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CHAPTER FIFTY

I never did get to my 1930. All Camp Smolley's schedules were disrupted for sure, because inside of an hour there were a hundred reporters battering at the gates of Camp Smolley, demanding to know everything there was to know about this Scarecrow submarine and actual living Horch that we were hiding from them, and why hadn't they been told about them before?

The reporters didn't get in, of course. They didn't even get any answers. What they got was Daisy Fennell, sent out to face them down and tell them that: a, there was no truth at all to the rumor; b, those alleged pictures were obviously morphed fakes; and c, if any of Maxwell's story had been true, it would be an act of treason to the human race to report it, because the Scarecrows would hear. While inside the camp the deputy director was raging through the hallways, demanding that every living soul in the installation take a PET lie-detector test to find the criminal who had broken security.

Whether any of the reporters believed Fennell, I couldn't guess. The funny thing was that part of what she said was true. The photos Maxwell showed weren't photos, they were morphs, probably made from descriptions he got from someone who had seen Beert and the sub but hadn't taken their pictures. Beert looked more like the hideous cartoon of a Horch the Scarecrows had showed us than his living self, and the alleged photo of the submarine got the handling machinery at its bow all wrong.

It made a nice little no-win situation for the Bureau; they could easily prove Maxwell's pictures were fakes, but only by admitting that the sense of his story was true.

So the media carried Daisy Fennell's denials, but that didn't solve the problem. Wrong as it was in detail, Maxwell's pictures clearly showed what the Scarecrows would instantly recognize as their missing sub.

The question on everybody's mind was: what were they going to do about it?


As far as anybody could tell, nothing. At least, not right away. Pirraghiz reported no special traffic to or among the Scarecrow submarine fleet.

All the same, there was a lot of worrying going on around Camp Smelly. Even Hilda was snappish, and the deputy director was hemorrhaging wrath, blame and worry all over the installation. He had his own way of dealing with worry, and it took the form of starting a one hundred percent interrogation of everybody in sight, thirsty for the blood of the despicable traitor who had broken security. By "interrogation" I don't just mean questioning; he had four PET-scan machines flown in from Arlington for lie-detector tests.

I didn't expect much from that. Position emission tomography is pretty good at sorting out facts from fantasy, because those two files seem to be stored in different parts of the brain, but it takes three or four hours to test a single subject. Marcus had not only the couple hundred people at Camp Smolley to test but all the ones at Hampton Roads as well. The good part of that was that it kept him out of my hair.

And then even Hilda left me alone. When I finished my breakfast it was Dan M. who was waiting for me outside my room. "I'm your new shepherd, Dan," he told me wryly. "Hope that's all right with you. Hilda couldn't put her dialysis off any longer, so she's out of commission for the rest of the day."

"Fine," I said, more or less meaning it. I still wasn't entirely easy in the company of this other myself, but as the day went on it got better. He wasn't just someone to talk to, he was that nearly ideal person for a conversation who was nearly ideal because he had the advantage of thinking exactly the way I did. As we moved from one appointment to another we chatted about what was going on around us, and if nothing new came out of any of the chat, at least it was useful to be able to talk, but then the world obtruded itself on us.

We were just entering the chamber where the techs waited when every screen in the area turned itself on at once, and when we saw what was on all those screens it took our minds right off the planned questions.

The Scarecrows were talking to us again.


CHAPTER FORTY-NINE | The Far Shore of Time | CHAPTER FIFTY-ONE



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