Julia saw the bright lights behind her. They blinded her in the rear-vie_irror until she knocked the mirror out of focus. She glanced at th_peedometer. She was going as fast as the engine would permit.
She was weary from the beat of the motor and the ache of steady driving. He_ody was drained of energy. The "Wide-awakes" seemed to be losing thei_ffect. In spite of herself, she nodded. Too tired to think of anything else, she was thinking—almost dreaming, almost in half-slumber—of a steamy bath; o_erfumed heat caressing her body; of soft, restful water lapping at he_highs.
Even the prospect of invasion had receded into some dim, dumb corner of he_ind; it no longer concerned her. The demands of personal survival had pushe_t aside; personal survival and the knowledge of her own incapacity t_revent, forestall, or counter it. And at last exhaustion had overcome eve_he demands of survival.
The brilliant lights behind began to pain upon her fatigue-soaked eyeballs.
They shimmered in the windshield; they—
She realized they were gaining on her.
A car without a governor.
A crazy, reckless driver.
Suddenly the fatigue vanished. Fear alerted her. She stiffened. Her hear_ounded. She glanced behind her, squinting.
There was a sickening wrench at her body; she felt herself twisting, bein_ucked out of space.
She grabbed the wheel. She was almost too weak to resist. She fought off th_errible, insistent fingers, she shrank away from them; she moaned.
Walt ceased the effort.
She was limp. She struggled to marshal her resources. Her will was not ye_epleted so much that she could not fight back.
She concentrated on being where she was, in the car, on the highway. She fel_ futile but exhilarating surge of victory.
Her hand trembled when she switched off the automatic-drive. The wheel unde_er hands began to vibrate. The car was sensitive to her control. It was aliv_nd deadly and hurtling like a rocket.
I can't outrun him now! she thought. He has too much speed!
… I've got to get off the highway. I've got to take a side road toward th_ountain. There'll be curves and twists and turns. They will cut his spee_own. Maybe I can out drive him.
Side roads slipped by to her right and left.
She prepared to brake the car for the next cut-off slot.
It appeared far ahead; a dark slit on the left outlined by her rushin_eadlights.
She depressed the brake; the tires screamed.
The car skittered and fishtailed. She clung desperately to the wheel, battlin_he great chunk of metal with every ounce of her tiny body.
And somehow the car hurtled through the slot, across the other half of th_ighway, onto the hard topped, farm-to-market road that climbed toward th_istant crest.
Walt's car, braking shrilly, hurtled past her and was lost in the night.
Julia stamped the accelerator viciously. Her car plunged forward.
Lonely trees and brush stood like decaying phantoms in the splatter of he_eadlights. Far ahead, winking down the mountain, she saw the headlights o_nother car—crawling toward her slowly, like twin fire flies, indolent after _ight of pleasure. The road was pitted, and the car beneath her jolted.
It was then in the loneliness of the seldom traveled farm road that sh_oticed the gasoline gauge.
The gas remaining in the tank could not be sufficient to take her another te_iles. The peg rested solidly on the empty mark to the left.
She began to cry.
The tears almost blinded her; she jerked the car back, just in time, from _itch. She held it toward the fearful darkness ahead. Dawn that purpled th_ast seemed lost forever from this road and this life.
The road climbed slowly; then steeply.
Behind her now the bright lights like great flames crept closer, burnin_verything. The lights had pursued her for only half an hour; it seemed a_ternity. The road began a great bend around the first sharp thrust o_ountain. She slowed.
The headlights were gaining.
She wanted to give up.
The motor coughed.
Walt was almost upon her; elation throbbed in his being. He had been drivin_n manual; he dared not risk automatic-drive, not since his wreck. He was no_uite as alert as he might have been. The strain was beginning to slow hi_eactions.
The curve was sharper; ahead, a hair-pin turn. Walt swung out to pass her an_orce her to stop or plunge over the side into the deepening valley. It wa_he maneuver he had seen the policemen perform.
The headlights of the early farmer with a heavy load of milk suddenly explode_t the curve.
Julia gasped and slammed on her brakes.
Walt jerked his eyes from Julia's car an instant before the crash.
"Crazy God damned fool," the farmer said as he crawled painfully from th_reckage of his pick-up truck. "Crazy God damned fool!" He clutched at hi_rm; it was broken and bleeding. "Passing on a curve! God damned fool, passin_n a curve!"
Julia had stopped her car. She ran toward the two wrecks.
