Probably sounds better in Latin. Which makes an appearance in the last few lines of this update.
Saturday I had two mixed drinks: gin and Monster. Wrote about 1600 words. Sunday, as I was making then eating my chili con queso con carne, I’d beer. Wrote Nichole and Tuchman into a room, about 150 words… then, nothing. Late Monday AM, back to wine and 1100 words were there at my fingertips. I’ve seen the snippets of their ride back and her reunion with Gil and Mackenzie, but I’ve RealLife matters to attend to.
So much for beer. Sad. I homebrewed for over fifteen years, but gave it up because of the carbs. “All things change; all things die.”
A few moments later Nichole allowed herself to stare at the huge oak desk: ornately carved and stained very dark. What kind of monk…?
“Not mine,” he smiled at her, obvious having gotten such a reaxion before. “The previous owner left it behind.
“Of course.” She sat. The only things on it were a phone on her right and a notepad and very worn Bible on her left. As Tuchman sat, she saw on the credenza behind him a keyboard flanked by two flatscreens.
A man with nothing to hide! Good!
“Brother Adamar is well aware you’re here, but he keeps his own time! While we wait, may I offer you anything to drink after your ride here?”
“A small glass would be fine,” she replied, nodding at the pitcher of water with two cups in the bookshelf to her right. Large enough to not get out of his chair, the prior leaned over and retrieved first a glass then the pitcher itself.
“Thank you,” Nichole smiled as he placed both before her and pouring her some. She brought the cup to her lips and mimicked taking a small drink.
“So,” she began, putting the cup down. “The end of the world?”
“No,” the prior corrected, “his term was ‘our’ world, which we have assumed to mean our time here at this facility.”
He looked right, out the picture window at the trees and hills leading inland.
“Perhaps it is for the best for us to return to a more simple state?”
What he seems wistful for is a death sentence for me and mine.
“Yet,” she protested, “was it not his first vision that prompted your relocation here, to save the abandoned Data Center? To save knowledge?”
She watched Tuchman twist about in his chair, stung by the truth of her words, stopping only at the two raps on the door. Nichole stood and turned about.
She took in his dark hair and a beard, broad Slavic face, and sad, careworn eyes. He seems older by years in the months since we first met. Odd!
Detecting no motion from his right hand, she gave a respectful bow.
“A pleasure to see you again, brother Adamar,” she rising with a smile.
“Half-truths do not become you, NicholeFive.”
You want to play ‘direct’?
“Tell me what you saw,” she demanded.
“I was walking out a pier in the town to help the fishermen,” he began. No one sat. “Just before stepping into their boat, a gust of wind stirred the river; an odd gust: from west to east. Writ small in the wave caps but large in the mind of the Lord was a scene of mounted men in righteous anger, a city burning. The fire spread to the land itself as the keening of women and children went up to Heaven.”
“Is there any way to stop it?” Nichole did not even bother to challenge what she heard.
“Was I given something from the Lord’s unbounded-now?” Adamar gave a tiny shrug. “Or is this a warning… to make us change our path? Who can say?”
No one moved or spoke.
Tuchman opened his mouth –
“How do you know their anger was righteous?” she asked sharply.
“Anything else.” She gambled on her voice with this man of God. “Anything at all!”
For a moment she saw his eyes unfocus, recalling what he had seen.
“Just,” he began. “Just after the vision, as I stepped onto the boat, a colony of bats flew overhead, going downriver.”
Nichole immediately turned to the prior.
“May I borrow your office for a few minutes?”
“Ah. Of course, Miss Clarke!” He walked around his desk, waving Adamar out ahead of him.
Nichole had her data cord out of her pocket and into her hands in a flash. Her left hand was already plugging one end into the back of her neck. Kneeling down at the credenza she found the wall jack. Of the eight ports, only one was being used by the prior’s computer. She added hers.
I must take care this time, she thought. Gil is not here to rescue me!
In a pale, reddish light, she stood on a rocky spit of land that jutted into a sea that appeared to be made of mercury. The first and last time she had visited the Data Center and tried to swim in this backup of the sum total of human information she’d come within timeslices of being unmade.
Nichole knelt and fixed the idea of ‘bats’ in her mind. Her right index finger just touched the liquid metal surface. She shuddered but was able to withdraw. A gleam of quicksilver remained on her finger.
She ate it and considered how she was older.
There, she thought, landing on a relevant definition. From Middle English word for ‘bats.’
“What, Christian God, are you trying to tell me?” she called to the still sea.
With no ready answer, Nichole jacked out and returned to herself, standing up and making her way to the office door. From a human perspective she’d been gone less than five minutes.
Through what had once been a secretary’s office, she found the two men in the building’s foyer, heads down, talking quietly. About her, she heard. They both looked up as she strode toward them.
“Prior Tuchman? Is there such as thing in your religion as preemptive forgiveness?”
“Ah… no, Miss Clarke. After an act, someone must be repentant to be forgiven.” His gaze hardened. “I do hope you are not considering – ”
“I may have to kill. Outside of war.” She looked past them through the glass doors. She could just spy a hint of the river. Flowing back to the City and her friends and, beyond that, to the sea, and home. Her attention returned to the near-at-hand as Brother Adamar sank to his knees in prayer.
“Da, Domine, propitius pacem in diebus nostis, ut, ope misericordiae tuae adiuti…” she heard his Latin, translating on the fly.
He wishes my soul to find peace, she heard. She turned away from him to the prior.
“I need a place for the night. I shall rejoin the Special Police unit as they pass in the early morning.”
“Of course.” He was unhappy at her question, statement, and bluntness. “Where we put you up before is available.”
“Thank you.” She followed him out, leaving the prophet behind.