Chokeville

 

Heavy Orientation · 01
Ten Thirty Seven

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Margaret Feddema’s office isn’t exactly cavernous but it seems that way since it is almost completely empty except for a desk, two leather chairs, and a pale green love seat to one side. The far wall is dominated by a tall, arched window looking out onto the ocean floor. Her desk is basically a massive wooden plank. No garbage can, no photographs, no stapler, no paper clips. Only: a black telephone, a blank sheet of Global stationery, and a small silver pen.

Margaret and Allison are seated in the leather chairs, smoking. Allison says: “Am I supposed to sign something?”

Margaret shakes her head. “We’re not big on paperwork here. Papers are easy to forge. We do it all the time.”

“So we just shake hands and I get the job?”

“We share a moment,” Margaret says.

Allison breathes in the smoke. “That doesn’t sound awkward at all.”

“We share a moment,” Margaret says, adjusting two of the rings on her fingers, “and then you’re an apprentice. You have zero to none rights as an apprentice. You’ll go through orientation, which you won’t enjoy. You’ll go on ride-alongs. You’ll learn the city and the players. You’re going to be the farrago here, and you’re new to the Hook, so there’s a lot we need to do.”

“What did you just call me?”

“The farrago. Hogwild is the woods to the east. Sam is the coast. Voletta’s downtown. There’s ... we’ve got someone in the undercity. You work the bits and pieces left over. So you need to know everyone’s business everywhere.”

“I like knowing everyone’s business.”

“I know you do,” Margaret says, getting up. “So I need an answer. You in?”

Allison looks at the woman in front of her, absolutely still, a sleek black shape there in front of the passing fish and waving fronds. “Do I have a choice?” Allison asks.

“Here, now,” Margaret glances at her pocket watch, “ten thirty-seven in the morning, October the thirteenth, now, yes, you have a choice. I can’t speak for ten thirty-eight.”

Allison looks at the stories running along her arms. She says something to Hugo in their twin language and hears nothing back. She gives a moment’s thought to the story about how their parents met, in a cage dangling over a volcano.

She says: “I’m in.”

Margaret nods, then kneels down so she and Allison are eye to eye. She places her right thumb against Allison’s forehead and keeps it there. Both of them close their eyes. The sensation is one of something so cold it burns.

Then, Margaret removes her thumb and Allison gasps. Margaret rises up and says: “I have taken something precious from you. Welcome to Feddema Global.”

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The Dim Mak

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©MMXI · Joshua Allen


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