Friday, February 29, 2008

Playing Human part 1

Ok, in my defense it was seven years ago that I thought this was good. Still, I have read worse. And it's definitely better than the company newsletter. If you're bored. Reallly, really bored and there's no new netflix in the mailbox, your friends are all out of town, it's raining, and the cats are asleep instead of entertaining you. Five more workdays...

It was late May, but it was forty degrees fareheight and the sun was low and caused Vivian to squint, like winter in the continental states. She shivered as the chopper lifted off behind her. She'd expected snow and maybe an appropriate vehicle, but there was just lichen and moss covering the rocks and the gnarled, scarred pines. She pulled her shades on. It cut down the overall brightness, but the sun still lanced her eyes over the top of the plastic lenses. Goggles would have been more like it. The thin air made her lungs work harder, as if she'd been walking instead of having just stepped out of a warm, properly oxygenated helicopter. Once she got in a cabin, safe from wind and sun with a raoring fire at her toes she'd feel better.

A balding man walked toward her, thick and round, or maybe that was just the layers of clothes necessary. He held out his hand and she was surprised it wasn't gloved like hers. He was probably used to the cold. Vivian hoped the assignment wouldn't take long enough to acclimate her.
"Ted Cohelan." He didn't smile.
"Sarah Johnson." She squeezed his hand, hard. Neither of them averted their eyes. The sound from the leaving chopper faded. He broke the silence first.
"So, Ms. Johnson, how much are you going to tell me?"
She appreciated his straightforwardness. "Depends on how much you tell me, " she answered. The wind whistled in her ear, and he must have heard it, too.
"Camp's right over the hill," he jerked his thumb towards a rocky rise. "Why don't we talk there." She nodded and picked up her bags, and they started walking. She despised small talk and didn't even try. Cohelan didn't attempt either. She could tell he resented her presence, but it wasn't personal.The only thing he knew so far was that Uncle Sam, the biggest sponsor of Project Lupine, suddenly wanted one of their own on the Alaskan site. They reached the top of the hill and she studied her new, if temporary, residence.
"What-?" It was out of her mouth before she could stop it. The wind seem to carry her voice away, but he'd heard.
"Is there a problem?"
She stared in dismay at the graying canvas tents of the encampment There was not a single solid structure, except a few solar panels here and there.
"I don't suppose there's some nice cabins with plumbing and electricity over the next hill?"
"There's a town about 105 miles from here with a bed and breakfast you can stay at." He looked hopeful. She wanted to tell him that after the last few months of dodging bullets for her country she felt a picturesque cabin was owed to her, but that was classified. Besides, just as she wasn't the one he really resented, neither was he the one who had asked her here. If her superiors were the source of both Vivian's and Cohelan's ire, maybe they'd get along after all. She slung one bag over her shouder and started walking again.
"This will be fine. The tents at least cut off the win, right?" The wind made it so much colder.
He nodded, disapointed. "I'll show you yours and you can settle in. Then we'll talk."
"We'll talk now."
"I'm in charge here." Ted stopped.
"Of your team, yes. Of me, no." He started to argue, but she cut him off. "I'm not going to get in the way. I'm here to observe and ask questions." He glared at her, jaw clenched and wind ruffling the fur of his parka, and weighed her words. She gave him credit for thinking before letting anger take his tongue.
"As long as no one's taking over the project. I have some rules, though. I don't want you in the lab by yourself, or approaching the wolves by yourself." He tilted his head, eyebrows lifted in question.
"Clear." It sounded like agreement, and his shoulders loosened. That didn't mean he was going to be friendly, but at least that word seemed to settle him.
They reached the biggest tent, and it was more like a cloth cabin than a dome or triangle you might see at a campsite in Yosemite. It haad four sides and a peaked roof, and plenty of headroom. At 5'11", Vivian always noticed and appreciated headroom. Cohelan pushed a flap open and she followed him in, hand unconciously hovering at her open jacket, ready to reach for her gun. It was a habbit she had no intention of breaking.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi baby doll!

i remember this story... was it that long ago that you wrote it? glad you are picking it up again, your installments will make everyone happy! i was just telling a friend about "7", hope you finish that one when you come out here....

do you have a date when john might be coming? love you sweetness, mum