Jump to content

Aberrant: 200X - Tria Mera [Complete]


z014

Recommended Posts

I love the smell of baking bread. It's the first time I've genuinely smiled since I started remembering. I don't know if I have some homey, suburban middle-class memory tucked away in a stray corner of my mind telling me that baked bread means family and home and safety, or if I just like heated up carbs. Either way, I wish I had some money to buy one of the bagels and some cream cheese. The last shelter was three hours ago, and they'd run out before we'd been allowed back for seconds. I suppose I could go invisible and steal one, but again with primordial lizards running up my spine. Guess I like stealing about as much as I like Project Utopia.

Oh, well. Water with a few slices of lemons it is. I'm still in the grey jacket, jeans, and scarf; I was worried about not having been able to clean my clothes out before meeting 'Maverick', but they don't seem to need it; I caught a shower this morning at a YWCA. Despite my inner musings I keep scanning the room, wondering what Maverick is going to look like. I should have asked for a description, but hey, I'm asking him to walk into this blind to just about anything important to me. The least I can give him is a chance to size me up before I know who he is.

I hope he gets here soon or their bakery line is going to suffer an inexplicable loss of brownies and french bread, lizards or no.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"How do I look?"

"Like you just spent the last three hours getting face-fucked by a large ethnic man."

"Thanks, asshole, same to you." I smooth back my afro self-consciously, which changes approximately nothing about my look. Not that there's much to change, just a pair of slacks, brown loafers, and an untucked reddish-brown button-down shirt. I look like your typical college kid, which is fine by me. Working at a fast food joint for a living is rather embarrassing when you get right down to it.

My friend, whose name is totally unimportant, sighs impatiently. "You look fine, okay? Can you please stop grooming yourself like some demented monkey?"

"If I was to be an animal," I say testily, slipping on a pair of glasses, "I would most assuredly not be a monkey. Or a horsey," I add hastily, cutting him off. "Cats are nice. I'd be a cat." He grumbles something at me, shooing me out. I shoo, and he speeds off. He'd be back to pick me up in a few hours.

The Panera is...pretty nice, really. It's the sort of place I'd hang out in if I hung out in New York. 'Eve' is pretty damn easy to spot; there aren't a lotta birds around fitting the description she gave me. So I approach, and as I approach I feel the inexplicable clenching in my stomach that always precedes an encounter with an attractive member of either gender. It's toned down since I nova'd, but now the feeling is back in full force. Something about approaching a fellow Quantum-spewing wonder dormed that makes you feel naked.

I slide in across from 'Eve', assuming this is her, and give her my most winning smile, totally laying on the charm. Okay, so I don't, so what? I'm naturally shy. I give her a retarded little grin like the complete ass I am and say, "Hi."

Public speaking never helped me one goddamn bit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I watched the young man make a nervous approach and slide in across the booth from me. I smile as he does and stifle a chuckle at his awkwardness. Suddenly I'm someone else, a woman who knows how to handle men, especially young impressionable men. "Maverick, I assume?"

I take a breath and my eyes for a moment, becoming three-day-old Eve again. "I'm sorry, I'm having...I..." I can't finish. I can't say it, can't admit a weakness. Who the hell was I before three days ago?

I drum my fingers on the table for a moment, then my stomach growls. "I don't suppose you could buy me a bagel, could you?" Baby steps, apparently poverty isn't a weakness to me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I blink at the offer. I didn't expect such easy kindness. "Umm...maybe a couple of bagels. And cream cheese? I don't want to put you out or anything." I'm fidgeting now, trying to stay me and not slip into someone else's skin. "Thanks."

A pause while we order, get our food, and head back to the booth. "So, we eat a lot? I read that...on some of the sites." I bite my lip, then stare down at the bagel and start spreading cream cheese on it, hoping he'll pick up on the hint.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I nod. "'Bout three or four times that of a baseline, I think. One of the reasons I need to find a new job." I switch topics - sort of. "So you don't know much about novas? I'm sure there's people at a Rashoud clinic who'll be able to tell you everything you want to know."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That cold reptilian shiver comes and goes again and for a moment I have no appetite. It passes quickly though, and the bagels begin to disappear. "I'd....I'd rather not go to the clinics. It's so impersonal, you know? Besides, I'm talking with someone right now, and I'm in control of my abilities." I hope. "Did you go to the Rashoud Clinic when you...erupted?" The word feels strange to say out loud. I don't think that's what I called it before.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Yeah. They took care of me alright, I think. I certainly can't complain. Everyone there was very friendly and accomodating." I shift, tucking one leg under myself and treating her to what is hopefully a bit more winning smile. Her apparent lack of utter self-confidence and essence of bitch is comforting. "And if you're hungry, we can go get some serious chow." I cast a glance at her rapidly disappearing bagels.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I try not to jump at the offer. I haven't been full in memory, not that that means much with me. I finish off the last of the bagels, "That would be wonderful. I...it's been a rough couple of days."

