Chapter 19:

Eliminating the buzzing of insects

The Sequence of Kai

“Stop staring at me.”Bookmark here

Aaron pretends to avert his gaze from my naked body and mumbles something stupid that I can’t make out. I’m lying on my couch trying out a pair of noise-cancelling earbuds I just bought, that’s why I’m only wearing panties.Bookmark here

They’re really good quality, the earbuds that is, I can barely hear Aaron’s whining at all.Bookmark here

“Were you saying something?”Bookmark here

He says something back to me but again, I can’t hear him over my earbuds. I’m not even listening to music, just using the noise cancellation by itself. I’m loving the silence.Bookmark here

Aaron keeps speaking and gesturing at me like some kind of pathetic mime. Somewhere along the way he starts picking the broken glass and stray sheets of plastic off my floor and puts them in the bin. This won’t do.Bookmark here

“What the hell are you doing?”Bookmark here

He starts waving his arms around like a madman, pointing at all the various piles of things in my apartment. I still can’t hear exactly what he’s moaning about though, so I have to take out one of my earbuds. The left one this time.Bookmark here

“Say what you were saying again.”Bookmark here

“I said, you shouldn’t live like this, a cluttered living space clouds your mood. No wonder you’re always so…”Bookmark here

He trails off before he calls me moody. Smart enough to know what won’t get him a broken finger or two I suppose.Bookmark here

“Anyway…”Bookmark here

He glances over at me before pretending to look away again.Bookmark here

“Why aren’t you wearing any clothes?”Bookmark here

“Because I don’t want to, I thought I was going to be alone today. How the hell did you get in here anyway?”Bookmark here

His thumb twitches.Bookmark here

“You left your door unlocked.”Bookmark here

“No I didn’t.”Bookmark here

A silence adds a new layer of staleness to the air.Bookmark here

“What do you want from me anyway? You’re not the type to drop in just because you were nearby, you’re not the type to be nearby in the first place.”Bookmark here

“I wouldn’t swing 'round without someone else’s reason. Paul wants us to deal with a little something.”Bookmark here

That’s odd. I mustn’t have heard my phone when Paul called me but then why didn’t he send Trish?Bookmark here

“Why did he send you?”Bookmark here

“Trish refused, something about not wanting to get you involved.”Bookmark here

“In what?”Bookmark here

He picks a jacket of mine off the ground and throws it at me. I let it hit my body, hoping it’ll fall off but it catches on my shoulder. Now that I’m somewhat covered he feels he can face me. What’s the big difference between half a chest and a full one?Bookmark here

“Oh, just a tricky emotion reaper that’s shown up in London, the powers that be asked him to look into it.”Bookmark here

“And she thinks I can’t handle that?”Bookmark here

“Do you even know what an emotion reaper is?”Bookmark here

“I don’t need to.”Bookmark here

Aaron lets a rather dismissive puff of air escape his lips.Bookmark here

“Doesn’t matter, I’d rather you be involved than her as well.”Bookmark here

Realizing that I’m probably going to be made to go outside, I start putting on my clothes.Bookmark here

“So, it’s another one where we keep her out of the loop? I hate those ones.”Bookmark here

“What’s so bad about them?”Bookmark here

I feel my eyebrows and one corner of my mouth raise inadvertently. It’s amusing that he doesn’t know what I’m talking about straight away. When he sees my expression, it clicks for him.Bookmark here

“Oh, it’s me.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, it’s you.”Bookmark here

Aaron shakes the annoyance out of his expression with a quick click of the tongue.Bookmark here

“Doesn’t matter, it’s not one of those. She’s refusing to be involved at all.”Bookmark here

“6 of one, half a dozen of the other, sounds like I’m still being forced to work with you.”Bookmark here

“You’re not being forced, you can say no after all.”Bookmark here

“I can’t really though, in any case, I don’t want to.”Bookmark here

I grab Aaron by the shoulder and push him back out of my apartment.Bookmark here

“Walk ahead a bit, I’ll be 5 minutes behind.”Bookmark here

“I can just wait the 5 minutes.”Bookmark here

“Don’t.”Bookmark here

I slam the door shut in his face.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

I followed Aaron across the city after I packed everything I need to. All that entailed was getting fully dressed, then filling my jacket pockets with a phone and charger. Usually, I just get dressed but since Trish is sitting this one out, the phone is necessary.Bookmark here

“Kai, so nice of you to join us.”Bookmark here

Paul gives me his usual head down greeting when I walk into his office. Bookmark here

“I would’ve been her faster if Trish had come to get me.”Bookmark here

I look for the flippant girl with a leg hanging off her armchair but I don’t find the usual sight today.Bookmark here

“Where is she anyway?”Bookmark here

Aaron points to the ceiling. Bookmark here

“She’s in her room, refusing to come out. She can probably hear us.”Bookmark here

He stresses that part for her as much as for me.Bookmark here

“Let her sulk if she’s going to. Old man, I hear you have a job for me?”Bookmark here

“Yes, I do… it-“Bookmark here

Whatever Paul was about to say is interrupted by a violent dry cough. It takes him a minute to wrestle his lungs under control. It’s only now I realize how coarse his voice is.Bookmark here

“Sorry about that… Aaron, do you think you could get me some water and painkillers…”Bookmark here

