Home RunBy Joolz
Page 3 of 7
|The next morning they studied security and architectural schematics. In the afternoon they had no difficulty appropriating custodial worker’s coveralls before visiting the technical laboratories. It worked just as Avon had planned. Their identification cards said they were authorized for access to the outer hallways and no one looked at them again. Avon pushed a dust mop slowly over the already spotless floors while Vila used a rag to polish already gleaming fixtures. They noted the visible security apparatus, and Vila surmised the existence of others.
Later they discussed their observations in a small diner on the Delta level. They had taken prophylactics to neutralize the suppressants in the food and drink, so they had to be careful not to look or sound too sharp. As they lingered over tea Vila had Avon listen to the people at the tables around them and explained some of the differences in the accents they heard. Despite himself Avon found the linguistic study interesting, if not the overheard conversations.
Not being anxious to return to their tiny room, Vila dawdled at the market, letting Avon go on ahead. To his surprise he felt nervous about being separated from Avon, especially when he thought of his sister. Who would believe that he could feel more secure with someone like Avon than alone in a crowd? He hurried toward their quarters.
As Vila rounded the corner before their room, he was initially embarrassed to have interrupted the couple he found entwined in the hall. Then he realized that one of them was Avon and that the other, a large young man with scraggly black hair, had pinned his arms behind his back and held a knife to his throat.
“Oy!” Vila called indignantly. “That’s my boyfriend! Get y’r own!”
The man snarled, “Stay back. This is between me and this Alpha slime.”
His voice muffled by the wall his face was pressed into, Avon said, “Got the wrong person, mate.” Vila was proud to note that his student had the accent almost right.
It didn’t, however, convince the attacker. “I got the right person. I know you, Kerr Avon. You ruined my life and you don’t even recognize me, do you?”
“Never seen you before in me life, I swear it!”
The man slid the knife menacingly along Avon’s skin. “Let me remind you. I was just a boy, seventeen maybe, proud to have been assigned to an important Alpha scientist. I looked after that big flat of yours and waited on you hand and foot. I don’t think you ever looked at me once – just another anonymous Delta grade, wasn’t I?
“One day I spilled a glass of water on your desk and the ink on one of those drawings of yours ran. You, Alpha lord and master, complained that I was clumsy and they transferred me to maintenance at the waste-water treatment facility. It’s taken near ten years to work my way into public space upkeep, where people don’t shy away from the smell of me when I get off work.” He crushed Avon roughly against the wall. “Spent a lot of that time thinking about what I’d do to you if I ever got the chance, then I see you at that diner tonight. Don’t know what you’re doing down here, but you’ll not be leaving.” He pressed the blade firmly into Avon’s neck.
Alarmed, Vila tried to intervene. “Listen, this really is a mistake. This’s Perr, we been together for years. No Alpha, him. Can barely read! Good in bed, though. That’s why I keep him around. Come on, let him go and we’ll prove you’re wrong.”
The young man looked angrily at Vila and waved the knife in his direction. “Get lost you…”
Avon shoved back, pushing the larger man away, and Vila leapt forward to grab the hand with the knife. He was shaken off easily, but Avon had wrapped one arm around his assailant’s throat from behind. With the other he grasped the flailing knife, quickly turned the large fist, and pulled it toward himself, driving the blade deeply into the man’s chest just below the sternum. Vila jumped back as blood began to spurt from the wound.
Avon released the attacker as he sunk to his knees, and came around to look down at the dying man, his face open with surprise as though shocked by what he had just done. Vila watched Avon’s expression return to his control, so that by the time the man gasped out, “Kerr Avon, I curse you with failure and misery,” he was able to answer coolly, “You’re too late there.”
The young man, Vila didn’t know his name, fell forward lifeless. Now that the initial emergency had passed Vila began to panic. He looked at Avon beseechingly. “Now what?” They were lucky that no one else had travelled that corridor in the last few minutes.
Avon looked at him calmly, “Well, Vila, where do Deltas hide bodies?”
“How should I know? I’m a thief, not a murderer.” The other man stiffened slightly at the term and Vila rushed on. “The only thing I can think of is the large-item disposal shoot, takes rubbish to the recycling. But that’s a horrible thing to do to a man!”
“I would say that he’s past minding. Where is it?”
Vila tried to think. “They’re usually on the outer edges of the sector in the run-down areas. There should be one near here.”
“Help me get him into our room and go find the nearest. Later tonight we’ll get rid of him.”
Ice-cold, heartless, unfeeling bastard. He’d just killed a man and didn’t care a lick.
Vila helped drag the corpse into their tiny space. As he left on his errand Avon was using one of their two thin towels to mop up the blood in the hallway.
When he returned, the body was propped against the wall and Avon was sitting on the chair staring at it. Vila looked from one to the other, feeling slightly nauseous. After a moment, Avon said evenly, “I would swear that I’ve never seen this man before. However, I have no doubt that it happened as he said it did. My work was my life and my work-space sacrosanct. I never knew that such a small thing could have consequences for the servant.”
Anger rose in Vila’s chest and he snapped, “Never knew and never cared.”
Avon looked up at him, his face pale and vacant. “That’s right, I wouldn’t have cared.”
Vila’s anger dissipated. There was something about Avon’s stillness that told him that he did care now. Perhaps Blake’s idealism was having an effect. Maybe getting to know Vila had changed his perception of class distinctions. Vila stepped awkwardly over the obstacle to sit down on the bed, then avoided looking at the body. He said, “You didn’t have a choice. He was going to kill you.”
“I know. I suppose I should be grateful for suppressants and for the fact that they obviously didn’t teach him about street fighting at the sanitation plant. I wouldn’t have known either, until recent events.”
Yes, they had both done things in the last year or so that would have been unthinkable before.
Avon’s lips quirked into a brief smile and he glanced over at Vila. “Good in bed?”
Vila felt himself blush. “I was just trying to distract him. I wouldn’t know about that, would I? I mean, we are sharing a bed just now and you’ve been good about not taking the blanket, but that’s not the same, is it?” Avon grinned at him in amusement. “Not that I think you wouldn’t be good in bed, I’m sure you would. But I’m not hinting or anything. You don’t have to worry that I’m planning to seduce you. The thought wouldn’t cross my mind. Far from it.” He ran out of breath and trailed off.
Then Avon laughed. A rare unrestrained guffaw that shook his body. Relieved, Vila joined in somewhat less enthusiastically. When he quieted again, Avon leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes, much of the tension melted away, and commented, “Vila, you’re priceless.”
“I’ll have you know that my services are actually quite dear. Restals don’t come cheap.”
Avon chuckled again.
If he didn’t have to look at the corpse grotesquely filling the floorspace, and didn’t have to think about what they would be doing tomorrow, Vila might have quite enjoyed bombarding Avon with double entendres and ribald jokes. However, the room was too small to avoid the gruesome mess, and tomorrow was getting nearer every minute.
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