2. Treason, Plot and… Whatever the Third One Was
Fury rose inside me, vicious and deadly, wave after wave of rage and anger.
“Over my dead body,” I managed to choke out.
Grumpy threw me a miserable look and sighed again. “Yeah, I’m sure that will be arranged, too. Eventually…”
I’d worked so hard to win her freedom – our freedom – and I did it fair and square. I won our right to choose life or death. And now some heaven politician wanted to take all that away? No doubt, one of the up and coming PISS Committee members, on some misguided, irrational, stupid mission. Politicians are always on a mission, right? Someone who wanted to be noticed. Someone on a quest for power. What better way to make sure you get a slice of the cake at the next government change?
Something occurred to me just then. “This… er… Select Committee… They’ve come up with a report surprisingly quickly.”
“Why so fast? They are officials, civil servants like any other. Speed and efficiency are concepts they don’t even understand. To have a report finished in just a few short weeks… It doesn’t make any sense.” It was quiet for a minute as I thought things through. “And Cronus? Can’t he do anything to help?” Cronus owed me so much, and he knew it. Without my help, he’d still be hiding away on Tartarus, somewhere, waiting for humanity to crumble and filling out his Personal Development Plan on a regular basis.
“He tried,” Grumpy answered. “But the fact is, the New Gods Pro-Change are still the current rulers. Cronus can’t influence anything yet, his hands are tied. He has pushed for a referendum, and he is lucky they’ve even agreed to that one! What with trying to keep a finger on the pulse and running his campaign… You wouldn’t believe how many spanners these mongrels are throwing in the works. Every day there’s a new obstacle to overcome, a new hoop the opposition party must jump through. Progress is very slow. It will take months for anything to even begin to change.”
He dropped his eyes and I understood what he was saying. Once again, I had no one to rely on, no one who could fight my corner with me. I was used to that, expected that, even. I knew it shouldn’t, but it still stung. That’s what comes from helping others. I felt alone, vulnerable and betrayed. My eyes felt all prickly and hot. I had to grit my teeth and count to twenty before I could be sure my voice would sound strong and determined as I vowed.
“Then, I will make sure I die with her. I will keep vigil as best I can, and when the time comes, we can go together.”
Grumpy was shaking his head before I even finished speaking. “That won’t be possible.”
“What’s to stop me?” A reluctant chuckle slipped out as I considered what could stop me depart this life if and when I chose to do so.
“They’ve already figured out that might be what you’ll try to do. So they’re sending out a squad of twelve extra guardian angels, Special Forces, so to speak, to keep an eye on you. You could throw yourself in front of a speeding train, and you’d still survive. Your luck allocation has already been overridden.”
Anything to keep me alive. And us apart. The anger I felt was twisting into madness. I ground my teeth together and suppressed the need to punch something in frustration. Mainly because I was surrounded by rock and now was the wrong time to break my hand.
Hands balled into fists, I willed myself into composure so I could continue my questioning. “How do you know all this, Grumpy?”
“Ah,” he smiled a little and touched his finger to the side of his nose again. “I got myself a new girlfriend. She works in the Registry, deals with conference room allocation and the like. We got caught out yesterday in one of them rooms, you know… half-way through… So we hid in the stationery cupboard until they were all finished with their meeting. Four and a half hours!” He didn’t look at all ashamed by this revelation; in fact, his face was slightly wistful, regretful even. Good on him.
“Don’t tell me,” I checked. “The room had been booked by the Select Committee?”
“Yep.” He cleared his throat and shook his wistful expression off with it, trying hard to focus back on my predicament.
“How long do I have? To sort this out?”
“Well, you could appeal, I s’pose… But it takes a minimum of three months for an appeal to be heard… I reckon you’ll have an army of guardian angels on your back no later than a week’s time, maybe earlier. Those nutters are dead serious.”
I nodded. I remembered ‘those nutters’ only too well. Which meant that Grumpy had already risked a lot by simply coming here to find me. Funny how protective I felt now of my once ex-protector. I felt an urgent need to send him away. “Thank you, Grumpy. I appreciate your loyalty. You should go before you get in trouble.”
“’S no problem. Glad to be of service. Keep in touch, yeah?”
I nodded. He stared at me doubtfully for a second, and then he vanished into thin air.
(I’m posting another piece of my wip today because I’m trying hard to finish reading a novel. Yes, I’ll review it. Yes, I’ll post the review here – have a little patience. For now, here are the links to part I, part II and part III of the next book in the Martin Little sequel)