Basil and Gonz Grow Old - Part 2 of 2
a short story by Joshua Coffman
Go back to Part 1 -> here
The years had separated the two friends. Gonz had become consumed with a religious fury and Basil had distracted himself with technology. But neither of them forgot the Great Meme War of 2016 or the rise of Joe Biden the Venerable, Bless His Memory and Live for His Vision. They carried those memories far into the future and both kept fighting for truth, just in their own way.
Two police cruisers pulled up to the house under the sky tree and talked with Little Samurai for a few moments before they headed into the house to get a full report. They drove away. Little Samurai called her husband. He rode in on his electric longboard about an hour later. They combed the neighborhood for clues about where her father and his sword may have gone.
Darkness set in over the Israeli neighborhood. The neighbors offered no help to the couple seeking their father.
As the night grew deep, Mr Samurai insisted that they must make a plan so they retreated to their home, their mother, and their children, to regroup and strategize their next moves. But when they arrived home they were more shocked than before.
"FATHER! WE HAVE BEEN WORRIED SICK ABOUT YOU! WHERE..."
"Little Samurai Princess," he interrupted her without even acknowledging her distress "We must all leave here at once, we are no longer safe her."
Mrs. Samurai glanced around the room and noticed that items were disheveled.
"What is going on father?" Mr Samurai asked in a quiet tone. He considered Gonz his father just as much as his actual father.
Gonz made sure the children were not in earshot then continued, "The PDP knows about the 'Bookshop' and we cannot stay in Israel any longer. A 613 member has betrayed us."
"So what are our options? Assyria, Egypt, the Kingdom?" (Israel had now enjoyed long treaties with their Muslim neighbors on every side. Except Turkey, which had recently been overtaken by a radical Christian sect who called themselves "Allah's Sons.")
"We are going to Iran."
"Then we are never coming back?" Mr. Samurai thought out loud.
"My job here is done."
"Father! But what about..." Mrs. Samurai injected abruptly.
"Arrangements are already made. We have a home, we have a small community and we have already made plans for the safety of the journey. Here, come with me." Gonz slowly led the trio to the backyard.
On their patio table was the Nagamaki katana and a book. It appeared to be a journal. Gonz opened it and pulled out a map that had been folded neatly into its pages. The deep shadows from the spotlight made it difficult to make out the details on the map.
"There has been a split in the 613." Gonz continued "A few of us faithful are continuing with the Tabernacle, east towards the cradle of civilization. But a few have rebelled and are joining the Temple sect. And at least one of those have turned over our information to the PDP."
Mr. Samurai knew about the rebellion already but the danger of the PDP taking kinetic action against one of the 613 was something he was a bit taken back by.
"Father, why are we still here?" Mr Samurai asked.
"Little Samurai, please... go get your important belongings together and pack food for a couple days travel." Gonz ignored his son-in-laws question.
"No, I need to know we will be okay. I already filed a police report, and you know that I cannot be uprooted again for no reason."
"Yes Little Samurai, what assurance do you need?" Gonz realized he had been in a religious furor and grounded himself for a moment to connect with his daughter.
"What resources are in the Republic for us?" Little Samurai demanded. (For that is what Iran was called)
It was a reasonable request. Gonz flipped open the journal and spent the next 30 minutes discussing the details of their uprooting and replanting to his daughter.
Meanwhile Basil had been cruising the west coast highways for nearly 6 hours. He had passed the halfway mark to Gonz's house a little while ago and he was on his second sandwich break now. The mountains were intimidating here but he found them oddly comforting as well.
Being old meant he could no longer sit for extended periods of time like he used to. His felt a dull pain in his neck and stretched again before climbing back into the pickup to continue heading south to Gonz's old home.
The afternoon sun was bearing down on him but the Tesla drove so smoothly that he barely noticed he was driving. Other than an occasional driver that raced past in the fast lane, the electric vehicle, kitted with a nano-nuclear engine, barely made any noise at all inside.
