Printing Errors


gillian_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Printing Errors
Synopsis Sometimes good things come from telling a secret.
Date November 27, 2018

Doyle Memorial Library - Gillian's office

With the next steps decided on — Emily taking over figuring out the ciphers and Berlin helping find the pieces that are still missing — Squeaks quietly removes herself from the table. Her journal is picked up and gently closed, then hugged to her chest as turns to walk between bookstacks to the office with its closed door. Her steps are a little slow and nervous as she gets closer. She should have told sooner, instead of keeping it a secret.

Stopping in front of the office, the girl takes a breath and stares at the door for a long minute. She can’t help feeling guilty for keeping such a big secret, and it’s hard to not be afraid now. How mad is Gillian going to be? Her fingers tighten around the book until finally she pulls one away to timidly knock on the door.

The door wasn’t fully closed, as it turns out. Under her timid rasp, it shifts, opening a few cracks even before the voice can be heard on the other side, “Come in,” Gillian calls out, still sitting at her desk with the small computer turned on. She’s not looking at the screen as it casts a soft light against her face, as the door opens, instead sitting with a book held open on the desk. She’s already placing a bookmark into the hardback book so that she can close it and hold her place (or at least the page she had been on if not the exact paragraph) and she looks up.

“Oh, it’s not time to go home already is it?” she looked up toward the clock, but no, it wasn’t time yet. They both spent more time at the library than most would think healthy, but the library had internet. The library had books. The library was also where she worked, so that had a lot to do with it too. “Did you need something? I packed a lunch, if you’re hungry.”

It seems hoisting food upon the young people might be her usual go to, but it usually worked, too. Especially these days. Growing bodies need food, after all.

At first, as the door eases away from the door jam on its own, the teenager squints at the opening. She doesn’t actually go into the office until a full second after invited in and then it’s through a door pushed just wide enough for her to slip through. She’s shaking her head at the questions, small nervous movements and not really meant to be answers, even as she nudges the door back to being almost closed like before.

Fingers anxiously fuss and fidget with the edges of the journal, and she stares at a spot on the desk. “There’s… there’s something…” She begins, but then stops to take a breath.

“You said if… that I should say if something maybe dangerous happened with the journal I found I should tell and…” Squeaks’ eyes lift off the desk to the now closed book then up to find her mom and watch for those signs of anger. “First… First it was a little bit strange with codes and things. And now it’s …I think someone might die.”

The journal hadn’t been mentioned in a while, so Gillian just assumed it had been good reading (or boring reading more likely). When she mentions strange codes, danger and someone might dying, her first thought is that they found something from the mafia. In her mind they always dealt in codes and oddities, and it would be like one of them to tape it to the top of a refinished piece of furniture stashed away in a public building.

With a gesture to the seat, she leans forward, listening intently, but also looking worried. She looks around as if for the journal, or the person who might be in danger coming in behind her, but no… “Tell me what’s going on.”

At least she didn’t sound mad.

“First. First the book just had letters and never made sense.” Squeaks eases forward, and carefully sets the journal on the desk before she sits down. “Then I had it at the bookstore and it changed. It used dots and dashes to talk and told me she was lost and scattered and it… it wasn't scary ever, just strange.”

Her toes tap together lightly, anxious, and she stares at the cover of the journal. “And it said to look in the Wolves of Valhalla. So I bought one and then these marks started happening, and more codes asking for help.” The teen pauses just long enough to push her sleeve out of the way and hold her arm out so those strange lines can really be seen.

“We've been collecting them. There's maybe eight I think. And using the codes to understand.” Squeaks’ lips fold her her teeth for a second. Worry and fear put wrinkles along her forehead. “Lance said she's an ink-morph and. And today Berlin says her life sensing feels like the ink-lady is fading. I'm sorry I didn't tell sooner. I'm… I should have and. And now… I'm sorry.”

The woman behind the desk doesn’t try to interupt, listening intently to each word. There’s still no anger on her face or in her eyes, just concern that slowly grows. Gillian waits until she apologizes before finally speaking, shaking her head, “Don’t apologize. You are allowed to have your own secrets until it gets to the point that they might hurt you— or until they scare you.” Secrets were important, after all. She had had them at this girl’s age. She just hoped she didn’t go the route she did.

