“He’s also a member?”
Almost snorting, Camille spat a retort at her. “Of what?” she quipped. “The preferred Homecoming King along with being an aspiring scientist, right Helen?”
“Ah, that’s right Pam.”
She didn’t care, they couldn’t get away with this. So she skipped the doubt she had of any success, and…
He sat down alongside Helen, sliding in. He did have that great long low jaw jutting far from his neck, gracefully, but strong. Eyes, blue, crystal blue like hers, and Helen’s. It wasn’t a coincidence, blue eyes were the CAMBIAN or USC genetic preference for most parents. There was that taffiness again with Andrew though, when he smiled, like with David, but ever so faintly.
She liked him, instantly, despite everything, but she was reproachful and skeptical of what she considered his potential intellect at that point. Or maybe she was just a Louse, a Tramp, a Floozy, a Slut..? Well, no that would be a good thing, she gandered…
Maybe I’m just attracted to like, everybody. I like to feel beauty, or ugliness sometimes…
“I understand you’re Camille.”
Andrew immediately came out with. extending his hand as if to kiss hers, not to shake. They shook hands.
“Where’s Helen?” said Rachael dismissively.
“Oh she’ll be here in a minute…” said Gorsky.
Pam talked for a bit with them, and then…
“Well I’ll let you two get acquainted…” she said in the general-you tone.
Rachael didn’t have much to say now.
Her mom and Nana both slid out of the booth, and they were alone.
“Okay, you seem really nice and all but, I mean first off, I don’t usually date Poles!”
He laughed. “My parents didn’t put me up to this.”
“To what?? For what?” she replied.
“Well, to meet you.”
“Oh,” she said in defeat.
“What, what’s wrong with–”
“–What did your mom or Helen or whoever–tell you?”
“Um, I know Helen, cause Mr. Damiand’s son. Do you know Dr. Damiand? He works with Helen.”
She remembered Helen and Erol or was it, David? -Talking about something like that, but couldn’t pull anything specific out of her memory right then and there.
“No I guess I don’t.”
“No. I don’t.”
“Okay, so whatever, we have to make this sustainable here and now, so okay, what do you do?” she asked.
“I’m a student, I want to be an engineer.”
“The kind that works on stuff,” he said, smiling. His light and candid demeanor were working on her…she had to admit.
There was suddenly, out of nowhere it seemed, a long awkward pause between them.
He came right out with it. “Do you have a Boyfriend?”
“I dunno, seemed like a good starting point to better conversation…”
“Indeed,” she came at him with, still having no idea how to react, looking afraid…
By the time Helen, Pam, the Colonel, and Nana were all back at the table, she and Gorsky were playing footsie and poking at each other, trying not to be seen.
Pam and Helen were glowing synchronously.
Rachael felt that dagger again. And the sensation of eating poison, with enough distraction to want it.
But why is Helen smiling? Smile as you kill I guess, huh Helen?
Just then the taffy man himself came on a levitating View, happening to have stopped at their table to relay ads and information on where to buy things and Tourist attractions too…
Rachael was the only one to look above their booth. She poked her head, trying to get a mental snapshot of everything around her.
There were just as many Views hovering from table to table, each of them a flexible, shape shifting monolith, many translucent rectangular variations floating intelligently around the room. The Huge View before them in particular was a taffy-like man, but out of control taffy, and scary! Rachael thought this, without enough time to make conclusions—
“—Hahahahahaahahahaahahahaha!” The man chuckled, uproariously–at everything. Like a demon with altogether characteristically loose cackling jaw!
“I’m Guy Migger, featuring those tried and true consumer products only YOU deserve!”
She thought seriously that he could any moment be featuring Monster Trucks, and in the next moment, a Nazi rally. The next? Soap. Then…?
He disappeared. Oddly.
Reappearing to replay Monster Trucks, Adolf Hitler speaking softly to a man, then. Then Soap.
Rachael was going to vomit. ‘The fear,’ the dark fear had returned to torture her and rid her of peace of mind once again…
“Ah-hahahahaahahahahahahahaahahahahaha!!!” This discarnate head of a blonde blue eyed suburban mad man was of some generic early 2030’s ‘Epoche’ or period style ‘Characateur’–come-to-life! He had slicked back hair and a sturdy pressed collar. Stylistically, he appeared like a mesh between comic books themselves, and real life. Whatever that was anymore.
“Actually Guy Micker, was the name of the real one here.” Helen said it.
“Who?” Pam came in with, like a doe in the lair of a Gigantic Spider.
The Colonel and his wife were fading into the wallpaper, and fast…a sad tinkering could be heard, of Nana softly letting the spoon drop from her hand onto the Micro tea plate. The Colonel just sat there, staring at the table.
Helen continued over to Pam. “Guy Micker, the ol’ Tycoon maniac? You don’t remember him?”
“I mean, Helen, come now, and how many Cereal Killers have we had in the last few years? Like 30?”
Pam had made a genuinely rational point. Rachael noticed it. So did Camille.
“That’s who this is based out of, and it just happened to actually catch on. Masochistic to me…”
She’d never seen Helen, even the likes of Helen be so intelligent. Rachael lapped it up, then reproached herself for being such a cunt licker!
Guy Migger went on to describe the inevitable product he was no doubt about to shove down everyone’s throats–before which, he could only tell you about the new press for superiority against Utah, and the USC fight to prevail.
They’re using our fear of fear. And wait, why again, why isn’t Helen feeling guilty about torturing me right now? She must know!
Somewhere in her, she was confessing to herself, uncovering her own dirty little secret of wanting to like Helen, and blighting herself. Then beating her head with a mental punishing Switch for giving into it…
“Hey wait, isn’t the USC done with Utah? I mean, isn’t Utah, like kaput or what not???” Andrew asked, urgently. Something intelligent. It had to have been a plant. Of her mom’s, no doubt…
It had to be! Just had to!
