Camille was standing in front of a set of massive mahogany doors surrounded by the stark white of a barren antique hallway. She could feel the cool air pushing through the marble and steel of the stairway behind her. The doors had ball bearing hinges with square and circular portals of double beveled glass. Continue Reading…
Rachael got home late, coming right in through the front door.
Making a dart for the staircase, she still couldn’t escape the light of the kitchen down the hall, and the voice of her Mother, who’d been sitting there, waiting…
“I’m not sure about this guy, what’s his name…” she said, without preface.
“Kim.” Replied Rachael with a little too loud a tone. She was surprised that her first concern was Kim, not the fact that she was getting in at nearly midnight.
“What’s wrong with Kim? He’s so sweet and innocent.”
“Helen says he’s a little…off.”
“Those were her words?”
“How would Helen know Kim mom?”
“I don’t know but Jenny sure talks up a storm about you two as well…”
“Mom, just between you and me, Jenny is a stupid little half-wit and anyway, has seen and hung out with us, like, once. What else did Helen say about him?”
“Look I’m not a racist sweetheart but he is Eastern Pacific. All I’m saying is that he may be a little…well, different for you.”
“Different? Mom, he’s grown up like, all around the world, speaks English better than I do, with an American accent, no less, and–I know what you don’t like about him—he’s different, like everyone else I like that you don’t. He’s not gonna pick up a golf club and start going to the range like you and John mom, but that doesn’t make him a psycho.”
“I have no idea where you’re getting these ideas from, but all I’m saying is that you two might have some cultural differences to work through, and besides, is he even going to College?”
“Where the hell are you getting this from mom??’ ”
“All right Rachael, so Helen knows his parents.”
“Helen knows a lot of people doesn’t she?”
“She’s on the PTA, goes to Wakefield Chapel Rec., golfs with me and the community and is in touch with nearly every out reach group in Fairview.”
“So, what, what mom? What inextricable evidence do you have against my Boyfriend?”
Pam had known at least part of how sexually active Rachael had been and didn’t care so much about that, but had no idea she would go as far as to have a Boyfriend at this age.
“That’s right, my Boyfriend mom!” she declared with utter confidence, wondering how she’d bring this up to Kim tomorrow.
“So, tell me mom, make an argument for once, what exactly do you not like about Kim?”
“I don’t appreciate having my intelligence insulted young lady.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t appreciate these little nightly interrogations.”
“Oh get off it Rach—so melodramatic, everything has to be this big soap opera with you.”
“Mom, look around you, life is a soap opera, especially when John and you pick a fight by the way.”
“OK, that’s it, up to your room you go Rachael!”
“By the way, you’re grounded.”
“—I didn’t forget you were late.”
“You never forget anything mom,” Rachael said, and quickly climbed the stairs off to bed.
The next morning Rachael waited in the car in the sluttiest outfit she could find: The shortest little miniskirt she had, hoop earrings, plastered red lipstick, overdone mascara, and a sleeveless tacky yellow open belly shirt constricting her tits looking like they might pop out at any moment.
“You’re Jon here, at your service!” said her mom. “You’re not going to school in that.”
“Apparently, mom, I am.”
Pam took in a long breath and let it out steadily.
“Fine, you be mommy’s little Hooker today, how about that?”
“Mom, in case you hadn’t noticed, every girl’s a hooker nowadays.”
“Yeah, well, that doesn’t mean you have to be.”
“How you’re ever going to get a guy to stay with you, let alone marry you dressing like that.”
“People don’t stay out of how you dress, they stay cause they love you, or they should or they’re fucked up.”
“No, Rachael, no matter what anybody tells you, a guy stays with a good girl, and leaves the sluts at the bachelor party.”
“Where’d you get that, you’re weekly issue of Good Housekeeper? Actually, studies will show you most people regardless of what they say, cheat on each other at least 35% of the time, if not half.”
