Family Values

Ever volunteered to do something that you’d really, really rather not do, for the sake of being polite? And then found yourself doing it, feeling incredibly stupid and mildly angry because of the disturbing fact that you were literally asking for this to happen? All for the sake of “being polite”…?

Me too. It’s a British thing, I swear. We can wage wars with complete strangers and call it patriotism, but we’d rather walk through a field of razor-blades than come across as being bad.

This has resulted in me looking after Alice, who may as well be a bipedal cat for all the shits she appears to give about someone looking after her. I imagine I’d find that funny, in someone else’s shoes. Right now, though, in a place crawling with Ned-knows what, it’s a tragedy just waiting to happen.

As we pick our way through what looks like the intensive care section, I decide to break the silence. It might attract things to us, but it’s better than having her focus too long on the poor bastards scattered all over the bed sheets…

“Your name’s Alice, right?”

Nod.

“Mind the broken glass. Is this home to you?”

Nod.

“Do you have family here?”

“Why do you travel with the other man?”

I must have hit a sore point with the family thing. That or she’s been tutored on being a politician. Either way, two can play at that game…

“I asked first.”

“Okay then. No. Your turn.”

Damnit!

“…errm…boredom. I guess.”

“A guess is not an answer.”

*

“Okay, just boredom then. Happy?”

“No. Are you family?”

“Hell no. Not even same species.”

“Then where is your family?”

Huh. Now there’s a question.

“Do you really want to know?”

That one took her by surprise. It’s the closest I’ve seen to any expression besides smug and glare on Alice’ face- something kinda like sheepishness.

“No. I was just. Um. You have weird arms.”

“Gee, thanks. You have a weird face.”

“Ha ha. I like them.”

A giggle- also known as, more importantly, solid proof of a current state of positive damn emotion. In a room full of assorted bits of terminally ill dead people!

A room which is- wait…what the hell is that? Some kind of squid? A very big squid. A squid that could feasibly cuddle a very big hippo. A giga-squid…**

Except it has arms. Human arms. And faces. Human-

I pick up Alice and run.

 

W

*Oh really…?

**At this point, Womble began to drool slightly, as a natural advocate of all things involving the consumption of fried calamari.

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