"Any kid knows better, any two year old kid," the farmer said; he stared, unbelieving, at his arm. He sat down and was sick.
It was growing lighter. Mist lay over the valley. The air was damp with fadin_ight.
Julia's feet made harsh clicks on the road.
At Walt's car she stopped. The farmer watched her with mute pain behind hi_yes.
Reaction set in. She thought she was going to be sick, herself. She leane_gainst the wrecked car.
"We better get him out," the farmer said dully.
Between the two of them, they forced the door open and lifted Walt out to th_avement.
"Easy," the farmer said.
Julia stood over Walt's limp body. His jaw was broken and twisted to one side.
His chest was bloody; blood trickled from his nose; his hair was matted wit_lood.
"He's still breathing," the farmer said hoarsely.
He looks so boyish, she thought. I can't believe … he doesn't seem a killer. _ate whoever made a killer out of him.
Walt's chest rose and fell; his breath entered his body in tremulous gasps.
She wanted to bathe his face with cool water and rest his head on her lap. Sh_anted to ease his pain.
She turned away.
In the tool compartment of the wreck she located a tire iron. She brought i_ack.
Her hand was slippery around the icy metal.
He's dying anyway, she thought. It doesn't have to be my hand that kills him.
Tears formed in her eyes.
Julia's hand tightened on the tire iron.
But the risk … she thought: if he should wake up and heal himself … he'll kil_e. The world will never be warned of the invasion, then. It's his lif_gainst the world; his life against a billion lives.
She lifted the tire iron. She averted her eyes as she got ready to swing i_avagely at his unprotected skull.
Cursing, the farmer reached out with his good hand and grabbed her upraise_rist. "My God, what are you trying to do?"
"I've … I've got to kill him."
The farmer stepped between her and Walt.
"I've got to."
"Not while I'm here, Miss, you don't."
"Listen—!" she began. Then hopelessly, she let the arm holding the tire iro_all limply to her side. He wouldn't believe me if I told him, she thought.
Nobody will believe me; not a person on the planet. It's too fantastic: a_nvasion of earth. I've got to have some sort of proof to make them believ_e.
_I can't let Walt die!_ she thought. He's the only proof I have. He's th_nly one who can convince anyone of the invasion.
He's got to live! she thought. I've got to get him to a hospital.
Walt's face was bloodless.
"… he's dying," the farmer said.
"But he can't die!" Julia cried desperately. "He can't die!"
"You're crazy," the farmer said evenly. "First you get ready to brain him wit_ tire iron and then you say he's got to live. Lady, if I hadn't stopped yo_hen I did, he'd be dead as hell right now."
"I wasn't thinking; I didn't realize… ."
Breath rattled in Walt's throat.
"Gas … I'm out of gas," Julia said.
She ran to the wrecked truck. She jerked a milk can upright. She unscrewed th_ap and emptied milk on the pavement.
With the tire iron she split the gas tank and caught as much of the sharp- smelling fluid as she could in the emptied can.
It sloshed loudly as she raced to her car with it. She fumbled the gas tan_ap off. She was trembling so badly that she spilled almost as much as sh_oured into the opening. When the gas was all gone, she threw the milk ca_rom her.
"I'll back up!" she cried to the farmer. "You'll have to help me get him int_he back seat."
He's _got_ to live, Julia thought. If the doctors can just bring him t_onsciousness, he can heal himself. When he realizes I've saved his life, maybe he'll listen to me. He's got to listen. I'll convince him, I'll reaso_ith him. He'll be able to prove to everybody that there will be an invasion.
When they see all the things he can do, they'll have to believe him… .
They put Walt in the car. They handled him as gently as they could.
"He's almost gone," the farmer said.
"Get in front with me. You need a hospital, too."
The farmer slipped in beside her.
Julia spun the car around and plunged down the road toward the super-highway.
"Where's the nearest doctor?"
"Town eight miles down the road," the farmer said. He grimaced in pain. H_oughed, and blood flecked his lips. He wiped off the blood and stared at i_rying across the back of his hand. "I … think I'm hurt inside." There wa_arely controlled hysteria in his voice. He coughed again and shuddered. "M_ife, she wanted me … to stay home this morning… ." He shut his eyes tightly.
"I've got to patch the roof." He opened his eyes and looked pleadingly a_ulia. " _I've got to patch the roof, don't you understand!_ "
"I'm driving as fast as I can. Which way do I turn down there?"
"… turn right."
"We'll be to a doctor just as soon as I can get there."
She slowed down and turned onto the concrete slab of the super-highway.
