Monday, 16 February 2015

The Madness is Catching (Episode 18)

From: Pine
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2014 1:01 a.m.
To: Sumac2
Subject: Why couldn't it have been Jay?

I sat down and had a good long think about all this, and I figure there's one more thing you have to hear before we really start digging to exonerate Ishmael. Before you commit, you have to know the full risks, especially considering you've never been in field ops.

I didn’t tell you at the time because everything was happening at once, and because Larch asked me not to tell anybody. But screw it. You and I are already in deep trouble. In for a penny, in for a pound.

You remember when I was sent to replace somebody for a surveillance thing out in BC? Got food poisoning?

When I was out there, I partnered with Larch. Jay was field command. It was the first time I've had to work with him in about two years.

Jay has always been a bit of an ass, but never this bad. And she tried to warn me, but she never gave me the details. She even tried to get me to swap missions with another of our friends. At the time, I took it personally, like, what, suddenly she doesn't trust me on a field op? But then...God...

Lately, he's been walking around smiling at strangers like he’s laughing at them, mocking them for not realizing how close they are to a cold-blooded killer. He doesn’t even care that people can see his proto-fangs. It's almost like he's trying to get caught. 

Larch told me later that he’s been walking into men bigger than him to get them to start a fight. Thank God, we’ve been lucky so far, and the bigger guys just walk away. It’s like they can sense he’s…I don’t know, like he’s not right in the head.

He smiles at your throat, and never at your face.

But around Larch, he’s like two different people. 

One second he’s telling her all the things she’s done wrong, yelling at her for how much danger she’s put her team in, saying how much he ought to retire her from field ops, which is bad. No humans ever ‘retire’ from field ops. They get promoted, or they get killed.

And in the next second, Jay’s bringing her sushi or chocolate and coffee, and asking her if she can make her physical training regimen available to all the other human agents in Wyrd. Telling her how clever she was to do this or do that, how brave she was during that other field ops.

Wednesday night, when Jay was in his own room, Larch told me that Jay wants to promote her early. Six years early. Fifteen years is the standard. Some folks don't get promoted until they're in their thirtieth or fortieth year, because they want to live a long and healthy human life before making the jump. But Larch isn't even thirty years old yet.

That same Wednesday night, Larch told me that she had been thinking of switching her requested forebear from Jay to someone else. Then she tells me she's approached Bridget instead.

Jay overheard us from the room next door and he lost it. He barged into our hotel room and grabbed her by the shoulders and gave her a shake and said she could forget about the promotion. Then he realizes the door is open, so he goes back and slams it shut, and then he went after her again, throwing her on the bed and pointing his fingers at her. 

He ignored me completely, and I just sat there being small and invisible. One bite and my human life is over, with no say in who is my forebear. Two bites, and my life is over, period. As a human, he’s strong enough to drive my head through a brick wall. As a lycanthrope, he’s strong enough to knock my head from my neck. The only thing either of us can do is try to de-escalate the situation, and if we can't, we have to find a way to kill him fast, then deal with situation containment later.

Anyhow, she talks him off the ledge and rolls off the bed. Every time she moves, Jay moves, so she manipulates him to clear a path for me to get out of the room. But I wasn't going to leave her there alone. Screw that.

Then he went on for half an hour telling her everything she’d done wrong in the last six months. Every time she tried to get away from him, he’d just stand in her way, like almost chest-to-chest. At some point, she just got sick of it. She told him to back off. He pushed her and made her fall into me and the computer desk. Then he picks her up off the floor and slams her against a wall, and she’s just staring him in the eyes, like she’s daring him to kill her.

So I tell Jay, “You’re too loud. People out in the hall can hear you. We’re going to end up compromising the whole mission if people hear what you say.”

My God, Sumac.

I have seen weres before.

I have even seen weres when they’re upcycling.

What I saw in his face…

First he turns to me and his eyes change colour and get farther apart. Then the bones in his face start shifting and he starts to laugh, and his tongue gets longer before his teeth do. And he’s laughing harder and harder, panting, and grunting, and all of a sudden I wanted to just run and vomit.

Then Larch…I kid you not…slapped him across the face even as it was turning into a muzzle.

I knew we were dead. Dead, dead, dead. Here was a werewolf, in a hotel room, in a crowded downtown area not four doors down from a police station, losing his humanity, and about to rip the stuffing out of us. And Larch had slapped him. She hit him so hard even my hand hurt.

But then he starts coming back from the change and he cracks his neck and smiles a little and he apologizes. Then he says, "Six months. Max."

And then he walks out, like nothing ever happened.

We called up Angie Burley after that, and we told her everything that had happened. She said she'd get in touch with Chairman Haberman right away. We've never heard back. Instead, she's still sending Larch out on missions with Jay - no one else, just her and Jay - and she's kept me locked up here at home.

I’ve maybe slept eighteen hours since we left BC last week.

And my phone won’t stop ringing.

So tell me now.

Do you still want to go up against people like that?