Sorry I didn’t publish this yesterday, I was away camping with my girls and some friends 🙂
It was three days before the terrain changed and they entered into an area that was less open. Some trees still stood in amongst the mountains here, and they gave some respite from the terrible winds. David and Lisa scrambled gratefully for the shelter of the trees and paused for a moment to catch their breath. They hurriedly cleaned their goggles and for the first time they were able to see properly what lay ahead. They looked at each other and grinned. The settlement must be near by. There must be someone here to make use of such favourable terrain.
Eventually they saw the unmistakable outline of buildings. It wasn’t as attractive as the town beside the Lanscor headquarters, but they had expected that. They had come here because it was inaccessible and very few people would venture far enough from their shelter to come here for trade. These people had to make do with whatever resources they could find and that would make life hard for them.
Instead of looking for a place to rest David and Lisa made their way into the so-called Internet café as soon as they reached the town. There were no refreshments on offer but they could pay to use a connected computer. The rickety tables were all covered in a layer of grime that made the computer keys sticky and unresponsive but David was still able to connect to the web and upload the L10’s worm. It was only when Lisa, sitting at a nearby computer, gave a shout of triumph that he finally allowed himself to relax.
“Well” he declared, “that’s it. Do you suppose enough people will do it?”
Lisa laughed. “What do they have to lose? It’s not like the compounds are hard to get hold of, even outside the camps.” A sudden thought hit her. “You did write in that you have to stay indoors didn’t you?”
“Of course I did. Come on, I need a drink.” said David, yawning.
“There was a bar just a couple of streets back” she remembered and together they went over to the dilapidated building.
“Can we get cover for the night” David asked the landlord.
“’Course you can, but it’s very basic. My wife is ill and everyone is too busy with their own troubles to help an old man run a failing motel.” He grinned toothlessly at them. “They manage to help me keep the bar open though. The drink tastes awful, but it’s a good place to meet.”
From the stench and the depth of muck rimming the sink in their room, it was apparent that the Landlord’s wife had been ill for some time. Finally though, they had time to relax and take in the reality of their discovery. It had been months since either of them had thought of anything but cloud seeds. Deciding that they should celebrate at least a little before giving in to exhaustion, they left their room and headed for the slightly more welcoming rooms of the public bar.
As they settled into their seats a mass of people suddenly surged through the door. A strange mixture of terror and joy was on each face. Lisa and David looked each other and smiled wearily satisfied smiles.
“It’s raining!” screamed one of the women at the landlord as she mopped blood from her arm. “There’s stones in it: they nearly broke my arm. But the clouds have burst!” The ecstatic crowd stood around the windows and doors, fascinated but afraid to venture out.
“It said on my computer that the stones are the cloud seeds.” A tall man took on a knowledgeable and superior air as his neighbour looked confused. “The computer?” He asked.
“Yes. Instructions just came through on the internet. I guess it could have been a hoax, but what was there to lose?” Suddenly he threw back his shaggy head and howled like an animal.
“Ah-Ha! It’s raining!” All around them people began to recover their wits and the mood in the room quickly began to change. As the party finally began in earnest worn down people threw caution to the wind to drink the sludge sold by the landlord as beer. Lisa leant over to whisper to David.
“Perhaps we should move on once the rain stops. Anthony might still decide to come after us just for spoiling his new game. There aren’t many other places we could have gone.”
“True.” David smiled and drew her into his arms, looking at the crowds around them “but let’s just enjoy tonight first.”