Killing Time OST – 8b – Cleanse

<< 8a – Cleanse

I spent four days cooped up in my house, no trip outside or to the basement whatsoever. I didn’t want Vexx to see me go through remission and I certainly hoped he’d get bored out of his wits spending his days alone and racking up the bottom drawer of the fridge because I didn’t bring him groceries. Childish? Yes but it was either that or beating him senseless. So really, I was being reasonable while reaffirming the hierarchy of power under my roof.
A self-inflicted Taser shot was insulting enough without someone taking advantage of it.
Putting Edouardo down was a half-assed victory, a success rendered dissatisfactory by the FBI agent. It quite simply ruined my week. I should be better than some peon jumping me while I wasn’t looking. My mistake could have cost me freedom and turned my efforts to help the slums to dust.
It could have broken my father’s heart.
Luckily, the morning brunch went by with my father none the wiser. He did detect a hint of bad mood but not enough for him to press the issue. I returned home eager to cheer myself up.
“Bought you some fruits,” I said, dropping a grocery bag on Vexx’s workplace. His gaze rose form the innards of the mechanical frog but he didn’t comment. Frogster, however, let out a harsh croak. I ignored it and turned on my computer.
As I expected, my “Alice” account balance had increased over the past few days, receiving the cleaned money I made killing Mister Fancy Pants. The time had come to spend it all.
“I’ll be slumming today,” I said, turning my chair around to face the tension head on. “Need anything?” Vexx looked at me, thoughtful. He recognized the olive branch/informal thank you/see how much you depend on me. He only had to decide how he would take it.
“I’ll make you a list.” Abuse of the gift/dive into your dependency, it is!
I headed for the dressing room and pulled my most professional looking suit out of the closet. I had three of those that I solely wore when Alice was on official business in the slums. The car I drove changed too so Djeb and his crew didn’t prep the store when I drove in, a subtle signal that made no difference for most people.
I picked up the cellphone in my Alice’s purse and hit speed dial one. Someone picked up after two rings.
“Hello Tony,” I said with my soft Southern Belle tone. “Is the shipment ready?”
“Miss Alice!” The man sounded half-surprised, half-pleased. He’d probably find the courage to ask me out soon and I’d break his heart without a second thought. “Yes, it is! Are you planning to join us?”
“Indeed I am. I’ll meet you at the gate.” I needed to make a pit stop at the bank first.
“We’ll wait for you, Miss Alice.”
We hang up after the proper goodbyes. I sent a quick text to the bank and I slipped the cellphone back in its pocket. After I glued on my Alice face, I returned to the lab. Vexx handed me a list of techie stuff which, as I expected, contained an impressive number of items.
“Think you can get it all?”
“I have a guy.” I stuffed the list in my purse and grabbed the keys next to the sewer access. Alice’s primary car was parked a couple of street corners away. I had an entrance specially built in the garage so I could access it without stepping outside.
When I arrived to the bank, the manager had already prepped the portable bank terminal. A clerk rolled the large box and fitted it in my trunk. In less than five minutes, I was back on my way toward the inner city. I drove past Tony’s delivery truck waiting for me at the gate and it fell behind me on the road.
Entering the gloomy streets of the slum depressed me despite the uplifting reason of my presence. My arrival sent runners to deliver a different message this time around and when I reached the square, a crowd had already gathered. Once every week, Tony drove the truck branded with my fake name to the square and distributed food and basic necessities. It had become part of the routine in the slums, a routine altered only by my occasional presence. Then, the people usually partied.
I parked my car at my usual spot of the square and opened the trunk. A table, a few chairs and some snacks had already been set a couple of feet away. Two men carefully picked up the portable bank terminal and installed it on the table. I swiped my right hand in front of the box’s scanner; it identified me and sprung open. Tony parked the truck next to my car. On my signal, he slid the back door open.
We were ready and so were the people.
“Hello Donovan,” I said to the patriarch of the first family joining me. “What can I do for you today?”
The process was the same for every requester: explain your case loud and clear for everyone to hear, and bow to my agreeing or denying the money you needed. Donovan managed to pay for most of his elder’s studies in the city which, once completed, would greatly alter the future of his family. They were only missing a few hundred dollars for food so the boy could graduate.
The crowd listened intently, same as I. A few people nodded in agreement, silently telling me this was no sham. They thought Donovan deserved the money. I keyed in the appropriate amount on the panel and laid my hand over the “giver” scanner. Donovan smiled and placed his hand on the “receiver” scanner. With a beep, the portable bank terminal confirmed the money transfer. The crowd applauded and the next requester stepped forward.
The people came at my table or at Tony’s truck for the next four hours. They never stopped at both stations. Such was the rule of decency. No one tried to steal anything – my terminal detected stress, so menacing me wouldn’t do any good anyway – and there wasn’t even an argument, just a smooth distribution of goods until none was left. One would think this peace to be impossible. Truth be told, some of my expeditions weren’t that agreeable.
But the slums policed itself.
There was never enough food and money for everyone but each family receiving something when its turn came about once a month. The crowd respected that. A person would cause trouble once and then be denied access to the square entirely. The same thing happened to the greedy ones.
It worked because the slums had no other choice; if people like me stopped coming, they were all going to starve to death.
The last of the goods left my hands and a thunder of applause welcomed my sad announcement that all had been given but that I’d be back as soon as possible.
The merriment died when a high-pitch cry pierced through the clapping.

8c – Cleanse >>

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About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

9 responses to “Killing Time OST – 8b – Cleanse

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