Of Love and Loss

Jen leaned back, in her chair attempting to rub some focus back into her eyes. A quick glance at the clock showed it was morning already, though the light filtering in through the lone window in the back of the lab had been hinting of it for hours. Deciding that their staff must be ready by now, she picked up the phone and began dialing the hospital noted on the record she was viewing.

It had been twelve days, no thirteen now, since the incident at the hospital in Maine. The notes from her presentation were still here, scattered over the table under the current pile of personal files related to people reported missing from the hospital. Three of the nine had already been investigated thoroughly, one third of the work down, and only six more files to bore herself to death combing through.

A nurse finally answered the phone, politely directing her call to the records office. Cyan flavored screens appeared soundlessly in front of her eyes, ready for her to transpose the results into a text file to be stored in the implant. It would have been much more convenient to do this through the mesh, but most private records were stored offline. After a few moments of painfully tedious identity and authorization checks, she managed to gain access to the file she needed.

"Uh huh... and they were how long?" A few quick seconds of transposing passed, a crisp and easy to read paragraph forming naturally. "Thank you very much, Bridgette, I'll be sure your superiors know I received only your highest cooperation." With that the phone hit the hook and she sailed towards the door, barely even thinking to grab an energy drink on the way out.

* * *

It wasn't a dingy house, by any means, but something about it seemed remarkably uncared for. A thin layer of dust was beginning to collect on the outside surfaces, and what could be seen of the interior didn't seem terribly welcoming. The Arizona sun was still high in the sky, slowly burning through Jen's clothes until she moved just to mitigate the heat of the cloth.

The man behind the screen was looking over her identification with a sort of grim resignation rather than any sort of suspicion. Finally he opened the screen and let her in, leading the way through the small house as though walking down the aisle of a funeral.

"I figured someone like you'd be by. I mean... I'm not stupid, I know it aint normal. Still, I kinda figured I'd have more time. He's all I've got at this point." The man gave her a forlorn look out of his right eye. The left was only slightly open, and some mix of pink and white where the seven inch long scars passed over it. "If you're wondering about the scar, it's not like he meant to do it. I mean he was upset and he did what came natural, that's just how it all goes."

Jen cooed to the baby softly as she picked him up. "He'll be well taken care of, I'll promise you that."

The man sat down in a nearby chair and simply stared at the now empty crib. His mind was obviously far away, she couldn't help but wonder if it was thinking of what might have been if his wife had decided against staying with his mother-in-law in Maine for that weekend. The dead look in his eyes reminded her of that day she spent starring in the mirror after being told over the phone about her wife's cancer. The thoughts that had sifted through her mind, and the thought of facing that again after she died. With a shudder she took the child and left.

* * *

A Delta Force colonel sucked on a stick of nicotine gum while his plane began it's long trek home across the Atlantic.

Maxine woke up, deeply entwined with the pitch black stranger whose pheromones had summoned her the night before. The changes underwent during her challenge hadn't reverted back, and now she was even more confused... and very hungry.

A terminally ill woman in Peru stared out an open window, wondering about the work that had so suddenly wrapped itself around her wife's life.

And time marched on.

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