Then she slammed the car to a full stop; she backed up out of the line o_raffic, back onto the cross road. She cut the motor.
Julia had felt the bridge in her mind snap shut. Instantly even the mos_bscure brain compartment was open to her. Fatigue vanished. She was alert; she was able to think with great clarity.
The lightning recovery of _herself_ forced a series of ever widenin_mplications to her attention; in a blinding flash of insight she was (perhap_ctually for the first time) aware of the degree to which she could transfor_ociety.
Given time, she—she alone—like the magician Prospero in _The Tempest_ coul_reate some paradise of cloud-capped towers and gorgeous palaces and solem_emples and winding brooks and crisp channels and green lands that need never (the Calibans being transmuted by power beyond the lust for power) dissolv_nto air, thin air, leaving not a cloud behind.
If all the people were as she, the great globe of the world could become a_nchanted island: with wars and bloodshed and prejudice and inhumanit_orgotten.
Some such was her thought. It washed over her, the vision, and vanished in th_cute reality of the moment. Such a dream was athwart the invasion plan of th_liens.
She was out of the car. She was opening the rear door. She stood at Walt'_ead. He'll have to help me, she thought, he has information I want.
She felt for the pattern of his body. She experienced it. Concentrating wit_he full force of the human brain, she began to mend the breaks and rupture_nd wounds.
It took time.
Don't reheal his mutant bridge, she thought. Leave him defanged.
His jaw returned to its socket. The dried blood on his skin no longer led fro_icious gashes: they had closed and were knitting.
She was finished. He was still unconscious.
Even as she turned to heal the farmer, a section of her brain drew conclusion_rom the fact she could be relieved of her powers. Some outside force wa_esponsible for holding the bridge closed in her mind. It could be turned o_nd off.
But why, when the force controlling her bridge had vanished, had Walt's bridg_emained intact? She reviewed all the information she had.
There are two compartments of mutants on the alien ship.
Then each compartment must have its own … frequency. The aliens selected Walt, she thought, to kill me because his bridge operated on a different frequenc_han mine.
Speechless the farmer had watched her heal Walt; now he relaxed under th_oothing fingers of her thought. He _felt_ the bone in his arm being mad_hole again.
He no longer needed to cough.
She tried to create a bridge in his brain; but she could not; it was outsid_he pattern. If she were to give him one, it would require surgery.
She was once again in the seat beside him.
"You're a, you're an _angel_ ," he said. Awe made his voice hollow. "I'll b_od damned if you're not an honest to Jesus, real live angel."
"… you couldn't be."
"Well, I am."
He frowned, "… lady, after what I just seen you do, I'll believe it if you sa_o. You just tell me, I'll believe it."
"I've got to get into San Francisco. I'll have to leave you. You can catch _ide or something."
He scrambled out of the car.
Impulsively Julia reached in her handbag for a bill. She found one. "Here,"
she said, thrusting it on him, "this is for your milk."
The farmer took it automatically. He put it in his wallet and put the walle_ack in his overalls without bothering to watch what he was doing. He wa_atching her.
If they're all as easy to convert as he is … she thought.
"Can I ask you a question?"
"What?" she said.
"If you're human, what am I?"
"We're not _quite_ the same," Julia said. "Maybe some day we will be… ."
She wheeled onto the super-highway and headed toward San Francisco.
She switched on the automatic-drive and turned her attention to Walt.
She was unable to awaken him. After such a severe shock as he had experienced, his nervous system demanded rest; he no longer had the recuperative powers o_ mutant.
Even if I alert Earth, she thought what can we _do_? How can we prepare? _ould … but I'm only one. They'd gang up on me and kill me in a minute… .
Earth will fight; at least we won't give up. I'll have to get us as ready as _an, and we'll fight.
I need Walt. What kind of weapons will we be up against? Where will th_nvasion strike first? When? He'll have scraps of information that I can pu_ogether to tell me more than he thinks he knows.
How can I convince him to help me?
… if I've figured it out right, there's got to be records somewhere. Birt_ertificates, things like that. If I'm right about babies being missing th_ear of the last big saucer scare, there's got to be birth certificates. I'l_heck newspaper files in San Francisco.
If I can just find Walt's birth certificate! That will convince him!
She thought about the space station floating somewhere in the sky; she trie_o picture the aliens who manned it.
God knows how, she thought, but we'll fight!
In the space station, the aliens were in conference.
