Chapter 68

Ray stood in the line for food, praying that it looked better than it smelled. The ladle deposited the grayish green slop with a “splort” that would have more befitted a “Calvin and Hobbes” comic. It lay next to a smooshed bread roll, greenish brown protien matter, and terrifyingly orange gelatin. Ray missed “Calvin and Hobbs” he mused as he went and sat with Alex. 

“Do you think Leo can get her hands on a digital version of ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ for me?”

Alex blinked, obviously trying to shift gears to where Ray was coming from.

“More than likely, yes.” She dipped her roll into the protein. “She’s uncanny that way. Why?”

“I’m just in a comic book mood.”

“Ah.”

“Tried the possible vegetable matter, yet?”

“Nope. Tempted to mix it into the mystery meat.” Alex poked the meat making a face. 

“Aren’t we in France?”

“That’s what they tell us.”

“They’re supposed to be better cooks than this.”

“That’s what they tell us.”

Ray chuckled and attacked the grey-green first. It tasted of broccoli flatulence and not enough salt. He shook his head and choked it down anyway.

“How are you feeling?” Alex was sitting up and not puking, so he figured she was probably feeling much better. But society pressures probably demanded that he at least ask her.

“Sitting up and not puking.” Ray nodded. 

“I know you're planning to go get David.”

“No you don't,” Alex stared at him, her face almost blank. “And, no, I'm not.”

“Right,” Ray rolled his eyes. 

“I was thinking of planning to go get David.”

“Yup,” Ray nodded, chewing through bouncy protein. “And?

“I just haven't come up with anything sufficiently life threatening.”

“Obviously.”

“All I know is that she's planning on speaking to the UN, soon. I don't know when. But it's happening soon. So, I need to get back to New York and rescue David.”

“How do you even know that Davis will be there? Won't he be back where we were held?”

“That's not how she works.” Alex shook her head and pointed with her fork. “She's going to want a poster boy. Obviously she's poured quite a lot of funding into David, so she'll want to use him. I have no idea if she has any other test subjects.”

“I was wondering about that.” Ray folded his hands. “Why would she put all her eggs into one basket? The only think I can think of is a lack of funding right now. But she has to have at least one control, doesn't she?”

“Ethically, yes.” Alex nodded. “Not that anything she has ever done could be thought of as ’ethical’. However, she does need something else to measure against. She wanted us for that, obviously. So who else does she have? It has to be someone old from the program. Someone who's desperate.”

“I'm surprised Sam didn't volunteer. He seems to really miss the military.” Leo got incredibly quiet and looked at her plate. 

“I see where he's coming from,” she said. “I know I don't even have all my memories from that time, but I really get it. The structure, the challenges, the people; I get it.”

Ray felt the anger rise in him; she was leaving him, again. Trying to abandon him like she had when she led the first time. Over money and friends. 

“I'm not going to right now!” Sam put her hand on his and he felt the lava recede from his veins. “I'm just saying that I understand. We got shot to do, man!” Ray guessed his anger had showed in his face. Her reaction had been too quick to comfort, too ready to reassure, too on top of his own out of control emotions. He shook his head, smiling to dispel the anger hat had come so quickly. 

“I know you can't leave, now!” He said taking a breath. “We’re fugitives! Who would have you?”

“Thanks!” She grinned at him. “I feel so special.”

“So,” Ray modded. “What's the rough outline of your terrible plan?”

“That's really about it.” Alex shrugged. “I've got nothing else. I've been wracking my poor brain and I've got nothing.”

“Do you want to talk to the others?”

“That would be preferable. I have a feeling Maya wants to eighty-six this joint.”

“Oh my goodness.” Ray put his head down on the table. “You said eighty-six. Why? Why do you do this to me?”

“Since WHEN do you care?” Alex cracked up. 

“I don't know. Maya is a good influence on me. I'm telling her.”

Alex was laughing as she begged him not to tell Maya about her outdated slang. He'd missed his sister. 

Zoe FleischerComment