“Where the hell have you been, Leah? I've been worried like some newborn baby's mother. You HAVE to contact me. Every day. Or I'm pulling you. Got it?”
“I'm sorry, Ian. I know. Believe me. It's just that...”
“You were drinking?”
“Of course it's complicated if you're drinking again!”
“Ok, fine. I was drinking. But you told me to become “one of the guys” and it was a dare, and...”
“Do you know how many times I've heard this story?”
“Yes. OK! I do! But this time it was different.”
“Ok, so shall we go into how many times I've heard that follow-up? Leah. I was there once. I know. I KNOW. But there comes a time when you have to admit that you can't beat it alone. That you need people. Help. Help from people who love you.”
“Yeah well, you know my entire history, how many people who “loved” me actually helped?”
“Lon did. He was helping you. And I do know that you're in a pressure cooker, and I do know that it's been a long time in it, but do you really want to risk it all now? For a buzz?”
She really didn't have a snappy come-back now that the conversation had steered off a tad of its all too-familiar path.
“They origami'd me.” That ought to distract him away from her “problem”.
“Are you KIDDING me? They're already out there?”
“Yup. Folded itself up. I had to fish it out of the toilet bowl full of vomit.”
“That's not how it's supposed to be retrieved! It's supposed to stay in the victim indefinitely, or at least until they've got what they needed it to get.”
“Yeah well, they probably hadn't counted on this victim's gag reflex.”
“Is that what you call it these days?”
She ignored that. One of the problems of having your contact also be your best friend is that Ian knows too much. But it's almost unavoidable when your life's mission means that you have to sever contact with all previous relationships for the safety of all involved. Who else then can understand what she's going through without being put in extreme danger? Who else can she really talk to? She didn't mean for it to happen. It just did. Maybe one of these days they'll actually meet face to face. Although she has a pretty vivid mental image of him, maybe breaking the spell would ruin it all. Think kid finding out Santa isn't real. Maybe there isn't a man who understands her, listens well, and cares deeply. Maybe he's just doing it for the mission.
“I gotta go, Ian. Gotta check if the chip is still in play, and then try to fish what I can out of the origami and see what damage has been done to my cover.”
“Good. I expect an update tomorrow morning.”
“Ok, yes, sheesh.”
“Don't scare me again, you hear?”
“Yea yea. Quit nagging, grandma.”
Leah heads straight for the vodka, dumps a good couple ounces in a cup, adds the banana extract and water. She usually downs her poison straight, but she's had way too much throat trauma the last 24 hours. If it's coming back up, now it won't be quite as bad. She learned about the bananas from a fellow...patient. Even Ian doesn't know about that chapter. If he had any inkling, he wouldn't let her continue.
Having set the stage for max productivity, she hits the zone as usual. When she has something to chew on and plan, it's her habit to call up old movies from the late 19th century, go on autopilot as far as the movie is concerned, and let it free her brain to free-style. All that damn ADHD crap from earlier society was such a joke. The ones who couldn't “concentrate” were the ones who were light years smarter than the others. Of course they couldn't prove it at the time...but hell. Wouldn't be the first time that later science shed more light. Leeches for example. Just because those affected could do ten things at once didn't make them any less capable of living in society. Hell, it made them better. And more employable. Who would you rather hire? The kid who can only follow steps in a row, or the kid who can do ten things at once and well, but he might be late. “Got distracted.”
How does John McClane's “wife beater” tank go from white with blood stains to all over puke green with blood stains? She tries to spot the change every time she watches. They probably lost that piece of continuity in the editing room, but it bugs her. Yeah, bugs. That's where she was. She'd been bugged. By whom? Maybe it's just the Feds. Testing their newest toy. Or maybe it's actually the manufacturer, still performing clandestine field testing. Or, maybe they found her. That she can barely tolerate considering.
As the retired ballet dancer pokes at the duct work where John is hiding, Leah construct what she can of a time-line for her last week. No telling how long she'd been bugged, but it's somewhere to start.
It's rather an eye-opener to see all the hours she puts into her work. And how little into herself. When was the last time she got to do what she really wanted? She's been on this station two years. Though the simulators are state of the art, you really can't substitute a computer program for the real deal. They try, but the programmers can't capture the scent of a forest or an open, windswept meadow. She's taken all the hikes available. What she really wants is real air. Fresh air. Air that tickles the tendrils of her hair escaping her pony tail and caresses her with familiar scents. But she can't leave the station until next year. Well, unless she gets sent to Olympia. At least the air there is real, even though not much else is.
Muse 0 here
Muse 1 here
To read the other entries in this challenge, go here.