A Strange Child

“I don’t think we have much time,” said Jillian, as she gazed at the throngs of working Mechanics.

Fredrick and Jillian lay prone atop the grassy hill that overlooked the Slipshot Silo to Var 8, Earth. Below, upon the metal tiled surface of the platform, Mechanics meandered among the rows of Vérkatrae, who waited silently until the moment they would be awakened from Stasis and sent through the Slipshot.

Fredrick shook his head. “Unless the Slipshot opens up, then we’ll have no escape, even if we can get the plasma torus started.” Fredrick paused. “I’m not even sure how long we can survive here.” He sniffed the air. “I mean, the air seems suitable. And I’m not even hungry.”

Jillian glanced at Fredrick. “That could be because you’re stressed out.”

“Maybe. But are you hungry, or even thirsty?”

Jillian paused. “Not really.”

Fredrick sighed. “These people, they’re so different from us. There’s no telling what could happen next. For all we know, a giant volcano could open up and swallow us whole. Then it’s good night for all of us.”

Fredrick pushed himself onto his hands and knees and then sat. He heard a slight rustle behind him. He glanced over his shoulder. “Holy crap!” he shouted, as he jumped up and turned towards the sound.

“Whoa!” shouted Jillian, who also sat up and looked in the same direction as Fredrick.

A small child stood on the grass behind them. She looked at Jillian with large, dark eyes. Her arms hung limply at her sides, and she stood straight and even. Her dark hair was clipped to a bowl cut. She wore a puffy, brown colored jumpsuit that looked a bit too big for her small body, and upon her feet, small boots into which one cuff was tucked. A tiny smile curled at the corner of her mouth.

“Um, hi?” said Jillian, as she turned and leaned forward. She glanced sidelong at Fredrick and then at the child.

The child glanced quickly at Fredrick and then returned her gaze to Jillian. She blinked her eyes once.

“You are not a Node I recognize,” she said.

Jillian glanced at Fredrick. “How do you know that we are Nodes?” Jillian looked at Fredrick again, who nodded.

“Everyone is a Node. It is the way of Griddish,” said the child.

Jillian took a deep, quiet breath. “If everyone is a Node, then why don’t you recognize us?” She grimaced slightly.

The child paused. “Perhaps you are lost.”

“Um, well, maybe we are lost,” said Jillian, stumbling over her words. She glanced at Fredrick as if she immediately regretted what she said.

The child smiled gently. “Then I will help you to be found.”

Fredrick looked at Jillian. He shook his head slightly. Jillian caught his gaze and then returned her attention to the child. “How will you help us to be found?” said Jillian.

The child smiled widely. “I will announce your location on the Tenddrome.”

Fredrick gasped. “No, no!” he nearly shouted, as he crouched down on one knee. “That won’t be necessary.”

“Why not?” said the child. “If you are lost, then it is important that you should be found. It is the way of Griddish. All Nodes must be found....”

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