Interesting People


ruiz2_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title Interesting People
Synopsis Two people share books — sort of — to pass the time in a gilded cage.
Date October 1, 2011

The Commonwealth Arcology — Park

The artificial sunlight makes the park feel like it's outdoors. That would be a lie, but it's a lie that anyone who can't have the real thing might find acceptable.

With a plain clothes guard not too far away, watching and waiting, Ruiz sprawls in a bench, taking up the whole thing with his one knee up, a hard back book resting upon it, held open. A copy of The Illustrated Man. Taken from the libraries of those they are being kept by. The air lacks some of that medical smell that the rest of the building has, that too sterile smell. Too clean. It's the plants. The hint of running water. It makes for a better illusion, as he moves from one page to the next, one short story to another.

One would almost think science fiction would stop being intriguing when it practically became common place.

Abruptly, the 'sunlight' is taken away. But only temporarily.

Casting a shadow over the man and his book is a young woman with tousled blond hair grown out past her shoulders, a genial smile that makes her seem years younger still, and an inquisitive tilt to her head. She wears a white long-sleeved shirt under a sea-blue vest and with jeans, has a book of her own tucked under one arm. A closer look would also reveal her to be barefoot in the grass. She also has a watcher of her own lurking some few feet away, trying to appear nonchalant rather than exasperated. That attempt isn't going very well.

"Mind if you shared that bench?" Tamara asks, despite having all the rest of the park to choose from.

Looking up from his book, Ruiz raises an eyebrow for a moment at the young lady, glancing over her and able to tell pretty quickly she's a resident, not a worker. With a nod, he shifts, pulling his legs over the side and closing without bothering to save his page. He's read it before, and he knew which of the short stories he'd been on anyway. He could find his place again if needed.

While she's barefoot in the grass— not fake like the sunlight at least— he's wearing a pair of white converse. Everything they've given him to wear seems to veer toward white or gray in color, the draw string pants, the short sleeve button up that's half unbuttoned, and the undershirt beneath it.

He gestures to offer her the seat, even as he jokes, "The other ones all taken?" He looks around, noting that, no, they're not all taken.

Given permission, Tamara stops blocking her companion's light and moves over to plop herself down on the bench, casting him a pleased, even beaming smile. "They weren't taken," she allows, "at least not right away." She sets her book down beside herself, on the side opposite him. "But alone was easy," Tamara continues, her gaze briefly dropping, immediately flicking back up again.

"People were interesting. Don't you think so?"


"They can be," Ruiz responds quietly, dark eyes studying her with a tilt to his head, voice sounding both intrigued and a little confused as he shifts to face her better. A young woman who practically still looks like a child. Lifting his book, he gestures toward her own, "Seems you came prepared for boredom, in case no one interesting happened to be around."

For her part, Tamara gives the man a sidelong glance, lips curving in an amiable smile whith a hint of something else lurking around its edges — playfulness, perhaps, the sense of I know something you don't where the something in question is utterly trivial. "Oh, no. That's for finding people," she earnestly informs him.

Leaning into the back of the bench, Tamara tilts her head as far back as she can and peers up, her hair cascading free to hang loosely in the air. "It's not boring," she remarks conversationally, watching (upside-down) little brown birds flit through a tree stunted by its artificial environment. "There was always something moving, doing. Something to watch… or watch for." Closing her eyes, she exhales a breath at odds with that cheerful demeanor: it speaks of weariness rather than high spirits.

A moment later, Tamara cracks open an eye to look at him, then smiles again. High spirits back in force. "What's your book, anyway?"

"My book isn't for finding people," Ruiz teases, not quite understanding how hers might work that way, but he goes with it in stride. The girl is a refreshing change of pace, human, interesting, a breath of freshness in the clean and clinical place. Like the fluttering birds that she watches flying through the false air.

"It's a collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury. From the 50s. All science fiction. Back when they were written, I'm sure people thought they were complete flights of fancy. Telepathy, end of the world, travel to other planets— Just something to pass the time."

He half offers it over to her, "I'll let you borrow it if you'd like, sometime. It's not exactly mine."

When the book is extended, even if it isn't quite all the way, Tamara straightens up to take it. She flattens her hands on either side of the volume, turns it over and around without ever really seeming to pause and read a single word on the cover — whether front or back. When she stops, front cover facing up, the young woman touches a finger briefly to the image of the 'illustrated man' in question. "No, nothing was ours," she says quietly, remark only tangentially related to the book. "Nothing but sand, always running away."

In the beat of silence that follows, Tamara eyes her companion sidelong once again, this time seeming thoughtful. Speculative. She holds the book out in a somewhat more emphatic fashion than he had, in the sense that she's definitively passing it back. "Maybe you read it instead?"

"I've already read it a few times," Ruiz responds as he takes it back, setting it down upon his lap, as he watches the girl. "Name's Ruiz." The residents sometimes have name badges, but usually not, not like the guards and the workers. They need the badges to prove they belong places, unlike the residents, who are often assumed to not supposed to be anywhere outside their rooms. Without the proper supervision, of course.

"You been stuck in this pretty cage long?" The tweeting birds, grass and trees aside, it's a cage of sorts.

Something flickers across the young woman's features at his response, but is gone before any label can quite be applied to the expression. She looks out at the grass and trees, the fountain in the distance, only to glance back to Ruiz as he introduces himself. "Yes," she says, nodding a bit, as if he's told her something she already knows. He sort of did.

As Ruiz continues speaking, Tamara's smile pulls sidewise, becoming lopsided and rueful. "All water under the bridge," she replies with a one-shouldered, dismissive, apologetic shrug. "Couldn't box it up." Quiet a moment, she swings her feet, seeming thoughtful. "It's a long road," the seeress adds at last, her gaze going to the fountain, past the fountain. Then nowhere, as she closes her eyes. "A long way from home."

While many of her words aren't completely understood, in fact Ruiz isn't entirely sure she's speaking correct English half the time, he does understand the sentiment at the end. They are a long way from home. "Yeah. Don't think anyone's ever been further," he jokes, but his joke holds what he thinks is truth, as he turns in the bench to follow her gaze to the fountain. He can't look into nothing like she can, but he can look at the water, and the way the streams hit the surface.

The two sit in shared, sympathetic silence for a while, around them the sounds of chirping birds, flowing water, the murmur of the ventilation system keeping air in constant, subtle motion. Then Tamara pushes herself to her feet, scooping up the book she had brought along. "Quiet was better for reading." Casting a cheerful smile at Ruiz, she promptly sets the volume down on the bench beside him. "You liked that one," the seer adds, before wiggling her fingers in a wave and turning to take her leave, ever-present watcher gathering himself to depart as well.

"I liked— what?" Ruiz calls out as she walks away, looking down at the left behind book, shaking his head. He didn't understand the young girl, but she definitely would give him something to think about. Picking up the book, he turned it over in his hand.

The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

"I liked this one, huh? I guess we'll find out," he decides, putting down his other book and resuming his former position to begin reading. For the first time.

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