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The Aeolian Master - Book One - Revival


told him about the prison pit. It wasn't a good remembrance considering the outcome. Many of the prisoners
were dying of starvation, which came on quickly because they were worked sixteen hours a day with very little
food. But some of the others died when they were whipped to death by some terrible monstrosity which had
been imported from another planet. The stories were probably grossly exaggerated, but he had no doubt that
death came quickly in this prison.
The next prisoner to step off the ramp was Em. That vacant look was still there. He walked almost
mechanically as though living in a dream world. He was unable to sense the meaning of life. He always did
what he was told. He listened. He watched. He felt. Ben was sure he could taste and smell, but for some
reason his brain couldn't put it together. What had gone wrong? Why hadn't this man recovered from
suspended animation? Must have something to do with the length of time he was in the casket. Ben watched as
the hulk of the man moved toward the line. If this man were truly a link with the past, he could be invaluable
for the advancement of science. What was Thorne thinking? No one had ever undergone suspended animation
for more than forty years and survived.
I don't know why I'm worried about it, thought Ben. I'll probably be dead within a couple of months, or
sooner. Looking straight ahead Ben was forced to look at the cat. He noticed that the cat's tail began to move
quickly from side to side, and now Ben was more interested in the cat than thinking about his forth-coming
doom. From what Ben could remember about cats, tail wagging was a sign of anger or excitement.
Without the notice of the three men on the platform, the cat crouched down until his belly almost touched the
black-formed plastic. At first it looked as though he were going to lie down, but then his large claws, as thick
as Ben's fingers and tapered into razor sharp points, snaked out of their sheathes and dug into the platform. In
one graceful leap he bounded over the railing, landed on the pavement, and headed straight for the prisoners.
The fat man's look was one of shock, and he started stuttering as he tried to say something. One of the men
standing next to him leaned forward and grasped the railing with both hands. There was a look of consternation
turned to horror on his face.
The good-looking woman prisoner, who was standing two spaces down the line, gasped in fear. She must
have felt death was coming.
Another bound and the cat was in front of the prisoners. He walked slowly down the line all the while
staring intently at the Aeolian Master. His manner gave no clue as to his intent.
Ben spun around to watch. By the Zorgs of Zozorstra, thought Ben, what's going on here? The cat emitted a
loud rasping noise. Ben, at first, thought that the low rumble being emitted from the cat's throat was a growl,
and at that moment, he anticipated the worst, but as the cat started rubbing his head across the front of Em's
chest and shoulders, he realized the cat was purring.
The cat rubbed Em so vehemently he almost knocked him off his feet.
Regaining his balance, Em reached up and started stroking the cat's neck. He scratched him behind the ears
and then rubbed his cheek on the cat's furry face. It almost looked as if Em was going to smile.
And the cat, seemingly in Nirvana, acted as though he had finally found his long lost companion. He
continued to rub his body against that of Em's, and the base purr rumbled like a song of joy from his throat—so
strong and deep it almost shook the ground.
Just then Ben heard an angry, trembling voice from the platform. He turned his head in time to see the fat
man, with chubby cheeks—red from furry, stomping his foot on the black-plastic platform. His words sputtered
like a clicking ratchet and fine droplets of spittle sprayed from between his fat lips. "Get back here!" he finally
yelled audibly. "Get back here. You, you, you, you're making a fool of yourself."
The cat ignored him and continued to revel in his new found friend. He opened his mouth and a long, red
tongue lashed out licking Em's neck and face. He raised his right paw and placed it on Em's shoulder and then
licked him again.
The fat man became angrier. And as his fat stomach jiggled up and down from the stomping of his foot on
the platform, it seemed to Ben that this absurd show, as comical as it was, was merely a performance being put
on for the benefit of the new prisoners. But then the fat man exploded with wrath. He grabbed his phasor from
its holster and with a scowl on his face he took careful aim. He shot a blue bolt, which struck near the cat's hind
paws.
Startled from the unexpected shot the cat jumped from the side of the Aeolian Master into a low crouch. His
eyes glared resentfully at the fat man, and his claws gripped the surface in readiness.
The fat man's face whitened, and he reholstered his stunner. "Please come back," he said in a low, nervous
tone.
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