Anchors No More #20: The Hurricane’s Blinking EyeJun 2, 2014
The night was cool and dark, barely a star in the sky. If not for the nagging feeling that she would probably be dead in a few days, Holly would have wished for a nice glass of wine and some mellow music, maybe The Drifters or Leonard Cohen, something classic and sweet.
Siting with Daniel behind an old derelict school bus parked in the shadows behind Franklin Automotive, she looked away from the sky, back to the patches of grass and dirt under her legs, thinking about his question. “I was twelve,” she eventually answered, “my mom got me my first chemistry set. The night she got it for me, I mixed hydrogen peroxide with potassium iodide and…”
Daniel smiled, interrupting her, “And you got the exploding foam.”
She smiled too, nodding shyly, “And I got the exploding foam.” They chuckled, Holly pulling a few blades of grass out of the ground, “It shot up like three feet in the air, came down, just covered my desk, all my schoolbooks, my lamp, all over the floor,” she glanced at Daniel, “It was bad, my mom was pissed.”
He met her eyes chuckling, “And that’s the moment the world-famous Holly Marshal got bit by the science bug.” She laughed and he gazed at her tenderly, “If she could only see you now.”
Their gentle laughter faded into a comfortable silence, both enjoying a quiet moment outside of calculations and scheduling and life-shattering decisions. Holly’s mood shifted ever-so-slightly, a zest of nostalgia perfuming her contentment, “Last time I saw her was a year ago,” her smile grew weighted, “Five years ago, I guess,” she pulled another piece of grass, twirled it between her fingers, “I flew out to see her and stayed for a couple days. It was…” She paused, “I could have stayed longer, I had a couple more days on my vacation, but I just wanted to come home, get in my pajamas and read. She just…” she wasn’t sure what she wanted to say, unsure what could be said. She laughed it off, “You know… moms.”
Daniel knew, he nudged her with his shoulder gently. The two of them sat quietly for a bit until Daniel stood up, casting a quick glance around as he did, his relaxation not dampening his instinct to watch both of their backs. He looked at Holly sitting on the ground, leaning against the large flat tire of the bus. His smile was full of affection, words and thoughts bumped into each other in his mind. “Here,” he finally said, offering her his hand.
Holly took it, allowed him to help her to her feet. “So you and Sebastian got it all worked out?” she asked, fumbling with the zipper of her jacket.
“Yep,” he answered, “Queen’s going to meet us in the laundry room, he’ll have the uniforms, lab coats and security passes.”
She looked in his eyes, “And you trust it?”
The fraction of a smile crossed his lips, “No choice.”
A chilly breeze whipped across them and Holly drew her arms around herself, “Come on,” she said, “let’s go in.” He agreed and the two of them gave one last look around, crouched and sprinted the fifteen yards between bus and garage, quickly opening the side door and sliding into the dark building. Through the hidden security door and into the lab they went, smiling at Amber, Steven, and Pierre as they entered and shook off the cold. “Where is everyone,” Daniel asked, taking off his jacket.
“In bed,” Pierre answered, “about a half hour ago.”
Holly walked over to the office window and peeked in, saw Gary lying asleep on the couch. Amber closed the folder she had been reading, “You guys were out there for a while, we were starting to get nervous.”
“Just taking a break,” Daniel said sitting in a chair, “Feels like I haven’t been outside in a month.”
“Because you haven’t, been” Amber said, “It’s good to see you unwind a little.”
Daniel spared a glance for Holly before answering, “It’s been a while.” He scratched at his shaggy beard and yawned, “You guys finish those numbers?”
“Yeah,” answered Pierre, “It’s all dialed in. Doctor Neff checked them off before he went to bed.” Daniel smiled, relieved everything was on schedule.
Holly walked over to the table, poured herself some water from the glass jug, taking a long drink as Steven held out a folder for Daniel to look at, “We have the route finalized, the timing, the supplies, all of it’s just waiting for your okay.”
Daniel nodded his head, waving off the folder and leaning back in his chair, “Good,” he said, “real good.” His mind, just three minutes before so relaxed and satisfied, now raced once again with renewed anxiety. He gave his comrades a long look, smiled at them one at a time, saving Holly for last, letting his eyes linger a few seconds, “Two days,” he said, “Two days and all this will finally pay off.”
Holly smiled at Daniel and he at her, their moment interrupted by Pierre’s voice, “Two days and a dream,” he joked, “Ankura High School football rocks.”
His jest received only a scuffed snicker from Amber and a raised eyebrow from Daniel, but it did prompt Holly to ask a question she had been toying with. “Can I ask you something?”
Daniel looked up at her, sliding off his shoes, “Go for it.”
“Ankura?” she asked, leaning against a table, setting her water glass down, “Why that?”
Daniel smiled, relieved her inquiry had nothing to do with timetables or logistics, “Greek derivative,” he told her, “for ‘anchor.’”
“I know that,” Holly replied, “I went to college you know.”
Daniel snorted, “Sorry, I forgot.”
“No, really,” Holly continued, kicking her left shoe off with her right foot, then switching up, “why ‘Anchor’ Labs?” She flexed her toes, rubbed her socked feet against the tiled floor.
“It was James,” Daniel said, sinking deeper into his chair, “about a week before we started organizing the lab. It was just me, him, and Mike hiding out at James’ house. Mike had just joined up with us, he quit ARLIS after he accidently on purpose found a memo from ARLIS corporate to Vanderhoff’s office. It was titled ‘Practical Testing in Controlled Dimensions,’ and some of the shit it was talking about…” he paused, thinking it was too late to get into the details, “… unpleasant to say the least.”
“Inhumane,” Amber interjected.
Holly gave her a look before turning back to Daniel as he continued, “Yeah, to put it accurately.” He stood up, restless, “Anyway, James said,” he cleared his throat, went into a mocking imitation of James, “That’s the headline, that’s the news. It’s all over, man, any mooring we ever had is gone. Time, place, resource, ethical or physical limitation, they’re gone, brother, they can just jump from dimension to dimension and do what ever the hell they want. They’re not anchored here anymore, the darkest pits of their corporate mind is their only barrier now.” Daniel walked over to join Amber, Steven and Pierre, needing the comfort of his crew, “So I asked him what he was getting at, what did he suggest we do.”
He smiled at Holly as she gazed at the small group, a look of respect on her face that Daniel returned to her, “And he said, ‘We fuckin’ anchor ‘em.’”
© David Edward Wagner 2014. All Rights Reserved.