UNITED STATES—As they arose from the conical top of the silo, Detective Zorba was held in check by all the brothers clad in the green plaid flannel shirts. Zorba had a taste of dirty copper in his mouth. In the small of his back was a soreness: now he started putting two and two together. The bitter metallic taste in the mouth and the dull nagging soreness near L-4 vertebrae suggested the first guy with the high cheekbones and plaid shirt, who rushed him in the Metro station had clapped an pill-pod on the back.

That was why parts were missing the chronology. It had been lights out. Zorba had been kidnapped. The rest of the rural brothers deprived him of all other freedom of movement as they scaled the upper reaches of the escape silo from the Underground City. He was on telepathic mode with Lieutenant Robinson “down there.” For what that was worth. Not three bit coins.

As the brothers observed, Zorba was stunned by the silence. No traffic whooshed, no sirens beeped, no aircraft tore the azure lid of the blue sky. Zorba gawked, held in place by a curiosity strong as chains. Feet were firmly planted in a field of stalks that had bristles on top, stirring in a barely perceptible warm breeze. This field, an expanse of gold stretched as far as he gazed. It stretched endlessly, unbounded and flat as a table.

“Is you OK?” asked one of the green-flannel brothers, the first emblem of any concern for him.

“I’m OK,” said Zorba, who wanted to get back to feeling. After what he’d been through, to utter the word ‘OK’ reflected a depth of feeling. All this. . . The gold glory spread out surreally across the horizon and he beheld it.

“This is wheat,” said another. “Bet you doesn’t see that ‘down there’.”

A few steps away was a farm-house, its peaked roof in need of new shingles rising from the golden plain. Then Zorba had to get ornery. He was abducted, but mesmerized by what he saw and felt. Somebody brushed cobweb from the creaky silo off his jacket.

“What do you want with me? I demand an explanation.”

One of the plaid brothers stared at him, uncomprehending eye-roll.

“You speaks English?”

For his own sake Zorba muttered, “We’re trapped in a bad movie.”

“What are a moovie?”

So, it dawned on former Detective Zorba, there must be something about the tech deprivation, after all. He’d thought that was a propagandistic fairy tale.

“Not I, not I said the spider to the fly,” responded the hayseed.

“Leave him alone,” said yokel #1 who’d first accosted the detective in the Metro Station.

Zorba was peeved with the fury of Zeus. You’d think he was above all that now in his line of work and with the general boredom of the Underground Cities, corseted by pleasant things. All he’d wanted was to get home on the train, see Cecilia and drink some cranberry juice. He ups and gets kidnapped…

Slave: slave to my whims and desires. My heartbeat is a constant tune of slavery/emancipation. Insomnia/sleep thirst/water…The sweet release would not be so sweet were it not for the release. If he ever met the Leader, Zorba would have a bone to pick…

But this made him forget how that rankled him. Here the sunbeams were real, the sunlight was bright and creamy. To be here was to be buttered by the sun. The silence was an illusion. In his ears were the hum, the quiet buzz of a universal force.

Green flannel #1 who’d assumed a position of leadership, gave Zorba a nudge.

“We gots you by order of your district governor ‘down there.’ He have an interest in you.

The five brothers pushed him in the direction of the farmhouse. They waded through the sea of gold stalks up to their knees.

To be continued…

Previous articleLife Is Not As Bad For Some Of Us
Next articleThe Fight Club
Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)