Miles along the highway, something occurred to him. The base line instrument had to be aimed exactly right for Vale or Sattell to pick up his voice as carried by its beam. Vale’s or Sattell’s instruments had to be aimed as accurately to convey their voices to him. Yet after the struggle he’d overheard, and after Vale had been either subdued or killed, someone or something seemed to have picked up the communicator, and Lockley had heard squeakings, and then he had heard the instrument smashed.
It was not easy to understand how the beam had been kept perfectly aligned while it was picked up and squeaked at. Still less was it understandable that it remained aimed just right so he could hear when it was flung down and crushed.
But somehow this oddity did not change his feelings. Jill could be in danger from creatures Vale said were not human. Lockley didn’t wholly accept that non-human angle, but something was happening there and Jill was in the middle of it. So he went to see about it for the sake of his self-respect. And Jill. It was not reasonable behavior. It was emotional. He didn’t stop to question what was believable and what wasn’t. Lockley didn’t even give any attention to the problem of how a microwave beam could stay pointed exactly right while the instrument that sent it was picked up, and squeaked at, and smashed. He gave that particular matter no thought at all.
He jammed down the accelerator of the car and headed for Boulder Lake.
The car was ordinary enough; it was one of those scaled-down vehicles which burn less fuel and offer less comfort than the so-called standard models. For fuel economy too, its speed had been lowered. But Lockley sent it up the brand-new highway as fast as it would go.
Now the highway followed a broad valley with a meadow-like floor. Now it seemed to pick its way between cliffs, and on occasion it ran over a concrete bridge spanning some swiftly flowing stream. At least once it went through a cut which might as well have been a tunnel, and the crackling noise of its motor echoed back from stony walls on either side.
He did not see another vehicle for a long way. Deer, he saw twice. Over and over again coveys of small birds rocketed up from beside the road and dived to cover after he had passed. Once he saw movement out of the corner of his eye and looked automatically to see what it was, but saw nothing. Which meant that it was probably a mountain lion, blending perfectly with its background as it watched the car. At the end of five miles he saw a motor truck, empty, trundling away from Boulder Lake and the construction camp toward the outer world.
The two vehicles passed, combining to make a momentary roaring noise at their nearest. The truck was not in a hurry. It simply lumbered along with loose objects in its cargo space rattling and bumping loudly. Its driver and his helper plainly knew nothing of untoward events behind them. They’d probably stopped somewhere to have a leisurely morning snack, with the truck waiting for them at the roadside.