"All right, I admit it. Radio Goldman is stone-cold dead."Herman Goldman stood like an iron spike driven into the rutted blacktop that had once been Route 169 heading north to Blue Earth -- technically still was, Cal Griffin reflected, although no car had driven it in the nearly half year since the Change. No car could have, since cars ran nowhere on the face of the earth as far as anyone knew, as any of them had heard.Horses, though, were a hot commodity again; and Cal and his friends had been hard-pressed to retain Sooner, Koshka and their other steeds from the depredations of roving smash-and-grab gangs that had lain in wait at numerous rest stops and Kodak moments along the way. "Horse thief" was no longer a quaint term out of a Western -- it was a job description.And we've got the scars to prove it.You can't go through life without making enemies, his father had told him when Cal was barely four. That was just before Dad's first abandonment of the family, cutting out for the territories, the apogee and perigees of a roving life that had made enemies of his own family.Now I'm the rootless one, Cal thought, and his collection of scars both physical and emotional, formed the road map of his travels."Maybe you need new batteries," Colleen said, jolting Cal from his reverie.Goldie glowered at her, stuck out his tongue. There were no radios, of course, and batteries didn't do shit. They were both speaking metaphorically, baiting each other as they tended to do when most frustrated. When it grew too barbed, veering into real venom, Cal would step in as he always did, smoothing their rough edges, reminding them of what held them together, of what bound them on this road. He was their moderator, their governing influence, and he knew well why they thought of him as their leader, despite how reluctant he had once been to accept that role.Goldie tilted his head quizzically, as if listening for a distant, staticky station, and Cal realized that "radio" wasn't just a metaphorical term, after all. Goldie had been their crystal set even before the Change, catching the twisted music and voices on the winds of the Source, coaxing and wheedling and beguiling them on the daunting path that had begun that sweltering day in Manhattan when Cal had saved Goldie from being pulverized by a truck on Fifth Avenue -- and Goldie had tried (unsuccessfully, of course) to warn him of the coming Storm.Since Chicago, Goldie had led them by fits and starts through the blasted terrain of western Illinois and Wisconsin, past Rockford and Beloit, skirting the horror of Madison, where cholera and a newborn smallpox raged. In general, the most populous areas were hardest hit, and best avoided.On the outskirts of Sauk City, by the banks of the Wisconsin, Goldie had found a cliff face with a faded petroglyph that he'd been able to coax into opening a portal that emptied onto the Effigy Mounds in Iowa. It had been murder getting the horses throughthey grew frenzied at the prickling feeling of being transported-but it had saved several hundred miles of rough traveling.They had continued west, drawn by the elusive call of the Source. Until now.Goldie shook his head. "Nada. K-Source is not on the air which certainly does not mean it's not still out there, doing it's nasty best.""Great," Colleen enthused. "So we're stuck in this beauty spot."The afternoon light had turned long, the shadow of a bleached FOOD GAS LODGING sign stretching out toward the horizon, browned prairie grasses tossing in the frigid wind. Route 169 opened ahead like a...
Marc Scott Zicree (Author)
Marc Scott Zicree has created classic episodes of "Star Trek-The Next Generation," "Deep Space Nine," "Babylon Five," "Sliders" and many more. He has appeared as a media expert on hundreds of radio and TV shows and is the author of the bestselling Twilight Zone Companion. He lives in West Hollywood with his wonderful wife, vile little dog, and affable big dog.Visit www.AuthorTracker.com for exclusive information on your favorite HarperCollins author.
Robert Charles Wilson (Author)
ROBERT CHARLES WILSON is the New York Times Notable author of The Chronoliths and the winner of the Philip K. Dick and Aurora awards. A finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, he lives in Toronto, Canada.Visit www.AuthorTracker.com for exclusive information on your favorite HarperCollins author.