Digital Ischemia



Filed under: Glen Tosied — Teepwriter @ 15:19

Blink’s next awakening is gentle, but consciousness brings an urge for food.  He sets off with a smirk, proudly recognising the development of his tunnel-shuffling agility.  He’s soothed by the meditative, repetitive motion.  These tunnels are already familiar; he gloats over his mental map.  He’ll get started on the breakfast mushrooms and pleasantly surprise everybody.
Unexpectedly his front half cantilevers down into a pitted shaft, arrested by lucky cushioning.  This turns out to be Venom.  She squeals girlishly in protest.  He freezes.  Candle glimmer reflects faintly in the moist slime on the walls.  He closes his eyes and feels the adrenaline spikes yield to the comforting animal warmth of his companion.  She’s disinclined to voice further protest, feeling an odd security in being pinned by him.  Him.  The moment elapses.  He peers past her at a matrix of natural pigeonholes in the rock face.  Her heart sinks; her defences clang back into place.
He challenges brusquely, “What are you doing?”
She reaches for her habitual whip.
“Make your own deduction.  Your natural reasoning is so warped you’re unlikely to threaten my privacy.”
He scrutinises the pigeonholes: some have small items precisely placed.  A very specific some: series beginning at the left of certain rows.  Samples over timelines.  She’s testing something methodically.  He feels for nooks he can grip and hauls himself up and out and away.
She braces against the wave of panic.  He could well figure it out.  Her denial wouldn’t change his perception.  It never did.  He’s not at all like the vacuous cretin Vennan and that’s petrifying.

“I just fell down a hole on top of Aunty Venom,” Blink admits, sacrificing his credibility for the chance of cheering the child.  From half under her covers, Sticks grants him one lung-contraction of laughter, possibly feigned.  Probably not worth it.  She’s just fiddling with the mushrooms.  “How are you feeling?”
“OK, but really?”
She shrugs.
“You want me to go?”
“No, you can stay if you want.”
Always the same veiled tolerance from females.  Never conducive to effort.  He extinguishes his candle in favour of hers and tugs a spare length of blanket around him: ten degrees isn’t comfortable while you’re still.  There’s nothing to set fire to.
He tries to tempt her with something requiring no effort from him, while carefully not patronising, “I could interview you.”
She bites, “Who am I?”
“Er, I thought I’d ask the questions.”
“Yeh, but I need to know who I’m being,” she spells out with patronising gestures and expressions for the socially illiterate.
He allows his sarcasm a little air, “You?”
“I’m not a celebrity!”
“It doesn’t matter to me.  I’m interested anyway.”  It’s fading though.
She pulls idly at the skin on her arm.
“Have you got an itchy bit?”  Not a prize opening gambit.
“I’ve not to scratch.”
“Is it worse at the moment?”
He has a mallet-blow of inspiration about the line of questioning.
“Is there a storm coming?”
Does she know she’s our canary?  Of course Venom would bring her over me, and not for any sentimental family relationship.  She’s way more valuable.  Talented.

“We have eggs!”  Venom is giddily pleased.  Blink feels a reflection of her grin creep across his face.  She holds up her trophies, “two!  Maybe this’ll entice her up.”  She hedgehogs down the steps.  In the background, the eyeballs of two chickens wobble, like self-conscious children with a gushing mother.
Merrill materialises from the feathered area, embodying disparagement.  He fronts up to her.
“Why are you such a poisonous insect?”
She goes through the adolescent shudders of denial, defiance, self-doubt.
“Am I supposed to be all nice as pie in the middle of a, like, apocalypse?”
He tries harsh reality, “Are we supposed to, like, help you?”
“Who’s ‘we’?  I see you’re not in charge.”
“If we’re bagsing places on Nora’s Ark, I’m a smidgen more useful than you.”  He congratulates himself for total humanitarian regression in less than a week.
She slinks away, radiating ‘what-evah’ and re-merges with the chickens.  He wonders if she’s bored, outwitted or actually overwhelmed.  Maybe he should leave the trickier issues to Venom.  Am I?

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