Chapter VIII

Marshall prepared an early morning breakfast of bean chips and soya cakes. Mrs. Williams was also up early and quietly began to prepare the coffee using one of the old feenjohn coffee pots. Rozina hobbled into the kitchen and stood silently, leaning forward on her crutches in the doorway, watching the two of them begin to fuss about.

“Sit down already, Ma,” said Marshall as he began to set the table.”You know I still remember where everything is.”

“And you too over there in the corner. Sit down,” he commanded, turning to Rozina.

Marshall served up the cakes and coffee. As they were finishing, the two foster children, both sleepy-eyed and still in their pajamas, entered the room. After the introductions, Kona, aged six, and Keenway, aged nine, sat down at the table. Marshall served them bean chips and minty T’s.

Rozina went with Mrs. Williams back out onto the old wooden porch to “see about that leg”.

“Well, at least it’s clean,” stated Mrs. Williams as she removed the crude bandages Marshall had fashioned along the way. Mrs. Williams then washed Rozina’s leg thoroughly. As she finished dressing the small wounds and scratches, she addressed Rozina:

“You know, Rozina, Johnnie is something special. Something special. No one has to tell me that ‘cause I knew it all along. He’s such a fine one, and I love him. And, I tell you, I don’t know what you two have cooked up….. And I don’t want to know. But please. Please be careful with my boy.”

Rozina could not answer. She reached over to hug the old woman, who now sat next to her on the air couch. Finally Rozina said, “We hope for the best’”.

“Well,” said Mrs. Williams, getting up slowly from the couch and walking back into the house, “we pray to the Good Lord for the both of yez. Yes we do.”

Marshall and Rozina remained three weeks at Mrs. Williams’ foster home. Rozina’s leg healed quickly. They were not detected. However, Security remained on “orange” alert, and Volvs and sonic sensors had been placed everywhere along the highways, rails, and airports of Indianapolis. Scouting the downtown train station during the days and at nights as well, John Marshall decided their best chance was a pre-dawn entry onto the “cargoes” – the old cargo cars that carried packaged and security-banded military equipment.

They left early one late summer’s morning. The temperature was over 105 degrees Fahrenheit as they parted from Mrs. Williams, Keenway and Kona. No one cried. They embraced silently, and then they left. John Marshall and Rozina proceeded slowly up the deserted residential streets of Indianapolis on two re-furbished bicycles, each carrying link-collars and backpacks full of provisions. They arrived downtown in the late afternoon, and slept in a dug-out Marshall had reconnoitered earlier that week. They rose an hour before sunrise and succeeded in boarding two of the banded cargo boxes that were later loaded onto that morning’s west-bound air-train. They sat in the pitch-dark all that morning. Finally, the train started out of the station. They could feel the acceleration of the air-train as it gained momentum along the hi-speed rail. They had begun their mission.

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Editor’s note: At this point in the narrative the transmission is interrupted. Remaining only are Dr. Dejean’s closing remarks to his class of History 101 students.

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Dr. Lionel Dejean’s closing remarks

Although the narrative of “The Journey of John Marshall” stops at this point, we do know from the archeological record (Jones and Muhammed, 2126) that an Ambo-train Service Module needed to repair two band containers at the Reno Western Facility (formerly in the state of Nevada) on August 30, 2068. The service module drone at Reno checked off “lightning or other unusual electronic disturbance” as the reason for the broken bands.

We also know (Kaplan and Kaplan, 2122) that John Marshall and Rozina Haas hiked their way over the course of the next month down from the Reno area, through the Tioga Pass, and into the Yosemite Valley, heartland of what used to be called California.

Naturally, we also know that Rozina Haas on October 1, 2068 delivered and actually embedded the “Disconnect” message onto the Grid Cloud in a daring break-in operation. We are also fairly certain that John Marshall died that same day while engaging and neutralizing the Grid’s security matrix. Remnants of the famous “John Marshall Wall” – pieces of broken loop computers and circuit frames, which remain on display at the San Jose Survival Museum – indicate an intense and prolonged stand-off between Marshall and the security forces. We can only assume he died during this last act.

Contrary reports, however, continue to abound to this day. We are all familiar with the various “John Marshall Lives On” stories and legends – all of them apparently based on unconfirmed reports and rumors. Yet, these stories live on. Another interesting facet of history is the power of certain legends and even of fabricated narratives to take on actual historical reality and thus to influence future events. In this case, we see that several generations have been moved – and continue to be moved to this day – by the so-called “Journey of John Marshall and Rozina Haas”.

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Prof. Lionel Dejean concludes

Rozina Haas’  “Disconnect” message, a vid-trans recording of an obscure and ancient rock and roll song initiated just what was intended: Great waves of people disconnected from the Grid. And once they were physically disconnected, they were able to externalize their PPP’s. Thus they re-discovered their free will and their ability to think on their own. The people – and we talk of twenty-five billion at least – suffered greatly at first. The economic depression of the late 2060’s was a direct result of the Disconnect message. But surprisingly quickly they learned to farm, to manufacture essential tools and necessities, to domesticate animals, and to produce their own food again – all without further draining the planet’s resources. Thus began, in late 2070, the Renaissance Generation, which led to our current era of Enlightenment, our EE – or so we like to call it. You see, students, everything turned out “all right”, as they used to say. At least for the time being.

Prof. Dejean finishes up

OK. Several students have asked me about the final exam. “What will be the questions on the History 101 final?” they ask. Well, as I informed you on day one of this course, the final will be of the “take-home” variety. Please copy the following questions onto your table-pads.

  1. What do you think the world was really like in the year C.E. 2068? Was it as bad as Baum was prognosticating? And why was he prognosticating, anyway?
  2. What were the three primary socio-economic determinants for the creation of the Grid? (Not really a serious question. You don’t have to answer this one) Still, how and why did the “whole mess”, as Kaplan calls it, begin?
  3. Do you think that the ending for this narrative, as well as these “final” questions were a bit too glib? And, if so, how do you propose we end this “historical saga”?Note: All ideas are welcome. And all forms of response, excepting haiku, will be considered.
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