Virus, Episode Nineteen

Behind? Catch up now!

Episode One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen



Thursday, AC April 13

“Here,” Mason said, holding a copper colored band out for Godfrey over the kitchen table. “Put this on, you look thrashed.”

“What is it?” Godfrey asked, blinking at it. Neither he or Mason had been able to sleep last night after cleaning up after the attack. They sat at the table, leaning over cups of klav that weren’t helping.

“A caffeine cuff,” Mason said. He sat it down next to Godfrey’s cup and put another one on his own wrist.

“Won’t that make me crash later?” Godfrey asked. He picked up the cuff and examined it.

“You’re crashing now,” Mason said. He was sitting up straighter now that he was wearing his. “What’s the difference?”

Godfrey shrugged and put the cuff on his wrist. As soon as he clipped it shut he felt more awake. He stood, going to the simulator to start making eggs.

“We should talk about what we’re going to do to keep April safe,” he said, as six raw eggs appeared. He took them to the stove, grabbing a frying pan.

“I was thinking we could see if Commissioner Schultz would let her stay at the barracks,” Mason said. “Why didn’t you just replicate cooked eggs?”

“Because I like to cook them,” Godfrey said, “How much do you know about April’s family on her dad’s side?”

“Her grandparents don’t acknowledge her,” Mason said, “but Lo’s sister visits pretty often. Her name’s Ny.”

“Can you call her?” Godfrey asked.

“If she’ll take a call from me,” Mason said, shrugging, “She doesn’t like me.”

“Do you think she’d take April to Khloe for a little while?”

Mason shook her head. “I don’t want April to go off station.”

“I understand,” Godfrey said, “but I think it’s the safest thing for her.”

“And what about when Sennett comes home and April’s on Khloe?” Mason asked.

“What about what’s gonna happen if Sennett comes back and we don’t know where April is?” Godfrey snapped, turning to look at him. “Look, I don’t like it either, but it’s not safe for her to be here right now. Whoever this is isn’t scared of the cops. They aren’t scared of us, that’s for damn sure.”

“If we tell April she has to leave she’s going to lose her mind,” Mason replied.

Godfrey raised an eyebrow. “She’s a five-year-old kid. She doesn’t get to call the shots.”

“Fine,” Mason said, “I’ll call Ny.”

“Thank you,” Godfrey said, “I’ve got to take off. I’m meeting with Joy’s political adviser before I open the stall.”

“What are you doing that for?” Mason asked.

Godfrey shrugged and put a plate of eggs in front of him. “I think it’s time to get more involved with the campaign.”

Godfrey had been in the Council’s building many times before the council dissolved. It had been full of pomp, circumstance and solemn dignity. It had made him feel sick to his stomach every time he walked in the building.

When he walked into the newly christened Station 86 Marshal’s Offices, he was sure it couldn’t be the same place at first. People were hurrying through the front lobby, which had been remodeled with new carpets and artwork on the wall. When Godfrey moved closer to inspect one of the pieces, he found that it had been painted by a high school student.

In the center of the lobby was a circular desk, manned by a secretary with an astonishing amount of hair gel and a thin tie. Next to the desk was a fish tank that spanned floor to ceiling, swimming with brightly colored fish.

The secretary looked up when Godfrey approached the desk. “May I help you?” he asked.

“I just stopped in to see Joy,” Godfrey said.

The receptionist raised a well-manicured eyebrow. “I’m sorry, but Marshal Joy doesn’t have any appointments open today. Let me just see when her next open appointment is.”

“I’m not making a business appointment,” Godfrey said, “I’m a friend.”

The secretary folded his hands on the desk. “Then you should call her and make plans after work hours,” he said, “The marshals make every effort to meet with citizens. But they have many demands on their time. Please feel free to visit the hospitality bar before you leave.”

The secretary looked back down at his screen and began typing, leaving Godfrey standing awkwardly in front of the desk.

“Godfrey!” someone called from across the lobby. He looked over to see Howard striding towards him. “What are you doing here?”

“Well I came to see Joy, but I guess she’s busy,” Godfrey said.

“Nah, that’s just Cody being overprotective,” Howard said, clapping the secretary on the shoulder. “Don’t know what we’d do without our bulldog at the door. Come on, I’m sure Joy’d love to see you.”

Howard steered Godfrey toward the escalator. “What do you think of the place?” he asked.

“It’s busier than I remember,” Godfrey said. As they boarded the escalator he noticed a play area, populated by workers in bright colored t-shirts looking after children.

“You see the daycare center?” Howard asked, “Yeah, the old council didn’t seem to do a whole lot, did they? No offense, of course.”

“No offense taken, I was only on the council for about a week,” Godfrey said.

“Anyway, we’ve got a government to run. And governments mean people. People mean children who need to be looked after when they’re parents are working. And, well, there was a lot of the awe and mystique of the governing body. Joy and I aren’t big on that. We’ve instituted a healthy living center, added some color, and made it easier for citizens to see us. You might have to make an appointment, but it’s better than the old way.”

As they crested the top of the escalator, Godfrey said, “All this is great, but how have you had the time to do all of this?”

Howard shrugged. “It’s been three months. What do you think we’d be doing?”

He led Godfrey down the hall to an office with a closed door. Howard gave two sharp raps before opening it.

Joy looked up, startled. “Howard, what have I told you about that?”

“Look who’s here to see you,” Howard said, pulling Godfrey into the room.

