Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BOOK(S) - Begins January 4 / Ends January 11 (01/04/18)
- TITLE: Rendezvous
By Holly Westefeld
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I glare at A11663, and neither respond, nor alter my pace.
I complete my duties at 2000, return to my quarters, and nibble just a couple of the wafers from the nutrition dispenser. A11663's invitation both excites and terrifies me. If I report it, it could be euthanized if my report can be substantiated. It could be testing me, to see if I would disregard regulations, resulting in my euthanasia. It may know or suspect that I have already done so. Perhaps I would never return, or worse yet, return so damaged that I would desire euthanasia, and be yet another one whispered about behind hands and sleeves. Or, it may truly wish to share the exhilaration of freedom from the construct known as Community 741776.
We have been colleagues for many cycles, responsible for the maintenance of the airpods and launchpads. This would give us both easy and legitimate access to the perimeter of the community, as well as hazmat suits, which we have been told are essential for any possible exposure to "outside." I have learned otherwise. Perhaps A11663 has, too. If so, it is amazing that we have not encountered one another during a foray.
My comm drones, "Message from A11663."
A11663's voice intones one word. "Please?"
Nothing truly incriminating, though such antiquated formalities of speech are rare in the community.
"Do you wish to reply?"
What possible purpose could such a rendezvous serve, but to increase our jeopardy exponentially? I catch myself, reminding myself that I must never speak aloud the non-standard words I have learned "outside."
Something tugs at my memory. I turn to the comm, my fingers flying over the screen. I pull up a message from A11663 from shortly after we started working together, then compare it to the "please?" The newer message is of a lower pitch. Then I compare some of mine. My pitch is slightly higher. I had not noticed the gradual changes, but I surmise it has happened along with the changes to my form that I have been carefully concealing these last few months, as I have eaten more from "outside," and less wafers.
I rush to change and exit my quarters, wanting to arrive at the ruins first.
The path is clear. I duck in to the first stone building, positioning myself to watch the moonlit path without being visible. It must be close to 2100, but I dared not bring a mini-comm. Shortly, though, I see a lone figure. I exit the rear of the building and circle around, so as to appear to just be arriving from the community. I hope the speed and strength I have gained over the last few months will be sufficient to return unharmed, should A11663 have bad intentions.
"E20364, I was afraid you wouldn't come."
"Why have you asked me to take such a risk?"
"I wanted to converse with you without being monitored. I see that you already know that a hazmat suit is unnecessary."
"Yes. I have what was known as perfect pitch, before music was exterminated."
"Oh! I have read about that..." I slap my hand over my mouth, but it is too late.
A11663's eyebrows raise, and a smile lights its face. "So you have discovered the library. Then let's go there instead of standing here in the open. The night watch may be complacent and lax, but let's not test that."
My breath catches as it heads toward my favorite section, reaches toward my favorite shelf, and grasps the most important book I have ever found in the library.
"Have you read this one?"
"What do you think about it?"
Before I can stop myself I blurt, "I believe it is Truth."
"So do I. I hope that you are willing to unite in the purpose of sharing this Truth that has been cast aside."
"You realize that this book may cost one or both of us our lives?"
"Since we are joining in this mission to share this good news, I have a favor to ask."
"I would like you to call me Adam."
"Only if you will call me Eve."
He clasps my hand, and we return to Community 741776.
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