Chapter 12: Hope in all things
I woke lying in Shane’s bed. Alone. Well, sort of. I had a keen sense of…it’s hard to describe, not so much being watched, as being observed. I know the difference is subtle, but it exists. It took me a few moments to realize that my daughter, yes, the one who hadn’t been born yet, but was growing at an exponential rate and was now, according to what I could wrap my brain around, about what a normal 4 month pregnancy would be like, in less than 2 weeks. It was freaky, to say the least, but I guess not more than the fact that she communicated with me fairly regularly these days. Not words and sentences, just feelings, ideas, sensations. I knew when I said something she didn’t like – or when my mind would get going a direction she wasn’t OK with, she’d let me know. One thing that never changed though, was the sense of love that permeated my heart ever second of every moment of every hour of every day. Even though I deeply hated myself, I loved Her, and she loved me back, no matter what I said or did.
I believe now, honestly, that it was Hope that made me aware of how things had to be with Shane. I came to this conclusion late in the game, and only after I realized that she never reacted with annoyance when those thoughts would come, only sadness. Other times that negative thoughts got through, I was roundly fetally chastised for them, but not when it involved us being separated from Shane. I am not sure how I never recognized it back then, but as I sat down to put this story together, it became much more clear to me that she knew. And though her I knew. And we both thought it sucked rocks.
The meeting at the twins place the evening following the big gathering was actually a little bigger even. There were a few new faces, and that worried me a little. Apparently some of those we thought were trustworthy had spread the word a bit, but we didn’t know who on the outskirts could be counted on to have our backs. I knew we couldn’t vet every single Enchanted, and it was their future too, so if they wanted to be a part of it we couldn’t really say no. We knew the names and faces of those we really absolutely couldn’t have as part of the group as they were a definite clear risk, and I didn’t see those faces, so I had to believe we were solid. I should not have underestimated the desire to be normal. To regain their humanity, and again, it was my fault. I should have spoken up when I thought something was iffy, but again, I kept my mouth shut.
The discussion kept to readiness issues. The meeting had been set, though grudgingly on Andie’s part. Though I wasn’t in on the call for obvious reasons, I did hear one side of it, and Shane filled me in on the rest. Her bosses were apparently unhappy that she had failed to bring me in, or even to find out where I was before being run off by a bunch of “misfits and freaks”. Andie, on the other hand, was apparently unhappy that Shane was forcing her hand regarding the terms of the meeting. I am guessing here, but I think it’s a safe bet that she was trying to win back her favored status. We had embarrassed her by sending her away tail tucked between her legs and that wasn’t something she was going to forget any time soon. I have to admit that I was a little surprised when Shane insisted that Adam be part of the group. I liked that he was thumbing his nose at her for lying to us. Clearly she thought we were stupid, and since we had all been very young at the time of the event, many barely having graduated high school, let alone having gone to college. Of course our scientist buddies had, but that fact seemed to have been overlooked by Andie and her WSGF goon squad.
But in the end Shane got what he wanted. They wanted him to have me there and he told them to pound sand, that he didn’t know where I was and if they wanted to meet they’d have to deal with that. He was an amazingly good actor – I almost believed him standing right next to him. He told them that he wanted no weapons and they agreed a little too easily, so we’re assuming they’ll have them anyway. Trustworthy is not really the vibe these guys give off, so we’d plan for all the contingencies. We would make sure to do as much electronic jamming as we could, including the helo and any communications devices they had – we were lucky to have Eric for that – he was good. Nothing we could do about bullets, since guns aren’t electronic, but that was a risk we’d have to take. Or they would, I guess, since I wasn’t supposed to be anywhere around. Shane also told them he wanted Andie, Adam and the global head of the WSGF and no more than 3 guards. He gave in and let them have 5, though again, who knows how many they’d really bring. Luckily for us, they don’t give us a lot of credit for skill or intelligence and I think they will be quite surprised by what they really found.
We would set up a tent on the far end of the island, which was fairly uninhabited – it was mostly dense jungle, which Jessie and I would have to convince to give way for the meeting, but that was no problem. We just gave it permission to return once the tent had been removed, and gave it permission to protect the inhabitants of the island with extreme prejudice should the need arise. It felt good giving that command, knowing that even though I couldn’t be there, a part of me still could offer some protection to those that remained behind.
When we’d completed that part of the process and Shane had notified all the Enchanted of the upcoming meeting and invited them to submit their questions and concerns before hand so they could all be given to the WSGF – after review of course – there were surprisingly few people interested outside the main group, so we thought we had a pretty solid plan. Turns out that wasn’t necessarily the case, but more on that later.
Jessie and I decided now would be a good time to relocate. We had talked about it a lot and had come up with heading back down under. English is the primary language, so no issues there, and there are enough out of the way places that we can move about unnoticed. We both agreed that we’d be housebound for a while, since neither of us really had any idea how the pregnancy thing would turn out. If it moved as fast as it appeared to be, it might be a bit awkward to explain to the locals if we made ourselves too well known.
