For All Nails #136: If Dirt Were Dolares
Chapultapec, Mexico Central(1)
Harold Pickett's apartment
December 2, 1974
Harold Pickett let himself into his apartment, a
suitcase in one hand and the accumulated mail from the
post office in the other. He was exhausted, having
decided it wasn't safe to go to Germany. He wasn't
sure the Empire's people would be arresting him, but
the CBI would sooner or later have figured out that
the Edward Allen who'd been coincidentally making the
same trip as him was the wrong man. By the time he
was on the ground, the Germans might have decided to
do the CNA a favor (if he was unlucky). He didn't
think that was likely, but he took no chances. At the
same time, he had to get out of Boston without being
tailed, before the CBI saw its mistake.
Pickett was not a religious man, but he took a moment
to thank God for the fact there was a man really named
Edward Allen from Black Rock going to Germany.
_Strange luck_, he thought. What he had eventually
done was to buy a ticket for the next airmobile to
Germany, but not actually board the flight. The next
step had been a bus to New York, followed by an
airmobile to Spain. Then another airmobile all the
way back to the USM. He wondered if he'd ever get
back. His international subversion days were over,
but he might be there someday if he went into hiring
himself out as a freelancer.
Harold closed the door and walked into the main room.
He found the sofa and collapsed onto it, closing his
eyes for a second. After a moment, he wondered what
was on the vita. He got up took the few steps
necessary to get to the set, and turned it on.
The Spanish station wasn't transmitting at all; there
was some sort of technical difficulty. He switched to
the English station.
Pickett stared at the screen in puzzlement. What he
was seeing was a large, dark blue, almost-spherical
shaped object. It was actually a polyhedron with many
faces, some of the faces having six sides and some
only five. It wound up looking like a blue New
Grenada-style football. (2)
A voice over started as the object was shown falling
through the Earth's atmosphere like a meteor. "Ever
wish you could live the last week over? Well, my
name's Franco Perez y I do it all the time. I work
for this top secret military team that's got a
portatiempo (3). So whenever anything kicks the duck,
I'm the poor guy who has to go back y fix it. Problem
is, you can only go back one week."
"One Week" turned out to be the name of the vita show,
and it seemed to be the first episode. That explained
why he couldn't recall seeing it before he left for
the CNA. The plot was some nonsense involving Herb
terrorists who crossed the Atlantic and crashed a
small airmobile into the Presidential palace while the
German Chancellor was on a state visit, killing the
leaders of both countries. Then the leaders of this
AUSM secret lab had to rush their technology, which
wasn't even working yet, into use and pick a pilot,
all within a week. Pickett snorted derisively.
When it was "revealed" that aliens had crashed in the
El Norte desert in 1947 and most of the science from
that craft went into this one, he gave up and turned
off the set. That wasn't even _original_; it was done
on that Australian show _Space Saga_.(4) And wasn't
that supposed to be in the Australian desert?He got a
drink, then started to go through his mail.
"You may already have won a lot of money!" Right.
That went into the trash. There were assorted other
sales pitches and trash. Then there was the letter
from his sister in Puerto Hancock. He read it, saw
that there was no major news; she just wanted to say
hello. Finally, there was an official-looking
_Bridges y Dominguez_, a law firm in San Francisco.
Odd. What were they sending him a letter for? The
only connection he had with San Francisco was that his
rich uncle Sal lived there...
The answer hit him like a ton of bricks. He tore open
the envelope. Uncle Sal had died in a loke accident.
Since Sal'd been unmarried and childless, the fortune
was to be split between Harold and his sister. Each
share was enough to make either one rich by itself.
Harold got a pencil and paper to work out the math.
His take would convert to just under 1.4 million CNA
_That's almost half what I funneled into the army
clubs._ He could go back to the CNA and stay there.
He could join the Brotherhood on a more permanent
basis, using this money to help them. He decided to
talk to some friends in the Birthright Foundation
first. They might have an interest in this and could
be persuaded to contribute some of their own money.
The revolution was still decades in the making, but it
had one good step up; now it had another. _I can make
this start to work._
1. See FAN #37.
2. A soccer ball to OTL readers. See FAN #92.
3. Time machine, a compounded USM Spanish pulp term
that crossed over to USM English to describe the same
4. _Space Saga_ once had an episode with greedy
little aliens crashing in the 1947 Australian desert,
based on persistent rumors that something alien
actually did crash there then. The producers of "One
Week" have appropriated the idea and changed it to the