This article is part of the That Insidious Beast series.
When General Hargrave is certain the tender is preoccupied he turns to me and I hardly recognize his face. It is contorted in extremes of emotion. Rage and sadness and fear. Tears spill out of his eyes.
"Make them talk," he begs me. "They won't talk anymore. The priests can't make them talk! Make them talk!"
He tugs at my shirt sleeves like a child.
"What?" I try to back away, but he clings to me. "What, no, I don't know what they-"
"Please! Please, God! Help us! They've stopped talking. Asking for you was the first thing any of them said since that fuckup in Indiana."
"I thought we won!?"
"What? No, don't be a fool. Do you believe the TV? No. One of them died. Please, you've gotta, you've gotta do something. Talk to them. Talk to the Hierophant. He's the reasonable one. He's the good one. It's a lucky break he was the one that asked for you. Could have been...could have been...well, never mind, never you mind."
General Hargrave puffs himself up.
"Now listen here, soldier, it is your duty as a member of the United States Army to go in there and talk to him. You tell them all straight up. Yeah, that's it. Tell them straight up. Tell them we're gonna god damn well lose here right quick if they don't get off their asses and start...start...start..."
He flops down in a chair, muttering. He plucks yellow pills from a side table and crams a handful of them into his mouth. His eyes are bulging and bloodshot. His arms are covered with needle marks.
"Please," he says softly. "We're going to lose everything. Please tell them to save us. By god, we done everything they ever wanted. Tell them to save us."
I struggle to come up with something. He's raving mad, obviously, but I can sense his desperation has its roots in reality. The Unfolders are rolling us up and readying us for some sort of coup de grace.
"They killed the moon," he sobs. "Everybody's dead. Fort Collins. New America."
"What do you-"
He looks up at me, tears streaming from his eyes, snot oozing from his nostrils and dripping over his lips.
"We listened to their goddamn radios melt! They blew themselves up...blew themselves up because you can't let those bastards have America. Not any part!"
"The moon colonies are gone?"
As the 19th century diver approaches a giant clam, a flash of brilliant golden light flares from within the shell. I emerge in a swirl of bubbles and do the timeless universal underwater hand signals for the following: ZODIAC KILLER, KKK, BLOOD OF YOUTH
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