Black Heart – Chapter IX Part VI
by Steppen Sawicki
Just pretend for now that the dialogue between Bryan and Andrade in the beginning of the book wasn’t so clunky. I have a much better grasp on their personalities and relationship now, and it’s something I’ll be fixing in the second draft.
Back at his office, Sonia was waiting. Her eyes were red and puffy. She had been crying.
“Any news from the lab?” he asked her, nonchalant. He wasn’t hopeful for a positive answer.
She shook her head. “The readings haven’t deviated other than the EMP when Knowles went through two nights ago.”
Knowles. Not Knowles and the others who were lost forever.
“Then why are you here?” He didn’t mean to demand it, but it came out that way.
She stood to face him, but she was far too tiny. Even standing straight like this she had to look up at him. “I wanted to let you know that if there was any way I could help – ”
“You want to volunteer,” Bryan finished.
“For…any ideas you might have.”
“There are none.”
Her eyes widened. She lost her straight back. “But there must be something…”
“There’s nobody with any idea. Go home and see to your grandmother.” He passed by her and sat at his desk, flicking the screensaver off his laptop.
Sonia stood in the center of the room for a full minute, until she found she had nothing more to say, and then she turned and left.
He jerked awake to a hand on his back. He twisted around, ready to jump on whatever was there, adrenaline pumping as if he had been woken in a jungle rather than an office building. Andrade leapt back, startled by his reaction.
“I thought you were asleep,” she said, grasping the hand that had touched him as if he had bit it.
“I was,” he said, his heartrate starting to slow down.
“Oh. Well. I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
“You didn’t. I was just…” …about to attack you… “I’ve just been jumpy.”
“Oh.” She studied him, and he realized his lie was pointless. She knew what was on his mind.
He turned away from her. “Okay, that was a lie. I was about to pounce on you.”
“I know. That’s…sort of why I’m here.”
“Huh?” He looked back at her, but she turned away to sit on the edge of the desk. It was so unfair that she could read him so well and he could only read that she was alive.
“What are we going to do now?” she said. “The Office, I mean. Humanity.”
“If you’re asking what our plans are, we have none.”
She twisted around to face him. “None?”
“But we had a backup plan, surely.”
“There was never a backup plan. This was our one shot.”
“But Knowles was there. He saw them. He was among them. We know more now.”
“We know they are too many too prepared. We know we have no chance against them.”
She laughed, running her hand through her hair as she did. “You’re just being Bryan. I’m sure there’s something we’ve been cooking up.”
“Cowles wants to send tanks over.”
“But the EMPs…”
“I don’t think he knows how tanks operate.”
They watched each other for a moment, until all trace of the laugh left Andrade’s face.
“Is there really nothing?” she asked. She sounded so weak and hopeless.
“I’d lie to you if I could.”
Her eyes went down to the desk, and her finger traced a line in the woodgrain. “But that’s what I like about you. Everything’s real and out in the open.”
God, she was killing him. What was up with her? “That’s certainly not how you are,” he spat, suddenly angry.
“I know,” she said, unbothered by his accusation. “I know that I…” She stopped and bit her lip, looking up at the ceiling.
Bryan had to turn his chair to look the other way. It wasn’t right for her to do this now, to tease him now. “You shouldn’t be working,” he said. “You should be with your family.”
“They’re all in California,” came her voice from behind him. It sounded far away, dreamy. She was thinking of something else. Was she looking at the ceiling still, or at him?
He glanced at his monitor. It was 5 PM. “You have tonight and tomorrow. Hop a plane.”
“I don’t want to.”
He stood and turned to face her. “Then what do you want?” he shouted.
She took several deep breaths, watching him watching her. Then she said “Kiss me.”
He wasn’t sure he had heard right. “You joking again?”
She shook her head. “No jokes. Not now. Not tonight. I want you to fuck me.”
“I’m not…me,” he argued, dumbfounded by her wordchoice.
“I know what and who you are. I can see it. I want it.” She stood and took a step towards him, close enough that he could smell her in hints of sweat and sex. “Kiss me.”
He grabbed her so roughly she cried out, but he covered her mouth with his and the cry turned to a moan. He lifted her and set her back on the desk, and as she struggled to loosen his tie he felt her all over, rougher and rougher, but she moaned again and breathed harder. He could feel her aeon light and airy around her, but he couldn’t touch it. It was too wispy, like spiderweb. If he touched his fingers to it it melted away between them. He tried to catch it and failed and growled. He grabbed her shirt instead, tearing it open, and she practically screamed. He chewed at her neck and felt its pulse under his lips and he had to move back to her mouth, though he bit that instead and blood hit his tongue.
“Yes,” she cried. “Like that.”
He didn’t hear her. He was tasting the blood. He was trying to grasp her energy. His hand ran over her neck and his fingers felt her pulse. He twisted her hair in his other hand and yanked her head back, and put his teeth to her neck. But he didn’t know what he was doing; he missed the vein entirely so that some blood came but not enough. He needed more. He lowered his head again.
She was screaming. She was screaming and pulling at his hair, trying to push him away. He stumbled back and fell to the floor. He looked up at her, but he could only see her aeon.
And her blood, flowing between the fingers she held to her neck.
And her eyes, wide and horrified, staring at him.
She climbed backwards over the desk, her eyes on him. Then she backed towards the door, bringing her breathing back under control.
“I’m sorry,” she said when she reached the door. Her voice was incredibly steady. “I shouldn’t have pressed you.”
It’s not your fault, Bryan wanted to say. But he couldn’t speak. His mouth was filled with blood.
She opened the door and left.