In The Name of Lynch

-Chapter 16: Bread and Circumstances-

Bryce and Oliver brought the groceries into the kitchen and started unpacking them.

"Smells wonderful," Bryce observed.

"Just the broth and a couple vegetables so far. You two boys can chop the carrots, celery, and peppers you just bought. You might need to show him how, Ollie."

"Good idea, since I've never sliced a carrot in my life," Bryce admitted.

"It's not too difficult," Oliver told him. "Most people in the cities and suburbs cut with the middle of the knife. That's okay, too. But you'll find it easier if you use the part of the blade that's closest to the handle. Let me show you," he demonstrated with one carrot, then slid the pieces to the end of the cutting board.

"I think I understand," Bryce told him, trying a few slices. He did well for a while, then...


Sadie opened a drawer and pulled out a band-aid. She handed it to Bryce with a pitying smile.

"I do that, too, sometimes," she admitted. "Darned stupid way to add salt if you ask me."

Bryce gave a little chuckle as he started to open the little package.

Jenny swiped it from his hand and opened it. Before he could argue that it was something he could've done himself, she wrapped it around his finger and gave him a little smile.

"Thanks, Mom," he said in an amusedly sarcastic tone.

Jenny gave a quirky little smile and patted him on the head before returning to helping Ai and Jack doing a tiny bit of housework in the living room, which Sadie was grateful for.

Once the vegetables were finished and in the pot, Bryce and Oliver took on the task of tidying up the guest rooms where Bryce and Jenny would be staying.

Sadie stirred the stew until the delicious aroma told her that it was ready. Then she ladled it into her best serving tureen and brought it over to the table. It was to be her nephew's first meal with his biological father and she wanted it to be as nice as possible.

Ai and Jenny went to set the table once they were finished with the dusting.

"What's he like, my father Bryce I mean?"

Jenny considered this. "I used to say he was unique when he and I were both the same age," she recalled. "He still is."

The phone sounded in the other room. "Jack, can you get that for me?" Sadie called, still stirring the pot on the Jotul.

"Sure thing," Jack called back. He reached the vu-phone and pressed the answer button.

"Jack Murray answering on behalf of Sadie Eccleston," he said.

"And this... and this... and this is Max Headroom, coming to you from the Orkneys with some very interesting news for Bryce Lynch. He around?"

"He just finished chopping carrots a few minutes ago," Jack said, earning a bemused look from Max who might as well have been told that Jesus was trick-or-treating as Satan. "I'll go get him for you."

"I'll just wait here while I readjust my entire outlook on life," Max remarked as Jack left the room to get Bryce.

A few minutes later, Bryce entered the room.

"What did you find out?" Bryce asked.

"Marlene Stevens is currently residing in New Zealand. She can't get time off right now, but she can be here as soon as this weekend," Max replied. "She's a week's worth of shearing to do on the Corriedale farm where she works and she can't get out of it. Your other daughter, Claire Ballantyne, lives in the Orkneys near Scotland and will also be here this weekend."

"I suppose that'll have to do," Bryce decided. "Good work, Max. Look, I gotta run. It's mealtime here. Go locate Edison and the others from the team. Tell them what's going on and where the meeting is going to be."

Max nodded and vanished from the screen.

Bryce returned to the kitchen.

"We were just about to start without you," Sadie kidded him as he sat down.

"Sorry about that," Bryce apologized. "By the way, a few others are coming this weekend."

"Do ask next time," Sadie scolded him.

"My apologies," Bryce said, sincerely. "I had thought that Oliver had explained things."

"I figured that was your job," Oliver told his young father.

"Very well," Bryce said. "A little while ago, while I was in cryostasis, I began picking up hints that suggested a major ratings war. And not..."

Sadie held up a finger to indicated that she wanted a question asked before he went on too much further.

"Yes?" Bryce asked.

"How did you learn this if you were frozen all that time?"

"My body was dormant, but my mind was not. As I wanted to continue to assist Edison with his work, as well as help out at Network 23, I had my brain connected to the Network 23 mainframe. It was a two way connection, so as I was able to help out, I was also able to find out what was going on with the networks. Over time, I began to notice that the free TVs in the London Fringes were experiencing rapid switching. Rapid to the point of belligerence. And it wasn't just in the Fringes. Ratings drops and swells were happening all over the inner city. Certain products from Zik Zak and Zlin were being purchased at an alarming rate while others that were normally popular started getting the cold shoulder."

"So, what does that mean?" Ai asked.

"It means the networks, not just Network 23 and Network 66, but all of them with the exception of Big Time, could very well be starting a shooting war, I mean guns not shows, as soon as the weekend after next. Or even sooner than that."

"You think you can stop it?" Jack asked.

"I'm not sure," Bryce admitted. "But I can at least gathering my family and friends and try to ensure their safety."

"Very well," Sadie told him as she buttered a piece of bread and set it on her plate. She held up the ladle and began serving the stew. "They're welcome to stay. But I'm afraid you'll have to sleep in the barn when they arrive. I'm one bed short of the number you need I'm afraid. And since it is polite for the host, and that's you in this case since you extended the invites, to sacrifice for the comfort of his guests..."

It was clear to Bryce that Sadie had every intention of teaching him a lesson about asking first next time.

"Would I be rude if I for a quilt?" he inquired, politely.

"Not at all," Sadie smiled. "I'll give you two, in fact. You can place one over one of the hay bales and use that as a bed. They're quite comfortable like that if you know how to do it."

"I'll join you," Jenny said. She dipped her bread in the broth of her soup and took a healthy bite.

"Not this time, dear," Sadie said. "I know your heart is in the right place, but I'm a bit old fashioned. Girls and boys don't share a room unless they're married. Besides, you can't protect him all the time."

Bryce swallowed the mouthful of stew he'd been chewing and wiped a small drip of broth from the corner of his lip. "I'll be okay, Jenny," he told her. "You stay in here and keep warm."

"If you're sure," Jenny told him.

Bryce nodded. "I'm sure," he replied.

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