Monday, AC April 10
Godfrey’s wristpad lit up, brightening the bedroom a full forty minutes before his alarm should have woken him. Ki grumbled, sticking her head under the pillow. “Kill it,” she muttered.
“Gonna kill whoever is calling this early,” he replied, reaching for his wrist pad.
The badge on the screen, marking the call as an official police one, made his heart leap into his throat. He tapped the screen. “Hello?” he said.
“Mr. Anders,” Patty said. There was not the slightest hint of her accustomed smile.
“Yes, what is it?” Godfrey asked.
“I wonder if you could come to the Montgomery house. The kids are fine, don’t worry too much. But there was an incident last night.”
She glanced around, then added quietly, “I know it’s not your responsibility. But I think Mason needs some help right now.”
“I’ll be right there,” Godfrey said. He disconnected the call and climbed from his bed to dress.
Ki was lying in bed, watching him dress. “Why are you suddenly responsible for Sennett’s brother and kid?” she asked.
“Honey, I have to go,” Godfrey said, “Mason is my friend.”
He stopped in the middle of putting on his pants. “Holy shit, Mason is my friend. I don’t think that had dawned on me before now. Anyway, right now he’s a teenager who’s been left in charge of a five-year-old. He’s only got one family member in the world, and she’s gone.”
“Fine, okay. I guess that makes sense,” Ki said.
Fully dressed, Godfrey went to the bed to give her a kiss. “Will you call me after your appointment?” he asked.
At that, she smiled. “I guess taking care of Mason and April is good practice, at least,” she said.
He nuzzled her neck for a moment, then headed for the door.
When Godfrey arrived at Sennett’s house he found a work crew replacing the front window. “Oh, shit,” Godfrey muttered, running the last few feet.
He opened the front door, walking into the living room. Bailey was barking over and over. Mason was sitting on the couch, Joyce and Patty were with him.
He’d never seen the place in such disarray. An overflowing basketball of clothes was sitting next to the couch. Toys were scattered everywhere. The trash bin was full, the junk inside nearly escaping from its confines. The carpet looked like it hadn’t seen the vacuum since Sennett had left.
“Why’s he barking?” Godfrey asked.
“I have no idea,” Mason said. Tears were streaming down his face. “He hasn’t stopped since last night.
“Someone broke into the house,” Joyce said, “We can’t figure out why, nothing’s missing. So far as we can tell someone just broke in, then made a really hasty exit out of the front window. Mason, doesn’t this fucking dog have an off switch?”
“We did manage to find some blood on the carpet and windowsill,” Patty said, “I sent it up to the lab, but it might be a couple hours. The lab team doesn’t even get in until seven.”
“Where’s April?” Godfrey asked.
“In her room until the window is fixed,” Mason said.
Godfrey nodded. He went to April’s room and knocked on the door. “Can I come in?” he called.
April opened the door a crack. “Mr. Godfrey?” she whispered.
Bailey heard April’s voice and ran to her. April flung the door open and jumped into Godfrey’s arms. “Someone bad was here last night. They tried to take me away but Bailey stopped them. He bit their hands.”
“He’s a brave dog, isn’t he?” Godfrey said, “Did you see the person who tried to take you?”
April shook her head.
“Did you tell Mason?”
Again, she shook her head. “He didn’t want me to get cut on the glass, so he told me to stay here.”
“I think this is a little more important than some broken glass,” he said, “Come on.” He carried her into the living room and sat her down on the floor.
“Ladies, April has something she needs to tell you,” he said.
Bailey hopped up on the couch next to her. She ran her hand over his back, looking away from the officers.
“What’s up, Champ?” Joyce asked, “Come on, now.”
“Um, I know why the people broke in last night,” April said, “They woke me up, and tried to take me outside.”
“What?” Mason cried, “April, why didn’t you tell me that?”
“Because Bailey bit them,” April said quietly.
“Good for Bailey, then,” Patty said, “How many people were there, April?”
“Two, I think,” April said.
“Do you remember anything special about them? Did they wear anything funny or were they really tall or short?”
April nodded, “They were wearing those funny black suits that Mommy told me about. The ones that keep cameras from seeing you.”
“Shit,” Joyce muttered, “Liam better hurry the hell up and get back here with Sennett.”
Godfrey looked up sharply. “What do you mean?” he squeaked.
