Holly opened her eyes to the 0600 app chirping in her mind, slowly blinked away the sleep and turned her head.
“Ahh,” Holly screamed and jumped back, startled to see the Author standing above the bed, staring down at her.
“I could not sleep,” said the Author, “So I came in here and continued recordings.”
“Oh,” Holly shifted uncomfortably, pulling the blankets up and hugged them to her chest, ‘The Author writes the words’, the morning incantations continued in her brain. “How is that even possible?”
“Sleep puts you in a natural state to record. If you think upon your dreams for the night, you will find all my words are there.”
Holly tried to quiet the incantations and think back through the night. Had she dreamed? The only items stored in her evening memory-banks were files in the Author’s voice, along with subject labels that she did not recall recording earlier. It was unnerving.
“I am sorry, my character, if you felt uncomfortable earlier,” said the Author, “You do realize women have the birthright to chose whomever they will, do you not?”
Holly nodded. She had known that, but it was also supposed to be private.
The Author chuckled, “Of course, they do become tiresome once you know you can have them, do they not?”
“No, its alright,” is what Holly said, but what she really wanted to know was what happened afterwards, when the Author had blacked out. It would be too impolite to ask, especially since it eluded to the Author’s health. Actually, it would be blasphemous to presume her immunity was less than pristine.
The Author lifted Holly’s chin up until Holly’s neck was painfully extended back, and examined her face. “I should have known just by looking at you, that you were uneducated in the ways of women. You are more child than woman.”
Holly was not exactly sure how to respond, or even if the Author wanted a response. She swallowed hard and tried not to blush. No one had to tell Holly that she was less than the others. Kindness and accolades seemed to follow the pretty girls around, whereas Holly received terseness and teasing.
The first time she realized she was less came from the subtlest of glances; children are incredibly perceptive of adults’ thoughts. The school’s Headwriter had looked up expectantly at a young Holly, appraised her in a split-second and found her lacking. It was a quick slip of facial control, but it had changed Holly’s outlook on life.
“It is time to have breakfast. Come.” The Author dropped Holly’s chin and turned to leave the room. Holly supposed the Author did not herself follow the morning rituals held in her honor. It felt a bit strange to openly ignore the rules, especially with the person who had made them.
Holly followed the Author, while trying to manage her hair with her fingers. She was still wearing clothes from the night before. Using her Styles app, she sifted through her modest wardrobe and with a thought, the sensors in her clothes altered their light absorption, thereby changing color. It was the same style and not necessarily clean, but at least it gave the illusion of being dressed for the day. It was one of her favorite apps, except she couldn’t afford the nicer styles.
“Hello,” said a man, who Holly instantly recognized as the Creator. They were now back inside the dining room where a spread of breakfast fares was artfully laid along the stone table. Despite less than ideal associations with this room, Holly was both starving from skipping supper the night before, and, she had to admit, slightly starstruck by the Creator. He nodded his head toward hers and she felt herself redden.
“Hi,” she managed to squeak out, while a tiny spit bubble formed between her lips, proceeded by a belch, which she unsuccessfully tried to hide by clearing her throat. Holly was first-class at making first impressions.
Holly felt eyes evaluating her and knew she would be disappointing the Creator. Except, when she overcame her embarrassment to meet the Creator’s gaze, he was smiling, warmly. This was not the expression she was used to seeing and it made her stomach lurch. Then it growled noisily.
“Let us eat,” said the Creator, “the recorder requires sustenance, I would say.”
Holly laugh-snorted, while taking her seat. Could she embarrass herself more? Yes, she probably could.
All she wanted to do was stuff her face with food, but she practiced restraint. The Creator and Author each sat at one end of the table, while Holly was seated at the perfect mid-line. It was just the three of them this time, although Holly knew there were guards just outside the room.
They had been there long enough for the incantations to finish in Holly’s brain when the Creator rose from his seat. Conversations about the grounds, art, and literature had begun to wane while the food dwindled. Holly had been politely listening with nothing to contribute.
As he rose, the Creator said, “I have, for many years now, offered a toast to the Author at this one meal we share each day. Please excuse me ladies, while I prepare the drinks.” He bowed and the Author bowed her head slightly in return. Turning to Holly, he winked, “Its a special formula of antioxidants and minerals. It tastes awful.”
The Creator turned his back toward a shelf embedded into the stone wall, which held a glass picture full of liquid that shimmered speckles of silver and gold. Holly was watching him, almost mesmerized by the graceful way he moved. She knew he was an older man, maybe fifty or even sixty, but he had the vitality of a man half his age and was as handsome as the Author.
It was the reflection of the Author in the cup that the Creator was pouring his drink into that finally made her turn around. The Author was hunched over on the table, her head fully down onto her plate.
“Oh!” Holly exclaimed. Guards came rushing in, but the Creator pushed them aside to reach the Author. Holly was not able to put thoughts toward action, but merely became a spectator. She watched as he called her name, checked for a pulse, then lifted a needle from his pocket, turned a nozzle and prepared to inject it into her skull. The tip of the needle began to penetrate, when the Author snapped awake.
The Author screamed painfully and pushed the Creator away. The guards, quickly reading the situation, grabbed both of his arms and held him back. The needle fell to the floor.
“What are you doing?” The Author yelled. She looked down at the needle on the floor. “How could you?”
He did not speak.
The Author stood and glared at him, indignation and outrage across her face. “Get out of my sight!”
The guards started to pull him toward the door, but when he calmly said, “I can go myself,” they released him, but remained protectively standing between the Author and Creator.
Holly tried to make herself look as small as possible in the chair, like she wasn’t there at all.
Part 11 Coming Soon!