The internet is certainly a glorious thing. Of course, it’s very different now than it was nearly 80 years ago, but even then it was pretty damn helpful. We found an out of the way spa in Alice Springs, which is about a million miles from anywhere. We didn’t really have a lot of money, but the twins were working on something. I’m definitely not the techie geek type, so trusting them was really the only option.
As all the preparations got underway for the big meeting, I popped into the jungle on the far side of the island, the one where the meeting was planned. I had started experimenting a few days earlier with longer-term instructions to the flora and fauna, to see if there was “memory” retention of instructions, so I’d know whether or not I could give instructions to be followed in the future or if I had to be there at the time to make it work. As soon as I materialized in the small clearing the hibiscus flowered immediately, the canopy closed itself in, creating a beautiful natural umbrella, and the roots and vines began to wind themselves into a web encircling the area. These were all very good things because that’s what I had instructed it to do whenever I returned. So I knew then that I could leave instructions, which would be a huge help.
I brought up a picture of Shane in my head, with instructions to do whatever he said. I sent pictures of our group, admittedly, not all the enchanted, really just our core group, with the knowledge that the island had permission to do whatever it took to keep that group safe. No restrictions, whatever needed to be done, the island itself could do what it saw fit to see that these people did not come to harm. Looking back at it, that might have been a slightly unwise move, but it was all I had at the time. If I couldn’t be there to protect them, I needed the Island to stand in my stead.
I took a few minutes to just sit and take it all in, because I had no idea when, or if, I’d ever be back there. It was a sad thing to be leaving this place – it was here…it existed because of me, and that felt special somehow. I knew Jessie was going to come here to do the same later in the day, and she had a good rapport with the Island, but not like I did. Sort of like the Monster’s attachment to Dr. Frankenstein. I’d have never said that while on the island – no way I’d hurt it’s feelings like that, but it was a very firm attachment of a sort of a creature to it’s creator, so I was going to use it to my advantage.
The day before the meeting was scheduled we met with just the core group of us, me; Shane; Jessie; Max; Eric; Ellie; Josh and Jeremy. These were the only ones who knew about the babies, who knew the true reason Jessie and I were taking off. Everyone else thought it was to take the heat off, but this group knew the reality. This was the group I wanted protected, and these were the people I trusted more than any other. I didn’t trust anyone fully, but this was as good as it got.
“Jessie and I are taking off in a couple minutes. We aren’t going to give details so they can’t use it as leverage in some way. I just want to tell you all that I love each and every one of you and we will be back here as soon as we can.” I knew deep down we’d likely never be back, but I wasn’t going to say it out loud.
Jessie hugged Josh goodbye and he whispered something to her that I didn’t hear. I could imagine, though. I looked at Shane, but frankly, had no idea what to say to him. I could tell him everything would be fine and I’d see him soon, but I knew that wasn’t true and I didn’t want to lie to him any more than I already had. I could tell him I’d miss him, but then he’d try to reassure me, and …well, you can see my conundrum. In the end I just squeezed his hand, kissed him and told him to be careful, and that I loved him. Lame, I know, but even now remembering that moment makes my insides hurt, so much.
Jessie and I started out in the same place I went the last time. We had taken a bunch of cash that we had made from the sale of our illicit products over the years and had Eric create electronic lives for us so we could find a cheap apartment until the mini’s made their appearance, which for me was looking sooner and sooner – only a few weeks and I was near big as a house. It was lucky that it only affected the fade and not popping, or we’d have been screwed!
During this time I’d begun having internal, well, I guess you could call them “conversations” with Hope. She was aware of everything that went on in my head anyway, so, as weird as it seems, she sort of became a confidant for me. I sort of bounced ideas off her. She didn’t always respond, but sometimes I’d get a feeling of agreement, or concern or dismissal, I guess depending on her response to whatever I was thinking. She knew about Shane, or at least what my gut was telling me about Shane, and it made her sad, but I didn’t get any sense that she thought I was wrong, which actually made it worse. Somehow I had the feeling, even then, that Hope knew stuff I didn’t. That no one else knew, or even had a hint about. She wasn’t sharing, but she didn’t seem to be shy about expressing her feelings when she wanted to.
I also have to admit that to this day I have no idea what real pregnant women go through. I highly doubt anything about that process for me was the norm. The morning sickness was so mild as to go nearly unnoticed and lasted about 2 days. There were none of the other issues I’d always heard and read about, fat ankles, peeing all the time, sore backs, just never materialized. Sadly, I also never got the boobs to go with it either. But then, all-in-all my first “trimester” lasted about 10 days, so perhaps I just didn’t have time. It appeared Hope had an agenda, and again, she wasn’t really sharing, but she was in one fuck of a hurry to make an appearance.
Jessie didn’t have the same experience. While we could see that her progress was accelerated, it was nothing like mine. She did experience some of the normal stuff, but I doubt it was truly typical. I guess if there was one good thing to come of all the shit we went through, it might have been that, had it really mattered in the end.