Lingering in the Face of Fire
The clamour outside continued.
Chief Ex paced the room as if he were a caged tiger. Periodically, he glanced at me. After a few minutes he announced, ‘I’ll be back.’
‘You better,’ I said and continued to ignore him.
He vacated the chamber.
Minutes later he returned with a plate piled high with spaghetti and meat sauce and water. ‘Maybe you are hungry.’ He offered the food to me.
I whacked the plate scattering strings of pasta, or what looked like strings of pasta, over the floor, wall and his mask.
The Chief Ex peeled a spaghetti noodle from his mask. ‘What did you do that for?’
‘How do I know it’s not Boris food? Magellan maggots and some poor human’s blood and flesh?’
‘It’s not, it is spaghetti bolognaise. I went to the trouble of preparing it, and this is the thanks I get?’
Did he think I was stupid enough to fall for the drugging by food trick? ‘Might be drugged or poisoned.’
‘And why would I do that? Holly, we have to work together.’
‘I’m still not sure you are who you say you are.’
‘But you will need your sustenance to escape,’ he said. ‘I don’t have any more.’ He then held out the cup of water at arm’s length. ‘You are thirsty, you need to drink.’
I shook my head while keeping eyes averted from his.
He carefully placed the glass on the floor a meter away from me. ‘It’s there if you are thirsty.’ He sat facing me. He then picked up the glass and took a sip. ‘See? I am still alive.’
‘Good for you.’ Hmm. the melon should’ve affected him. Maybe he is Günter…then again, maybe Günter got swapped with Kirk. Oh, this is getting all so confusing. Why can’t they all just be themselves instead of pretending to be someone they’re not. Like negotiating all those “friends” on Myface. You never know who you’re talking to.
The minutes ticked by. Günter-Chief Ex sat cross-legged and picked at the carpet. I was beginning to wonder if the Boris’ treatment involved boredom. Or if we genuinely could not leave the room. Never-the-less I refused to give in. I refused to trust him. I will not jeopardize the mission. He, whoever he was, remained civil and true to his word, and kept his distance.
‘Surely we could talk. There is no harm in that. We could talk about anything; anything you wish.’ His deep voice broke the standoff of silence. He shifted his position drawing up one knee to his chin. ‘Look, you can ask me anything you like—about Minna, our kleine sons, about the Mr Bean bear—anything…’
I drew my knees even closer. What an offer! Hmm, what could I ask him that would distinguish him from Kirk Roach? How much had Boris told Kirk about Günter? He’d certainly left out some facts. Think Holly.
I took a deep breath. ‘Right then.’
Chief Ex gazed out the window. Balls of flame exploded from a building on the other side of a quadrangle. ‘Fire away.’
I gave him a long hard stare. ‘Is that an attempt at a pun?’
The Chief smiled. ‘Just a little humour to distract us from the serious situation we’re in.’
‘I see.’ I remembered that humour—fondly. Still can’t quite trust him.
‘I’m waiting. Oh, well, you can always ask on the Little Sister Ship.’
‘I’m sure Liesel’ll be interested in what you have to say.’
‘You better ask now, then.’
‘So, what’s a “hoon”?’ Not that I expected Günter to know, but he may, if he really was Günter, Minna’s old boyfriend.
‘A hoon, a hoon. A hoon is a person who drives a car fast and reckless.’
‘Oh, I’m glad you could tell me. I had a dream with hoons in it and I didn’t know what on earth they were.’
‘Come on, Q and A. What do you want to know about me?’ He clasped his hands. ‘It is safe. You can trust me.’
‘How do I know it’s not all a con? Why aren’t we getting out? The place is on fire and we’re sitting in here. Something’s not right.’
‘Very well, have it your way.’ The Chief Ex-Günter rose and strode to the other side of the room. He reclined on cushion and read a book and ignored me.
Meanwhile heat radiated through the window. I could hear the crackling from the fire and the crashing of buildings collapsing.
I was itching to move from this disaster zone—yet something about this Chief made me stay put. A part of me trusted him enough not to go tearing out of the Boris headquarters until the time the Chief appointed.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019
Feature Photo: Campfire © L.M. Kling 2008
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