It was that time of day when the afternoon barely gave away to the glorious wonders of the night. The birds had stopped chirping and the many creatures that stirred in the ruins of the city, those that found it livable, had retreated to their underground homes. It had been a decade, a lifetime since the city had been reduced to rubble. The radiation still lingered in the air. It added a new taste, similar to the taste of an orange or a lemon. The crater from the bomb had been filled with rainwater to form a lagoon. The river’s natural current carried away the radioactive debris to the forest where, undoubtedly, the creatures of the forest would drink the contaminated water.
There had been an occasional drizzle now and then soaking most of the wood in the area. Montag had managed though. He had come prepared. It took him three full hours to build the raft and funeral pyre in which Faber’s body now rested on. He looked at the horizon just in time to catch the everlasting rays of the sun fade to the night and began.
“Faber, my dear friend; it has been awhile since we talked. Almost three months. I heard that you were shooting propaganda somewhere by the Eastern Battle; probably condemning the unworthy fools that fought against us. Remember when we first met? You called yourself a coward for not standing up to stop the madness when it was beginning. I always found it ironic that you would become the symbol of rebirth, that you would be dubbed the phoenix. A coward really, but that was not my decision to make,” he stopped and took a breath. “You were my mentor. When I was blind to the knowledge of books, you educated me; you showed me what I was missing. You were everything I could ever ask for. Granger was there for me, but you were there for me to the, I mean your, bitter end. I can remember when you were approached about the face of the phoenix. That bright day in St. Louis.
“Faber, tell me what happened yesterday? I thought all was going well with your friend. He had printed books for us before…” Montag stopped. “Why won’t he do it now?”
“I’m afraid that he is no longer on our side of the battle,” Faber said.
“Not on our side of the battle? That’s absurd! One doesn’t just simply stop being a savior,” Montag said.
“Well he isn’t trustworthy anymore. He had tricked us. Pulled the wool over our eyes. We were only seeing what we wanted to see.”
It was at that moment that Montag noticed the man standing in the corner of the room. He had his face turned away from us, but it was obvious he was listening to them.
“You there, who are you?”
“Nobody. I heard that the almighty Guy Montag and the wise Faber were in town, I simply couldn’t resist the opportunity of meeting them,” said the strange man.
Montag took a good look at him. He was well dressed. He was very well dressed. It was obvious that he knew who we were and it was also obvious that he was there for a reason. His fingernails were clean; an indicator that he was no fighter. Either he was a very good ally to have, or a powerful enemy to dispose of. When he noticed Montag looking at him he gave a wry smile.
He decided it was best to trample through the bush. “Why are you here and what do you want? And this time don’t be shy to tell us your real name.” Montag asked.
“My oh my, the rumors about you are true. You see Mr. Montag I want to help you. You could say that I have friends in high places, places that can help you. While you have been fighting your wars silently, and rather immaturely, some of us,” he paused, “have been thinking of the bigger picture,” he stopped as he met Montag’s cool but deadly gaze.
“What are you implying?”
“Nothing at all. Just an offer to, how do I put this? Just an offer to help move things along. We want to take the war public,” the man said.
Montag raised his eyebrows until they almost became part of his receding hairline. “I don’t know what rock you have been living under but it is...