“Don’t act dumb,” Joyce said, “Montgomery goes MIA and Liam breaks house arrest? We aren’t idiots.”
“For now we need to figure out what we’re going to do about you two,” Patty said, looking to Mason and April. “I’ll escort April to school. We’ll get a police detail there, and get someone to watch this place. At least until Sennett and Liam get back.”
“I’ll come down with you this morning,” Godfrey said, “Maybe I can come by this evening too. Help out with dinner.”
“Let’s send some of those young boys,” Joyce quipped, “They can help the absently minded college student keep the place picked up, too.”
Khal’Lee was waiting at the front of the school for April. He looked startled when he saw her escort, his eyes growing wide. “What’s going on?” he asked April.
April looked up at Patty, who raised an eyebrow. “I’m not supposed to talk about it,” April said, sounding defeated.
“Get to class, kids,” Patty said, “Go on. Have a good day.”
“Bye, Ms. Patty,” April said, turning to head into the school building.
They watched her vanish into the doorway with the other kids. “She’s going to spill her guts as soon as she’s out of our view,” Mason said.
“Yeah, I know,” Patty sighed, “I’ve got to go talk to the principal. Thanks for coming down, Anders.”
“No problem,” Godfrey said.
Patty went inside, leaving Mason and Godfrey alone. “Come on, might as well walk you to school before I head to my stall,” Godfrey said.
“I am capable of walking myself,” Mason said, “I’m a grown man, you know.”
“Yeah, but I’m a lot more grown than you,” Godfrey said, turning to go. “Besides, we don’t know if April’s the only target.”
“Fine, yeah,” Mason said.
For a few minutes, they walked in silence. “I’m sorry I’m being an asshole. Thank you for coming this morning. You didn’t have to.”
“No problem,” Godfrey said.
“I just, I’ve never been this scared. I don’t know if Sennett’s coming back. What the hell am I supposed to do if she doesn’t?”
Godfrey considered him a moment, a young man who had always lived between the protective and loving arms of his mother and older sister. Without them, he must feel lost.
“Excuse me, Mason Montgomery?” someone called.
Mason and Godfrey turned. A campus security officer stood behind them, hands on her hips. “Can I help you?” Mason asked.
“I’m going to need you to exit the campus,” the guard said.
“What, why?” Mason cried, “Is everything okay? We just dropped my niece off at school.”
“Sir, you’ve been suspended from campus, pending your plagiarism hearing,” the guard said, “Please leave the exit imminently.”
“Hold on, you can’t just kick him off of campus,” Godfrey said, “You have to send him some sort of notification.”
Turning to Mason, he said, “They haven’t right?”
“Of course not,” Mason said.
“The notice will be delivered within twenty-four hours,” the guard replied.
“It was Oswald, wasn’t it,” Mason snapped “Because I wouldn’t let her get to April.”
“There’s no need to get hysterical. Please exit the campus before I’m forced to call the police,” the guard said, crossing her arms over her chest. Godfrey thought that he saw a smile trying to pull the sides of her mouth up.
“Call them!” Mason yelled, “Hell, I’ll call them for you. There’s a detective at the elementary school right now. I’ll go get her.”
“Mason, stop,” Godfrey said, putting a hand on his shoulder.
“But this is bullshit!” Mason cried.
“Yeah, it is,” Godfrey replied, “It’s a big woman trying to throw her weight around, while this asshole who just likes to bully boys does the shit work. But this isn’t the way to handle it.”
Godfrey steered Mason back towards the transit. “Come back to my stall with me,” he said.
“She can’t do this to me, Godfrey,” Mason said.
“I know, and we’re not going to let her,” Godfrey said, nodding. “I promise you, we’re going to stop her.”
There was a small crowd waiting for Godfrey and Mason when they reached the stall. “Sorry, everyone,” Godfrey said, pulling up the shutter while Mason ran to the back to start turning things on. “Family emergency, sorry.”
He hurried behind the counter and pointed at the first woman in line. “What can I get you?”
“Apple protein smoothie?” she asked.
“Good choice, I don’t have to wait for the grill to heat up,” Godfrey said. He started chopping apples, while Mason leaned over the counter to take another order.
“Looks like business is good,” said a man in the crowd.
Godfrey glanced up. It was Saul Mai. He wore a white button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows. His hair looked tidy, but not set in place. There was a casual smile on his face.
