Short Story Fiction
The Travelers
Part Three: Before the Council

“The council has agreed to give you a chance to prove yourself. We will allow you one assignment. If you succeed to our satisfaction we will fully instate your membership. If not… Let me put it this way. I have but two words for the both of you. Don’t fail. This meeting is adjourned.”

The TravelersPavlofox/Pixabay

What seemed almost instantaneous, the receiving area of the council chambers grew bright. Cara and Seth had arrived. “We’re here,” remarked Cara.

“Where’s here?” Asked Seth. “Or should I ask when?”

“We’re at the council chambers.” Cara didn’t give a date. “Sometime in the future,” was all she would say.

Seth was awestruck as he looked about the room he stood in. It was very ornate. It smelled of money. Large carved granite pillars held up high arched ceilings. Gilded moldings and stained glass windows surrounded them. The floor was what looked like highly polished granite. The room reminded Seth of a grand cathedral without the seating. It was beautiful.

They were greeted by two ordinary looking men in unfamiliar uniforms. The heels of their boots hitting the floor echoed across the room as they approached. The men ushered the two of them out of the room and down a long corridor. The walls were filled with large paintings in ornate frames. Other works of fine art were on display throughout the corridor. As they reached the end of the corridor they stood before a set of very tall ornately carved solid wood doors.

“Wait here,” ordered the men as they left the two of them alone.

“Have you been here before?” Seth asked Cara.

“Yes, but only once when I was sponsored.”

“How long ago was that?”

Before she could answer the doors in front of them began to slowly swing open. They were ushered inside. Before them was a bench not unlike a judges bench in a courtroom. It was wide enough for five people. Two men and two women were seated at the bench on either side of a fifth person. It was an older man. The doors behind them closed.

There was a small table before them with two chairs. The older man in the center did the talking. “Please have a seat.” His voice was very business-like. Gruff and to the point. “This is a hearing of sponsorship. Cara, you are requesting a sponsorship of this young man, Seth. Is that correct?”

“Yes, that is correct.”

“Why?”

Cara quickly assessed the situation before she replied. This was not going to be a friendly chat. This was serious business and it was being conducted in a most serious manner.

“He meets the requirements for travel as set fourth by the council.”

The old man looked Cara in the eye. He was not happy with her answer. “Meeting the requirements as set fourth by the council is a vague and partial answer. Don’t waste our time here. Be more specific.”

Cara took a deep breath. “My knowledge and my evaluation of this man tells me he is someone eager to travel and is willing to follow through with whatever assignment he may be given. He has both the physical and mental capacity necessary to travel and I believe he will be loyal to the council. As I stated, he meets the requirements. I believe you know me well enough to know that if he didn’t meet the requirements I would not be wasting your time.”

Being satisfied with the answer, the council continued the meeting. The council’s questioning went on for close to an hour. After the council members had finished questioning both Cara and Seth the council left the room to confer among themselves leaving Cara and Seth sitting at the table. They were told to wait until they returned to the room. Once they returned their answer was given.

It was a full three hours before the Council returned. The older gentleman in the center spoke up. Looking straight at Seth, he remarked “Cara here seems to think you are worthy of sponsorship. Even though she admits she hasn’t known you for very long, we know her and as of yet we have no reason to not trust her opinion. She thinks you show yourself as a man who can serve us well. The council has done its own investigation. You may be the person we are looking for but that still remains to be seen.

“The council has agreed to give you a chance to prove yourself. We will allow you one assignment. If you succeed to our satisfaction we will fully instate your membership. If not… Let me put it this way. I have but two words for the both of you. Don’t fail. This meeting is adjourned.”

Cara and Seth stood as the council left the room. Another man walked up to the table. “Sit down. I’m here to set you up with your assignment. You will both be going on this one. You’ll be using Cara’s device. Once you complete this assignment to the satisfaction of the council. He looked directly at Seth, you’ll be issued your own. If you don’t satisfy the council. He turned and looked at Cara. You will be turning in your device. That’s as clear as I can convey the importance of this assignment. Here it is.” He hit a few keys on his device and left the room.

Cara checked her device. The information was on it. She explained to Seth what had just taken place. “The assignment was sent to my device. We will be traveling to the year 2145. We have to pick up a package from a certain address in New Delhi, India and transport it to an address in New York City in the year 2045.”

“That’s it?” Asked Seth.

“Yes, that’s it, but it’s not as easy as it seems. There are obstacles to be overcome and sometimes they’re difficult. But then that’s half the fun.” Cara smiled. “Are you ready to go?”

“Sure, let’s do it.” Seth replied. “I’m always ready for an adventure.”

“You better not let me down,” were Cara’s last words as she set her device. The room lit up and they were gone. They reappeared in the countryside outside of New Deli. “Arrival, this is the first obstacle. Never set your device for the exact address. Always shoot for the countryside not too far from your destination. Less people to see you come in that way. Now we have to find our way into town.”

“What if someone were to see us? What then?”

“Then you walk away as fast as you can. Don’t try to explain yourself. If for some reason you find yourself in a jam you can’t get out of, there’s what’s called a jump button on your device. A quick touch and it will move you a quarter of a mile away. It’s only strong enough to move the one person holding the device. It’s come in handy for me a few times.”

The two started walking. “How much time do we have?”

“No hurry. We just have to make sure we succeed.”

“And if we don’t?”

“We will. You heard the council. There is no don’t for either one of us. I’ve heard rumors of travelers who have failed in their assignment. They have to answer to the council. Sometimes, if their failure is epic, such as they lose their device or it’s taken from them, the council will know it and it will be turned off. They’re left stranded wherever they happen to be. That’s not going to happen to me.”

“So we’re being monitored,” remarked Seth.

“Yes, sort of. Our device is as long as we’re on assignment. Once we complete our mission it won’t be monitored until we receive our next assignment. They’ll know if it leaves our possession. There’s a short window of time to get it back. If you fail to retrieve it it’s turned off.”

As they walked Seth kept asking questions. Cara answered each one as best she could.

It was late afternoon when they arrived. A hoovering type vehicle had picked them up for the last couple of miles. The address was a local restaurant. They were both starving. “Let’s get something to eat while we’re here,” suggested Seth. “But what about money?”

“Package pickups are always at a restaurant. A meal is part of the deal. If we ever need money I have access to an account.”

(Part Four Below)

© Copyright 2023 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.


The Travelers Continued


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