SAGE: It is not for you.
ADOM: They need help. I could help.
EBO: You could. But can you?
ADOM: You don’t think-
SAGE: -It is not for you.
ADOM: I don’t care! I’m going to help.
EBO: Adom, no! [Sighs angrily.] That fool. They’ll… Oh, my gods! We have to save him.
SAGE: It is not for you.
EBO: How can you say that when… Sage? Sage!
Tonight, my drink needs an umbrella.
A lifetime of care: step after step
Exactly where those other feet stepped
And in the same rhythm. In the same way.
A lifetime of homage: day after day
Of matching and following – toe, heel, toe, heel.
Too earnest to see that the shape of the foot
Doesn’t fit – the width, length, and depth
The sole cannot match. Look, and you’ll see
A lifetime attempt at what cannot be.
For the first time, the dark-haired woman showed an emotion besides distant amusement. One eyebrow raised slightly, and her lips pursed. The rest of the crew’s responses weren’t nearly as subtle. They turned abruptly and stared disconcertedly at each other as if unsure what to do. Even Kith forgot his anger – at least, he stopped looming over me and stomped closer to the screen. He tapped the same section of the wall that Mor had hit earlier. A rectangle of light appeared.
“It is on,” he stated in an edged voice, glaring at the solid white rectangle – clearly unimpressed. I managed to turn my chuckle into a cough. Not quickly enough apparently. Either that, or he considered the diversion over and was ready to yell at me again.
“Raz, what station?” Metz asked calmly.
A moment of silence answered her. He must have already clicked off.
“A waste of time,” Kith growled, reaching out to tap the wall once more.
“Screen, display the station Raz has playing,” the dark-haired woman called out. I blinked. I’d been wondering why someone didn’t call Raz back and ask. Her way was better.
The instant she finished talking, the screen darkened to the blackness of space, broken by several swirls of light. An intergalactic map. In front of it, a fashionably dressed Ialuan spoke directly to the camera while gesturing to different areas of the map. As she did, each area she pointed out emerged from the map to form a holographic image of the area.
“…disappeared on established trade routes to and from the Riyoon galaxy. And while only 2 bodies have been recovered, I.S. detectives believe that the disappearances are linked.”
Low, muttered questions and exclamations drowned out the Ialuan newscaster as the image behind changed to several Ialuan women and men modeling the latest fashions.
“Screen, display the most informative written article on the disappearances in the Riyoon galaxy,” Kith ordered intently. I raised both eyebrows at his order and hoped their screen was better at judging what was informative than the ones I’d used before.
The rumblings died down as the article appeared on the screen. The crowd of crew members shifted closer until they formed a visual wall. I could read the headline, but that was it. That was enough to make me very nervous.
Riyoon Slave Trade Reopened? 2 Dead 27 Missing
27 missing? How could there be 27 missing? I stood quickly in a vain attempt to read over the crew’s shoulders. Nope. Straining in vain to see, I kicked myself for forgetting my compwatch again. Huffing out an annoyed breath, I sat back down and returned to my meal. Or tried to. Even the new flavors couldn’t compete with the mystery at hand. Especially not with the crew’s continued muttering.
Those 3 words together are pretty hard to ignore. But assuming those details were about the 2 bodies they’d found, the mystery became even more baffling.
Why didn’t they ask the deceased who’d killed them? That was Deathwalking 101 – our original purpose and still our number one duty. It was also the number one reason for the decrease in murders over the last century. You had to be pretty creative not to give the person you’re killing some clue to who killed them.
As Dad scooped eggs out of the pan, Matt eyed the remainder with a calculating eye. He knew he’d eaten a massive pile already, but he still felt hollow. He reminded himself that there was toast waiting on the table and restrained himself to a third of the remaining eggs and bacon. There was always the chance that Mom and Sarah wouldn’t want any more.
He set the plate on the table and added two pieces of toast before he sat down. They were golden and heavy with butter. He spooned a bite of eggs onto a corner and took a bite with a loud crunch followed by an mm of pleasure. Similar sounds chorused around the table, broken only by the occasional scrape of a chair as someone went back for more. With each bite, the gray light grew and warmed to a rich gold.
When he’d consumed the last crumb on his plate (and checked to be sure that was no more left), Matt wrapped his hand around his stomach and leaned back with a contented groan. The first serving had finally made it to his belly, and he was feeling pleasantly full. Closing his eyes, he pictured going back to bed and sighed wistfully. Not today. Around him, the happy chewing sounds continued, but soon enough, everyone would be finished. And the fields were waiting.
Groaning internally, Matt opened his eyes, picked up his plate, and carried it over to the basin. There were no scraps to scrape off, so he set the plate down, picked up the kettle, and started pumping. When it was full, he shifted the empty skillet aside and put the water on to boil. He mouthed his silent thank you to the fire and then nearly jumped out of his skin when a hand landed gently on his shoulder.
“Thanks, Matt,” his mother said as she leaned around him to set down her own plate. “I’ll leave the dishes to you and Sarah. Join us in the fields as soon as you can.”
“Yes, Mom!” Matt perked up at the unexpected reprieve.
“No dawdling.” Her voice was stern, but her lips curved affectionately as she squeezed his shoulder. Matt grinned back.
A: My life is blunt!
A: I have no function! No percentage!
B: Percentage? Of what? Do you need help with math? There’s a button on your calculator that-
A: -No! I’m talking about my existence! My viability!
B: …your life?
A: Yes! It’s rounded.
B: You mean you’re well-rounded? Or it’s a circle.
A: No! It’s… worn. [B raises his eyebrows.] It’s… dull.
B: Oohh. You’re bored.
A: …what? No, I am person.
B: What? Oh. No. Bored. B-o-r-e-d. Your life doesn’t entertain or amuse you. It’s no fun.
A: But my life is fun! Very fun! I have fun for keeps. Endlessly
B: …ok…then, what’s the problem?
A: My life is blunt! Worn! [At B’s bemused expression, A let’s out a frustrated exclamation, pulls out a smart phone, and does a quick search.] Pointless! It’s pointless!
A: So what should I do?
B: Don’t teach.