Killing Time OST – 10a – Dance

<< 9c – Pattern

Generally speaking, charity balls were a grown-up’s version of merry-go-rounds. Each participant had its favorite mount, though they would bitterly take another one to stay among friends, making the positioning fairly similar from ride to ride. The experience was thrilling at first but interest waned as the years went by. No amount of fantasy themes could spice up the now dull and repetitive act of spinning on oneself within a limited space.
Except, maybe, pulling a prank on the fat kid.
Luckily for me, Vexx’s plan qualified as a master prank. This year’s ball might not be as despicable as usual though our mission was a simple undertaking. During the three weeks before the event, Vexx spent the better part of his days bent over his workspace to piece together our spying tools. And sending me out to gather the stuff he needed to work his magic. It annoyed me but Vexx was happy and I had a major target; I could endure this for a few days.
As long as he didn’t push it.
By the end of the first week, two of his hacking spiders, with a few upgrades, stretched their legs on a shelf. The modified creepy crawlies could be controlled remotely which allowed Vexx to steer them out from wherever they crawled and take them back home, erasing all traces of our intrusion. The techie tweaked a PDA to handle the hack on site for the same reason.
Since Merrilyn Plaza was an “entertainment only” building, its security never impressed me. What actually stunned me was the fact that they hid something important there; but then, that was probably the whole point. I had never ventured in the off-limits section before but suspected most of the guards hung around the ballroom during the event which meant the rest of the compound would mostly be monitored by hackable tech. Slipping in and out unnoticed would be a joke.
My biggest worry was that my dad would be there and I didn’t want him to suspect foul play. Which applied as much to my fake relationship with Vexx as it did to my plans for the night.
“What does that do?” I said, eyeing the device on the corner of Vexx’s workspace when I dropped off his suit the morning of the ball. He had spent two weeks working on the telescope-looking gadget.
“It’s the BluePrinter.”
He didn’t elaborate so I cleared my throat to signify my dissatisfaction at the half-answer. His eyes came up and he stopped fiddling with his garment bag. After a deep breath, he launched in geek overdrive.
“It performs an ultra-ray scan of a target, and synthetizes material density and conductivity, heat repartition, and rays reflection, reverb and fades into a holographic representation of the target’s tech.” I grabbed the unimpressive metallic tube. “Frame Frogster and push the button.”
I obeyed. The BluePrinter emitted a faint click but besides that, there were no visible signs that it worked. I lowered it as my eyebrow rose in doubt.
“Give it a second,” Vexx mumbled. He had pulled his suit out of the garment bag and was looking it over. “Oh my binary gods!” He tested the fabric between two fingers. “This shirt’s comfier than my briefs.”
“Told you you should have let me order those.” I was about to smack the BluePrinter when it finally beeped and projected a three dimensional hologram of Frogster and its innards. “It’s a big mess of blue lines.”
“Yes. That’s why it’s best to upload it to a computer.” He plucked the gadget from my hands. “I’ve programmed an application that cross-references the data with possible components and devises the most likely combination. It can extrapolate mechanical function too.”
“Couldn’t you have found a less conspicuous form for it?” The gadget actually impressed me but Vexx didn’t need to be encouraged after bossing me around to build the thing.
“Like you could hide anything under that dress anyway,” he said, recognizing the teasing for what it was.
“You’d be surprised.”
We spent most of the day going over the plan, Vexx’s nervousness asking that we triple-checked every last detail. The arrival of a personal hairdresser, a make-up artist and a manicurist cut the rehearsal short – thank God. Vexx and his artificial face needed little work but his chipped nails and tangled hair sparked a lot of comments. My presentation was a whole other story; lots of creams and powders were necessary to make my natural face as plastic as tech-maintained skins. I rarely went to such extreme lengths to artificialize myself but if I didn’t look up to par on the red carpet, the paparazzi wouldn’t let me live it down.
And it would embarrass my father.
Thus, superficiality swallowed the afternoon. By the time the limousine rolled up the driveway, I was wishing for a little quality time with my punching bag. I had the same problem each year – it just couldn’t be avoided. I clenched my teeth, swallowed my unused energy and nodded at the chauffeur who held the car’s door open.
To his honor, Vexx behaved like he belonged. He didn’t jump when I gently squeezed his hand or shoulder from time to time during the afternoon. He didn’t ogle the limousine nor act too haughty.
“You’re doing good,” I encouraged once the privacy window wheezed shut. “The red carpet is a whole other thing. Try not to stare. And don’t let the flashes distract you.”
“Thanks mom,” He mumbled as he pretended to look out the window but really just increased the distance between us. “I haven’t always lived in a basement, you know.” I had hurt him. I hoped his annoyance wouldn’t mess our cover.
I picked up the bottle of champagne, already opened and waiting, and poured two glasses. “We have about a thirty minute drive.” I shook the glass a little. He finally took it with a crooked smile. “To your return to reality.”
“And our second stab at Merrilyn Tech.” We held each other’s gaze and sipped.
The drive, though a bit awkward, wasn’t unpleasant. Vexx couldn’t keep from staring out the window, taking in the sunset he hadn’t watched for months. I could almost see his skin tone warming up as he drank every last drop of his temporary freedom. I liked that he could feel that way whereas I only felt like I walked from one golden cage to another. Or, more accurately, from one menacing jungle to another.
Flashes started blinding us before the limousine’s door was even fully opened. Vexx got out first, gracefully exiting the car in his black suit and blue shirt. He offered me a helping hand, my presence at his side answering the question on everyone’s lips.
“This stranger is my man,” said my arm hooked in his and the blue highlights of my dress.

10b – Dance >>


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

6 responses to “Killing Time OST – 10a – Dance

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