see where you go with this one.
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Old 03-01-2021, 03:22 PM   #3
Terquem
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Idaho Falls
Default Re: River World - a new story

Part 1

Two days earlier.

Mister Grundelli’s office was not large. Though he held a significant position at the university, he had always insisted upon having a sparse office with no more decoration or furniture than was absolutely necessary. He considered his responsibilities with dignity, and his integrity was without question. As he had gotten older many had thought he would retire, and everyone assumed they knew who he would choose to take his place on the library advisory committee.

When Thomas arrived at exactly one thirty-five in the afternoon he was not steady on his feet. He tried to keep his mind from going back again and again to the conversation he had had with his sister the night before, and now being summoned to Mr. Grundelli’s office had, so to speak, taken the matter out of the frying pan and was about to put it into the fire.

He knocked, twice, on Mr. Grundelli’s office door.

“Come in, Thomas, I’ve been expecting you,” Grundelli’s voice said from the other side of the door sounding not far away as usual.

There was a desk and two chairs, in addition to the one Mr. Grundelli sat in at the moment, and nothing else in the room. The walls were not even decorated with pictures or even calendars, and if Thomas stood directly in the center of the room he imagined he could touch the walls in any direction without having to lean very far.

“There are a lot of rumors going around, please sit down, Thomas,” he said pointing at one of the simple wooden chairs across from him. “Thomas, do you know why you are here? No, don’t answer that. That was unfair. A lot of people are talking, but they are talking about the wrong thing. I don’t think anyone knows and I am a little surprised you didn’t tell me yourself.”

“Sir?” Thomas asked.

“Thomas, look, when your parents left you and your sister in my care I knew that it would be hard for me, in some ways, a bachelor, taking care of two children. But, I always had a feeling it wouldn’t give me too much of a problem because I knew you and your sister would be smart, kind, curious, and more than likely driven to success just like both of your parents were. They were remarkable people, Thomas, and I miss them terribly. I did what I could for the two of you. I didn’t have to do much to get you both jobs here at the university, and there were opportunities for education that I was surprised your sister and you decided to take a pass on, but not too surprised, your mother was as anti-establishment as they come. I suppose it was in her blood, you know, seeing where her family came from and all.”

“Sir, I’m not sure what,” Thomas tried to get the old man to make his point.

“I’m sorry, yes, this is no time for nostalgia. I’ll be blunt. I’m not happy. Your sister has turned in her termination notice. She is being very close about her plans, but I can guess what she is thinking. She is a valuable member of the women’s athletic department here at Thalintania University. She has a perfect attendance record and her annual reviews are always, shall I be straight, better than yours. And I was sad to hear it as late coming news from Carina Oswald, the director of women’s athletics, and not from you, or her. Yes, yes, I know our relationship, hers and mine, isn’t what it was when the two of you were younger, but I always wanted to believe she still had respect for me in some way.”

“She respects you tremendously, sir. It’s just she didn’t know how to bring it to you without, well, without you being opposed to her idea and she does not like arguing with you, for that matter, neither do I.”

It was the way he said it, that told the old man what he already suspected.

The way Thomas looked down at the floor now, the awkward silence, it was enough to tell him that the plan of hers was not only going to cost the university a good employee, a talented healer, and a strong competitor in many women’s combat fields, but it was obviously going to cost them one of the best researchers they had known for a generation. Not since his father, Robert Halford MacNaughley, had headed the department of antiquities and collections had there been someone with the memory and discipline of Thomas MacNaughley.

“So, it’s true,” Grundelli said standing up. “Well, don’t expect your expectations to be right all of the time, Thomas. I’m not about to try to talk you and your sister out of this. I wasn’t able to talk your parents into any sense and I was younger and braver then.” He held out his hand, and said, “Good luck Thomas. I hope if you find them, there is a way for all of you to come home, but even if you can’t I hope you find what you are looking for.”

“I won’t be looking for them, sir, or anything else,” Thomas shook the man’s hand. “I am going because she is. I am only going because another world with my sister is a better alternative than this one without her.”
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