Sunday, November 12, 2006

Growing Hope - Installment 4

“Doooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrssssssssssse!” It was Hillfen. He'd found me already. “Dorse, love, how have you been?” It asked as I stepped inside. Its voice dripped venom. The painting, hung on the right of the hallway, swirled into a hideously arranged spray yellow, blue, and red colors with a broken slash of a mouth painted through it. The eyes were multicolored and constantly shifting. Not swirling. Swirling I could have dealt with. It just shifted around randomly. My hate for this particular demon was based as much on its poor aesthetic appeal as its consistent antagonizing.

“How are things with you and Caaarrrrrolll?”

“Good. How about you?”

“Quit lying, Dorse. You know you love her, could have had her. But you can't stick to anything. Just like your last job, huh?”

“Shut up, Hillfen.” It just cackled. I didn't love her, I swear. I liked her, sure. But not loved. And my last job was fine. Wait. Why am I explaining myself to you, the reader? “Why don't you bother, Telson?” I asked the painting, nodded my head to my friend.

“Because,” it cackled, “Telson never gives me the reactions I love so much. He just ignores me. You, though, Dorse, you like to stay and talk and argue. No one talks to poor Hillfen anymore.”

“That's because you're annoying, Hillfen,” Telson snapped at the painting. He grabbed my shirt and tugged at me, “Come on, Dorse, let's go.” My feet remained planted. Telson just pulled harder, “Come on. You can fight it out with the painting later. Shit.”

Telson dragged me away into the next room, a much more tame environment. Once the lobby/waiting room for the infirmary, it had been morphed into an art gallery of the group's collective unconscious. Well, that's the best way I know to put it.

All around were the lights and elaborate animatronic devices of the enclave. One was a working three dimensional picture, a laser beam that sketched a design in the air by rapidly pinpointing and bursting air molecules into plasma. It was of one of the old commander of the camp with his family. His face, his wife's face, and their children's faces perfectly reconstructed from old pictures and vids that had been painstakingly dissected. His uniform perfect, their clothing exceptionally done. He didn't need any changes of visage. His memory was bad enough. My parents hadn't been in this camp, and neither had Telson's, but we still mentally cringed. The man had been a monster. But human. That was the worst part of it. The things we do when our overlords point us to it.

On the east side of the room sigils programmed months ago were drawn and erased rapidly by a program coded for this specific task. Their meanings were forgotten before the program had even been completed. I know because I asked the crafter of this particular device, Faraday Random. He babbled on about the overall meaning of it, the overarching goal, but couldn't tell me what each one was named. Faraday explained they didn't have names. They were just there. Sometimes he'd take the wall unit down and put over his bed, if he had company. “It helps charge them at the time of, you know,” he told me, trailing off...

“How?”

He just shrugged.

Fair enough, I thought... and still think.

We moved through the lobby into the hallway that ran through the offices. Windows lined both sides, most covered with bed sheets or taped shut. The camp had been built before reactive glass became cheap, and vintage was important for this place. The offices were where they did the physicals and the immunizations people would come to dread. They were now bedrooms. You could easily see into the uncovered rooms. They were a mix between crash pads and mini temples to the strangest gods you'd ever see. One small room had a shrine to Chuck Norris in it.

I could never bring myself to sleep with any girl here, in these makeshift dormitories. I made them make the long trek back to my neck of the depot. Arguably it was more creepy, especially when doped on aural and engineered pscylocibin extract. But, if I got them back to the warehouse I was never worrying that she was charging a sigil while doing the reverse cowgirl.

A couple of the rooms were occupied, but neither Telson nor I were really friends with any of them. We just strolled through till we hit the end of it at a t-intersection and took a left. This was the wing where Carol and her friend Shelly lived. That was her roommate I'd talked about earlier.

I could still hear, or imagined I could hear, the cackling of Hillfen all the way down here. Or maybe it was a recording of Kenchi somewhere behind us. I wasn't sure. Who knows? Maybe Kenchi had co-opted Hillfen's voice for a moment? Honestly, it wouldn't have surprised me. He/she/it was one of our heroes. We attributed god-like status to the thing.

“Dorse? Telson? That you guys?” Carol called as we knocked at her dorm room. Music blared loud enough that I was surprised she could hear us knocking.

“Yeah,” Telson yelled, “How'd you guess?” She got up and turned the music off, came to the door dressed in her normal slacks and a tee-shirt of some band I'd never heard of, red hair up in ponytail. I didn't get off on knowing the hottest, latest music on the “scene”. I was a farmer. We didn't do things like that. We drank, fucked, did drugs... and meditated.

“Hook rang several minutes ago, let me know you were coming in,” she replied with a smile, then focused to me, “took you long enough. Get hung up with Hillfen?” I mumbled an affirmative. “Dorse, shame on you. You're better than that.” And she turned and went back into her room, leaving the door ajar for us. She sat down cross-legged on the bed. Telson went in ahead of me.

“So,” he began, “how are things with the camp? Any decent shows?”

“Eh,” she shrugged, “not really. Not enough revenue coming in. Just enough to keep our heads above water,” Carol trailed off, then, “bring any tomatoes?” Telson and I shook our heads. “Eh. Here,” she bent down under her bed and grabbed an old fashioned tin from beneath, sat upright. “Smoke?”

“Sure,” Telson replied, looked at me. I just waved it off. Carol had already started separating the seeds and stems on the tin cover.

“Mind if I use your Book?” I asked instead, pointing to her laptop. I figured if they were going to smoke she wasn't going to remember a damn thing I said about the finer points of hydroponic farming. Might as well write it down.

She looked up at me from the tray, a queer expression on her face. “Why?”

“We're giving you our farm,” I replied simply, “and there's some tips I need to write down in there.”

Carol almost knocked the stash over. “WHAT?!”

“We are giving you our farm,” I repeated more slowly than before, enunciating every syllable.

“WHY?! You guys love that thing! I've been trying to get you to bring it over for months, but you've always told me no!”

“Damn,” Telson said, “don't get twisted. Shit. Roll the spliff and we'll talk.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, “hand me the book and get to smoking.”



Crossposted at Frequency23 many, many moons ago.

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