A Year in Shifts.

I came home tonight and went through my personal paperwork to try and determine exactly how long I’ve been waitressing and to my surprise, it turned out to be exactly a year. Almost to the date.

When I had gone to the restaurant, I had told them that I’d work a month, maybe two for them. Six at the most I had proclaimed and believing it to be the truth. Yet, my month soon turned to two, then three and before I knew it, I had been working there for 8 months, doing 7 to 8 shifts a week. The money (if I worked hard) wasn’t bad and it sustained me, but it dawned on me that I’ve been there for longer than I planned, my psyche crashed a bit. Work became different as well. The waiters shifted and turned, the managers tried to implement new rules which didn’t really apply to me yet affected me negatively. I thought that I wouldn’t deal with the changes and see it through and I even started to look for a new job but…

I stayed.

I stayed in the restaurant because I didn’t have a better alternative to go to, that moving from one restaurant to another wasn’t really the kind of shift I wanted to make. And, the place had become home and the people my family. When you spend so many hours working with people, seeing them when they are under stress (and you as well) and seeing their triumphs and losses, you form a strange bond. I’ve noticed this even with my customers, that those who have been waiters always somehow feel a kind of kinship with you, sympathising with you and joking with you about things that only we can understand.

And, I learned a lot. I learned that I am not above losing my temper (and that if I do so, I do it in a spectacular way…) and that sometimes, patience can take you so much further than force. I learned that there are two kinds of people in the world (though my Other Half has pointed this out to me as well), those who take energy and those who give it. I have come home some evenings so drained that I fell in bed and cried, feeling as if I lost my soul to my tables and then other nights, I come back with a song in my heart, the world a strangely better place despite the fact that I didn’t make a lot of money. It all had to do with people and how they treated me, and I learned that being treated with dignity is the best gift that you can give anybody.

Four more months passed, and I came to believe that I will never leave there, that I will remain trapped in that place forever. The problem with waitressing is that you get stuck in a sort of groove, this never ending routine of going to work, working tables and coming back. Every day is the same, but different, the customers changing but always the same. Days flow into one and sometimes you can’t even remember what happened the week before because it wasn’t any different than what’s happening now. I accepted my place in the restaurant, even embraced it and started making a place for myself within its structure which would put me apart from the rest. I started helping the owner with his books, got into the foundations of the business and then…

Then things moved seemingly overnight and I got a job. The thing that I had been wishing for, for a year literally dropped in my lap, leaving me reeling for reality. I gave notice at the restaurant, planned my first holiday in a year and quietly, silently mourned the fact that I was closing yet another circle in my life,

Don’t get me wrong, I hated being a waitress. But, I got used to it, and the people that I worked with made up for it. I will miss the comradeship between the waiters, the way we can be irritated with each other yet still have a good time. I’m going to miss nicking the cheap chocolates that we gave out with some of the hot drinks and exchanging peppermints from the front of the shop for potato wedges in the kitchen. I’m going to miss being showered with numbers from strange men (and women!) because it was flattering in a way, giving my extremely low self esteem a little bit of a boost. I am going to miss my regulars.

And, I’m going to miss driving home in the dark, when there isn’t a soul on the road and the night is quiet and dark and beautiful. I’m going to miss singing at the top of my voice when I drive, feeling as if I’m the only person in the world. I’m going to miss the routine, the exercise that I got while working and even my extremely strict boss.

I was shown a part of the world that I didn’t understand going in, but which revealed itself to me in strangely hard ways. Having just come back from England when I started waitressing, the job brought me back into the pulse of my country, gave me the reality check that I needed, banishing my disillusions that I had developed in my time abroad. Some of what I saw was good and other things so dark and depressing that I cannot write about it here and now.

Finally, it’s time for me to confess that I am sad. That I feel as if I’m leaving home and leaving behind the people who have meant so much to me. Most of my friends are like me, trapped in the job that they hate because there is nowhere else for them to go, whether they are students working to pay for their living and studies or fellow travellers who came from abroad to the same disillusion that I had. The worst part is that I always try not to make friend and not to get involved but then, when it does happen, the people worm themselves into my heart so deep that leaving them hurts.

But, change is good, and this change – this change will hopefully be a step in the right direction. And, I won’t lose contact with my friends and I’ll still remember the way to the shop.

It will be different but then, every day is…

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Enter The Dragon – Part 3

And, here we go! I decided to continue with the story of the dragon in my room. J It’s short and will remain light hearted. You can find the previous version here. Because of the way it ended though, I added the last paragraph to make reading it easier.

Enjoy.

Part 3.

“How do we get rid of it?”

