Tuesday, October 03, 2006
My life is a friggin soap opera
I won't back away from being called brave - who doesn't like an ego boost from time to time, after all, and "brave" has good connotations despite being devalued to the point where people will hall it out on the basis of being willing to face reality. I've generally got no use for "daring", though - I'm not one to poke a bear with a stick and then accept cheers because I put myself in harm's way unnecessarily.
Gertie's daring, though, and generally in a good way. She puts herself out there if she thinks it'll help others, and that's a pretty good thing in my book. Once you've put yourself out there, though, there's no going back in, so to speak, and she's definitely out there where Amy Sanada is concerned. The thing I didn't quite realize before the other day is that when there's no going back, you have to push forward.
Sunday night, my roommate was walking a freshman girl back to her dorm when someone jumped her. Not the student, her. Gertie says he was dressed in black, jumped out from a shadow, and had her up against the wall with his hand around her throat before she quite knew what was going on. She tried to fight him off, but the guy was big and evidently good - he knew how to hold her so that Gertie couldn't really punch or kick at him without choking worse. He didn't talk much, she said, growling too low for her to really identify his voice later. The content of what he said was that a campus cop was over her head in what she was sticking her nose into. Then he hit her a couple times, tossed her to the ground, and left.
Obviously, the guy doesn't know my roommate Gertrude. It's not just a matter of thinking she can be scared off, but not giving her credit for brains. As she explained to me, even if it's just about her personal safety, she's at risk as long as she knows as much as she does, and she's not forgetful. The only way for her to be safe is to find out what's going on and get people in jail. She looked at me after that, and I was in.
So, last night, I left work early and we headed to the campus. We camped out on a bench outside the dining hall and waited until Amy showed up. Fortunately, there was only one other girl with her, and we walked up and asked if she'd like to get some better food elsewhere. Her first, completely reasonable response was "who the heck are you", but then she recognized Gertie out of uniform, saying that she was the one who called the FBI on move-in day. Gertie nodded and said she was evidently paying for it while scratching at her band-aid. Amy's eyes went wide, and she asked if it was safe to talk to us if that was the case. Gertie shrugged, and said it was up to her.
Amy grimaced, then decided to go along with us. Her friend went on to the dining hall, and we went to Fire & Ice. I kept an eye on Amy, checking for signs that she might actually be Korpin or some confederate, but it seemed no less inconclusive than it had been before. I'm just not a good enough observer for that, I guess. It would be great if we had access to an FBI profiler, but we're, as they say, the "just us" department. Her food choices shed no more light on her identity.
Once we had our food and were back at the table, Gertie got a serious expression on her face and a somewhat blunt demeanor. "So, just who are you?"
"Amy Kie Sanada. Second-generation American from California going to Harvard. I'm majoring in mathematics, and I was minoring in music, but I've 'decided' to focus on my major for now." She said it without a lot of inflection, aside from the implication that dropping the music wasn't entirely voluntary.
"Sounds like something you've memorized."
"It is. You know how sometimes you can block out a traumatic experience? I must have gone through something pretty fucking horrible, because I don't remember anything from more than two months ago."
Gertie nodded. "Amnesia. That's pretty clever. It's unlikely, but not as unlikely as reality, right? The Sanadas are so happy to get their daughter back that they don't question it, and the trauma is enough explanation for everyone else. But, listen, the same thing happened to my friend Marti here. We will believe the truth."
Amy turned to me. "The same thing happened to you. And what, exactly, was that?"
"You know. Three years ago, I got hit with a bunch of nanomachines that allowed someone to switch the contents of two people's brains. As far as my memory is concerned, before July 2003 I was Martin Hartle; I'd only met this Michelle Garber person whose body I inhabited once. So, last May, who were you?"
She looks at me in fairly genuine-seeming disbelief. "I'm just who I appear to be. I went through a trauma. I can't remember it or anything before it yet."
"Look, Amy, I know it's scary to tell people about who you really are, but it's worth it. At least give us some reason to believe you're not Mikail Korpin or some friend of his. I don't think you are, because if you were, then just the FBI would be investigating you, and they generally don't bug phone lines in a way that can get caught or attack innocent people in the dark. So you've probably got bad people interested in you."
She stared at her food while Gertie picked up where I left off. "What Marti's saying is right. Look, you can save your name for the FBI. If they have that, then they can find the person with your original body and maybe help you switch back. Or not; maybe you like the Sanadas or the free ride at Harvard or you were a lot older and being Amy is a step up. But while you pretend to be Amy, you're helping a dangerous man stay free."
She looks up at us, angry now. "Don't you think I know? Don't you think I want the bastard that did this to me captured and punished? But your story's ridiculous, and the idea that you think I might actually be this Korpin..." She pulls on her sweater's sleeves, and I hadn't really noticed that they were the extra long kind, which just allow the fingers to poke out, or at least not given it any significance. "Would I have done this to myself, just to make it look like the person I'd figured to switch with had escaped before being switched?"
Gertie and I gasp; the palms of her hands and her wrists have burns on them. They're scabbed over, and healing a little, but they're nasty ones. "I'm just a girl who was kidnapped by some sicko and can't play the piano any more because it hurts too much to move my fingers quickly. Now, please, don't bother me again."
So, as you might expect, Gertie and I feel like complete shit. It could very well still be someone else in Amy's body, but we're still jerks for harassing someone who's been through something horrible.