The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

(Chapter XVI)

Posted by Matt on February 17, 2011

Previously

It was a huge shock for Aia when, as Pearl and her once again descended the spiralling red velvet steps on their daily commute, she spied a familiar face below her at the front counter, barking at the clerk and shaking his fists in a failed attempt to look threatening. It was the short security officer, minus his ratty, ill-fitting uniform. She still held some resentment for the betrayal at the hands of him and his ‘associates’; she had placed it into cold storage when she first got outside, but upon seeing him again in her new, preferred environs had revived and intensified it. Her anger continued boiling for every moment she glowered over him while she continued down the stairs, and she was sure it would lead her to do something she would regret once she reached the floor. But before she had a chance to lash out, her anger suddenly subsided, as something else came to mind, an observation, a question (finally a moment when these stray thoughts likely benefited her). She was overtaken by a sense of curiosity; she wanted to know why him, of all of people, would he end up here? It was now her goal to find out, before she felt the need to chastise him for what he did to her life…or knock his lights out.

“Those scum-sucking jerks! Those backstabbing vermin!” he was quick to begin expressing his anger to them as soon as they approached and started up a conversation. “It was all well in good when we ratted you out, and I would say sorry about that BUT I was just doing my job so you can’t blame me for it, but then the bottom-feeders get me kicked out too! The ingrates; all the work I did for them, all the strings I had to pull just to get them what they wanted, and this is how they repay me? Buncha back stabbers, that’s what they all are”

Aia prodded him to reveal more about these back-stabbing ingrates that got them both exiled, and he gleefully obliged, looking for as many petty little revenges as possible. He told them that his former ‘associates’ were a gang of higher-ranking members of society, mainly the Little Brothers and Sisters of Councillors, or higher-ranking security personnel, as well as a few lower-class minions like the officer that got roped in in exchange for a little more power than the rest (“C’mon, like you would pass up on a deal like that,” he was quick to defend himself). He explained that he was privy to bits and pieces of their ultimate agenda, but never felt the need to learn more. When they threw him out, however, the big picture started to come together. He was now ready to elaborate.

“Their big project was a freaky weird thing they only fed me in drips. At first, I only knew that they were trying to find another use for dead people, mostly leeches, because they thought no one would really notice. I also knew some of them were gettin’ real sick, and they were blaming the food for it, and were trying to think of some alternative to solve the problem. That’s about all I knew when they showed me the tape with you going at that dead guy, and they asked me to get into the main office and use the machine there to alter the tape and take out the part after you ran, where they got in. Easy stuff for me.

But then they started talking about something bigger, something that would change the whole situation in the park. That’s why they sent the tape to the guys who weren’t in on it, because they didn’t want to take any chances and let anyone who knew anything at all stick around and give ’em a chance to ruin the whole deal. So we did that, and thought we were in the clear.

But then those rats told the chief that I was stealing and altering tapes and lost me my job, and then got the whole thing sent to the Council, and influenced their decision to give me the boot. After all those times I did their dirty work and sucked up to them…

…Yeah, okay, whatever. Anyway, right before they sent me through the door, I heard from some of the other guys what was going on: they were planning on getting the Councillors to propose the idea of using The Maker to make food. I think the idea was that they would find a way for it to make some dumb things that couldn’t think or anything, and then they would cut them up and eat them. After that, it dawned on me what they were doing with those dead guys. I don’t care that much, I mean they’re sick twisted freaks for doing it, but it was no skin off my back. Getting kicked out, however, that’s a real rotten thing to do. I wasn’t going to tell anyone, I’m not that kind of guy.”

Aia remembered the fateful night, the voices she heard. At the time, she only regarded them as a personal inconvenience, but now it was clear they were much worse. And she was roped into this conspiracy and didn’t even realize it. Worst of all, though, she realized she really wasn’t any better than them, or at least not better enough for her. They just did what she couldn’t finish. It made her sick.

“I don’t get it” Pearl suddenly enquired, looking more confused than Aia had ever seen like “The Maker is where all the people come from. They can’t eat people, can they?”

