Friday, July 11, 2014

An Excerpt From WITH EYES OPEN...

And now, an excerpt from "A Voice in the Darkness", Part Two of With Eyes Open...

“It was something I eventually became accustomed to,” Mira said as we filed into a lift. “I used to like spending time alone, just me and my thoughts. Since I was joined to the Adityas in 2005, I’ve never been alone. They’re always with me.”

Matt tapped instructions into the car’s control panel. “Why did they choose you,” he asked as the car started upward.

Mira leaned against the back wall and held out a hand. It looked like she was petting one of the Adityas, even though the twelve of them had gone invisible again.

“I was an empath back in the day. I couldn’t read people’s minds but I could sense their emotions. I worked as a counselor, helping people get their lives on track. That same empathy made it easy for them to forge the link between us.”

I watched her continue to pet the air. “Even though Matt and I can’t see or touch them, you still can?”

Mira didn’t answer. She just stared into space. “Mira?”

She blinked and turned to me. “Yes, Ms. Jones?”

“You’re petting the air. You can still see them and touch them even though Matt and I can’t.”

She closed her hand into a fist and nodded. “Yes. I can always see them, touch them, hear them. It’s strange; after one hundred years, I wanted nothing to do with them. Now, nearly two hundred years after joining, I can’t think of ever living without them.”

Matt crossed his arms. “It sounds like you’re more of a den mother to them.”

Mira considered then nodded. “That would be a good analogy, Doctor.”

“So who decided to sabotage my shield?”

“That was not a decision I was privy to,” Mira said after a moment.

“The Adityas found out about your project and decided on a course of action.”

“How did they find out about the shield?”
One corner of Mira’s mouth twisted into a smile and she turned to one side. “Yes, you’re right, Surya. I’m sorry, Ms. Jones, but I cannot divulge that information. The Adityas are already upset over you and Doctor Carter knowing about their existence. They’re not going to let me reveal anything else.”

I bit my lower lip to keep myself from commenting further. Mira was keeping a lot from us. Hopefully none of her secrets would come back to haunt us…

…even though one of them already had.

“Another question for you. What happened when I was going through my landing cycle? How did I end up in the flyer’s engine compartment?”

Mira’s eyes lowered. “It was an interaction between the shield and your flyer’s drive field. Organic matter can’t pass through the shield. If the Adityas hadn’t stepped in, you would’ve been dragged from the ship and died in the vacuum.”

“They landed the flyer?”

“No, I did.”

“When did you learn to fly?”

“I gleaned the information from your mind. You were waking up so they left you in the nearest open space, which was the engine compartment.”

“So I owe them my life.”

“Just don’t mention it to anyone.”

I stared at her then shook my head. “Okay. Fine. When this is over, we’re going to sit down and you’re going to tell me everything. I don’t care if your critters like it or not.”
Mira’s eyes darted to one side. “I’ll have to discuss that with them, Ms. Jones.”

“Discuss all you want but I’m going to get some answers.”

The smile on Mira’s face became more enigmatic. “As you will, Ms. Jones.” She closed her eyes and leaned against the car’s back wall.

Matt stared at her, leaned close to me and whispered, “What’s wrong with you, Manda? I’m sure you didn’t want to be the one to be sent in but…”

I massaged my eyes and shook my head. “Something about her is rubbing me the wrong way.”

“You mean, something besides her being allied with an unknown race? A race that seems to be the cause of our problems?”

I looked at him out of the corner of my eye and ground my teeth. I didn’t need sarcasm right now.

“Yes, aside from that. I can’t put my fingers on what’s bothering me but I am sure she knows more than she’s telling.”

“That much is obvious.”

“And I don’t like people keeping secrets from me.”

“I remember you didn’t like the degree of secrecy inherent to MilSci. It would seem that hasn’t changed. Which makes me wonder why you’re going for a job with EarthGov Security.”