**There can't be any doubt but that she's dead,** Forential projected.
**Your Walt is a good one,** Lycan thought. **Best mutant on the ship.**
Jubilation flowed back and forth. The other aliens congratulated Forential.
**It was nothing,** Forential told them.
**I feel infinitely better, now that she's out of the way,** the Elde_ommented.
**We'll strike with the main force a day before we planned to,** Lycan tol_hem. **That's best all around. We expect most trouble from the American Ai_orce. It will be least alert on a Sunday morning.**
In San Francisco Julia drew up in front of an unpretentious hotel on Pol_treet. Walt, was still unconscious in the back seat.
After she arranged for a room, she returned to the car. She seized Walt at hi_rm pits and hauled him to the sidewalk. She held a tight distortion fiel_round his body. He was dead weight against her. She draped one of his arm_bout her neck. When she began to walk, his feet shuffled awkwardly.
She felt as conspicuous as if she were smoking a pipe.
She wedged her body against the door of the hotel and dragged Walt inside.
Although he was invisible, the effect of his body pulling down on hers wa_eadily apparent. She half stumbled toward the elevator.
The clerk, a counterpart of the one she had had in Hollywood looked up i_nnoyance. He snorted through his nose. He eyed her narrowly. He seemed abou_o leave his position behind the desk.
Julia propped Walt against the wall and rang for the elevator. She smile_anly in the direction of the clerk. Shaking his head and grunting hi_isapproval, he settled back in his chair.
Walt's heavy breathing was thunderous in her ear. She braced him with her hi_hen he started to slip to the floor.
The elevator came.
"Step up, please."
Straining against his weight, she hauled Walt's feet up over the edge of th_age. The feet scraped loudly on the floor.
The elevator operator raised his eyebrows ever so slightly. He cocked his hea_o one side. "Something wrong?"
"Oh, no," Julia said brightly. "Everything's fine."
The operator started the car. "A young lady ought to be careful in this town,"
he said. "A young lady oughtn't to drink so much." He shook his head sadly.
"There's a case of rape in the papers nearly every day."
"… I'll be careful."
"They pick up young ladies in bars all the time. You never can tell about th_en you're liable to meet, if you go in bars. You have to watch yourself i_his town."
The elevator stopped. Julia dragged Walt out.
"You mind what I say!" the operator called after her. "You be careful, now, and stay out of bars. You never can tell… ."
Once she got Walt inside her room, she breathed a sigh of relief. She release_he distortion field. He was visible again.
She removed the top sheet from the bed. She wrestled his body onto the bed.
She ripped the sheet into strips. She worked rapidly. She was still able t_old off fatigue; she felt no need of sleep. She was ravenously hungry.
With the strips of sheet, she tied Walt securely. She used a knot that woul_equire cutting to be undone. She pulled the strips tight. They did no_nterfere with free circulation, but there was no possibility of them bein_lipped. She had no intention of not finding Walt there when she came back.
She surveyed her handiwork with satisfaction.
Whistling softly she left the room and walked down the corridor. She stoppe_histling abruptly and glanced around in embarrassment. She had remembered th_ld adage: 'A whistling girl and a crowing hen are sure to come to some ba_nd'.
There seemed to be something _indecent_ about whistling in public.
The fact that she had, colored her emotions with uneasiness.
She realized that there might be a million such superstitions—many of them no_ecognized as superstitions at all—buried in her personality. Her brain migh_e highly efficient, but was it efficient enough to overcome all the emotiona_iases implanted by twenty-four years of environment? Was even her knowledg_f the real nature of the world—was mankind's—sufficient to overcome suc_iases?
Perhaps, she thought, I'm not as smart as I thought I was. There may be dee_nd illogical currents in me. Perhaps I'm not, not _mature_ enough for suc_ower as I've been given.
Annoyed, she took out a cigarette, and in defiance of cultural tradition, li_t there in the corridor while she waited for the elevator.
The operator did not approve of women smoking in public. He said so.
She ate in the coffee shop.
After the meal, she took a cab to the offices of the morning paper.
In the entranceway to the building, sure that no one was watching, she becam_nvisible.
Half an hour later, possessed of the information she had come after (harveste_rom the back files of the paper) she was once again in the street.
In her room, she went to the telephone. She placed a long distance call to _oston hospital.
The news had not been widely reported. She found most of the names in brie_aragraphs stating that Mr. and Mrs. such and such had settled their sui_gainst the so and so hospital out of court. In the three cases where th_onfinements had been in private homes, there had been kidnapping stories i_he paper. In one of the cases, a man had later been convicted an_xecuted—although the body of the child had never been recovered from the pon_nto which the prosecution contended it had been thrown.
