That Bitch



Scene Title That Bitch
Synopsis Someone is late for a meeting and haunted by her past.
Date September 25, 2020

She's late.

A freight elevator makes its noisy ascent up from the basement, cables rattling between the elevator and shaft wall. Judging from the time on her watch, she'll be eight minutes late to the meeting when she arrives. Four of that being the elevator ride.

Sighing, she decides to use this time to refamiliarize herself with the project at hand. Withdrawing a tablet from under one arm, she swipes up and activates the screen, bringing the Yamagato Industries logo up. The mountain and river emblem fades to black revealing a host of small icons against a background of crashing waves and a starlit sky.

Glancing up to the ceiling of the elevator for a moment, she watches the slow progress of the elevator through the wire mesh, then turns her attention back down to the tablet. With two fingers she opens up an app entitled BIFROST featuring an arcing rainbow.

The tablet displays a network connection signal, followed by a slowly processing bar that reads building simulation. Brown eyes narrow as she watches the slow progress of the bar, lips pressed into a thin line. The noise of the rattling elevator feels like it's ratching to heighten tension as she waits.

Eventually, program finishes loading, showing a map of of the Earth in three dimensions. With a swipe of two fingers, she spins the globe, then pinches and zooms in to New York City. The fidelity on the image is considerable, showing satellite imagery of the Safe Zone and the New York Coast. She zooms in again on the Manhattan Exclusion Zone, narrowing her eyes.

Tracking with one finger across the map, she finds the address she's looking for. 33 Thomas Street, Lower Manhattan. Dark eyes narrow to slits, her nail tracks across the tablet and jaw works tense and relaxed as she sees the building standing, almost entirely intact like many of the surrounding damaged, but erect, buildings.

Turning off the tablet, she makes a noise in the back of her throat and looks at her watch. Sixteen seconds, and not a second sooner. She takes those sixteen seconds to compose herself, eyes shut and back straight, tablet tucked under one arm, heels flat on the floor.

A breath goes in…

Thirty-One Years Earlier

Shatsa, California

May 18th

"I was so worried…"

On the porch of an old, weather-beaten farm house, a young woman just out of her teens stands in tense anticipation. Her hair is tied back tight behind her head, hands clasped in front of herself. The sun has tucked its way behind the trees and hills, casting long shadows across the front yard of her home.

"…I didn't know who else to call."

Parked on the lawn just off the driveway, an 89 Cadillac looks too new and too nice to be juxtaposed against a run down farmhouse like this. The man stepping out of the car, with his salt-and-pepper hair, is likewise dressed too well. His suit jacket cuts crisp lines against the white linen undershirt. His brown boat shoes scuff across patchy grass, distrustful eyes regard the girl on the porch.

"Please, Doctor" the young woman says with a hitch in her voice as the doctor approaches the front porch. He looks up and down the driveway, noticing no other cars.

"How's your father doing?" He asks, lifting up a hand to thread an errant lock of her hair over his calloused fingers. She leans away from the gesture, and he leaves his hand hanging in the air so that her hair slides across his palm and off his fingers. She turns for the house, opening the screen door to step inside.

The doctor raises his brows, looking toward an old barn nearby, then follows her in.

The sound of a child coughing is evident from the moment the doctor steps inside the house. The woman who invited him in turns, looking at him over her shoulder with a mixture of revulsion and desperation. He reflects none of that back, motioning toward the noise with his chin. Against her better judgment, she leads him deeper into the house.

Hearing the doctor's heavy footfalls behind her the young woman tenses and curls her hands into fists at her side the whole way to her daughter's bedroom. Inside, a girl of no older than three lays on a small bed by an open window, coughing into her hand. The girl's mother moves swiftly to her side, kneeling beside the bed and stroking the child's hair.

As the doctor steps inside, he looks around the child's room. There are a few stuffed animals on a tall dresser, lace curtains, and the young girl's day bed looks a generation handed down. The young girl's mother looks up at the doctor with a curl of her upper lip in unvoiced resentment.