Minias raised an eyebrow and looked at the dragon in a way that for a moment, made Alyssa’s hair stand on end. “Well I can…”

“No you cannot!” she snapped. “Don’t you ever look at anything in my room like that ever again. He is not… Not an ingredient or something! I just want him out, not dead.”

The demon blinked at her and then at the dragon that had turned to look at him, his golden eyes almost glowing. “Well,” he said. “Then I don’t really know. If you can think of a better idea, let me know.”

He turned and readied himself to climb back into his own reality under the bed, leaving Alyssa to gape at him.

Oh no you don’t, she thought and reached out to grab his arm. Quicker than she could react though, the dragon hissed suddenly and swiped its tail at Minias, forcing him to step away from her bed and effectively stopping him from going to his room. The demon jumped back with a surprised Latin curse, while Alyss blinked at the black reptile as it hissed at Minias, its tail twitching in a very cat like manner.

“He doesn’t want you to go,” she pointed out surprised.

Minias cursed again and pushed his smoked glasses back up his nose. “No,” he said sharply. “You don’t want me to go and it picked up on it.”

Impressed, Alyssa grinned at the dragon and tentatively reached out to stroke its head. “Good Draggy Waggy,” she crooned as the dragon relaxed and made a content rumbling sound, butting its head against her hand for more attention. “Keep the demon here until he can be of some help.” She turned to Minias and gave him an expectant look. “You’re scared of him.”

Minias glared at the pair of them and straightened his shirt. “I told you, we must be cautious of its magic.” He gave her an irritated look. “And, it’s difficult to determine what sex it is. Don’t assume it’s male.”

Alyssa raised an eyebrow at him and grinned despite herself. “Whatever,” she said. “My question still remains – how are we getting rid of it and for that matter, what the hell is it doing in my room? How did it get here? And you know – for that matter, how did you end up here?”

The demon sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “It’s rather difficult to explain,” he said but, upon seeing her look as she continued stroking the dragon’s ridged face, continued quickly. “Basically, for some sort of reason, there is a tiny fold in reality – here in your room. It allows for easier access, but it also makes your room safe to hide in. Kind of like hiding between two folds in the sheet of reality. That’s why I choose to stay here and it’s most probably what drew it here.” He pointed to the dragon who had settled down and was once again playing with Alyssa’s pillow.

Alyssa frowned and glanced at the mythical creature. “So it’s hiding here?”

Minias shrugged. “Hiding or staying because it feels safe. The book says that these kind of dragons are often pushed away from their mothers at a very young age. They then find a place of refuge and make their home there. They can be very territorial.” He paused and looked at Alyssa’s expression. “What?”

“You shouldn’t have said that,” she said miserably, making Minias frown.

“What? That they can be territorial?” He made a sound in the back of his throat. “That only becomes a problem if you have another dragon hiding in your room.” He smiled ruefully and gave her an amused look but soon realized that something was still wrong.

Alyssa sighed deeply and gave the dragon a miserable look as it crooned and stretched itself out on her bed again, looking perfectly content with the world.

“No,” she said. “That it feels safe here. How can I kick it out now?!”

To Be Continued…

The Road of Fame Part 5 – NaStySuMo

It’s 1:25am. I am… Tired, lol. 😉
Hope you enjoy this one! My apologies if I missed any spelling errors.

The Road of Fame Part 5

The woman looked vaguely familiar.

Fame blinked groggily and tried to place her but her recollection came up with nothing. She had wavy dark hair which was cut in a bob, framing her round, friendly face and light blue eyes. She was standing beside the bed, looking at a file when she noticed Fame looking at her.

“So,” she said – her voice pleasant. “We meet again.”

Fame swallowed, trying to work some moisture into her mouth. Her throat hurt and her nose burned from the steady flow of oxygen that was being fed through a thin, plastic tube.

“Do ah…” She had to swallow. “Know ye?”

The woman smiled and closed her file, putting it back into the holder beside the bed. “You helped me a couple of days ago in your shop. I brought in a couple of games from my nephews. You told me that nobody takes female gamers seriously.” She smiled at Fame as she moved to the monitors and read her statistics. Fame vaguely remembered something like that, but in truth the woman was just one customer in many.

Yet, she nodded dutifully and swallowed again, the dull pain in her shoulder making her uncomfortable. She watched the woman read her numbers and tolerated her taking her pulse manually. “Tell me,” the doctor queried after a while, her voice still warm. “How’s the pain?”

Fame blinked and shifted again, bringing her good arm up to pull at the oxygen line. “Fine,” she lied. “Please, when can ah go home?”