Basil turned off his AR and watched out the window as the mountains passed by. Soon enough the greater LA traffic would start and he would be getting into SoCal right around the start of rush hour. It wouldn't be fun then.
Mrs. Samurai, Mrs. Gonz and the children packed their important items with them and across the street their closest friends did as well. You see, Mrs. Samurai and her husband worked closely with their friends and shared nearly everything, from work to hobbies to child rearing and resources.
The families were so close it would be nearly impossible to separate their children and lives from each other so they had already made plans to always live near each other. Even if it meant fleeing the country in the middle of the night.
Over their houses, the stars danced around slowly.
Several hours passed and they loaded their things into a wagon meant just for large items and bags. The children napped for the last few hours while the men transported the few wagons full of luggage and important items to the local tunnel depot where they had a large box truck parked.
Gonz had bought the box truck years ago but he didn't ever use it. Mr. Samurai took it out every 6 months or so for a drive just to shake the dust out and check that it worked. They loaded their items as well as their friends into the truck and then returned for their wives and children.
But they were waiting for one more thing. Basil had to initiate Gonz's drop or they would be unsafe crossing the Jordan/Iraq border.
Basil had had enough traffic for the day. He was close to Gonz's old neighborhood now. Every house had advertisements flashing across their walls. Residential neighborhoods in Southern California now resembled low quality web pages from the 2000s, everyone was just trying to cash in as much as possible from their neighbors.
As the Tesla navigated its way into the old familiar neighborhood, Basil thought back to the days when him and Gonz had found the SciorpionTM drone facility. So much had changed since they had relinquished control of the Canary network.
They pulled into the circle where Gonz's old house stood. The Tesla parked itself and Basil stepped onto Gonz's property. Gonz had kept the property just in case he ever wanted to vacation back in the US. A property manager stopped in once a month to check everything and make sure it stayed operational.
Basil walked to the backyard and grabbed a shovel.
He gently dug into the grass beside the mailbox. Every other shovelful he straightened his back and took a breath. He could no longer imagine himself doing CATLYMPICStm or building new mech suits. Those times were long past.
He saw a small steel plate shining in the late afternoon sunlight that came bearing down the road.
He scraped a bit of dirt away then shoveled the small box out onto his dirt pile. He braced himself against the mailbox and leaned down to pick up the box. When he stood straight up he began to cough uncontrollably.
He regained himself.
He set the box down on the mailbox and nudged the dirt back into the hole he had just dug. He grabbed the box, and walked both the box and shovel to the house where he rested the shovel against the garage.
As he walked back towards the Tesla he turned the box over and looked for the clasp.
He opened the door and sat down in the pickup. He carefully opened the latch, a simple pressure latch. Inside was a small bag. It appeared to be a Farraday cage. His hands shook as he struggled to unzip it.
He held the flash drive in his hands for only a moment and then initiated a call on his headset.
Mrs. Samurai answered.
They were all waiting in the parking lot. The children were already sleeping when the call came in. There were four cars parked side by side packed with people, food and personal items. Two mid-sized SUVs, a large double-doored pickup truck with a bed cover and of course the box truck.
The men stood outside of the vehicles reviewing the map Gonz had prepared. The two younger women sat in the SUVs next to each other with the windows rolled down and Mrs. Gonz in the passenger seat with Mrs. Samurai.
When the phone rang, Mrs. Samurai called for her dad to answer it. Mr Samurai hopped into the box truck, Mr Neighbor sat in the driver seat of the second SUV with his wife and kids and Gonz answered the phone outside of the window where Mrs Samurai sat.
"Have you got it?" Gonz asked, map tucked under his arms.
"Yes, it looks undamaged."
"Does your car have an internet connection?"
"Yes. I'm plugging it in now."
"Good. Can you check this IP address?" Gonz listed off an IP address that the flash drive was programmed to automatically update.
Basil flashed his headset to an address bar and entered the IP address.
A few hours later, Basil was fast asleep in a nearby hotel.
Gonz and his family were caravanning across Jordan towards their new life in Iran.