by Kaye Jeffreys
The bustle of the circuit office in Spring Plant Valley had died down for the night. Jereth sat in the darkened office alone. The closer they got to Last Stop the less ready he was to face whatever he found there. Soon it would be time to jump. He hoped there was a place to land.
The light flicked on. Carter stood in the door. An expression of confused disdain played his face. "Why are you sitting in the dark?"
"Are you packed for tomorrow?"
"Then go to bed."
"We need to talk."
"I think Lessie is onto me."
"Lessie? Onto you?" Disdain won out over confusion. "We are all onto you. We all know that you are using us to burn your old man and prove to him that he can't control you."
Jereth resisted the urge to defend himself. It would just prolong Carter's tirade. Better to let him run out of fuel.
"You are a user and you will never be anything else. Why Lessie and Kinsee put up with you, I'll never understand." Carter dropped into a chair by the door. Fortunately, Carter ran out of fuel quickly.
"Now that you've had your say, listen to me."
Carter put up his hands like he didn't care.
"I don't want Lessie to worry."
"Worry about what?"
"If I were to disappear suddenly, it would upset her. But I don't want to warn her before I go because she'll question me to death. You know Lessie."
"Disappear? What are you talking about?"
"I have a connection to make."
"What connection? There is nothing out here but tumble brush and spring weed. Are you coming down with High Country Hysteria?"
"Just promise me, Carter. If I make that connection, you make sure Lessie knows that I'm okay?"
Carter threw up his hands again and looked away.
"If I make that connection, I'll be gone. I'll leave you alone with Lessie once and for all. Promise me you'll talk to her."
Carter shook his head slowly like he didn't understand.
"Talk to her!"
"Okay! I'll talk to her."
Jereth sat back in his chair. Carter was a man of his word even if he gave it begrudgingly. The last loose end was tied up. Still, it didn't steady the uneasiness in Jereth's gut as he prepared to turn away from everything and everyone he had ever known.