She had been afraid to tell the Childs when she did something bad herself. It had kept her from doing that. Because she was used to getting punished, getting told she should be more like her older sister. Things of that manner. But she intended to be the kind of mom that someone could trust when something bad happened. And not fear telling when it did. And she had told the other kids, too. Berlin even sounded familiar. The Former Lighthouse Kid who went to Wolfhound. She is sure that they would have helped, even if she had never told her.

“An Ink morph.” There was a quiet click of tongue against the roof of her mouth. “Do you have the journal with you right now?”

She can’t help being uneasy, even if secrets are okay. She learned early on to fear the worst from anything that upset the balance in the Ford’s house. But the calm she’s seeing now is not that, there’s no yelling or throwing or hitting happening. And as Gillian starts talking again, the girl’s worry and fear of those horrors eases. She presses her hands against her mouth to stop any further apologies from coming out.

After a second, and a deep breath, the journal she’d set on the desk is carefully slid forward. And tucked inside, in between pages, are pieces of paper written on in her messy handwriting, all deciphered codes. “I didn’t mean for it to be secret. I thought… I thought you might maybe get mad about the marks and it just got bigger.”

“I’m not mad at you,” Gillian assures, but she seems distracted as she looks at the wrapped journal. She’d not noticed anything when they had found it, but… she reaches a hand out and for a moment her eyes flash, a hint of violet under the hazel irises that seems to glow. It’s faint, but… “I think Lance is right,” she responds softly. “There’s… something there. She’s definitely evolved too.” It might be considered the inappropriate slang, but years of calling something something was hard to get rid of. Especially since she never found it insulting.

She half believed the people who weren’t Expressive had been the one who found it demeaning. Implying that those who had not inherited the ability had been somehow inferior. To her it didn’t matter what way or another. She hadn’t even been born with it, after all.

“I could try giving her an energy boost, see if that helps.” The gendering had come because Squeaks already had called her a her. So she’ll assume her is the right one. “But I’m guessing finding the rest of her will be best. You think she’s in copies of… Wolves of Valhalla?”

“We don’t know her name yet.” Squeaks’ voice goes really quiet as she explains, watching the journal as Gillian studies it. “She… she looked like a little ink blob first, and Emily swatted her with a book and then Lance tried to trap her under a bowl.” Her fingers come up to show how tall the figure stood. “And she crawled out from underneath it, looking like a person made of ink, and she sassed him.” It’s hard to keep the teeny grin off her face, but she tries.

“She uses codes to talk, because it’s easier for her but thinking is maybe hard because she’s all scattered everywhere.” The girl looks up, face still showing some concern even if she just grinned a second ago. She doesn’t want the ink-lady to die. “I want to find the rest of her. Berlin says she can sense life… living? And she said she would help with looking. She’s in the books I think. Not written in them but the ink that’s her comes out of the books. I’ve seen it a bunch.”

“I’m not sure why someone would communicate in code,” Gillian responds with a curious shake of her head. An Ink Mimic. That’s not something she’d ever heard of, but mimicry abilities were odd. “I— I had a bunch of abilities for a short time, it’s kind of a lot story, my ability got swapped with someone who… could do a lot. I had a mimicry ability, but it was metal. Solid metal. It was very odd. I couldn’t really see, it was more I could… feel? Hear? Like everything around me resonated within my body and I just knew. I imagine it’s the same for most mimics.”

Or similar at least. They no longer had eyes and ears or a brain, they were a substance of some kind, a chemical, a mineral. “But I definitely couldn’t split into different pieces. That sounds more like… I also briefly had an electric ability that could make— duplicates? Made of electricity. I could push pieces of myself into them it was like I was multiple places at once.” She suddenly looks at the girl. Yeah, she’s had a lot of odd experiences and she can’t help but actually flush a little at realizing she just rambled. Weirdly it felt like.

“Anyway, I think the best bet would be to keep doing what you’re doing. We don’t really have many copies of Wolves of Valhalla here. I have one, but… maybe we could see if we could put out a message in the newspaper, seeing if people notice any strange codes? We could possibly say it’s an easter egg hunt of sorts, a publisher’s prize. Anyone who finds it gets a reward?” It’s a thought.

The pause and sudden look from Gillian are met with a curious look. If there’s supposed to be something strange about her mom rambling, it’s completely missed. Squeaks has done that herself a lot, usually when she’s gotten excited about a new thing she’s studying about. And now she has wonderings about different abilities and what mimics do. But it’s filed away for another time.

