When I got the message that we were leaving right away I was out in the wild, unruly darkness, on top of Big Nose Mountain, foraging for food for my family in hiding. The wind was biting and cold for the time of year and you could feel rain in the offing. I had had a good night of it though. It is amazing how easy it is to steal from fat, complacent bureaucrats. I had already pilfered three power packs, enough food for weeks, from someone’s back porch storeroom, when I felt the PDA begin to whir. I always carry my special little homemade toy, mostly so my folks back at the cave can contact me if something happens.
This time is wasn’t my family calling.
I whistled softly to the dog and slipped back over the edge of the mountaintop.
Truly packing was the easy part of leaving behind everything I have ever known. We had only been able to bring essentials when we went to the hiding place in the caves across the river from the home farm anyhow. It has been months since the food and livestock inspectors came to arrest my father for insubordination. Luckily we got wind of it beforehand, took what we could carry, and hid in the limestone caves in the mountain. We only had to brush aside a couple of hundred rattlesnakes denning in the main cave to make a sort of comfortable camp. (Did you know how bad snakes stink?) We weren’t the first to use that hiding place.
The caves made a safe hideout and means of secret travel for the Mohawk Indians before the American Revolution, back when our ancestors were getting ready to fight for the liberty that is lost to us now. Anyhow, I have been living out of a container for months now. All I had to do was close the lid and latch it.
In the case are my few clothes, some herb seeds from Mama’s medicinal garden back at the farm and a couple of my grandfather’s journals. I don’t have much in the way of modern technological toys. Not even one of those wrist pad communicator things, just that clunky little PDA that my uncle built over for me. You would be amazed what that little chunk of plastic can do though. My uncle was the pure-D king of code back in his day and there isn’t much in the hands of the UNWG that could begin to touch the capabilities of that teeny tiny outdated-looking toy computer. I’m glad I have it.
Family good-byes were brief. Dad is so sunken into himself now that nothing seems to even register on his consciousness any more and Mama spends all her strength tending to him. I had her braid my hair for me one last time though. There was always a sense of special closeness between us, when her strong brown fingers wove their magic and tamed my tangled mess of curls. I shouldn’t have taken the time, but I needed to feel her touch.
I will have to hack it off before we leave I guess.
I am staggered by how much I miss them already. We have always been together.
I pray we can bring them along later, although I suspect that it won’t happen. I wish there had been space for them. I wish the powers that be had at least let me tell them I was going. They think I am just heading off planet to try to renew the farming permits.
I suppose it seems wrong but it’s even harder to leave Nero, my Border collie. He was born into my hands ten years ago, from old Neara’s last litter. He has been following about two paces behind me for most of that time, keeping me safe and lucky. I must have turned around and tripped over him a thousand times today. He knew, somehow, that something was happening and followed me around the hiding place as I packed the last bits, whining softly. When the time came, I knelt beside him, looked deep into his chocolate eyes and hugged him. He leaned his long, dark face against my chest and sighed. He knew all right. At least they are letting us bring DNA from our pets on this wild and crazy journey. I have samples from him and from Mama’s cat, Chubby. Not that he is chubby any more, but he still an old sweetie. We also brought material from most of the farm animals when we went to the caves. I am bringing that too.
Still cloning never produces the same creature, just the same potential. Geez, it is so hard not to bawl. I know I will never see my dog again. Odds are my family will be lost to me forever too. I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know if I should do this. But how can I not?
Uncle also left us an ancient transporter and I am just praying that it will get me where I have to go. And quickly.