Monday, November 14, 2011

Blessed are those who mourn

The Library was my last hope. The Library was the last possible place for my last possible lead on Infinity, on Isabella, on my friend. The Library was the last.

After I made my way out, I sat down and pulled my knees up to my chest. Anansi skittered over to me, but I wasn't ready to talk yet. I tugged my coat closer around me, drooped my head in my arms, and wept. Or tried to weep: no tears came. Sweat ran down my face instead, and I realized that if I stayed in the hot sun any longer I'd be burned. I trudged towards the gas station some mile and a half away. Once there I purchased a gallon of water and a pack of granola bars.

It is my personal belief that in any extreme situation, a man can survive on nothing but water and granola.

I started dialing on the pay phone before realizing I didn't know who to call. My father is long gone, and I would like to keep my mother out of the way of danger as long as I can. I can't face the Compass, even over the phone. Atlas is dead. And I have few other friends...

In the end I decided on calling Emilia's phone. She didn't want to have a cell phone ("Those horrible little devices! Take up all your time and leave you with huge bills.") but we went out and bought one for her after a week's worth of convincing on my part. She used to keep it off at all times except when she was using it, and even then she only took it out in times of great emergency.

I took the phone off the hook. The buzzing noise took over my thoughts.

Please deposit ninety cents, or press one to make a collect call.

Click, clack. Two quarters, three dimes, one nickel and five pennies. Nearly all the loose change I had on me after making my two earlier purchases. I was left with three cents.

Instead of telling me to dial, the phone line connected me to an operator. Her voice was dull and monotone, asking Hello, sir or madam, operator here. How can I help you?

How could she help me? I didn't know. The way she said it, it sounded more like a recital than a question - which I suppose it was. How could this drawling lady help me?  Well, maybe I could help her.

"Hi. I'm Erick. What's your name?"

There was silence for a moment. Then, Sir? Operator. How can I help?

"What's your name?"


"Don't make me guess." I stifled a crazed giggle.

"Terri? Samantha? Belle? Lisa?"

"Lisa," said the woman. I nodded, satisfied.

"Connect me to Emilia LeFay, please," I said.

"I'm going to need a phone number, sir." Her voice was suddenly much warmer and happier. I said nothing. Finally, Lisa said, "One moment."




My heart stopped for a moment, then resumed its casual thudding. A casual thudding that quickly became exactly the opposite of casual.


"Erick? Is that you?"

"Emilia, oh, God, you're alive."

"Erick, I don't know where I am..."

"Just stay calm. I am coming to rescue you, I am."

"I believe you."

"I love you."

Nothing. I started again.

"Emilia, I'm sorry."


"For -"

I bit my tongue. It was hard to remember. I had put myself under a mental haze long ago, trying to block it out.

"There's something I have to tell you." We said it at the same time. I laughed. "You, first," I said.

"Okay," said my wife. I imagined her biting her lip in the way she has.

"It's a boy," she whispered. "His name is Seamus."

I didn't even get to say "Emilia?" before the line went dead.

The clerk had to call his manager, but they gave me a cot and allowed me to stay in the gas station for as long as I needed to, which has included all my time since I escaped from the burning Library to now. There is an ATM which I can get money from using my Institute-supplied credit card, and all the water and granola a man could eat. The clerk's name is Teppy. The manager's, Rose. They're nice people, a married couple. They make me smile with their morning greetings and evening goodbyes. There's not much business here, but that's okay. I like the quiet.

In another life, I'd have liked to work at a place like this. Just settle down with a store, my wife, and my son.

Seamus LeFay. Has a nice ring to it, eh?

As for inquiries, don't expect any for a while.