“There you go again with those statistics, but statistics won’t tell you anything. You’ll learn, they don’t have anything to do with the world and certainly aren’t going to win you a man, Rach.”
“Whoever said I wanted a man anyway…?”
To this her mom simply shook her head and clasped the steering wheel tighter.
“Why don’t we drive the Capris mom, this is such a gas machine.”
“Rachael, both our cars take gas.”
“Yes, Mother, but one of them consumes far less energy in gas than the other, plus this big ol boat Cadillac all the time gets old.”
“Rach, a car’s a car, and cars take gas and cost money, and you can’t ever predict gas prices anyway.”
“Actually mom, I think the Cadi takes far more considering its old, and the Capris is built as a partially Bio- Based car anyway. What do you mean you can’t predict them?”
“I mean it just depends, like where we’re going for one thing.”
“Where we’re going, mom, gas isn’t that expensive near The City.”
“One gas station is totally different from the next.”
“What are you talking about mom? How much different, like what are the rates?”
“Like how much?”
“I don’t know Rachael, how much, I mean…”
“If you don’t know, why’d you say they’re totally different?”
“Okay, well this is a bit more of an adult concern, but if you really must know Miss Smartypants, gas is completely a different price depending on what station you’re at.”
“Like, how much? They’re not that much different in price per area.”
“I don’t know Rach—like, Lidel’s is 153A’s to the liter, but if you go to Ruby X it could be like 162 or something, and if you go outside CAMBIAN it could be astronomical.”
“How are those so totally different mom, what’s astronomical?”
“What’s astronomical? Like 168 is one I saw the other day.”
“Mom there’s an average gas price in this area and in all the ‘totally’ different prices you just quoted, there isn’t more than a 15% separation from the first to the third, your most astronomical example. At most your only spending like four thousand which is like 350A’s to fill your tank–not that much. And just so you know, things are totally different when there’s a shift of close to at least like 30% or more. Plus the fact that the Capris gets 45K a liter and this car, prolly close to like 25 or 30 at best.”
“Yeah, then spend two hours in traffic and have half your tank gone by the time you get home.”
“Mom, there’s no way half a tank is spent in two hours idling even through dense traffic. Even this car is like a 20 liter carrier, if you get 25 kilometers to the liter, you’d have to have traveled equivalent to like 250 Kilometers, like almost halfway to New York! Simply in two hours of idling through a traffic jam?? I don’t think so.”
“New York is less than 250 Kilometers, way less.”
“No, it’s not, New York is like 6 or 7 hundred Kilometers from here.”
“Whatever Rachael, I go up to New York once every year, it can’t be that far. When was the last time you went to New York?”
“Mom, that doesn’t matter, believe it or not, a fact is a fact regardless of whether Rachael or Pam has visited New York, now or ever. And I assure you New York is like I think 667 Kilometers away. If we were in the Capris I would just ask Janus, bet you two days off from school, I’m right.”
“Oh God Rachael, you and your father both, always into these endless numbers. Numbers, numbers, numbers, statistics and numbers. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–the real world isn’t as simple as a bunch of numbers or percents. And I assure you, gas is quite expensive these days.”
“That’s not what I was saying—that’s not even what we were—Forget it, let’s just get on the road…”
Pam had stopped facing her daughter a long time ago and was more than ready even before she stopped speaking.
The heavy traffic started in their neighborhood, taking five times as much as an everyday commute in terms of getting to the highway. Consequently, they passed through a detour to avoid hitting the crest of the Mountaina Village suburb, and even headed through D.C. this time to get to school.
Once they finally got out of the suburbs, office buildings and shopping centers marked their graduation into the urban environment. Rachael always tended to look up at the buildings while her mom curiously enough, never seemed to divert her attention, as scenic a ride it might be, her eyes never deviated from the road.
“Hey look mom, there’s the old Chinese parlor.”
“Oh yeah, we used to get Ice Cream there.”
