by Kaye Jeffreys
Penny knocked on Kinsee's door and steadied herself.
The door opened and a friendly looking woman peered out.
"Hi, I'm looking for my friend, Jereth." Penny worked hard to follow the script closely. "He said he might be here."
"Jereth? No. He's not here. He went landside over a week ago."
"Landside?" That wasn't part of the script she'd have to improvise. "What's he doing landside?"
The woman laughed. "That's a good question. He doesn't belong landside, now, does he."
"Where did he go, landside, I mean." Penny shifted her weight from one foot to the other.
"I'm not sure where he is right now. I haven't heard from them in a few days. An earthquake knocked out communications."
"They? Who is he with?"
"With my daughter and her aid team. They had to go back toward some mountain range to check up on an independent miner."
"No communication, though. How will you get hold of them?"
"They will contact me when things are back up. Do you want me to take your name and contact info and give it to them?"
"No." When the lady started asking questions about her, it was time to go. "No. I'll try back later. Thanks."
Penny ran to the Benji Frank store. Gus leaned by the door waiting for her. "Well?"
"I got something." She was out of breath.
"Take it easy. We've got time." He chewed his toothpick.
Penny nodded and waited a few minutes to catch her breath. "He went landside, aid work."
"That's what she said."
"That doesn't make sense."
"It's all I could get."
"It's more than anyone else could get." Gus smiled at her great big. "It's better than nothing, right? And the boss is getting tired of nothing."
"Do you have anything else for me to do?"
"No, go on home. I'll take it from here."
"But we need the money and I want to help."
"If I need help, I'll call you. Otherwise stay away from me when I'm working. The people I work for don't play nice."