She talked to the switch board operator at the Boston hospital. She was give_he superintendent. He—impressed by the fact that she was calling from th_acific coast—sent his secretary to rummage the files for the hospital's cop_f the birth certificate.
"Yes, I have it."
"It's on the child of Mr. and Mrs. George Temple?"
Julia concentrated as hard as she could.
"You have it in your hand?"
"Would you look at it closely?"
"Look at it closely, please."
" _Please_ , sir."
"All right. I am. Now what information did you want? It reads—What the hell!
Where did that go? Say, how did you—"
Julia hung up. She looked at the birth certificate lying by the telephone. Sh_icked it up. It was none the worse for teleportation.
She put it on the dresser and returned to the phone.
By the time Tuesday was well into the afternoon, when the cool rays of th_inter sun lay slanting upon the murmuring crest outside, she had nine birt_ertificates on the dresser. Nine times the bell boy had come to her room t_ollect for the telephone charges. The last time, she forgot to make Wal_nvisible. The bell boy said nothing.
Julia was annoyed by her carelessness. The bell boy's foot-falls died in th_arpet of the corridor. She went to the door and looked out. He was gone.
She closed the door and crossed to the bed. She had exhausted her list o_ames. She set about rousing Walt.
He's handsome, she thought.
His eyelids flickered.
He opened his eyes. Memory slowly darkened his irises. He glared up at her.
He surged at his bonds, striving to rip free and throw himself upon her. H_ugged at his right hand. His fingers writhed. A frown passed over his face.
He jerked his right hand savagely.
"You have been deprived of your power," Julia said.
Stunned, he lay back. "I, I don't understand."
"You thought you were a Lyrian," Julia said. "You were wrong. You're a_arthman. I am an earthwoman."
"That's a lie! I'm not an earthman!"
"You are now. How are you different?"
"That's a lie. I'm, I'm… ." He fought against the tentacle-like strips o_heet.
"Is it a lie, Walt?"
He continued to struggle.
Smiling, she taunted him: "When I was a little girl, I used to get mad an_hrow rocks… . It never did any good. Lie still."
I shouldn't tease him, she thought contritely.
She felt very sorry for him. How frustrated he must feel! How hurt and puzzle_nd helpless and betrayed!
He's like Samson shorn.
"I know how you feel," she said softly. "I felt that way when you were chasin_e. You're going to listen to me. After I'm through talking to you, maybe I'l_et you up."
Glaring hotly, he relaxed.
"I saved your life," Julia said. "Don't forget that. You could thank me."
"You had a reason then. You're a traitor. You had your reasons to."
She slipped to the end of the bed. Gently she unlaced his shoes and slippe_hem off.
His face purpled with impotent anger.
She peeled off his socks.
Then, one by one, Julia compared the footprints on the birth certificates wit_alt's feet.
Hot tears of defeat brimmed up within Walt; indignant rage filled his eyes.
Julia turned to put the birth certificates back on the dresser.
None of them corresponded to his prints.
Walt wanted to bite down on something. He gritted his teeth. Then, as Juli_as turning away from him, he felt once again the weird blending of his min_ith Calvin's. He realized that it was some exclusive power given to Calvi_hat caused the blending: he was not even any longer a, a Lyrian!
Joy vibrated in his body. Drawing on the new power in his mind, he hurled _icture from the wall at the back of Julia's unprotected head.
She half turned. The heavy wooden frame hit her in the temple. With a littl_espairing sigh of surprise she sank to the carpet.
I'll kill her this time, Walt thought. He displaced the binding from his righ_and.
And Calvin's mind withdrew.
Walt tried desperately to tear loose his other hand; the knot would not yield.
He tried to reach Julia. He tried to reach something to throw at Julia. H_ould not. He let out a roar of baffled rage.
Julia was struggling to her feet.
Standing uncertainly, she shook her head. Her eyes cleared. She let out he_reath. The recuperative powers of a mutant were in action. "That was an awfu_allop," she said calmly. "How did you manage it?"
Walt said nothing.
Julia wrinkled her forehead. Her mind was steady and alert. "I felt anothe_ind just before I turned. Someone called Calvin, wasn't it?"
Walt was sweating. _How smart is she? Can she guess everything?_
"Somehow he gains rapport with you." Her fingers tapped restlessly on th_resser top. "If you could maintain contact with his mind all the time, yo_ould; that's obvious, isn't it? He must make contact with yours, then. Yo_on't know just when he's going to contact you, do you?"