“That’s why they said they gotta make them dumb and look different from everyone else” the officer explained, “They have to try to sell this stuff to everyone. If they make ’em so they don’t look or act normal, then it should be easier. I have no idea if it’ll work, and I never will. But I’m sure the Council could spin it so the whole park’ll agree to it”

“But they can’t do that!” Pearl started to sound pouty and indignant. She was really hurt by this idea. Even Aia was taken aback. “Why would anyone let them do that?”

“Don’t know…don’t care” he answered, brushing off the whole conversation. The officer (former officer) pulled out his key and flashed it at them like a badge. “Well, I gotta go. Been nice chattin’ with you, I guess. Good to see someone I know here, even if its just someone I threw in the fire. But like I said, just doing my job, can’t blame me for that”

While he walked away, Pearl turned to Aia, her face filled with righteous anger. Aia couldn’t believe it; she had never seen her like this. She had always been her light of positivity, even in the worst situations. But now she saw a different side, and the light was gone.

“Big Sister, what they’re doing is bad! Those are people, too! If they come from The Maker, they’re people! They won’t let them do that, will they?”

Aia had to think about her answer. She wanted to reassure Pearl that yes, they would not let that happen. That the world is not bad enough to let this happen, that people were innately good and would see this as evil. She knew that this was the only answer that would work. But she didn’t really know if it was true. She had no idea if the people would be entirely opposed to the idea, if they are told about it at all. They were able to keep their vile operation a secret for so long, what’s to stop them from starting another one? She had spent so much of her life paying little attention to what was happening with the upper crust, and wasn’t sure if anyone else did either. Could there enough apathy to let this pass? Was she lying to her just to make her dear little one feel better?

And what about her? This was her problem as well. She too suffered from that pain, the one that drove her to hunger for flesh. With that in mind, would she oppose such an idea? Morally, she knew it would indeed be a great injustice, but practically? She didn’t know. And after all that had happened, she didn’t think she wanted the answer.

Aia thought again about what could happen if Pearl knew about what she did. Seeing her livid, filled with a rage she never knew could be there at all, frightened her immensely. She had spent all this time trying to keep these secrets, lying constantly just to avoid disappointing her, something she had never seen before, had no real reason to think would happen. Now she was sure it would happen. Seeing Pearl’s brightness suddenly replaced with seething only cemented her decision to keep her private actions, all of them, from her. Pearl should never have to be like this.

“No, I’m sure they won’t let it happen”

“Are you sure?”

“I am. They know what’s bad, just like we do”

“I hope so”

“Why would bad people like that exist at all?”

“Sometimes it just happens”

“I wish it didn’t”

“Me too”

The went back to their routine, which Aia hoped would calm Pearl down. Unfortunately, as far she could tell, it didn’t. Pearl attempted to look like her old cheerful self, but Aia could tell it was still a facade. She was still deeply disturbed by the news of what was happening back at the park, a queasy sickness which was exuded from her sullenness all that day. It pained Aia to see her like this. She had hoped that finding the hotel and making a life there would wash away everything that came before. She wanted everything to start anew. She began to hate the (former) officer again, this time for destroying the well-being of someone else.

She had to do something. She didn’t want Pearl to be like this for much longer. She didn’t deserve it. She made her attempt that night to solve the problem.

“Pearl, I know what you heard today sounds really bad, but don’t worry about it. No matter how bad things sound, you can sure someone will do the right thing”

“Okay” Pearl spoke in a lifeless monotone. Aia had to try harder.

“There will always be some bad stuff mixed in with the good, but there will always be more good than bad. That’s what my Big Brother taught me, and I know he’s right”

“Was your Big Brother a good person?” Pearl’s voice began to pick up.

“Yes, he was. He was a great person. I owe everything to him”

“He died?”

“Yes, he did. A long time ago”

“Are you okay?”

“Yes. He wouldn’t want me to be sad. He’d want me to go on and enjoy the life I still have”

“Do you miss him?”

“Yes. But that’s normal”

“I would miss you too, if you died”

“I know you would”

“Will you die, too?”

“Everyone does eventually”

“I hope you don’t die for a long time”

“I won’t. That’s a promise”

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