Sunday, April 11, 2004
Not over until the end
So, what do you do with the weekend after the week where your entire life gets turned upside down?
Me, I took a bus out of town. Went up to Portsmouth, NH, and just walked around Saturday. It wasn't that exciting because that coastal area doesn't really open up until Memorial Day, but the quiet was kind of nice (and the off-season prices at the hotel weren't bad either). I suppose there are more productive ways to spend the time, but it was the weekend, and I didn't want to be productive. I just wanted to go to a place where nobody knew me, or knew Michelle, or Martin, or anybody. Where I didn't have to wonder if things were other than as they seemed. I should have gone farther, but I worried about getting back to work tomorrow. Besides, everyone else I know besides Carter has a family, and would be spending the holiday elsewhere. If I'm going to be by myself, it'll be on my own terms.
I got back at about four this afternoon feeling refreshed, and saw I had two messages on the machine. One was from Carter, trying to explain. Saying that it had been going so well, and then I'd started pulling away, and he had gotten desperate. He was really sorry, and saw that what he'd done was wrong, but that we had to be together. I supposed he couldn't know that I'd been a guy in his position before, and that I was therefore in a good position to know that getting a custom pheremone formulation to make the girl love you is not effing normal. It was creepy as hell. I'm bringing it in to work tomorrow, to give Mr. Kraft a listen. I suppose I'll have to tell him what Carter did if he asks, but this is a threat to my safety. But I guess I set this in motion when I decided to take the bottle and get rid of Carter rather than play along. Or, rather, keep playing along. I suppose the smart thing to do would be to keep studying the situtation until I could move with confidence. Now, Carter and anyone who's in league with him have some idea of how much I know and that I won't be entirely content to just keep pretending like I'm a normal girl content in her life.
And there's gotta be folks in league with him. The second call was from Maggie, this morning, saying she'd been thinking about my situation and had a couple questions. I was a little shaken up by Carter's message, so I decided to drop in on her.
Her roommate answered the door, I pretended I didn't know him, and he called to Mags. She was surprised to see me. "How'd you know where I live...oh."
"Yeah. Welcome to the weirdness that is my secret life."
She'd been watching the game, so we got settled in her living room. She told me I should have hit on Glen, for form's sake. I reminded her that Mike was gay, she reminded me that women never realize that until someone tells them. Then she asks if I think he's cute. I point out, again, that he's gay, and she says just from a physical standpoint. I say that I guess he's a decent-looking guy, but she'd understand if I was kind of down on the whole trusting men deal, what with Kurt having had a second girlfriend and Carter drugging me and one of the guys I nearly slept with during my wild period being HIV-positive.
Then she's all shocked that I had a wild period. I say, hey, the brain is wired to enjoy sex, I had a fairly male attitude toward casual sex, and was looking to avoid attachment. She basically avoids thinking about that and just says it's ironic, because Glen sort of had a crush on me, or rather, she said, on Martin, but it's close enough that it would be really funny if I liked him. I laugh politely, but it's a weird thing to think of. He's a good guy, really, and I never really thought of myself as homophobic, but the thought that he was thinking of me that way is kind of unsettling, even if I knew he would never act on it. And now, I don't know, if I were to date again I'd want it to be someone like Glen, except straight. Not that that's happening soon.
Maggie senses we're in weird territory, so she asks me if I know anything about how the "love potion" was made. I mention that BioSoft works with several firms which might be doing research in a similar area, and Carter might have his own contacts. She knows that, of course - BioSoft was a bidder on a system for her firm, a couple months back - but she asks where they got my cells to work with. I said I figured Carter could have given them hairs or something, but she says she doesn't think that would be enough. She reminds me that hair follicles are actually part of the human excretory system, used to push certain waste products out of the body. Hair's not living tissue, and wouldn't be sufficient to test for a reaction. Sure, there's follicles at the end, but unless the cells were preserved quickly, they'd be dead and pretty useless for research. It seemed unlikely he could do that without me noticing it.
But what, I asked her, about cell cultures like the ones she took from me? She said, yeah, that would do it, but it was unlikely he could swab a bunch out of my cheek without me noticing. We figured it would have had to have happened before this became my body, that the cultures would have been taken from the original Michelle, or possibly from the person who had this body between her and me. Maggie figured it could very well have taken six months to create a formula that would react properly with my cells, and I pointed out that even so, they'd only know it reacted to my cells - not how it would affect my entire system. They probably created several, one of which made me nauseous, maybe a couple which didn't do anything I'd notice, and the one that made me goofy.
(It was at this point David Ortiz hit a walk-off homer and we realized that we'd been so engrossed in this subject that we had completely ignored an exciting, extra-inning baseball game. Pretty uncharacteristic for both of us)
Anyway, we went out to find a place that was open on Easter - harder than you might think; we do seem to love our church in this city - and discussed a plan of attack. Maggie knows folks in the biochem industry, so she'd try to find people working on something similar. I'd try to get Carter to talk. She figures if I go to Mr. K with the tape from my answering machine and a sample of the stuff for him to get analyzed in any lab he trusts, he might be able to put pressure on Carter. If he's in on it... Well, we'd probably find that out, at least. I probably wouldn't be in any immediate danger if I did it during work hours.
So, we've got a plan. Probably won't bear any fruit for a couple of weeks, but it feels good to be on the attack.
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