The Hurricane that Burned Down Texas
By Gene Haynes
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Chapter 42) Bobber discovers the Queen
Days turned into months.
Bobber added his own family to the roll.
If they were alive, they could see how to contact him.

A former Bludworthy appeared in town.
Bobber was looking for him.
Liam called him across the street. A runner brought the news.
Bobber dispatched invitation for him to talk.

When he arrived, he looked older.
Bobber asked about his family. They shared a discussion between trades at the counter.

His name was JoRR Beeler.
He brought a daughter with him to Red Lake.
She told him that she was a Reader and could Read the fire, so they left before it happened.

JoRR hadn’t eaten all day. Dillard stew was brought out. Eat slow Bobber said. We have more.
LeoJ's wife made a wicked pot of dillard, cheddar and hot pepper stew .... strong enough to smoke a man's tongue.... and that's why you ate slow.

Bobber asked JoRR about the woman at the barn the day they cut him loose. Adding that he had trade value for an important woman, offering commission for information.
JoRR looked at him strange.
Had Bobber made a mistake by asking? No.

JoRR said that’s the Queen.
The Queen?
 How do you know?

Then the story started.
JoRR was one of four Bludworthies protecting the lady at the barn that day. They traveled back to Forest City with her.
When they arrived, he heard people calling her the Queen, but that was before the monitors talked about a Queen.
He never saw her without face covering, but she was supposedly a teenager that looked much older.
He was sworn never to say what he heard or saw.
But now he was old and wanted to tell what happened. Bobber figured he was about 38.

JoRR was relieved to tell the story.
It carried genuine truth.

The Queen was more powerful than people knew.
She was GE-Nuke, she was the Bank, and she owned the Bludworthies.
She caused the Solid Dollar to come forth.
But there was more. She also started the Line Readers when she was barely a child.
All Line Readers carried the KL-VS2 gene. More resistance to illness, more intelligence, less susceptible to carbon and methane. Exceptional people.

Bobber thought the lady was a Reader when he saw her in the barn.
Readers have always been around; people able to pull information out of your eyes.

Line Reading was about groups of Readers meeting together and touching each other.
The Hive Mentality was communicated by these groups.
Groups of Readers would move around each other in dance-like motions while reaching out and touching the other person’s hand.

JoRR described it and Bobber remembered seeing young people outside the Trade Box doing the Line Reader dance several times, but he just thought it was loose squirrel.

JoRR said, the Line Readers in Forest City wore masks and robes and circled each other in opposite lines.
The lines went around the room. When groups were large, they formed several lines. The lines passed each other.
Each person touched hands while looking at the eyes of the person opposite them.
When there were multiple lines, the lines crossed each other and people all changed direction at same time so the pattern would change.
The larger the group, the better the communication.

He said, in a Line Read, you could speak to the person, or just speak in general, but it had to be in low harmonious tone to resonate with the group.
The rule was that you cleared your mind and didn’t focus on who was there, but instead Read information from their touch, word and eyes.

Since people wore masks and robes, nobody was sure which person was the Queen, or just an ordinary person with something to say. It could be anybody.
JoRR said that masks and robes hung in the hall available when people arrived. Some people already wore a mask, but less important people picked out a mask and robe before entering.
Then they would go inside the room through a door, and join the people who were already moving in Line.
Rumor was that Forest City was entirely Line Readers, and that the Queen received all information in this manner, and dispensed information the same way.
It was the Hive Mentality.
Line Readers were the power behind the New Kingdom.

After a while, JoRR was assigned elsewhere, and no longer guarded the Queen.
He got homesick and returned to his family and daughter in Texas.

Bobber thought to himself, he should try the Line Reader.  Maybe it would help sell the crystal
Nothing to lose.
Bobber knew information could be gleaned from shaking a person’s hand.
General labor men had calluses over the entire surface. While a boatman, had calluses in specific places. A woman’s hand might have fragrance. A hard working person would have a warm hand, and a frail person might offer a cold hand.

Yes there was truth behind it.

Bobber offered JoRR payment for the information, but JoRR asked a favor instead.
He wanted to go to New Galveston when the Queen arrived but didn’t have Cartage passes for both his daughter and himself.
His daughter Windrock wanted to Line Read with the Queen.
Winrock had the gift. She saved their lives.
She was willing to share the Queen’s gift with Texas.

Bobber was stunned at the opportunity. The story was amazing. He paused a long time.

Chapter 43) Decision
JoRR asked another favor. Bobber would have to Read with the daughter to clear passageway to New Galveston.
Huh? Bobber was quizzed by the second favor. Clear passageway? Why not get on the cartage and change coaches until you were going the right direction?
Tipping his head to show uncertainty, Bobber nodded. He had to find out.

After thinking for a moment, Bobber added his own requirement.
He would travel with JoRR and Windrock to New Galveston. It would be advantageous for business.
In exchange, Bobber would incur half of JoRR’s debt for cartage.
Agreement was reached. JoRR would return with his daughter.

Sale of the crystal could bring real advantage. But it was a bad time to leave the Trade Box.

Passage was going to be scarce.
Many people wanted to go to New Galveston to gain information about missing family and see the Queen.

Bobber pulled favors to gain sponsorship.
He needed local sponsors for two reasons: to reassure people about his plans, and pay for cartage. He gave away most his worth after the fire struck.
Bobber spread word that he would seek trade contacts for each person willing to sponsor his trip to New Galveston.
People knew Bobber was true to his word. But opinion passed that Bobber was necessary to keep peace, and someone else should go instead.

Things were undecided.
First Bobber had to meet with Windrock. And then learn about Line Reading.
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