In which Oso calls forth Samson!
Oso’s phone rang, and then it rang again. It was Gillilander. Gilly rarely called, and he never called this late at night. Piqued with curiosity, Oso peered at the phone. To be honest with himself, although he wouldn’t admit it to anyone else, he had felt ill all day. It was hard to be an old man when one never wanted to appear weak. Finally, he answered the phone. If Gilly’s phone calls were rare, letting the phone ring in an endless loop of call-disconnect-call was even more rare.
“What’s up, old buddy?”
“Your granddaughter’s in trouble. I feel it in my bones.”
“She’s trapped inside the Albuquerque Daily alone with protestors smashing out the windows. You know they’ll kill her—unintentionally, of course. But they’ll still beat her to death. Men and Minäs, both. They don’t know when to stop.”
“What on earth is she doing there alone at this hour?”
“Being devious. Changing the front page spread. I knew she couldn’t be as sweet as she looked. Women never are.”
“Save the commentary, Gillilander. How do you think I’m going to drive down fast enough to rescue her? It’s a good thirty to forty minutes away. You’re closer to her than I am.”
“I’m not the two-fisted stud I used to be.”
Oso refrained from his own commentary. Gilly had never been a two-fisted stud…except that one time when he’d gotten the better of Oso. Oso pushed that out of his head. Twelve-year-old boys were notorious savages, unlike decrepit octogenarian men. “Did you call the police?”
“Of course I did. There are riots all over this godforsaken city. They’re booked up, to put it mildly, but dispatch took note that there was a young unarmed female at risk. I wouldn’t hold my breath.”
“What did you have in mind when you called?” As soon as he asked the question, Oso knew what Gilly had in mind. There was only one person he could count on for help of this nature.
“Get a hold of Samson. Do it. He’ll know how to calm the Minäs down.”
“Get a hold of Samson,” Oso repeated.
“You still have his number, don’t you?”
“I have an old number. Don’t know if it’s still accurate.”
“You of all people should know that time is of essence. Your granddaughter’s life is on the line. Why are you hesitating, Oso? Samson will do it for you. He may have cut off ties to you—I don’t blame him—but you’re still the only man he recognizes as being greater than himself. His creator.”
“You’re his creator, Gilly. You designed him.”
“Can we not play the humility game right now? You’re the top dog, and the only man he recognizes that way. I’m just your partner.”
“All right, I’ll do it. He’s old, you know. He was biologically eighteen when we birthed him. He may be dying of cancer. He could be dead.”
That last protest wasn’t much of a possibility; if he’d died and a coroner had taken more than a quick glimpse at him, he would’ve known. And it would have hit the news: Minäs Living Amongst Us As Intelligent Beings, even though Oso only knew of one: Samson.
“Do it for her. Not Stephanie. For Bernadette. Bernadette loved her daughter and granddaughter. Those three had a special connection.”
“God, you’re getting sentimental, Gilly. I can almost see tears oozing out your eyes. I love my daughter and granddaughter, too. Which means this conversation is over. I have to call Samson.”
So Oso had told one minor lie in his biography. He’d never put Samson in cryogenics. Instead, he’d had Samson’s Tomi Corp barcode removed and let the man go and discover himself as much as he could—not being a real man, after all. If Samson was still alive and living in Albuquerque, Oso didn’t want the world to know about it.
He suspected the last known number was no longer active, and he commanded his phone to find the number for one Gerald Intxausti, as Oso had dubbed the Minä with his family’s original surname on the fake birth certificate and ID cards. There was, thankfully, only one known man with the name in Albuquerque.
He called the number, and a sharp, not very happy voice answered almost immediately, “Yes?”
Oso hadn’t hidden his ID. Despite the unfriendly tone, the immediate pickup was a good sign. “I need your help, Samson.”
“That’s no longer my name.”
“My granddaughter’s in trouble. The protestors have picked up Minä followers and have trapped her in the Albuquerque Daily building. You’re the only one who will know what to do. Everybody else in this country’s gone mad.”
“Is this Adam’s daughter?”
“No, Olivia’s daughter. Your youngest sister’s child.”
“Olivia was always very precious to me. A beautiful child who grew up to have her own. I couldn’t have my own kids.”
“I know. Please forgive me, Samson.”
There was a weighty pause, and then: “These creatures should not be out destroying buildings and people, but it’s not their fault. It’s not your fault, either. The government turned them into mindless animals.”
“I share some of the fault.”
“If I go down there and calm the Minäs down, the police will still kill them.”
“But I might save your granddaughter.”
“Yes. Are you healthy, Samson? Can you manage this?”
“No, I’m not healthy, Oso. I can manage, if this is what my creator is asking me to do. I take note of the fact that you haven’t contacted me in twenty years, at my own request. I take note that this is very serious, that you love your granddaughter very much.”
“I may show up too late and fail you, but I’ll still be able to calm the Minäs down and prevent them from further destruction. I may not be able to calm the humans down.”
“I already know this.”
“I know you do. I wanted you to know that I know.”
“Of course. You were created to be intelligent and to understand future consequences.”
“My brain is still very much alive, Mr. Oso. I’ll be on my way now. I will make waves as I walk.”
“Thank you, Samson.”
“I was created to help humans, and I’ve never been able to stop. You wired me well.”
After Oso disconnected from his model Minä, he walked through his study, agitated. He called his granddaughter’s phone and got no response. He wasn’t the type of man who sat around waiting for other people to act; he was an actor. What if it did take a half hour to drive into the valley? Why couldn’t he drive there just to do something, even if the drive might prove ineffectual in the end?
“Cameron!” he shouted.
Cameron materialized as if out of nowhere. “Is Devon in bed?” he asked.
She gave him a funny look. “I’m not Devon’s nanny. But, yes, I think he’s fast asleep. As you should be.”
It was their way—ever since Bernadette had died, and she’d shown up at his door, she’d bossed him around like the kind of nagging mom he’d never had, and he had conversely verbally abused her for it. It was the way she wanted things. Tonight, he didn’t have the energy to play.
“I’m not going to bed. Prepare my car for me. I’m driving into Albuquerque.”
“At this hour?”
“Yes, I—” He paused. His bravado had suddenly failed him. With a deep inhale, he re-invigorated his constitution.
“You’re going to drive me to the Albuquerque Daily building,” he barked at her.
“What about Devon?”
“Leave him. He’s fine.”
“Maybe you should sit down and stop shouting while I get the car started,” she said in an icy voice that hearkened back to her younger years.
Astonishingly, he obeyed. “We need to find my granddaughter,” he said. “If something happens to me along the way, a heart attack, for example, you have to be the one to contact my family.”
“And Gilly, I should think,” she unemotionally added.
He patted her hand. In the beginning, she was an imposition. Now she was an asset. Life had a funny way of working out like that.