The woman raised a perfectly shaped eyebrow and gently removed Fame’s hand from the line. “Not for a few days still, I should think,” she murmured. “You were very lucky Amy.”

Fame closed her eyes and didn’t say anything. She heard the woman sigh and squeeze her hand slightly. “There are some people here who want to talk to you. I’ll see you later.”

Fame didn’t open her eyes again until she was sure that she was alone. Shifting, she mentally orientated herself, trying to establish whether or not she could just get up and leave the hospital if she pulled out the IV. She quickly established that she couldn’t because the IV wasn’t the only uncomfortable tube stuck in her and also, after only a few moments of consciousness, Fame already felt bone weary. She doubted whether she would make it to the door, let alone to the bus stop. She didn’t remember a lot of the past day or two (unsure of how long she had been unconscious) but she did remember one thing.

“Dogmeat,” she whispered, wishing that she could summon him out of thin air. “Dogmeat…”

“Amy Marsh?”

Fame opened her eyes to see a man in a gray suite standing beside her. He had dusty blond hair and a strong face, accentuated by his green eyes. There was a pin on his jacket of a hand gripping a lightning bolt.

It made Fame shudder and close her eyes again.

The man cleared his throat with an irritated sound.

“Amy Marsh,” he said again. “My name is Daniel Scott. I’m from EPR. I need to ask you a few questions about yesterday’s incident.”

Fame cringed at the word. Incident. Bureaucracy was a bitch when it came to euphemisms. She decided to keep her eyes closed, choosing not to answer in the desperate hope that they’d leave or she’d just lose consciousness. There was a patient sigh and a metallic grinding sound as the bed’s railing was lowered. Fame flinched when the bed shifted under the weight of someone sitting down. Unwittingly she opened her eyes and blinked surprised when she saw a petite, middle aged woman sitting beside her. Something about the woman’s demeanour, her sad confidence, made her wary and when her gaze shot to the woman’s wrist she found what she expected.

A bright red wrist band.

The heart monitor beeped as Fame turned her gaze back to Mr. Scott who smiled at her and folded his hands over a nondescript file he had with him.

“This is my assistant Denise Holden,” he pointed out. “As you can see – she is a Type 3 Red Class Evolutionate. The reason I point this out Ms. Marsh is that failure to co-operate with us would put you under immediate suspicion of being involved in the crime. Under section 2.4 of the EPC Act we are then allowed to – by any means necessary – question you until we have conformation of our suspicions. Or, you are proven innocent.” He smiled and motioned to the petite woman in her matching gray suite. “And that, Ms. Marsh is where Ms. Holden comes in. She is a physical Telepath or a Mind Reader if you will.” He paused, allowing her to think about what he had said.

“It makes questioning so much easier and quicker. Don’t you think?”

When he finished talking, Fame was crying – the monitors next to her bed demanding the attention of the nurses, yet nobody came to her aid.

Evolutionate business was Evolutionate business and nobody intervened until they were given leave to.

“Ah didn’t do anything,” Fame managed as she fought for words with her sore throat. “Ah was in the storeroom when they stormed into m’shop. Ah just came out an’ they shot me.” She closed her eyes and swallowed. “An’ m’dog. Ah managed to close the door and hide there. Ah can’t remember anything after tha’.”

The woman shifted, causing Fame to move uncomfortably, knowing that if she touched her she would know everything there was to know about her.

“How many suspects were there?” Denise Holden asked, speaking for the first time. Her voice was serenely calm, scaring Fame even more.

Wishing for water for her painful throat, Fame answered as quickly as she could. “Ah don’t know,” she said. “Ah think… Ah heard ’bout four voices, ah did. But ah can’t be sure.”

Mr. Scott raised an eyebrow and slowly opened up his file to make a note.

“Four you say?” he queried. “So there were definitively four in the shop?”

Fame cleared her throat and nodded slowly. “Ah heard four voices,” she confirmed. “But there could’ve been five of one didn’t speak.”

Denise gave her a curious look and abruptly reached out and poured her some water from the pitcher that was on her bedside cabinet. Fame didn’t take it from her, but gratefully took a sip when she put a straw in.

“And was there anybody else in the store with you?” She queried.

Fame shook her head and struggled to swallow her last sip; her throat once again constricting with tears. “Just m’dog,” she said as she tried to control her tears, Dogmeat’s final yelp still echoing through her memory. “But, they shot him too.”

Mr. Scott frowned slightly and looked at his notes. “This is the Australian Cattle Dog that you frequently brought to the shop with you?”

