Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Chapter 23

Peterson was able to rebuild the communication equipment and even make it better. Ms. Carol who was Ms. Neville's assistant has been helping him. She was the one that dealt with most of the techie stuff before. She isn't trained for it but said she had to learn on the job because the Director was so cheap. She's been really helpful because to save money she'd been illegally downloading files and vids and storing them to have something to play on the Tri-V when the Director didn't want the news to play in the common room.

Chaplin and Mr. McDowell - the older janitor - are working on storing the fuel and batteries. People were being wasteful of them. One of the old staff said in a meeting that I was starting to sound like the Director. I made me really sick to my stomach. That's when Mr. Waverly stood up and explained a few things. We'd already told everyone how much was in the inventory but he broke it down to how many meals that meant and how long it would last us and reminded everyone that there were no more trains coming. He then asked them where they thought the food and other supplies were going to come from after what we had ran out. Roland and I had already explained how much we had, we just hadn't expected to have to explain to adults what that meant. Apparently we do. That's just sad.

Johnson is very worried that we are going to lose our communication to the Outside if and when we run out of fuel and batteries. He's just as worried that the Outside is going to lose its ability to communicate. It hasn't gotten that bad yet but there aren't as many people broadcasting as there should be unless things are much worse than even we think they are. Because what news does come through is bad. X13 is like a fast moving fire, but worse. You no sooner think that one place has been completely burned over than new flames pick up where the old ones died. At this rate there is going to be nothing left to burn.

The news is also hopeful in other ways though. It lets us know that there are other people out there. It also lets us know that people are too busy trying to survive X13 to fight with each other so most of the wars that have run on for so many years aren't anymore. Roland said it was like that in ancient times too. People could be warring away but during planting and harvesting they used their swords as plows ... or something like that since he and Nela were talking too fast for me to want to listen ... and when a bad sickness came through they would stop and wait for it to burn itself out. Yes, Roland and Nela are back being friends but while they might think about sex they are too tired to have sex. Still, they share the same room and have gotten some silly teasing from the rest of us. It makes their eats get red but they also get a stupid smile on their face. But I've told them both if they get to where they don't want to have sex with each other that they better end it nicer this time or there would be consequences because I didn't want to have to look at them being sad and angry like they were before. They got very strange looks on their face when I told them that. Maybe I shouldn't have said it while we were in the cafeteria eating with everyone else. Or maybe they looked that way because Johnson got up and rushed out. There are some days I don't know who is going to act stranger.

Speaking of strange, Johnson worried me by organizing a scouting mission. I kept telling him that it was too soon but he said either my idea had worked or it didn't, that waiting a third week wouldn't change it. I had to agree with him even when I didn't want to. All of the documentation for the old ebola data in the books Nurse Cassie left us said that the treatment was either effective at this point or that it hadn't taken. X13 isn't ebola but the principles are the same. Besides we didn't have any prepared vaccine here at Pickering, the only thing we had left were blood transfusions. It was a lot to ask them to trust us but they did because they knew there was no real alternative. We got lucky in that there were sufficient blood type matches between us and our soldiers ... and between us and the Staff.

At first the Staff couldn't believe us when we said we would take care of them too. Roland took the brunt of them needing to be constantly reassured that they would get their turn. I - and Mr. Waverly - were too busy. Plus Mr. Waverly tended to get testy with people and ask them had they or had they not been living with us for our whole lives or were they just stupid on purpose and ignoring that Roland and I had taken care of them and their needs as often as they'd seen to the rest of the children's needs. I think Mr. Waverly is also testy because Ms. Trundle is trying to Get His Attention. I don't think Mr. Waverly minds Ms. Trundle doing that so much as he is tried of some of the other men starting to look around and wonder who is going to try and get their attention.

Mr. Waverly and Johnson have had some long talks and I think they are worried about that too. I gave up asking Johnson to talk about what was bothering him and went to Mr. Waverly. I don't always like the answers that Mr. Waverly gives my questions but at least I can trust that he believes what he is saying and isn't telling a story to make me feel better.

**********

"Mr. Waverly ..."

"You are persistent Georgina, I'll give you that."

"All I want to do is understand what you and Johnson are worried about and why."

Waverly sighed. "Johnson's going to scalp me but ... better for you to be aware so that you can assimilate the possibilities."

"Assimilate what?"

"That adult males outnumber the adult females around here three to one."

"And?"

"Georgina, do I need to explain the facts of life to you?" he asked kindly.

"If you mean sex then no. I figured that out when they fixed us."

"Hmmmm. I'm not really speaking of the physical act but ..."

"Oh. But ... but I don't think they're like the ... like the men who killed Caro."

Thinking his way through the mind field the subject could become Waverly said, "They aren't. But that doesn't mean that they don't see themselves as having needs. The human condition we all live in usually means that people naturally want to pair off. The human condition also means that most of us desire to have sex and eventually even procreate though our society's rules have made that problematic for the last couple of decades."

"You mean it is about sex but it's also about making babies and all the responsibility of that."

"Yes, but ... uh ... often the human condition makes thinking of the consequences of sex come second place to wanting to have sex. It is also more than just sex Georgina. Men and women aren't that different about wanting someone they can ... can love and trust and that will love and trust them in return. It makes life ... nice."

Georgie did some quick calculations in her head. "Three to one. Hmmmm. You and Johnson are worried that they grown men might start looking at the rest of us as ... uh ... objects of their affection."

Waverly spent nearly a full minute trying to cough up his spit that had gone down the wrong way. "My goodness Georgina."

"Well, that's what you are saying isn't it? You and Johnson don't think we are appropriate objects of affection."

"That's exactly what we are saying and the reason why we haven't discussed this with you before is because we didn't want to upset you as this has obviously done."

Georgie shook her head and surprised Waverly once again. "I'm not upset. I agree with you. I already had the sex talk with everyone when Roland and Nela started fooling around. I had to have it again when they got back together. I've also warned them that you don't play games with grown men because they are all strange and might not understand that games is all that it is. It isn't anything different than Nurse Cassie talked to us about before she got sick."

It took a moment for Waverly to find his voice. "Cassandra actually ... she ..."

"Nurse Cassie gave us some credit is what she did. She understood that even if other people didn't think of us as anything but Defectives that we were still going to experience the human condition. We just might take longer to get there. Some of us might one day be ready for sex and the other stuff that goes with it but for those of us that are left, that's still a ways off. Maybe someone needs to sit down and have a sex talk with the grown men and explain that to them."

Waverly swallowed and said, "As our friend Johnson is fond of saying ... holy hell."

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