Richard Pierce

Life, Writing

Day 190

Just over five hours sleep from Friday night to Saturday morning is probably not the greatest strategy for beginning the weekend, but needs must. I came into the office to print a couple of things out I need to take to Stradbroke with me later, and to then write this. Of course, I got distracted by a sudden urgent need to clean out my personal emails, and 20 minutes later realised I’d not been doing what I came in here to do. That’s the problem with thinking you have some clear space in time – you mostly end up wasting it.

Maybe I’ll make up some ground and regain solid ground tomorrow when I will have to do some day job work. After everything that’s happened over the last 3 days, I need to, and I’m pleased that at least the parenting issues have been partly mollified (I use that word advisedly as a very determined fly buzzes around my head and I try to ignore it). I have been a touch lax about my back stretched – only 1 set each day when we were in Crete, and I want and need to get back into some sort of routine with those. At it is, I’ll be leaving for Stradbroke in half an hour without having done any so far today.

This hectic life the last few days remind me why I went on holiday – to get away from always doing something, and mainly doing it for others. It also showed me that I do have enough words in my head to actually create most of the time. The short story I started over there extended into over 5k words in 2 days (plus other words on other things). The short story has stalled slightly, but when I have reached that solid ground again, when I can actually give my brain time off from thinking about things other than my writing and my self, I’ll be back on it. And I still have to transcribe all the bits of The Mortality Code I wrote in Crete. And we will go again next year – we discussed it last night whilst waiting to go and get A from her late shift. Let’s see what obstacles life puts in our way in the mean time. They might be useful obstacles.

 

AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 143

‘How did you know?’ Lilibet says.

Aggie shrugs while admitting to herself she’s probably been disguising some of what she can sense and do because she doesn’t want Lilibet to feel intimidated or patronised, that she’s somehow switched a part of herself off so that she doesn’t appear to be quite as biologically anomalous to Lilibet as she is. And then she realises or remembers (she doesn’t know which) that most relationships founder because of a lack of communication, because people aren’t honest with each other, and interact with each other based on false pretences. This time Lilibet doesn’t notice her switching into thought and action mode. ‘I had an inkling,’ she corrects her shrug. ‘I’m good at finding hidden places.’

‘Like you found me at the top of the Minster.’

‘That wasn’t that hidden,’ Aggie says. ‘The bullet trajectory was fairly straightforward to track.’

‘Great. Thanks for nothing.’

‘You know what I mean. You were a dispensable machine for Valentine and Martin.’

‘You’re right. I know.’

‘You ready?’ Aggie says.

‘Yup.’ Lilibet has the gun in her hand. ‘Let’s hope we don’t need this.’

‘Yes, let’s hope.’

The ramp into the ground is wide enough for the two of them to walk down its gentle incline side by side. The lights are bright, but softly bright, and illuminate the path down into the ground. They tread softly and quietly, but Aggie as the sense that this is now a vacant space, that there won’t be an army of robots or warriors, armed with syringes and guns, waiting for them in whatever caverns lurk at the end of the ramp. Their footfalls don’t echo. The quiet is dead. Another few metres, and the entrance has faded away behind them. A corridor stretches ahead of them, spotlights showing a succession of double doors.

Aggie pushes open the first door they reach. An office. A desk, A computer. A chair parked neatly behind the desk, as if waiting for its occupant to return at the beginning of the next working day. Which could be today. Or tomorrow. Or never. No dust.

They move on to the next. This room is much bigger, and there’s a treatment table in the middle of it, with lights hanging from the ceiling. There are cupboards on the walls all round the room, glass-fronted, instruments gleaming in the lights let into the walls and ceiling. One cupboard is full of surgical gowns and masks.

‘This is the place,’ Aggie says. ‘They brought you down here.’

‘It’s an operating theatre,’ Lilibet says. ‘How many people?’

‘Any number. You won’t have been the first.’

‘Or the last.’

‘No.’

‘But where are the control devices?’ Lilibet says. She moves across the room, touches the treatment table gently with her left hand, walks along the line of cupboards and shelves. One of them doesn’t have a glass door, but a solid front, and a lock. Lilibet tries to open it. ‘Locked.’

Aggie stands next to her, stares hard at the door, rummages in her pocket, finds her lock-pick, puts it into the lock, twists and turns gently, and the cupboard door springs open.

They’re looking at shelves full of small black boxes.

‘There must be at least a hundred,’ Lilibet says.

‘At least.’ Aggie takes one, puts it in another one of her pockets. ‘Let’s see what’s further along.’

They leave the room, take a few more steps and come to what appears to be the end of the corridor, another door set into the stark white wall. Aggie pushes open the door, gasps. The space is vast, and populated by what looks like endless rows of bunk beds. And each bed is occupied by human shapes, asleep, dead, or unconscious. An army of what were humans, with their eyes open, waiting to be activated.

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