Fame nodded and for the first time Ms. Holden frowned puzzled. “There isn’t any mention in the report of a carcass,” she said. “Are you sure he died? He might’ve run out in the confusion.”

Fame blinked more tears as she shook her head. “He wouldn’t ha’ leave me,” she said as she closed her eyes, the weariness settling around her like a heavy blanket. “He never would.”

Someone touched her hand; quickly dragging her back to consciousness with a flash of panic but it was Mr. Scott who had taken her hand, not Ms. Holden.

“Your dog wasn’t there,” he said with barely contained impatience. “But, the three suspects that we have apprehended claims that someone else was. They say that they were shot at by a brunette woman in a military commando type uniform. Two were seriously wounded.” He paused and glanced at the door. “Coincidentally, they are both here with you in High Care.”

When Fame glanced at the door bewildered, Denise Holden quickly spoke up.

“Don’t worry,” she said, never shifting in her position. “They are under guard. Tell us of the woman Fame, who is she? She was in the storeroom with you.”

Fame blinked and tried to focus on Mr. Scott.

“Ah don’t know who yer talkin’ about,” she managed. “Ah was alone.”

The two fixed her with a twin unblinking stare. “According to all three witnesses, she came out of the storeroom with you and stared firing on them.” Mr. Scott pointed out. “Who is she Amy? She all but stormed out of the storeroom, firing what appeared to be a magnum yet we could find no trace of her bullets even though she put two men in hospital. CCTV didn’t’ show her leaving the shop or entering it. What was she doing with you in the storeroom Amy?”

Fame closed her eyes and shook her head, feeling distressed. “Ah don’t know,” she insisted. “Ah don’t know her! Ah can’t remember wha’ happened in the shop. It hurt so much, ah was scared. Ah don’t know what happened. Ah don’t know!” The last was a desperate cry, begging them to listen to her. Her breath now came in short, panicked gasps and her shoulder was aflame.

Mr. Scott pulled back a bit as a nurse appeared by the door, her face pitched with worry as she looked at the scene. Ms. Holden motioned to the nurse to remain where she was and turned to Fame. Putting on two thick leather gloves, she took Fame’s hand in hers and forced the young woman to look at her.

“I cannot read your mind now,” she murmured. “Do not be afraid. Tell me Fame, did you create her?”

Struggling for breath, Fame shook her head, black spots swimming before her vision as she tried to remain conscious, having given up remaining calm long ago.

“Ah can’t manifest,” she said. “M’powers are useless, ye all know this. Ah don’t have anything ye want. No explanation. Ah can’t tell ye what happened. Ah am sorry.”

Ms. Holden nodded slowly and drew back, looking up at her boss before she lightly hopped off of the bed and went to the door. Mr. Scott sighed and made a note in his file before patting Fame’s knee under the bed covers.

“Well, thank you for your help,” he said. “We’re sorry if this seemed a bit harsh Amy. Please, be still now – the police will contact you if they need any other information. This interview is done; the EPR thanks you for your cooperation.”

Fame didn’t look at them, but tried to pull herself up into a tight bundle as much as she could. When the left the room, the nurse and another person rushed into the room, trying to get her to calm down and breathe easy, but she didn’t pay them any mind.

“Dogmeat,” she whispered as she pressed her uninjured hand over her face to hide her tears. “Ah am so sorry.”

888

“Do you think we were too harsh?” Denise Holden said as she and her boss left the Hereford County Hospital, making a bee line for the parking lot, the miserable Herefordshire weather sending a shower of rain their way. “She does seem… fragile.”

Mr. Scott snorted and shook his head. “Weak,” he supplied the word. “That’s the problem with these countryside low grade Evolutionates Denise, they lack strength and discipline so they flee to the most uninhabited parts of the country just to make sure that they will never be put in a position where their strength of character will be tested. It’s good sometimes to remind them the hard way that they still answer to a higher authority, no matter what colour they wear around their wrist.”

Denise raised an eyebrow at him and sighed softly, slipping her gloves back into her pockets. “I think they come here because they just want to be left alone,” she murmured. “Especially she, our young Amy Marsh.”

To Save a Life.

I don’t remember leaping over the four foot barbed wire fence, but apparently, it had been quite spectacular. All I knew was that I found myself knee deep in mud, my shoes ruined. It was ironic, because not an hour earlier I had told my friend Sumi that I was going to be careful on the farm. I had forgotten my usual hiking-gone-riding boots and had to wear my decent boots which I had brought with me. I didn’t spare it a second thought though, my attention focused on the sight in front of me.