I smile genuinely this time, telling my inner cynic that's screaming about entrapment and going anywhere alone with someone who I don't the powers of to shut up. Maybe I can take a bit more of chance, if I'm going to walk out of here with him anyways. I hold out my arm to him, turning the bracelet over to the snakes and double helix, "This may sound strange, but have you ever seen this symbol before?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I nod. "Yeah, that's the Caduceus, ancient Greek symbol of commerce. Often used as a symbol of medicine today. I think they mixed it up with some other symbol with a snake." Way to geek out, Noel. "I thought most people knew that the Caduceus is associated with medicine."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"The Rod of Asclepius is, but has a staff with it, not the helix." I try not sigh in disappointment and somewhat change the subject. "So, where to on for this 'serious chow'?" Another slight pause and a gentle probe, "So, is your name Maverick or is that just a net handle?"

I listen to myself and realize that didn't come out quite right. "Sorry, I don't mean to pry. 'Guess I'm just not used to making a new friend."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally Posted By: _Eve_
"The Rod of Asclepius is, but has a staff with it, not the helix." I try not sigh in disappointment and somewhat change the subject. "So, where to on for this 'serious chow'?"


Oh, give me a break. If I had been any clearer I'd have been transparent."That's exactly what I said. People, some of them important enough to have it pasted about, mistake it for a symbol of healing. Leads for many opportunities for humor. So it's quite likely that when you see the symbol in the doctor's office, the administrator doesn't mean this is the place to get your lightbulbs and soy products, he means this is the place where physicians heal sick people. The symbol's lost most of it's original meaning." Right. Chow. Focus. Let it go, douchebag. "Um, there's a pizza place not too far from here. I think. My New York geography isn't the best, but if we can find it, there's a buffet."

Originally Posted By: _Eve_
Another slight pause and a gentle probe, "So, is your name Maverick or is that just a net handle?"

I listen to myself and realize that didn't come out quite right. "Sorry, I don't mean to pry. 'Guess I'm just not used to making a new friend."


I shrug. She's not nearly as bad as some of the assholes I hang around. "It's more a nova handle really," I explain as we exit the place. "The reporters and riff-raff wanted something to call me, so I figured I'd better pick something good before I got labeled 'Rainbow Goddess' or 'Prancing Pony' or something."
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rainbow Goddess I give him a quick glance, making sure I have my gender right, "Prancing Pony?"

As we leave my coat gets a bit thicker and grows gloves. I don't make a huge deal of hiding it, but I try to make it look like I pulled them out of the pockets. I didn't get all that long on the computers and still hadn't figured out what exactly what's up with my outer wear. "Why would they call you that?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here it comes. "Well...when I erupted, I...turned into a unicorn. I know a mix of your subconscious desires and survival instincts are supposed to determine your eruption, but in this case I don't really see how that could apply. I was...sort of attacked by a circus animal while I was drunk. I erupted and kicked its ass."

We turn the corner, people buzzing around and between us, wrapped up in their own little worlds and worries. Shouldn't be too far, if my geography isn't as hopeless as I think...."Anyway, I picked the name 'Maverick' cos I knew if I didn't I'd be stuck with something incredibly dumb and humiliating."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"A unicorn. That must have been disorienting." To say the least. One of the people passing us on the street is pickpocketing. She's good, not one of the bump-into-you-and-apologize kind, she just brushes up next to you in that too-busy-to-look-where-I'm-going-New-Yorker way and takes whatever's handy. I tug on Maverick's sleeve and cross the street before she gets to us. I don't have a wallet, but he does, and I don't feel up for a confrontation right now. There's a neon pizza sign down the street and the smell of pepperoni and cheese grease melting together. I nod over to it, "That the place?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is the place. I nod, walking with Eve through the door, my stomach growling. She's not the only one who could use a meal. "Disorienting isn't the half of it. So far my stint as a nova has been hectic, humiliating, complicated, and very occasionally fun." I grin wryly. "So really, it's not that much different from my life before."

