On a paranoid impulse I glanced over my shoulder and bolted down the old road, keeping close to tall brush along the road’s edge. Time wasn’t the only thing messing with my head; the road decided to play distance tricks with me, much to its amusement and my dismay. After an instant eternity, though, I was within reach of the old grounded ships. But snapping in the underbrush and a murmur of voices ahead stopped me in my tracks. I crouched behind a fern to listen: two male voices, one more wizened than the other, and not polished enough to be authorities.

My ears honed in on their movement, blotting out all else. The sound went along, then all noise stopped. Frantically I tried to pick their sound up again.

A throat cleared behind me.

Startled, I whipped around. Two rough folks, one young and stringy, the other old and crinkly, stood a respectable distance away, the older of the two looking me up & down critically.

“Well well,” he finally croaked, offering a gap-toothed grin. “We has us some comp’ny.”

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