UNITED STATES—“As I said before, the killer saw something so traumatic that it triggered cognitive dissonance. He blotted it out of his mind or thought he was dreaming. What they saw before fleeing the crime was that the victim of the hammer-blow was someone identical to himself. Identical to the twin brother given up for adoption that the killer had no idea existed.

“You see,” Zorba concluded. “Identical twins have the same DNA and that is why you, according to treaty with the joint federation, received notice of the DNA finding.” Zorba in a pique of kamikaze daring and rage against all the cool interior developed thanks to his grandma. “So you must have plenty of eyes and ears in the Underground Cities, despite your proud technology-free self-sufficiency up here. You’re a regular Christmas tree with pill-pods stuck in your back. I was kidnapped and taken up here with one of those things stuck in my spine. It boils down to this,” Zorba said staring down The Leader. “You killed your own brother “

The Leader’s eye opened wide, and at that moment a certain waxiness around the eye-holes denoted to Zorba, that the leader had had a little cosmetic work done, to keep the wrinkles down. With some kind of ungodly force, the bulbous bullfrog jerked himself up on spindly arms and spat out, “Out, you demon. I’m no Caine. The treason of reason will not be endured. . .!”

“You killed yourself,” the former detective repeated, now calmly oblivious to the consequences of his findings. “You killed your identical twin brother that you didn’t know you had because your mother was ashamed he might be not quite right. She gave him up for adoption. They were kind of backwards in the years before the Special Period. He was in reality deaf and it affected his speech.”

The old sexless figure in the robe of papal opulence stared at Zorba, “There’s a pitchfork with your name on it,” he hissed with sewer breath. Zorba was silent; he held in that the old man’s own phrase, so tempting to turn on him: The treason of reason will not be endured.

He was in a trance. His eyes rolled back into his skull, revealing a white vacancy. There was a jolt of grief among the Twelvetrees clan. Sobs were heard. A shriek, a sigh. Zorba was in deep trouble, his findings had been fatal to The Leader.

A tremor overtook the flab, the body of the August figure. His head shook, a growling of saliva and rage got caught in his throat. He pushed himself from the bed—where the force came from, no one could say—he stood, took two steps and threw off the heavy velvet robes. The thick robes draped over those iridescing peacock colors of a thousand pimpled pill-pods jabbed in his rancid flesh, rendering them out of sight. Make no mistake, The Leader was an addict—they had them in the Underground Cities, too. The pill-pods all compensated for perceived lack: they could charm your lies in gospel truth, for you, they could turn an effete geek into a gung-ho athlete, suppress select memories and turn the coldest heart red hot.”

Zorba refuged in the firefly notion that he might be seen at the Savior, the healer, by these poor elite rubes. It was both intoxicating and disgusting to his truth-loving nature.

You’d be surprised how often he got called a fool, a dreamer. He took so much sh*t from the fellow officers who said, “No war was ever fought over principles,” like it was some damned badge of honor to be corroded from inside. They were people too, with wives and dogs and mouths to feed—just made different from how he was made. Devon Zorba was happy with how he was made—that’s what counted.

We were all points of light, in this kooky mix, and some were more than a little full of night—that’s all.

He felt the clammy grip of the pompous pale man’s fingers around his neck and up close could see the crumbling pancake makeup flaking off on the cheek of the frail, bullfrog before him.

The figure in the brocade robes pushed Zorba aside, sent him bouncing off a wall and proceeded to the window that opened onto the wheat plains.

To be continued…

Graydon Miller, the Wizard of Fiction, is the author of the audiobook epic, “Mujeres con navajas,” (Women with Knives (in Spanish only) https://amzn.to/3s5X6Lu.