"She's been coughing up blood," the girl's mother says, and the doctor can see the stains on the child's pillow. He sets down his bag beside the bed, then steps in to get a better look at the girl. Her mother feels as though she can't bear to have him any closer, but she knows better. Her heart sinks as she listens to her little girl's rasping breaths.

The doctor looks the girl up and down, making a noise in the back of his throat. "Likely lung disease," he says with a look to the girl's mother, "from all the coal dust in the air. Her condition looks to be fairly advanced."

The girl's mother looms nearby, every muscle tense and stomach twisted into knots. "Please," she hates to say, "tell me you can help her?" She hates to ask, too. The doctor's dark brown eyes stay fixed on her.

"I can." He says with a slow nod of acceptance. There is a lingering, painful tension between the two in that moment. The girl's mother closes her eyes, takes in a slow breath and nods in agreement while her daughter whimpers and coughs. She nods again, and the doctor slowly takes a knee beside the bed.

He lays his left hand on the three-year-old's chest, then closes his eyes. With the steady pulse of his heartbeat, a warm golden light throbs beneath his skin, flows down his hands to his fingertips, and spreads into the sick child. Almost immediately the sound of wet, wheezing breath fades. The tiddler giggles softly, squirming, then looks up and mumbles, "Mummy."

"Hi honey," her mother says with exasperation and guilt, leaning over to embrace her daughter as the doctor withdraws his hand from the child and steps away from the bed. The doctor watches them, smiling behind their backs as the girl's mother lifts her up into her arms and bounces her on her hip.

"That girl…" the doctor says with a gesture of one hand against the child's cheek, dark eyes fixing on the mother, "looks an awful lot like me."

The girl's mother stares daggers up at the doctor, gripping her daughter close. "Her abilities could manifest when she gets older," the doctor says, not caring at all about the bared teeth and clenched jaw of the mother's expression.

"She could be a healer like me," he says. "Could be something different, something else, something… wonderful." His tone of voice has a lyrical, amused quality to it. Stomach twisting again, the girl's mother sets her down and whispers into her ear, then gently nudges her to get walking.

The tiny girl trundles out of the room toward the kitchen, and her mother rises to stand with fire in her eyes and both hands closed into fists.

"She'll live with me," the doctor says quietly. "That'll be the better thing."

"What're you talking about?" Her mother asks through her teeth. She refuses to accept this exchange.

"You don't have a choice," the doctor whispers to her, showing himself out of the child's bedroom. The girl's mother watches him confidently and casually stride out of the bedroom toward the kitchen, looking for the girl he'd just healed.

The girl's mother is frozen in the bedroom. Two seconds pass, then three, then five. When she finally convinces herself to move, it's to snatch up a pair of scissors from the top of the tall dresser and aggressively step out into the hall behind the doctor

and drives the scissors into the base of his skull.

Present Day

Ontario, Canada

September 25th

…and a breath goes out.

The cargo elevator doors open, and that dark-haired woman ducks under the opening doors to step into the sixty floor warehouse office space. Rows of computers are set on streamlined desks, programmers seated at their workstations, even at this hour of night. Through a glass wall, she can see the conference room and the nearly full table. The board has convened.

kellar_icon.gif lucien_icon.gif

Lucien Crane fixes the late arrival with a pointedly long stare, a quick flash of yellow visible behind his pupils as he turns his head just so. Crane's business advisor, Claudius Kellar watches on with a smug expression that she just wants to wipe square off his face. Weaving her way through the computers, that woman makes a hasty approach to the conference room and pushes through the doors inside to join the meeting already in progress.

"I'm sorry I'm late, I had a call go long," she says apologetically, pulling out a chair. Lucien offers her a wan smile, then gestures around to the board members.

"Well, we hadn't gotten far." Lucien explains, folding his hands behind his back as he moves to the windows. "Why don't you give us an update on how Project Bifrost is progressing?"

Several others seated at the table turn attention up to the new arrival. But it is Claudius Kellar who meets her with a warm, welcoming smile. "I can't wait to hear what you've been working on," he says with a toothy smile.

"But really," Claudius clasps his hands together in front of himself. "It's so nice of you to join us…"



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