Monday, April 20, 2015
May 16, part 1
Oh my gosh, I’m still shaking. I can’t believe what just happened.
It all started when Katrina showed up at my door early this afternoon, along with Ama and Mihi. “Candy won’t come out of her quarters. She won’t talk to me, and she’s not spoken to these guys in three days.”
I blinked in surprise at the rush of words. Okay, so Candy had been distant and moody lately. I thought she still felt bad about erupting at Katrina over color schemes for the club several days back. They had made up with much apologizing and tears, just as I’d suspected they would. I thought everything was all right. I was so wrong about that.
“Did you have another fight? Or did she get in an argument with you two?” I asked the men.
Mihi’s scarred face was thunderous but worried, as was Ama’s. I’ve noticed that Nobeks don’t deal well with emotional upheaval, so they tend to duck behind their tempers. God love those macho beasts.
Ama said, “The last time we saw her, she was perhaps quieter than usual, but still pleasant. Still ... um, amorous. She seemed pleased with our company.” He reddened, obviously in discomfort over discussing the intimate nature of his last Candy encounter.
Mihi added, “We had no indication we had disappointed her in any way. Yet our coms have gone unanswered. She didn’t show up for our regular date yesterday, and when we came to visit her today, she told us to go away. We can’t get any explanation out of her.”
“Things haven’t been quite right between me and Candy since we had that disagreement,” Katrina said. Her eyes got bright suddenly, and she blinked hard before continuing. “Maybe she’ll talk to you, Shalia?”
“Sure,” I said, sliding a pair of shoes on that I kept by my door. I couldn’t help but give myself a quick check in the nearby mirror. I wore a long-sleeved dress that flowed nicely over my baby bump. I looked good enough for public consumption, I decided. “Let’s go see what’s up with Ms. Moody Pants.”
I led the way ... all of about two dozen steps since Candy’s rooms weren’t far from mine. I pressed her door announce. “Candy, it’s Shalia. Can I come in?”
A few seconds later a voice answered. “Are you alone?”
The tone was so the opposite of Candy’s usual bubbly sound that for a moment, I thought it wasn’t her. I even doublechecked to make sure I was at the right door. “Candy? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. Come in.”
The door slid open. Since I’d never told her I was by myself and she hadn’t said they couldn’t come, Katrina and the Nobeks entered with me.
The room was dim. I could see well enough to gape at Candy, who sat on her lounger. My first thought was that she was really sick.
Her eyes were hollowed pits, the circles beneath them damned near black. Her pretty blond hair had obviously not been brushed since she woke this morning. She’d also not bothered with makeup ... not that Candy ever really needs to wear it, but she prefers to be put together.
Her clothing was odd too. I hadn’t seen her in pants since we’d boarded the transport back on Earth. She always wears some cute, flouncy skirt. Yet today she wore loose-fitting pants, heavy boots, and a concealing tunic. The weirdest thing about her ensemble were the work gloves on her hands ... the big, insulating kind that someone dealing with electrical panels or machinery might wear for protection.
She stood and glared at Katrina, Ama, and Mihi. “Why are they here? I thought you would come alone.”
“They’re worried about you.” I couldn’t disguise my confused concern. “I can see why. You’re scaring me. Candy, what is with you? What’s going on?”
She stared at me, looking me up and down. “I see the time is still not right. You can go now.”
Before I could respond that I wasn’t going anywhere until she told me what the hell was wrong, Ama stepped forward. He looked angry. “No one is going anywhere until you tell us what is happening. This is not the woman I have come to know.”
Mihi was quick to take up the protest, coming to Ama’s side. “You are acting strangely, Candy. Explain yourself.”
Her laugh was a hollow bark, nothing like I’d ever heard come from Candy’s mouth before. “Explain myself? To the likes of you primitive savages, animals that are best suited to be kept on leashes? Get out of my way.”
With that astonishing statement, Candy marched up to the two men. She shoved them aside.
When I say she shoved them aside, I don’t mean she strained to squeeze between them. No, she actually thrust those two hulks apart with such force that they both went staggering. Candy couldn’t have been half the weight of either man, and yet she damned near tossed them both across the room. Impossible, and yet I saw it with my own eyes.
Katrina and I were so astonished that we stayed frozen in place as Candy stalked past us to leave her quarters. We watched her go, our mouths hanging open. My eyes felt as ready to pop out of my head as Katrina’s looked to be.
We didn’t move to go after Candy until the two Nobeks recovered from their near-falls and amazement. When Mihi and Ama went running out of the quarters after Candy, our paralysis finally snapped. We raced out behind the Kalquorians to find them trotting up and down the hall, calling Candy’s name. She was nowhere to be found.