Life Arts

Short Story: "Bait"

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The morning was uneventful. Several people came by to check their mail, most in motorboats, and one in a kind of catamaran, but none of them approached. Then, just after noon, an old woman with short white hair and an actual set of eyeglasses floated by in a raft that must have been powered by a hidden water jet. She lashed it a few spaces away, and went inside. Unlike the other patrons, she stopped after leaving the building and looked around. She went back to her raft, set down the package she'd gotten, and turned to look at him. A minute went by before she approached, and when she did, it was only to about halfway between his craft and hers. She raised a hand with the folded note.

He nodded, but didn't move.

"What are you looking for?" she asked, barely loud enough to be heard at his distance.

He rose. "Some missing information. There was a dead link to a page about--."

"I meant why." She stopped for a beat. "Why are you looking? The world is full of dead links. What's special about this one?"

A boat approached from down the flooded road to his left. Both of them watched warily until it had passed. They looked at one another for a while before he continued. "I study infrastructure for a living," he said, speaking quietly. "My specialty is spotting event cascades before they're triggered. The Golden State Barrage was not blown up. It wasn't an act of war."

She chuckled. "Oh, but it was," she said, "but that's not something we should talk about here."

He craned to get a better look at her. "The clerk told me that her regulars are usually armed. How do I know I'll be safe?"

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She spread her hands. "You don't. Neither do I. For all I know, this is a trap, and you're from the government."

"Government?" he echoed. "Are you in hiding for something?"

"Have to. Else I might have been offed years ago. I suppose I know too much."

"About what?"

She got a far-away look. "The past. Look, Mr"?"

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"Quince," he said. "Alphon."

"Alphon, then. Look, I don't want to stand here in the open any longer than I have to. If you want to talk, leave your boat here and come with me."

"Leave it?"

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Ever since I learned to speak binary on a DIGIAC 3080 training computer, I've been involved with tech in one way or another, but there was always another part of me off exploring ideas and writing about them. Halfway to a BS in Space Technology at (more...)

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Our immediate problems keep us all so busy that we... by Philip Zack on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 8:08:56 AM
What an appropriate story for our time. Ed Snowdon... by Paul Repstock on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 11:06:20 PM
Thanks. I'd introduced the idea of there being peo... by Philip Zack on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 11:33:54 PM