I am not a nice person. That is why Jun leaves this kind of work to me. It is why they all think she’s good at turning in the crooks. No, silly children, Jun enjoys laughter and rock and roll, not dealing with the Scythes.
To put it another way, I’m not some mean chick. I’m fun and spunky, and spunky’s got the word punk in it for a reason. So I leave this dirt to July.
I don’t have multiple personality or anything like that. This ain’t some Jekyll and Hyde crap. July’s an act just as much as Jun is an act, and I can choose to play the roles the other way around if I like. But for some reason it’s easier for me to be cruel when I got high cheekbones and eyes that could pierce Kevlar, and it’s easier to rock out with my socks out when I’ve got short hair and moon face. You want me to talk like I grew up in a street where we ate nails for breakfast and I survived by shooting rays of cheerfulness? I’m Jun. Do you require the skills of a socialite with hauteur and class? I’m July. In real life, just like you, I’m a little of both. You other ladies just can’t switch back and forth between your Barr bodies like I can, that’s all. Otherwise, we’re the same. Everyone’s playing a role, right?
The woman at the desk
The double-doors slide open with such characteristic softness one can recognize the entrant before even hearing her firm heel tap the cement floor. She tap-taps across the vast storeroom floor, her head lowered and eyes raised towards mine, never wavering in her gaze. The whir of the wheels of a red wagon breaks the silence as she carts a huge glass jar past row after row of steel crates.
When you’ve worked as a secretary in R&D for as long as I have, you learn to memorize faces. You keep your mouth shut about your observations, but you make as many as you can, in case you’re the victim pinned up against the wall when one of them breaks out, or in case you’re next in the box. This newly-captured face squishes up against the glass, grubby palms sweaty and covered with dirt. Blond dreads bounce as the captive’s head darts here and there–she’s as jittery and twitchy as a mosquito.
Not surprisingly, either. This place is creepy in its normality. Just your average government storage facility–hidden behind the dry cleaner’s store front. That hiddenness throws the imagination into wild loop-de-loops, doesn’t it? It’s the symbol and symptom of what they, out there, call government corruption. We’re the “feds” everyone fears, the Agent Smiths that don’t exist.
The mosquito chirps. “Jun and July, you’re two people, how ridiculous is that, ha! Ha ha!”
July is unperturbed by the forced laughter. She pulls her wagon right up to my neat, semi-circled grey and black marbled desk. “Delivery for you,” she says.
The cash register chings as I pop it open and count out hundreds. I lick my fingers–I hate the taste, but the ritual calms me–before I peel a piece of paper off the tall stack that’s perfectly square with my mousepad. I slide the paper and the bills across my counter, lining them up perfectly with the edge of the desk. It would line up better if the edge wasn’t round. I hate that the edge is round. I’ve asked Scythe logistics to fix this problem. They ignore my emails. They have no idea how long it takes to draft an e-mail that’s exactly 256 words long. So much cutting and correcting to reach the perfect number.
As usual, July signs without a word. It promises to indemnify us of all claims that we exist, or claims that she works with us. Essentially an NDA with a kill clause. A literal kill clause. If her friends or family discover us they will be killed.
“Wait, this isn’t a police station,” the mosquito says. Sometimes it takes them a while to catch on.
“Mmhmm,” says July.
“What’s going–is that money? Are you selling me?”
“Mmhmm,” July says. She looks up at me as she hands back my pen. For a second, there’s a sparkle in her eye, as if we share a grim joke, but then the sparkle dies. Our two graveyard-dead eyes break contact, and I look away, back to my computer and my phone, to call up Processing to remove the delivery.
“Okay, the being-two-people thing, that’s weird,” says the mosquito. “This not-talking thing, this is just stupid! Get over yourself, collaborator! What are they going to do with me?”
“They’ll torture you until you tell them how you control insects, and then dissect you piece by piece,” July says as she folds up the cash, into her pocket. and walks off. It’s not a threat. Simply a statement of the state of things.
“You’re bluffing,” the mosquito snarls. “You’re just saying that.”
July doesn’t even turn her head as she walks away. “Maybe.”
The first double doors close behind her, and as the mosquito sees the Scythes emblem on the uniforms of the approaching Processing guards she begins to scream, and scream, and scream.
Just another day.