Excuse me, Mister?
Um… excuse me, but, you’re not from around here. Are you?
*Smile* – Well, yes I am, actually.
*Scratches head* – Funny. I know everyone in town. Don’t remember you. Are you sure…?
Oh yes. I was born here. But that was a long time ago. I’ve been away for a while. A long while. From long since before you were even born. So no, you don’t know me.
The child would ask me now if I am her great grandfather. But already she has trespassed against the rules and spoken with a stranger. She is supposed to tell her parents or some other adult, but… something made her stop, just to make sure. I had better ask the safe question.
Tell me, young Miss, if the town hostel is still in front of the court house?
Yes, Mister. It is.
Then would you please tell your father I will be there tonight.
Yes, sir. But… how did you know he is the city officer?
Time to lie.
I didn’t know. But… well, you see, I knew thee wouldst tell the right people, and if he weren’t, then he would…
She twitches when I slip into the old vernacular. Smiles at me. And speaks. – Oh. Well, good bye, then, Mister. Sorry to bother you.
Oh well, I suppose I better sign in. Opening link. Checking. Embroidering psimind interference. Contact. There! What was that? Oh, yes. Well, damn it then, definitely a demonic flicker. They never can resist the hint of flame, can they. No. Well, the worst is now they know I am here. That’s the hell of regulations – signing in lets them know we are after them.
Item: I have arrive. Per regulation reporting same fact.
Item: They, or perhaps only it, are, or is, definitely here.
Item: And thanks to required report, at least one, perhaps more, now know I am here.
Item: These regulations should be amended. Underscore with fact.
End Report #1.
Closing link. Checking. No. No further flickering. Quiet. This time they/she/he/it know(s) better. I might have double-referenced and hinted their postion. Well, maybe, at least, they don’t know mine, either. But word will soon be out. I am, after all, the stranger in town.
For what purpose have you come?
I am an anthropologist. Am studying agricultural development and population maintenance.
But it says here you are native to our planet.
Yes. I was.
Well, it has been a long time, what with traveling around between star systems and all… it has been… almost three hundred years of your time.
And your time? How old are you?
Sixty standard tellurian years.
Oh. That would be… seventy some here.
Yes. I would be seventy-three next moon.
Really? And will you be staying with us that long?
Yes. Well, on this world, at least.
In our settlement?
Until next month, yes, I think so. This was once my home town.
Really? Well, welcome to our planet, Doctor Relmond. I am Marshak Relmond, town recorder. You don’t suppose…?
No. I had no children. But we might be cousins of some sort.
Yes. There are a lot of us Relmonds around these parts. All over the continent, in fact.