“Guess so,” Godfrey said.
“Could you use another pair of hands?” Saul asked.
Godfrey smelled a political stunt. But there was a crowd. And he really didn’t want to lose customers. “Sure, come on in,” he said.
“You know politicians are like vampires, right?” Mason whispered, “they have to be invited in.”
“Shut up,” Godfrey said.
Saul joined them behind the counter. “What can I get for you, Honey?” he asked an elderly woman in the crowd.
At least, if Saul was going to try to score points with the voters he was doing it in a useful way. Much to Godfrey’s surprise he knew how to cook eggs, fry bacon evenly and brew coffee.
Eventually, the crowd dispersed, leaving Godfrey, Mason, and Saul to clean up.
“Thanks,” Godfrey said, “This has been a crazy morning, I appreciate the help.”
“Not a problem,” Saul said, sending the scrubbers to clear off the counter, “I’m sure you realize I didn’t come here just to lend a hand. I actually came to ask you a question and a favor.”
“Okay, shoot,” Godfrey said, rinsing out the blender.
“I heard that the police were at Sennett Montgomery’s place this morning. Figured if anyone would know what was happening there, it would be you.”
“I’m not big on gossip,” Godfrey said quickly.
“Not asking for it,” Saul said, “I just want to make sure everything’s alright. With Detective Montgomery gone, we’re all worried about her family. I don’t need to know what’s going on, I just want to offer my assistance.”
“We’re fine, thank you, Mr. Mai,” Mason said, scratching his head.
“Go wash your hands now,” Godfrey said.
Mason muttered as he moved to the sink and started the hot water.
“I saw you were at Joy’s rally the other day,” Saul said, “You sure shook her constituents up.”
“I didn’t mean to,” Godfrey said, “I’m trying to keep out of this election as much as possible.”
Saul leaned against the counter. “How can you stand that?” he asked, giving him a conspiratorial grin. “You used to be voracious about politics. I remember you didn’t miss a meeting. You even campaigned for me.”
“Yeah, back when I was a dumb kid from Earth,” Godfrey said, “No one knew my name or face. Now people know me. Worse, they think they should listen to me.”
“It’s kind of scary, isn’t it,” Saul said, “People in the Foundation Party respect you. Hell, the whole station respects you. And it doesn’t sound like you’re behind Joy.”
“All I said was that I didn’t know,” Godfrey said, “And I don’t know.”
“That’s fair,” Saul said, “But listen, you know where I stand on the issues. Natural food in our schools. Caution with human augmentation. Supporting marriage and family unity. They’re the same things I’ve always stood for, that the Foundation Party has always stood for. The only difference now is that we can actually do the things that we want to do.”
“Yeah, but Joy wants to do all of those things too,” Godfrey said, “She’s started doing a lot of those things. But she’s also got a plan for building up our crippled police force and protecting us from The Core. She’s talking about sending people to Earth to see what in the hell is going on there. You want my vote? Tell me what you plan to do when The Core comes for us.”
“Alright,” Saul said, standing up. “Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll start recruiting for our police force off station. I’d start a hiring campaign on Khloe, Ma’Sheed, and Toth because I’m going to drop the ban on non-Earthlings in our police force. Then I’d put Ms. Montgomery in charge of a terrorist prevention team. We’ll be safe, and we’ll have our garden.”
“I’ll consider it, then,” Godfrey said.
His wrist pad blinked, indicating that he’d received a message. “Excuse me, this is from my wife,” he said, “She had a doctor’s appointment today.”
“Is she alright?” Saul asked.
“Yeah, she’s fine,” Godfrey said. He tapped the screen to open the message.
It consisted of three lines.
We’re not pregnant. Might be late tonight. Love you.
“Oh,” Godfrey said, slumping against the counter.
“What is it?” Saul asked.
“Oh, um, we thought we were going to have a baby,” Godfrey said, “Turns out we’re not.”
“I’m sorry,” Saul said, “But the two of you are young. There’s still lots of time.”
“Yeah,” Godfrey said, giving him a weak smile. “Thanks.”
“Sure, sure,” Saul said, clapping him on the shoulder. “I’ve got to take off. But think about what I said, okay? I’d love to have you in my court.”
“I’ll think about it,” Godfrey replied with a nod.
Saul left the stall, giving casual waves to people as he passed by.
