FindingaSignal_fbcover

Chapter 50

5pm, Thursday, Hyde
3am, Friday, Brisbane

The common room was quiet – there’d been dinner and Disney movies, but the rest of the recruits had filtered out sometime during the second half of The Little Mermaid.

‘Another?’ Milla asked.

Stef shook her head. ‘I can only do so many happy endings in a day.’

Milla shrugged. ‘Figured you could use the happy before the Court visit tomorrow. Plus, um, I should probably tell you about what you’re gonna see in there?’

Stef adjusted herself so that she was leaning against the couch arm. ‘What do you mean?’

‘I know your secret origin story, want to know mine?’

You know some of it…

‘Okies,’ Stef said slowly, ‘sure. So how long have you been a recruit?’

Milla shrugged. ‘Only a couple of years, he wouldn’t let me be official until I was eighteen, he wanted to make sure I was old enough to make the right decision.’

She thought over the words. ‘So, you knew him before you were a recruit?’

‘A demon attacked my street, and sent all the grown-ups insane. They picked up their cricket bats, and their rakes, and they all started to kill each other. It didn’t affect the kids so much, except cause they had to watch, and that was probably kind of worse. It sort of affected my sister, cause she was fifteen, and I think she might have been the one who killed our mum, dunno though, I was asleep for the most of it, I had the flu.’

Holy fuck…

‘Someone,’ she continued, ‘threw a…one of those bombs made with a liquor bottle?’

‘Molotov cocktail?’

‘Yeah, one of them, through my window, and that made me wake up, so I grabbed my teddies and ran out of the house, just like we’d practiced. It wasn’t my job to get the phone and call for help, I just had to stand outside, and make sure that I wasn’t on fire.’

‘But-’

‘But there was a body where I was supposed to sit, and I kinda realised something was wrong. And there wasn’t a lot of fire in the house, so I ran back in to get the phone, cause nobody else had come out yet.’

‘How old were you?’

‘Eight,’ Milla said, then paused for a moment to take a long drink. ‘Got the phone, but then I saw Cindy. She was shaking on the floor, and all covered in red. She saw me, and tried to hit me, but then just started screaming. I pulled her out, I think I might have pulled out some hair, dunno, she didn’t seem to notice. Some cops showed up, but the grown-ups killed them too, they didn’t see us, or we weren’t important, or something. Cindy got up, knocked me down, and…well, ran off, but I didn’t see it, cause I hit my head really hard.’ She pointed to a scar on the side of her head. ‘And then Billy was there. He just picked me up and then I was safe. I woke up in the infirmary with Doc Holiday, and I’ve been here ever since. The Agency’s my home, and Billy’s my family.’

‘Your parents?’

‘Both dead. Cindy killed our mum, and Billy killed my dad, not that he was my dad anymore, he was just some person that needed to get put down.’

‘He killed your dad?’

‘If he hadn’t, we wouldn’t be talking now. My dad was going to bash my head in. Cindy’s okay though. Mostly.’

‘Well-’

‘She’s in Madchester,’ Milla said, ‘and it’s visiting day tomorrow. Not that it’s ever a whole day, for some people it is, but not with us, she doesn’t like to be taken away from her duties.’

‘What does she do?’

Milla smiled. ‘She’s the queen of bees.’

‘That’s an official Madchester job?’

‘Not by a long shot, Agent,’ Milla said, ‘she’s not staff, she’s a resident. The crazy, it didn’t go away, they tried with a few of the kids, and the few adults that survived, but nothing they did could make them less crazy. They aren’t even…okay, let me put it this way: Madchester exists so you don’t have to live in a rubber room, you’re allowed to walk free, or lie around, or hide from the things that aren’t there, just so long as you aren’t a danger to anyone else – and even then, they’ve got ways of calming down people who want to hurt others. The people from my street, they’re in rubber rooms in Madchester. They aren’t even people, they aren’t functional, and if they’re awake, they’re still trying to kill people. They’re locked away, and everyone does the best to make sure that they remember that they tried to help.’

She stared at the recruit, not wanting to push, not wanting to pry into something that was none of her business.

‘Cindy…’ Milla continued, after fetching yet another sandwich from her briefcase, ‘Billy would take me every week on visiting day, just so I could see her. She’s the only family, human family, I mean, that I have left, so I just wanted to see her. I was eight, I just kept thinking that if I kept visiting, if I kept talking to her, telling her I loved her that…the world would be all fairy tale, and that she’d be ok.’

