Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chapter 8


Johnson caught me spying.  He was angry but then I got him to partly understand.  Only then I realized he already understood in a way the others don’t or can’t and he what he wanted was for me to understand why he was angry.  Johnson thinks he has made his point but I just consider it … um … detent.  I do understand his point, I just don’t completely agree with it. 

********** 

Gently, at least gently for him, John explained, “Fear is a killer Georgie.  I know you don’t want more of those men here; they hurt you.” 

The girl shook her head trying to get him to understand better.  “It’s not that.  I don’t want them to hurt anyone else.” 

“Georgie …” 

Sighing she told him, “I know I can live if it happens to me again.  I know how to make myself live.” 

Johnson winced.  He hated it when his heart strings got plucked.  “Aw kid …” 

Resolutely Georgie told him to, “Stop that.  I’m not a kid anymore.  Caro took that part of me with her to keep it safe.  Now it’s my job to protect that part for those of us that still have it, protect those of us who can’t ever be anything but a kid.  Even Roland.  He thinks he’s grown but I look at him now and see that just because he is really smart doesn’t mean that he knows everything he thinks he does.” 

Johnson surmised, “The thing with Nela bothers you.” 

She swiftly denied, “No.  It’s just a distraction.  And I don’t want them to get hurt.  They need to be careful.  I know the Staff have watched Roland and I to see if we think about sex …” 

“Er … maybe we shouldn’t …” 

Georgie shook her head at what she saw as Johnson’s “outsider” thinking.  “It doesn’t bother me.  That Roland and Nela think about sex and stuff.  It will start to bother me if they think more about sex than they do about being careful and not causing trouble.  The Staff leave us alone right now.  If they start thinking that we’re thinking about sex then they’ll feel like they have to do something about it.  It won’t matter that none of us can make babies …” 

“Whoa.  Er … look … er … Aw hell.  I know I’m going to regret asking but how do you know you can’t … er …” 

Georgie sighed then explained.  “Nurse Cassie died when we were thirteen.  DW got mad she had to do the job of taking care of us full time again.  Then she saw Allie kiss Victor on the cheek and she decided to get us back by telling stories.  She reported it and exaggerated what she’d seen and the Staff realized that we were growing up.  The people that the Director reports to, the ones that come monthly to take our blood, said they’d fix it.  They did … by fixing the boys because it was cheaper.  Then us girls got implants under our skin the next month.  So, no babies.” 

Johnson scrubbed his face then looked out into the dark unable to find any words to comment with.  Georgie reached out and patted his arm.  “It’s alright.  I know you can’t help that you still think like an outsider more than you think like a Pickering.  It’s OK.  You feel bad because our lives are different and not always what you think is nice or fair.  But this is our life and some of it all we can do is accept it.  Yes, it’s harder for Roland and me sometimes because we understand more but we still have to accept our reality.  The others only partly understand what was done to us; and Roland and I figure we’ll never be allowed to be normal anyway.  Nurse Cassie said that all you could do sometimes is learn to live your own timeline instead of wishing for someone else’s.” 

Johnson was quiet for a few moments more, then really looked at Georgie for the first time as an individual rather than as simply one of “the children.” 

“Waverly said the only thing wrong with you is your ears.” 

“It’s not my hearing.  It’s the part of my brain that separates and makes sense of the sounds my ears collect.  I’ve actually got better than normal hearing.” 

“OK … but that’s it.  It isn’t genetic or whatever.” 

“You mean could I pass it on?  No, not as far as I understand.  It’s just a learning disability, it isn’t an infection.  Why?  You’ve never asked before.” 

“You got me thinking the other day when you asked me if I missed what you call ‘out there.’  Let me ask you something.  If you had the chance would you leave Pickering?” 

“It will never happen so I don’t waste time thinking about it.” 

“It could happen.  There are communities for … for people like us.  You have to apply and show you can contribute but there are ways out of here.” 

“For you and most of your people but we’ll never be allowed to leave.” 