“Well, ya ma, it’s an Ice Cream—Parlor.”
They passed a few hot dog stands and the CAMBIAN City Library when they suddenly found themselves stuck in traffic.
“Oh great, I’m gonna be late for work and you’re gonna be late for school,” her mom said, nodding her head, half in expectation, half in a feeling of security.
“Hey mom! Fuck! Look, there’s a guy up on the building there!”
“Rachael, enough language okay?!”
“No, seriously, Mom, look, right there!” She pointed to the very top of a tall glass office building where indeed stood a man, alone.
Pam tore her vision from out of her mental blinders long enough to take the briefest of glances. “It’s probably just some prospector.”
“Ah, it’s kinda weird mom, I never see anyone on top of those buildings.”
“I suppose you’ve kept track of exactly that building in particular.”
“Well, yeah, actually, I’ve always done that.”
She looked closer with the vision on her Switch-Light. He had on a wife-beater T and business slacks. He also appeared to be on the very edge of the building from her point of view, looking down.
“He’s gonna jump!”
“Oh come off it Rachael! More melodrama.”
She kept looking, zooming in further. He didn’t jump, just stood there.
“Actually, he’s just standing there.”
When she got to school, Dave and Linda were in their usual place underneath the staircase to the first floor by the exit doors.
“Hey Dave, Linda…”
“So how was the rest of the party? What’d you guys end up doing?”
“Eh, it petered out, everyone ended up going out to a late night diner and eating breakfast. Dave ended up hitting on one of the old bags that worked there, he is such a fiend.”
“Why the long faces guys?”
“We have an Assembly today.” said Linda as if exhaling her last breath.
“Oh Christ, are you serious? Ugh.”
“Yeah, some douche-motivational speaker.” added Dave.
Linda continued. “Wait, it’s an Assembly, I mean, isn’t that good, we’re gettin’ outta class? And I think he’s like someone famous though or something, some dude named Edwin or some shit…He’s with um, ya know something affiliated with what Jenny’s mom does, at least that’s what I heard Jenny say. Plus, apparently he’s like, Totally Hot.”
“Oh yeah? We’ll somethin’ to look at, at least? How long is it supposed to last?”
“I don’t know, like maybe an hour, I’m sure he’s not the only one speaking.”
“You guys wanna pop some Meds before class?”
“Naw, I feel like shit anyway.” said Rachael.
Linda merely waved her hand in dismissal of the drugs he was offering.
“Hey, what the hell, is that him?” Linda inquired with a brief sense of urgency.
There stood a very tall, slender man with stern broad shoulders wearing a jet-black suit and silky blood red tie. He was smiling and chatting a bit with the school Principal, Mrs. Elaine Kimsky. His smile looked inviting, but something about him kept you looking rather than simply wanting to approach him.
“Well, I’m getting wet,” Linda pointed out, adding nicely to what Rachael had been thinking.
“Yeah, Jenny said he used to be married to some model or something, very Haute Couture kinda guy.”
“Hmm. How come he’s the motivational speaker at a school like Fairview?”
“I don’t know, it’s a rich area, maybe he’s making his rounds to future lawyers, Techies and doctors and shit.”
When it came time for the Assembly, Rachael made sure she had her Switch-Light to take a picture. Her second Session teacher, Mrs. Arola, lead her class to the entrance to the theatre.
The kids shuffled into the auditorium in the manner of horses filling an oversized stable. The large Views on either side of the stage faded in and out of Ads for Bitzeri and other sub-companies. Fashion had been the Ad Theme for last month. Now it was food, and Camello’s was actually one of the Ads featured.
Rachael caught a glimpse of Ms. Deanard, her Psych teacher heading to the double doors of the auditorium.
“You guys ready to get pumped?!” Cried Dave who’d snuck up right behind Rachael.
“Fuck off Dave, this is serious,” she retorted in the most ridiculously sarcastic voice she could muster.
“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.