‘This is why I hate happy endings, they never happen IRL,’ Stef said.

‘I wrote a letter to the Queen,’ Milla said, pulling a piece of lettuce from the sandwich and tossing it away. ‘And in return, she sent an invitation for me, had a Courtier pick me up, escort me through, afforded me all the pomp and respect as she would an adult, and she treated me no differently to any other visitor, except that she served me milk instead of wine.’

‘I wouldn’t expect the Queen herself to answer.’

‘Don’t underestimate Madhe. She cares…a lot, about her people. I told her what I’d told her in my letter, that I wanted my sister better, that I wanted her better, whatever it took. I was a kid, I didn’t have much to give, but I wanted to give whatever it took to make her better.’

‘What did you give her?’

‘Humans…we’re really easy to manipulate, and I’m not just talking about one person cheating another, I mean, every bit of us, our minds, our bodies, our souls, all of it can be strip-mined if you’ve got the right tools, or the right powers. That’s why people like you can exist, because…we’re just so easy to use. You can shatter your life, you can sell your memories, or have them stolen, you can give up your ability to walk, we’re so easily compartmentalised.’ Milla smiled. ‘I gave up a little of my sanity, a little bit of myself, so Cindy could stop screaming to herself at night.’

‘How does that make her the queen of bees?’

‘They were my favourite animal when I was a kid, I loved how they were so organised, and how they all had to follow the orders of a girl. I used to pretend I was a queen bee sometimes, and that all of my toys were my minions. Somehow…that got taken as well, it gave the little bit of sanity I gave her a kind of structure, a…mold to base her stray thoughts around, something like that, it’s all madness, I don’t understand it.’

‘Do you regret it?’

‘She’s my sister, Agent,’ Milla said, ‘there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for her. I also lost a lot of memories of our parents, but that’s ok, whether they were payment, or they went to Cindy, either way, I don’t care. Those that are lost, are lost, you have to focus on those that remain, and that’s what I did.’

‘Doesn’t it hurt to see her?’

‘Compared to the wreck she was before I helped her? Billy would take me every week, and I would see her, try to talk to her, and she wouldn’t even hear me, and I’d come back here and cry for three days. Now…she can hear me, she can sleep at night, and she’s…happy. It’s the best I can do for her, so I look forward to seeing her every week, not that I can stay long, a queen has a lot to do.’

‘And it’s tomorrow?’

Milla nodded. ‘I always go see her about lunchtime, so I talk to her for a bit, then go grab her meal from the restaurant, bring it back, then say goodbye and let her eat.’

‘And they don’t mind? You visiting I mean, even though you’re a recruit?’

‘Of course not, so long as you enter humble, and don’t stir up trouble, everyone’s welcome during visiting hours. I mean, certain members of other Courts maybe not, but there’s no problem for Agency people.’

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  8 comments for “Chapter 50

  1. CJ Willis
    June 10, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Oh, sad! Poor Milla! Stef must be thinking that even though she had rotten parents it wasn’t anything like this.

    • Stormy
      Stormy
      June 12, 2016 at 7:14 pm

      Or she sees that Milla got her replacement dad far earlier than she did. >_>

      And Stef had her own early trauma – different to losing loved parents, but awful all the same.

  2. TimeKitt
    June 12, 2016 at 4:08 am

    Musing on rp stat systems that would cover the modular human.. but thinking it wouldnt fit for cookie inspired storylines. Like it’s a single big thing, not a constant fidly thing.

    • Stormy
      Stormy
      June 12, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      Talk more, maybe we can work it out.

  3. CJ Willis
    June 13, 2016 at 3:40 am

    Oh, no question Stef had early trauma and awful,parents. But good point about Milla getting her replacement dad earlier than Stef did.

    • Stormy
      Stormy
      June 13, 2016 at 9:45 am

      I can’t wait to do the young!Stef book. It’s going to be awful, but it kind of fills in all little answers about Stef and how she feels/thinks.

      • CJ Willis
        June 13, 2016 at 2:06 pm

        That’s going to be an emotional rollercoaster ride. I will have to gear myself up for that one. I’ve already anguished over what she has been through.

    • Stormy
      Stormy
      June 15, 2016 at 4:33 pm

      Writing little!Stef is so damn sad. -_-

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