A month old Simmentaler calf had slipped in the quick sand like mud at the watering trough and one of the other cows must’ve pushed her head under. Sumi and I were working with our young two year old gelding when something told me to look at the beef cattle her father kept who had just come in to drink. I had seen what I thought was the calf rolling in the mud. It had taken me only seconds to realize that I didn’t see the calf’s head and it wasn’t rolling, but jerking. My heart skipped a beat and before I had time to think I was alongside the calf. I think my instincts had been honed by hours of watching lambs being born, always ready to leap over the fence to keep an eye out for the ones born still in the amnion sac. I grabbed the now still calf by the shoulder and pulled up but my hands slipped. Cursing, I shoved my arm up to my shoulder into the boggy mess, not caring that I took half of my braid with me and grabbed the calf around the neck, pulling her up – using my weight to get her loose. The moment her head was free, I reached out and removed the mud from her nose and mouth, her tongue stark white from asphyxiation. By now, Sumi was with me, having taken a few seconds longer than I had to figure out what was going on. By now, the calf wasn’t breathing and my first instinct was to do mouth to mouth with it but sense and practice told me to wait. There was still mud in the calf’s airway and if I blew it back into her lungs it could do more damage than good. So I gave her a good and proper shake, bunching her stomach and then grabbing her tail and bending it as far back as I could without breaking it. The calf jerked and took a sharp breath. A pain response which saved her life. I took more mud from her nose and mouth and then, when we were sure she was breathing (and continuing to breathe) Sumi helped me pull her out of the pit and onto the dry land next to it. We both continued to rub the calf and clear her airways as the sticky turf mud poured out. I went on my knees behind her and lifted up her behind to help with the process and Sumi washed the mud from her ears and eyes. It took ten minutes for the calf to regain its sense but when she lifted up her head, I found myself laughing and hugging her, praising her for her will to live. Sumi watched me for a second, then started laughing with me.

“You did it.” She said as she hugged me. “Well done, you did it.”

Her words meant so much more. Yes, I had managed to save the calf. But, I had also managed to hold on long enough in this country of mine to get a job. On Thursday I was offered a contract as a Sales Representative at an Animal Pharmaceutical company. A job in my field. One that would utilize not only my official degree, but the various other subjects in biochemistry that I had studied alongside my animal science. It’s as if I had been shaped and moulded for this job ever since I started studying, ever since I had chosen to rather go into Animal Production than Veterinary Science.

I have done it.

I have saved a life, but my life has also been saved.

My new world, my new life begins 1 September.

NaStySuMo – Road of Fame Part 4

Hello everybody.

I have so much to tell you, but because my words aren’t working right now, I decided to carry on with my NaStySuMo project, the Road of Fame. Enjoy! I’ll explain my life to you tomorrow.

Part 4

Some people had thought that technology would inevitably be mankind’s downfall and, to an extent, they were right. Mankind as we knew it started on its path to extinction the first time families started getting together to listen to the new and wonderful invention called the radio. As the radio waves started bouncing through and around our bodies at the beginning of the twentieth century it was fundamentally altering our DNA. Like a jumbled up Rubix cube, our genetic code started to slowly shift and change, though it wasn’t until World War 2 that the effects of it was really realized.

A few, select people, started doing things. The Allies and Axis alike scrambled to collect these people and harness their special abilities, inevitably using their powers as a weapon. Although these people were responsible for the turning of the tide in the Great War, they were kept a secret. At first it was thought to be a very selected phenomena and even in the 1950s when the structure of DNA was discovered by Franklin, Watson and Crick, people weren’t getting too excited about this strange occurrence. Those who displayed these abilities were secreted off to various locations and tested, used for their governments own sinister purposes.

But, as technology advanced at an exponential rate, so did the candidates receptive to these abilities. Soon, the various governments around the world couldn’t hide their existence any longer and in the late 1960’s, when television was established in every state of America, the US government confirmed the existence publically of these ‘super humans’. Their revelation would change the world forever. Families changed, schools changed and inevitably – society followed.

Children were tested and taken from their families to be placed in ‘orientation’ projects. At first, one in every 20 children had this ability, but that soon rose to one in every ten and then one in every five. The orientation projects were soon swamped and special classes were opened up in schools to accommodate the overflow of super humans. By the end of the twentieth century, the phenomena had become so common place that children weren’t tested to see whether or not they had any special abilities but rather to determine the classification of their abilities. Placed on a scale and ‘tagged’, those who had extraordinary powers were put in special schools and programs. Those with minor abilities were marked, but deemed unsuitable and were left to struggle through the normal challenges of teenage life.

Not normal, but not super.

Ordinary for lack of a better explanation.

Average by some standards.

Useless by others.

To Be Continued…