Thread: Alpha and Omega
Ariadne sat at the long oak dining table mispositioned beside the front window, preventing everyone sitting around it at the same time. Never had such an occasion arisen previously. It remained there because they didn’t expect it to happen again. Sunlight bled through patchy clouds and illuminated the whorls of the table’s surface, eddies and currents in something that appeared permanent and solid.
In front of the sofa, the blue folder sat on a crippled coffee table with one leg shorter than the other three. Four of them were squeezed on the sofa.
Tamsin grimaced at the folder, her hard features sharper than usual. Paul, the teenage runaway with lost puppy dog eyes and a bald scalp was just a skeletal fragment of a human being, still wearing the same ripped jeans, jacket and jumper that he refused to part with. Clarice, the obese member of their group who acted like their matriarch, spied the folder with eyes buried in a lumpy face, long brown hair swishing around it and over the dark cleft of her breasts. She wore another of her chintz tent dresses that she vocally hated, complaining it was all she could afford on the meagre kitty divided amongst them. Kelvin was perched on the arm of the sofa, a pile of rocks shaped into a hulk of a man in his late thirties, a black T-shirt and jeans strapped to his thick body. His beautiful green eyes glistened on the edge of tears as always, short greying hair, an ear-ring hanging from one ear.
Bobby sat in the rocking chair in the far corner, holding the fluffy white cloud in his arms that was their baby. The blue folder held no interest for him. Ariadne didn’t know why found him so handsome. He had Mediterranean looks, olive skin, dark eyes, long hair in a pony tail, the kind of thing she’d always hated, reminding her of greasy Greeks, slimy Spanish. Antonio Banderas did nothing for her.
Tamsin said, ‘Are you sure you didn’t hear wrong? She wants us to go blow up some place?’
Ariadne said, ‘Yes.’
‘That’s fucking crazy. I’m not doing this. Count me out.’ She adjusted her position on the sofa trying to relieve discomfort, but simply crushed Paul.
‘We have to do it,’ Ariadne said. ‘She said if we didn’t, she’d tell the Cloth where we are.’
Agitated, Clarice said, ‘Who the hell does she think she is? Really, now? We all have to stay alive. That is the most important thing.’
Ariadne raised her voice. ‘I think it’s obvious who she thinks she is. She thinks the fact she didn’t kill us means she owns us.’
‘Then we’ve got to get away from here. She’s been good to us, really good to us, right? But this is betrayal. She’s turned on us, on all of us. We can’t do this. This is bloody stupid, mad.’
Tamsin nodded, ‘Hear hear. Absolutely fucking stupid. Has she lost her mind or what?’
Paul was content just to listen and be crushed; Bobby said nothing. It took Kelvin to speak up and represent the menfolk. He stood up in silence and came over to sit opposite Ariadne.
‘Ariadne, love, you don’t agree do you?’ the Scot said softly. Ariadne didn’t say anything. ‘Come on, you can tell me you think.’
Ariadne studied the pattern on the table instead of acknowledging Kelvin. What had to be done, to her, was obvious and could not be refuted. He put his hands out onto the table, to reach for hers. She met his hands and they joined.
‘It’s true that Fay saved us before. But I think…. I think it’s also true that if Fay stops looking out for us probably we won’t last long. So if Fay tells us to do something then…’ She stopped. The same feeling as when she was on the landing. A piece on the board, at the whims of players with little humanity. Fay was still very much a Clothman; the only that had changed was that she’d gone freelance with her insanity.
Kelvin turned towards Clarice and Tamsin. ‘I agree. You see, ladies, you think that we can survive without Fay. I don’t think it’s easy to stay out of the Cloth’s clutches for long without inside information. If you think we got this far by ourselves, well, you probably need to re-think.’
Clarice shouted, ‘She’s asking us all to become killers. Bobby is the only one here who has killed. Do you think you can do that? I’m a teacher. I don’t want to hold a gun. I want to put as big a distance between us and the Cloth as possible.’
Ariadne realised she didn’t need to fight the others; Kelvin was onside. His hands were rough, but warm and comforting.
‘Nowhere is safe, Clarice,’ Kelvin said. ‘Tam and yourself are welcome to go find some safe place if you want, but it’d be better if we stuck together through this. Most of us wandered into this by accident, but we’re here now. We don’t make our rules anymore, Fay does.’
Tam leapt up, bursting with anger. ‘Fuck Fay, fuck Fay, fuck Fay!’ She walked out the room repeating the curse.
Clarice ground her teeth, pushed herself up off the sofa and shook her head in disapproval. ‘We’re all going to get killed. I hope you realise that.’ She also left the room.
Paul, alone on the sofa, picked up the blue folder and flicked through its pages. Bobby also continued to say nothing, making silent faces at Theo.
‘And the motion is carried,’ whispered Kelvin.