Dystopia Chapter 7

From the Story Arc: Dystopia

Previous Story in the Arc: Dystopia Chapter 10 by Krasnaya Zarya (Thursday, June 22, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Dystopia Chapter 12 by Krasniy Zakat (Tuesday, June 27, 2006)

(posted Saturday, June 24, 2006)

... This was not a dark and stormy night. There was sunlight in the kitchen. It was gray and pale, and had been prudently supplemented by a hanging lamp. The kitchen was suspiciously devoid of cooking. Despite the fact that there was a pot on the stove, and dishes in the sink, the counter area had looked non-habitually untended. The pot was cold, discarded as if forgotten. Papers scattered all over the kitchen table, and sturdy volumes held them in place. Some of them bore the most awful handwriting imaginable, some were written in more than one alphabet and some featured coffee rings... Sofia was doing her homework.

She was alone. It was a rare condition she learned to cherish; her husband was at home so much, usually. Days on end of being in near proximity to another person, no matter how close and loved, chafed on her nerves. When he was gone, therefore, she reveled in the silence, in the ability to play, very loudly, esoteric music that Sasha couldn't deal with, and to quietly steal snacks out of the fridge without having to excuse herself.

She poured herself yet another cup of coffee to help her stay awake. Last night was a sleepless one, and she had felt the effects. She poured the mug, added sugar and milk and stirred thoughtfully. Coffee spilled on the counter in a circular pattern, but she had not noticed. This week…

Yet, this last week... it had bothered her. Because, although she had reveled in being alone, there had always been an ‘on the other hand'. Little comforting sounds from the other room, clicking keyboard keys and buzzing computers – more than one, certainly – and sounds of singing in the shower. That is why, throughout the last few days, more and more as time passed, she was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the loneliness. Her husband had begun disappearing, frequently and persistently. She bit her nails and stared, without really seeing, at the book in front of her. Could he be having an affair?

It was always an option with men, of course, but in this case not very likely. They were very close, and she was, to one extent or another, an empath. Enough of an empath, certainly, to be able to tell whether or not her own husband was hiding something so... indiscreet from her. He was up to something! It was almost dark, and he had very, very seldom stayed out late, certainly never before per night. She had spent last night convincing herself fervently that he was fine, and had simply forgotten to call in his scattermindedness... but by this point in the day he would be exhausted, barely able to stand on his feet, therefore, he was either dead – an option with a particular tinge of dislike – hospitalized, or doing something of which he didn't tell her.

Finding out should not be easy, but perhaps not too difficult, she had considered. From biting nails she had moved on to biting a pen, and it was already worse for wear. She rose determinedly from the table and proceeded to the computer, next to which her comm PDA rested. The CCCP had its own messaging system, and although there was no good reason to get on the voice line on the comm, declaring a general emergency and perhaps spooking her elusive pray, someone was sure to read the written messages, and soon.

Need to know whether someone saw husband today, she typed up quickly. Hasn't come home yet, has me worried. Appreciate the help. Signed: Zarya

Now all she had to do was wait.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Vickie was alone at home of an evening, relaxing, when her comm unit beeped softly, notifying her of an incoming broadcast. This was not a complete emergency, since it was a written message, but it was surprising nonetheless.

Huh. Broadcast message this late in the day, she thought, a little bemused, Another thing in King's Row, maybe.

She got up from the couch, picked up the comm unit and hit the broadcast scroll. Her eyes scanned the brief message quickly. Crap

This was not good news. Such little, innocuous announcements made her feel deep foreboding. She'd never met this woman, Zarya, on anything but the most general of terms, but was not the time to hesitate over new acquaintances. She opened a commlink, dialing a private channel; Zarya.

“Vickie Vee to Zarya, come on back, over.” She said brusquely. The voice on the other end of the comm was urbane, with surprisingly nonexistent accent, and very polite. The woman sounded more as if she were leading a pleasant phone call.

“Good evening, Victoria. You were wanting to talk to me?”

“Yes. Saw your broadcast; can you come over to my apartment right now? You aren't that far from your readout.” she did not wish to panic the woman, but who really knew how things stood, and how urgent they were. Better to be over rash.

“Naturally,” said Zarya, still with no recognizable trace of worry or panic in her voice, “if I have the address. You live somewhere in King's Row, correct?”

“Ah no, Coldwater Apartments Atlas Park, number 2118. Down from the Penthouse BB set up as the temp HQ. We're the closest tall building to the Steel Canyon gate”

There was a moment of silence on the other side, considering. Then: “That should not take too long. Perhaps 20 minutes. Will that be fine?”

“The will be fine, yes.” said Vickie, “I think I have the info you want, I'll put the tea on.”

“Very well. I am heading out.” Click and the commlink was silent.