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Chapter 6: The Accidental Family
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“Sam?” Logan was surprised and pleased to see his old friend and doctor online already. “You’ve settled down so soon? And someplace with an internet connection?”

“I’m sixteen hours east of the city.”

“That’s a little close,” Logan hedged. He had wanted them to head north to Canada, or take a flight to Europe.

“It’s three states away. We’re in a small, rather closed community and they said that they would trade services for a doctor. And they didn’t mind that I had left Seattle because I had treated transgenics.”

“You told them?”

“I had three different interviews with the residents. I didn’t even realize I was being interviewed the first time, when they let us into town, and then they searched my van, did an internet search and found me and they called bullshit on every lie I told them. It was like dealing with Eyes Only, only worse,” Sam Carr grinned.

Logan was still worried. “Are you sure that they won’t sell you out to White?”

“Logan, feds are not welcome here. I haven’t seen a single one since my arrival, nor a hoverdrone. I’ve been here a week and I think White would have swooped in already if he had been tipped off.”

“Sounds like heaven,” Logan teased.

Sam laughed, looked more relaxed than Logan had ever expected. “It gets better. They had a regular supplier of coffee that I get a cup of every morning. Jo’s using it as collateral for anytime she, or one of her guests, need medical attention.”

Logan’s jaw dropped. “Are you sure it’s not too good to be true?”

“Susan,” that was Sam’s wife, “is wondering the same thing. Jo has given me three patients already so we might be even. The residents set us up in the back of a defunct clinic –that they fixed up- and mostly left us alone. Everyone has been pretty friendly and helpful. They like the idea of having a real doctor. There’s a group of kids that stop at the end of the walk every school morning to walk Savannah to school. The kids run around freely, like in pre-Pulse times and everyone keeps an eye out for them but don’t really worry. Savannah has asked that Susan stop waiting outside the school for classes to end since that only happens for babies.”

Logan laughed. “Anything else?”

“They’ve got a patrol schedule posted at Jo’s, to keep an eye on all the people coming and going. It looks like residents are by invite-only. They even screen those passing through. Susan and I are excused from that job because of our jobs at the clinic –which is a nice way of saying that they don’t trust us to make that decision yet, but nearly everyone else takes a turn, or trades out of it. Women as well as men.”

“Plus a good internet connection.” Logan was really impressed with that.

Sam nodded. “And get this. They haven’t had a brownout since we got here.”

Logan was stunned. “How do they accomplish that?”

“I don’t know. They haven’t trusted me with that information yet. I do know that ‘Mr. Ben’ and his father are responsible for the electricity and the internet connections. I know that they have hydropower near the internet tower, but there’s another plant that has some sort of alternative power source on the other side of town. Since my clinic is also going to be a hospital of sorts, they dropped off a gas-powered generator for emergencies. They also gave me some gas.”

“All that?” Logan shook his head in disbelief. “No wonder it’s by invite only.”

“Actually, Logan, I had another reason for contacting you.”

“You need me to run background checks on your neighbors?” Logan guessed.

“No… no. I don’t think I want to know that right now.” Sam tilted his head as he considered the offer though. “Around here, there are a lot of farms, cows, but especially goats. Which means a lot of goat milk. I tested it and it seems to have a higher than normal concentration of amino acids. The residents make it into this really nutritional cheese.”

Logan was quick on the uptake. Milk amino acids meant tryptophan and cheese was very transportable. Sam couldn’t spell it out in case someone was eavesdropping. He also knew that the transgenics would be very interested. Ames White had stopped all shipments of the supplement to Seattle in hopes of forcing the transgenics into a confrontation. He was also monitoring all tryptophan transactions within a hundred or so mile radius of the city. “You’re hoping to trade that outside of town?”

Sam nodded slowly. “For cash, so that I can get whatever meds that I need for the town or for the medicines themselves.” Sam would have to buy everything on the very expensive black market in the future and for the whole town.

“I’ll definitely pass that information along and let you know when someone is coming to make the trade.”

Sam smiled. “Do that so that I can pass it onto the patrol to expect them. And I’ll put up a sign that I’ll be accepting goat cheese for services rendered.”

With that taken care of, Logan turned to more serious matters. “Actually, I’m glad you called. I’m trying to track down a different doctor on the run. He might or might not realize that he’s supposed to be keeping a low profile. What’s the most likely way he’ll slip up?”

“Doesn’t know he’s in hiding?”

“A very rich man sent him to Europe and paid for him to stay there.”

“Well, I can tell you one thing I would miss in Europe.”

“Oh?”

“My medical journals. In Europe now, all of the journals are in German. Before the Pulse, the medical community constantly had training seminars and symposiums to advance medicine. Now, we only have the main medical journal that is published every other month. It’s thicker now than before the Pulse, but the case studies are few compared to the glut of information we used to have available. Doctors should never stop learning. I miss my journals already.” Sam brightened and Logan was relieved to see it. “Oh, Savannah is learning the Scientific Method at school. They’re using biology to teach it, but the students figure that it’s useful because whatever their results are on their plant experiments will be used the following year to plan gardens in town. I think the school here is even better than the pricy one back in Seattle.”

“There’s got to be a downside to this place,” Logan commented.

“Well, they’re all very superstitious. Very. We were told to tolerate it or leave. They painted all sorts of symbols on the floor, walls and ceiling of the clinic. Every single, livable building in town has them. Strangely, church is something that only half of the town attends. Also strange: no graveyard for the entire town. There had to be one way back when, right? But there’s no evidence of a graveyard ever being used in this town. All the dead are burnt to ashes and the ashes scattered.”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to run a background check on the residents?”

“Not yet.”

“By the way, what’s the name of this utopia?”

“Ghost Town.”

Logan threw his head back and laughed. “Is it haunted?” he asked cheerfully.

“I haven’t seen a single ghost,” Sam said good-naturedly.

“Let me know when you do.”

“I will. You have my e-mail address now, so contact me when you need me.”

“You too,” Logan chided his friend.

They said their good-byes and Logan hung up still chuckling. Ghost Town. Why would anyone name a place so good Ghost Town?

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