Eclipse 35

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“Thank you,” Morgana answered. “No, really.  Dinner would be great.  But we’re running short on time.  Let’s see where I am.  Janie, you played that move against Kurchatov.  You have not, if I heard right, ever used the Eclipse move in match play.  You were saving it for the Nationals.  Right? You have friends your own age over for play.  Are any of them any good?”

“Does everyone have to call it the Eclipse move?” Janie shook her head.  The whole thing was terrible.  That was her move.  Eclipse was getting the credit.  Killing Eclipse was too good for her. Unless she could throw Eclipse into the Sun.  Slowly. “Not really.  We play.  They get better.  Joe improved the most.  He always remembered his mistakes.  He didn’t make them twice.  Sometimes I play Territories on-line.  Anonymously.  Universe of Warfare site doesn’t allow personal information.  They don’t know who I am.” They just know, she thought, that I thoroughly thrashed them. 

“There was this communications gap on who Joe is.  Except he teleports.  And flies.  And has combat skills.  He was a friend your age.  Am I right so far?” Morgana asked. 

“Completely,” Janie answered. 

“Did you ever talk about him rescuing you?” Morgana asked. <You two weren’t carrying on, Janie, were you? I know you’re way young for that, but it matters legally, so I have to ask.  If you were, you can’t be questioned about him.> The telepathic question went unheard by the rest of the Wells family. 

<No! Absolutely not!> Janie tried unsuccessfully not to sound offended.  That idea was beyond totally gross!  It was sick!  What did people think she was! “We kept in touch, after he rescued us.  He and I could reach each other mentalically.  I never needed to phone.  We’d agree on good times for him to show up.  Mom and Dad said it was all right.  Didn’t you, Dad?” Janie asked.  He nodded.  She had asked, she told herself, and Dad had seemed to understand her question. “Sometimes we all played base ball nines together.  A few times, Brian needed extra players for his team.  Trisha was always catcher.  She insisted.  And never managed to hit the ball.”

Trisha, now dressed in a scarlet red pantsuit, cuffs and collar ornately trimmed and stitched in orange flames, reappeared and sagged bonelessly into her chair. “I might’ve hit the ball out of the park by accident,” she said. 

“Absolutely,” Patrick answered. “Joe was a good person.  I’d have liked to have met him.  Actually, I did meet him.  He was very polite. But you somehow forgot to mention who he was, Janie.  He did save you two, and I gather he took a pistol or knife or something away from one of those scoundrels, the people Stars Over Boston flattened.  Fortunately, you shouted for help, and he managed to avoid getting hurt.”

“He’s a great guy.  He even helped us move the firewood into the garage,” Brian said. “And once he made this unbelievable catch and throw to win a nines game for us.  He throws like a girl, a girl who plays hardball all the time.”

“Last November,” Trisha added. “The delivery guy just dumped the wood in the driveway.”

“Last time we hire him,” Abigail said. 

“So we three got to carry it into the garage,” Janie said. “No gifts allowed.  The neighbors would’ve seen them.”

“But Joe showed up and helped.  He said he owed Janie for playing City of Steel with him,” Trisha explained. “He helped a lot.  Of course, he’s my height, or almost, but really strong.  Not gift-strong–you can tell–but strong.  Strong as I am.”

About George Phillies

science fiction author -- researcher in polymer dynamics -- collector of board wargames -- President, National Fantasy Fan Federation
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