Well, what do you know- I still have my job as newsletter person. And I’m still alive. I guess that’s a real boon for me. Maybe I’ll get a participation award to hang up on my room beside the one soccer trophy from when I was supposed to be in first grade.
Today, at flag, the Director was prattling on about the day’s activities when three bodysuit-clad people in various pastel colors burst into the crowd and abducted the Director. Took her right by the arms and dragged her all the way to Unit 6- a stampede ensued, all the girls tripping over themselves on the eroded path with exposed stones that runs right down the hill Allonsy’s built on. I think at least two girls had to be sent to first aid upstairs. It was all a ruse, really. The Director was never in any harm; she just needed a motivation to get all the half-asleep girls into the meadow Unit 6 is on and work through the six stations that had been set up.
Slime? Out of the question. Stupid sensory disorder. I hate having anything sticky on my skin, even if for just a moment- you know, diary, when I was a little kid and Mom would make pancakes, I would always have to have a washcloth beside my plate just so I could immediately wipe off any syrup that got stuck to my fingers. But then again, I also absolutely had to cut up my pancakes into strips and dunk them in syrup poured into a little ceramic cup that would sit by my plate. Mom made me stop doing that when I was ten. I did it once when I was fifteen just to piss her off since she’d grounded me for telling someone on the internet my location. They didn’t believe me, but I still had to close the account, and pancakes were the only way to get back at her.
But I digress.
I’d already made the weird recycled-and-compressed paper, and I’d hate to have hard-to-wash-off ink on my fingers too, so thumbprint thank-you cards were out of the question. One table was just kids filling out government identity kits for a lost children database and providing some agency or another with more fingerprints. For me to do that would basically be suicide.
Quilting? I’m not that kind of crafty, and maybe it would be best if I left the simple knot-tying that comprised the whole of the activity to the little kids.
But jousting- that was where the fun was at. A two-on-two battle with girls randomly selected from each unit, each team facing each other while squatting on horses- really just an inflatable barrel-shaped thing with a horse head protruding from it. Their lances were pool noodles. Three hits below the shoulder, and the other team would win. Headshots, and the offending team would instantly be disqualified. I think I convinced Geno, the girl in charge, to allow for rematches a few times when the girls insisted that it had only been an “accident”.
Maybe it’s kind of sad that something so simplistic, so inconsequential could make me laugh so much. But I dunno.
And I took pictures the whole while for the newsletter. Anything to keep the Director happy.
“Hey, Nino. We need to talk.”
My spine stiffened. Petya slid his hand onto my shoulder- ice cold, even through my shirt with the muggy, humid air that had fallen over the camp.
“Ah, so you remembered my name-”
Memes whirled around, catching Petya’s eyes, and was over to us in a flash, leaving some girls from the green unit clamoring for help. She settled a hand on her hip, head cocked. “This nibba givin’ you any trouble?”
Petya’s upper lip curled. “I beg your pardon?”
Through Memes’ sunglasses, I could see her gaze shift to him. “You. They complained about you at the older girl meeting. Said you were always distracted.” Memes took a step towards Petya. “You got a crush on my friend, pretty boy? ‘Cause you gotta keep everything PG-13 here. Spare the little kids the birds and bees and save it for home.”
Petya took a step back from Memes, his face drawn. “I need to tell Nino something. It’s important.” He grabbed my wrist- I tried to yank it away, but he was a wannabe King Midas, turning everything he touched to stone instead along with his own hand.
He pulled me towards the latrines, up the hill a little. Too terrified to know what to do, I followed him- Memes shook her head and pranced back to her unit, where a little girl was letting slime flow between her fingers.
Eponine, what are you doing? He’s gonna kill you! He said-
He wouldn’t be so stupid that he’d try to pull off a murder here.
Petya crouched down, pulling me down as well until we were both hunkered down behind the latrines and out of anybody’s sight. Hopefully out of earshot as well. He closed his eyes for a few moments, pulling together his composure- the furious blushing started again- and then spoke.