“I don’t know why codes.” The teen shares in the confusion about that. She’s learned a lot, figured how how some of the older ciphers worked. But to wonder about the reason for why the ink-lady used codes never came to her. Maybe she just took for granted the vague explanation of, “It’s hard for her to make long answers.” It’s spoken out loud as the thought is formed. “She tried to give as best answers she could, but she said being in pieces made it hard.”

A look goes to her arm with all its marks in that strange black ink. “It’s not all of the books. There’s eight pieces and so far I have six.” That’s six only if she’s right that each mark is connected to the eight pieces of ink-lady. The girl looks up again, thinking about the idea. “That could work. Since it’s random what books she’s hiding in.”

“The downside is that we will probably get a lot of fakers who will bring in entirely wrong books. And we don’t want to make it sound like an SLC-Expressive thing cause certain folks might just… throw them away.” Gillian’s thinking on how to word it, and trying to decide if it can wait until after the Holidays. She had been planning on having a ‘late fee forgiveness’ week in January, but if someone was possibly dying… Her hazel eyes move to that journal. Then toward Squeaks’ arm with a hint of confusion before she shakes her head. Maybe she’s just feeling things.

“We’ll figure out a way to find the rest of the pieces. Though I do wonder how most of her ended up in that journal…” She knows they likely won’t find the answers to that, even then. “I did look up where we got the furniture. It was an donation right before we opened last year.”

“Maybe.” Squeaks drags the word out as she wonders about how to get lots of people to do something and keep why a secret from them. “Maybe… the author could sign books?” She’s sure one of the older teens, maybe Emily, had made that suggestion before. “If she’s in the Safe Zone? Then the fake books won’t come and there’s no one talking about someone being slice…”

She trails off, still puzzling and nodding with a teeny bit of distraction. “Maybe she could answer. When we find all of her.” The teen starts to reach toward the journal with a finger, but stops half way and suddenly. Her head swivels to look for where the table should be, outside the office, then back to Gillian. “You found who gave it?”

“Not completely,” Gillian admitted. “I found the delivery driver. It didn’t have a specific mention of who had donated most of what was in that drop off, but the delivery driver might know more about where it’d come from.” Spinning in her chair, she pulls up the screen of her laptop and starts to thumb through some things using the touchpad instead of her mouse for the moment.

“It was a long time ago, though, and he probably doesn’t remember much, honestly.” She doesn’t think she would have remembered the face of a driver who dropped off a delivery, and she still didn’t. She just had a name and place or residence from the receipt of delivery.

“It could maybe be good to ask. Just in case?” Anywhere to look would be better than no where, even though there might not be answers at all. Squeaks puts a finger on the journal and starts to drag it closer. “Or maybe there’s something with the rest of the donated things that might have clues?” She isn’t really sure where to look that might explain how the journal got sealed up in the table.

After pulling the journal to the edge of the desk, the girl picks it up. Like she’s done a million times already, she turns through the pages. “Or maybe the people on the list might remember, even though it was a long time ago.”

“We can give it a shot. The worst that will happen is he keeps terrible records and doesn’t even know where he picked up anything he dropped off.” Gillian responds with a small smile across the desk, reaching to grab a pencil so she can write down the address and the name. Phil Parks. Sounds like such a normal name for a probably totally normal guy who doesn’t know anything.

“We can try and go visit him, while I put out a notice that we’re looking for people to find codes in books.” An easter egg kind of thing. If this were the internet it would have been easier, but… “Hopefully all the right ones are still inside the Safe Zone.” But odds seemed to be good that if most of the right books were that the rest would be too. At least in the same region.

“Phil Parks.” Squeaks echoes the name, like maybe there's a clue or message hidden in it. There probably isn't since usually the clues show up in the books, but normal or not it's still someplace to look. Even if he doesn't remember anything, she's still a little hopeful that there's something to be found.

Bobbling her head in a small nod, she closes the journal. “An Easter egg hunt with the codes. Maybe Lance can announce it on the radio, and Brynn can make posters?” They're already helping, so suggesting other things for the older teens to do makes sense.

She stares at the name on its paper, even though it's upside, just to make sure she's got it right. Phil Parks doesn't sound like one she knows, but Squeaks doesn't wonder too much about it and pushes out of the chair so she can let Gillian work on things. After a couple of slow steps toward the door, she turns and ducks around the desk. She drops her arms around her mom in a quick hug, then hurries out of the office.

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