Joy waived a hand at him dismissively. “Lovely to see you, but I don’t have time right now. I have an appointment with Ambassador Sa in exactly three minutes.”

“This is about your campaign,” Godfrey said, “I want to endorse you. I want to help.”

Joy looked up, then back down at her screen. “Thank you, but I really don’t have that much time to commit to the campaign today.”

“You sound like you’re not taking this seriously,” Godfrey said.

At this, Joy looked up sharply. “I am taking this campaign seriously. I’m fully aware that I have a very real chance of losing. In fact, I have more of a chance of losing than winning. Once that self-obsessed glad-hander is in office every bit of progress is going to be a fight. So I need to get as much done as I can while I’m still here. If you want to help, go talk to my political adviser. You and I certainly made her job hard enough.”

“Listen, about what happened during your rally,” Godfrey said.

“It was my fault entirely,” Joy said, looking back down at her work. “Never ask a question you don’t know the answer to, I should know that. It was foolish of me to put you on the spot like that.

She stood, straightening her jacket. “Meg’s office is at the end of the hall,” Joy said, “Now I really have to go to this meeting. Howard, you’re supposed to be coming to this as well.”

She nodded to him, before hurrying him out of the office.

“Thanks, Godfrey,” Howard said, putting his hands in his pockets, “She appreciates you trying.”

“Guess I should have expected her to still be mad at me,” Godfrey said.

“Mad? Oh no, that’s not mad,” Howard said, “Trust me, you’ll know when Joy gets mad.”

Godfrey didn’t really think that Meg would be in the office. He knocked on the door that Joy had pointed him toward, not expecting an answer.

Instead, a frightened-looking intern opened the door, revealing a meeting room with a long table covered with documents. A screen hanging on the wall was flashing through different charts and graphs every few seconds. People were crowding around the table, jotting notes on tablets and taking into earpieces. Everyone wore the Foundation party pin, four squares on top of each other, attached to Elect Joy Wheatly T-shirts.

“Can I help you?” the intern asked.

“Hi, I’m here to see Meg, I think?” Godfrey asked, “Joy sent me.”

“Oh, I recognize you now!” the intern said. She turned into the crowded room. “Meg!”

Godfrey recognized the woman from the rally. She looked up from the conversation she’d been having, and her eyes narrowed. She stormed towards the door. The crowd moved out of her way, almost without seeming to notice.

“What in the hell are you doing here?” she snapped, “Haven’t you done enough?”

“Um,” Godfrey said.

“What? It’s not enough that Saul’s people have been playing that video of you telling Joy to her face that you weren’t supporting her! They’ve also got lots of footage of him at your stall.”

“Did anyone get footage of me dumping a plate of food on his lap?” Godfrey snapped.

Meg pulled back a little. “Did you?” she asked, “Like, on purpose?”

“Hell yes, on purpose,” Godfrey said, “I’m here because I wanted to help Joy’s campaign. But if you’d rather I leave then I can just turn right around, and-,”

“No, get in here,” Meg said. She grabbed him by the arm and pulled him inside the room.

He was met with a round of hissing and booing.

“Doesn’t really seem like I’m welcome here,” Godfrey said, “You know, I do think I should point out that Joy called me out without any warning.”

“Well of course she did, Hero Boy!” Meg cried, throwing her hands up. “Did that mean you needed to say in front of everyone that you didn’t think you were voting for her? I could think of a thousand ways to respond that would have been a hell of a lot better.”

“Show him the graphs, Meg!” called a man from the table.

“Oh, the graphs,” Meg said. She tapped her wrist pad and the screen on the wall went blank for a moment. Then, a graph appeared that showed a line with a sharp dip in the middle.

“This is Joy’s popularity before your incident,” Meg said, bringing a red arrow to just before the dip. “This is it after.” The arrow went to the bottom of the screen, where the line dropped to.

“Show him what happened to our volunteers,” a woman called.

“I get it,” Godfrey said, “I messed up Joy’s campaign. But I’m here to help now. Saul’s not good for us, the party or the station. So if we could maybe focus on beating him instead of beating me up that would be great.”

“Fine, get your calendar pulled up,” Meg said.

“Why?” Godfrey asked.

“You want to help? The best thing for you to do is to get in front as many faces as possible and endorse her. So I’m going to book you for every single newsfeed and social gathering between now and the election. I see you’re wearing a caffeine cuff. Make friends with it.”

Mason arrived at the food stall after school, with April in tow. Rather than leaving her on a stool as he normally did, he brought her behind the counter and led her into the greenhouse. Godfrey ducked in after them.

“Mr. Godfrey, can I look at your plants?” April asked.

“Sure thing,” Godfrey said, nodding. She wandered through the aisles, examining each plant carefully.

“I got hold of Ny,” Mason said, “She’ll come and pick April up in a few days. I reprogrammed her seeming cuff so she can pass for a Khloe kid.”

“Have you told her yet?” Godfrey asked.

“No,” Mason sighed, “I’ll tell her this evening. Are you staying at our place again?”

“Yeah, but I’ve got to go to an interview first,” Godfrey said, “I’ll try not to be too late.”

“Interview?” Mason asked, “What the hell are you being interviewed for?”

Godfrey’s wristpad buzzed. He glanced down. Ki was calling.

He hit the ignore button.

“I’m doing a pro Joy interview,” Godfrey said, “Apparently I’ll be doing a lot of them between now and the election. I just hope it’s in time to save her campaign.”

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.


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