“Do you want me to-“Bookmark here

“Regular medicine will be fine, thank you.”Bookmark here

Aaron looks a little concerned, but he doesn’t protest Paul’s refusal of his offer. Paul’s briefing continues as Aaron leaves the room. Bookmark here

He sees the look I’m giving him.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry about that, nothing to worry about.”Bookmark here

“Alright, what’s this job you have then?”Bookmark here

“Ah, yes. An emotion reaper has popped up in London. Usually, something this inconsequential would be below our pay grade but it seems this particular reaper is proving difficult to deal with.”Bookmark here

The pot of ink that’s always half full receives another dip of the quill. He’s not going to explain further.Bookmark here

“Paul, what’s an emotion reaper?”Bookmark here

“I forget how little you know sometimes, why don’t you let someone smart kill you for once?”Bookmark here

“Shut up and tell me what this thing is.”Bookmark here

“I can’t do both at the same time can I?”Bookmark here

Without looking up he senses my expression and decides it’s in his best interests to pretend he didn’t say that.Bookmark here

“An emotion reaper… it’s a bit like a virus that attacks the soul sequence. It looks like a person, but they’re not people, not anymore. They pop up from time to time in densely populated areas, feeding on intense emotions to survive.”Bookmark here

“These things difficult to kill?”Bookmark here

“Not usually, and you don’t exactly kill them. They’re not alive, it’s nothing but a hijacked soul sequence covered in flesh. Typically, it’s just a case of destroying the invaded body.”Bookmark here

Aaron re-enters the room with a glass of water and some painkillers, placing both on Paul’s desk.Bookmark here

“So why can’t that stupid task force deal with it?”Bookmark here

“Apparently, they can’t even get close to this one. They send in an operative and they never return.”Bookmark here

Aaron answers my question, despite the fact I clearly asked Paul. That means the old man is officially clocking out of the conversation. Shame, his voice is less annoying.Bookmark here

“So where do they get off asking us to do it?”Bookmark here

We have me and you. We could handle in a day what would take them a month.”Bookmark here

“I could, sure. Don’t know about you.”Bookmark here

Both Paul and Aaron let out defeated sighs simultaneously. I step between Aaron and the desk to try and cut him from the conversationBookmark here

“Anyway, give me the details so I can go mop this up.”Bookmark here

“I gave them to Aaron.”Bookmark here

“Then give them to me.”Bookmark here

“No.”Bookmark here

“Fine.”Bookmark here

I reach the door before Paul even realizes I’ve even moved, a consequence of living your life face down.Bookmark here

“Where are you going, Kai?”Bookmark here

“I’m going to go say hi to Trish, then I’m heading home. If you decide you want me to do the job, you can tell me the details before I leave.”Bookmark here

When I slam the door shut, I feel a sense of relief. I haven’t had to be around Aaron for that long in a while, it made it painfully obvious that we wouldn’t be able to do this mission together, or any other one for that matter.Bookmark here

He does a good job of hiding his contempt for me but it’s there, bubbling underneath the surface. Trish is the type of person that forgets things said late at night, I’m not.Bookmark here

I can’t go with Aaron but I don’t really want to pass up something to do, so I’m going to try and convince Trish to come with me.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

“No.”Bookmark here

Before I’ve even fully opened the door to her room, she’s refused.Bookmark here

“No to what?”Bookmark here

“I’m not going with you to London. You shouldn’t go either.”Bookmark here

Now that I’m standing in her room, I can see Trish huddled up on her bed hugging a pillow. She’s been crying, she’s trying to hide her eyes from me.Bookmark here

“What’s so bad about this thing that I shouldn’t be the one to deal with it?”Bookmark here

The only thing that breaks the silence is the sound of Trish burrowing her face deeper into her cushion.Bookmark here

“Fine, I’ll go with Aaron then. Enjoy crying by yourself.”Bookmark here

I turn and place my hand on the door handle. I have no intention of going with Aaron of course but she’s the jealous type.Bookmark here

I turn the handle ever so slightly and the sound makes her crack.Bookmark here

“I can’t describe it… those things are horrible. They prey on you your fears, your desires. Everything you love and hate. You don’t realize they’ve entered your mind until they start manipulating your thoughts. It’ll hurt you, Kai. Even someone like you, an emotion reaper can hurt.”Bookmark here

“We’ll see about that.”Bookmark here

I hadn’t intended to close her door on the way out, I was planning to leave it open to let her follow me down. Convincing Trish is an elaborate game sometimes, you have to leave her opportunities to do things. Bookmark here

It’s insulting, that she thinks something like this could hurt me. Even if it could, it’s insulting to think I deserve to avoid it, I don’t. I’m here to do the dirty work, I can handle a bit of pain. Bookmark here

That’s why I closed the door tight. She’s wasting energy worrying about someone like me and I’ll prove it to her.Bookmark here

I let myself back into Paul’s office. Paul and Aaron look up at me expectantly.Bookmark here

“Fine, I’ll go.”Bookmark here

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(Author's note: This story is being inserted in between stories 2 and 3 after the fact. It was a story I originally wanted to write for this novel but couldn't think of enough solid ideas for it before I finished the others.

The stories are designed somewhat to be read in any order, so if you happen to be reading this before its completion, you can go to 'She Only Does Important Things' which is the first chapter of the next story. I hope you enjoy this one!)
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