Walt licked his lips.
"He must be abnormal. A normal mutant couldn't do that. I'll have to find som_ay to seal his mind off from yours, I guess. I'll have to interfere with tha_ort of thing. In the meantime, I'll have to keep a sharp eye on you."
Walt glared at her. "Damn you," he said.
"Why don't the aliens do the fighting for themselves?"
The question was unexpected. "You got it wrong," he said automatically. "The_re helping Lyrians out of the goodness of their hearts." It was as if he wer_peaking to Calvin; it made him feel, momentarily, superior to her. He graspe_he opportunity with pathetic gratefulness. "They're afraid!" he crie_riumphantly. "We're not that far advanced yet!"
Julia paused to consider this. "Yes, that figures," she said. "But suppose fo_ minute that you're not a Lyrian. Suppose they're using you to fight fo_them_."
"No," Walt said.
"But why not?"
"No," he repeated. He tried to keep doubt out of his voice. His anger wa_one. He felt uncertain and confused. He could not think clearly.
"You're a mutant," Julia said. "Like I am. Our parents were earthlings. Th_liens are using mutants. The aliens changed our parents' genes—"
"I don't understand that word."
Julia smiled twistedly. "Think how ignorant they kept you, Walt. Isn't tha_roof enough for you?"
Walt said nothing.
"… Genes are the substances which transmit characteristics from generation t_eneration. If you wish to change hereditary characteristics, you must chang_he genes. The aliens changed our genes so we would be able to use all of ou_rains. The normal earthling is just like you are right now: unable to us_ore than one sixth of his brain. The aliens collected all the mutants; all o_hem but me. They overlooked me."
Walt twisted uncomfortably.
"But they still control us," Julia said. "There is a bridge that is hel_losed by a special frequency. That's why we've just recently been able to us_ur full powers. They just recently turned the frequency on."
"The frequency that controls my bridge is different from the one controllin_ours. There are two groups of mutants on the ship. The female you saw, th_ne you thought was a Lyrian, was a mutant from the other group. I'm on th_requency of that group. It's the group that's going to attack Earth first.
They are the ones that are going to cause the war your Forential told yo_bout."
Walt's mouth was dry. Stop! he wanted to cry to her. Please, stop!
"… keep birth records," Julia continued. Walt had missed some of it. "No tw_ets of prints can be identical. A group of babies vanished during the las_ig flying saucer scare. _You were one of them._ I was trying to find you_irth certificate. If I could find it… ."
Julia talked on. Her voice was sincere and intense and compelling. As h_istened, Walt felt the case against the aliens grow stronger.
Can't think clearly, he told himself. Trust Forential.
He did lie about the war.
Forential lied about that.
He'd lie about … about other things?
They kept me in ignorance, he thought. Perhaps they really were afraid I'_iscover my real nature.
I don't know; I can't think; I can't _think_!
As he watched Julia, the female who had (the truth of this slowly dawned o_im) actually saved his life, he felt the first stirrings of an emotion he wa_ot prepared to cope with. How pretty she looked, standing before him, he_yes serious and her face intent. He wanted to nestle her.
The footprints, he thought. She couldn't find mine among the birt_ertificates she had. She could have faked a set if she'd wanted to. Does th_act she didn't mean she's not lying?
I think I'm sorry I threw the picture at her.
"If you could have heard Mrs. Savage on the phone," Julia said, "you'_nderstand better. She lost her son—had him _stolen_ —and she was stil_aving the birth certificate, after this long. She told me she knew she'd fin_im some day."
Mrs. Savage sounds just like Forential, Walt thought.
"She's been waiting all these years," Julia said. "She's never given up hope."
Still waiting for her … son, Walt thought. Still waiting, still needing he_on.
Walt had never thought much of his parents until now. They were obscured b_orential; they existed somewhere on Lyria. But suppose Julia were telling th_ruth? Would they have been more fond of him than Forential? Could they hav_een?
There were so many things he did not understand. He must ask Forential abou_he process by which babies are created; what was the connection betwee_arent and child? It was all so _puzzling_.
… why not ask Julia?
"Wait a minute," Walt interrupted. "I understand so very little. How ar_abies made?"
And there was a harsh, peremptory knock on the door. The manager's angry voic_ame booming through the paneling:
"The bell boy tells me you've got a man tied to the bed in there! We can'_ave that sort of thing in this hotel! Open the door, you hear me? Open th_oor!"