Archive for April 4th, 2012
Part one is here. Enjoy!
A Fateful Meeting, Part 2
By Nojh Livic
“Thank you. As I was saying, I am here to inquire about the tutoring position,” Marla repeated, offering a smile and leaning forward slightly in an attempt to model eagerness. She even let her hands slide from her lap slightly. Lilly did not look as surprised as she had at the door but the expression on her face did suggest that she was unsure what to make of Marla’s statement. So Marla continued, “I read in the paper this morning that there was a tutoring position for the Warlam family and I thought I might apply. I have brought my associate Lady Trayark to both vouch for my credentials and that I am a sentient citizen in good standing.”
To add further to her claim, Marla reached into the small brief case she had brought from which she produced several papers and held them forward. “I see,” Lilly said as she took the papers. Her eyebrows slowly raised as she read over Marla’s credentials. Resume writing for Marla was a difficult task as most did not want to read several centuries of career history. This particular version focused on her academic research and her prior teaching experience at the Qualsburg University.
“Amazing.” Lilly said finally, after a moment. She set the papers down on the table as the teapot let out a simple and short whistle, followed by the plate below slowly beginning to dim. Lilly began pouring tea as she talked, even taking time to do so for Marla. “Well, even my husband could not find fault with these papers and I admit, given his profession, I doubt he would see a problem with hiring you. However I must ask at least one question and it won’t be simple, I’m afraid, but here it is. Why do you want to be our tutor?”
Marla had expected a question along similar lines. It would have been impolite to ask the direct question. Although Lilly hid it well, Marla gave the mother credit for being more circumspect. As it was, Marla already had a prepared statement but she took a moment to appear as if she was considering and organizing her thoughts on the matter.
“To say simply that I am bored would do my motivations injustice. My current position as a free citizen grants me an excessive amount of time that I did not have access to before the new laws. And while the new laws have provided for me decently enough, I do feel that fetching a wage is of personal benefit not only of the body but of the mind. As to why your family specifically, my experience lends itself to seeking out tutoring positions and your ad in the paper was the only position available. Mostly thought, I would like to tutor your progeny out of a want to feel useful. I’m sure you can surmise how difficult it might be for one such as myself to find a career in service and yet that is what I find myself compelled to do. I hope that answers your question?”
Before Lilly could respond, a young boy of certainly no more than five years of age came running into the kitchen. He had on shorts and boots but no other clothing save for a set of goggles that were pulled down enough to let one eye see through a set, while the other eye remained free. The boy was wielding some type of metal trinket in his left hand, and a wrench in his right, and he was beaming.
“Mama. Mama! I got it to- Wow! A robot!” the boy exclaimed and immediately walked up to Marla, peering up at her. Marla turned her profile slightly to address the boy while she looked down at him. She could see her own reflection in his small brown eyes. A well dressed lady perhaps, were it not for her metallic silver skin.
“No dear, not a robot a, uh,” Lilly stood and reached for her son but her correction trailed off.
“Automata,” Joan supplied helpfully. “Hello there. My name is Joan Nel Haryark and this is my friend Marla. What is your name?”
“Leonard.” Lee said deftly side stepping his mother’s reach. He didn’t even look to Joan, his attention was so riveted on Marla.
“Hello, Leonard,” Marla said, smiling. “What is it you have there? Is that a pressure valve system?” Lee’s eyes opened wide as the silver woman spoke to him and his mouth slide open slightly. Marla slide her eyes to see that Lilly had sat back down and was watching their interaction. She decided to handle this as a hands on interview. To prompt the boy, Marla slowly brought her hands up, palm open. “Would you show it to me?”
Lee seemed to recover at this request and quickly brought the item he was carrying around from behind his back. “Well kinda. I mean, yeah. See I hook this end into the steam chamber and it’ll fill up here…” the boy began to explain his device. It become obvious very quickly that this young boy had built himself the equivalent of a steam-powered potato cannon. By her best estimate of the volume of the primary load chamber suggested that at full power, it would either explode in his hands, or propel an object fast enough to puncture a hole in the wall or even dent her, to say nothing of a human.
“That is a very impressive contraption.” Lilly said with motherly pride, clasping both hands together, the danger of her son’s creation eluding her. Joan too had a face of quiet admiration that Marla knew all too well for she used it any time she was caught in a conversation with one of her father’s newly hired scientists.
“You will, of course, be fully testing the output of the primary load chamber with a gauge before you attempt to operate the firing mechanism?” Marla asked adding a hint of authority to her tone. She focused her full attention on the boy but kept her facial features passive. It helped convey seriousness that some found unsettling. Lilly turned her attention to the prospective tutor with a slight frown at the edge of her lips and Joan’s demure expression faltered as she cast a side glance at her friend.
Lee, however, seemed fascinated by Marla and took a step closer, his eyes wide as she stared into her faintly glowing eyes. “Uhh. Oh yeah. That’s a good idea. I can calculate the distance the potatoes will travel if I know the pressure exerted,” Lee’s excitement was subdued slightly until Marla smiled. She reached out and gently patted the boy on the head. He beamed up at her.
“Very good. I’ll want to see your notes on the device. Perhaps you could invite me to the test firing once you have it fully tested?” Marla retracted her hand to her lap but continued to smile and tilted her head. The movement was wasted. Lee was already looking down at his device, taking a wrench to the primary nozzle.
“Ooh yeah! We could invite the neighbors too. Can we ma?” Lee asked without looking up.
“We’ll see dear.” Lilly arms were crossed but her frown was gone and she was now studying the interviewee with a bemused expression. Marla had likely made an impressed. “Go on and fix your thing and let the grownups talk awhile longer.” Marla watched Lee scamper off again before she turned towards his mother. She sat up straight and offered the woman an attentive expression with a slightly raised eye socket ridge.
“Can you start tomorrow?”
I have a bad habit of trying to create a slow reveal. I really should stop that. Still I think this came off well. Marla didn’t have any real fear of the interview so this was not as riveting as a normal interview but I thought the ticking time bomb of the potato gun add a slight thrill, even if only Marla was aware of it. She was the narrator so the reader was now aware of it to. There is obviously knowledge hinted that but not discussed, such as the laws that have made Marla a free citizen. Anyway tell me what you think?