Mason came up to the counter. “You okay about the baby thing?” he asked.
“I guess,” Godfrey said, “I mean, we never thought we could have kids of our own. I guess we always planned on adopting, and we could still do that. But it’s something, to have one of your own.”
“I don’t actually get that,” Mason said, “I was adopted. I don’t love my family any less because my mom didn’t have me the old-fashioned way.”
“I don’t mean to disparage your mom,” Godfrey said, “or make light of your relationship with her.”
“No, I know you don’t,” Mason said, “I don’t mean to make it sound like I think you’re bitching about nothing and should just go adopt a kid.”
“I kind of think you do mean that,” Godfrey said.
Mason shrugged and turned to head back to the greenhouse.
Godfrey leaned against the counter. He noticed Howard Stoats in the crowd, winding his way towards the stall. He had to suppress a groan when the man reached the counter.
“Hey, Godfrey,” he said, giving him a wide smile. “How’s it going?”
“I’ve had better days,” Godfrey replied, “Can I get you something?”
“Sure, what’s good?” Howard asked.
“How about a tomato sandwich?” Godfrey asked, “I make the mayonnaise myself and I add horseradish.”
“I’ve never had any of the things you just said,” Howard said, leaning against the counter on one elbow. “What the hell, I’ll try it.”
Godfrey turned away from him to start slicing tomatoes and bread. “So, since I know damn well you aren’t here to eat, what can I actually do for you?” he asked.
“Right to the point,” Howard said, “Love it. I’m actually here to talk to you about Joy.”
“Why? Godfrey asked, “You’ve already won your seat. What do you care if she gets hers?”
“Because I have to work with the Foundation Party Marshal,” Howard said, still grinning.
Godfrey took some fries from the warming basket and added them to the plate with the sandwich. Then he sat it in front of Howard. “So that’s a tomato?” Howard asked, picking up the sandwich, “I always pictured them smaller.” He took a big bite, then chewed thoughtfully.
“So what’s your problem with Saul?” Godfrey asked.
Howard swallowed. “Well, you’ve got to remember that I’ve worked with both of them. I remember Joy from when she was Saul’s Vice Marshal. She’s always been the one getting things done when he’s out grandstanding. More than that, she’s honest.”
Howard took a bite of a fry. “Saul wants people to like him. He can’t stand confrontation. So he’ll say whatever he thinks you want to hear when he’s looking you in the eye. Then he’ll turn right around and do the same thing to the next person. Joy never does that. When she tells you something she means it and she doesn’t really give a damn if you like it or not.”
“So you value honesty?” Godfrey asked, leaning over the counter. He couldn’t stand the smug look on Howard’s face another second.
“Okay, here’s some honesty. I don’t like you Howard, and I sure as hell don’t trust you. You’re phony and cold. You killed people in the transit tunnels during the dog attack. So if you’re telling me that you prefer Joy over Saul, then that’s the biggest endorsement I’ve heard for Saul yet.”
Howard sat down the rest of his fry. “Godfrey, if I hadn’t acted how I did you and the whole group with you would have been cut up by those dogs,” Howard said, “You had April with you, Mason and about thirty others. Should I have let all of you die to spare two lives?”
“If you had waited-,” Godfrey said
“Then you all might have died!” Howard yelled, slamming his hand on the counter. “Do you think that was an easy choice for me? The people who died, do you know their names? David and Lorne Wilson. They’d just gotten married, and they were visiting family here for their honeymoon.”
Howard ran a hand through his immaculate hair, rumpling it. “I’ll live with their blood on my hands for the rest of my life. But a decision had to be made and I made it. You want blunt honesty? Saul’s too weak for this job. All he used to do was shake hands. The first bad thing that happened to him, he ran away.”
“I-I’m sorry,” Godfrey said, “Sennett tried to tell me the same thing. I just hated how casual you looked after like it didn’t affect you at all.”
“We were in the middle of an emergency,” Howard snapped, angrily taking a bite of a fry. “People were dying every second those dogs were on the station. I didn’t have time to sit Shiva.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Godfrey said, “Guess I didn’t really think.”
Howard took another bite of his sandwich. “This is actually pretty good,” he said.
“I grow them right here,” Godfrey said.
“Station made, gotta love it,” Howard said flatly.
Copyright © 2018 by Nicole C. Luttrell
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.