The Bottleneck Years by H. E. Taylor – Chapter 24

The Bottleneck Years

by H.E. Taylor

Chapter 23 Table of Contents Chapter 25

Chapter 24

The Anvil Breaks, November 20, 2055

As the train approached Centre City, I called Olivia on her personal number. A computerized voice told me the number was discontinued and dumped me into voicemail hell. I hung up and called the house. Edie answered.

“Hi, Edie. Can I talk to Olivia?”

“She’s not here.”

“Where is she?”

“I don’t know.” She paused. “She didn’t tell me where she was going.”

A rising panic momentarily engulfed me. “Ww…What do you mean?”

“I mean, she took all her stuff and left.”

“I’ll take a cab then, and see you in a little while.”

I headed out toward the front of the station. Damn! She had actually done it. She had left me. Now what? As I approached the cabs queued out front, it occured to me that I was now sharing a house with my brother’s ex and his child.

I sat back in the cab trying to think, but by this point I was silly putty. After seeing the Henry thing and learning the methane news, Olivia’s taking off was just the icing on the cake. I stared blankly into the lengthening shadows of evening.

The cab pulled up beside the house. As I leaned toward the retinal scanner to pay the bill, Edie opened the back door. She met me at the door, looking terribly anxious.

“Hello L…Luc,” she stammered.

“Edie, how are you?”



“Do you want me to move out?”

I looked at her sharply, suddenly realizing her state of mind.

“I don’t have anywhere else to go.”

I shook my head. “Don’t worry. I heard Matt promise he would take care of you and the child. I feel it is my duty to fulfill that promise, if he can’t.”

“Oh Luc.” Edie sprang forward and hugged me, putting her head sideways on my chest.

I felt awkward. I hardly knew this woman. And I didn’t know how to deal with her spontaneous affection. I patted her on the shoulder and said, “There, there now. It’s all right.”

I stepped back out of her grasp and some inkling of my awkwardness registered with her because she smiled faintly and said, “Your brother Jon called and left a message for you to contact him.”

I nodded. The only reason Jon would call the house and not my personal number was that he wanted a secure line, which meant he either didn’t know that Carman had dusted the house or he was worried about someone besides ConSec.

I looked at Edie. “You realize the house is wired by ConSec, don’t you?”

Her eyes opened a little wider and she shook her head. “Olivia said something, but I didn’t get it.”

“They want to find Matt.”

She nodded resignedly, and the baby started crying in the distance. She turned toward the sound, then stopped to look back at me. “Well, welcome home.”

I dropped my shoulder bag on the couch and stepped into the kitchen. It felt good to be home, even if things were out of joint. I got a drink of water and while I was looking in the fridge, the phone rang. I could see it was Jon by the call display.

“Hi Jon, what’s on your mind?”

“Luc, I’m glad you’re finally home. I hear you were in Vancouver.”

“Yeah. Henry is dead.”

“I know.”

“How do you know that?”

“The Senator keeps up on things and that means I do too. Henry was running a dual identity and it’s blown up. A real mess. He was wanted in Minneapolis 12 years ago, where he was allegedly killed in a police shootout. There’s ties to a politico and his corp. Now they’re exhuming bodies, finding empty graves and double checking DNA all over the place. Matt sure knows how to pick’em.”

“Yeah,” I grunted. I still did not know why he had called, so I decided I had better let him know my news. “Two things you should know Jon. We are both acquaintances of people of interest and you know what that means.”

“You’re wired.”

I nodded. “Second, get a hold of a copy of The Carbon Cycle Since 2000 by McNamara, Jones and Gottlieb and explain it to your boss.”

“Funny you should say that. That’s why I’m calling you.”

I leaned back in surprise. “Yeah?”

“The Senator wanted Yablonski on some new UN committee, but he had to decline for health reasons and suggested you.”

I was suddenly cautious. “What would this entail? What level of commitment?”

“Oh, you can stay at the University. You would be holoconferencing as a technical support once in a while and meeting with some of the committee rather more often. You already know some of the people involved.”

“I don’t see how I can say no.”

“Good man. I’ll pass the word here, and you can expect to receive a formal request from the Senator soon.”

“Okay. Anything else?”

“Not really. How are you?”

“Frazzled. It’s been one thing after another today. Olivia’s gone.”

“She left you?”

“Yeah. I was away too much.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Was that Edie I spoke to earlier?”


Just then the baby again started wailing down the hall. I yawned. “Look I’ll talk to you later. I need to sleep now.”

“Okay. Take care.”

“You too.”

As I hung up I could hear Edie cooing over the child. I made sure the back door was locked and headed downstairs. When I got to my room, a box was sitting on my bed. Curious, I looked inside and found every thing I had ever given Olivia — pictures, books, a padd, love letters, a scarf, ticket stubs — everything.

I was so devastated I couldn’t even cry.


Excerpted from _The Bottleneck Years_ by H.E. Taylor

For further information see:

A Gentle Introduction.

Last modified January 22, 2012

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