There was standing room only outside the delivery room. The women were excited about the birth of their first true native among them. Cierra shook her head and tried to get inside but with little luck.
She spotted Carey near the door. “Psst. Carey, any word?”
“Nope. I think she’s still in early labor. At least I haven’t heard her call Cyd any foul names yet,” she grinned.
Several of the nearest women laughed softly.
Cierra called for the attention of those closest to the doorway. “I know most of you have gifts for the baby. Why don’t you all start taking your presents to Jenny’s house? Someone can make sure everything is placed nicely inside so the house isn’t covered in tracks. Make sure the fire is kept up and they have plenty of firewood and fresh water too,” she suggested.
Word got passed along and women began filing out of the small hospital.
“Good job,” JP smirked. “Now we can get a peek.” Cierra merely gave her lover an innocent look.
They walked to the curtain that separated the rooms and looked inside. Jenny was lying on her side while Cyd held her hand and stroked her back. The expectant parents and the medical staff looked up.
“Hey there,” Jenny smiled. “C’mon in. The party is just warming up.”
“How’s it going?” JP asked, looking at everyone.
Dr. Sanchez answered. “She’s doing fine. It may be a while though. First babies usually take their own sweet time,” the woman said, her amber eyes sparkling.
Cierra looked at Cyd, who seemed calm. So much for the stereotype anxious ‘daddy-to-be’. “How are you doing Cyd?” she asked softly. Cyd grinned and said she was raring to go.
“That’s good. How about we come back in a few hours?” Cierra asked while looking to the doctors in confirmation on the estimated time. They both nodded. JP and Cierra each gave Jenny a kiss on the cheek and patted Cyd on the shoulder. They walked out of the small hospital building and headed back to the communal kitchens.
JP glanced through the titles on the shelves but saw nothing new she wanted to read. “We need more books,” she commented.
“We could always make a jump. It’s been over three months. I bet they don’t have a troop waiting around anymore,” Cierra suggested. She would love to hit the bookstore herself.
JP looked uncomfortable.
“Just to the used bookstore. We grab handfuls of used books and jump back. In and out in 15 minutes, tops,” she promised.
“We only have a few hundred dollars left,” JP said, trying to grasp for excuses.
“So? It’s only money. We already talked about panning for gold come spring and using it to make jewelry we can pawn. It’s not like we can’t pay the rent,” Cierra reminded her, doing her best not to lose her patience. JP had come a long way and didn’t need any backpedaling now.
The tall woman sighed. “Fine. I’ll saddle up the horses and a two-wheeler.” JP left the building and headed for the stables.
Carey walked up to Cierra and asked if she could come along.
“Sure. Go ahead and saddle up a horse too. And Carey? Try and calm down that wife of mine while you’re at it, okay?”
The hazel-eyed woman nodded and headed out the door.
“Women. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them,” Cierra grumbled.
Half an hour later they were riding towards the downtown jump point. Cierra and Carey were doing their best to recall approximately how far away from the shed the used bookstore was. They knew it was one block north and three buildings east. They would try and jump for the alley behind the shed, afraid of using the shed itself. It might be monitored electronically at least.
Once at the site they tied off the horses and began roughly guessing where to stand and jump. It’s would be hazardous but they were willing to try. After nearly twenty minutes of debating the three of them marked the spot they would jump from and took hold of Cierra’s wrist and leaped.
They arrived at an alley but found them selves tight against a wall.
“Whoa. Talk about close!” Carey exclaimed, as she tried not to trip as she stepped out from behind garbage Dumpster.
“Okay, we made it. Let’s walk around the block and get this over with before someone spots us,” JP said tightly.
The trio walked around the shops until they reached the entrance of the used bookstore. They heard the ting-a-ling of the door’s bell as they entered. The place was fairly quiet since they opened only a short time earlier. They picked up an empty cardboard box that the shop provided and began looking over the piles and shelves of books and other sundry items.
The shopkeeper looked up from her bookkeeping logs and gasped.
“Oh my God! I can’t believe you’re in my store!” the woman squealed.
The three women looked up in fear. Was there a wanted poster out on them?
The woman rushed up to them excitedly. “I can’t express how thrilled I am! To think you are actually right here. People were beginning to wonder if you were an urban legend!” She reached out and shook their hands.
Carey was the first to speak. “What are you talking about?” she asked, wondering if the woman was insane.
“What am I talking about? Dear, don’t you know? It was in all the papers. A local reporter came out with the story months ago! About the whole thing, from how the alternative world was found to what known people went there.”
“They did?” Cierra asked weakly. This meant their faces were now known. They had to get out of there.
The shopkeeper saw how shocked they were and tried to reassure them. “Don’t worry about it. Let me locked the front door so no one else can come in. Just a moment,” she said, rushing to the door and turning the deadbolt. “There. Where shall I begin?”