“But …” 

“Johnson I’ll never be free the way you were … the way you could be again if you can prove you have control of your issues. Roland will never be free no matter what he’s been dreaming lately.  None of us will.  Even when I still had kid left in me I knew that was an irrefutable fact.  They don’t want us … would have sent a Euthanist to send us off if they could have … but they need us.  I’ve listened to them for a long time, even before I understood what they meant.  They thought they’d be able to find a synthetic or some other kind of substitute for our blood serum to make the medicine for X13.  Or they thought the virus would burn out by now.  Nothing went as planned and now there’s only a few of us left; those of us up here and those in Lockdown, if they can even use them.” 

“What about the … uh … normal babies; the ones that didn’t come to Pickering?” 

“Nurse Cassie told me a theory she had right before she died; that there were no non-defective babies who survived.  That it was all what she called smoke and mirrors, an old wives tale told to make the few people that cared feel good enough they’d stop digging for answers.  Remember all pregnant women exposed to X13 are mandated by law to get Tier 1 genetic screening and most of them lose the babies and die anyway.  Because if there were normal-immunes out there they wouldn’t say we here are the only source for the X13 serum.  They would have kept any other babies just as a matter of National Security.  They wouldn’t be so mad when one of us dies or gets sick and can’t give blood.” 

“But if it could be made to happen …” 

Georgie shook her head once again.  “Even if by a miracle someone said I could walk out of here and live out there I couldn’t and wouldn’t because the others can’t.  I know history and what the law is the same as you.  ‘Defectives must be contained because they drain resources better utilized by functioning and contributing members of society.  Defectives steal what rightfully belongs to those with the capacity to better the republic.  By default, regardless of blame or intent, defectives are criminals and must – to protect the well-being of the rest of society – be treated as such.’ “  Georgie sighed.  For me escape is nothing but a fantasy and waste of time.  I made a promise to do what I can to care for those of us less able to care for themselves.  I made a promise to never just turn my back or away from my training no matter what it was, who it was, or what it cost me.” 

“Is that why you get up and wander around watching and listening when no one else does?” 

Georgie shrugged.  “It’s always been that way.  I used to be Roland’s legs and ears in places he couldn’t go.” 

“Used to?” 

“Like I said, he’s … distracted right now.” 

“And you’re not.” 

“No.  But why are you up?  Spying on me?” 

“Partly,” he answered honestly.  “Partly because it worries me that maybe you don’t care what could happen to you enough.  We don’t know when they are going to move in those troops.  It could be any day now.” 

Carefully Georgie said, “Whatever they are moving in it won’t be the same type of soldiers.” 

“You can’t know that.” 

“I can,” she said and then relayed what she’d overheard. 

“Why didn’t Roland say anything when we discussed this?” 

Georgie focused her attention on a car driving away from Pickering.  “Georgie?  C’mon kid, answer me.  Look here, did you make it up?” 

“No,” she snapped. 

“Then why didn’t Roland … wait … Georgie did you not tell Roland what you heard?” 

Georgie brushed Johnson’s hand away where he’d made her look at him to be sure she was listening.  “Roland is not the only one that can think and make decisions.” 

“Why didn’t you tell him?” Johnson persisted.  “Georgie you either trust me or you don’t.  I can understand if you don’t considering what happened to you but why don’t you trust Roland?” 

“I do trust Roland!” 

“It doesn’t sound like it.  This is getting stupid complicated.  Maybe I should tell Nela to back off and …” 

“No!  That’s got nothing to do with it.  Roland just … it was better him to not know.  Just in case.” 

Suspiciously Johnson gave her a considering look.  “In case what?” 

Desperately Georgie pleaded, “Stop asking questions.” 

“Not this time kid.  Not when it comes to your safety.  Not when you’re acting like this which could impact everyone’s safety.” 

Georgie felt a headache coming on and rubbed her forehead.  The longer than usual stubble she felt reminded her that she’d missed the last round of hair shaves they got every two weeks.  “This isn’t about my safety, but about everyone else’s.  Sometimes the way I find things out is really against the rules.  Sometimes what I find out doesn’t need to be known by Roland or the others.” 