I stared. I hadn’t spoken to Matt in two years and I only told my mother about my interview with EGS. “How do you know that? Keeping tabs on me?”
Matt leaned against the wall. “I have been, I’ll admit it. I wanted to make sure you were okay. Our marriage may not have worked out but at least we didn’t end up screaming and yelling like some divorced couples.”

I crossed my arms and stared at my feet. Matt was right. As divorces go, ours was rather sedate. We mutually decided that after four years of marriage, we weren’t meant to be together. We were better friends than we were spouses.

“Maybe we could do a better job staying in touch,” I said after a minute. “No reason we should avoid each other.”

One corner of Matt’s mouth twitched. “You could always come back.”

I shook my head. “Is this a new directive from the hierarchy? Recruit or reenlist anyone you can? The suit that got me suggested I come back.”

He shrugged. “Always looking for good help.”

“Keep looking. As I said to the suit, when this is over, I’m going to Division Five of EarthGov Security.”

Matt frowned and shook his head. “Never pictured you as a government spook, Manda. Just make sure this is what you want to do.”

Mira blinked, yawned and stretched. She smiled at me and Matt then glanced at the car’s control panel. “Almost there,” she asked.

“Almost,” Matt said. “Power nap?”

She nodded. “That’s all the sleep I usually get. Maybe I can grab an hour here or there. It’s been almost a hundred years since I had a full eight hours of sleep.”

“Because of the Adityas?”
Mira shrugged. “I don’t know if it’s something intrinsic to being joined to the Adityas or an unmentioned side affect. I didn’t have a chance to discuss it with my predecessor. She died while I was being joined to them. I can still remember the peaceful look on her face.”

It struck me then that whatever happened to Mira two centuries ago, it was definitely against her will. “You weren’t a willing participant, were you.”

Mira shook her head and for a minute, she looked her age. “No, I wasn’t, Ms. Jones. The Adityas found me; they chose me; they joined with me. I had no say in it at all.”

I took a deep breath and felt a bit of sadness touch the back of my mind. I was beginning to think I shouldn’t be too hard on her. Mira’s life had been hijacked by the Adityas. Despite some of the things she said back in Matt’s office, maybe she’s not the agent provocateur she appeared to be.

Time to ease up, Mandalay. Time to stop acting like a drill sergeant.

“Okay, Mira,” I said. “I’m sorry if I’m pushing you. Even though I’ve been out of MilSci for two years, and despite the change of career I’m about to make, I’m still a researcher at heart. I don’t like not having answers.”

Her mouth twitched into a weak smile. ‘I understand, Ms. Jones. It’s actually somewhat refreshing. The two of you are the first to know about the Adityas. It was good to talk to someone about them.”

“And we’ll talk some more. I do still want to learn about them.”

“I’ll have to see what they’ll let me talk about. We’ll see how it goes.”

Matt looked from me to Mira. “Are we all right?”

I smiled. “We’re fine, Matt. I think we’ve reached a kumbaya moment. Mira, when we get to the lab, you’d better call me Mandalay instead of Ms. Jones. If we’re going to tell people you came in with me, we should be a bit less formal.”

That seemed to make Mira happy. Her eyes brightened and she smiled. “Of course, Manda.”

“No, not Manda. Mandalay. Only Matt calls me Manda, and I don’t like it when he does it.”

Matt frowned. “You don’t? Since when?”

“I’ve never liked being called Manda.”

“Really? I wish you’d told me sooner.”

“I told you after our first date.”

“You did? Okay. I’ll keep that in mind.”

The car slowed to a stop. As the doors parted, Matt said, “The lab’s just around the corner. Let’s go end this, Mira…Manda…”

I stared at Matt’s back and shook my head. I was mumbling something obscene as Mira stepped up next to me. She watched me for a moment and smiled.

“Why did you marry him,” she asked.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

With Eyes Open..., along with the other books, available through my website, Wordboy's Words...!books/cnec

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