“Eponine. Your parents are going to die in three days-” he grabbed my shoulder (I’d popped up to leave) and forced me back down. My twin hearts began fluttering. “Listen to what I have to say. Master Amelia is planning to commence an attack on Earth Saturday. She’s targeting Heavestone. She wants you dead, and she’ll do anything.”
So she knows where Heavestone is. I bet Liv told her.
Liv is dead.
Couldn’t they have extracted her memories? Or is that only possible with someone who’s alive? No, wait, the rebels would never have let Miralayan officials have Liv’s corpse. They probably dumped it in a trash chute somewhere to be cremated. But then how-
Is there a rat in Heavestone?
No, everyone in Heavestone is reliable. And even if somebody did-
Calm down, Eponine. Deep breaths.
“I’ll fight her head-on. I’ll kill her herself if I have to! Anything- anything to protect-”
Petya smirked. “I knew you’d say that.” He put a hand on my back, trying to keep me from hyperventilating. “But see, Eponine, there’s an issue with that… If Amelia does any sort of damage outside of Heavestone, people are gonna know. Someone’s gonna go to the police, or the news, or whatever. I just know it. And then Mordern will be blamed because it was a Miralayan who did it.”
“And then there’ll be legal issues…” I murmured.
“Mordern might be forced to dissolve, and then Miralay won’t have anybody to take care of it, so it’ll shut down and everyone will be forced to move to Earth. Or that other company Limberstein might buy it and annex it to the colony they’re setting up.”
My face flushed. “You say that like it’s a bad thing-”
“Miralayans and Earthens mixing. That might cause some reproductive issues, don’t you think? Honestly, I don’t trust Limberstein not to throw everyone already on Miralay into a culture shock with their ‘liberatory’ bent.” Petya shook his head. “You need to stop Amelia before anybody can get hurt or- before anything happens, really.”
I sighed. “How many troops does Amelia have?”
Heavestone can take out one person. Easy.
I looked at Petya. He was blushing again.
“You said yesterday that you were going to kill me.”
“Love kills everyone in the end.”
I think, at that point, the Director was yelling for me to come back down and take more pictures of the girls. And not just the pinkies, but all the units- as much as I loved being with the younger kids, I needed to spend time with all the campers. Even the blatantly overweight ones.
I patted Petya’s shoulder. His face flushed, and he flinched at the sudden touch. “I gotta go now.”
The rest of the camp day went by in a blur. I eventually ended up in the office of the camp nurse, IV, where there was a desk for me to work. I think I can type faster while the laptop’s on my lap, though- but my legs were far too sweaty for me to risk getting roasted by the fans. Some fat kid in a purple shirt kept wandering in and out of the office while I was trying to work, searching for the Director for some issue that probably could have been resolved by her unit leader. But then again, that unit’s been having issues all over.
Oh, that’s right! I got to go swimming today- I didn’t have time to on Monday. The sky was gray and ashy when I stepped outside Allonsy with my non-technology backpack, and I got a good quarter of the way to the lake before one of the adults who was driving down there to pick a pinkie up offered me a ride. Bumpy roads traversed while hanging on to the rails in the back seats of a golf cart- brings back memories. If only I could remember what the memories were. The road brings back the same damn old feeling of sonder, and there’s too much shit from the Providences associated with that to bring back anything coherent.
Two adults nearing their shedding times, gazing out into the stars from the surface of Miralay. Their pressure suits make it hard for them to hold hands, but they manage anyways, fingers clunky and arms chunky.
Little kids pelted me with long foam noodles from the moment I stepped out of the changing room until I slipped into the water- but Memes wasn’t that far away, and all of them immediately stuck to her side like flies to fly tape. She sent me an apologetic glance, knowing that I could have used at least some kids to remind me that I wasn’t universally hated, and then she sauntered away (well, as best as one could saunter half-submerged anyways) to rub it into Petya’s face.
And then the sky began to weep.
There isn’t much on this old earth that can evoke the want to slip under the waves forever more than seeing the raindrops splatter on the surface of a lake you’re swimming in.