The police force, or whatever they were calling it, wasn't all that impressive. I knew them after five seconds. They were militia level with a good NCO who was probably a former cop. The road block was a couple 4X4's and a HUMVEE with a .50 up and pointed slightly away from us. There was a canvas top tent with mesh netting walls, something that you used to see in peoples backyards when they wanted to sit outside with out the bugs getting them.
One of the 4X4's had a generator on the back that was putting out power for a radio and a small refrigerator inside the mesh tent. They had a picnic table inside and were using it as a desk. The side of the tent that faced us was sandbagged up to about three feet. They had been there awhile was my guess. Behind the tent was a path leading through the grass into the woods. Probably where they went to relieve themselves. They had strung a banner between two poles stuck in tires with cement to hold them that said "Welcome to Gods Country!" The banner looked like it had seen better days. I wondered if they played volleyball with it as the net when no one was around.
The officer who had waved us over met us once we had pulled in. The first thing he said was "Shut them dogs up and keep them in the back of that truck." They were still barking and growling their fool heads off. I inhaled, ready to yell "Shut up!" Instead Thursday growled "Stillhet!" They shut up right away. The officer nodded approvingly and I bit back the anger that I felt. "Those were my dogs!" was what I thought. That was followed quickly by "What the hell? That was weird, especially as I had heard someone else use the exact same word not too long ago." I didn't have time to pursue the thought as the officer was talking to us.
"Okay. Nobody is crossing the line until we get an okay. The Brethern are having problems with bandits back the way you came in and we are in lock down until we get more information. Meanwhile we can get the usual stuff out of the way."
He looked at us for some acknowledgement that we understood. Both of us nodded.
He hesitated. I guess we were supposed to ask about the bandits. We didn't. So he asked us. "You see anything back there?" I replied "Yeah. A town on fire."
"Yeah. Thats the word we got." He narrowed his eyes. I loved it when people did that. I called it the "Penetrating stare." He asked "See anything?"
"Nope. Thursday here hit the gas and we moved past it fast." Thursday backed me up, telling him "Sure enough. Don't need no more trouble." That seemed to mollify him.
He continued "Okay. What is the purpose of your visit to Freedomville?"
I laughed. "When the hell did the name get changed?"
He actually looked a little embarrassed. He said "A week ago. All the towns and such are getting new names to reflect our pride in our American heritage."
I looked at Thursday who looked back blankly. I guess it didn't really matter.
The problem was I hadn't expected this question. I doubted if the truth would be a good idea. I was drawing a blank for something that sounded reasonable when Thursday once again answered for me. He told him "We are on a quest for a lost child. Son of a maiden fair."
I saw the officers eyes widen. I thought "Okay. Take the .50 gunner first. Then this guy and hope the dogs wake up." Instead the officer said "Oh yeah. The kids camp. You will have to check in at the station in town if you plan staying more than 24 hours. That will be two silver dollars for the toll."
I didn't see Thursday reaching for his wallet. In fact he was looking away and pretending that he didn't understand the request. Well, he had driven me this far so I paid for us both.