“OK, so you’re good at keeping secrets when you have to.  But why this one?” 

“The … look … sometimes …” 

Seeing her agitation Johnson tried to calm her.  “Slow down.  Take a breath.  I’m not angry at you.  I just need the truth.” 

In frustration Georgie told him, “Johnson when I said it’s about everyone’s safety I meant everyone’s.  These people make the rules.  They’ve got a reason to keep me alive but it isn’t because they’re nice.  My blood, that’s all they care about.  If there had been any doubt before, they proved that to be a fact when those men didn’t have to pay consequences until the rule makers realized it meant less blood for them each month.  So me they won’t kill for figuring out that certain … groups … are fighting with each other … names, targets, places …” 

“Fighting for what?” 

“What people like that have always fought about.  Power … influence … to be able to look at other people say not your rules but mine.  It’s not about money or lives, but control.  Why doesn’t matter to them so much as that something simply is.  I thought you were a soldier fighting in their wars and knew this.” 

Johnson snorted.  “Georgie you’ve got some glorified idea of what a soldier is.  We aren’t heroes fighting for justice, freedom, and the American way.  In reality all most of us think about is surviving one battle to the next and what’s for chow.  Most deep thinkers wind up crazy or dead.  We’re just chess pieces that get moved around on a board by people willing to sacrifice us to reach the other player’s king.  That’s all.” 

“You think.  Peterson thinks … most of the time.  I can tell.  Chaplin only sorta kinda thinks and only when he absolutely has to; he’s had the thinking beat out of him for the most part.  Nela and some of the others are thinkers too.”   

“And look where it got us.  Missing limbs and organs.  Dreams from hell.  Separated from everything and everyone we knew.  Abandoned.” 

“You know I never understood.  Why did you wind up here instead of a VA hospital?” 

“Because the hospitals are reserved for those that can return to battle, or old troopers with enough credits or political clout.  Everyone else gets put in a labor camp or they see a Euthanist.  We were overflowed from a transfer facility they were cleaning up for some media show.  They sent us here to get us out of the way or die … amounts to the same thing.  The Colonel told us on the way in some of us could make it out if we can pull ourselves together enough to be useful.  Farm labor, maybe even manufacturing if we can meet the quotas.” 

“So you can leave.” 

“Maybe.  Psych evals will be the biggest hurdle; that and the sleep studies.  And open slots … being a soldier for more than one tour pretty much guarantees some level of triage.  But none of that changes nothing.  We’re here now and so long as we are here I’m gonna keep lecturing you every time I catch you taking chances.  You ain’t gonna get out of this with me the way you do with the others.  Got it?” 

Georgie sighed.  “You can’t help Johnson.” 

“You might be surprised.  Now back to your room.  And stop wandering around dammit.  You make me nervous as hell.” 

“I gotta find stuff out.” 

“What the hell are you going to find out in the middle of the night that’s worth anything?” 

“Again, you’d be surprised.  For instance before I ran into you I was at the vent that runs above the Night Desk.  I heard Mr. Waverly tell one of the janitors that DW won’t be leaving isolation after all because she has had a stroke and the Director is finally going to replace her with a new nurse.  Only maybe not because they’ll just have one of the Staff working in the South Wing on call which saved the budget.  The janitor then asked if they were going to hire more help to clean the reopened wing.  Mr. Waverly said that they had interns for that but he didn’t expect the new residents would make much of a mess.  They both kinda chuckled but never explained what was so funny.  That’s why I came to watch and see if there is a way to tell what’s going on in there.” 

“You stay out of there you hear me?  Until we have a better idea of what’s going on – or at least confirm that it isn’t more gray ops troops – you keep your distance.”

2 comments:

  1. Yeah !! more Georgie I've been keeping an eye on her. It just seemed she had the potential to stick in a person's mind.

    thanks, for moar.......

    ReplyDelete
  2. Been watching alllll day for moar, even though I know how busy you are I just had to, (Loud Cackle.)

    ReplyDelete