“It seems Janice Williams—the reporter, found out about the whole thing. Made everything public. She made a lot of enemies with the government, let me tell you. Anyway, when her paper came out with the story there was a huge to do over it. Suddenly all the government goons disappeared around here. At least out of sight. You’re all celebrities now!” she gushed. “Could I get you to pose with me? I have a digital camera and can print it up in a wink. I’d love to have you autograph it for me so I can have bragging rights up on my wall,” the woman grinned.
Before the women could recover from the shock the woman set up her small camera and their picture was taken. The older woman opened it up and removed the small chip inside and plugged it into her computer. Within seconds it was printed. She grabbed a pen and handed it first to Cierra.
It took a moment for the Jumper to snap out of her daze and take the pen. “Um, what’s your name?” she asked. Mabel gave her name and beamed as each woman signed the photo printout.
She took the picture and placed it on her desk. “Now dears, go ahead and browse all you want. I wouldn’t think of taking a penny from you so don’t worry about it.”
The stunned trio began looking at the books once more but kept an eye on the shopkeeper. If she tried to phone anyone they’d get out of there fast. Regardless of her reassurances they didn’t trust the authorities not to try and arrest them.
They didn’t need to worry. The woman sat in her chair and kept up a running conversation up with them, wanting to know all about their colony. They answered as best they could while piling books into boxes.
“No, we never gave it a name,” Cierra told her. “It just is,” she told Mabel, explaining the village had little need to be named. “However, the tribes call the New World ‘Mother Earth’. We all tend to call it that now.”
“I love it! Oh, tell me, is there anything you dears really need there? I know most of the store owners on this block and could get it for you,” she offered.
Carey shrugged. “The only thing I can think of is ice and a green house, but that’s wishful thinking.”
“Done. I bet I can have both here in less than an hour if you’re willing to wait,” Mabel said.
Carey made a funny noise, unable to reply. The three looked at one another and wondered if it was possible to do safely. The older woman could see their worry.
“It’ll cost you though. I bet you’ll have to sign and pose for a lot of pictures,” the woman grinned.
Just as she promised, an hour later several trucks pulled up in front of the bookstore. Mabel supervised who was allowed inside her store, keeping the onlookers and strangers outside while the three jumpers kept close to one another. At any sign of trouble they’d get the hell out of there.
They posed for photos and shook hands. The storeowners were all willing to accept trade goods from the colony to pay for what they brought today. It seemed anything handmade from the alternative world would be highly prized.
The owner from the hardware store had brought along a portable green house in a truck that was nearly empty. The other owners would place everything inside and the three of them along with the driver would jump to Mother Earth. The storeowner, Jim, was thrilled. He would drive them to the colony and get a tour while there. Then Cierra would jump he and the truck back to the farm they had once owned. He’d have to drive back into town from there. He would also bring back some of the craft items made by the colony and hand them out to the other shop owners.
Not only the items Carey had mentioned had been brought along. Mabel had listened carefully to everything during their previous conversation and had called Susan from the boutique down the street. Susan had brought along a large assortment of baby items for Jenny. Word had passed around quickly. Even as they spoke inside the bookstore people were bringing box loads of everything. It seemed everyone wanted to have something of his or hers to go into the new universe.
The truck was quickly loaded and Jim drove the large truck up onto the sidewalk so the passenger door was a short distance from the shop entrance. They quickly hopped in and before Jim could blink, found him self in the middle of an empty field.
“Whoa! That was awesome!” he smiled, his teeth white from behind his beard. Cierra grinned back and pointed in the direction of the horses. They didn’t want to leave them there. Carey agreed to ride back leading the other two mounts.
The sound of a truck driving into the colony brought everyone out to see what was going on. They spotted the girls inside the truck and waved, wondering what the story was.
JP jumped out first and clapped her hands. “Okay folks, let’s unload the truck. We have lots of presents for all the good girls and a lump of coal for the bad ones,” she teased. It felt like Christmas day.
Cierra took Jim for a tour as promised, telling him about how things had been built. He never stopped grinning the entire time. The founder also had him join them for lunch in the communal kitchen while craft items were collected for his return trip. They included woven blankets, items made from the old bus, carved figurines, paintings, handmade jewelry, preserves, and a huge sheet of paper with everyone’s signature on it for the folks back home.
They bid him goodbye and Cierra took him back to the Old World. She returned a moment later.
“God, I can’t fucking believe today,” JP said as she sat down next to her spouse in the sitting area near the library.
Cierra laughed. “And you didn’t want to go,” she teased.
“Gonna say I told you so?”
“Yup, every time I have a chance,” she giggled, leaning over to kiss her lover’s cheek.
Continued in Part 3
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