Chapter 9:


Curiosity Killed The Cat

It was the end of another school day. Kothur was stalling for time, sitting in the staff room with the rest of his coworkers. He leaned back in the chair. It had been a few days since he walked with Mylise to the hospital she volunteered at. He was hoping to talk to her again. While thinking about her, his gaze drifted.

Mylise was with Sibelle and the other women. Sibelle had been the center of attention recently and her coworkers were currently talking to her. She had announced her leave at the end of the school term already. She was also getting into the habit of asking Kothur what Reohn is like outside of work. He wasn’t really sure what to tell her and normally said something vague enough for her to accept. He wondered if she would still be so interested in Reohn after they got married. It's not normally good to meet your heroes they say.

A hand landed on the table, bringing him back to reality. “If you have something to say to me, I’d apricate it if you said it.” Mylise startled him. Her other hand was holding her large grey coat.

“I was just wondering if you were volunteering again today.” Kothur’s mouth twitched into a smile.

Mylise straightened up to cross her arms. “No, but I needed to go there after work anyway. I’d like the company if you would join me.”

“Of course.” Kothur agreed and followed behind her. The sound of the ladies’ conversation fading away as they walked down the hall. She was walking in a quick pace practically leaving him behind. He didn’t know if she wanted him to speak to her at all.

It wasn’t until they stepped outside that Mylise spoke to him. “That was a lie. I actually didn’t have a shift today.” She pulled on her coat in response to the cool air.

He shot her a surprised look. “Why would you lie?”

“I just wanted a chance to talk with you without the others thinking something was going on between us. You know teachers are supposed to stay single. We could lose our jobs.”

He mimicked her nonchalant tone of voice. “Well, they made an exception for me once. Maybe they’ll allow another.”

She smiled at that. “Would you like to take a walk with me into town? We could get something warm to drink and get to know each other better.”

“In town?” He never really went into town, to be honest. After work he would either meet up with Reohn or just go to sleep.

“Why not? I go into town often to get some real food. It shouldn’t be too dangerous walking the busy streets, especially with a man.”

There was no reason not to so he ended up agreeing. As they walked, the street became more crowded and there were more cars on the road next to them. They stayed near the well-lit streets. He looked at a poster to his left on a shop’s glass window that caught his eye. It was of his little brother wearing his signature smile.

“Doesn’t really feel real that he’s that popular, huh?” Mylise asked him. “I'm sure your family is proud.”

Kothur gave a small smile; not really knowing what to say. 

Mylise took notice of his look and took it as a cue to back off. “I understand. I don’t really get along with my family either.”

It wasn’t really as much of a ‘getting along’ issue as it was most of his family was either gone from this world or missing. Though he didn’t want to put a damper on things and tried to lighten the mood. “I grew up in a small town just north of here past the forest. Where are you from?”

“Would you believe me if I said I grew up in this big city? I can show you where I used to live after we get drinks.” She walked towards a café that sold some nice-looking tea drinks. There was a no guns allowed sign out front. Seems a bit silly if bullets are currency, he thought.

He looked to Mylise again as they waited. If she grew up so close to where he was from, then the chances were very high that it was the same girl. Although she seemed pretty serious when she said she had never met him before. Realistically speaking, they were very different. That girl didn’t even speak the same language so he never even got to learn her name. He should really just give up on the idea. It was rude to Mylise to project his old feelings onto her.

He offered to pay for their drinks, but stumbled a bit when it was time to pay. One is not enough, the cashier told him. He pulled another one of the bullets from in his pocket as he handed one of the drinks to her. They headed off further into town at Mylise’s lead.

The signs were always printed in the national currency but no one used that money. People always paid in things that were of use. Guns were always well used whether for hunting, military use, or less savory purposes, so bullets were sort of a standard. Until recently with the rising levels of crime, food and other goods were used more in exchanges. Time changed how much one bullet was worth against the currency, however.

“I forget the new conversion sometimes.” He said to her. Sheepishly, he brought the drink to his mouth.

She looked rather confused. “It’s already been out for four years now. Do you not go out at all?”

He rubbed the warm drink in between his covered hands. He took his time wording his next sentence. “It’s hard to remember since I’ve only been awake for nearly two years now. I was in a coma for four years.”

“Oh. Was it related to your eye?” She gently asked.

“Yeah, it was a pretty big incident.” He put his hand over the eyepatch. “Well, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, right?”

Mylise silently walked beside him for a while. She looked deep in thought. Kothur hoped he didn’t touch on a delicate subject. He had tried to lighten the mood with that, but it seemed to have backfired. He was really trying hard to seem like the gloomy person he really was.

She was the one to break the silence. “So that means you don’t know much about the war that ended with the Gyns?”

“Back then, we were just coming up on a draft for that war. It’s still a little strange to me.” And now we are at war with the Rydes. It’s a bit depressing, he thought. How long can one hope for peacetime to continue?

Suddenly she stopped in front of a worn-down apartment complex. He looked up to count about ten stories. “This is the building I grew up in. It didn’t look this bad back then, but it was never all that nice.” She clutched her drink before turning towards him. “Come on, let’s go somewhere happier. Let’s go by the forest on the edge of town. You said you used to live by the forest as well.”

They walked off the main road to small path lined with grass on either side. They talked about things they remember from when they were children: how cold the winters would be and what songs they liked from the radio. She was surprised to know he wanted to be a musician when he was younger. She had always wanted to be a teacher.

Trees started to surround them, replacing the crowds of people and construction of the city. Soon it seemed like they were the only ones around. 

Mylise suddenly changed the topic. “I wasn’t supposed to tell you I accepted the spy position a while ago, but it was too much for me not to tell anyone.” The tone of her voice was grave.

“Everyone has something weighing on them. I’ll listen if it makes you feel better.”

“My role...” She started to say. “My role has me taking days off of work to give fake documents to the Rydes so I can have an alibi at my real job and not cause any suspicion. I’m supposed to report any intel I can when I come back, but... I’m afraid what will happen to me if they find out I’m a double-agent.”

“I think you are very brave to do this. I want you to know I’m here for you if you need me.”

“Thank you.” Mylise put a hand to smooth her hair and looked at him with a soft smile. It felt like it could melt him.