Rachael felt more and more just mere Rachael, as if to age, backwards. No more Camille, no more future adult. Just fucking damn regular old Rachael…She was getting desperate to believe herself and hold to Reality.
My reality? NO. Somewhere the word ‘My’ could not go with Reality. No sir, she thought. Only a grammatical article such as THE could fit something so large, finite and yet, vast.
And no respect for it, not anywhere, save from this jack ass hot guy who could talk, and Helen, this demon of a package, with independence inside. From her mom. From CAMBIAN. From Voca’s, and Finally Fourteen…
The Onslaught Toilet-Bowl, Poo Wars, Vast Stone of Flies!
Nevertheless, was she to give in to it?
Never. She’d sworn. Long ago.
It would be so easy if Pam hated Helen. But she didn’t. And Pam liked her back, and golf liked them both. And they were evil, they had to be. Both of them.
It made her want to fuck Andrew while shooting at her mom appendage by appendage, until she got to blow her brains out and cum all over his face.
She came back. To the table.
“So glad you’ve joined us again,” Pam said.
She was getting a heady sensation. And low, so low. Need to breathe…
“Move, please, I’m sorry And–” Her mom gave her a look of no life beyond death.
Shrugging, she decided not to care, as she pushed her own way out of the booth and onto the red carpet, straight away to the restroom.
She was washing her hands and then she came to her again.
Softly, ever so gently…again. She knew it was coming.
“Una,” she stated, gravely.
“Don’t give into them. They’re only skin deep.”
“You’re still talking in metaphors. Clichés again, no less. Seems to make sense though.”
Terror had become visible as a medium to her in that instant.
Controllable. Maybe someday.
“I’ll talk to you some more, and better ways, if you take that injection…” said Una.
It was her, the real Una she had seen long before.
The faint apparition in the mirror pointed softly to her left. There, right there, slightly under the instant hand drying unit, was indeed a cylindrical misty blue syringe.
“Take it in.”
Rachael, I can’t believe you are about to do this.
“Are you really here? I mean, this is real as it gets, Real. But how can I know, and really know that I am not dreaming?”
“You can’t,” said Una.
There was a pause.
“You can’t Rachael.”
“Fine!” She figured her fear of what was out there scared her more, and in that moment, took the needle into her foot.
And in a swarm, she saw the poppy fields. And the Towers. The mirror expanded to reveal an endless field meeting a gigantic seaside and a sky of enormous clouds.
The waves were close and far away. They were playing her music, a long time ago. A phonograph played endlessly into the landscape.
And with that, a vertical torrent of sudden cascading tears, Rachael’s Terror fell out the bottom in streams down her cheeks and neck and chest where they disappeared forever. “No, no no!….Okay, okay, I don’t fucking care anymore! Just show me!” She was wailing, snorting and sucking in her mouth, blubbering with trying to press through the murk of pure fear.
When she was finally calm. Una spoke to her again.
“I can speak now, to you, and it will make sense to you, even though I am really, still speaking like you heard before.”
“Yes. I understand. Why haven’t you come to me before?”
“Wasn’t able to.”
“Okay. Where are we now then? I’m still at the Buffa Grill right? And how much time do I have before my fucking mom or anybody walks in?”
“Don’t worry Rachael, I’ve slowed down the rest of the restaurant.”
“What do you mean, slowed down? Like they’re, I’m guessing, their movement…?”
“Their molecules are moving at a fraction slower, making it effectively–”
“Two different places!?”
“Different places? Yes, you could call them that. Not really. “What happens to the two worlds is important to them.”
“Them, Rachael. Them.”
“Oh GAWD, fine!”
“What am I supposed to do?”
“Ah, I’m afraid I can’t tell you that Rachael, Camille, and Halea.”
“I’m all three, I suppose.”
“No. One after the other.”
“What? What does that mean? Can I be put off a ‘need-to- know’ basis right now, please?”
“No? No, what do you mean, no?!”
“I mean, it would upset the Race. I want to see a true winner.”
She realized she’d meant to say it as a question, but instead, it seemed to assert itself as a statement.
“What race?!” Rachael growled at her.
“No need, really no need Rachael…You must realize you are one in a herd.”
“Don’t–Wha–Not you. Don’t tell me this, not from you…”
“Don’t worry Rachael, I’ll take care of you. Just play my little Game here…”
“Give her over to the Indonesian Client.”
“Who the fuck is that?”
“You’re just telling me, for…”
“You’ll see her.”
Una disappeared in that instant.
“Be cryptic, be that way, you fuckin’ sadistic Bitch.”
Back at the table her mom was recounting newly purchased accessories while Andrew was arriving from somewhere else, at the exact same time.
“Where were you?” Rachael inquired.
“Using the facilities, same as you.”
Why didn’t I see you on the way back then?” she snapped back at him, instantly.
He looked at everyone as if to get permission, then said laughing in a jocular, yet defensive tone, throwing his hands up rhetorically while he spoke further–”I didn’t think it was that big a deal!” He chuckled some more.
She tried to calm herself. Her mom began pushing her a bit further into her seat as she soothed the back of her neck.
“You’re being paranoid, Rach!” he said to her, as if he’d known her for years.
You don’t know me yet, okay?”
She’d said it right in front of Helen, who just seemed to watch with a placid look on her face.
“Okay, okay girl, sure no prob.”
He sucker punched her. Like Kim would.
Right, like Kim would. Nice try Una.
But was it her?
He laughed with everyone else, whole heartedly this time. Rachael looked peaked.
“Do you need to go back to the restroom Rach?” Pam asked, dully.