April 4, 2013 by Lyn
Directly after At Valerian’s.
“…I hope they didn’t start with one.”
“I think they did.” Llew picked up a pile of case studies. “This is disgusting. This is…” He flailed with one hand. “Are we putting the case studies in one pile, then?”
“That’s a good start, at least. Llew, why do you think she’s having us sort these?” Sofia’s voice had dropped down to a near-whisper. “I mean… what is this all about?”
Llew looked down at the papers he was holding. Subject Eighty-seven. “I don’t know. Test our stomachs, maybe?”
“For what? A secret Addergoole project like this?”
Llew opened the paper, and then closed it again quickly. “This school is fucked up, but it can’t be that fucked up. Nobody is remotely that fucked up.”
“Someone was.” She held up the paper she was reading. “Someone was sicker than that.”
“Yeah…” A knock on the door made him jump. “Shit. This is making me really twitchy.”
“Me, too. Should we…”
Professor Valerian bundled out of her back room and opened the door. “Speed! And Gregori. Come on in, both of you. Let’s see, let’s see. I think you can help Amadeus.”
Llew looked up as the two passed, skinny Kept smiling and lean Keeper with the thin line of non-expression he always seemed to have. “Amadeus?” Speed leaned forward, like he was on a scent. “That’ll be fun.”
“This is supposed to be fun.” Professor Valerian ushered them into the back room.
Llew looked at Sofia, and then down at the papers. “We’re supposed to be having fun? Do you think we pissed her off?”
“I don’t think Professor Valerian likes me.” Sofia shrugged. “I don’t think about the world in a way she enjoys. I don’t know about you.”
“I’m cy’Fridmar.” Llew found himself smiling. Sofia was, for one thing, very pretty, and very easy to talk to. “That tends to mean people don’t like me. Professors, at least. Sometimes my Keeper.”
He hadn’t meant to say that last part. He flushed, and hoped she’d missed it.
Of course not. If Addergoole had homecoming queens and student body presidents, Sofia would be both of those and valedictorian all in one. “Your Keeper doesn’t like you? That’s got to be hard.”
“She likes me enough now.” He flapped a hand, trying to indicate it was nothing at all to think about. “Once we, you know, talked or something.”
Sofia laughed. “Talking. Ah, the bane of men everywhere.”
That stung a bit. “And some women!”
“I suppose.” She picked up another folder. “Do you think these are real?”
Llew sniffed the one he was holding. “They smell real. Could you do an Idu with the ‘stuff’ Word to carbon date them?”
“That’s brilliant. I wish I had the Word for worked objects.” She glanced at the paper. “I wish I could believe they weren’t real.”
“I know the feeling.” He flipped through another one. “Oh, this is interesting. It’s talking about how they tried to keep fae – Ellehemaei – kids from Changing.”
“Interesting?” Sofia leaned over the table towards Llew. She really was pretty. “That sounds horrific.”
“Compared to most of the rest of the stuff on the table, it’s interesting instead of horrible. Hawthorn in the pillow. That’s go to be really uncomfortable.”
“Does it work?”
“Well, let’s see…”
“Oh, you two must be getting very bored.” Professor Valerian whirl-winded back out into the dining room. “Let me take that, here.”
Much to Llew’s surprise, Sofia took the file and held it away from the Professor. “Actually, we’re intrigued. And we’re nearly done with the sorting, see?” She pointed at the tidy piles they’d been making. “And this is fascinating.”
“I’m sure it is. And it’s information I could get in a great deal of trouble for giving you.” The Professor reached for the file, and Sofia held it further away.
“But not the flayed guys on the table or the ‘how-fast-do-they-regenerate’ studies? Seriously, Professor, I am not going to stick hawthorn under my kids’ pillows any more than I’m going to peel them open to see what’s underneath.”
“Would if help if we promised not to tell anyone?” Llew offered.
The professor sighed. “Well, if you’re going to read that one, I have another one for you, too.”
This story was written in response to Rix’s donation and request for more of the cleaning session at Valerian’s
For every $5US donated, I will write 300 words on the character or situation of your choice. In addition, every donation will bring you to a small snippet of story – a new snippet every Wednesday! Want more?