The pizza joint is possibly the most banal place in existence, or so it seems to my sight. Mostly it's the franchises that go in for unpleasant plastic bullshit and all the homeyness of a doctor's office, but the owner of this joint seemed to think it a sound marketing strategy as well. The seats are slick, uncomfortable, and fairly ugly. The interior designer...probably never existed. There are a few pictures here and there of faraway places and suchlike, but nobody's fooled. This is a place to eat pizza and get the fuck out.

At least they have a buffet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I grin back, as much because I don't know how else to respond as out of any empathetic connection. The sign right where we walk in says "Please Seat Yourself", so I head us over to one of the red plastic benches near the buffet and in clear sight of the front door, the door to the kitchen, and the restroom doors. Paranoid? Apparently.

Cups and plates are at the buffet, along with an open fountain, so I'm guessing no wait staff. That's fine by me. I fill up my first plate and sit back down with my erstwhile benefactor and debate how to proceed. He seems nice and harmless enough. Then again, apparently he can turn into a quadruped with a spike on his forehead. I chew through my first couple of slices in contemplation, then, "Can you switch back and forth when you want, from human to unicorn I mean?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I grab some pepperoni thin-crust pizza (resisting the urge to spit into the buffet) and trot on to a table with Eve, kinda-sorta checking her out, because that's what teenage boys do. Even the ones that turn into unicorns. Speaking of..."Yep. Going from human to unicorn is pretty easy, thank the gods. Otherwise I probably wouldn't be able to stand it." Great, sauce on my sleeve. In my hair too, I shouldn't wonder. I wipe at the spot impatiently and don't achieve anything more than adding grease to the mix.

Stoicly ignoring the spot, I lean forward, trying for a bit of not-so-subtle interrogation. "Er, how about you? What're your powers?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I blink at his forthrightness and decide if I'm not going to be the person that walks in and poisons people in their living rooms then I better start actually trusting someone. It takes a moment to feel out how I reverse being visible, but I can feel that part of me flex. I can't even hear myself breath now. I hold it for a moment, but it's starting to creep me out, so I relax again.

"That's one of them. The one I...," deep breath, just say it. "The one I know how to control. Listen, Maverick...I have a-a problem." I duck my eyes and bite my lip. How can this be so hard, when I can spot a pickpocket from two blocks away? My voice drops low, near to a whisper, but I get it out: "I don't know who I am. Is that...does that happen to us some times?"

I can hope.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I reflexively look around as she flexes a quantum power in public, but it looks like nobody except a sleepy, senile-looking old man has noticed. Good. "Er...I dunno. I suppose. I guess it can happen to anyone, but I don't know if there's a quantum-related cause or anything." I shift uncomfortably. "Look - do you have any money, shelter, anything? How are you getting by?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I shrug, as uncomfortable as him at this point. "I don't have any money, but I've been getting by. I haven't needed any shelter yet, really. I...I haven't slept yet. I've gotten tired, but I just sort of sit for a bit, then I'm fine. I suppose I could go to one of those Rashoud Clinics, but honestly, they give me the creeps. Do you know, is there somewhere else I could go? Or somewhere I might be able to get a job or something? I don't want to be a charity case, and from what little I've gathered...." I look away and speak softly, "Well, I don't think I want to go back to whatever I was doing before."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"I...well, other than the Rashoud clinics I can't think of any place off the top of my head. I can give you a place to 'sleep' for a few nights at least, and a bit of cash. But if you don't want to be a charity case...I don't know. I'm sorry." I shrug helplessly. "Some people on the OpNet site would probably be willing to help, but again, charity..."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I take a breath and nod, having worked my way through several plates of the buffet by now. "I'll try the site again, then. Thank you. Do you know how I can get verified on the site? Can you vouch for me?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"I'd be happy to," I say immediately. "No problem there. It's actually pretty easy." I outline a few details of the easyness of getting verified while I polish off a few more slices of pizza. "I'm sorry I couldn't be more help. Best of luck getting this all sorted out."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I nod, truly thankful for his help - and the meal. I stand and offer him a smile of friendship. "Thank you, again. I should let you get back to your life, and I need to see if I can find one of those 24-hour cafes and get started on verification."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I nod and stand. "No problem, really." We part ways - she goes out the door, I pay and follow her out. As I'm reaching for my cell phone and calling my friend (name still unimportant) I see her disappear round the corner. For a moment, I consider following her, then shrug. I need a cigarette. Not necessarily for stress.

My ride comes for me. We drive home. Life resumes it's usual numbing routine.

I hope she works this shit out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...