Chapter Thirteen (cont.)
Toliver lay there a while longer, with no sure clue as to how long, dazed, dozing, slipping into and out of awareness. When he could finally open his eyes and keep them open, he could see more of the area around him. He struggled back to his knees and looked up. The portion of the moon which hadn’t been blasted away in the Lunar Insurrection, orbited lower than previously. It appeared to be as close to full as it got these days. He pushed himself to his feet and stood swaying until he could finally catch his balance. He couldn’t believe his luck had held this long. He needed to get moving before the Power Moon followed its baby sister into the sky. It not only supplied power for the planet below, it was an extravagant, blatant display of power on a scale that would have unimaginable if it didn’t exist. In addition to its putative function, art, advertising, propaganda and a variety of offerings chased their way across its surface. Unfortunately, it glowed nearly day-time bright and would leave Toliver totally exposed. By sheer force of will, he took one step and then another until he achieved a steady if staggering rhythm. Eventually he settled into a slow shuffle, mostly forward.
He knew he progressed, however slowly, when he realized the smudge he’d seen on the horizon was an orchard of Fapple® trees. Faux apples, reconstituted after the apple blight decimated not only apples, but most of the tree-borne fruit. They were real apples, though no one would accept that, could be allowed to accept that, hence the name Fapple®s. Toliver remembered this in bits and pieces, wondering how he had learned it in the first place. Close to dawn now, Toliver pondered why he hadn’t been captured and sent on to where he had been headed. He push it from his mind as not worth worrying about unless it happened.
Toliver moved into the orchard, going more slowly, looking for a place to hide. Moving from tree to tree, he decided he needed to climb one and stay hidden as late in the day as possible. Searching for the perfect tree, Toliver scanned his immediate surroundings, moving as quietly as he could. He realized he had reached the far end of the orchard, and beyond lay a plaza. He swept his gaze across the place. He noticed an incredibly ugly sculpture and an elderly black gentleman sleeping in front of a building beyond it. He looked again, but saw no sign of a threat. He did notice something dark and solid through the trees on his left. He carefully approached until he could make out what he was seeing. He almost laughed out loud, before he caught himself. He’d found Wurst, or at least his truck. Picked out in gold lettering on the side panel, it said: A. T. Wurst ~ Custom Comfort Caskets ~ By Appointment Only. Only slightly smaller below this it said: Casket Maker to the Wurst Consortium, followed by a capture glyph.